Foster Care/Adoption · Life

The First Call

It’s been about 2 months since we went on the waiting list for foster care, and honestly, since it was still summer, and both kids were home, I didn’t really think much about being on the waiting list at all until after school started in September.  I was too consumed with learning the ins and outs of my new job, and hoping we wouldn’t get a placement until after Alex started at his school so we would have consistent childcare options if we did get a placement.

Once school started I felt myself take somewhat of a sigh of relief….”ok, now we can get a placement.”  Even though I knew a placement could have happened the moment we went on the list.  I’ve heard stories of people waiting months, to people being handed a case the day they go on the list, to others only waiting a few weeks.

Last weekend I had a bit of a moment.  I typically try to hit up biannual consignment sales to stock up for the kids clothes, and while I was there my heart got a little sad.  I knew that most likely before the next sale I would have another child in my home, and here I was staring at clothing that would fit her, but I have no idea who she is or what size she will be to know what to buy her.

I feel very blessed that moments like those are fleeting.  I would imagine if I was aching to have children this waiting game would feel like an eternity.  Having 2 bio kids of our own already keeps me busy, and not overly consumed by the thoughts of all the whens, and hows, and ifs that could rule my mind.

I’ve found that I’ve gone through ridiculous nesting phases in this process which I believe I mentioned before.  My most recent was last week.  All of the sudden I looked at my area rugs and was horrified at their appearance and become obsessed with cleaning them like..now!  I then proceeded to scrub them by hand until they looked much improved.  I laughed at my ridiculousness and chalked it up to nesting.  I seriously have never ever scrubbed an area rug I owned (although I will say…it was quite easy and the results were great so I may do it again nesting or not in the future 😉  Sorry if that is gross…not sure if my lack of attention to them is abnormal, but in my mind they just never mattered on my list of things to clean.

So anyway (focus Bridget focus) here we are 2 months into this waiting game, starting to wonder why we seriously hadn’t gotten ANY calls yet….I mean really…do you know how many thousands of kids are in foster care?  You would think we would have had 5 calls the first day!  Then this morning….the phone rang about 10:30 with a local # but one I didn’t recognize.  I didn’t think much of it.  I figured it was Abbie’s school, or maybe Alex preschool calling me with an automated announcement or something, and just like that I heard the woman on the phone say she was from our foster agency, and my heart started thumping…this was it!  Our first call!  Immediately my mind started racing, and I heard words like “emergency placement” and “today” and my mind started reeling about things I had going on this afternoon, and if I would need to juggle things around, and would this child be sitting at our supper table tonight, and sleeping in the bed that has been sitting empty for 3 months…I quickly started jotting notes down, and scribbled as much as I could gather about this particular child.  I asked a few questions, and then I was left to call David, and call back the social worker with our decision as to whether or not we would take the case.

I hung up the phone, and immediately sat down and cried as I stared at my notes.  How in the world does life get to this place?  A place where all that we know of a 5 year old child is a laundry list of horrible things that no one…I repeat NO ONE, especially not a young child should ever have to face, or even knows exists at such a young age!

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I hesitated to share this with you, and I guarantee you when we get a placement I won’t share our child’s details with anyone here in this space.  Those details are too intimate to share when it’s not my life I am telling you about.  It won’t be my story to tell.  I share only because THIS IS FOSTER CARE.  It’s not meant to scare you (though believe me I know many of you it will.  I was one of you.  I was scared too.  I didn’t want anything to do with kids who may in turn hurt me because of their own wounds and scars).  I share because I want you to know the depth of brokenness that these kids deal with…

Wounds inflicted not because of their own choosing.

Wounds inflicted because someone else chose to do that to them.

Someone they trusted.

Someone they should be able to cling to, inflicted harm, not good.

Something God intended to be whole was broken, and ripped away from them.

I share so that you can start to see what God has helped me to start to see…

That NO ONE is broken beyond repair…not with Jesus.

That EVERYONE deserves to receive His hope, and His grace.

That these kids deserve a chance to thrive.  To really, truly live a life where they are safe, and loved, and given a chance to be set free to be who God created them to be.

And that is the beauty of the gospel….we too were adopted into God’s family- given grace, and a second chance.  To be taken from broken pieces, and be made into something beautiful.

I’ve heard many times “it’s so awesome that you are doing this,” but you know what…I’m not that awesome because if I’m really honest….we are terrified of this!  We know we are not strong enough.  We want to run away from the brokenness that we see in foster care, to stay in our comfortable life.  Why would someone knowingly choose to inflict pain upon themselves…. The potential of having a difficult foster child, adopting a child with lifelong problems, or having to hand a child back that we have grown to love as our own…..are all potential challenges we may face, but it all comes down to one thing….obedience.  God asks us to act in obedience to Him when He asks us to do something.  We can ask all the logical, what if questions we want to, and His answer remains the same….this is something He has asked us to do.

One of the things that scared me going into this was feeling like I had to say “yes” to every placement that came our way, and that brings me back to today.  Today David and I felt a firm “no” was our answer, because this child was not in our county, and it would mean a significant more amount of time and travel on our part to accommodate, and that is just not something we feel capable of right now.  I was so grateful for this….grateful that God made the decision so easy…at least for today.  I realized as I was on the phone and asked the social worker more questions, she really had nothing else for me.  My desire to know more, and all the details….got mere tiny notes worth of information about a child that was potentially going to join our home long term.  For me…it’s not enough, but I have to trust that when the time is right, and our placement comes it will be enough.  I won’t know all the details, and I will spend months decoding the mystery of the child’s story who is placed in our home, but it will be enough, because God is enough to fill in every gap, and be my source to best lead these little lives every moment of each day that He gives me with them.

 

Blessings,

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Foster Care/Adoption · Life

Terrified

I’ve been thinking about, and trying to write this blog post now for almost 2 weeks, but nevertheless life happens, and to-dos need to get done, and so here I am 2 weeks “late” (late to no one, but my own schedule 🙂

2 weeks ago tomorrow (Sunday) we submitted our final piece of paper work for foster care.  The first word and feeling that came to mind when I attached this final document to an email, and clicked “send” was terrified.  This was it….this final piece of paper meant we could start receiving phone calls for placements at any moment.  It meant court dates, and visitations with birth parents we were knowingly choosing to become a part of our lives.  That any day now a child could walk into our front door being delivered by a social worker with most likely a garbage bag full of tattered belongings, if even anything at all.  A child broken already at such a young age, by things a child should never even need to worry about, and we would be entrusted with a chance to love this child, fill their needs, and teach them life skills.

Choosing to be a foster parent, and walking this journey of preperation for this moment, has been an interesting one.  You have people who are supportive of your decision, and people who are unsupportive.  We’ve had people who are cheering us on, and people trying to talk us out of it.  We’ve been told all the reasons we shouldn’t do it, and been praised up, and down for choosing this.  Can I be really honest though?  None of this is really about US doing this at all….it’s about what God is doing in us, and through us for this child.   We would never knowingly choose to take this on ourselves, but we believe this is something God is leading us to do, and honestly we are terrified, but we know, because of God that we will be able.  He will make us strong enough.  He will be our source, and bridge the gap when we aren’t equipped to help us know how to navigate through these muddy waters.

You see, as Christians we are all called to help orphans in someway shape or form.

Psalm 68:5-6 says:

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families.”

and James 1:27 says this:

“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

It maybe that your role is to give financially, to help provide clothes to the foster family whose foster child showed up with nothing, or bring a meal as they get settled in or on visitation days, because those days are harder than others.  It maybe to help set up a fundraiser to help an adoptive family bring their child home from overseas, or just check in on an adoptive/foster family and really be there for them….walk through this with them, pray along side of them, cry with them for the brokenness that comes with orphan care.  Maybe it’s to help babysit for a foster or adoptive family, or take the kids overnight so they can get a break….or maybe this is just the beginning of God opening the door into your own life to bring your own child into your home.  The truth is, I don’t really know what His plan is for you, but He does.  Just ask Him, and it’s ok to be scared of what His answer might be….I know I was.  I never ever ever in a million years would have chosen this, but I am so grateful He has taken us here.  I know there will be many struggles, but such is life, and I am looking forward to all the blessings that will come from just giving a child a chance to thrive in a safe place where their needs are being met.  So just start praying.  Ask God what your part is in all of this, and just be obedient to the first small step He gives you, and then the next, and the next.  He is faithful to provide in whatever He asks us to do.

Now that it’s been almost 2 weeks since I first sent the final document though, I have to admit that my initial feelings of terror turned more to anticipation, and peace.  God has been so faithful to provide in this journey thus far, and He will be faithful to carry us through.  Yesterday we had our final meeting with our social worker, and met the Director of Child Services with our agency.  We just had to come and look over our final case study which is basically all the details of our story gathered in one place.  I’m not gonna lie….I teared up reading it.  Hearing pieces of our past, being woven into our present, and hopeful for our future….God’s hand was laced through all of it.  Seeing the kind words our references said about us written within this document, hearing the social workers interpretation of our conversations, and writing into words why she thinks our family would be a safe and loving environment for a foster child….I was just in awe, that God was so gracious to write this story….our story.

Years ago when Dave and I thought we may actually adopt before we would have biological children, I never thought about how all of this would play out.  What our family would actually end up looking like, and to be honest…I still don’t.  We are open to accepting a child of any race, so I can’t tell you what our future family portrait will look like, but I do know this…it will be beautiful.

In talking with our foster agencies director yesterday she mentioned how families who already have children tend to have a much easier time with foster children adjusting than those without.  Foster children come into a new, scary home, and when they see other kids, it’s easier to trust.  They build an attachment and bond with the other children first, before they do the parents.

That moment was so humbling to me.  God handpicked Abigail and Alexander to be an integral part in this process.  I know they will struggle with this decision at times too.  We all will have moments of longing for the way things used to be.  We will miss things, and just being a family of 4, but I also know that God is about to grow a huge part of each of us out of our selfishness, and help us pry our tight litle fists apart, and learn to welcome another.  Alexander is still so young that he honestly will probably never remember a time without this child being in our home. His biggest struggle will probably just be sharing mommy.  Abigail, has the biggest heart.  She loves to serve others, but I know that the reality of a child staying in our home long term will eventually set in, and she too will mourn what once was.  Though I know these things will be hard to handle, I would much rather let God grow them in these areas to increase their compassion for another, and help grow them than to stay stagnant.  I am so grateful God led us to have Abigail and Alexander first.  He knew how important they would be in us growing and expanding our family in this next phase.

One final piece of this puzzle that had been weighing on us was the logistics of how we were going to make this all work as a family.  I mentioned in my last blog post that I was in the final steps of interviewing for a job, which I was offered by the way!  We are very excited, but also it’s a puzzle piece to figure out how I am going to juggle everything especially when most of the kid responsibilities will lie on me.  Some people I know have to drive kids 30-45 minutes 1 way for a foster care visitation with a birth parent that lasts and hour.  Which means they may have to hang out in the town for an hour.  Sometimes a social worker will bring the children home, but still….it’s an hour to hour and a half committment, and that is only 1 parent.  If birth mom and birth dad are seperated then there maybe two visitations a week….the thoughts of a potentially overbooked schedule for me to navigate mostly on my own were looming over me a bit, as I anticipated what our new normal might actually look like.  Especially since our own schedules of extracurriculars for us, and our biological children need to be considered.  Dave was nervous too.  He knew a lot of this would rely on me, and He didn’t want me to feel overwhelmed, and have to do this mostly on my own.

Well in our appointment with our social worker yesterday, this prayer was truly answered….we found out that the visitations for our county are literally less than a 5 minute drive from our house….this is HUGE!  I seriously was tearing up last night as I sat in awe that God cared to even take care of such a detail as this.  We were trying to be open to taking children so as not to put too many parameters on the child we would take, and the number of children needing care in our county has risen significantly in the last year, and the visitation place is less than 5 minutes away.  I obviously am not thankful that more children are in care, but I am thankful that God led us to wait a bit longer to be ready now instead of a year ago, and what that might mean in our family actually being able to successfully do this.

So for now we wait.  We wait for a call, and potentially many calls.  Some that we may say “no” to, some that we may say “yes” to, but that won’t actually turn into the county needing us to take on the child, and someday….a “yes” that will truly turn into a “yes!”  And right now I can’t even begin to tell you on that day what our needs will be, but I can encourage you to please ask.  I know it will all turn into such a whirlwind, and knowing we have people walking alongside us through this, and helping take care of our needs…means the world to us!

Thank you so much for walking this journey with us!

Blessings,

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Oh and PS….I finally got a chance to make up the bed in what will be our foster child’s room.  My good friend Juli was purging some of her daughter’s stuff so she gave me all the bedding.  It’s so cute, and incase you weren’t aware, our hope is to have a 3-5 year old girl placed with us, so that’s why it’s girly bedding 🙂

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Foster Care/Adoption · Life

Nesting & Waiting

The last few weeks of our lives have been literally filled to the brim!  Dave had a last minute client meeting near Ocean City, Maryland again, and he asked us to go with him since he would literally be gone the last few days before I left to take the kids to Illinois if we didn’t.  We got to spend a few days at the ocean again, and wow was that good for the soul 🙂

I’ve always thought myself to not be much of a beach person, but what I’ve found lately is that I love the beach. I just don’t like sunburns, and my hair getting wet so when I go and just chase the waves that lap at the shore, and lounge on the beach with a good book, and  I am lathered in plenty of sunscreen, I am good to go!  So these last few trips to the ocean filled my heart so full!

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We arrived back from Ocean City the evening of Tuesday June 20th, and I turned around the next morning, and picked up Dave’s mom from the airport the next morning.  Bless her heart…she flew out to drive back with me so I wouldn’t have to do it with the kids alone.  I am so thankful for her!  I packed up the car that day, and we left at 6AM on Thursday morning June 22nd.  The drive wasn’t bad until we hit some Chicago traffic and road construction.  By that point we were just over it.  We arrived at my brother in laws house in the Chicago suburbs around 7:30PM that night.  I don’t mind the drive.  It’s really not bad, but the key for us is leaving early so we arrive when the sun is still up or shortly after it goes down.  Neither Dave or I do very well with night driving.

The days following were filled with lots of fun, family, and friends- a trip to Brookfield Zoo in Chicago, visiting our neighbors dairy farm, visiting my brothers cattle farm (but they also have goats, sheep, donkeys, kittens, chickens, etc), the Children’s Discovery Museum, the library, bike rides, my brothers wedding in Iowa, playing with Nana and Papa’s new puppy, and more I’m sure….I just can’t remember everything because it was all such a blur!

Here are a few pictures from our time there:

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This one was during a crazy tractor ride my dad took us on.  We somehow found hilarious straw hats and all crammed into the tractor cab 🙂  Other farmers in the area slowed there cars down to stare at us 🙂

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Discovery Museum selfie

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Seal exhibit at Brookfield Zoo

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Nana and Papa with their new puppy Jetta!20170701_124738-1

My little brother and his beautiful bride with Abbie, Alex and my sister’s daughter.

 

After the wedding we headed back to Dave’s brothers house in the suburbs on Sunday July 2nd, and planned to leave there early morning on July 5th.  We enjoyed watching fireworks from afar of the surrounding area on a hillside near his house.  It was really fun!  We took a bunch of popcorn, drinks, and a blanket and just enjoyed some time together before we took off.

Now being back home, I feel like my summer break is finally starting.  Abbie didn’t get out of school here until the Thursday before we left for Ocean City so right now is literally the first time I’ve sat still in a few weeks.  I love going back to visit family, and when I do I fill the time as full as I can because that’s the only time I get with them, but being an introvert, and needing clear space within which to think in is hard, so coming home…that’s all I pretty much have wanted to do 🙂  I’ve been unpacking and getting the house back in order, and obviously getting my brain back in order as well.

Some hard thing are coming, and I find myself going through a “nesting” phase like I would if I were getting ready to have a baby.  I’ve been finishing projects around the house, working on certain things with my kids to prepare them for our new “arrival,” and readying my heart.  With this has come a lot of pressing into God and listening for His voice.  Some of His answers have surprised me.  I have prayed about what is next after losing my job at Hearts at Home, and surprisingly I think He wants me to work more.  I guess I shouldn’t say surprisingly….I have fought for a long time to just only stay home, and not work at the same time which has proven to be incredibly difficult.  I don’t think it was ever in the cards for me to just stay home, and not work in some capacity, and so as I actually am preparing for a final interview this afternoon, of which they have already told me to go ahead and secure childcare, I am actually excited.  I’m a bit scared as well, but only because I really want this job.  (Honestly I am one of those weird people who never gets nervous about interviews so this is an odd feeling for me)

Part of the reason I am so excited is because this has been a source of tension in our marriage for a long time….how to balance expense of childcare vs me working and also me wanting to be more present in our children’s lives, but not being able to make financial sense of how to do so.  So I am excited, because I feel really on the same page with Dave on this….I have been feeling a bit suffocated by being home for awhile, but my previous salary didn’t make sense for me to pay for childcare.  This new job will allow me to pay for childcare, but also bring home some, and still be part time.  Not that life is all about my happiness, but as I looked back over the times in my adult working life when I was happiest, it was when things were more balanced-  back when I worked part time, but was home a few days a week as well.  Lately being with the kids so much as made me resent them, just wanting to get away from them all the time.  I know bringing a foster child into that will only escalate my feelings, so I have found a daycare that is very excited not only about Alex, but also about a future potential foster child, and they are willing to work with me whenever that happens.  Not only that, but they have many therapists who are willing to come right to the center if a child needs additional help, so if our foster child needs additional therapy we will be able to take care of it right there!

If everything works out this job will be remote, and easy mom daytime hours.  I will need to be on the phone quite a bit so I can’t have the kids home anymore, but I am ok with that.  I will still be able to pick up a sick child from school, take them to appointments, and even work when we travel if needed.  It will require a lot less creative thought, and shouldn’t be emotionally draining…just a job that I clock in to and out of, and honestly that is what I need right now.  My family needs more of me, and I know a foster child will, so I need a job that doesn’t emotionally drain me.

I’m also praying about how to serve at church during this time.  I currently am one of the leaders for our Women’s Bible Studies, but I am praying hard about what that looks like this fall, and whether or not I should be doing something that takes so much of my time right now.  Last year I found that I was snapping at my children more because of how much time I was investing into bible study, and that seems a bit counterintuitive….hmmm mom is reading her bible, she gets angry at me….lol not quite what it probably should look like!  I don’t want to idolize my children, but there is also a time, and a season, and I’m not sure that this season is the right one to continue serving in this capacity.  There will come a time when my children do not need so much from me emotionally, and physically, and God will make it clear where I am supposed to serve at that time.  I am trusting in His provision for where I am to serve right now.

I have had a few wise people even utter words to me such as “maybe now is a season where you are supposed to just be still, and not do anything.”  That statement kind of horrifies me because honestly….I don’t do “still” well, but that may just be exactly what God is asking me to do. For a long time I have put serving and my passion in front of my marriage, and my kids.  I’ve let those desires lead me, and I know now that I need to put God first, my marriage third, and my kids third.  Anything else comes after that, and so knowing that work has been a source of tension for awhile, I need to make it a priority for the sake of my marriage, to make sure that is more important than all of my volunteer activities.

So I find this nesting thing kind of funny, though it makes total sense.  I’ve talked to other foster and adoptive moms and they said they did the same thing.  I share mostly to let other mamas in similar situations know that they aren’t alone, but also to inform.  To inform those who aren’t that familiar with what goes into fostering and adopting that this is a real feeling that we have.  That this life we are waiting on…all the unknowns, the wondering what child God is preparing for us….that these emotions feel very much so like the nesting, and wondering you do when you are pregnant with a biological child.

A friend and I were recently talking, and she shared her heart with me a bit.  She said “I feel like God has been prompting me for awhile to acknowledge the stage you are in right now as a pregnancy.”  Can I just say how healing that was to hear?  Tears flowed, and it felt like a direct embrace from God that He sees and He knows my heart.  This waiting….it’s a different type of waiting filled with so many more unknowns than my pregnancies with my biological children did.  When we don’t keep it in check, and take it to God , there are so many more fears and anxieties that can consume us about this process.  The hardest one is knowing that we are 1 paper away from being on the waiting list which means right now in this very moment there is potentially a child whom God will be assigning to us that is living in an unsafe, unstable home.  Who may not be getting meals.  Who could be being abused, exposed to horrific things that I cannot even fathom, and yet we wait….with all of the unknowns, and we trust God, and we don’t let satan mess with our heads and worry about tomorrow.  We trust our God, and we pray, and we wait for this child.

Blessings,

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