Party of 5
"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)
(poor quality iphone photos by yours truly. Who has time for actual pictures these days? lol)
I know that we are fostering a two year old, but the feelings of adding another child to the dynamic of your family is still very much the same as having a newborn again. I feel like I am slowly coming out of a fog, and I am ready to share how the last 6 weeks of fostering has gone for us. For those who did not read about our first journey, you can do that here: "Our First Placement". The little girl that is living with us right now is our second foster child!
I decided to answer some frequent questions pertaining to our family that I have received lately in this post. I will address more common foster care questions that were asked on Facebook and from friends in Part 2.
How was the first night?
Think about it. Here is this toddler that you know nothing about, for the most part, now parent them. What does she like to eat? What will she do in a new bed tonight? These were all stresses that we had the first night. Luckily, she came with some tips and suggestions from her previous home, so we were able to use those as a guide. We welcomed her in and visited for a while, let her play and explore the house, showed her where her room/bed were, gave her a drink and a snack, and played with lots of toys. We showed her our night time routines (jammies, vitamin, brush teeth, etc), and just kind of jumped in. When it was time for bed, I put Molly down first, (they share a room), and then let her have some alone time with us. We were very fortunate that she didn't have any trouble going to sleep that night, but she did require a drink, baby doll, baby doll bottle, and blanket. It was a full bed. ;)
How are your kids adjusting?
Carter has really surprised me. I'm sure it has a lot to do with his age. I shared this story on Facebook, but it is worth sharing again. I took Molly into her room to put her down for a nap and I heard our foster daughter crying (she doesn't like being left out of things). A few seconds later, she stopped as Carter was giving her something. He said, "I drew her a picture of her family because I thought that would make her feel better." YOU GUYS. How precious is his little three year old heart? Those moments are the ones that I know are making a difference in his life, too.
Sharing is the biggest problem between them. NO ONE WANTS TO SHARE EVER EVER EVER. Most of the problems are territorial and jealous in nature. One thing that we did was create his bedroom off limits. The girls are not allowed in his room. We made that his safe space where he can go and get away from the loud, toy-stealing babies. Now, anything outside of his room is fair game to share, but he can keep some special toys in his room to escape and play. This decision helps SO much!
Now, Molly.....Molly wants mommy. What I imagine her saying in her jabber is, "This is my mommy. Not yours. Back off." She has a hard time with mommy holding someone else, or giving any of my attention to anything else, really. HA! Let's just say she is learning patience and sharing, too. I have been explaining to our foster daughter that Molly is a baby and needs me a little more right now, she is typically okay with that. I think she understands that Molly requires a little bit more of my attention.
Is it what you thought it would be?
Yes and No. Let me explain.
I remember when I was pregnant with Carter, I imagined how amazing being a mother was going to be. He was going to be this angelic little baby that I took everywhere with me and showed off. Motherhood was going to be awesome. It didn't matter how many people told me that their experience was hard, that wasn't going to be my experience.
I can say the same for foster care. Being a parent, I knew that it would be difficult, I just don't think I knew HOW difficult. I have said this before, but the kicker for me is three kids so close in age. (3.5, 2.5, 16mo) That right there is a one way ticket to crazy town. I wouldn't be able to do it without support from Scott, babysitters, and family/friends. This is a hard stage, but I can see each week getting better. Honestly, each day as we learn more about each other, it gets better.
How long will you have her?
No way to know. The goal of foster care is reunification with the parents. If/when that happens varies depending on each case. For hers, we really have no idea. It could change at any moment.
Did you foster directly through the state?
No. We used a LCPA (placing agency) named Family Ark. It is in Jeffersonville, IN. These agencies act as additional support to the foster parents. We elected to go this route since we knew nothing about foster care. They really hold your hand along the way and help explain things to you. It has been very helpful and I would suggest anyone getting into foster care to use one. (its free!) I will do an entire blog post dedicated to our agency and why we chose them. If you have questions before then, please feel free to reach out to me!
How are YOU doing?
I have good days and bad days. Like any parent. This is the only way I know how to describe it. After both of my pregnancies, I developed some depression and anxiety. With the addition of the third child into our home, a lot of the anxiety came back. I know I didn't give birth, but the changes are still the same. Very similar feelings of being overwhelmed and behavioral challenges that I did not know how to handle right away. I lost some weight, stressed and worried way too much, and almost started to resent God for calling me to something that is so difficult. I had a moment where I really had to decide if I was going to get it together and make this work, or wallow in how hard my life is right now and not make a difference. The fact is, her life matters, and I am going to fight for her. I wake up every morning praying that I can make a difference and really get through to her, AND my kids for that matter. I feel like it would be unfair for me to only share the good stories. You need to know that people tell you this is hard, BECAUSE IT IS. You will be stretched and grown and fed and blessed so much in the process. I've said it before, but this is as much of a growing season for me as it is for anyone else involved in this case. I can feel myself getting attached to her more and more. I know it will be hard when she goes home, but the pain and grief that I feel is 110% worth the stability and love we were able to give her when she was with us.
Why is her face blocked out?
We have to keep her identity private. While you may see her in person, and that is obviously fine, the internet is different. We are not allowed to share case information either. So while I would love to post more details and updates, you will just have to look at heart emojis and pray that the case overall works for the best interest of the kids involved for us! :)
I have learned so much about foster care in the last couple months. As a foster parent, you not only take in the child into your home, but you also have meetings, visits, family team meetings, therapies, home visits, doctor appointments, paperwork, etc. There is a never ending list of things to do.
For the short time that you have these kids, you have the power to influence their entire lives. The skills and knowledge that they learn with you will follow them everywhere else that they go. That is such a motivational factor for me. Each day, each moment, is so valuable. It is almost unbearable to think about how desperate our world is in need of foster and adoptive families. I know that I don't know it all. I can't share a play by play of our life to document like I had planned. *because, three under four...* But I promise to be an open book and resource for anyone who has questions.
If you have any questions about foster care, please leave them in the comment section below or private message me. I will be answering all of the questions, with the help of our case manager, in Part 2 of this post. This would be a great time to ask those questions that you are not sure where to seek answers!
Thanks for all of the support! :)