Trauma Mama

to my foster child

I haven’t provided much in the way of foster care updates on the blog. I’ve been trying to figure out the balance between privacy and what I want so badly to write about (because that’s what writers do). I have a private Facebook group of family and some friends. In that group I share some blog-like updates.

It’s challenging to be in the midst of something you’ve waited decades for and not be able to share. So I’ll do my best to update without diving into too much detail.

This afternoon through 9:00 PM was a little rough up in here. Trauma parenting is a thing. Hello, my name is Elaina and I’m a Trauma Mama. Most of the time I think my son’s past therapy, prior to meeting me, has made a significant and positive impact on him.

And then something like today happens and I wonder how I could possibly have the skills and abilities to help him through what remains. I do (in Him) but I still question these things.

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Today was not good. Today was a day that made me hate being a single foster parent. Today was a day that made me long – desperately – to be free of a 9-5 so at the very least, I’ve stripped off one layer of stress in my life – so I can be more present for him.

Truthfully, we’ve had some very hard moments since the week of Mother’s Day. I’ve wondered who this kid is lately, because the little boy his teacher knows, my mom knows, I know, the kids our street know – is not the little boy I’ve been seeing.

It hurts my heart for him. He bears so many burdens. I sometimes wonder how he keeps it all together. Today was hard. Recent weeks have had some very hard moments.

And then there is the rest of the time. I literally laugh out loud at him constantly. He loves being silly. He loves making people laugh. His smile lights up a room. He is sweet – so very sweet. He talks from the moment he knocks on my door in the morning until he falls asleep, at night. He talks about everything and anything.

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He is conscientious and anxious and must understand everything. His why questions are rooted in this inquisitive longing to understand…everything. Boy does he ever stump me. There are so many times when I’m like…huh. I don’t know. Let’s look that up. 🙂

Since the week of Mother’s Day, he isn’t far from my presence – ever. Until that week, he would happily play in his room, with me across the hall, before bedtime (our usual routine). Now, he needs to be with me. In the evening, after his bath, his cars and trucks have found their way to my room where he plays until it’s time for reading, prayers, and sleep.

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He’s only been with me a few months. But it seems like there wasn’t life before him. And honestly, I can’t imagine life without him in it. So I wait for what comes next. We have six more months of the status quo – per the judge.

Six more months of limbo for him.

I know. Three months with me and six more months of waiting, is nothing in foster care land. But for him, he has been in limbo for far longer (two years). He longs for security, safety, and the stability of his forever home. I want this for him so badly. Six months will pass in the blink of an eye, right?

I hope so. I hope that at the end of the six months, whatever happens, the little boy that stole my heart, will be a step closer to his forever home.

Are you a foster parent? What strategies have you found to help you and your kiddos out when the trauma rears its ugly head?

Life with a Six Year Old Boy

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Yes, this is how I often feel in the mornings too, Buddy.

My foster son is so very smart. He’s also a six-year old boy. Which means he says and does gross things and he almost never stops moving. Luckily, I have a high tolerance for sometimes gross boy behavior (see working with a couple hundred Marines every day for 8 years). He also has a lot of fears and anxiety. He’s much too old for his six, going on seven, years. But I’ll just keep working on giving him a stable, safe home so he has space to be a kid.

Now that it’s just the two of us, we’ve had some great days doing normal kid/family stuff. He’s been riding his bike in the cul de sac, doing his chores, and learning what not to do with the dog (he took her bone from her and she nipped him), while also learning how to care for her. He was upset, but that’ll never happen again. She absolutely adores this kiddo. Abby the Wonder Dog has totally forsaken me (except when we go to bed). She even “tucks” him in at night when I do. She has to get right there, in between me and the bed. You think I kid. She really and truly loves him. They’re pretty adorable together.

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FS6 was riding his bike ahead of us. This was a BIG deal to him!

We went to Fort Macon last weekend. He literally could not contain his excitement and questions. He has a ridiculous amount of energy which is exhausting (haha) but we’re doing our best to keep up with each other. It has been much better since I have gotten rid of most of this bug that followed me all of March. Thankfully, I got a remicade infusion last week and my joints already feel better – which helps everything.

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Standing on top of Ft. Macon

It is the best feeling to see how excited he gets when I pick him at school or at childcare. It does my heart good. In recent days he’s:

  • Asked if he can have a dad.
  • Asked if we can have a baby come to live with us (and/or a little sister or brother)
  • Asked if he can change his name (that was today).
  • Asked if I can give him a nickname & referred to himself as his first name & my last name.
  • Has informed me that “flicking” boogers is not okay (Thanks, Bud. I wasn’t clear on that before.).
  • He’s obsessed with tobymac which has meant we’ve watched videos on YouTube and listen to him on Spotify nearly every time we get in the car. I so need a break. Haha.
  • He eats constantly. But he never stops moving (so there you go).
  • To quote his sister’s foster mom, “He’s a jolly one.” He sure is! His smile lights up a room.
  • My mom fixed his alarm clock. He said, “She knows magic.” LOL. And then at dinner he said, “I wish your mom lived next door so she could walk over here anytime.” I can’t even.

I’ve had some moments. Last night was one of them. I took him to Cub Scouts to try it out. I was overwhelmed. It’s hard sometimes to know what he’ll be able to handle and what he won’t get. There are just some things he’s never learned. It may be too soon for Cub Scouts. I’m not sure he’s ready  – and I’m not sure I’m ready.

But adding to the struggle was being around the family types. You know those two-parent household types. Haha. I so wished for him that he’d have a dad that will teach him what it means to be a godly man. I might’ve cried all the way home. Okay, I did. And now I’m crying again.

Today, his teacher walked him to my car in the pick up line to let me know he’d had a really great day. It has been a bit of a hard week. He was all smiles and told me that he stayed on green all day. She told me he’d had a great day and she just wanted me to know. I am so thankful he has such a caring & understanding teacher.

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We went to the beach today after school. He was the most excited I’ve ever seen him. I wish I could share the photos and videos. He was ecstatic. The first thing he said, “Oh, so that’s the ocean?” I think he’s been to the beach before. But he was fairly young. He had so much fun.

I love his little heart. I’m exhausted most of the time. But super thankful we are finding our way and that God has given me the gift of building into this little guy’s life. I don’t know where this path leads us. But for now, he’s home.

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Mama

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I don’t know about you, but for me, there are things I know I am meant to do and be. I am a mama.

I have spent a lifetime looking forward to motherhood and to the family I prayed for, for so long.

My future family & being a mama looks a little different from where I stand now. I never dreamed I’d be here.

I have been on a long path to be a foster and {or} adoptive parent for decades {about three of them}. But I never saw myself embarking on this journey as a single woman.

But here I am.

I started foster parent training last year. I had to put the stops on that but knew it was “temporary.” I’ve kick-started this thing again with a new foster parent agency. They’re a Christian agency & I feel at home there. My training will be complete in December. The remainder of the licensing process will continue on for several months after.

As I’ve jumped in again, I’m even more convinced today than I was a year ago that God has put the pieces of my life together in such a way that I was made for this.

Did I want to do this alone? No. Did I plan it this way? Oh heck no. But here I am. I am a mama. And there are little ones {and not so little ones} who are precious in His sight who need a mama. They desperately long for a home and to be loved and cared for as we all need.

So without all the answers and uncertain about how to juggle singleness and parenting, I’m jumping into the fire again. I’ve been thinking a great deal about the babies or children that will make this their home – for a time – or forever.

I don’t know their stories. But I know that God will take the brokenness that brings them to me and will give me the gift of breathing hope, healing, and love into their lives for a season or forever.

I still have moments of grief over what isn’t or what was lost long ago. But here I am. With four bedrooms, a huge backyard, and a passion for the lives of his most precious ones, I am opening my heart and home.

The Kid’s Room

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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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
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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.