Our First Palacement!
"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)
"Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10) -shared with me by a sweet friend
You know how people will say, "you got your feet wet", when talking about experiencing something for the first time? Well, we got dunked under water and brought back up in 6 days time. We didn't drown. Instead, we found ourselves getting ready to dive back in for more.
WHAT a learning experience we had. HOLLER to all of the mothers and fathers of 3+ children AND those with two little ones close in age. MY HEROS. I give you ALL of the coffee and ALL of my praise. For you are the brave soldiers who have UNorganized chaos (as a friend called it), and still come out smiling on the other side with battle stories to share. Take note, parents of one, we have LOTS to learn from these wise ones.
Last week, we received a call for a NAS (neonatal abstinence syndrome) baby in the NICU who was detoxing from drugs. We said, "YES", even though looking back, some of the circumstances were not the best for our family. (BECAUSE OMG WE GOT OUR FIRST CALL) It required things like: needing to room in at the hospital with her, lots of time in the car, and lack of preparation time at home prior to bringing her home. I hadn't been to the grocery in a week, laundry was piled up,(BUT WHEN ISN'T IT, AM I RIGHT?!),and we needed last minute babysitters for the overnight stay, etc. We know now what to expect, for the most part, for the next call. We also know what we need to say "NO" to in the future.* It was a GREAT learning experience for the process as a whole. Learning the rules, the parts that everyone plays in the placement, what we need help with, and what we can handle.
*We actually said "no" to a call today for a short term placement that just wasn't going to work for a couple of reasons. It is hard to say "no", but necessary to not take on too much and get burnt out..
I wish I could share every detail and picture with you, but there are rules to protecting privacy of the children. I will do my best to share our journey with you, while keeping confidentiality a priority! As I said before, baby girl was born drug addicted, as so many are right now with the epidemic plaguing our community. She suffered from tremors, slow weight gain, sensitivity to light and sounds, excessive sweating, marbling of the skin, muscle stiffness, unsettled sleep, and more. Let me just say, I saw the power of love,touch, and a little TLC with this sweet girl. In the time we had her, almost all of her symptoms were gone. She was an almost normal snugly newborn by the time we handed her over. Love. Just love and cuddles. That was all that it took. To the NICU nurses that care for these angels, you are such a blessing. You truly have a gift.
how our kids handled it
Our kids did pretty well with the changes. As soon as we started to get into a little groove, she went home, but we know what to expect later. We have prepped Carter (3.5) what would be happening. Of course, his little brain can only comprehend so much. He was SO sweet with her, and SO SO helpful. I was like "REALLY KID? YOU STILL DON'T LIKE YOUR SISTER." ;) Molly had a little bit of a harder time seeing mommy giving her time to another baby. Although, she LOVED having a real life baby doll! I know that I will be baby wearing a lot more next time, finding some activities to help keep Molly from getting bored, and asking for more advice from seasoned parents!
how WE handled it
It wasn't all rainbows, smiles, and cuddles. We went to a parenting class at church that we have been attending this month about 4 days in with the baby, and when asked how I was doing, I said "drowning" with tears in my eyes. I was not in a good place. I had just left all three of the kids with TWO babysitters at home, I was exhausted, hungry, and trying to hold it together so that people would not tell me "I TOLD YOU SO". (because UGH! That is the worst) The baby part was a piece of cake, even with her condition, but the THREE kids and two needy babies, I was done. done. done. I remember feeling like that when I brought Molly home from the hospital, too. The changes are hard, the new routine is hard, but not impossible. We didn't have long enough with her to make it part of our routine yet. I told our case manager that I needed to weekend to pray, talk to Scott, have a date night, and sleep before I decided what we wanted to do next. Do we need a break? Is this even for us?
After some sleep, a childless evening, and some food (lol), we were able to think clearly again and realize that God has called us here for a reason. We will be given the strength we need to make it through. There is a HUGE need for foster families right now, we have the heart for it, the support for it, and the resources for it. Giving up is NOT an option, even if that is what I feel the enemy doing in my head. Will it be hard? OF COURSE. I read a comment from another foster parent who said "every bruise and every tear that we get from being foster parents and dealing with the hurt and loss, is one that the child did not have to bear." YOU GUYS....TEARS FLOWING. I am willing to hurt for that sweet baby not to. I can handle it.
I was listening to an Andy Stanley (look him up!) message today about making wise decisions. He was referencing Paul, who if you don't know-fun fact, went from Christian super-hater to Jesus' follower in one day. Paul says, "Be very careful, then, how you live-not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is." (Eph:5:15-17) Andy said. "..Don't let the people around you rob your future. What is the wise thing for YOU, and your hopes and dreams, at this time? .. This world has a culture that if you just pick up your feet and "go with the flow", you will end up in a place you don't want to be. The days that we live in, there are currents taking us in other directions that we don't want to go." (Ask It Series)
The support and lack of support from people has been incredible. (Yes, I said LACK). I'll start with the positives first! The outpouring of love from friends and family members has been more than I could imagine. From prayers, to formula donations, to baby gifts, to childcare. People really come out and help in a time of need. I feel so blessed to call those people my family/friends. If that it you, THANK YOU! We would not be on this journey without your help! On the flip side, there has been lack of support that has surprised me as well. Some people are so quick to judge being a foster parent and how hard it is (add in: they have never been a foster parent.....but their friend has.....). Now, it is not always a conscious thing. Saying, "I could never do that", is a true statement and it really doesn't bother me. I know some people are just NOT called to it, and that is fine. The people who try to convince me that what I am doing is wrong is what I have a problem with. It is the people who try to talk me out of it because of the effects it could have on my family, who don't even know me, that bothers me. I would like to make one thing clear, if there was ever a moment of doubt about a negative effect on my marriage or family, I would be calling the case manager ASAP. This world is in desperate need of help. It is going to take some serious STEPPING OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONES to make changes in it. It would be very easy for me to sit back and enjoy my two kids and never worry about anything going on outside of our walls. Like Andy said above, our society screams, "just worry about your self. SELF. SELF. YOU. YOU. YOU." My plea with you, is to find something to invest in. Whether it be your time volunteering, teaching your kids to be accepting and loving, giving your home for fostering, an extra donation to that organization, your thoughtful praying for our leaders, just SOMETHING!
*steps off soapbox*
But really, we were not scared away. The help of family and friends has encouraged us to keep moving forward. We are excited to take another placement and have already talked to our placing agency about it. The next placement will likely be longer, it will be hard, there will be lessons learned, and a baby will be loved.
Thank you so much for all of the encouraging words, friends. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. It is amazing how one encouraging text can change your day and make it all worth it. Sorry for getting a little "preachy", but that is what happens when someone, "pushes that button", as Scott would say. ;)