You can’t lose what you never owned

I wrote a few days ago about how upset I was at the thought of losing our precious foster baby boy.  Today, by the grace of God, I am feeling much more at peace with the situation.  I prayed, my friends prayed, and I went back to the Bible where God first told us to say yes to helping this child.  The verse that really spoke to me was in Isaiah 1.  It said to “encourage the oppressed, defend the fatherless”.

Well, I skipped right over that first part. Someone else could do that part and encourage this mother. I’ll do the fun part and defend the fatherless…take care of the baby.  Only, now I see that what I was doing was choosing which command I wanted to obey.  God wanted me to encourage and mentor this mom as well. 

Over the past 8 months I have watched her grow and mature. She’s still young at heart and has some challenges she will have to overcome, but I now believe she could do it.  See, I’ve been praying for her and that changes your heart.  I know that God will equip her with what she needs. It’s not up to me to see it.

I also had to accept that this baby is not mine to keep. God placed him in my care for a while and we loved him as much as we would our own…but in the end, he does not belong to me. He belongs to God, and He will put him exactly where he needs to go.

Today is another court hearing. After spending 4 hours with the CPS worker and another hour with the mom’s lawyer this week, I’m not convinced that much will happen today.  This is going to drag out for a while due to rules, laws, and red tape.  There is nothing we can do about it but wait.

Unfortunately, we’ve had to “give our notice” on him which means we’ve told CPS that we can no longer care for him.  We are moving in a couple months or so and we can’t take him with us. We had hoped before that we would have a chance to adopt him before leaving. But now we know that he will be going back to mom…we just don’t know when because there are all these steps they have to take first. One part of the system ties the hands of the other and things end up delayed. It is crazy! It’s possible this could drag out for another 8-14 months, but we are hoping and praying it doesn’t. It just doesn’t seem right.  Since we know he’s not going to be available for us to adopt and we know the plan is to return him to mom, we have to move on.

My hope is that he will be able to go straight home to his mom from our house without going into foster care so he can avoid an extra move.  But if we are moving, and the court isn’t ready to return him, he will need a temporary home. I hate that. The thought that he would be juggled around like that. It could affect his ability to form bonds with people.  But you know…God is handling even that.

I’ll update when I know more.  Please pray for Little Bear, his mom, and our family.

The downside to foster parenting

I don’t mind losing at a game, but in life I don’t like admitting when things are hard.  Why is that? I don’t have a Super Mom complex. I know that everyone else already knows I’m not perfect, so why do I try so hard to convince myself and others that it’s all “okay”?  Why are we so ashamed to admit our flaws? Our fears? Our failures?

I think I know some of the reasons I do this.  I wonder if any of you can relate to any of them.

* I don’t want to be a “Debbie Downer” complaining about my life when so many others have much harder struggles than I do.

* I know in my head that I am blessed way beyond what I deserve, so I feel like I don’t have the right to complain or vent about things being hard.

* I don’t want people to think I’m a bad mom if I share a negative thought I had about my kids, or a mistake I made with them.

But if we never share our struggles, how can others help us?  I’ve been able to help or pray for friends only because they shared what was going on in their hearts.  Yet, I have a hard time sharing those things with others.  Instead, I try really hard to talk about the good things…to find the silver lining.

This past weekend at the retreat, one thing really stuck out to me.  These women all came together and just put their “junk” out there for everyone to see.  They are completely open and vulnerable when it comes to talking about their hardships.  They may not be proud or thrilled with their troubles, but they aren’t all ashamed to talk about them either.  They have developed a “take me as I am” attitude, and isn’t that just how Christ wants us to come to Him?  Some of these women struggle with addiction, others have been abused.  Some are homeless, have a mental illness, or just had life take a turn for the worse.  One lady shared with me how she gave her little girl up for adoption when she was 9 months old because she realized she couldn’t provide what she needed.  That was 21 years ago, and yet it just worked it’s way into a conversation with a lady I’d known for less than 10 minutes.  These women poured out their hearts, cried rivers of tears, shared hugs of compassion, and raised their hands in praise and surrender to Jesus.

I want to be more like them in that way.

Right now I just need to share and get this out…..it’s HARD.  Right now it’s HARD to homeschool my special needs daughter in Kindergarten while raising a special needs almost 8 month old baby who doesn’t sleep well through the night or sleep in as late and I’d like.  It’s hard trying to schedule her schooling around his non-existent naptimes while still doing her hardest subjects at the time of day that she learns best.  It’s hard to make myself do my Yoga and exercises before the kids get up or when they go to bed because I’m exhausted physically and mentally.

It’s also hard because I know that this little boy is going to leave us soon.  We’ve raised him and loved him since he was 7 days old.  Now he’s just about to turn 8 months old.  At first we were led to believe that we might be able to adopt him and that his return to his birth mom was not likely.  However, that was never true and that has come to light in the last month or so.  I know that God has a plan for him, and we’ve prayed from the beginning that God would put this baby where HE needs him in order to fulfill HIS purpose.  I know that God can equip the least of us to do the greatest works, so I know that God can equip this little boy’s mother to raise him and take care of him.  But it’s hard.  I feel like I know my child is dying and I’m just waiting for it to happen.  I’ve never lost a child to death, but that’s what this feels like to me.   It’s hard because right now I’m being told that his return to his mom is inevitable, yet we are still waiting.  Waiting for what, I don’t know, but we are waiting.  This is killing me!  I want closure.  I want to move on.  I want to know he’s where he needs to be.  If he’s going back to his mom, then let’s get him there.  This is only prolonging the agony.

I’m having to surrender my dream of having multiple kids.  I’ve already surrendered this dream once when I had to have a hysterectomy and give up even the smallest chance of another miracle baby in my womb.  I’ve had to surrender it when our first foster placement went home even though we were madly in love with them.  Now, after spending 7 months hoping and dreaming once again about adding to our family….after going up and down the same emotional roller coaster…here I am surrendering it again. My ways are not His ways.  My thoughts are not His thoughts. My timing is not His timing.  Will we ever have a large family?  Will my daughter ever have forever siblings?  Or are we meant to foster only and just touch the lives of these children for a time?

I know that even in this, God is growing me.  He’s refining me to be just who He wants me to be.  But it’s hard, and it hurts right now.

Get out of your comfort zone

I love to be comfortable.  Bare feet in the soft grass.  Cozy blankets on the sofa.  Fall Weather.  But God never promised us that we’d be comfortable.  In fact, He tells us quite the opposite, but we don’t like to hear that.  Read my previous post about being comfortable.

“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Cor 1:5)

I’ve been uncomfortable lately.  Really uncomfortable.  I’ve been tired, confused, weary, doubting.  As a foster parent, I have seen a lot of hard things.  I’ve been disappointed in parents, and in the system.  I’ve seen children who have been neglected, abused, and forgotten.  I’ve also seen moms who paid a hard price for making a bad choice.  I’ve seen too much.  Sometimes I think I’ve seen too much to continue.  Really, I’ve seen too much not to.

Lately, I’ve been weary.  Little Bear has not been sleeping well due to his reflux, but then he got a cold!  He was up the majority of the night for several nights in a row.  With Hubby gone, that means I take all the night shifts myself. Sometimes only sleeping 2 hours in a 7-8 hour period.  I am not one of those Super Moms that thrives off 2-3 hours of sleep.  My hormones get crazy if I don’t get my 8 hours.  I was exhausted.  Physically, mentally, emotionally.  I had to swallow my pride and ask for help.  I really don’t like that.  I want to be able to do it all, but I can’t.  I had to give in and let my parents watch him for a few nights.  I had to let Hubby’s grandmother entertain him for 30 minutes while I caught a nap.  I had to let Go.  I had to let God take over.

Isn’t that the point?

I was never supposed to do it myself.  I’m supposed to rely on HIM.

Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. (2 Cor 1:9)

He offered me help through my parents.  I finally agreed to take it.  After a couple nights of sleeping through the night, I felt much better! I feel like I can think clearly enough to make my own coffee.   Little Bear is doing much better and sleeping much much more now!  Now to just get rid of that middle-of-the-night waking he got used to, and get back to the sleeping-all-night that I was used to!

Father,

Please help me to see Little Bear through YOUR eyes, even in the middle of the night.  Allow me to cherish those moments with him, Father, even if I’d rather be holding him during the day.  Allow me to trust you to give me the rest I need rather than rushing back to bed and watching the clock.  Help me to remember that what I do for the least of these, I do for you.  Forgive my selfishness as I have been focusing on how this affects me.  I want to love him as I do you.  I want to care for him as if he were you.  I need your strength, Father.  I need your arms to carry me through this.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Sometimes when it’s so hard, the thought crosses my mind and I wonder if we are supposed to continue on as foster parents.  Maybe this is just “too” hard, I wonder.   Then I am reminded this isn’t about me.  I continue to love and to give because I’m called to, not because it’s easy or convenient.  I do this because right now at this moment, there is a little baby boy who needs my love.  And I do love him.  With all my heart.  Sometimes that’s what makes this so hard.  I’m relying on a broken, messed up system to determine what to do with this little boy’s life.  I don’t know yet what’s going to happen in his future.  I don’t know how long he’ll be in our family, but I know he’ll be in my heart forever.

Oh, I’m so so glad that God is in control! That He knew what the plan was for this little boy before he was even conceived. 

So, I continue to wait.  To trust.  To hope.  And to love.

Little Bear’s visit to the ER

Last night about 11:00pm, Rob took Little Bear to the ER.  Diagnosis: Night Owl Social Butterfly.

Seriously.

This kid does not like to sleep unless he’s with people.  He will nap contently in his bouncy seat in the living room with people having conversation, or with someone sitting within his eyesight and music playing.  But try to put him in another room by himself, and he will scream like he’s being tortured.

You know….before you are a parent, or even after you are a parent, but you don’t have one of “these” kids….you think it can’t be true.  I’ve heard people talk about their kids crying so hard they threw up.  I’ve heard people say that they can’t let their kid “cry it out” because they never stop.  I’ve always thought “they’ll stop when they are tired enough”.  I thought that because Bug did.  She would scream for less than 5 minutes and then was out like a light after getting out her extra energy.  But it’s not true for Little Bear.  I’ve tried.  We’ve gone 2 hours before with me going in every 10-20 minutes to “soothe” him and every time it made it worse.  He is one persistent little fellow, and while that will serve him well as an adult, it will wear a person out!  He gets so worked up he gives himself hiccups and can’t calm down.  If he were older, I would say he was throwing a tantrum, but he’s 5 months old! He doesn’t even know how to do that yet.

So, I give up.  We’ll do it his way for now.  I also apologize to any parent who has a child like this and I didn’t quite believe you.  I’m sure I thought you meant well, but were possibly exaggerating in your tired state.  Now I know.  I’ve learned my lesson.  Can we go back to getting good sleep now? Please?

The first 3 months of his life, he cried a LOT.  Screamed a LOT.  Turns out he has silent reflux which means he refluxes, but instead of spitting up, it just makes it to his throat and goes back down, burning along the way.  OUCH.  It took several tries to get a doctor to listen to me, but once we found one and she prescribed Prevacid, it was like someone switched babies on us!  Night and Day.

So, to recap….

Months 0-2: lots of crying and screaming.  Hubby and I took turns sleeping on the sofa with him because he would only sleep with us, and we figured that one of us should be rested each day.

Months 3-4:  AWESOME!!! The Prevacid is a miracle drug for him, and he started developing better, and sleeping well.  Still wouldn’t nap away from us, but at night, we would put him down around 7-8, and he would sleep till 6-ish the next morning.

Month 5:  THIS month.  He’s about to turn 6 months old.  He’s learning how to roll over, and I think the development of this new skill has royally messed up his sleep clock.  Now, when we try to put him to bed at night, he screams like we are tearing off a limb.  I mean, 0-60 in less than a minute!  Pick him up, he stops and smiles like it’s a game.  Silly boy!  This last week has been especially rough, and we’ve resorted to bringing him back in the living room with us, and letting him fall asleep in his bouncy seat and then putting him in the crib asleep.  A couple nights ago he was up till 10, and last night at 11:00 he was screaming his head off even while we were holding him.  So, we decided to take him to the ER just in case.  Have them check his ears in case he’s one of those kids that get ear infections with no other symptoms.

Hubby no more got him in the car, and he was fine.  All smiles and giggles at the hospital trying to make liars out of us.  The doctor told Hubby that maybe he was just afraid of the dark, and needed to sleep to the radio for voices.

He’s never been afraid of the dark before, but he’s getting older so…..maybe.  Fine.  We turned on the radio in his room, and plugged in a nightlight.  After his trip to the ER, he was so tired, I’m not sure if he passed out or slept because of the voices/nightlight.

We’ll try again tonight.

He did wake up at 6:15, and I brought him and the bouncy seat in our room.  Put the bouncy right next to me on the bed, put him in it, and we both went back to sleep off and on till 8.

I’ve needed some extra caffeine today.  This is why God made babies so cute! So that in the end, it’s all worth it!

Baby boy’s 2 week update

“Little Bear” has been with us for 2 weeks now.  He’s already growing so much. He gained 1 pound the first week he was here.  His neck is getting stronger too and he’s holding his head up a lot more.  He’s still sleeping most of the day, and eating every 3-4 hours.  Sometimes he’ll demand a snack at about 2.5 hours 🙂

He loves – being held, being in the sling, laying beside our legs on the sofa, being swaddled with his arms out, resting in the bouncy seat or the car seat/swing so he’s at an incline.

He dislikes – being naked, getting his diaper changed, getting his clothes changed, laying down in the Pack-n-Play bassinet.

He’s hit or miss on the pacifiers right now.  He’ll take one for a bit if he’s really upset, but he spits it out soon after.

He grunts All. The. Time.  When he’s hungry, when he’s stretching, when he’s pooping.  It’s so precious, and it’s why we call him “Little Bear”.

We still don’t have a timeline for his stay with us, so we’re just enjoying a day at a time with him. 

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17)

We have a baby at our house!

Yep, a real baby! Not a fur baby, not a doll baby….a real baby! 

I apologize for not updating the blog sooner, but things have been a little busy at our place.  That, and we’ve been missing out on our usual amounts of sleep, so when I’ve actually had the time to sit and blog, I chose to sleep instead.

A couple weeks ago, we found out that a new baby boy needed a temporary home.  It’s a long story that I am thrilled to share because it’s an absolutely awesome example of God’s providence and timing.

This story involves a young woman, and I don’t want to disclose her real name at this time, so I’m going to call her “Z”.  Z attends a Bible study for low-income & homeless women that some good friends of mine lead every week.  I had met Z one time a couple months ago when I volunteered at an event with these ladies, but that’s all the contact I’ve had with her. 

Recently, she gave birth to a little boy, and because of a long, assorted past, CPS stepped in and told her she was not going to be able to take the baby home from the hospital.  She was told that she had a chance to find a friend or relative to take the baby, and if she couldn’t, he would be placed in foster care.

(Side note:  As many of you know, Hubby and I have been certified foster parents before.  However, we let our license expire because we were still prayerfully considering which agency to change to in order to have one closer to home.  In addition, with the upcoming change in Rob’s job, we were praying about when to get certified and reopen our home as foster parents.  I’ve been praying about this for months now, but still had not felt led to any particular agency, and in fact, felt strongly that we were to be *waiting* – so we are not currently certified foster parents.)

The word went out from Z, to the leaders of her Bible study, and email chains were started.  The word quickly got to me as our friends knew that we had been foster parents and thought I could shed some light on the situation.  I said that of course my instinct would be to offer our home for the baby, but that I’ve learned not to act without praying, so I wanted to go home and talk to Hubby and pray about this. 

I got home, and told Hubby and he told me how the Lord had been talking to him for some time about saying “Here I am, Lord!” and being available for His service anytime, no matter what.  We agreed that we needed to be open and available for this little baby, and if the Lord wanted him in our home, he would end up there, but if not, that was His will too.

Z had a couple options in addition to us that were presented to her as people that were willing to give her baby a temporary home.  She was to give all the options to CPS and they would run background checks on everyone and make a decision.  Hubby and I prayed and told God that only HE knew the timing involved.  Only God knows how long this child needs a home.  God knows when we are moving, where we need to be, and when.   We don’t.  God knows how much I want to have this child, a little baby, in our home – even if only for a little while.  

So, we turned in our info, and then sat back and waited.  We didn’t have to wait long.  By the end of the day, we were approved and told to be at the hospital the next morning to pick up the baby.   Wow! 

It’s a “God thing”!

CPS was allowing Z to do a “voluntary placement” with a friend or relative rather than placing the baby in foster care.  In order to do this, the caretakers of the child can NOT be certified foster parents.  Can NOT be foster parents!! Did you catch that? That immediately ruled out one of Z’s options that had stepped up as they recently were certified as foster parents.   But we qualify for that! Is this why God was having us wait?

I don’t know CPS’ official reasons for preferring “voluntary placement” over “foster care”, but I assume it has something to do with a lot less paperwork.  Also, the state doesn’t pay voluntary placement caretakers, but foster parents do receive some income to help with the child’s needs.

So, for a little more than a week, we have had a new baby in our house!! He’s about 3 weeks old now, and it’s just amazing!  Hubby is the BEST at helping and I’m so blessed to have him by my side through this. 

We learned with Bug that it was silly for both of us to get up every time she needed something during the night because NEITHER of us got any sleep that way.  We both felt guilty for not being up, so we’d go with the other to keep them company.  Silly!  So, with later foster kids, and now with this baby, we are taking turns.  One night I go to bed, and Hubby sleeps on the sofa with Little Bear in the living room.  The next night, Hubby goes to sleep in our bed, while LB and I hang out in the living room.  It’s working wonderfully!! We are still tired, but not fall-down-exhausted!  God’ has been so great to us and is supplying us with the energy we need each day!

Plus, it’s just an energy boost to cuddle with an adorable baby!  If you are going to be up during the night, you might as well be holding a cute newborn!

Still in AWE! It is just amazing that God would bring me into contact with this woman in such a way that I would be aware of her situation at just the right time.  Also, that Hubby and I would not be currently certified foster parents so that we were able to be considered for this placement.  Then, that CPS would first offer Z voluntary placement in the first place, and then choose us over the other options.  A true miracle!!

This is completely unlike any foster care placement we ever had.  With this voluntary placement, we are very involved with the mom and will interact with her frequently.   She will have visits with the baby, that have to be supervised by Hubby or myself.   In foster care, we rarely have interaction with the parents.  In fact, they usually don’t get our last name, address or phone number.   This extra interaction with the birth mom presents all sorts of interesting challenges, but I also pray that it provides for some great ministry opportunities.

We don’t have a timeline yet, but from all we’ve heard so far, we are looking at anywhere from 6 months to a year or so.  There are so many variables involved that it’s impossible to guess.  There is so much more to the story that I don’t feel comfortable sharing on here.  Feel free to ask me in person about it though, as this is just an awesome, awesome testimony to God’s sovereignty!