Monday, May 17, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
1. People ask me all the time "which ones are yours?" - meaning which ones are foster children. It is typically asked in front of all my kids. Don't do it. Just don't. It's extremely rude to ALL of my children. Do you realize how that makes them feel? While they are in my home, they are treated like they are my children. If they are in our home as foster children, they already feel like they don't have a place where they belong. We are doing our best to balance their lives between our home and their birth home. They typically (in my experience anyway) want desperately to be a part of a family, and not be set apart from the family they are with. They also remain extremely loyal to their birth family, and don't want to feel pressured to forget them in any way. It is a delicate balancing act, and asking a question like this just reminds them once more that they are different, and not in a quirky, fun sort of way. For my kids that are adopted- it makes them feel like they are not worthy of being called mine because they were adopted. They don't make any distiction between themselves and our foster children, because we as parents don't. My answer to this question is typically "They are all mine, I just didn't give birth to any of them".
genetics are over rated. These are my kids. I am their mom, whether it be forever or for a while.
2. The most common response I hear upon others learning we are foster parents is
"I could never do that, I'd get too attached"
or " " " " I couldn't give them back"
or " " " " it would be too hard" "it would break my heart" etc...
Do you seriously think we have steeled our hearts so we don't get attached? Of COURSE we get attached. I mourn each child that leaves. I cry. I pout. I rant abou the unfairness of the system. and then we turn around and do it again. Why? because it's not about me. A child- an innocent child, needs a home. sometimes for a few days, sometimes for a few months, sometimes for a few years. And MOST of the time, they go back home. You are not given a choice about this. You can't just keep them because you WANT to. You have to give them back. It IS hard. It DOES break my heart. Every. Single. Time. Somebody asked me once if I ever got used to the heartache. Nope. I hope I never do. If we get used to it, it is time to stop. The boy we had the longest before going home was here for 7 months. I'll call him little T. He was actually placed with us as a "tentative" adoptive placement. He'd been in foster care in another placement since his birth, and came to us around 6 months of age. The birth parents were non-compliant with the case plan, and the case worker was going to ask for severance. That was a wake-up call for his birth mom, who started doing what was needed to have little T (and his 4 older siblings) come home. As devastating as it was to pack up all of little T's things, and put him in the caseworker's van, we are so thankful for the time we had with him. And it felt good to be a part of putting his family back together again. I sent him with a billion pictures and a 5 page letter to his mom, describing all his milestones and accomplishments while at my house, and gave her all our contact info. Amazingly, his mom called me after he'd been back home for about 6 months to let us know how he was doing. This is NOT typical, but I am so thrilled to still get occassional updates and pictures of our little man. So my advice to anyone considering fostering... or even adopting, is to NOT make the birth parents the enemy. In a perfect world, you all work together to do what is best for the child. It doesn't always work out that way, but sometimes it does. We choose hope most days. Sending them back home IS what you signed up for as a foster parent. like it or not. Just think of the story of the little red hen. If we don't do it, who will?
And for the record, we don't think everyone could or should be foster parents. It's not easy. It's not for everyone. Only you can decide what's best for your entire family, and hopefully you make it a matter of prayer. I do wish more people would at least put aside their fears of the unknown and at least consider it. Maybe give it a shot. I always tell my 7 year old that it is okay to fail, but it isn't okay to just not try.
3. "Will you get to adopt them?" - The short answer is No. That is not why we foster. It is not a means to an end for us. There are Fost/adopt families. Those are families that take foster children that have already had their parental rights severed. Sometimes the kiddos are "legal risk" placements, meaning their parental right have NOT been severed yet, but they are expected to be. But we are just regular ole foster parents. MOST children in foster care are eventually returned to their birth parents, or end up in a relative placement. IF the children in our care become available for adoption, we are an adoptive family as well, So we jump at the chance to adopt them if we can. But we say all the time "it's not over 'til it's over". Even if they become available for adoption, it is not a given that we would be able to adopt them. Sometimes a long lost relative will step forward, or the judge will decide a different placement is best (not all foster families even want to adopt).
4. "Why are they in care? is it drugs?" Please don't be offended when I tell you that it is none of your business. I'll try to say it in a nicer way than that, really! Our foster children have a right to privacy (the same reason I don't post their names or pictures). That information is on a strictly "need to know" basis, and there are very few people that need to know. However, once I went overboard with my "need to know" rules. I had a friend watch a little guy for me that had been drug exposed and still had occassional tremors. I forgot to mention the tremors, because they weren't anything to worry about. She didn't know that. She thought he was having seizures. So, even though his drug exposure wasn't necessary for her to know, the fact that he was having tremors would have been helpful so she wouldn't have worried so much. Thankfully she was able to reach me before she called an ambulance.
5. "You are so special/ a saint/ wonderful for doing this." Okay, stop. seriously, just stop. It makes us uncomfortable. We are not wonderful/ fantastic/ special for doing this. We do it for so many reasons, but none of those reasons are the kudos we get from our peers. We don't feel superior to you in any way. You don't have to feel guilty for not doing what we do. We recognize this is not an easy path, and not for everyone. That doesn't make us better that you, just different than you. And different is good. it is neccessary. However, we love what we do, so we will talk about it. We will express how much we wish there were more good families that would step up to foster kids (there are still WAY too many group homes/ crisis centers, not enough foster families). That is not some underhanded comment on how we think YOU should do it. That is between you, your family, and God. Mostly, we do it because we love kids. We even love the chaos that follows any new placement in our home. We know that even though the foster care system is maddeningly frustrating and far from perfect, it is FAR SUPERIOR to the alternatives.
a few of the alternatives:
-staying in an abusive/ neglectful/ unsafe environment
-going to a group home/ shelter/ crisis center
-going back to the "old days" of children's homes/ institutions where they are warehoused. Most of the rest of the world still uses this option. Trust me. the foster care system is better.
I've had people cite the broken foster care system as their reason for not getting involved. If something is broken, it won't get fixed by your refusal to help fix it. Be a part of the solution.
6. "did you hear about..." some sordid story on the news about something horrible a foster family did to one of their foster children. Blah, blah, blah. All that is EVER shown on TV, whether it be the local news, or the latest episode of Law & Order, is the negative. I am so weary of all the bad press foster parents get, portraying us all as money grubbing, child abusing, psychopathic pedophiles who foster for all the wrong reasons. The vast majority of foster parents are good, honest, hard working families trying to make a difference in the life of a child. Every foster parent I've ever met is doing their best to PARENT a child they didn't give birth to, trying to figure out how to help a child whose brain has been compromised by drugs/ alcohol consumed in utero, trying to help them overcome the effects of various abuses and neglect, helping them work past feelings of abandonment, advocating for them in school, trying to teach a 2 year old that MOMMY pours the cereal and milk in the bowl, because they should be too young to do it, but learned how to out of necessity, and trying to teach a 6 year old that it's okay to be a kid first. So give us a break.
7. "Is it worth it?" yes. yes. yes. yes. YES!!! "Have you thought of the effect this will have on your kids?" yes. of course. But do you know what I see happening to my kids? Yes, they get heartbroken when kids leave too (My Luke still asks about little T on a weekly basis, and T hasn't lived here for about a year and a half). But they are so kind to other children. They worry about feelings. They are empathetic to the suffering of others. They can't stand to think that there are children in this world without a safe place, or without a family. Luke constantly requests that we go find "summore" kids without a family and bring them to our house. And don't you dare tell my kids that the kids we foster aren't "real" siblings. They love unconditionally. So much so, that I frequently get requests to adopt their best friends. The fact that their friends already live in a stable, loving environment with their own parents does not deter my kids in anyway from thinking they belong in our family. THIS is the effect it is having on our kids. They know that sometimes kids don't come to stay. sometimes, we just can't adopt them. We usually blame it on "the judge". Mostly, in order to explain it in a way that even our 4 year old can understand, we tell them the kids are here while their parents work on some "things" and when the parents "get better", the kids can go back home. Our kids are still at an age where we can be wonderfully vague. We emphasize that we'll always love them and miss them, but they need to go back home so their birth family can be together again. We keep pictures up of all they munchkins we have ever fostered, and the kids like that they can look at the pictures and remember the "brother that used to be". Our current 8 year old foster daughter (we typically just call her daughter, but for the sake of explanation we sometimes have to add the 'foster') is fascinated by the pictures. right now, because they (the 8 year old and her 18 month old little sister) live in our house, their big 8x10 picture is up right next to the rest of the kids' pictures. Then we have a frame with several 4x6 openings where we keep pictures of those that have come and gone. She asks me if we'll put her picture there when she is gone. I assure her we will, and she feels comforted knowing that we will never, ever forget her. Her time here counted. She was somebody here. She was not a cipher. She was not a lowly foster child. She was a beloved daughter. When she goes home, we'll write her a long letter too. We'll send lots of photos and all our contact info. And then we'll pray that somewhere along the way, we'll hear about how she is doing, and if us teaching her about family, about God, about love made a difference in her life. And if we never hear, we just hope.
Before we became foster parents, Scott and I made it a matter of much prayer and fasting. We didn't have any children at the time, and it was a little scary to think about parenting a child with "issues". But we felt an overhwhelming "YES" when we questioned the Lord if we should do this crazy thing. And then almost immediately into my head popped my own little version of The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.
Somebody, somebody has to you see,
then HE picked out two somebodies,
Scotty and me.
Of the 9 children we have fostered, we have 2 of them still currently with us (for 15 months now), 5 have gone back to their family, and we were blessed enough to adopt 2. And our decision to be foster parents has opened up SO many other doors to adoption. It has been an amazing journey.
The first 2 boys we fostered are the 2 we were able to adopt
our next son was adopted (due to a miracle- or a series of miracles)from the same agency, but was not a foster placement, strictly adoption.
One adopted from an agency in Illinois
one private adoption (from disruption)
and one adoption from another state's (Texas) foster care.
We love it. We look forward to years and years of being foster parents. I hope I don't get jaded. I hope I don't ever refuse to get attached. I hope I have the strength (mental, spiritual) to do this for a long time. All I know for sure is that right now, it is the right thing for us.
Have I told you anything useful?
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
This attitude of joy and support has carried over to our families next adventure. We are adopting a 15 year old girl with Down syndrome. Meet Haley:
Luke, who truly has a heart for adoption, can't stand the thought of there being kids out there without a family. We'll load him in the big van (that has 4 empty seats, 3 empty starting Saturday!) and he'll ask when we're going to pick up more kids that need a family. Awww... If only it were that easy. We only have one more adoption in the works, so to speak (Serbia), and then we'll see.
I love the fact that we've been able to grow our family so quickly. It means no one has time to get settled into their "role" in our family, which is good, because that role may change quickly. That's just the nature of being a foster family. We don't go into any adoption blindly. Scott and I always talk it through, the changes it will mean to lifestyle, practical things like the increase in laundry, grocery bills, etc. And we pray. A lot. Mostly, we talk about the effect it will have on our children. Good thing we have such great kids. One thing a large family teaches just by being part of it, is selflessness. Instead of our kids wondering if they'll have to share a room, they are fighting over who GETS to share a room. "A" was quite put out when we told her that Haley would not be sharing her room, she was going to have her own room for a while. She WANTS to share her room. She is already trying to build a sister bond with a girl she has yet to meet.
Our munchkins have brought us change they found on the ground and asked if we could use that money for an adoption. How is that for pulling together? Our kids don't care about stuff, or nice vacations. They just love being together-- most of the time!
And to quote one of our favorite movies (because it has a great adoption message) "Meet the Robinsons" -- We'll just Keep Moving Forward!
Monday, March 1, 2010
on the top pics, they are on a "bed of nails". the dino in the bottom pictures is made from legos! they were having a lego competition, and got to watch a master builder make a city. It was a dream come true for my little lego maniacs.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Here he is signing "dad"
Have you ever seen a cuter boy?
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Monday, February 1, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Landon's version of Jolly Old St. Nicholas. So funny. Listen carefully in the second verse and he'll tell you his opinion of the gifts he gets from Santa....
Yes, you heard it right. "Down the chimney broad and black, with your CRAP you'll creep."
Actually, I'm not sure what I like best about this video... His version of the song, or the outfit he's wearing. After he was asleep, I laid out his green sweatshirt in case he wanted to wear it. Of course, I assumed he'd wear it over his t-shirt like most people, but not Landon. He has his own sense of style.
The same day he brought home this ornament for the tree:
According to Landon, it is a zombie snowman with blood running down it. Nice. gotta love the imagination. NO, our children do not watch zombie movies. They don't watch anything rated higher than PG. But they do go to public school. :O)
While we are having a Landon themed post, Here is a picture of my little Shark boy, with his permanent teeth coming in behind his baby teeth. Those baby teeth are just not in a hurry to come out. He has a dentist appt. on Wed, and can probably get them pulled then. I am envisioning high orthodontic bills when he is older. Oi.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Oh, my gosh! He is one handsome fella, and he needs a home. click on the link under his picture to watch a video of him. He has really grabbed my heart. If we weren't in the middle of bringing home a different older child, I would have already called on him. Oh, my gosh! I'm not going to sleep until he has a home. Does anyone in blogland know anyone who could be his family?
Thursday, December 3, 2009
DMV: After applying the credit from the plates on the vehicle you just sold, you still have a $12.59 credit, so we'll send you a check.
Scott: can we just apply the credit toward our next plate renewal?
DMV: No, sorry, we have to process the refund.
Scott: so, you are going to send me a check for $12.59?
DMV: No, there is a processing fee of $12.00.
Scott: There is a processing fee of $12.00 on a refund of $12.59?
Scott: So you are actually going to send me a check for $ .59?
Scott: yeah. makes sense.
Anyone else have a love/hate relationship with their DMV?
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Thank you for asking. I don't blog much about our little daughter because I get so discouraged. We have been wanting and waiting to adopt her for well over 2 years now. Our little girl has still not been cleared for international adoption. We did not know she was not officially cleared at the time we committed to adopt her. We have had a very hard time lately deciding what to do. Our options as we see them are:
1. Continue to wait for the beautiful girl we have loved and waited for, and continue to pray that she will someday come home to us.
2. Go to the same country to adopt a different child. This is the easiest and the hardest choice. easiest due to paperwork- we are already approved for adoption in that country and wouldn't have to re-do any paperwork. Hardest because we would be in the same country as the girl we already consider our daughter, and not be able to bring her home. We consider this choice only because we hope we would get to see her, hold her, tell her we love her, and continue to hope that SOMEDAY we'd be able to come back for her. We don't really feel this would be so fair to the new child we would adopt from there. Our focus would be split. If we felt a strong pull to another child in the same orphanage, we would consider this option, go for the new child, and hope to someday go back.
3. switch countries all together and start over again. We have strongly considered this option. We feel a pull to Ethiopia, but so far have not found a child we are pulled to. We feel like we will some day adopt from Ethiopia, but so far, that day is not today.
So far, we have opted for #1. We'll see what our future holds. For now, we continue to grow with adoptions from the US. We are still working on "N"s adoption. His severance trial is tomorrow, and hopefully the adoption trial in a month. He does not have Down Syndrome. He will be 4 in about a week and a half. After his adoption is final, we'll post his name and pictures.
And I will be making an announcement very shortly about another upcoming adoption in our household! Stay tuned.... (I'm waiting until I have more details about when this child will be coming home before I make the official announcement).
Plus, we are still a foster family, so we still have borrowed children from time to time. I do not post about them much due to privacy issues.
Updates on our boys-- N and Luke are in preschool and doing very well-- 3 afternoons a week. They love it. Landon is also doing amazing in school. I love watching him blossom. His favorite thing to do is draw, and he is getting quite good at it.
And Dylan. Our sweet angel with Down syndrome that is already home. HE IS WALKING!!!! well, starting to anyway! he is up to about 8-10 steps at a time. AND he has a tooth, finally-- a molar! AND he is climbing up the stairs all by himself. AND he can climb onto all the furniture. Oh, goodie! another little monkey boy around the house! He is such a doll. He is by far my busiest child. I thought Luke was busy, but Dylan puts Luke to shame. I chase him around all day, getting him off furniture, off the stairs (Scott installed a gate last night), out of the cupboards, etc. He loves watching Signing Time videos, and is learning! He signs "more, eat, ball, music, and all done". "more and eat" are the only two he does perfectly, the others are his version of the sign, but that's okay for now. He is a little smarty pants. I will try to get a video of him walking soon and post it. so cute.
Oh, and about the last post-- our mommy bird flew away and never came back. I'm sure something happened to her. so no baby birds were able to hatch :o(
Monday, July 13, 2009
Yep! And this single egg has since been joined by a second egg. My kids love looking out the window each day to see if the little mommy dove is on her nest. I'm thinking she might be rather a lazy little bird by the looks of that nest, or maybe just very clever to use the power cord to save her some work. All together, my kind of bird!
She is quite diligent in her sitting, though I'm sure the AZ sun keeps that egg plenty warm while she's off eating. And she never strays far. We see her sitting on the neighbors roof from time to time, keeping an eye on things. It will sure be fun to see the end product! I wonder how long Dove eggs take to hatch? sounds like a great computer research project for the kiddos, who only have 2 weeks until school begins.
Friday, June 5, 2009
Scott was home, and on his way to answer the door, but LeAnn didn't realize this. Here is how the conversation commenced:
LeAnn: Oh, no, go ahead and answer the door
me: No, S...
LeAnn: Lisette, you have to answer the door
LeAnn: LISETTE, TRUST ME, JUST ANSWER THE DOOR!
me: LeANN! Scott is answering the door!
LeAnn: Oh. Okay. I didn't realize he was home. Tell him it's not a mistake.
me: tell him what is not a mistake?
LeAnn: Just tell him before he sends them away. Just say it's not a mistake.
Me: (I'm in the other room, scott can hear me, but not see me) Scott, LeAnn says it's not a mistake, if that means anything.
Scott: Okay. (nothing else, just Okay)
Me: so what's the deal?
LeAnn: Well, I didn't get you a birthday present sent, so I ordered pizza to be delivered to your house for lunch. Then I realized I'd better call at the time it was supposed to be delivered so you wouldn't send the delivery person away thinking it was a mistake. (that sounds like something I'd do)
me: OH!! How sweet, thank you! (then Scott walks around the corner)
Me to Scott: Where's the pizza?
Scott: What pizza?
me: the pizza that was just delivered?
Scott: That wasn't pizza, it was the bug guy.
I just started laughing. LeAnn outed herself for no reason. The pizza guy didn't come for another 10 minutes, but at least we knew not to send him away. Maybe this is one of those "you had to be there" moments, but it was really funny. What are the chances that the bug guy comes at the same time the surprise pizza guy is supposed to come? And what in the world was Scott thinking when I told him it wasn't a mistake? And he just answered Okay. Like this is some sort of ongoing cryptic conversation we always have.
Oh, well. The pizza came, we all had a good laugh, and the rest of the day was lovely.
Scott had my sister-in-law come over to watch the Munchkins (thanks, Misty!) and took me to see the new Star Trek movie, which I had been wanting to see since it came out. I am a big Star Trek fan. Yes, I even have one "StarCon" under my belt. My sister Lisa and I went one year in Colorado and got to see Patrick Stewart speak. Good stuff. No, we didn't dress up. I like Star Trek, but it does not consume my life. Well, not for the most part anyway.
After the movie, we went to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner. My all time favorite is Macaroni Grill (Mmmmm..... Penne Rustica.....), but Cheesecake Factory is much closer, I'd only been once, and it was really good. So now I've been twice. Excellent food both times. And of course cheesecake to bring home. So delicious. Maybe I'll have a birthday again next week. It would almost be worth prematurely aging. Youth is overrated anyway.
And because posts without pics are not nearly as fun, here are a few of the munchkins
Luke and Landon in their Jedi poses
Guess who has discovered he can empty the cupboards?
Monday, June 1, 2009
Landon - Green
Luke - Blue
Dylan - Red
A - Pink
Stix - Yellow
Now, the babies don't really need a color yet, but I didn't want to leave them out either. Their colors are mostly used for my own organizational purposes.
When a child comes to our house, I eventually make them a "snuggle" with their color scheme. A snuggle is a small blankie, about 18" x 24" with fringed edges. I'll admit right now that I have had A and Stix's material for quite some time, and have failed to come up with the finished product yet. Bad, bad mommy. But the general idea is to give them something that is just theirs, that they can snuggle up with in bed.
The also each have a small basket in their color for school papers and such. That goes on a marked Cubby in our bookshelf. They each have 3 marked cubbies for their stuff, the bottom cubby for their shoes, the middle for their backpack, and the top for their basket.
Each child has their own laundry basket (even the babes). Thanks to the makers of "Duck Tape", I can get tape in all their colors. I put their color tape around the handles of the basket. When I do laundry and sort clothes, each child's clothes go into their basket and the big kids all put away their own. They "fold" as well. I'm not picky about how well it is folded, as long as their drawers all close when they are done.
Each child has a bath towel, hand towel, wash rag, bath pouf, and tooth brush in their color. We hang the hand towels and bath poufs with 3M hooks (love those things!). That way, when Luke goes to wipe off his just-washed-but-somehow-still-dirty hands on the towel, he only gets his own towel dirty, and not the community towel. I used to use paper towels, thanks to the idea from my sister LeAnn. But the kiddos were extremely wasteful, and I'm cheap. Plus, I had a 10th grade Biology teacher who drilled conservation into our heads- Thanks Mr. Strube! While I'm certainly no tree hugger, I do try not to be wasteful, and going through 3 rolls of paper towels a week was a bit much.
We also have plates (both divided and flat), cups, and bowls in each color. The kids dishes are in a low cupboard so they can reach their own. They may use one cup a day. We do a lot of dishes (and laundry) around here, so that helps cut down a bit. They are responsible for setting and cleaning up their own dishes.
One of the main "cons" is my tendency to go overboard with this whole color scheme thing. We were at Wal-Mart and they had cute flip flops and boat shoes in all the right colors. I didn't buy any, but man did I want to. It is a good thing we are poor, or I would definitely take color scheming to an unhealthy level. Such as, when we were recently at Ikea, they had lap blankets on sale in all the right colors. Now, we have 3419 blankets in this house and at least half of those are lap blankets. We live in Arizona. But guess what we came home from Ikea with? Cute new blankets that were entirely unnecessary. They do look cute all snuggled up with them on movie night, though. Another con is passing on the color mania to my children. Now they think they get to buy everything they see in their color. I hear constant rings of "Look, mom, can we buy this? it's my color" while we're at the store. They also think that EVERYTHING at home in their color belongs to them. N thinks the orange power screwdriver is his, Landon is convinced he can use the green sharpie whenever he wants... Why doesn't Luke want anything to do with the blue broom, though?
One of the major "pros" was entirely unforeseen. When little mr. N joined our family, he'd spent quite a bit of time in his short 3 years being bounced around. Having a color that is "his" has helped him feel at home here, I think. No one takes their color as seriously as he does. He LOVES orange. He wears orange as often as possible. He loves knowing that he doesn't have to share his orange plates, orange towel, and orange blanket with anyone. He is the only one that has formed an attachment to his snuggle. He loves that thing and carries it all around the house.
And While I'm on the subject, I owe a big thanks to my sister LeAnn who has been on the lookout for me. She just sent us a lovely package in the mail with orange, pink AND yellow divided plates. Yay!
As for me, I have a plastic filing tray marked with each kiddos color, a small expanding file folder for each child marked with their color (so convenient to grab on the way out the door and know you have the right kids shot record), storage bucket, and various other thing like that to help me keep organized. Maybe one of these days I'll actually FEEL organized. for now, our house is somewhere in the vicinity of slightly organized chaos.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Last night was Landon's Kindergarten "graduation". the very idea of it cracks me up. I always think about that line in "The Incredibles" where the dad says something about coming up with new ways to celebrate mediocrity. I'll have to watch again to get the line just right. anyway, the principal introduced them as the class of 2021. She said it several times. I hadn't previously put any thought into what year Landon would graduate. What's sad is that I know it will be here in the blink of an eye.
Another realization today was how much my kids have grown. For the last day of school, Luke wore the same outfit that Landon wore of the first day of school. Getting Luke to stand still long enough to take a picture is challenging, and when he does stand still, he is always hamming it up. So here they are: Landon's first day of school on top, and Luke's last day on bottom. Handsome boys huh?
We also have an initial court hearing for N. Hopefully we can get his adoption all wrapped up soon, so I can start calling him by name, and posting his pictures. Trust me, he's adorable.
In the meantime here's Dylan, my little man of a million faces: