Foster Care Adventures – Part Two

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October 2015, a little guy hung around at work, for a week or so. On Wednesday of that week, he “helped” me work. He sat on my lap, we hung out with friends, and then he played with my calculator & drew with my pens. He feel asleep there at my desk, in my arms, and I worked around him {not so successfully}. I lost my heart. I think about him all the time. Mostly because he was part of the journey {part one anyway} that I finished tonight as my foster parent training classes came to a close.

He was a reminder of everything I’ve always known about who I am and what I was put on this earth to do. He was the happiest boy. I saw him the following week and he “talked” all about the book he had with him. I will never forget this sweet boy. And I’m grateful for how God used him to remind me of what I’ve always known.

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Throughout the last 11 weeks or so, I’ve grown more confident that though there is more work to be done, there isn’t anything I’d rather do more than provide a loving home for kids.

So with part one complete, I’m on to the next part of this crazy adventure. I don’t know who my first placement will be. I don’t know his or her age, name, or background. But God does and He’s already put me on this path to cross his or her path.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27.

Hear My Prayer

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I spent some time on Sunday reading the profiles of waiting children. These are the kids who are waiting to be adopted – their parent’s rights, now terminated. Through thirteen pages of results, I was struck at not only how simple their hopes and requests were, but by the handful of children who do not want to be adopted. They’re still hoping for and holding onto the dream that they’ll be reunited with their family. How heartbreaking.

As I looked through the profiles, I felt drawn to some of the pre-teen an teen girls – thinking of how how hard it must be to enter such a tumultuous time without a family to provide you with stability, love, consistency, boundaries, and a place to come home to someday. I have a feeling I will enjoy {and probably go crazy too} having pre-teens and teens in my house. In spite of what will surely be crazy making moments, how amazing to know you’ve provided that to a young man or young woman that would other wise “age-out” of the foster care system, without an anchor to anything that is theirs and lasting?

But event still, I dream and hope of a baby. Of more than one baby. I try to pretend it’s not there but it is. I want a baby, people. Every time someone announces they’re pregnant, the ache grows. Every time {which is a lot} that a new baby is born in my squadron, the ache grows. My home and heart is open to all ages, races, and needs. But oh how I want a baby. I’ve wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember. So rather than deny it, I’m just living with the desire and hope.

Hoping God hears my prayer.

 

Foster Care Adventures – Week 1

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My first foster care class is Monday night. This has been a long time coming. Maybe more than thirty years as I’ve dreamed of this very thing since I was a kid. There truly is nothing I’ve wanted more in my life than to have a family.

Beyond wanting a family, I have always known that I was meant to take care of kids who need someone to love them unconditionally and to provide a safe and secure environment to grow and heal. With foster care, I know I won’t be able to predict how long a child is with me. But for as long as they’re in my home, they will be cared for as if they were my own.

I know the coming weeks will stretch me. I know that I will learn and be challenged. I know that I will wonder how all of the pieces will come together. I still wonder how everything will work. I still feel loss of my job due to funding cuts. I still wonder how many people will think I’m crazy for doing this as a single woman.

But this new journey is long overdue. In the moments when I don’t have the answers, I know God does. And I know that He will not call me to do something {which I believe He is}, without giving me everything I need to make it happen.

So here we go! Week 1…

Home Sweet Home

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When I last wrote, I was still struggling through the home search process. Why is that so stressful, ya’ll? But I found the house, finished packing, and last Saturday, moved in! So thankful that process is over!

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The new neighborhood is so quiet. I love it. My kitchen, my favorite room in the house, is perfect. It’s huge. This house is everything the last house wasn’t. The biggest bonus of all is definitely the kitchen. I’m in love.

I’ve given my mom a couple of rooms so she can stretch out a little while she works and plans and dreams for her own place. For now, the plan is for one kid’s room. Someday, I may be adding a second kid’s room but for now, mom is using that for her Etsy business and craft stuff. The kiddo room is painted blue and has a crazy planets ceiling fan. It’s pretty boy friendly.

As I think about the kiddo that might stay there, first, I’m contemplating changing the ceiling fan. I’ve spent some time on Etsy looking for gender neutral {all ages friendly} rooms so that may be the first thing to go. But more on that later . . .

Back to the heart of the home. Did I mention I love it?

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I’m looking forward to cooking in it! It was definitely the first room to be unpacked and organized. The other rooms are coming together. But the kitchen has definitely been my focus.

The yard will take a little work. The patio is super small and there’s no shade. But thanks to Pinterest I have some ideas for fixing that, too. But I still love it. It’s awesome to have a privacy fence again after a year with a chain link fence and nosey neighbors and loud dogs.

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IMG_4627 Abby approves. She adores this yard.

After one full week in this house, I can honestly say that all of the stress was worth it. I’m so thankful to be getting settled. I am dreaming and hoping, with joy, at what lies ahead.

My foster parent orientation is on August 3rd – just a few days away. I can’t wait to meet the first child that will call this place home.

Dreaming

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One of the hardest things to face, for me as a childless woman {who doesn’t want to be}, is the longing that is deep down, in the deepest part of me, to be a mother. As life has marched on, over the years, when the desire surfaces, I have had two reactions – sorrow and grief or . . . I stuff it down, far down.

I have always wanted a family. I never imagined that I would turn 40 and still be without that family. For reasons I don’t want to explain fully now, I made choices that brought me here. Except I didn’t realize at the time that’s what I was doing. My career the last six years has been my sole focus. And prior to that, while I can’t say it was my sole focus, it took an inordinate amount of my time.

I made those choices. But I wasn’t actually intentional. I didn’t see then the cause and effect. I threw my life into work because I don’t do anything half-assed. But, I also didn’t feel fulfilled personally so I found fulfillment at work, particularly after a relationship ended. In the wake of that experience, I moved across the country and jumped in to work in a small desert town and made the families I served, mine. But that started a cycle that brought me here. Here. I’m not where I want to be, here. A few months ago, I was filled with an incredible amount of grief because I thought the only way I was going to get to this dream was thwarted.

But as I mentioned last time, I came to a place where I decided it’s time. I decided it was time regardless of my expectation of how it should happen.

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When I made that decision, I let myself daydream a bit for the first time in ages. Recently, I bought some clothes for a couple of kids I know. Standing in that store, making those decisions about what to buy was a tiny reminder of a simple thing parents do all the time. It was a sweet joy. I spent way too much time in that store.

Last fall I had a tiny boy spend some time with me over the course of a couple of days, at work. He was a baby really, but smarter than heck and the most joy-filled kid I’d met in years. He babbled. He scribbled with a pen, on scrap paper at my desk. He tried desperately to play with my keyboard while I answered e-mails. And then he fell asleep in my arms. Do you know what a gift your sleeping kiddo is, mama? What a sweet joy those moments were. So normal and every day.

I have allowed myself to think about moments like those in recent weeks. Those are just two examples of many. I’ve wondered about the first child who will step across the threshold of my home. For the first time ever, I let myself think about how wonderful it would be to have a baby in my house, or a five-year old. Or a big kid who wants a little bit of normal they’ve missed out on for the past ten years of his or her life.

What a sweet joy this has been. I am allowing myself to dream, without the sorrow of lost years, for the first time in ages. It’s a beautiful thing. It won’t be easy. But it is my dream.

Home

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Foster care and adopting a child {or children} from foster care, will not be easy. I’ve never done things the easy way. Not ever.  So I’m game.

There will be moments that are harder than anything I’ve seen before — and I’ve seen some ugly shit. But underneath all the uncertainty and yes, even fear, runs a swiftly moving current of hope.

For the first time in ages, I’ve allowed myself to dream a little of what might be ahead. I’ll get to that later. But today, filling my thoughts have been the stressful moments of where will we go next and can’t I just stay in one place for once?!

When I rented this house, it had two “empty” rooms. But it was still a very small house. When my mom moved to NC, it became clear that this house was not gonna work. As the days have passed without finding a larger house, that fits all of the “wants” and “needs,” I’ve grown frustrated. The list doesn’t fit the “vision” in my head of what home should (don’t should on yourself, as they say) be.

However, comma sometimes we have to let go of the image. What I want is a home. Not a house. I want a safe-haven that is peace-filled in all ways we can control, joy-filled as much as possible, and a place where you are loved unconditionally. Those goals require nothing physical in the structures and furnishings.

These are the intangibles that can be found on the inside of a two-bedroom apartment, a sprawling house in the country, or in a house that sits snug between neighbors on all sides in the city. These are the intangibles that I once thought I could find in a sort of temporary structure in a faraway land. Or in the inner city where I was willing to live in a one-room apartment, the sounds and sights of Skid Row on the streets below.

I have a dream of what this home looks like. There is no doubt about it. But focusing on the people that will fill that home should be foremost in my thoughts over what the structure looks like.

Someday, when I look back at this time, I will see the dream taking shape, not the structure.

Mom – Starting the Foster Care Journey

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There’s just this one thing I want. I want to be a mom. I have always wanted a huge family. Huge. I’ve wanted this as long as I can remember. I don’t think many dream of being a single parent. If you want to be a parent, you see yourself as part of a team – a two-parent household to go with your white picket fence. I’ve said that all before.

Somewhere in there, I decided that parenting a child without a home and family was in the cards for me. I had a plan to make it happen. I may not have dreamed of being a single parent but I know a few things:

  • There are millions of orphans in the world and more than 400,000 in foster care right here in the U.S.
  • My faith says I’m responsible to care for the widow and orphan.
  • I have a roof over my head, money in my checking account, abundant food on the table and empty rooms in my house.
  • There are children right here in Eastern Carolina that want a safe, stable home with at least one parent who will take care of them, love them, put a roof over their head, and give them a “normal” life.
  • I will never forget reading the story of a foster child {in another state} seeking a family to spend her 16th birthday with. I have the love, the means, the desire, the gifts, the patience, and the determination to give a home to kids just like this young lady that just wanted one “normal” moment in her life as an orphan.

I hit a wall in my plan a couple of months ago. I wasn’t sure what to do next. Was I to believe that this was the end? That maybe it wasn’t in the cards for me to be a mom through foster care or foster adopt? It certainly seemed like it at first glance.

I have still struggled through that. But I reached a decision point recently. If all of the above is true, what the hell am I waiting for? As a result, I’m on a mission to make this happen. I will be a foster mom and if the pieces come together, I’ll adopt at some point.

I’ve wasted so much time. At forty, while I’ve got the best years ahead, it’s time to show up for my life.