I sat down at my computer about 8 times over the last 8 months to update you on our fostering journey. Some of these 8 times would have been joyful posts about milestones or how beautifully our little guy has blended into our family. Some of these 8 times would have been feet stomping, fist slamming on the desk rants of frustration and anger and all the rest would have been an attempt at explaining the complicated emotions I have experienced over the last 8 months. This is by far the hardest thing God has ever asked us to do but with that said, the blessings have been many and some, so very unexpected.
Here is my first attempt at painting you a picture of our experience.
There are so many people in this foster care portrait. First, there is this little boy who has stolen our hearts. He and I spend a lot of time together. It all truthfulness, probably more time than I spent with the ones I birthed in their first year. Some of this is due to our current work situation. I worked full time with babies in tow while my biological children were babies and they were all so very healthy. I now work from home which allows me countless hours of cuddles, feedings, giggles and lots of time in the car for doctors appointments and on again off again visits with his biological parents. What he lacks in physical stature he makes up with in personality. He is quick to smile, quick to let you know when he is hungry and these days quick across the floor to find every Lego, craft supply or matchbox car that the Bigs leave at his level. He thinks Andrew and I are pretty fun to be with and he LOVES the Bigs almost as much as they love him….I say almost because their love for him is so big it is hard to believe he could fit that much affection into his tiny body. He is sweet and silly and so lovable he makes my heart hurt.
There are also many people around him. His original caseworker who placed him in our home. She still texts for pictures of him and checks on him occasionally. I thought he was her favorite until I saw her interacting with other kids at the courthouse, greeting them by name and with hugs or encouragement about how much they had grown. That is when I realized that she is just one of those amazing people who makes everyone feel like they are the favorite. She will always be so special to us because she brought us our first babe. His current caseworker who received his case a few months ago makes monthly visits to our home to check on him, checks in with his parents and helps provides them with resources in hopes that they will be able to keep him safe in the future. She also handles countless texts, voicemails and emails from me as I try to navigate all the bureaucracy that is the foster care system.
Our little guy lucked out in the GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) department. The GAL is an attorney who specifically represents the child. She is experienced, organized, compassionate but firm. We have only had to call on her with one big concern so far and she responded quickly, fairly and corrected the problem. I appreciate her wisdom, encouragement and know that she is looking out for our little guys best interests always. I also appreciate her willingness to teach some of the system to Andrew and me. Along with the GAL comes a Magistrate. He is the judge who will ultimately decide what happens for our little man. I can’t give you a read on him but can tell you that I find everything about the court portion of this process to be intimidating and worrisome. During our first court appearance he asked if I had anything to add and I’m fairly certain I grunted. Literally grunted.
Our family also has a Support Worker who is in charge of making sure we are okay, that we get our training recertification hours done on time, that we have the resources we need. Most times when he comes, I think he is just making sure that Andrew and I are holding up okay. He fields our questions that often times don’t have answers and walks along with us.
In another post I will talk about our roles in all of this and the roles our children have grown to fill.
These are all people who I knew would be a part of this team but the team is so much bigger. They consists of high school and college friends who shipped clothes and baby equipment and diapers and bottles to our home when little man arrived. It’s my neighbor who planned a surprise baby shower for us. It is Hope’s Closet, a local non profit organization who coordinates opportunities for us to trained, be encouraged and be known as well as provides equipment, supplies and clothes for kids coming into foster and kinship care. It is our small group at church who brought food for us, prays for us and babysits for us so we can still have date nights. It is my fellow foster moms who have listened to me vent and be surprised by things they already knew. It is my non foster friends who try so hard to understand this unique experience we are going through.
It is also our parents and extended families who did not receive this call, did not wrestle with it for years and did not say yes but who have come along side us and supported us by listening, babysitting, loving us, listening to us cry and yell and laugh and who have decided that this little boy is in. That he is in for as long as he needs to be in and that he will be in our hears long after that if he goes home. They didn’t sign up to be this close to all this pain but I can’t say enough about how their hearts have opened to this little boy. We are all wide open.
I hope that this is the beginning of me being able to find the words to begin to tell you the amazing blessings that come when you are obedient to a call. That hope and love and compassion can come out of brokenness, sadness and hurt. That He makes all things work together for our good.
Please pray for everyone in our portrait.