enlarging our tent

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Over the past year, our family has gone through many changes, the death of a family member, and the addition of several more.  As life itself metaphors us into different  seasons, so we grow and change with them. We shudder through the cold dark periods of life and death and look ahead to the newness of springtime and rebirth.  We say goodbye, and wave hello..

Almost a year ago, my husband and I became licensed foster parents.

During that time we have welcomed seven  eight kids into our home, ( not all at once,of course!)  Some were actual placements, where we were their actual foster parents for a time period- others were simply respite ranging from a few days to a week.

Our first placement was a four day old baby girl; in which we had to wait for her to overcome withdraws in the NICU. When she  was originally diagnosed with NAS they were anticipatng her to stay in at least two months, BUT: there is something to be said about the power of prayer. Two months in the NICU turned to two weeks… amazing. It is a very surreal experience to walk into a hospital and walk out with a baby… without ever giving birth. By the way-it’s also much easier to care for a newborn without going through the physical trauma of childbirth… just an FYI. 😉

So; once again: I became an insta-mom. (For those of you that don’t know, I became an insta mom for the first time with my hubby’s daughter who was then 3.) I suppose all those years ago, God was preparing me for something more.

When you’re a foster parent; you will get a lot of looks, questions and stares…. whether it’s from the out of control toddler you got  a few hours before  that’s throwing a tantrum that  could register on the Richter scale; or if its from the little African American boy that’s clinging to you like you’re his biological mommy, or the strange looks from the cashiers that see me weekly; then say: “I didn’t know you were pregnant”

Then, when I try to explain fostering…. so many people think it’s synonymous with adoption. It’s not.

The ultimate goal of fostering is simple: Reunification with the biological parent or relative. The job of a foster parent: to provide the child with a secure, loving home during the period in which reunification needs to happen. Usually it is a few months to a year.

And, the most common question: “How can you give them back? I would never be able to do that.” 

In most cases, you do “give them back” or, reunification’s it’s  technically called. And, your heart breaks. But: you get through it; you know that you were able to love,  and let them feel safe, even for just a short period. There is never regret in showing love to someone in need. It’s selfish to not show love for the sake of self preservation. What good comes from that?

Also,  many times: you don’t “know”- you don’t know how long the case will be, or if this child could possibly become a permanant part of your life. So, you invite them in wholheartedly, and you know that there will be no regrets to loving them.

I try not to think of the days of saying goodbye.

I cherish all the days I get to say hello, good morning and good night.

Can you imagine… taking in a child, a human being into your home to live? It might be for a day, a week, a month, a year, or perhaps forever; and you don’t know which. A total stranger, with nothing more than the clothing on their back? A child, with tear stained eyes and a runny nose… literally dropped off at your doorstep?  We had a child once come to us late in the night, and all he did was run…. back and forth for hours. He was non verbal, so there was no way of knowing…. anything that he was going through. 

So; in times like these you figure it out. You take it moment by moment and day by day. There are amazing days; filled with joy… and there are days you want to bury your head in the sand. There are hours of struggle… children interpet trauma in many forms, and cope with it in many ways.  I won’t lie: it’s not a cake walk.

But: it’s completly worth every moment. Because there is a reason this season of life is upon us. We got a calling to foster children; it was placed on our hearts to open our home and lives up to kids that are displaced from thier own.

There is an opiod crisis in South Florida now… and these poor kids are all caught in the crossfire. Some of the most vulnerable are the newborns, completly helpless to an addiction they never chose to have.

Can you imagine… the parent… as authorities determine your child is not safe with you? Can you imagine the day your struggle in life overtakes your own flesh and blood?

Unfortunalty, these situations are not imaginary. They happen, and not just once in awhile. They happen every minute of everyday. 24/7.  They happen in the most upscale neighborhood, and in the slums.

The  epidemic with heroin these days,  it’s no longer the drug of choice for just a certain “type”. It’s insane. When did this get so trendy? Moreso, how?

I grew up in the 80s…. Reagan was president, and “Just say NO” was drilled into grade school kids with 911 and washing your hands, flossing your teeth and eating your veggies. Back then, cocaine was the rich person’s drug, crack was the ghetto drug, acid was for the ravers, and pot was for the hippies. Every drug had it’s category.

Enter the 90s… Ectasy was moving into the rave scene and the pot became “krypto” and the drug society began adding “stuff” to the drugs. At one point, someone out there decided to raid granny’s medicine cabinet and crazy aunt Sue’s supply of anti depressants. Enter: the onset of prescription drug abuse, something that I am all too farmiliar with- not because of my own usage but my mothers. I grew up a child of an addict; more than once my mother was in a coma; code blue from withdrawls of perscription medication, perscribed by a doctor just after I was born.

As a child, I had pulled her unconcious body from bathtubs, and called my dad to come help me wake her up. I’d pick her up from falling almost daily, and tend to her when she was sick. I learned to cope and care, to be alert and aware…

She began the process of recovery when I was 13; at that point I was used to being her parent, not the other way around.

A lot of the older children  in care have this mindset; so sometimes when they are thrust into a “normal” home- it can trigger much rebellion and strife. Without the understanding of the story behind the attitude, they can become displaced in the system, being passed from home to home.

There is a significant need for foster homes for teens, and there is a significant need for foster homes for newborns as well.  The newborns require 24/7 care for the first six weeks, which is hard for many.

Being blessed as a SAHM, we knew that would be our calling. As foster parents; you can choose the age & gender, so we decided: Any gender; 0-4.

One day we will be equipped to care for the teens, I know my experience will come in useful; however, having a young child in the house it’s not reccomended to bring in older kids. So, for now -I am in the early stages of motherhoold all over again… diapers and bottles, teething and tantrums… and all the wonderful amazing things in between.

So; my dear readers: this is what I have been up to. This explains the homemade Spaghetti-Os and random kid food. I’ve been up to my ears in diapers, day cares, baby food and exersaucers.

I’m still cooking, and occasionally baking a cake. I need to squeeze in some posting now that I’ve got a good routine. 🙂 hands

 

 

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8 Comments

  1. You are doing a very very wonderful deed to kids who need your love. I envy your strength & I know your foster kids are very lucky kids to have your love, if even for a little while of their lives.

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