Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little Man!

Well, Little Man wakes up in the morning as a 5 year old. The banner is hung across his room and balloons are blown up and strewn ALL over the living room. I'm already warming up my vocal chords for a glorious rendition of the "Happy Birthday" chorus at about 6:20 in the morning when I go in to wake him up. In the back of my mind, though, is the fact that there is another woman out there who is more than likely grieving that she is not the one who is waking her child up on his birthday, singing to him in a silly voice, and picking up doughnuts on the way to daycare (which he, thankfully, chose instead of cupcakes...). I understand that there are those people out there who pretty much dismiss birth families and feel that if they lost their child in the first place, then good riddance to them. I used to be that person... Thank God that He worked a miracle in my heart...

I'm not sure if I've told this story on here before, but it deserves a repeat right about now anyway, so here it is again.

Informational session of GPS class (the class you have to go through to get licensed as a foster parent), Traci made the comment, "We know that it is technically DHR's responsibility to transport children to and from visitation, but we really encourage all of our families to get involved in those visitations and get to know the birth family." My reaction? Ummmm... NOPE!! Not what I'm in this for... They lost their child for a reason, and I'm here for the child, not the parents.

Well, now that almost seems laughable, but I was serious about it then. God has changed my heart since then, needless to say. I now look forward to the opportunity to get to know the birth families and show them Jesus with some skin on. For in the long run, if I do not strive for change in the entire family, is the healing that takes place in the child while they're with me effective at all? True, it can have some short term benefits, but at best, it will simply turn into a talisman of hope in their hearts rather than a true and meaningful change in their lives. I treasure the time that Little Man gets to spend with his family and I hope that he creates an ocean of great memories with them so that they will carry him through the rough times that will inevitably come in the future. 

Saturday was one of those memories. His birthday party was a blast... So many friends were able to come, and they truly showed their love for Little Man just by being there. The people that I was most excited about coming, though, was his former foster family, the Fox family, and his mommy. Seeing him run to greet them and hug them like there was no tomorrow put a flame of joy in my heart. It made the time and expense totally worth it... And a hug from mom after the party, and hearing how much it meant to her... That was just icing on the cake. (Yes, pun intended.)

So now that the festivities are over, we're left with his actual birthday day. He'll wake up to Miss Erin singing to him instead of mommy, and he'll stop by Joe's Doughnuts for his birthday treat for school with his foster mom instead of mommy, but by golly, the boy will have his birthday dinner with his mommy! We head out tomorrow afternoon to pick up mom and brother and we'll head to the mall, where the 3 of them will have the first evening out together... On their own... In more than a year. Besides actually turning him into a real Wonder Pet, this is the best birthday present I can think of to give  this special Little Man who has captured my heart.

Happy birthday, Little Man. I pray that you will know how much your are loved... by me, by your mommy, by God. Blessings on you, dear heart. I love you!

I blog with BE Write

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Get ready...

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

Thoughts at the Big 3-0(h, SNAP!! I'm 30!!)

 Funny how our best laid plans for ourselves are pretty much laughable when we look back on them. Hind sight is 20/20, right?

Laughable plans that never happened list:
1. I was sure that I would meet the man I was to marry whilst in college. 
2. Not only would I meet that man, but I would be married to him right after graduating from college.
3. I would have at least one biological child before the age of 25 and be ready to adopt and have at least 3 or 4 more before 30.

What really happened list:
1. If I met my future husband in college, neither of us have figured it out yet.
2. Well, I think number one pretty much makes number two impossible, eh?
3. Ha ha! Well, not only am I running 5 years late on the whole first child thing, but I'm now at the point (and have been for a while, actually) where having children biologically is not something that appeals to me. Nothing against it, but I'm happy with the idea of solely adopting and fostering.

So now for the true reason that I'm writing... Turning 30 isn't hard, per se. What's hard is looking at where I thought I would be and where I am is just a little hard. In most moments, I am perfectly happy being single and childless. I am able to appreciate the simplicity that this lifestyle affords. However, if you asked me if this is where I want to when I'm 40 or 50, and I actually answered honestly, the answer would be no. I don't want to spend the rest of my life alone and that thought honestly scares me. I remember looking at single friends approaching 30 when I was in my early 20s and pitying them. Wow... What a difference a decade makes. 

So to come full circle on this... I have faith that God has the BEST plan for me. I refuse to settle for anything less, even though I've come close to settling in the past and God graciously plucked me out of the situation(s). I will trust that where I am and what I'm doing this very moment is part of the path that God has laid out for me. 

I truthfully cannot have a nice, neat little wrap up here and say something like, "I will embrace and celebrate 30... What a great age!" Yeah, not even close to saying that. However, I can say that I am happy in the place that God has me at the moment, and I look forward to seeing what else He has in store for me!

I blog with BE Write

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Love Without a Timetable

This was written on September 5. I thought I had posted it, but apparently had not... So here goes...

I brought him home from the hospital yesterday. After an afternoon of snuggling and learning how to administer medications, we picked up Little Man and settled into our life together. I just didn't know it would be such a short one.

Some may say I'm crazy for loving him after less than 24 hours of knowing him. Some say I shouldn't grieve the fact that he's gone, but I do. I spent weeks praying for him, talking about him, yearning to meet and hold him, and preparing for him. I anticipated his arrival with the same anxiety and excitement that new moms anticipate their own child's arrival; whether it be by birth, car, or plane. 

I loved on him for the time that I had him, and then I handed him back over exactly 19 hours after meeting him for the first time. Not knowing is the worst part. Knowing that court is in session, but not knowing what is happening is like slow torture. And then the text comes, "He's going home."

I took the news like a champ for a while. I was at work, busy. Walking into church, though, where everyone has been praying for this precious little life for weeks and anticipating his arrival along with me... Became a different story. The tears came and then grieving began. 

And the question I couldn't get out of my head... If losing one is this difficult after only one night, then how in the world am I going to let go of Little Man?? It will be painful. It will be hard. I'm going to struggle. But is there any way to prevent this from happening? The only way I could think of is to not love them in the first place. To separate myself from them and hold them at arm's length so that it hurts less when they leave... What a crock!

 I am called to love without measure for that is what Christ did for me. I am called to love radically and without reserve, even though I know it will hurt me in the end. People may call me crazy, but bring it on. If loving the wounded and protecting the vulnerable make me crazy, then start looking for my straight jacket, because that is my calling. I am not to live by a spirit of fear. I choose not to be afraid... I choose to love without limits or a timetable. If I have 3 years or 3 hours with a child, I want them, overall, to feel loved by the Savior. Let my life point back to Him.

I blog with BE Write

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Grace for the Moment

I have never truly understood the full meaning of the saying, "grace for the moment," until this past week. Let me explain...

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.