Sometimes It’s More Bittersweet

Foster care is obviously a big part of our lives.  So much so, that I haven’t written a blog post in about six weeks.  With a newborn and a toddler in the house for the last few weeks, writing has been a little challenging 🙂

When I left you, I talked about the revolving door of foster care.  It has continued.

We still have the baby, but the two little girls we got right before Christmas left last week to go live with family.  We also agreed to help out another family with respite care (respite care = caring for a child to give foster parents a little break or caring for them because the foster parents are leaving town and can’t take the foster child with them).  So we’ve had a 1-month-old and a 7-month-old for the past week.  We’ve gotten a few calls but have had to turn them down because the State of Texas only allows two under the age of 18 months be placed in a foster home.  The calls have included infants and with two in the house already, we had to turn them down.

Then yesterday we got a surprise call.

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It was from a case worker we worked with previously.  My first thought was that she was the new case worker for the baby we have now, but instead she was calling to see if, by chance, we had beds available for the two little girls we had last summer.

These two little girls were our first placements after licensing.  We had them for three months and then they left to go live with a family member.  We had watched the oldest blossom and the baby had gone from having some developmental delays, to being not only being caught up, but being above age level in her development.  We all loved these girls dearly and were absolutely heart-broken when they left.  So when the case worker asked if we had openings, I felt excitement, sadness and fear.

The thought of these two coming back into our family was such an exciting feeling.  At the same time, I was so very sad to learn that they had been returned to mom and dad, only to be removed yet again.  Then the fear set in as I told the case worker that we could take the oldest, but with two infants in the house, we couldn’t take the youngest (who is now 15 months), until Thursday when our respite baby goes back to her foster parents.

Fortunately, the case worker very much wanted these girls to be with us, so after conversations between our agency and the case worker, these precious little girls will be returning to our home.

Foster care can be so bittersweet, but sometimes it’s more bittersweet than usual.

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This is one of those times.

As our door revolves yet again, we are hoping that these girls will be able to stay with us long-term this time.   We want the opportunity to help these little ones blossom and grow long-term instead of being uprooted once again.

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We don’t know if the judge will give mom and dad another chance or not.  We do know that CPS doesn’t want them with the family member they were with previously and we will likely be picking up the pieces of their broken hearts.  Yet, we’re so very happy to have them become part of our family once again and are hoping for the very best.

As Expected, Sadly

Yesterday I received a call from the CPS worker telling me that Baby Girl would be moving to her aunt’s home.  They would be picking her up the following morning.

The pick up happened this morning and although Baby Girl was giving out her beautiful gummy smile to all of us, we were a basket case of tears.

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We signed up for this heartbreak and each time I find myself asking why.

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Then I look in the mirror and have a talk with me.

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“There are other babies that need you.  Those babies need someone to love them, care for them, and meet their every need so they have an opportunity to grow to be happy, healthy and strong. ”

So yes, we have cried “A LOT” over the last 24 hours and there will likely continue to be tears as I look thru pictures, put away her outgrown clothes and wash her bedding in preparation for the next baby that comes our way.

And yes, I do mean baby.

Along this journey we have learned a lot and one thing we have learned is that having babies in the home just works best for us.

Lili has made no secret of the fact that she loves having babies here.  She loves watching them grow and change.  She loves helping care for them.  She loves talking to them and playing with them.  She could make Baby Girl laugh like no one else could.

Naomi, has shown us her mommy side.  While she seems to like older babies and toddlers more, she had a special bond with Baby Girl.  That bond played out in different ways, but one way in particular was very special.  When Baby Girl would get over-tired, she would get extremely fussy (understatement).  Other than me, Naomi was the only one in the house that was able to calm her down and get her to sleep.  She held her in her special way, would sing to her and soon Baby Girl was off to dreamland.

Dave, who admittedly is not a baby person, developed a special bond with Baby Girl as well.  She flashed that gummy smile and he was putty in her hands.  He might not admit it, but it showed on his face every time.  He would even change dirty diapers from time-to-time.

Throughout this process, we have discovered that for our family, babies work out the best.

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We can do schoolwork while they nap.  They hang out with us on field trips and errands.  Not that we haven’t enjoyed the older kids we’ve had (and still have), but we’ve found a rhythm that works well and would like to continue down the path of having babies in our house.

So now we wait for the call that another baby needs us.  I don’t know if that will be today, a week from now or a month from now, but we will be here and be ready for that call.

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2017 Coming to an End

As 2017 comes to an end, we reflect on all that has happened during the last year.

 

Dave celebrated 11 years with Microsoft and has done a fair amount of travel  – San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Denver, and Atlanta a couple different times plus a couple other cities.  All trips were to meet with customers, so not any time for sight-seeing or visiting friends and family in those areas.

He ended 2016 in the hospital and welcomed in 2017 in the hospital.  All the same stay due to severe back problems.  It’s been an ongoing thing for several years with doctors telling him it was arthritis.  This time he met with a back doctor who was able to determine that it’s not arthritis but disc degeneration in his low back.  He will eventually need back surgery, but several times during the year he’s gone in for back injections which have helped.  

Since his doctor was able to help him with his back issues, he asked if there was anything he could do about his chronic headaches.  Something he’s had for 20+ years and no doctor has been able to determine the cause.  Again, the back doctor discovered that he has a slipped disc in his upper spine that has caused the severe headaches all these years.  To avoid surgery, they’ve been trying injections.  Unfortunately, they haven’t been as successful as the back injections, so 2018 may include surgery for him.  

Debbie continues to be a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling the girls and staying busy with all their activities.  She helped start a co-op with some other homeschool moms and has made several new friends over the past year. 

Lili is 10 and doing 5th grade work this year.  She continues to take art classes and is in a Jr. Master Naturalist program thru the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  She also got braces this year and is looking much older these days.  

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Naomi is 8 and doing 3rd grade work this year.  She continues to take acting classes and very much enjoys dancing and singing.  She too has had some orthodontic work done.  No braces yet, but had to get an expander to widen her pallet so her permanent teeth have room in her mouth.  Braces are likely in her future as well, so this is step 1 of 2.

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Obviously, both girls are very much into the Arts and we are thrilled they have found things they love.  Both have participated in the Variety Shows at Frisco School of Performing Arts.  You can see them in the latest show by clicking here.  And here is Lili’s artwork from that show. 

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She had another class before the Holiday break and thru together this Dr. Seuss inspired piece.

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Lili and Naomi are so very different from each other and are both amazing, talented young ladies. 

Debbie and the girls are active with their homeschool group, co-op and regular trips around the DFW area for educational opportunities. 

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In January, we took another cruise sailing to Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel. 

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It’s always nice to get away and spend time connecting more closely with each other. 

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We had the added pleasure of friends joining us on the cruise.  It was their first, but hopefully not our last cruise together.

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Over the summer Debbie and the girl travelled to Illinois to visit friends and family.  We brought friends back home with us for a couple of weeks before making the trip back to Illinois via Galveston. 

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Yes, we realize that Galveston isn’t on the way to Illinois from Dallas, but our visitors had never seen the ocean.  After spending a few hours at the beach, we headed east thru Louisiana and then north thru Mississippi toward Illinois.  It was a nice visit, and all had so much fun at the beach that we plan to go back next year.  Hopefully we can make it a longer beach vacation.

We also attended a family reunion and were able to visit with family we haven’t seen in many years.  It was so nice to catch up and while I wish visits could happen more often, being spread across the U.S. makes it very difficult.  Fortunately, we do have family on both sides here in Texas and are able to have regular visits with them. 

On April 29th, we became a licensed as a Texas foster home.  Within three days of being licensed we had a 5-month-old and her 5-year-old sister.  They were with us for 3 months before leaving to go live with their grandmother. 

A few weeks later we had a 2-year-old boy, who was only with us for 2 ½ weeks before he went on to live with his grandmother. 

On September 28th we got a 6-day-old baby girl who is still with us and will be here at least until the end of January. 

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Two days before Thanksgiving we got a 2-year-old little boy, who turned 3 the next day.  He too is still with us, although we’re not sure if he’ll be with us during the holidays or not.  All is dependent on the outcome in court.  

In the State of Texas, CPS tries very hard to place children in a kinship home.  It may be biological family members or could be a friend of the biological family.  So far, all the cases we’ve had in Texas have moved to kinship care.  The little guy we have now may be going to a family member right before Christmas, but we likely won’t know until at least December 20th.  

Of course, there is always the possibility that another child may come into our care between now and Christmas.  Foster care is a lot of things, but certainly never boring.

In addition to the foster children we’ve had, we have taken in some other foster children for respite care.  Some as short as 3 days and others as long as 2 weeks.

Needless-to-say, between our girls, the three dogs and foster children, we manage to stay pretty busy. Yet we’re never too busy to take time out to think of all our friends and family, both near and far.  We hope all of you have had a wonderful 2017 and wish you an even more spectacular 2018.

Happy Holidays!!! 

 

 

Mending Little Broken Hearts

Tomorrow, Baby Girl’s case goes back to court.  The really difficult part of these court dates is the unknown.

I know she will not be returning to mom any time soon, but last month I sat on pins and needles waiting to hear whether or not she would be removed from our care and placed in the care of her aunt.  Since the other children we had went to family members, I was quite shocked when I was told her aunt failed the home study.

This time I sit on pins and needles waiting to hear whether or not she will be removed from our care and placed in the care of a friend of moms.

In Texas, there is a lot of effort put into placing foster children with other family members (kinship) or with friends of the biological family (fictive kinship).  Logically, I get it.  Well to a point I get it.  There are certainly situations that don’t necessarily make sense to me, but for the most part I understand why it’s important to keep familial connections.  Emotionally, it’s much more difficult.

It’s this part of foster care that causes many people to say, “I could never be a foster parent.”  A child moves into your home and life.  You care for that child.  You get to know that child.  You begin to love that child and that love grows.  Then one day you find yourself packing their things and handing them over to a case worker because they are being moved to live with a family member, a family friend, or in the best case scenario, back to mom and/or dad.

I will not sugar coat it.  It is not easy at all!!!

So why do we put ourselves thru this?

For me, it is the realization that as much as my heart breaks when I have to say good-bye, foster children have more than just heart-break.  They are removed from the care of their parent(s) which means on top of heart-break they feel fear, confusion, and uncertainty.  They grieve the loss of their family, friends, home, pets and the life they knew.

These kid’s lives are turned upside-down and it’s my job to help them turn their lives rightside-up again.

So I do this because they need me to help them feel safe and sure.  They need to feel love and security.  They need some assurance that no matter what happens, they will be okay.

You see, this isn’t about me and what I can’t do or about my fear of having my heart-broken.  Foster parents “will” have their heart broken over and over again.  This is about the thousands of children in foster care who need me to put aside my fear of a broken heart so I can help mend little broken hearts.

While I would love to have baby girl stay in our care, what I want really isn’t a factor in what the case worker or judge will decide.  All I can do is love her while I have her.  Yes, there will be heart break and lots of tears, but at the same time I will be prepared to open my arms wide for the next little one whose heart is in need of mending.

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Thankful for Friends and Family

There are things that happen in life that cause me to be especially thankful for the people in my life.  Over the last couple of days, some very special people in my life shown a great deal of love and compassion.  For that, I’m truly thankful.

We are spending a quiet day at home.  Okay, as quiet a day as you can have with 4 kids in the house 🙂  but are thinking of our loved ones who we can’t be with today.

Have a wonderful day celebrating friends, family, and good food.

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