Saturday, March 31, 2012

39 days and counting...

Well a lot has actually happened in the last 2 weeks....I'm sorry that I'm just now getting around to putting it on the blog.  We found out on Friday, March 16th, our current agency (Kornerstone) is merging with another agency (ACH, formerly known as All Church Home).  Although this felt like a huge setback for us, it sounds like a great opportunity for our agency.  ACH is taking all of the family developers and staff (I think) along with the merge.  Which means all families should be able to stay with their current family developer and the location is actually going to stay the same.  "Kornerstone" will be able to operate as a satellite office of the new agency.  There are also tons more resources and support that ACH can offer their staff as well as their families.  The downside is that this meant that Kornerstone would now be overwhelmed with the task of getting all of the currently licensed families switched over to home study updates, processing paperwork, transferring files, etc.  We felt like we would be put on the back burner as a family who isn't even licensed yet.  After speaking to the person in charge of home studies at our current agency, she basically said it's up to the new agency how and when they would like to proceed with us.  I had worked so hard to get all of our paperwork and inspections done quickly, and now it seemed like it would be months before we could even schedule our home study.  Once again, I found myself not trusting that God's plan and timing is perfect and that He is in control..and worrying that my timing was not going to work the way I had planned it to.  I think this is a lesson that I need to learn as soon as possible...which I think is a good lesson for everyone, but especially for someone walking into foster care.  As a foster parent, I don't think you are in control of a whole lot, other than providing care for the children, that specific day, hour, and minute.  You never know when they are coming or when they will leave.  Hearing from other foster parents, you can't even rely on the timing given by the judge at their hearings...something can always come up that extends or shortens their stay with us.  That's just part of it, and it's going to be tough to let go of that control...or I guess to never actually get that control.  LUCKILY, I know and believe that we have a God, who is the creator of the universe, that DOES have control and who knows what is best for us and for the kids.  And if I can keep that in the forefront of my mind, then I think I would worry a whole lot less about my timeline. 

Ok so...thanks to Lisa, the awesome lady who is in charge of home studies at Kornerstone, we were not put on the back burner, as we thought might happen.  She passed along our file to ACH and told them that our home study is "of great priority" to them.  Then, last Friday, March 23rd, a home study writer called me at 5:30 and said "how does your weekend look?"  What??  This weekend??  Ummm...great?!  Since I was hosting a baby shower at our house that Saturday, I scheduled us for Sunday, the 25th, at 1:00.  So, needless to say last week/weekend was quite busy preparing for a shower and home study all in the same weekend!  There were actually lots of pluses for having the home study right after a baby shower. 
1.  house is already clean
2.  I could leave out the fresh flowers in the cutely decorated vases with ribbon
3.  I could put out goodies that were leftover from the shower
4.  I got to give the home study writer this when she left....

perfect, right?? thanks Shelby for having a transportation themed nursery :)

So, there wasn't a whole lot that I had to do to get ready for the home study, besides make sure all of our meds were put back in the double-locked tackle box and our cleaning supplies put back in the locked cabinet in the garage.  I'm sure we will do a much better job of making sure those things get put back in their appropriate locked spaces when we have kids in the house :)  So here is what I put out for our home study interviewer that afternoon (notice the amazing table that is now husband rocks and making tables):

lemonade, scones, chocolate banana bread, cake, and candy

    So, how did it go?  It wasn't as painful as I thought it would be.  We didn't get asked the "how is your sex life question?"  which we were told to expect...ummm, awkward!!  Considering that Dave and I are both pretty quiet and don't really enjoy talking about ourselves a lot, I think we did really good.  It was just soooooo long!  She was here for 5 1/2 hours.  That included an interview with just me, an interview with just Dave, an interview with Dave and I, and a walk through to make sure our house was up to standards and ready for kids.  There were lots of questions about our families, our history, how we were raised, the roles we play in our marriage, and scenarios of "what would you do if your foster child did ___."  Or "how would you help your foster child deal with ___."  I think those were the toughest ones.  Because honestly I have no idea how to help a child through the loss that they have experienced.  One thing I think we both repeated often was "there is no way we are going to be able to relate to what these kids have been through."  We are so blessed to have been brought up in families that have a history of loving the Lord and providing their children with care and love.  These kids didn't get dealt those cards and now they have to figure out how to not only overcome that, but try to break that pattern in their family.  I can't even remember my answers to those types of questions...I'm sure they weren't good.  Basically I think we said you just listen to them, try to find some common ground, pray for them, and make them feel understood, loved, and most importantly help them to realize their value as a child of God, who was created in the image of Him.  We were also handed a sheet of "behaviors" and were asked to pick out which ones we would not be willing to accept into our home.  Dave was of course quick to answer "we'll take anyone."  I was not so quick and took a few minutes to actually read and think about them all.  The ones that scared me the most were "acts out sexually,"  "hurts animals," and "history of starting fires" (I know that sounds kinda silly, but thinking about our house burning down is scary to me...I'm sure that's pretty extreme).  However, in the end, we decided that because we are going to start with an age limit of up to 10, and with basic level of care kids, we probably would not be receiving kids with these severe behaviors, to start with.  And we decided that we have enough support to find help if/when we do receive kids with these behaviors.  That doesn't mean that we aren't nervous about it and we think we are just so awesome that we can handle anything.  It just means that we believe that God gave us the ability to care for these kids and that every single one of them were created in God's image and therefore holds infinite value, and should be treated as such.  So in the end, I think she liked us, and understood us as a family who is doing this to serve the Lord and are willing to go wherever God calls us to go in this ministry.

So...we are officially DONE!  Even with the merger happening, we have already filled out the necessary paperwork for the new agency.  Now the waiting begins.  The home study writer said she legally has 45 days to write it up, but that it would probably be sooner than that.  So, really it is probably going to be less than the 39 days she has left, but who knows.  After that, we will be called in to sign one final paper and we will be on the "open list" to receive kids.  Which means we could get a call the next day, the next week, again, who knows? (see what I mean about needing to quickly learn this "not in control" lesson??)

In the meantime, we are going to spend our time together, as a kid-less family, and hopefully work on some projects like painting/decorating the kid rooms.  As mentioned earlier, Dave did finish his first project - our kitchen table.  He really enjoyed it and is looking forward to starting his next project, which I think is a workbench, but says that will be easy.  I'm hoping the next big project will include a dresser for the "baby" room (I love giving hints to my husband through a blog).  He did such a great job with the table, I am confident that whatever he builds next will be equally impressive.  Here are better pictures of the completed table:


all we need are chairs!

I also completed a mirror framing project that has been on my to-do list.  It was my first pinterest house project.  I think it turned out pretty well!

all you do is glue on these tiles you buy in sheets and...

Thanks again for everyone's support in your comments, prayers, thoughts, donations, and just being there for us!  We really appreciate it and couldn't do this without a community of support.

Love ya!!       

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Taste

We had the privilege of keeping our friends' 2 foster children for 4 days this past weekend/week.  It  gave us a taste of what it will be like to have little (or big ones) running around the house...and we LOVED it!  Although my friend was thanking us for keeping them, I think they did us the bigger favor.  As you know, my timeline of when we thought we'd  be open for kids continues to get pushed back.  This experience scratched my "foster care mommy" itch just perfectly enough to be content while we wait for God's perfect timing.  I think it will also allow me to better appreciate the time that Dave and I have before the craziness begins. 

I wish I could post pictures of the fun we had, but words will have to do.  I'll start with my "high/low."  These kids have a routine of telling their foster parents their high and low from each it!  I think my greatest high was praying with these kids every night before they went to sleep.  We prayed for them, we prayed for their parents, we prayed that they would be reunited with their family, we prayed that they would love God and that they would share Jesus with their family.  How awesome is that??  What a blessing to be able to speak these words to them and to God!  Their foster parents have definitely done a great job sharing Jesus with them.  The older one has told her foster mom that when she grows up she is going to tell everyone about Jesus :)  I know I've said this before, but I can't think of a better blessing than to be able to be used by God to introduce Jesus to these kids.  I have a feeling this will always be my "high."

My "low" - hmmm.  It's really hard to think of one because it was really so much fun.  Granted I did spoil them more than I probably would if we had them long term.  But I wanted it to be more of a vacation for them.  It was also different because they weren't at their own house where they knew how to entertain themselves.  So I did a lot of "entertaining."  Ok so my low...this is going to sound super cheesy but it really was when we had to take them back.  Well maybe not right in that was nice to think of having the night to ourselves :)  But yesterday and today I've really been missing them.  I've been looking back at the pictures we took and wishing we had more time with them...crazy I know.  So this is not looking good, right?  If I feel this way after 4 in the world am I going to deal with it when we have kids for weeks, months, or even a year!!  Even though it was a super tiny taste, I do feel like I know, or have an idea, of how it might feel.  No, I take that back...I probably still have no idea.  I can't even imagine.  Ugh...I have a feeling that this will definitely, always be my "low." 

For those that are curious, as I was, the dogs did PRETTY good.  They both got knocked down a few times (a little knocking around never hurt anyone, right??) but the older one was definitely more comfortable with them.  She could handle their "bounciness" a little better than the boy, who was eye level with them :)  The first minute or so of the greeting is when they were most bouncy and excited.  What was funny was that it was EVERY time the kids came or went anywhere.  So whether we left for 20 minutes or 4 hours, they got excited when they came back.  It also happened every day after nap time and ever morning when they came out of their room.  After that minute or so of excitement, they would calm down and be great with the kids.  They loved playing with them and were always curious about what they were up to.  The funniest was that Roxy was super protective of them...and in super protective, I mean she even felt like she had to protect them from Clark...poor Clark.  If we were ever in their room with the dogs, and Clark was trying to investigate their bags, toys, clothes, or whatever belonged to the kids, Roxy would get in between Clark and the kids' things and growl at him.  After he would go away, she would go over to their stuff and literally try to push their things back into their bags with her nose.  So funny!  I think the dogs' "high" was playing bubbles with the kids...and by playing, I mean catching them in their mouth when the kids blew them.  Their "low" was probably the same as mine...well for Roxy at least.  I don't think Clark noticed anything different...have I mentioned he is our "special" dog?  Roxy on the other hand...I'm not so sure fostering is going to the best for her.  She got super sad when they didn't come back.  The night they left she walked around the house whining.  Usually when she does that it's because she has to potty or is hungry or thirsty.  This time, nothing we did would make her stop.  Then in the morning she really wanted to go in their rooms to see if they were there.  It was so sad...she went in and sniffed all around looking for them, hoping they were just playing hide 'n seek...I'm sure that's exactly what she was thinking, right??  Haha.

Here are some other fun things we did:
  • rode the DART train to a park (which included a very long walk to the park, which the kids were real time I'll do a better job of planning out where we are going exactly instead of trying to wing it)
  • walked to our neighborhood park and duck pond and played...when we didn't find any ducks, we had to go on a duck hunt to see where they worries, we found them floating down a tiny creek
  • went to church where the kids did a great job in their Sunday school class for BOTH services (Dave teaches an adult class and I volunteer in the children's ministry for the first service)
  • went to a pump-it-up party for one of the girl's classmates
  • got haircuts and had interesting conversations with their very interesting hairdresser, Christian
  • made lots of fun food - mini fruit pizzas, nutella and banana toast (to which the girl said "this is just great"), blueberry waffles, and made food faces out of our lunches
  • played wii Mario Kart (just look at all the valuable lessons we get to teach them...even how to drive!)
  • looked for and found rolly pollys
  • played Clark's favorite game called "chase the red laser" (Roxy is wayyyy too smart for that game)
So in conclusion, it was a great experience and it made me super excited to have "our own" foster kids.  I'll probably be writing another post here in a few days to update everyone on our status and what is going on with our agency. 

See you again real soon! :)