Thursday, December 6, 2012
Little Man left on October 20, a Saturday. Casey texted me on Tuesday, October 23 with this message, "Ok, remind me of your bed situation. Do you have access to another twin?" Then we talked... I picked up another twin bed that afternoon, set it up that night, got the room ready on Wednesday night, then picked the girls up on Thursday afternoon.
Big Sis was 5 and Little Sis had just turned 5. They also have 3 year old Little Brother who was placed with a friend of mine. Big Sis started kindergarten at my school and Little Sis started preschool on Friday. Their adjustment was fairly easy, although my adjustment going from one boy to two girls was quite a shocker.
To say the least, life is very different at my house now. Instead of talking about Wonder Pets, we talk about babies and play school. Instead of never worrying about hair, I'm fixing hair multiple times a day. Instead of a meat eater who could've eaten and entire rotisserie chicken in one sitting (if I let him), I have two little girls who could probably live their whole life without eating meat and be totally fine with that.
God is teaching me quite a bit through this experience. I am learning some facts about myself that I find less than appealing... I am NOT as patient as I thought I was or I need to be. I am proud and have issues asking for and accepting help, and by doing that, I'm robbing others of the opportunity to pour into the lives of these children when they have the desire to do so. I am stubborn and want my own way, even when I know logically that God's way is much better for me in every way.
So how am I dealing with these issues that have come up? Well, I'm praying on the patience thing and I have many others praying for me as well. Not much more I can do on that one, except to take a deep breath and count backwards from 10 (or 100... whatever works). As far as the asking for help and accepting it? Well, God has graciously given me multiple opportunities to practice this lately and although it's been hard, I've done it. I have THE BEST church family and family a girl could ever ask for, and they are a blessing to me and my fosters and I am so very very thankful for them! Let's just say, if you ever see the girls smile, know that my precious friends had a hand in keeping their smiles beautifully white (and not silver). And also? Santa's sleigh may wreck on it's way to my house because of an overloading issue. :)
The last issue has not been quite as easy to deal with and I'm still walking (trudging?) through it. I have an amazing small group that has been faithful in praying for me, listening, and offering advice and insight. You see, I have been struggling for a while now with letting the Holy Spirit take charge. You know that feeling when you stand on the edge of the high dive and look over the edge? That feeling of, "Wow... this could be awesome... or terrible..." Logically, I know that it won't be terrible, but that doesn't keep me from being afraid of where He will lead me. What if God calls me out of where I am? What if He asks me to move to the Middle East? What if He asks me to quit my job? What if I don't want to go where He leads? I'm stuck on the high dive. I know that it's time to jump or climb down, but I just keep staring into the pool hoping for a gust of wind to just blow me in. So for right now I'm going to keep on keeping on. I'm going to work through the feelings of fear that are holding me back, and the sins that are separating me from God, and eventually, I'll dive. It may very well be a belly-flop, but at least I'll be in the water.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
On Monday, October 1st, he turned 5. I rejoiced.
On Wednesday, October 3rd, I found out that he would be moving in with his forever family on October 20. I wept.
On Sunday, October 7th, we picked up mom and drove up to his Aunt and Uncle's house to meet them. I was filled with hope and joy at what was to come for my Little Man. ("A Day of Family, Fellowship, & Hope")
On Friday, October 12th, I drove Little Man and brother up to meet Aunt L for Little Man's weekend visit. I felt weird in an empty house.
On Sunday, October 14th, I picked Little Man up and he told me all about his weekend. I breathed a sigh of relief.
On Friday, October 19th, I packed all of Little Man's stuff so that we could have a lazy Saturday morning together. I held it together, but knew that the cracks were starting to show.
On Saturday, October 20, 2012, I finished loading up the car and began the 2 hour drive to drop Little Man off at his new home. After unloading all of his boxes (the boy has a LOT of stuff!) and my mom got a good look at the BCS championship ring that is housed at Aunt L and Uncle P's house, we hit the road to come back home. Thankfully, my mom was able to come up and ride with us, so she drove home. Minus one little moment, I kept it together. I kept busy Saturday afternoon and I was able to keep my emotions at bay.
On Sunday, October 21st, I got to church and the waterworks started as soon as the first hug came. I knew that this would be one of my safe places to land. These people have walked through this journey with me. They know the struggles and fears that I've had throughout this process. They took the time to get to know Little Man and to LOVE him, even when the easier thing would have been to hold him at arm's length. They encouraged me and helped me to see the positive side of things when I found out when I would be losing him. They prayed for me constantly as this day drew closer.
As I sit and look back on today, I find that it wasn't as bad as I had expected. Did I cry? Oh, definitely yes. Many a tear was shed today, and I'm quite sure that I'm not finished. But I was also able to see the new testament church in action today. I was hugged by many. I was held while I wept. Some cried with me. I was prayed for. Little Man was prayed for. Beth, Jenny, Kim, Chris, Jessica, Tommy, Erin, Candace, Kelli, Paige, Bill, Amy, and so many many more... They were the hands and feet of Jesus today. They lifted me when I was weak and have poured their own strength into me. Although my heart is broken, it is also encouraged. I could not have made it through today without you guys. Thank you for being "Jesus with skin on," as my long time mentor, BD, says.
Now to look to the future. Hopefully soon, and VERY soon, I will be able to share a new addition with you. I am praying that a placement comes quickly and that I can, once again, share the love that has been poured out on me with a child who needs to be loved unconditionally.
Saturday, October 13, 2012
This weekend I'm getting a taste of what it will be like as of next Saturday...
No one to check in on before I turn in for the night.
No one to wake me up on the weekends when all I want to do is sleep late.
No one to get ready in the morning.
No one to record Wonder Pets or Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for.
Praying that I get a new placement soon. I'm not really a fan of having an empty house!
Sunday, October 7, 2012
After an emotional day at church (it was Little Man's last Sunday with me at church), we headed out for our great Sunday adventure. We headed downtown to pick mom up, and after getting her, we hit the road to meet Little Man's future.
During the two hour drive to Little Man's future home, it got increasingly hard to keep my eyes open and on the road. All I could think of is that I would rather turn the car around, go home, take a nap, and just ignore all of the calls from the people trying to find Little Man... maybe they would forget where I lived and that would be that. Instead, I just kept driving and changing the music to keep myself awake.
When we got to the W's house, only Aunt L, B and brother were there (brother has been spending weekends there), but they welcomed us with open arms and made us feel at home immediately. Soon, a slew of people began arriving to celebrate Little Man... meeting him, as well as his birthday, which just passed. Aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, grandkids... there were so many people there that I had a hard time keeping everyone straight. There was one thing I could say about every person at that house, though; each and every one of them are committed to Little Man and Brother, as well as to mom. Just seeing them interact with such love spoke of a genuine desire and calling to be a light in the darkness. I believe that I may have mentioned this before, but the Ws are not new to bringing "non-biological" children into the fold. They have raised children who were not born to them, and have treated them as their own, talk of them with pride, and live and breathe of love for them.
I am excited that my Little Man gets to be a part of this family. My heart is blessed beyond measure that he will have a father figure who loves God more than anything and treats his wife like a queen. I am thrilled that this family will not only treat him and brother like their own, but will strive to foster their relationship with mom. I love that they not only want mom involved in the boys' lives, but they long for her to experience restoration and healing as well.
Never before have I truly experienced and grasped what it means for God to turn our mourning into dancing. But now I know. I now know what it means to feel my heart, breaking with dread at what is to come, change into a heart full of joy and hope for the future. I am so thankful that I can now consider the W family a part of my own. We will forever have a tie that binds us together... love for a child who may not be born to us, but will always hold a place in our hearts.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
When I got his social worker's message yesterday after school, I was okay for a little while, and then I went to my small group at church. I'm in a parenting Bible study (Parenting with Scripture, great resource!) and funnily enough, the first topic that we were to discuss was change. That's when it started.
Now, let's get something straight, I'm an ugly cryer. My face contorts, my nose runs, my eyes swell... not so cute. Thank goodness it wasn't too bad and I was able to calm myself down before the true ugly crying started, but it was enough to be a forwarning of what is to come in the next few weeks. My emotions seem to be on a merry-go-round. I'm happy that Little Man and his brother will eventually be back together. I'm happy that they have a family who wants them and was willing to go through all of the hoops to get them and keep them together. I'm happy that this will likely be a forever home for both of them, but that mom will be an important part of their lives as well. But I'm sad for me! There are so many things that I'll miss about this child. There will be so many ways that my life will feel empty.
The worst part, however, is knowing how much he will miss me. I know that sounds incredibly weird... so let me explain. Little Man came to me from another foster family. They are AMAZING!! They loved him (and still do!) as if he were their own child and he loves them fiercely. He not only cried for them when he first came to me, but he wept. He wept tears of anguish as he missed the brother, sisters, and parents that God had placed him with for that season. He wept for fear of the unknown. He wept because of the finality of the realization that he would never live with them again. I almost feel that as he goes through this process of grieving again, I may be able to feel his pain through the miles. I know the words he will use and the way his cries will sound... as if his heart is breaking into a million pieces with no hope of repair. I know how he will ask Aunt L and Uncle P if Sunny (my dog) can come and live with them because he misses her. I know how he will be scared at night in his new bed and will keep himself awake as long as he can because of that fear. I know how he will talk about things that we did together and ask to do them again. I know how he will have to relearn family rules and expectations yet again.
The things that scare me and make me sad about this situation can quickly overwhelm me, so it is now my goal to stay positive. I know all of the positives in this situation. I know that this is what's best for Little Man. I know that God's hand is not just in this, but is controlling all of this. I know that this family has raised successful, Godly children. Some who, despite traumatic beginnings, have reclaimed their futures and are living their best lives. Twenty years from now, I look forward to getting a call from Little Man and hearing about where he is and what he's doing... hearing about what he's doing for the Lord and how God is using him.
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Saturday, September 15, 2012
I have been at the Empowered to Connect Conference in Nashville all day yesterday and today. This is the conference by Dr. Karen Purvis, author of The Connected Child. I have learned SO much, so start preparing yourself for a post of all posts... :)
Check out their website!!
Empowered to Connect
Sunday, September 9, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Sunday, September 2, 2012
On Thursday, August 24, I went to a meeting in which it was formally decided that Little Man will be going to Aunt L and Uncle P's house within the next few months. I am very thankful, as I mentioned in my last post, for this family and for their dedication to these boys. I have been determined to stay positive about the move so that my emotions will not go insane over the next month. Having this much time to prepare Little Man and myself (and my friends and family) for the impending move is a luxury that is rarely seen in foster care. In order to begin the prep, I began talking immediately about Aunt L and Uncle P and how great they are and that Little Man will get to see them soon. Once he became comfortable with the idea of meeting them, I began throwing in some questions about brother, "Wouldn't you like to live with brother again? You can live with him at Aunt L and Uncle P's house... isn't that awesome?" A week went by with simple answers to my questions and not a second thought. Then Wednesday happened.
As we got in the car to go to choir this past Wednesday night, Little Man realized the full extent of what we had been talking about for the past six days. Now, don't get me wrong... this kid can cry. It's usually, however, when he doesn't get his way and then ends up in trouble. This was different, though. As he began crying, it sounded as if his little heart was breaking into millions of pieces. When he finally calmed down enough to talk, he said what I had been dreading for almost an entire week: "But I don't want to leave! I'm going to miss you too much."
This is the point where logically, I expected myself to start tearing up and losing it. It didn't happen, though, surprisingly enough. After reasoning with Little Man for the last of the drive to choir, he calmed down and we went about our Wednesday night business. It was a different story when we got home, though. As we got ready for bed and started reading our Bible story and saying prayers, this 4 year old little boy wept in my arms at the thought of having to say goodbye to his home again, and to the people and things that he now loves and holds dear to his heart. He wept hardest as the thought came to him that Sunny, my dog, would not be going with him. My heart broke, but yet the tears still did not come. As Little Man finally went to sleep that night and I left his room, I found myself wondering what was wrong with me that I had not become emotional and cried at all.
Thursday night was still bad, but yet better than Wednesday. Still... no tears. Friday and Saturday nights were normal. I'm not sure if Little Man is just coping with the thought of leaving better than before, or if he's just tuned it out, but we haven't had anymore discussions (or cry-fests) over his impending departure. As for me, I found out that Baby M would be joining us this Tuesday, so my thoughts shifted gears pretty radically. Honestly, Little Man's departure was the last thing on my mind as I walked into church this morning. (Wait, walked? I meant to say ran with wet hair flying!) During communion, though, I sat in a chair to pray and began crying immediately. Every tear that had refused to surface during the previous few nights made its way down my face. With every tear that fell, I felt Little Man's day of departure growing closer and closer.
As irritated as I can get with this little ball of energy, I will miss him desperately when he is no longer with me. No more talk about Wonder Pets... or Wonder Pets prison. No more movie quotes that make absolutely no sense in the conversation. No more incessant "what if" questions. No more zurbits or tennies. No more scrunched up mad face that drives me crazy. No more feet that smell to high heaven after a day of shoes. No more impish grin and guilty face when I walk into his bathroom and the floor is covered in water because he's playing in the sink. No more flipping off of my chair and kicking everything in his path (yes, including my face!). No more requests for a bunny, hamster, mouse, turtle, duck, chicken, or lizard. No more finding the entire bag of guinea pig treats stuffed into the guinea pig cage. No more guinea pig. No more Little Man hugs and "I love you"s. No more thank yous for the smallest things that would go unnoticed by most kids. No more Little Man.
I already grieve for the day that he leaves. I already dread having to let go of him and entrust him to another family. I already dread having to say goodbye and not seeing him everyday. But God is giving me grace for the moment. What good would it do for Little Man to see my anguish? How would it make him feel if my tears fell and I clung to him instead of letting him go? With every positive word that I utter about this life change for him, I pray that he hears it as an affirmation of where he needs to be. I pray that he begins looking forward to being with his brother again. I pray that he begins to heal before he even moves. And when the day comes for me to drop him off, I pray that he jumps out of my car and runs into his new home with joy, even as my heart shatters. I pray, for the both of us, for grace for the moment.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Not only has summer ended and school started, but I am approaching the end of my first season in Foster Care. Little Man, who has been with me 3 months now, will be leaving me in the next month or so. The situation is truly a great one and I am so very thankful for a family who has a large amount of both faith and love to share. They have stepped up to the plate and taken the challenge of raising two boys because they see it as their calling, their ministry, and their responsibility. To Aunt L and Uncle P, I cannot thank you and your family enough for setting my mind and my heart at ease. After meeting you, I have no doubt that this is God's BEST for Little Man and his brother. To Mama M, you WILL beat this. You will be free to be who God has called you to be. You are a phenomenal woman and you are capable of whatever you set your mind to do. And above all, you are Mama to two of the most precious children on God's green earth... and you always will be! You will all certainly be a part of my extended family... united by love for a child whose name will forever be etched into my heart and mind.
I have had to come to terms with the fact that I have been karate chopped in the face by Jesus. Has that ever happened to you? It's not exactly pleasant at the moment, but it has been an experience that has rocked my world for the past few days. Sunday morning my Sunday School class was reading and discussing this passage from John:
Now my soul is troubled. And what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name. (John 12:27-28)
Am I to give up and run away from my calling as soon as it gets tough? Am I to get frustrated and negative about my situation simply because it isn't easy? Was Christ's calling easy? Was it even pleasant? No. He came knowing what was in store for Him... He didn't shy away from the hard and the unpleasant. He sought it out. He overcame sin and death because He chose to.
Therefore... I am committed. I am called. I will stay.
And in 30 years? They'll have to bribe me to leave. (And it better be a good bribe!)
And during these next 30 years? I'll laugh and cry. I'll teach and learn. I'll hug and LOVE. I'll hit my knees and pray. I'll be who God has called me to be while following the path He has set before me. I will do everything I can to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the precious children and families that God has placed in my life and in my community... and I will thank Him for EVERY minute of it!
So in conclusion... on August 28, 2042... ask me how it went. :)
Monday, August 6, 2012
My family (especially my mom) likes to laugh about how I remember things. The memories I have from when I was a kid are very real, but my mom swears up and down that things just didn't happen that way. I still think I'm right, but I guess a stalemate is always awarded in favor of the oldest, right? ;) However, imagine that you were born and lived with your birth mother and older brother for a while, then you were taken out of your mom's home and placed into foster care. Your mom is no longer the keeper of your memories. And you were only a baby... you can't remember what you looked like, the experiences you had... and what about your health history?? After finally being reunited with mom, you were again taken away and put back into care. Only this time, you stayed in the system for well over a year, living in four different homes within that time period. Each family that cared for you has a piece of your puzzle, but actually being able to gather that information later is, for the most part, impossible.
Just the thought of this impossible chore makes my stomach turn into knots. I had an experience today that made me truly appreciate having a mom and dad who are keepers of my history, and made me mourn for those who are not able to say the same. I sat in a doctor's office today filling out a form for my little man. The majority of the questions were pertaining to the here and now, which I can easily fill out. I came to a page that stumped me, though... Every question was about the child before the age of 3. Well, I can't answer those questions, for I was not there. I am quite blessed in this situation to be able to call bio-mom and ask her the questions, for which she was able to answer most. What about the ones who can't do that? What will happen when I am caring for a child who is in their fifth foster home at the age of three? Who will answer the questions then?
My heart breaks for these children who, not only are having the "present day" of all that is familiar ripped away from them, but in the process, they are also losing their history.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Thursday, August 2, 2012
"Hey, E, what do you think about Mrs. Erin?"
"I feel freshy..."
"Umm... What does freshy mean?"
"It means... I love her."
"What do you love most about Mrs. Erin?"
"Everything. And giving her kisses!"
People, the majority of the time, tell me that they couldn't do what I do when it comes to foster care. They couldn't love and care for a child for a season, and then let them go. I, however, beg to differ...
I have an amazing group of friends. Some I know from church, work, school, and some from other random ways. All, of them, however, have accepted E into their lives without question and without hesitation. From Sarah K. who dotes on E at every turn, to Kim L. who has taught E how to splash every mud puddle he sees in his immediate vicinity. (Been meaning to thank you for that, Kim.), they all love him and show him that love freely.
One friend, Erin H. (well, now it's Erin P.), has kept E for me when he was sick and I had to work. Not only has she done me that huge favor ("flavor" as E calls it), but she has also gone out of her way to spend time with E, like picking him up from daycare and hanging out with him, just as a special treat. These things she does knowing full well that in a short time from now, she will say goodbye to this child and more than likely never see him again.
If you know a child in care, please know that every moment you spend pouring into their lives is a moment they will very likely remember and keep with them... always. Children in foster care are prone to low self-esteem issues. Imagine that you are ripped out of your home; away from your parents, siblings, toys, pets, bed, clothes... everything. The majority of kids not only have adjustment issues (wouldn't you?), but they also place every bit of blame for their situation on themselves! Can you imagine feeling that you were the cause of ripping your family apart?
We, as foster parents, have the responsibility of caring for these children and helping them heal from their hurts... which includes dealing with their low self-esteem and misplaced blame. You, as friends of foster parents, have the responsibility of showing these children love and acceptance so that when they're asked about what they think about you, they will reply, "Freshy!" You are loving them for the season, and showing them that they are worth the effort...
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
So up until about 5:00 this morning, I realized I have felt like a long-term babysitter. Then came surgery day and all of the sudden, I now feel like a mom.
Last night was difficult. I was sleeping in E's twin bed, he was on a pillow pallet on the floor next to me, and my mom (aka, Bea) was in my bed. I was startled out of my second hour of sleep by massive flashes of lightening at around 2:00 am. A few seconds later, E was also jolted wide awake by an enormous thunder clap and lightening strike. The power went out and he ended up in the [twin] bed with me and therefore sleep was a spotty commodity the rest of the night.
After getting up at 4:45 and getting ready, I picked up a still sleeping 4 year old from his bed and made my way through the torrential downpour to get in the car for our hospital departure. As I performed this hefty task (the boy is solid!), I flashed back in my mind to one early morning when I was 4 and my daddy carried me to the car to go to the hospital for my foot surgery. It was this that began to cement feeling of being a "Mommy" into my heart and mind.
This feeling was perpetuated throughout the morning as the doctors and nurses came in and out of the room to talk to us, give updates, and check on Little Man as he recovered. I'm not sure why it took two months of caring for a little one full time to bring this fact to the forefront of my mind, but now that it's there, it has changed something inside of me.
Now the things that bothered me before (see earlier post) have lessened in intensity. Don't get me wrong, they're still there... and come to think of it, I'm probably opening Pandora's box of things that will irritate me even more. However, for now, this works for me.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Frustration is brewing inside. My discontent grows stronger each day. Leaving the ball in someone else's court is so very difficult! I know that it's what's best in the long run, but it is my nature to try to step in and fix things. The waiting is hard, and my emotions don't even begin to compare to what little man must be feeling.
All I can see through all of the frustration is that my Father is waiting for me just as E and I wait for her. Does He get as frustrated with me as I do with her? Thank God for His grace and mercies... and that He is always there waiting, no matter how long I take.
Friday, July 27, 2012
I am Erin. I am a teacher, a Christian, a daughter, a sister and a soon-to-be sister-in-law. I am a friend, a dog person, a lover of teacher bags and cute boxes. I am also a foster mom... a single foster mom.
I have always wanted to foster. I can't remember a time in my life that I didn't want to. I always just assumed (and prayed) that I would get married, start a family, and then foster. God, however, has a different plan for me. I not only have a unique position in the lives of the kids who come into my care, but I also now have an opportunity for ministry with all single moms, especially those whose kids I am caring for.
I love where I am in life. I love the people and organizations that God has brought into my life in order to support me in my special form of motherhood. Thank God for unanswered prayers!!
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
If you would have asked me on May 24, 2012 whether I had any reservations or hesitations when it came to physical affection, I would have scoffed at the question and answered with an emphatic, "NO!" Then I received my first placement on May 25...
It's not that I don't enjoy some good snuggles, but being pushed past my comfort level with physical affection, my primary love language, was honestly shocking to me. I think what bothers me the most, however, is that I wonder if it would be different if it were my biological child. I don't have any bio children, so it's impossible to know the answer to the question that nags me every time my little friend kisses my leg or puts his face against my neck, but it doesn't stop me from wondering and even feeling guilty about it.
I also wonder whether I am subconciously holding my friend at somewhat of a distance in order to protect myself from the inevitable grief that will come when he leaves me. The fact that he will leave me relatively soon looms in the outskirts of my mind like a stubborn smudge on my glasses. I can see through it, but it distorts my vision and irritates the fire out of me. People continually ask or comment about the difficulty of letting a child go after you have cared for them like your own... I don't have an answer yet for that. My first loss has yet to happen and I don't think that anything can truly prepare one for the grief that follows. I do think it helps that my mindset has been one of knowing that I will only care for each child for a season. Ask me how helpful that mindset is, however, in a few months and I'll let you know how it goes...