foster care Archives

The wedding is done. The kitchen is finally clean again after months of crazy – a word I have come to use all too much to describe our goings ons and I do think it’s time to come up with an alternate word for that word.

Cockamamie?

I put up Christmas lights yesterday. This isn’t something I usually do before December but it felt normal and right and we had used some of the lights at Kait and Vince’s wedding and I didn’t feel like putting them all away just to get them out again in two weeks so now we’re the cockamamie people on the block that are already decorated for Christmas.

[there should be a picture here but I failed and it’s light outside now so you’ll just have to wait]

Rabbit and I stood out on the lawn just after dark last night and looked at my creation. He eyed the roof of the house and said in all seriousness, I’m thinking maybe we should add some up there, and I realized that we are in the honeymoon stage that happens after a wild patch and we’ve got to be careful not to do too much because nobody is going to want to take all these lights down come January.

Did I mention that my daughter is married?

Wow.

And the entire wedding was perfect and beautiful and I can’t wait to have pictures to post. Our photographer is a family friend and she has had numerous weddings over the last couple of weeks so we’re going to sit and be patient but I know they turned out terrific.

We left on vacation the day after the wedding. We didn’t leave town, basically staying in our own backyard but Pensacola Beach is quiet and beautiful this time of year and the weather was perfect and we didn’t have to drive very far.

And the view from our condo was perfect.

Hot lemonade and favorite blankies on the balcony on a cool, breezy evening…  Who knew that was all it would take to appease these two little ones.

I will be honest and say that I was very happy to be back home after the four days at the beach but the vacation was so good.

And now to our last order of business to get everything caught up…

I mentioned before that we became foster parents in September, a task we took on at probably the worst possible time but we absolutely do not regret it one bit.  Our current placement is just the cutest child imaginable. I wish I could post her pictures and tell you all about her but that just can’t happen. What I can tell you is that she is the sweetest 2-year-old with a very uncertain future but she is doing amazingly well with us. Many of you have asked if there is anything we need or anything you can do to help and the truth is, if you would add her, her sibling, and their bio parents to your prayer list that would be the most helpful thing you can do right now.

And one last thing…

I am so sorry to all of you who have sent me messages after reading one of my posts here or on Facebook. I have been so overloaded with foster care appointments and meetings and wedding stuff and Lanie’s therapy and normal family things that I have had to cut out a lot of my social activities recently. But things do seem somewhat calm for the moment so I’ll hopefully do better.

And one more last thing…

We got Lanie a posterior walker. People, she is the cutest thing ever. Expect a video soon. 

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We did it.

It’s Down syndrome awareness month and I’ve completely failed at posting something every day about Down syndrome. In my defense, it’s been busy here over the last two weeks.

We successfully completed our very first foster care placement start to finish. It was a sibling group of two, ages five and two.

We were told it would be long-term but, as it turns out, there was another foster family who had their three-year-old sister and she decided she could take our two as well so after just two weeks our kids were moved to that home. It was ultimately a good move, but it was hard knowing these two kids who were just settling in here were going to have to settle into their third foster home in just 3 weeks.

So now we are waiting for the next call and everytime my phone rings my heart catches just a little.  We could get another placement today, or it could be a week from now.  The unknown of it all is probably the most difficult part.

Waiting for a foster care placement, knowing there is one coming but not knowing when or any circumstances surrounding the placement is this odd mix of excitement and angst.  Right now we are still coming off of the emotional rollercoaster of the last two weeks and, while we are ready and waiting for the next toddler in need, we are enjoying the quiet that we didn’t realize we had before our first placement. The thought of disrupting that is a little daunting.

But the kids are excited. They can’t wait for the next foster care adventure. And I’ve got all the bedding freshly washed and ready.

No run this morning. It’s record highs with 90% humidity so I’ll be going to the gym with the hubster this evening to run on a treadmill.  I am not much of a fan of treadmills but it definitely beats the super warm, crazy humid day we’re having.

Off to the orthodontist.

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I have been slow to talk about our family’s journey through the foster care licensing process. Rabbit, who is more than a little outgoing and vocal about everything, and I have talked about this a bit the last couple of days and I think I may have figured out my hesitation.  One reason was so we could back out at any time during the process without me having to explain anything. It is a daunting undertaking and as we went through all the steps I prayed for wisdom and guidance and for God to make our path clear, even if it meant we couldn’t continue this quest.

And then there was the judgment.

You would be amazed at a number of people who judge foster parents harshly. Or maybe you wouldn’t. I don’t know what amazes you but here are some reactions I’ve heard:

  • Why would you do that? 
  • I would never take in strange children. Our children are so impressionable and foster kids would corrupt them.
  • Taking in foster children encourages a corrupt government system. 
  • People who have a ridiculous amount of children already should not be foster parents.

Those are all actually valid concerns but I don’t feel like explaining myself to people who say judgy things instead of asking questions so I kept quiet about it to all but a few of my friends because people are always so human.

However, there is absolutely no excuse for this last, yet most popular comment.

  • Foster parents only do it for the money.

Yeah.
Sure.
$14 a day to care for a traumatized, often neglected, emotionally and/or physically abused child who doesn’t know how to express his or her feelings, who asks for food just to throw it away and ask for more because they are desperately seeking control over something, anything, in their life, who may or may not come with shoes or pajamas or anything of their own, who may be sick or have lice or are covered in scabies…
We have needed to purchase car seats and beds and mattresses and smoke detectors because the 6 we had weren’t enough, and another fire extinguisher and cabinet locks and candy (therapy session for one of the children was shopping for his chosen dinner and picking out some candy to share with the other kids).
We still need to buy some clothing and school supplies and did you know that hair care products for little girls with absolutely adorable, super curly, but very dry hair are obnoxiously expensive?

And coffee. I’m definitely going to need to buy more coffee.

Yeah. We’re making a killing over here.

I have talked a little about our homestudy to adopt from foster care, but actually becoming foster parents was a whole new ball game and required a huge mountain of paperwork and proof of absolutely everything and prayer and excitement and nervousness and anxiety and patience…

And now that we have completed all the work and we have foster children in our home I am experiencing a whole new form of anxiety that revolves around helping these kids. Understanding what they need from me as a temporary mom, knowing what is best for them, is not as easy as one might think and I’m second guessing every. single. step.

But we have no regrets. At least not so far. We’re going to stay this course and love these children until they can be reunited with their family.

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No picture but lots of words.

After the last few days of feeling a little on the grumpy side, I think things around here have taken a turn for the better.

Lanie was almost back to her normal self last night without any ibuprofen at all.  This is a huge deal because I had almost forgotten what adorable bedtime-Lanie was like but when she started crawling all over her Dad and trying to mash all the computer’s keyboard buttons it was so enjoyable. She’s still not super smiley but she didn’t cry at all last night, not even as she fell asleep and it’s probably been a month since she’s been like this. Normal.

She is still a little congested and is snoring right good even as I write this but she slept through the night and there is just a lot to be thankful for.

Like our homestudy today. I am so thankful that they’ve let us get to this point. I know at any time they could deny our family the chance to foster simply because of the number of minors we already have in the home. We only have two more steps. The homestudy and the health inspection. I’m not nervous at all and I think it has helped that I’ve been well aware that this is not a guarantee for us until the license is issued and even after that I think we’re supposed to be a standby foster family and will not be top of the list.

We leave tomorrow to go visit my mom and my sister and her family and we haven’t seen them in 4 years and I am much more excited than I usually am for a trip.  Motophobia is a real thing and it seems to be worse for me every time we go anywhere. I have even considered going to the doctor to get something for anxiety for longer car trips but as of right now I think a bottle of whiskey will work.
Of course I’m kidding.
I prefer vodka.
I really am excited to see my family. My brother is driving down with his boys too and we’ll have all the cousins together for the first time ever because there have been a couple of new kids born in the last 4 years.  It’s going to be fun.

I should probably get off the computer. I’ve been typing this out for almost an hour between hugging Maggie and drinking coffee and texting my sister and having non-descript conversations with my younger kids but I still have hairs to cut, the Walmart to shop, a post office to visit, bathrooms to clean, laundry to wash, bedrooms to straighten, and snacks to prepare for the trip and it’s going to be a busy day for sure.

But first, we run.

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The odd requirements to become foster parents.

We’re familiar with homestudies – we’re already approved to adopt through foster care – but to be foster parents the study of our home and family is much more in depth and there are a few more required tasks we must take care of in our home in order to pass the final homestudy and health inspection.

  • put lock on laundry room chemical cupboard
  • put lock on kitchen cabinet under sink
  • put lock on bathroom cabinet
  • put locks on everything everywhere
  • get fire extinguisher charged and tagged
  • clean all the things

There are some requirements I find interesting.  Homestudy requirements are state specific but from what I’ve read and the videos made by other foster parents that I have watched, there are a lot of similarities.  Below are the ones I take issue with, but not enough issue that it stops us from pursuing being foster parents – just enough issue to write a post about it.

  • Refrigerators must have a thermometer.  I am not really sure why this is so important. I guess you wouldn’t want a foster child to get really sick from eating bad food but how often does that really happen anyway? Most of us have been successfully using refrigerators our entire lives and when they stop working we immediately notice.  (note: our refrigerator has a thermometer built in with a display on the front so it’s not irritating to have to do this. I just think the requirement is odd.)
  • Water heaters have to be set at or below 120 degrees. I get this. I really do. But I still think it’s ridiculous. We have always kept our water heater temperature much higher than that and we have never had a problem in all 22 years of being parents. The 5000 tap water scaldings (rarely, almost never, resulting in death) that happen to children every year are almost always kids under the age of 4 who have been left unattended in the bath. I feel the issue here is that people are leaving toddlers alone in the tub long enough for them to turn on the water and get burned and the answer is to stop leaving toddlers alone in the tub because more than 90 kids drown in a bathtub every year. Even my 6 and almost 4 years old kids who can technically safely bathe without me hovering are never out of my earshot while in the bath because I don’t trust them to always make the right decisions. Of course, having to set our water temperature at 120 is not a reason to deny a child a home and a family but it’s still annoying.
  • Create and display a floor plan of the home labeling all the rooms, the size of each room, who is in each room, where the beds are in each room, and all windows and exits.  This kind of makes sense except it really doesn’t at all and seems like an asinine waste of time and now there is a map of my house cluttering my once-clear refrigerator door.  If there is a fire I don’t think any child is going to be so confused that they have to come into the kitchen and look at this map in order to create an exit strategy. Our house is just not so large as to require a diagram to figure out the exit points, even for a child new to our home.  And a child too young to understand exits and how to use them certainly won’t be aided by the clever map on my refrigerator. Perhaps the bed room sizing and bed placements could be helpful to firefighters. But if we had an actual fire I hardly think I’m going to advise the firemen to please just look at the map on the refrigerator door. I just don’t get this.

    Drawing this was a bigger tax on my time and sanity than it seems like it would be. First, I had to search out a ruler. We have 7 or 8 rulers but they are never anywhere to be found when I need one. Then I had to use different colored markers to label everything and why are all the markers dried out all the time? I had to fend off tiny people who saw paper and colors spread out everywhere and thought it would be helpful to assist me in my efforts.  And I had to hunt down our home’s floor plan to get the exact measurements of each room and thank goodness we have those plans because I couldn’t imagine having to actually measure each room with a tape measure.

  • Keep all medications in a locked box.
    Just kidding. This one makes absolute sense.

For the most part, the requirements to become foster parents seem genuinely helpful to both us and any potential foster child. Having a charged and tagged fire extinguisher – good idea.  Having plenty of food – yep. Having updated shot records for any pets – makes total sense.

But fire map? I just don’t get it.

 

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Will wonders never cease. And other stuff.

I finally slept an entire night without anybody waking me up.  Maggie didn’t have an accident. Lanie didn’t wake up to eat. The cats didn’t meow to go outside. And my boys remembered to turn off their notification sounds on their phones before plugging them into the charging center in our room.

I did wake up this morning with a sore throat and the constant tickle of a potential cough because of the long stretch of laying down but I’ll take it because when I woke up this morning I felt awake.

Is this how sleep works for normal people?

It’s good timing, too.  We have our first homestudy to become foster parents on Thursday and I feel the sudden urge to clean all the things. It’s kind of like nesting but without the frequent nap breaks, cereal cravings, and the huge belly getting in the way.

Onto other things.

Matthew and Ben shared Cokes with each other yesterday. They were side-by-side in the grocery store’s drink cooler so they couldn’t resist.

They are holding each other’s sodas in case you’re suddenly confused about who is who.

And these…

They are the devil.
I found these salted caramel peanuts sitting on the shelf at the store looking all innocent. There are supposed to be 6 servings in this little can but apparently, my brain doesn’t understand servings because I ate almost the entire thing at one time.

I guess I’d better go. The kids are bored, the baby is sleeping, and there is much to do.

 

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Yesterday Rabbit, Joe, and I took a trip to the Families First Network to get our fingerprinting done for background checks because we’re becoming spies or something. We’re perfect for this because nobody would suspect a family of 12.

For real, though, this is the next step to becoming foster parents and was so much easier than the mountain of paperwork that we had to fill out and get approved through some magical chain of case workers and we only have the home study part to complete now.

While we are familiar with the process because we’ve already completed our home study for adoption through the foster care system, it’s a little different when the children aren’t being placed with you permanently and the home study will have to be slightly more involved.

Anyway, this post wasn’t supposed to be about fostering. It was supposed to be about Lanie but apparently, I can get sidetracked before I even start something.

We took Lanie to the office with us and I was so surprised when it didn’t seem to register with anybody that she had Down syndrome.  I wondered if it was because she was more friendly and curious than usual, or because she had her thumb in her mouth…

Maybe these were just unusual people. I don’t know. It really did appear that nobody saw it.

Either way, I was so relieved. Relieved that I didn’t have to wonder what they were thinking when they looked at her. Relieved that I didn’t have to concern myself with the inevitable moment that I would have to say Down syndrome. Relieved that I didn’t need to steel my heart for when this light hearted interaction would change after those words were said. Because that’s what happens. Whether intentional or not, that’s what people do when they suddenly realize what is different about her.

And then I felt so guilty because why do I care? We love her. We love her as she is. We love her because of who she is. I wouldn’t change anything about her except maybe that her natural lenses would magically grow back perfectly without cataracts because putting contact lenses in a baby’s eyes does not get more fun as they age.

But I do care. Does that say something bad about me? Or is this normal because the more I think about it, the more I think that wanting others to value our children the way we do is normal for any parent of any child ever. Unrealistic? Sure. But true nonetheless.

While it would be great if everybody’s reactions were as perfect and normal feeling as they were yesterday, I am reminded that people have more growing to do. That I have more growing to do. And we all need to extend each other a little more patience.  A little more understanding. And a lot more grace.

 

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