The Fun of It All

This weekend my friend’s three foster daughters were with us. Two are 14, one is 10. Overall it was a really great time – perhaps the best we’ve had. There were two minor meltdowns. Raine and one of the 14yr olds were able to pull themselves together after small setbacks.

I didn’t bother questioning if 14yr old Emma* had all her belongings before leaving. That avoided a lengthy battle. Inevitably she always leaves something behind. Last time it was her curling iron. Me pointing out the overlooked items fills her with rage. Though I see it as doing her a favour making sure she has everything, Emma disagrees.

The new plan is to ignore any forgotten items. But that didn’t quite come together. The girls departed without me checking their rooms or the bathroom. Then I discovered Emma had taken my toothbrush and left hers. I text. My friend called and we had a conversation including Emma. The girl pulled a toothbrush out of her bag. With certainty she claimed it as her own. It was orange. Emma’s is green.

“What did you use when you brushed your teeth this morning?” my friend asked.

“The green one,” Emma answered.

“Then why did you bring the orange one home?”

“Because it’s mine.”

Oh the fun of it all – trying to understand her muddled mind.

“I have an extra. I don’t need it back,” I told my friend. “But just thought I’d let you know so she doesn’t use it.”

Thankfully that conversation wasn’t mine to have – why using someone else’s toothbrush is not a good idea. I’ve had my fair share of those types of conversations with Sabrina* (foster child with me for 5yrs) and Megan* (foster child with me for 2yrs). Like Emma, both of them suffer from intellectual limitations. No doubt I will have similar conversations in the future as I prepare to again foster special needs children.

Off the phone I had to laugh. I’ve resolved to start finding the fun in it all. Not at the children’s expense. I expect when she she fully realized the situation, Emma was laughing as well.

*name changed

Having-funn-Quotes-work-hard-have-fun-make-a-difference

The Truth About Mother’s Day

Now that the fanfare’s over, let’s be honest. Mother’s Day can lightstock_82211_max_user_637824be hard for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons.

At breakfast Raine asked if I thought her birth mother was sad when she lost her. “I’m sure she was sad,” I answered. “Losing a child is very sad.”

“Do you think she cried?” was the next question. No doubt she did. She may even have been crying yesterday.

There are so many others who mourn on Mother’s Day – women who haven’t been able to have biological children. A friend in my teen years was adopted. Occasionally his mom and I would sit down for a cup of tea. I’ll never forget the day she broke down crying. She was completely devoted to her four adopted children. But there was still a sting that she hadn’t been able to give birth to them herself. Then there are women who have never obtained the title of mother in any form.

I read a post about one woman’s church asking moms to stand on Sunday. Flowers were given out in celebration of Mother’s Day. The past few years my church has given a donation to a charity caring for women in lieu of gifts on Mother’s Day. But when there were gifts, they went to all women over 18yrs. I remember the years of longing before I became a mom. I can imagine the sadness of being singled out on an already difficult day.

Then there’s the reality that, for some, there isn’t much to celebrate about their mothers. The truth is parents fail. Some in small ways, but others do so completely. Being a foster parent, I know this all too well. Not only do some parents fail to provide the love and security needed while their children grow up, they also fail to provide an example worth replicating. So, when grown, who do you turn to for advice? Who do you imitate as you raise your own kids? Besides being nothing like your parents, how do you know you’re doing a good job?

If your mom’s failed in big ways, a day celebrating her might just be too much. That’s the truth.

So if you know of someone in any of these situations, maybe next year ask them or the Lord how you can ease the pain of Mother’s Day. As glorious as it is for many, the day falls short of happy for more people than you realize. This year, for the first time, we were able to move past the pain and enjoy being a family. Praying for you if that wasn’t the case. Praying the God of all comfort will wrap you in His arms. Let Him reveal to you, the truth that you are loved.

Our Table is Full

If you’ve been keeping up with my saga – you’re aware that I began fostering with a private agency 6yrs ago. This past summer I decided to try working directly for the local children’s aid. That didn’t pan out. The experience confirmed I’m no good at short term relationships. I’m a long haul kind of person.

So now I’m officially back with the private agency. Generally, sadly, the children in our agency aren’t going anywhere. They won’t be returning to birth family nor are they likely to be adopted – for a wide variety of reasons.

It may be a while before any new children join our home. However, I am back doing relief for my friend. (With the private agency foster parents have a weekend off every 6wks. The kids go to another foster home during that time. This is called relief.) Although we’ve seen my friend’s three girls regularly it’s been 9mths since they’ve been able to sleep over.

Raine and Athena are thrilled to have them here this weekend. Even after a lengthy separation, they settled in without any issues. It’s wonderful to have them here again. Once more our table and home are full – along with all of our hearts.

ready for dinner

ready for dinner

Why Wonderfully Unusual?

Wonderfully unusual pretty much sums up my life. The unusual is pretty obvious. I intentionally pursued motherhood as a single Christian woman. A good portion of my friends are single Christian moms. Not one of them intended to be, it’s just how things turned out. Marriage has yet to come about in my life. Still I knew God called me to be a mother. So that’s what I became. Adoption burned on my heart since childhood, but first I became a foster mom. Then went through the process of adopting. My daughters came to me 3yrs ago as foster children. Now they’re mine forever. Everything about becoming a mom – foster/adoptive – has been unusual.

I began with a nearly 13yr old. Sabrina* had been in foster care since the age of 5. I wasn’t her first foster mom but I was her last. This past summer she turned 18 and is now forging her way as an adult. Starting off parenting a teen with fetal alcohol syndrome and intellectual limitations is unusual. And it certainly was a unique experience.

The adoption hasn’t been typical either. I had to fight to keep my little ones. Their social worker was sure they’d be better off with a married couple unable to have children of their own. In no way am I opposed to infertility being a factor in people deciding to adopt. Nor am I against couples adopting. I’m all for that. But after having my girls for 1 ½ years I knew they should stay with me. A formal hearing confirmed that was the best option.

That’s not how most foster care adoption stories go. Usually a social worker calls to say, “We have a child that might be for you.” Then you hear all about them, you make a decision, you see pictures, you fall in love, and meet. Then after a month or so of visiting you take your child home. With the arrival of a letter by courier it was decreed that I would get to parent Raine & Athena forever. Not what I was expecting when I started my adoption homestudy. For some reason I thought it would be somewhat typical.

Wonderful is where we’re at now. It was a rocky start with Raine. The adoption didn’t sit well with her. That and beginning school caused her to unravel to a certain extent. Homeschooling, cutting wheat out of her diet, and some herbal anxiety medication has gotten us back on track. She’s still somewhat tightly wound, but that’s just who she is. The place we find ourselves at now is by no means perfect. But I’d venture to say it is wonderful. Through an amazing turn of events, I’m able to be a stay at home mom. My kids are my primary focus – though I am working on another dream as well (www.believebistro.com).

So, to sum up our life: it’s wonderfully unusual. Hence the new title of my blog.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back tomorrow to find out why I shouldn’t blog and cook at the same time.

*name changed

The Games We Play

Lately my girls have been playing “I’m a New Foster Kid”. The game goes like this: one of them pretends to be a foster child who has just arrived at our home. The other shows them around and explains our life. This past weekend it was Raine’s turn to be “our special guest” (which is how I refer to the foster children who come to us). She decided to call herself Kara. Most of the game was spent correcting Athena who was forever calling her Kiera. During dinner on Saturday, Raine – pretending to be Kara – said, “When I go to my grandma’s tomorrow, I won’t be coming back. I’m going to live there. That’s what happens with some foster kids.”

“You can play that in the game,” I permitted. “But in real life you’re living here.”

“I know,” she answered. “I’m not a foster child.”

This declaration is a small miracle. It’s taken time for Raine to see herself as adopted and a permanent resident here. There are still times she threatens to leave, but most often she’s happy to stay. Never again will Raine or Athena be a new foster child in someone’s home. That is a really big miracle.

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