Sunday, November 30, 2014

There's a Key Called a Home Study

Early this summer, in an attempt to open more doors to grow our family, we hired someone to write up our home study. In adoption world, that means you have a golden ticket. You see, often times a home study is your beginning. I have seen couples who want to be foster parents have that be a part of their licensing requirements, but it is not so in Alaska. Here the licensing requires that you have a safe home (no poisonous plants, the windows are safe distance of the floor, etc.) and have reference, with a background fingerprinting done. If a child becomes available to adopt because they are in your care, and reunification is no longer the goal, then you will have a child specific home study done. That means that you can not use that home study for any other adoption or inquiry of children. It is the way it is.

I stopped perusing the completion of our private home study, after our home went from a family of 7 to a family of 9. The jump was a touch traumatic. I had a 10 month old and 16 month old, and was just beginning to homeschool the 4 oldest kids. So our home study took a back seat. But as I still try to wrap my heart around the permanency of saying goodbye to a little one.... I long to have a complete family. We will see if it's God's desire, also. There are sibling groups in other states that I have been praying about.

We got a new placement last Tuesday. He has been with us for 6 days. It has been a rocky adjustment. He is  a sweet little guy, but I bet it has been a big change for him, also. Grooming has been a major issue. Baths, nail trimmings, and outfit changes are triggers. Also, our 4 year old is struggling with new placements. It's interesting because when T came to us about a year and a half ago, he was the sweetest most welcoming to all the placements that we had. He would welcome them, and play with each child, very sweetly. Not so, anymore. It seems now that he knows his permanent place is with us, anyone that comes too near, threatens this just acquired position (though he's had it for a while). So T is pretty emotional about sharing and being nice, to this new addition, that he never voted on, joining us. So I do not believe it will be a long term placement.

Tonight we have a full house. We have a family that is heading to a new post in Florida. They are friends from our church whom have become family. We have grown so much through this relationship, and the sadness from having to say goodbye is very real. I have realized how much goodbyes are a part of this side of eternity. I look forward to the other side, when I will no longer have to say goodbye.

We also have a dear friend whom we have adopted, staying with us. He now lives in Galena, now, which is a remote Alaskan village near the Yukon river.

We leave for vacation in 3 weeks!! I am soooo excited! No visits, no random calls to go to this or schedule that etch!!!! We will be a family!! This is something to be grateful for. Happy Thangsgiving everyone, from our family to yours. Pin It Now!

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Week Ago and meeting T

I think when you mourn, you do that mental timeline. A week ago today we said goodbye... two weeks ago, we still had her in our care. The time moving makes me aware, that even when I am mourning, life still goes on. I wonder and pray for our little one, a lot.

I am that much more grateful for the ones that are still with us, and the one, that I know will not ever leave us. Today, I had our little boy, whom we are adopting, we'll call him T, have a major break down. First let me describe T and tell you a little bit about our 4 year old little boy.

We got the call for little boy T in August of 2013. They didn't know his name, but we said yes. I jumped into our car and went to meet this chubby little boy who grunted and said "hey" to everyone. He was playing with a yellow truck, dressed in flimsy pants, a pull up, and lots of dirt all over his chubby body. This was the child God answered our prayers with. It was not what I expected! But I brought him home, gave him a shower and searched through bins with my boys' old clothes, to see, if by some miracle, I had some clothes that could fit, I found jammies!!! My kids and I settled in to watch a movie upstairs in my bedroom. Toby was in Valdez working, so I sent him a picture of our new addition. He laughed.....

I look back on the child we picked up and the past year and a half and marvel. Those first few months were hard..... for everyone involved. T was super speech delayed, in fact the most I've seen. He didn't know how to tell us what he wanted. He would wake up during the night screaming. It was pretty clear he was traumatized. At the time, I just assumed the trauma of being removed was the issue, so I na├»vely thought they should place him back into his mother's care. Plus, remember? He wasn't what I expected. His case has been open for 15months. At 10 months, we knew the goal changed from reunification, to adoption. I know that so many foster mothers talk about their deep love for the children in their home. I wish I could say that I immediately fell in love, and the bond is immensely strong. But that would not be honest. My love for T has grown, but for a while there, I was not sure. He is my son. He has become a very dynamic child. I pray for his little heart.

T is also of Alaskan native decent. In fact, he is 100%. He is from a very remote and unique tribe. We are learning a lot, because we want him to be proud of who he is. His case involved a different set of rules, than just the state. Due to ICWA (indian child welfare act), we are not the preferred placement. His tribe and their requests are looked at with heavy weight, in the courtroom. T's tribe has approved his adoption, so that is a pretty miraculous thing.

Realizing that he was not properly cared for his first few years of life, is hard. I must remind myself, of this as his broken heart is finally, finally revealing itself. He is very much alive. He loves to laugh, and be outside. His ability to enjoy life, humbles me and my desire to control it. Everyone love T. But as his mother, I also see the residual effects of visits and abandonment. His desire to shut off his heart and push everyone away and feel sorry for himself. It worries me. I have had to pray about how to approach him, when he's in that stand offish place. He sabotages and manipulates, and this is a side, reserved solely for me. I am left with the mess, and am the scapegoat. I have hope, because God specifically chose us to raise him.

As we begin the home study and deal with the court dates, it's exciting and exhausting. He now is able to talk. T's still plenty delayed, but it's a night and day difference, since he has come to live with us.

If you ask any foster parent what the challenges are with being a foster parent, I think you will most likely hear on the top of the list, that the visits challenge us to no end. The visits remind me that I am at the mercy of someone else. They remind me that I pick up pieces. They remind me that my family is not our own. And the effects from having the visits, or having a no show, or rescheduling, are awful. So I wait, until T's visits are no more. I am praying and trying to figure out, how to love T's mother and still protect him from the abandonment that looms over his head, constantly.

I am grateful for the journey that has brought us T.

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Life of Change

Life has evolved and changed. We had a litter of Goldendoodle puppies, this summer. My husband built a shed and redid our living room fireplace. It looks amazing, and heats our home dramatically more. We also took on 2 more children, bringing our total to 7 children. In the beginning of August we brought in 2 more girls, into our home. So we had a 10m, 16m. 4, 6,7,9,10 year olds in our family.

Yesterday that changed. The little girl that we got 11 months ago, left the state. We knew it was a very real possibility from the beginning. She had family that wanted her, out of state. But we had a connection to her mom because a cousin had adopted her sister and nephew. We became very attached and she began calling us mommy and daddy. The move would have been easier, if we believed she was going into a loving home. Her mom contested the placement. She took the case before a judge. We had the placement move draw out for a month. It was hard. I heard the judge say that he wanted to keep the child with us, but the law mandated that he place in a home where she was with biological family. Even after her mom took the stand and voiced her concerns, and fought to place her daughter, where she believed it would be best for her. It didn't matter. I cried. I cried that she could not say where her daughter should go. As I type this, I relieve the court scene. The trauma of hearing him say that they do this all the time. All the time?? That is awful!!

The next day, after we knew it was going to be our last moments with her, we were able to take our little girl to the state building, where we spent 2 hours with her mother, and us. Our kids played, we talked, and I left sobbing. I was able to thank her mother for letting us love her. I regret nothing. But it hurts. I can cry over the pain, easily. I miss her little chipmunk giggle. I miss her random screams. I miss her reaching for me. I miss her random "mommy" calls. I miss holding her. She would drool when she was mad, and crying.... and though I never thought I would say this.... I miss that too.

I decided to write, because it has always helped. And today, the day after we said goodbye, I need something to help. I still hold out a glimmer of hope, that something miraculous can happen.... and maybe she'll come back to us.... maybe. God has been known to part waters for His children. Who knows?

Until then, I am going to try to have our independent home study completed. We started it, many months back. We are also in the beginning of getting our home study to adopt our first son. It has been a long journey. But I know that it could have been a lot more rocky, than it has been. I will write about our journey with him, next time. Pin It Now!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Foster Parenting, Summer, and Homeschooling?

I actually had to look back and read my previous post....Just to catch up, myself. A lot has changed in the months since November. We had the holidays. In the months of Oct-Nov. we had 7 different children in our home. It was kinda crazy. We took in another teenager. Our final attempt at that. We learned a lot. Basically, our kids safety mattered, but more than safety.....the feel of our home.....that is important. The ability to come home and have a safe haven, a safe place, a place that is protected, a place that we can rest.....that is more important that a bunch of other things. Why? well because you can't really grow, unless you have some of those things. Who needs to grow in our home? Well, all of us. Especially, me. So our family's experience fostering the young adults is that this is the very area that is effected, so my husband, has said a firm no to the teenagers. There is a tremendous need, and maybe someday we will be able to, but it's not today.

Our house settled down in Dec. The revolving door of placements came to a halt in Dec. We had a baby come into our life. Now, I always thought I never wanted to go back to the little baby stage, ever, again. I was wrong. It appears that the baby, who is now really becoming a toddler, may not be with us much longer. It is a roller coaster of a ride. Many highs, and many lows. I have grown leaps and bounds, during this process.

I was looking around for blogs about homeschooling christian families who are also foster parents. Not sure if I'm just not typing the right words, but there just doesn't seem to be many. Oh yah, I haven't discussed that, yet.

It may be premature of me to mention, but I am in constant prayer about homeschooling my kids. All my kids. Last year, well this year, since we are technically at the end of it (2 more days to go), my life looked like this. We  have 3 biological kids, the oldest, I homeschooled. the 2 younger ones go to a montessori charter school, then I had 1 child that went to speech 3 times a week, whom also had many dentists appointments :) We also got a baby, who had a lot of doctor appointment, and then there's NAPS. Mess with naps, well, mess with sanity in the house! I also was able to participate in a bible study that required my tuesday and thursday mornings. Mix in responsibilities as a foster parent...and well, it was a lot to cram in a year. I know that it was God who sustained me. I know it.

And perhaps, if I had not seen how dramatically my relationship with my son changed, I would not be considering homeschooling all of them. But it did, and I am. My younger kids go to a great school. I have been grateful for the school that they have. But there's this nagging feeling that I have, and it's growing......and it has to do with time, connection, and learning. It goes something like this I don't have very much time with them! they are gone pretty much all week, the weekends go too quickly, so as a result, my connection is faint, especially with my beautiful daughter. And then there's character, I want to teach them that. I need to be the one teaching them that. And I have failed them miserably at teaching that. I have kinda just let it come up, but have not initiated that learning and teaching in my home. Pin It Now!