Back to School: Newbie Mom Firsts

elaina avalos, foster care, this is foster care, boy mom, mommy blogger,

Monday is my {foster} son’s first day of second-grade. The other day we attended his Back to School night. We met his teacher, saw his classroom, and turned in paperwork. I was a little overwhelmed. I’m not going to lie.

But as we took a photo in front of the PTO’s “selfie station,” and I talked with one of the parents about volunteering, I had this overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I never dreamed that being a mom would mean starting my parenting journey with a six-year old boy who is not mine and yet, may be.

But picking out his first day of school clothes, getting his backpack, and buying his school supplies, I am overwhelmed by the beauty of this time, in spite of how . . . mundane it all could be under slightly different circumstances.

I’m not sure I’d ever be a good helicopter mom. There are just some things I think he’s got to experience – even in failure – on his own. But I’m fiercely protective. In case you’re wondering if the mama bear thing only happens with children you give birth to, it doesn’t.

I worry over this year for him. In just a few short months, the court could decide that reunification efforts will be ceased. His plan could change to adoption. In just a few short months, it may be very clear that he will be with me forever.

I want him to have people in his life who will see how sweet and precious he is – even when his behavior is sometimes rooted in trauma. I want them to invest in him, in ways that so many kids just don’t experience. And so, as this school year begins – a year that could change everything for him, I pray that his teacher will invest in him.

I pray that I will know how to support him. And I pray that those who are part of the team of professionals that provide additional support, will know how to help him {and me}.

Here’s to a new school year – and hopefully soon – the permanency that my little guy deserves so much.

Are you ready for your kiddo’s new school year?

Thankful,

a4ebf5d6-c772-4341-9be8-2ddda3a603ab

Healthy Attachment

RestoReview

My son’s last day of school was more than a week ago. On the 7th, I was there for his end of year awards, which I shared about, here. The following day, I left work to pick him up at 3:30. When I arrived in the parking lot of the school, I realized there was a text from his teacher – he’d been crying for a half-hour – inconsolable, really.

I asked her if I needed to come in. Her initial response was no. And then within a couple of minutes, as I waited in the “car rider” pick-up line, she said he’d begun crying again. I parked, signed in at the office, and walked to his classroom, nervous about why little guy was feeling.

I could hear him before I saw him. When I walked in, he fell into me. He was weeping – body-wracking, sobbing, tears falling down his face, weeping. There were a couple other kids crying too. But my little man was beside himself.

He sat on my lap and I rocked him as his teacher walked the other kids to the bus and then the car rider line. We sat alone in the class as he wept. My heart has never ached so. The pain he was feeling was so real and intense.

And yet, this foster mama who knows, also knew this was a beautiful moment.

My little man is learning healthy attachment.

It hurts to lose people you love. But when you get yanked around from place to place and the people in your life can disappoint you, you don’t always know how to form healthy relationships and attachments. You build a wall. You don’t know what’s a good relationship or a bad one. You may feel intense emotions, but they may not always be about the actual thing you’re expressing emotion over.

My kiddo is so tired of not knowing a permanent home. He wants that so desperately. He aches for it. Truly. He wants forever. He tells anyone and everyone that he plans on living with me “forever.”

But after what he’s been through, attaching and forming the bonds and relationships most of us take for granted, is not easy. To say the least. His sadness over “losing” his teacher and his friends, was so very painful for him.

And as weird as it is to say it, that was such a good thing for him. His pain poured out of him and it’s like every pent-up emotion from the last few years of his life flooded to the surface.

Though I believe his emotion came from a few places, underneath it all was the awesome reality that my little guy is learning, in just a few short months in my house, what it means to form healthy relationships.

As I held and rocked him, I said so many times, “It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad.” My heart has never ached more over the emotion pouring out of anyone. And yet, I felt it was a turning point for him and for us.

My little man is learning what it means to form healthy relationships. I am so proud of him.

He is a warrior.

He fights through some tough stuff (most adults don’t know how to work through), to be strong, smart, sweet, and full of joy.

He is brave. He is hilarious. And though he can be quite fearful at times – he’s actually fearless at the end of the day because he will not let anything hold him back.

I am convinced that I’m in the presence of a boy who will be a great man, someday.

What a sweet privilege I have to love on him and be there for him on days like his last day of school. He is learning what it means to love, form bonds, and say goodbye in a healthy way.

I am so very proud of my boy.

Nothing Will Fall Out As You Expect

north topsail island, topsail beach“Nothing will fall out as you expect. Your guide will keep to no beaten path. He will lead you by a way such as you never dreamed your eyes would look upon. He knows no far, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.” – Streams in the Desert

I’ve been reading the Streams in the Desert devotional on and off for many years. I don’t read it everyday anymore. Sometimes I open it on the exact day, in the exact moment, that I need to read it. Today, I opened it to the April 16th entry and it met me right where I’m at.

Nothing has happened like I expected and certainly not how I “planned.” There are days when this overwhelms me with grief. Today started off that way. It’s a holiday. That usually happens on holidays. I watched a video on Facebook {this one} and that threatened to take me a little further down the path to being overwhelmed.

I cried. I’m not going to lie. I started to wander down that ugly path that takes me to the inevitable end: wondering why it is that this life I’ve always wanted and dreamed of still remains so far off. Usually when that happens I don’t come back very quickly or easily. It takes me awhile to work my way back from the hurt.

But something different happened entirely. The sadness happened for the briefest of moments. And then I turned my thoughts towards what God has for me. The questions were there . . . why is what I want so far off? Why do You – God – keep all of this from me?

Something stirred in me though. Something different. The reminders of what I don’t have, were met with reminders of those who clung to hope, and their faith, long after it made sense to do so. The verse that goes along with the April 16th devotional is Hebrews 11:8. Hebrews 11 is always described as the faith hall of fame, in one way or another.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. – Hebrews 11:8

Whether it was Joseph {his story always means the most to me}, Abraham, Sarah, or Moses, yjey clung to promises long after reason and logic would tell them to do so.  They didn’t know where they were going. They didn’t take hold of the promise within an amount of time that seems reasonable {to me anyway}. And yet, they held on.

Holidays are always the hardest. I miss what is missing {obvi} and on these days I fear that it will always be this way. But today, against reason and logic, I know it won’t be. I know I’m just gearing up for the next adventure. My prayer today has been – lead me to the next adventure, Lord.

I’m ready.

The Kid’s Room

15591021_10154721881075256_1655932470015316660_o

From an Instagram post last night:

The door to the “kid’s room” has been closed quite a bit. I’ve been trying to keep Abby from adopting another bed as her own. This week has been a long week. I haven’t been feeling well for days. By the time I got through Thursday evening’s first walk-through for foster care licensing, I was spent.
.
I have a list of to-do’s that seems sort of overwhelming. I have things to buy that I hadn’t quite planned on buying (rookie mistakes). And I’m trying to complete, in what feels like a rushed timeline, everything needed within the next couple weeks.
.
By this afternoon, after unsuccessfully searching for a solution to the double-locking storage I need for things like medication, I was just tired. Like have an existential crisis over Christmas cookies I wanted to make for work, can’t find a locking storage cabinet (that’s not ridiculously expensive and/or ugly), “falling down into weepy tears” (name that movie), meltdown.
.
Guys…it was stupid. But somehow a stupid locking cabinet and my inability to muster the desire to bake oodles of Christmas gifts for work, caused me to stop in my tracks yet again. What is all of this for? And why am I doing it? Certainly not to get a pat on the back for my beautiful furniture (that is also locking storage mind you) that fits into my dining room like it stepped off my Pinterest boards.
.
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” – James 1:27
.
So after a wake up call, and praying for peace & wisdom, here I am…planning to buy an ugly, plastic locking case because no one needs my house to be Pinterest perfect to be safe, cared for, and loved. The door to the kid’s room will stay open from now on. Because every time I see it, I’m reminded of why I’m doing this.

Foster Care Adventures – Part Two

c413e1ed3eb0e2db774e644eb76983f0

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.

1ca66c876ef716c7054bfc7321be22fa
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

adoption, onslow beach, atlantic ocean

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.

 

Home

86d5eb1d9e83f06dee75794aeb5623e5

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.