A Friday in early November, I woke up thinking it was a good day to lay in bed all morning and relax doing small projects, to check as many things off my to do list as possible. But then the phone rang, it was our licensing worker wondering how many kids we'd be willing to take. Double checking, just in case, she said. There was a slight possibility some placements would be made that day. The words lice and skin lesions were casually mentioned, and, even though I was told not to expect anything, I flew into a flurry as soon as I hung up the phone. I started by calling DH and Mom, to tell them the possibility existed for the day's events to change at a moment's notice. Then, I ran through the kids' room and the house gathering all the super plush comforters, stuffed animals, extra clothes, soft-surfaced toys and tossing it all into the guest room, garage, and attic. I grabbed some clothes out of the totes in the attic, in sizes I thought might come into our home. I washed, folded, and stacked them neatly in outfits in the bassinet in the master bedroom.
I ran around frantically up until the moment I left the house to meet another foster mom for lunch. Lunch was fabulous. We discussed the joys, affirmations, frustrations, and doubts we'd been facing in our foster journeys since we finished our MAPP training class back in April. Even though DH and I had only been officially licensed a week, I was so exhausted from waiting through the 7 months of delays that I was beginning to think we wouldn't have a placement until well into 2015. We long ago put the future of our family in the Lord's hands, and just asked Him to make it abundantly clear what paths we were to take along the way. As we sat at lunch, I prayed that the Lord would calm my impatient heart, and bless and equip my fellow foster mom and bless her family with all they would need for their next adventure. As we were in the parking lot, saying our goodbyes, my phone rang. It was a placement worker asking if DH & I were willing to take a sibling group of 3 (a boy, 3, and two girls, 5 & 6). The placement supervisor asked when I could come pick them up, ideally in the next two hours. I was literally in the parking lot across the street from the DSS building, and told her I'd be there in about 2 minutes. She began expediting the paperwork, while I had my little happy dance moment and hopped in the car. Less than 15 minutes later, I was on my way home with three kids.
We learned quickly that we have to be jaded about how we listen and react to everything. The kids had never had a bed before, and definitely never had their own. They lie and fake illnesses to get attention, and tell a bit too much of the truth when they tell everyone (and I do mean EVERYONE) why they are staying with us. They attacked snacks and dinner like cavemen, gagging and choking themselves on the sheer volume of food they were double-fisting into their mouths, and would then attack each other trying to get more. We had to go to the store immediately to get supplies, as they came only with the clothes on their backs (and several sizes too small at that). Clothes, Pull-ups (not one was potty trained), hair brushes/combs, lice treatment, rash creams, extra Neosporin, cough medicine, allergy medicine, etc. I spent 6 hours (9pm-3am) pulling and combing lice out of one of the girl's matted hair, as she cried and screamed endlessly out of exhaustion. I would have given almost anything at that moment to be able to shave her head and put her to bed. Every time I started to think I could break for the night, wash sheets and start back over in the morning, she would begin scratching her head so hard she would tear open, bleeding scratches into her scalp. So, we sat there, fighting sleep with tears running down our faces until we couldn't get anymore of the lice out. We did a second washing and went to bed, praying for the best.
I barely got an hour or two of sleep, but the kids slept for a good 16 hours before waking up for dinner, then, cried themselves to sleep until they woke for lunch the next day. By Monday, we were uncovering signs of abuse, separation anxieties, neuroses, hoarding tendencies, medical needs, and some major attitude/bossing/entitlement issues.
FAST FORWARD several weeks, a lot of unconditional love, patience, regular weekly schedules/daily routines, and a whole lot of prayer later, and we have wonderful kids that are adjusting well, despite all obstacles. We are convinced we got an amazing sibling group, and are so thankful the Lord has blessed us with such a wonderful first placement. We still have 2-7 doctor's appointments a week, weekly parental visitations, and need to do extensive allergy testing, developmental evaluations, and begin taking the kids to therapy, but we have already come so far that our huge to do list is a sigh of relief compared to what it looked like two months ago.
We were so blessed to take the kids out of state with us for Christmas at my mom's house. They truly thrived with all the individual attention, and came out of their shells as they bonded with our family. It was only the second time, the first being Thanksgiving with an extended family crowd, that they had run into a house and made themselves at home instantly. Normally, they would cling to our legs and sit on our laps refusing to interact with others, until we ask them to go participate and promise we won't leave the room, but, at "Nana's" house, there were enough people that the kids had their choice of who they wanted attention from. We no longer have nightly tears for their bio-family, though we do have tears on visitation days. We do, however, have daily tears for our family that we "left behind" out of state.
Our kindergartner brought home a picture last week of our family, and I cried my eyes out. It was so rewarding to hear her say the words "I love you," when they were directed at me, after months of her telling me daily, if not every 20 minutes or hourly, that she hated me and I'm not her mom. My heart broke for the kids, as they had the first parental no-show for visitation this week. It's so hard to see the kids go from having parents that are always there on time or early, to having one of their parents drop the ball so suddenly. The kids sat perfectly still for 2 1/2 hours waiting for their parent to show. I was able to calm them down, but they are still disappointed. I'm so thankful that they trust us enough now to know that when I told them I'll see what I can do to set up another visit, I'll follow through.
Our big prayer requests currently are that: the Lord will grant us the blessing of being able to get a family vehicle large enough to fit our whole family, we'll be able to witness to both the kids and the bio-family, that we can get the medical diagnoses the kids need to get better physically and caught up developmentally/educationally, and that their parents consistently work their plans and show up for visitations as scheduled.
Sick day- Dinosaur Train and puppy snuggles make everything better.
We made Christmas cookies, and I wish I had taken more photos.
We had some absolutely priceless shapes and decorating.
* It is so hard to get unidentifiable pictures these days. They love having their pictures taken, and I guess I'm not sneaky enough. Haha!