"the" list because of that (for good reasons, I understand), so I'm making my own list and putting us on it...so there! If all goes as planned, which what ever does, we'll be getting a "placement" next Monday, the 15th. I also have a gut feeling that our placement will include a 3 year old, 4 year old, and 20 year old....and I also have a feeling I already know their names.
So...I'll answer the questions that we typically get and that you may, or may not, be thinking.
Q - Is this normal?
A - For us yes, since this is/was our first placement :) But no, I don't think typically this is normal, which is really disappointing to us the more we think about it and the more we realize how easy it has been to develop a relationship with the kids' mom and let her know that we don't just love her kids, we love her too, and the whole family as a matter of fact. And I'm not saying AT ALL that people aren't doing it "right" (I use that term very loosely, as by no means do I think we are doing things "right" most of the time) when they don't reach out to the birth family, because I understand there are certainly cases where that is not safe, or whatever. And I also understand that not all birth mothers/families/etc are as open to help and a relationship with their kids' foster parents as this mom is, but I do think that there is a problem when no one has heard of this...and these are people whose JOB it is to deal with these cases. I'm also not saying that in order to help them, or love them, you have to offer your house to them...but I wonder how many cases where the foster family stays in their lives, at all...I'm guessing that is also rare. Anyways, to answer the question more directly...all the people involved in "okay-ing" this situation (caseworkers, attorneys, judges, etc) have never heard of this happening. And having said all of that, it just makes it that much more evident that God is totally at work here, making the impossible possible...I mean really, just sit for a second and put yourself in her shoes....would you do it?
Q - Why are you doing this?
A - Because we are having such a hard time letting go of the kids, and we just want more time with them - is so not the answer. Not that we don't love these kids and sure it was hard letting them go, but that is not WHY we are doing this. First of all, we are doing this because God has clearly opened doors for this to happen and honestly we are just walking through them, trying to be obedient to what we think God's plan is for this family. We feel like God has made it clear that we are not done serving Him through this family and so we are just taking what we feel is the next step in loving them. I don't know that there is a "second of all," but we are doing this to help her make a better life for herself. We feel like she wants to and has good intentions of doing that, but just needs help and love and opportunities to succeed, which we can give her.
Q - Are you giving her a timeline?
A - Not exactly. This is obviously not a forever thing...one of our many goals for her is that she would learn to live independently with her children. So when we feel like she is able to do that, then we'll kick them out, so to speak. Or maybe she'll be running out the door with them :) There are definitely things she needs to accomplish before that happens, but it's hard to say how long those things will take and when exactly she'll be ready to be on her own....something she has never done before. Probably in both of our heads, it looks like it will be about a year, but we aren't giving her a move out date of July 15, 2014.
Q - Are you giving her rules?
A - We are setting some expectations for her, yes. The biggest one that sort of includes all of the little things, is that we want her to be moving forward with her life. So if we see that is not happening, then we don't see a point to them being here. So what does that look like? To me it would look like parenting her children, doing school, working, going to church, etc.
Q - Is it going to be awkward with the kids and figuring out who parents them?
A - Absolutely. But we'll figure it out and ultimately she is their parent. One of our expectations is that she is fully responsible for them. As evidence of her choice of where to live, she definitely wants help, and I don't mind helping her. But again, the goal is that she learns to parent them independently.
The great thing is that the kids have 3 adults-ish who they live with who love them and want what's best for them. Maybe it will be awkward for a bit, or the whole time, but it will be worth it.
Q - So when can you take more kids?
A - When they move out. Our agency will not let us take in more kids while they are living with us. So...that is the most difficult part about this, for me at least. I still desire to have a baby, and forever kids, and I feel like this is just once again putting that desire on hold. All of the feelings that I felt when we couldn't get pregnant are back. Why? Why would God not want to give us that? I think He forgot the plan. See the plan was that we would invest 11 months of our lives into these kids and then He would send us our baby, right? That was the plan, right? That seems fair. I mean, we do have a beautiful white crib (that was, by the way, still set up the entire 11 months they were here...that whole "if you build it, they will come" thing totally doesn't work) and a white rocking chair, a super cute white tree painted on the grey nursery walls, the perfect grey and yellow sheets to match, and even a yellow lamp. Come on people, it was the perfect plan. Nope, God has something EVEN more perfect in mind...I just need to trust Him. I think He's saying something like "remember when you told people that you weren't in this to build your family, that you were in this to serve Me? well, here we go....it's not about you Kristy, or your silly nursery, or your silly timeline....it's about Me, and you laying down your life for Me....putting aside your plans, and your expectations, and just following Me." And how can you argue with that? So I'm working on it. Actually, I did it...I took down the crib. And we set up this, and I had a TON of fun doing it:
All that to say, I really am super excited to have her, and the kids, in our house. I'm sure it's going to be crazy, hard, fun, awkward, exciting, and and rewarding. And the great thing is we have a community of people that love us and can help us love her, and the kids. Thanks so much for asking questions and praying and just wanting to help. We really appreciate it and love you guys!
Oh also - this little/big move means we FINALLY got a king size bed. No more waking up in the middle of the night curled up in the fetal position because Clark has somehow managed to push me all the way to the edge of the bed....or at least I'm hoping that will solve that problem, because you know, I can't think of any other solution, like say not letting him on the bed....come on! He's so cute!
And since I finally got my king size bed, it ALSO meant that Dave got his big TV that he's been wanting and he set up this sweet little gaming and movie watching spot for the kids with our old TV, specifically for little brother so he can play the racing game when Dave wants to watch sports:
|super fun, right?|
So I know this might sound stupid because we are talking about new TV's and beds and whatnot, but God has given me joy in making our home their home....something I really didn't expect to have when taking down the crib, or setting up her room. Our God is so good, people. He really is. I know this next part of our lives will be hard, but I love that I get to hold on to these truths - 1. God is good, all the time 2. God builds families, and He isn't confined to a set of rules that an agency would have 3. His plan is absolutely perfect...which is way better than any plan I could come up with.