2016 was the first year that we had a foster child with us through the whole year. It doesn't make for much of a timeline that I want to share without giving more details than I'm comfortable with, but there were events and changes nonetheless.
With our family, Rhinoceros started kindergarten and Crocodile switched daycares to what we call his "preschool," but really he's there 8:30-3ish each day while I work and fit in a little volunteer time. Dinosaur continues to dote on Crocodile as one of the cutest humans alive. Crocodile matured to the point that he and Rhinoceros can play more pretend games together. Crocodile also figured out how to push his foster brothers' buttons and instigates like crazy. They are all still very loud.
With the status of his case, parental rights were terminated. Though it's still not in writing at this point because the system has slowed down, we made the decision that we do not plan to adopt him. So, the wheels are in motion to find him an adoptive home, ideally with his siblings.
With the status of living with his siblings, their first foster home put in notice and they moved to a new home. Potential for him to join them waxed and waned. Recently their second foster home put in notice and they will move soon. It is pre-adoptive and the plan includes Crocodile as well, but as it's less urgent that he move at this point, they will wait and do a transition. I'm a mix of emotions, as the news is still very new, the move is very fast, and there has not been a successful home yet for his siblings. At the same time, I do need to accept the reality that this is the plan and he very well could move soon.
We ended the year with intensity. I'm still exploring what the causes are, but my usually intense emotional state is off the charts for me. I'm getting some help to move forward on that, which is good. But it's new and intense. Crocodile went from being a very bouncy almost-always-happy toddler to a very bouncy sometimes aggressive and angry preschooler. He is still our dear heart-of-gold Crocodile and we are more than willing to put in the work to help him through his struggles. But it is intense. We saw termination of parental rights for the first time and it was heartwrenching. And the final visit. Heartwrenching. Just as I felt I was able to refocus again, to move forward, the news of the second move for his sisters came, and there was a lot of sadness that came with that. Lots of updates and changes and even some good parts, but a lot of it. Intense.
Sometimes it's been so much that I haven't known where to start writing about it. I feel guilty for neglecting friendships. I worry I've entered a tunnel of foster care and I can't see much else.
But if this is the tunnel I'm walking in, I know I am not alone. God is guiding me as I grope through the darkness. B is beside me, loving, working hard for the kids and for us.
At one point this year the caseworker, knowing we did not plan to adopt, projected the many months ahead. She asked, "He will probably stay with you for quite some time before he moves to his adoptive family, if you are willing. Is that something you are okay with?"
I couldn't even fathom an answer of no. Neither could B. Some decisions are challenging and hard to make. This path is hard to walk, but at least at this time, the decision to walk it has been crystal clear to us. Of course we will walk it.
2017 may be just as intense. We don't know. But here we go.