Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The twins we could have had.

Two years ago, I was praying for Pterodactyl's twin siblings.  The siblings we said we would take if we had open bed(s), but we wouldn't stay empty for them, either.  As it ended up, we had Caterpillar placed with us and they were placed in another foster home.

I later connected with their foster dad through our agency and got to see pictures of them, and later saw them in person.  Precious, beautiful babies, one looking somewhat like Pterodactyl, but really they are their own little people.

Recently I got to see the announcement that this foster family adopted them.  A lovely, happy family.

Of course, I wonder, what would our lives have been like?  We would have had a family of six.  We would have likely been done with fostering in our second placement.  The newborn phase would have been intense, but it would have wrapped up a whole lot sooner.  Sometimes we as foster parents are faced with the kids that need placement and we feel like we must be that home.  Clearly since we're being asked, we must be the ones to say yes.  But in the in the big picture, I know this is not true, especially for very young children in foster care.

I know this was not our story to have.  Our story has Beetle, Caterpillar, Cricket, Crocodile, and more to come.  In our hearts, we just absolutely knew there was another family for these twins, someone who longed for them, someone God prepared for them.  It is so good to see their faces in their smiling announcement. 

I still feel like a distant relative, however loose my connection might be to them.  They aren't my babies, but they have a little place in our history, and in our history of prayers to do God's will.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Family photos

Coming up on our third anniversary of fostering, I looked at the photos we have on our wall.  They're from that summer of 2013.  Dinosaur was five and Rhinoceros was two.  We were visiting family while Pterodactyl was in respite, and my sister-in-law did a photo session for us.  On the one hand, it worked out well that we just had our forever family together for photos.  At that point, we thought she was staying with us for a very short time.  I'm really glad to have those photos and that I didn't put them off.  And of course, it was nice to have photos that I could share on social media and send out at Christmas.

On the other hand, it's unsettling that we sought an opportunity that Pterodactyl wouldn't be with us, as if we actively excluded her.  And it's sort of set a precedent that we haven't included any foster children in formal family photos, so to suddenly include a child would make it seem like we are banking on him or her being a permanent part of our family.  Do we have a family photo session every placement?  Not going to happen, not with the one-month and two-month placements.  I would be sad for the family photos we misses if we suddenly started having photo sessions with foster children, though of course we have amateur family shots with each foster child.

So, now what?  I would like some more family photos soon.  Though he's our record-breaker of time with us, I would be quite surprised if Crocodile became a permanent part of our family.  How would I look back on these pictures of us as a family of five?  Can I be confident to include him, no regrets, and know that he was a part of our family for that time?  I know some who have taken family photos with just the backs of everyone, or with the foster children's faces hidden in different ways.

Sometimes the "for now" part of fostering is the most unsettling, always being on the edge of change at some point.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pre-court anxiety, post-court blues

From reading writing of other foster parents, I'm not the only one that becomes a mess around time for court.  And we haven't had any cases that are truly complete messes to warrant me becoming a mess.

An upcoming court date sticks in my brain, especially with longer cases that have 90-day reviews, so court usually happens around the same time of the month and it's easy to remember.  I start to picture drastic, sudden directions things could go.  I build those into future timelines that I know are not really mine to imagine.

Then after court, everything is numb and gloomy.  I'm sad for the children and that they will be stuck in foster care longer.  I'm sad for parents who don't do what they need to do.  I'm sad for the history of the parents that influences their actions and that they can't free themselves from their demons.  Sometimes I'm worried things aren't being done the right way.  Sometimes I hope for great news, and it doesn't come, and I'm disappointed.  Overall the formality of it just sears into my heart the tragedy of it all, that this is about parents and children being ripped apart.

How to deal?

I update my friends and family.  Though this time, I decided to back off on an e-mail update to a usual group of extended family and friends that is mostly meant to keep them in the loop of who is coming and who is going and to ask for prayer.  This is the furthest we've gotten into a case and I'm more cautious about sharing details, even vague ones, than ever because I worry that I'm just providing entertainment in the story when much more is at stake, or that I'm making it look like we hope for the case to end in adoption by us.  I really don't want them to hope for that for us for many reasons.  But anyway, updating someone is cathartic.  This time around, it was just two of my closest friends, one who is a foster parent, and my mom and my sister, who I'd asked right before court to pray.

I'm easy on myself the couple of days after court.  I know I'm distracted and let myself slack off a bit.  I cook easy food.  I should avoid reading about other bad things in the world, but I totally failed on that the last time.

I exercise.  I usually do this, but I'm considering doing an intense couple of weeks of exercise before and after court.  I could listen to a really engaging book or podcast and just work it all out of me a bit.

What do you do?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

First Day - April 2016: More snow and roller skating

Each month I snap a few photos of our day on the first day of the month, and then procrastinate on posting them.  Maybe I just couldn't do it until it was fully springlike here again.  Watch the heart-sinking progression of weather throughout the day.  But at least there are indoor pretend picnics!