Change is good

54 long days had past since Baby Boy left our care. It’s safe to say I was going insane! We had taken some foster classes and listened to everyone talk about how busy they were in their counties. We were beginning to consider switching to a more needed county. It drives me insane for my beds to be empty when another foster parent tells me there are more kids than foster homes in their county. So we did, we looked around and were told we must be licensed for at least a year to switch and can only foster ages 5 and up! What!? I felt like I wasn’t good enough.We even talked to the Case Worker about increasing our age limit.

So I sat eating breakfast with my husband and said we need a change! I was made to be a Mom. I thrive on the crazy of tiny humans. They are my fuel and my reason for living. I’ve felt a lot of guilt about needing to go back to work when no one was here calling me Mom. I needed to help pay the bills and move on, but I grieved harder than I thought I needed to. Baby Boy’s Grandma had not kept in contact or responded to me like she had promised, crushing me harder knowing I probably will never see him again even if its a picture.

A big piece of my heart was missing and I needed to figure out how to live on. A bit dramatic it seems but its the truth. I know what I’m getting into every time I take a placement, this isn’t for me.

I was just about to rearrange my living room furniture just for anything to change. My husband was moving the couch so I could mop my hard wood floors as the phone rang, it was children services. They have a 4 month old baby girl hospitalized from abuse. My husband mouthed “a 4 month old!” Butterflies take over you knowing your life is again changing in the matter of minutes. A new life, new story, new family, new culture. We accepted to take her in and visited her that evening. My heart is filling up again.

I seem to be more at peace with this placement and the possibility of reunification as again grandparents are involved. Maybe its experience and each time I hand them back it will easier not because my heart will hurt less but my understanding will be better.

On Christmas day Grandma of Baby Boy sent me a picture reporting he was doing well and thanked me for my love and care. The few and far between moments that make this all worth it.

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Sacrifices

I didn’t believe it was ever going to snow this year, but it finally did. I was on my way to see my dad. He was scheduled for surgery. I watched the snow fall from his hospital room window as we waited for the nurse to tell us it was time to take him to the operating room.

I wish as a child you could understand the deep love parents have for you. I remember being a moody teenager refusing to talk to my Dad. I made him cry and broke his rules. I wish I could go back.  I’ve always loved my parents but now as a adult I truly realize the sacrifices they have made for me. I now know that they were the only ones who really ever had my back.

My Dad taught me how a man should treat his wife and provide for his family. How to play with your kids and teach them about life every chance you get. I become that much more passionate about being the best foster parents we can be when I think of the love my parents show me. I want to be those people there for them in the worst times of their life.

He laid in his hospital bed cracking jokes about which son can have his rolling tool box and who gets his saw. Probably mostly to keep my Mom calm. We laugh along but deep down inside terrified of the day that will actually happen where his things will be inherited.

His surgery had been pushed back several hours. We were enrolled in a continuing education class that evening for fostering. Mid surgery we had to leave to get to this evening class. On the way we were stuck in traffic at a complete stand still due to a accident. We called the instructor to let them know but had to run into the building to avoid at 15 minute cut off. We made it in time. We sat in a room with a group of other foster parents with bags under their eyes in their work uniforms eating a bite really quick for dinner. My Mom text me during class a picture of my dad giving the camera a thumbs up! Thankfully, he got through his procedure without any complications.

I have changed my status from working full time to be able to stay at home with my kids. Now that our home is empty we have felt that financial strain of that sacrifice. Our case worker said there has not been any little ones taken into care in our county and things have been slow so I have been back to work part time.

2016 goes down in history. It’s been hard and messy but has shown us the intense love a parent can feel. Our hearts, time, jobs and relationships have all been sacrificed to make our dream of fostering come true and we don’t regret it one bit.

Unnesting

It began pouring cats and dogs when we placed the baby with his grandma, in the parking lot of Arbys. This is foster care, awkward and messy. I carried the boxes and bags to her quickly. As we stand in the cold, pouring rain exchanging things she begins to thank me, she tells me she will keep in touch with us “because he loves you too.” I almost lost it. This made the transition a little easier. The worst part is the fear you’ll never get to see them grow up and they’ll forget your face. She told me she would put a picture of us on his dresser and always tell him how special we were. That is the best thing you could ever say to a foster parent.

Later that evening we picked up some dinner and came home. I don’t think it really hit me yet. We have had kids in our home for the last 10 months. We had no break in between placements and were denied vacations from birth parents. I walked up the old wooden steps quietly, half way up remembering I didn’t have to anymore. This morning I’m kind of lost but I continue to watch the clock and think hes probably hungry or sleepy right now.

When you’re expecting a new baby you wash all their new clothes given to you from a baby shower and hang them up by size. You set up their crib and put all the newborn diapers in place. But when you foster, you keep putting things away. You may take it down and prepare to restart. When each time a child goes home I feel the need to go through their closets organizing, I clean everything for the next children. I put away the bottle rack and warmer, the bath tub, swings and jumpers. I call it ‘unnesting’.

You pack their things and put away what you may use for the next. You move the coffee table back where it belongs because there’s no babies rolling around today. 🙂 Its crazy to go from potty training age, then back to infant and with each child you have to learn where they are with their milestones and maybe start all over again.

Here are 5 quick tips for nesting and unnesting for foster care:

  1. You can never have enough storage bins! I feel like I’m always buying them and still can’t fit all my clothes. I even send home lots of outfits. I love shopping for kid clothes. Sorry, not sorry.
  2. Convertible everything. I have the 4ever Graco seat that we’ve used on our newborn and our 18 month old and we love it. Only down side is when they’re tiny you gotta wake them up to go into a store. We kept a carrier in the trunk for the cart. Convertible baby tubs with a sling that is removable. Cribs that break down to toddler beds to twins. Bottles that turn into sippy cups. There are even high chairs that turn into little desks, its getting crazy guys! Not only are you saving, its very convenient to always be ready no matter the age.
  3. Try to Stay organized. Key word try. This makes it easier to find what you need, when you need it. One way is with toys, I keep a bin with baby toys, one with baby dolls and girly things and ones with trucks and boy things for the living room, everything else stays in the playroom. That way toys are not taking over your floors and you can take down what you need. Although most of the time kids will play with whatever.
  4. Make a kids kitchen cabinet. This one is full of the colorful plastics. Their sippy cups, bottles, plates, thermos etc. This has helped with loosing lids and all the little pieces and I’m able to find what I need.
  5. Keep diaper boxes. They become very convenient when you need something to transport their clothes and toys in, if they move.

What do you do when a placement leaves? How do you unnest?

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Kids Cabinet

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Toy Bins