Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hard But Good: Honesty (Foster Care)

Hard but good. That's sort of the best way to describe the past 6 weeks. So much has been hard, and yet so much has been good.

When we got Little Man, Trevor had such a bad cough he spent the first 5 nights on the couch so his coughing didn't wake up the baby. Shortly after that, Little Man cut two teeth the same week he came down with a cold (I think he was starting this before we even got him). As his cold worsened the Doctor confirmed my suspicions that he had developed a double ear infection. He was miserable. Screaming, difficult to soothe, which I think the removal from his home only amplified, and would honestly downright yell at us throughout the day and especially during meal times.

Four days after we finished his antibiotics for the ear infection, he contracted Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) most likely from the visitation center we take him to three times a week. Three days later, Camden got it and three days after that both Jack and Christian got it as well.  In the midst of that I, having not left the home in days and days somehow got a bad cold. I think my body just gave up.

I knew this would be tough, this foster care thing. I just didn't expect that our first nearly 6 weeks would be filled with constant sickness. The HFMD is super common, super contagious and can often be pretty tame despite the fact that you kind of have to wait it out a few days before going back out in public. Little Man's case of it was severe, and because of the every three days someone new got it...I'd been inside my house for 12 days with a sick child, leaving my walls only once in the past 9.

I've been more emotionally, physically and mentally drained than I can remember.

Despite our getting Little Man on a regular eating and sleeping schedule, we have yet to have any consistency in our new normal what with a new sickness popping up every other week. The realities of our sacrifices have been showing up here and there, ones we didn't really realize would happen I don't think. Or at the time maybe seemed small in the scheme of things.

I'm such an extrovert and I get my fill when I'm around people, especially people I love. You can usually find me every Wednesday night with the teenagers at church where I help lead a Table Group. It's often the highlight of my week and it's something I've had to say no to for right now. Little Man's bedtime does not work with Wednesday night schedule. That has been really difficult for me.

 I miss my quiet mornings after the boys go to school where I sit with my coffee, Bible and a book and soak. I miss being able to just head out for a run or walk without worrying about a nap schedule or pushing a jogger. I miss my early morning weekly walk with my closest friend.

Trevor and I haven't been on a date in almost 9 weeks. Some of you may say "that's nothing!" but for our marriage we identified a twice monthly date out as being vital to the health of both of us, our marriage and our family.

Ya'll that's been hard. But the good.....

Little Man's CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) called the other night to check up in him and us. I explained what the past nearly two weeks had been like and she said "You Foster families open your homes up to so much when you take in a child, sickness is one of those things. Another area your family is sacrificing for Little Man's foundation and future and I can't thank you enough. You are making a difference and I'm so sorry it's been so tough, but thank you."

It really was the encouragement I needed. Fostering is definitley isolating as it's extremely hard to explain the world to someone who isn't in it. I love being able to share and talk with people about it, but it is just hard to relate to. One thing that's been amazing in all of this is the incredible support we've received from friends and family. From the clothes, diapers, toys, wipes and formula being dropped off, to meals brought to our home, coffee delivered to my doorstep and numerous other blessings including our van being fixed and that bill unexpectedly paid in full. 

Saying yes to people offering to help isn't easy, but I have said yes on nearly every occasion this past 6 weeks to things people have offered and not only has our family been blessed because of it, the people who have done it have said it's been a blessing to them. Sometimes we just forget, it's not always about us.

As I was rocking and singing (he's too young to know I'm tone deaf) to Little Man the other night, weary from the days inside the house with sick children and a sick me...I remembered what we said to God. That we would do anything he asked of us. We would be used in whatever way he wanted and that we wanted to make a difference in the Kingdom for him. Right now that looks like taking care of Little Man. For this season, this is what "anything" looks like. And he is so worth it. His life is worth the hardships, the inconvenience and the jacked up schedule for a season. And yes we are eager for a healthy household and a new routine without sickness to be formed, but...Little Man is not a mistake, he matters and wherever he goes from our home...we pray that what he experienced here, the love and security and prayers over him would follow him all his days.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Month One: Foster Care

We are just over a month into our foster care journey, and just like everyone told us...it's been a whirlwind. The initial phase of shock and scramble to find all we needed to take care of Little Man soon shifted into a new exhaustion and rawness as we battled a double ear infection, cold and his first two teeth. After a short break and the taste of our new normal was settling in, Little Man came down with a horrible case of Hand, Foot and Mouth. We are still in the thick of it.

We're feeling pretty weary, and worn in all honesty. It already is exhausting, but to add to it the weeks upon weeks of sickness to it...it just feels immense. I refuse to paint a picture that isn't accurate so I won't hide the hard stuff, but there is so much good as well.

He's attaching to us, he's learned to clap and learned to find refuge in our arms instead of fighting it. He's quickly outgrowing clothes and will most likely walk sooner than later.
He's eating foods like avocados and blueberries and spinach, I've gotten him on a solid schedule that is consistent and brings comfort in routine for him. He is still waking once a night to eat but we are hoping to phase that out over the next month.

Our boys have adjusted so well, sometimes it's like Little Man has always been here. Even our dog has been incredible. It's still crazy, and we are still trying to figure out best how to make sure and get time with each of them ( and each other for that matter). Hoping once the "Plague of 2016" has lifted from our house we can get a date and set up some respite care for Little Man so we can have some time with just our boys.

We aren't special or amazing, it's not our desire or strength that gets us in these situations...it's God's. It's our going "all in" with whatever he has for us that has gotten us here and that's what sustains us.
We very much feel we are just doing what we can, we have a safe home and a loving family...that's all that's needed and so here we are. Do we feel "called" to foster care? No. We feel called to Jesus and this is just one way that plays out.

I have had so many people say "I've wanted to do this but I'm not sure how" or "I've thought about foster care but I just couldn't give them back" or "I want to know more about what you're doing"

Please email me. I would love to answer your questions, point you in the right direction or clear up misunderstandings. I would love to share with you more about what this looks like and if it's a right fit for your family...and if it's not there are dozens of other ways to support those that do this.