11 September 2015

Degrees of Predictability

A friend is waiting on news from a potential employer. With this new opportunity they could stay where they are, they could be moved across the country, they could be near family and friends, they could be far from anyone they know, they may not even get an offer which would then bring a myriad of other possible outcomes. Right now everything is up in the air and they're waiting to see where it lands. Big decisions have to be made but they all rest on first knowing this outcome. It's a stressful situation to be in when there is such a wide range of possibilities in front of your family and you have no idea what will happen next.

In talking to this friend I felt relief.

Our days of the wide unknown are behind us for now. 

In trying to adopt there is constantly a vast unknown before you. You could be chosen tomorrow and be parents, you could be chosen years down the road, you may never be chosen at all. You could be chosen by someone who knows you personally or by someone who saw your profile online. Someone may initially want to choose you but later choose to parent or choose someone else. You might be chosen by someone at the beginning of their pregnancy, the end, or someone who has already had their child. You might have to travel across the country or just miles away. It may all happen tomorrow it may never happen at all. In trying to adopt there is all of that constantly in front of you, completely beyond your control and unpredictable. 

Right now life feels so comfortably and peacefully predictable. 

We aren't trying to adopt. We're open to it but we aren't seeking out or expecting to adopt. We aren't using an agency and we don't have our profile published anywhere.

We aren't trying in any way to get pregnant which means we don't have the roller coaster of hoping, waiting, wondering, failure, frustration and heartache.

Even with as unpredictable as foster parenting can be there is still far more about it that we can be sure of...

  • DCFS in our region puts families on hold for 6 months after an adoption while the family acclimates to being permanent. We know that for these 6 months we won't be called to take in any children. For this 6 month period we know it will be just the 4 of us in our home.

  • Our license only approves us taking in one child and only between the age of newborn and 2 years old (because of space requirements). We know that when our 6 months is over we will very likely have one child placed with us and that child will be under the age of three.

Right now it feels so good to soak in the comfortable predictability of the day-to-day. It's lovely. All is calm, all is bright, and I'm loving the sweetness of the peace. :)

31 August 2015

Ezra is 1!

Our little Ezra turned 1 a few days ago! He is such a happy boy and is almost always giggles and toothy grins. :-) He loves books and being read to, crawling after the dog and cat, snuggling and playing with mommy and daddy, and thinks his big sister is the funniest person around. He is adored from his nearly bald head to his chubby little toes and we couldn't be more thankful to be his family. :-) Hooray for this stinkin' cute 1-year-old!

Talking to Kids About Foster Care, pt. 2

While writing the last post (Talking to Kids About Foster Care) I realized there was a lot more I wanted to cover about the topic. I covered how we explain difficult things in an age appropriate way to our four-year-old. There is more we talk to her about regarding our Bonus Kiddo's case but I don't feel I can share specifics of all that we tell her without sharing more than we should about his case. Here are the things we tell her but in a very general way.

She knows (at a four-year-old level)...

  • Why Bonus Kiddo couldn't stay with his mom and dad.
  • Why Bonus Kiddo is with us: "We're a foster family. That means we can help other families when they need someone to take care of their kids."
  • Why Daniel, Bonus Kiddo and I go to court.
  • What happens at court: "The judge said [Bonus Kiddo] is staying for at least two more months!"
  • How Bonus Kiddo's parents are doing

The other part I wanted to elaborate on is how we talk about our Bonus Kiddo's biological family. This applies to so much more than just foster care. The underlying point we try to apply is that everything that is said about Bonus Kiddo's bio family is essentially being said about him. This is part of the same reason divorced parents should never bad mouth the other parent to their kids, one angry parent shouldn't say bad things to their kids about an absent biological parent, etc. Biology matters. Regardless of what those people may do they are a part of that child, they created them. 

Watch out for little ears
We try to not say anything negative about Bonus Kiddo's parents around Aurelia. That goes well beyond just not saying things like, "can you believe they did this?!" Not saying anything negative about them includes not having a bad attitude when talking about them, not making sarcastic comments about them, nothing. That isn't to say, "when Aurelia is around we're nice but as soon as she's gone let the trash talking begin!" We try to have this extend to even when she isn't around. 

This is the same thing I try to do with Aurelia and negative self-speak. If I think something negative about myself I don't want Aurelia to hear it because I don't want her to criticize herself in the same way. We don't want her saying negative things about bio family so we don't let her hear us do it. 

Actions speak too
If I take the kids to a visit with Bonus Kiddo's bio family and I'm scowling, being short, and generally showing I'm not happy about it, even if I'm not saying it I'm showing Aurelia that they are an inconvenience, they're something I don't want to deal with (which isn't true). Aurelia is at an age where she really isn't fully able to understand "I'm frustrated with this situation, not the people in it", so I need her to see us putting in the effort for Bonus Kiddo and his bio family.

Talk about the hard stuff (kid version)
Sometimes sucky and aggravating things happen and there is no way to shield Aurelia from it. If I bring her with me to take Bonus Kiddo for a visit and no one shows up I can't just blow her off with a wave of the hand when she asks where they are and why they didn't come. When it's time to talk to her about hard things we try to explain in a simple way what happened and how we feel about it. "I'm disappointed this happened. I feel sad. I wanted it to go differently. I don't like it when this happens." Sometimes we'll suggest possible reasons why but most of the time we just say, "I don't know." I don't know why they did this, I don't know why they didn't do that. We won't attempt to talk about it with smiles on our faces but there are ways to talk about hard things without fueling a fire, without vilifying, and while still encouraging patience and compassion.

Talk about the hard stuff (grownup version)
Sometimes things are said or done that hurt, whether they hurt us directly or hurt because they negatively affect our Bonus Kiddo. Sometimes when we talk about what has happened there is no way to say it or see it in a positive light, but there is a big difference between talking out something that was upsetting and just outright cruel speaking. I hope that makes sense. Sometimes I need to wait until the kids go to bed and rhetorically ask Daniel the hard questions like "How could this happen??" and then list out all the emotions I feel about the situation, "I feel angry, upset, frustrated, confused."

27 July 2015

Introducing our son, Ezra!

Something I've found that helps in my healing is taking sporadic breaks from social media. Sometimes I need to shut out the rest of the world, wrap myself up in real life, and hunker down with my little family, having nothing but in person interaction. Then if I want to update people on something I'll do a quick post and then stay off social media for the next few days. It's something I've been more drawn to in the last few months and it's been good for all of us. Anyway, things have been good here. :) Some things are still tender, there is still heartache but overall there is peace, healing and joy. :) 

So, now that it's been official for a month I'm catching up on here. :) ....

Introducing our son, Ezra! This is the beautiful face we've kissed, loved, hugged and are now finally able to share. :) He is a joyful little boy who has brought so much laughter and love to our home, and I can't begin to describe what it means to us that he's officially and forever ours. :) 10 months as a foster child, forever as a 'C'. :)

17 June 2015

Names Have Power

“Names have power.” 

― Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

When Daniel and I became foster parents we felt strongly that if ever we adopted from foster care we wouldn't change the child's name unless it was something awful that would always be a weight around their neck (ie, 'Chaos'). 

When our Bonus Kiddo came to us we were glad a name change wouldn't even be a thought because his name was cute and normal. Daniel and I didn't discuss it because there was nothing to discuss, we both feel strongly about not changing a child's (non-newborn's) name.

During the last few months of his case though, after both parental rights ended, both of us started to have this nagging feeling that his name needed to change. We decided to at least entertain the idea and be completely sure of our decision to leave his name.

We already knew that when we adopt him next week (next week!) he would be getting our last name. We started putting a lot of prayer and thought into his first name and continued to feel like we should change it when we adopt him.

After a lot of discussion, study (meanings, history, etc.) and prayer we made a short list of a few name combinations and went to the temple together to think and pray some more.

As soon as we sat down in our car after leaving the temple I asked Daniel if there was a name that stuck out in his mind. While in the temple one name wouldn't leave my mind, for me that was it, but I wanted to hear his thoughts unaffected by my own. He thought of the same name. :) That was it. We had our answer and we were both sure that this was supposed to be his new name.

It was weird to feel so sure of something we had been firmly against, but we knew it was right and that we hadn't reached this decision flippantly. 

Shortly after we decided to change his name we found out some very serious information that showed we made the right choice. His name absolutely needed to be changed. Both for us and for him, he needed this new name.

I'm glad we came to the decision on our own, thoughtfully and prayerfully, before we found out the information that came to light afterward. I think it would've bothered me to make the decision afterward, like it was forced or something. Anyway, it was the right choice and we know that even more now. :)

So, on a lighter note, we're ready to share our almost-son's name. :)

In one week we will get to formally and fully introduce our son...Ezra. :)