Friday, March 17, 2017

The fight within

I know I e been too nice, trying to show my love with a quiet tone and a helpful ear but now my teens are starting to push my i established boundaries. 
I keep forgetting that they don't have fully formed emotions and brains and need hard, fast lines to help figure stuff out.-

Today I got a little upset for the first time and had to quickly determine how I was going to show t. Do I freak out and let them know that they crossed a line? Domu kindly speak to them and hope my gentle instruction is hearx? Do I take three deep breaths and ask the lord for help? A little of both

I was helping my little Nessy paint her room lavender when I stepped away for a few minutes. She was reaching the top corner of the wall and unable to reach, called out to her big sister for help. Did this sweet sisterly moment end up in a hallmark card? No, this was a pout fest of "I'm not gonna help you. I don't wanna paint. You're stupid"

I wanted to fly into that room and tell her to take 20 seconds and help her sister out. Especially considering that she had been napping and doing nothing all day. I don't know why this upset me so much. Maybe it was the wood floor dplattet of lavender paint by a 13 year old trying her best. Maybe it was the paint she also somehow got on the driveway (how?!). Maybe I'm just in a silent, constant state of "what did I sign up for"

I'm not sure but I resolved to wait about 15 minutes then pull her aside to say that her sister needs her for dumb little things and big things. And if she says no to the dumb stuff, then little sis won't trust her for the big stuff. And they'll need each other today, tomorrow and in 20 years. 

Did it work? I don't know. Was it received? I don't know. Domu feel  more at peace about it. Yeah.

I'm sure bigger, louder, nastier things will be coming up with a 16 and soon to  e 14 year old in the house but I'm going to keep breathing it it and taking a moment to remember that yes not about me it's about them today, tomorrow and in 20 years.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The honeymoon is over

They say I should get two weeks of perfect angels before the real, comfortable personality comes out. Well, with two teenage girls I got 4 days. Once they came home from scho on a Monday, the moodiness reared its head. 
Did I lose it, do I need to drag them out of their rooms and force them to hang out with me? Do I force my love and attention on them to show them that I want to be with them? When I was a teenager did I just want to be in my room all day?
So I resolved, I don't have to fix everything all at once. Is this even something that needs to be "fixed"
Well all it took was some space. I made a promise that tomorrow we'll start after-dinner-hang-time and tonight they can have their space.
Well an hour later, they came bounding out of their rooms ready to make lunches for tomorrow. Full of smiles, ready to be sweet.
Was I crazy? Were they? Are we all?
My goal is to stay consistent. You can't trust the mood of a 16 year old but I can be outgoing, welcoming, attentive and close by.
Will this be easy? Nope. Will I know what to do? Nope. Can I keep asking Jesus to take the wheel? Absolutely. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mourning the future

Does this decision mean that I'm closing the door to possible futures?
Can I have it all?

Coming home

All week, I've been fighting this human indepnpart of me that says "this is your last hurrah"
Each morning run, each happy hour, each late morning running around half dressed,
Today I pick up the girls from the group home to bring them home and while this is every thing I have been planning for, prepping, dreaming of, I'm nervous to really get excited. I think my heart is protecting itself knowing that everything is about to change. I have to be the adult, the care giver, the protector 
So now my brain says, grow up and make sure they see you as someone who can handle anything that happens. 
Everyone is so excited and I'm in neutral, trying to take it all in. Here we go!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

These are my grandchildren

When it rains it pours. Ten months after first starting the certification process, I finally have been approved and placed with kids. My first was a non-English speaking teen girl who arrived around 11pm and was picked up for court by 8am the next day. The phone didn't stop ringing after that.

Knowing that most of my placements would be brief, I wanted to be as impactful as possible in the few hours I had. As soon as I get a call, I start praying for the child. I pray in their room, I pray that they'll see me as a safe place and that God will cover them in love when they are here. Then I put some brownies in the oven and light a nice smelling candle to make my home as welcoming as possible. When they arrive, I make sure my voice is gentle and my smile is sincere.

First I show them their room and let them put their stuff down. Then I show them the rest of the house so they are a bit familiar and a little more in control of their surroundings. Then I ask them if they've eaten and work on PB&J sandwiches or some spaghetti. Brownies are a win each time too. After sitting for a bit and asking a little about them and sharing a little about myself, I give them as much information about the next day as I can, giving them realistic expectations.

This was going great until I got the call from a case worker that mainly pairs up kids in group homes with long term foster care. She told me about two teen sisters, whose parents were unable to care for them ever again and needed a caregiver until they graduated. She then went on to tell me details of their past, their present and what to expect for the future. Everything inside of my heart, my mind and my spirit said Yes, I would love to care for them.

Protecting my story and fear of the future
Not caring about others reactions but not knowing what I'm stepping into

Friendsgiving 2016

This past April started my journey into investigating foster care, listening to God tell me to move back to my community in Orlando to set down roots and to start the certification process. Every step of this journey has been terrifying but I have never doubted it. I have to keep remembering this so that my selfish, human nature doesn't allow me to chicken out. I know I could easily tell people that I'm working on getting certified or considering it and they would all pat me on the back and say "Good job! It's so awesome that you're doing that. I could never." But what good does that do? It would only build my self esteem while kids are sitting in a group home, hoping for someone to tell them that they are worthy of being loved. I can do that! I have the space, the heart, the time and the desire, why wait another minute?

As excited and driven as I am, I still need to walk into this, not run. I want to really be ready, not just jump in, hope for the best and end up freaking out. So over the months of September and October I attend the Florida Pride classes for certification in Foster Care. Simultaneously, I was moving into a new home and preparing it for a small family. Before this, I've lived in houses with up to 6 roommates at a time and never paid more than $400 in rent. Now my frugal spirit is having anxiety attacks as I spend $40 on paint and $70 on an electric bill. But if one thing has been reinforced over and over through this is that when you are obedient to God, He never ceases to provide. Dozens of friends called me up to offer furniture, help in moving and endless prayers and words of encouragement.  Was I still regularly freaking out? Yes. Did I ever doubt this? Not once. It's a very strange feeling to have your spirit calm but your brain full of fireworks.

Things move very slowly in the process of certification and actual fostering. I graduated form my classes at the end of October and little did I know that it would take over four months until I finally went through the process of inspections, interviews, paperwork and just plain waiting for who knows what before I was considered available to the case workers.

People keep asking "do you have kids yet?" And as excited as I am to finally have children in my care, I know the heartbreak that comes long with it where a child was just ripped from their home and  placed with a stranger. As much as I desire to have kids in my home I kills me to know the pain they have already lived through. So while all my friends only have great intentions, their questions continually break my heart.

Preparing a house to become a home

I'm starting this blog further into my fostering process than I wish I had, but I'm going to stick with the "better late than never" mentality.  This roller coaster of an inkling of the idea to foster, to sitting at my dining room table after recently contacting my case worker with a photo of my newly purchased first aid kit, has been so unbelievable and felt like 3 weeks and 3 years all at once. I need to document it for fear of forgetting these important moment.

To quickly introduce my situation, the past few years I've felt this pull to live my days for something greater than myself. I'm a strong, intelligent, independent woman who loves coming and going as I please. I work in job fields that I love, cheer for teams that I swear are the greatest and try new activities that scare me. But after 34 years of doing whatever I desire, I had to address this missing chunk inside of me that I couldn't fill.

I've been praying about the next big step in my life for years now and have been stumbling around trying to make these square puzzle pieces fit into the circle hole in my life - praying that I can jam these squares into these circles and somehow make it work. But jamming things of any size into any space is pretty painful and uncomfortable.

Everything changed last April when I found myself in Nashville, TN, sitting in church and hearing a sermon series on vulnerable children. Now, I've taken the mission trips, I've sponsored the children in Nicaragua and I have the friends who have adopted children, but never had I thought that hearing about the millions of kids in our country that need someone to care for them, look out for them and provide a safe place for them could resonate so strongly. All of these things I've taken for granted my whole life and I knew that I could provide these things easily to a young one. I also knew that I wanted to mentor older kids and not raise the babies. Most everyone wants a young child that they can raise as their own, but I want to help young teens learn how to treat their friends, how to respect themselves and how to navigate the almost adulthood task of learning to drive, spending money wisely and graduating school.

The following accounts will be my journey of wrapping my head and heart around this step into fostering a family.