Our Heartbeat

Months ago, my friend and kindred spirit (fellow INFJ/introvert raising and extrovert/lover of Jesus, of learning, and of Jane Austen), Melissa Droegmueller, from Rolling Prairie Readers asked me to share my heart for fostering and adopting. The mission of fostering as a family has become the heartbeat of my life, or more accurately, my family’s life. We’ve been at it for almost four years now! In that time, we have fostered four little ones; one went home to Grandma, one joined our family forever, and two are currently teaching us a thing or two about the unbreakable bond of sisters. Speaking of currently, this what our family looks like today: one mama, one papa, one miracle brought to us biologically, one miracle brought to us through adoption, two miracles brought to us through foster care, and two dogs – by far the most needy of our children. Then there are the extensions…more miracles: our beloved Randee (Denver’s biological mamacita – we love her like a daughter) and Sugar Pea (our foster daughters’ brand new baby sister.) Yep, fostering makes like messy…deliciously messy…like a HUGE chunk of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Messy. But I digress…mmmm, chocolate.

When Phil and I started this fostering journey, we jumped in blindly, simply following a tug that we both felt on our hearts. Through the support and help of our church and its outstanding foster/adopt support group, we have grown and learned from the best. It is no doubt the influence of other folks on the front lines of fostering who have shaped and focused our vision. Our vision has shifted from loving on children to loving on families and helping them heal.

Now, before you get the wrong idea about me, know this…my heart and my parenting is as imperfect as the next person’s. In fact, I am not what one would call “a kid person.” As a people, they are noisy and messy…and they get in my introvert space. My methods of parenting are not always stellar, like that one time I banged a sippy cup of milk on the table yelling, “Stop screaming! Stop screaming! Stop screaming!” So, there’s that. Nonetheless, the beauty of fostering is, I am enough. Full of faults. I am enough to change a life.

Every family story is unique, and our is no exception. I have documented so much of our journey right here on my blog. And since it’s summer, I’m taking it easy and simply linking the heck out of this article. You may read as much or as little as you desire, by clicking on your topic of interest.

Thank you for your interest in fostering! I pray you are blessed by what you discover here. If you have questions, contact me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

That time we knew we could not NOT foster.

That time we decided to risk Eden’s heart in order to foster.

That time we realized fostering was not safe for our hearts, but it was good.

That time I dropped off Denver for her first visitation with Randee.

That time I fell in love with Randee.

That time Denver was relinquished to us.

That time our hearts melted with the beauty of watching Denver interact with Randee.

That time we realized we were the second choice.

That time we realized we had a heart for bio moms.

That time we expanded our family from four to six…overnight.

That time we counted the cost of fostering for the third time and how it could affect Eden and Denver.

That time we saw the Pea’s mom for the first time.

That time we realized God was growing us up a bit…shaping and humbling us.

 

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How Did You Get Me?

Denver’s questions come in waves. From the beginning, we have been open with her about her adoption. She sees her birth mom regularly, and just this year, she fell head over heels in love with Randee. She knows that she grew in Randee’s tummy. The thing is though…that the knowing comes in waves…followed by the questions.

So tonight at dinner, as I was passing her the raspberries, she asked, “How did you get me?” Honestly, in our home of little people, where games of chase and the like are BIG, “get me” could me any  number of things. And I was hoping she wasn’t asking what I thought she was asking…but she was.

“What do you mean, Denver?”

“I mean how did you get me?”

Eden, always ready to lend a helping hand, said, “Randee left you here,” which is totally not the way it went down. Seems someone watches way too much TV.

My heart fluttered and I just opened my mouth…praying, Jesus, make this good. Please.

“Randee loved you so much, but she was having a hard time being a mama. And she needed help. So some people called me and your daddy and asked if we’d take care of a sweet little girl. And we said YES. And these people brought you to us. Right to our front door.”

She was unfazed. “And Eden? How did you get Eden?”

“She grew in my tummy. And I went to the hospital to get her out, and brought her home. Right to our front door.”

Again, “How about Sweet Pea? How did you get her?”

“Well, you remember this part. Her mama needed help, so someone called me and your daddy to see if we would take care of a little baby girl. And we said yes. And you were here when she came, right to our front door.”

I guess she kind of petered out after that, because she did not ask about Chick Pea. Curiosity satisfied. Whew! That wasn’t too bad. We can totally do this. Right????

Our Heartbeat

Months ago, my friend and kindred spirit (fellow INFJ/introvert raising and extrovert/lover of Jesus, of learning, and of Jane Austen), Melissa Droegmueller, from Rolling Prairie Readers asked me to share my heart for fostering and adopting. The mission of fostering as a family has become the heartbeat of my life, or more accurately, my family’s life. We’ve been at it for almost four years now! In that time, we have fostered four little ones; one went home to Grandma, one joined our family forever, and two are currently teaching us a thing or two about the unbreakable bond of sisters. Speaking of currently, this what our family looks like today: one mama, one papa, one miracle brought to us biologically, one miracle brought to us through adoption, two miracles brought to us through foster care, and two dogs – by far the most needy of our children. Then there are the extensions…more miracles: our beloved Randee (Denver’s biological mamacita – we love her like a daughter) and Sugar Pea (our foster daughters’ brand new baby sister.) Yep, fostering makes like messy…deliciously messy…like a HUGE chunk of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Messy. But I digress…mmmm, chocolate.

When Phil and I started this fostering journey, we jumped in blindly, simply following a tug that we both felt on our hearts. Through the support and help of our church and its outstanding foster/adopt support group, we have grown and learned from the best. It is no doubt the influence of other folks on the front lines of fostering who have shaped and focused our vision. Our vision has shifted from loving on children to loving on families and helping them heal.

Now, before you get the wrong idea about me, know this…my heart and my parenting is as imperfect as the next person’s. In fact, I am not what one would call “a kid person.” As a people, they are noisy and messy…and they get in my introvert space. My methods of parenting are not always stellar, like that one time I banged a sippy cup of milk on the table yelling, “Stop screaming! Stop screaming! Stop screaming!” So, there’s that. Nonetheless, the beauty of fostering is, I am enough. Full of faults. I am enough to change a life.

Every family story is unique, and our is no exception. I have documented so much of our journey right here on my blog. And since it’s summer, I’m taking it easy and simply linking the heck out of this article. You may read as much or as little as you desire, by clicking on your topic of interest.

Thank you for your interest in fostering! I pray you are blessed by what you discover here. If you have questions, contact me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

That time we knew we could not NOT foster.

That time we decided to risk Eden’s heart in order to foster.

That time we realized fostering was not safe for our hearts, but it was good.

That time I dropped off Denver for her first visitation with Randee.

That time I fell in love with Randee.

That time Denver was relinquished to us.

That time our hearts melted with the beauty of watching Denver interact with Randee.

That time we realized we were the second choice.

That time we realized we had a heart for bio moms.

That time we expanded our family from four to six…overnight.

That time we counted the cost of fostering for the third time and how it could affect Eden and Denver.

That time we saw the Pea’s mom for the first time.

That time we realized God was growing us up a bit…shaping and humbling us.

 

 

 

Our New Happy Place

I am a planner…a five-year plan is my happy place. Well, it used to be. Life has a way of humbling us…and the thought of mapping out where I think we should be in five years has become a bit comical. Take the month of May, for example. Today is April 22. Within the next thirty days we will either say goodbye to our Peas; say hello forever to our Peas; just hang out with the Peas a bit longer (til the next court date); perhaps take on a additional Pea…as one is cooking and is due in May; AND welcome a new family member for a spell. So, uh, plans are really…not…ummm…conducive to our current way of life.

This kind of “uncertainty” is our new normal. And though it is true for all of us, we are keenly aware that we have no idea what the future holds. But our hope for our future is secure…because it now rests on the unchangeable shoulders of a good God. And that space of faith is our new happy place. Trusting the One who is immovable, unchangeable…and good. We feel such certainty that all will be well. All will be well. This place of peace beats the pants off a five-year plan.

Unfit

So, we’ve been fostering for about three years. And in that three years’ time, we’ve been assigned the crème de la crème of case managers. I wish she could say the same for us…or for me. But she has informed me…laughingly, “Jan, you are not a good foster mom. You are a great mom. But you treat these foster babies like they are yours. And they are not. You must remember, they are not yours.” Yep. It is true. I struggle greatly with the disparity in my parenting style for my “own children” versus my parenting style for my precious fosters. Risk management? What’s that? I figure, as long as the consequence is not fatal…or near fatal…let ’em figure stuff out for themselves. Right? Let ’em play, and tumble and climb and explore. Let ’em be bold and courageous in the face of the play scape or the slide or the tree. Yeah. No bueno for my Peas. No. Bueno.

And in my quiet moments, I realize, I am NOT a good foster mom. There are aspects of this gig that I forget time and time again. But I am learning. Slowly. I am learning. The babies belong to another woman. And my haphazard approach to risk management probably leaves her frustrated…and worried. And I am starting to realize, my inattention to detail is…unkind. Sigh.

Though it will feel crazy unnatural, I am going to try to parent in a way that isagainst every instinct I have. Now, I won’t stop being me…and I’ll make mistakes…and the fact that I am currently parenting a dare-devil of a toddler comes into play. Up til now, my focus in parenting has been for the love of the babies in my charge. My passion for their good. I am going to try to parent in a way that is loving to my charges’ mama. A consideration for her vulverable position of leaving the care of her babies to another.

Here’s to becoming a more loving foster mom…a fit foster mom.

Chick Pea — TWO!

I am surprised to discover very few notes on Chick Pea this past month. So many of her changes have been…soft…unspoken. I’ve noted a vulnerability that is sweet…yet frightening. This impenetrable child has trusted her heart to us…she seeks gentle hugs in the quiet of day…she nuzzles my neck…seeking and finding comfort. I am undone.

At two years of age, Chick Pea:

  • names and narrates. This is one of my favorite stages. As she gets dressed, she names body parts…and explains what is happening, “Shirt on. Shoes on.”
  • is speaking so much. Her language has just exploded…in the best of ways.
  • signs like a pro. Miss Smarty Pants learns signs faster than anyone I’ve ever seen.
  • rubs soft foods, like yogurt and sour cream, all over herself. (This is likely a carry-over from her nighttime ritual. She has eczema, so we slather on the lotion each night. )Sneaky girl almost always waits until my back is turned or I’m out of the room. You’d think I’d learn.
  • lets me sing “Rock-a-bye Baby” to her and cradle her in my arms. (It occurred to me recently that she is the only one I have not sing lullabies to as a wee babe…and I went about remedying that!) The first time I held her like a baby and she relaxed into my arms, my heart ached. It ached for her…time I did not have with her…time her mother does not have now. I ached for all of the brokenness in her wee life.
  • tags along and imitates Denver in the sweetest of ways.
  • exhibits fewer strong-willed defiances…girl gets along. She gets along so well.
  • dotes on Sweet Pea…still. Such a sweet sister.
  • enjoyed a birthday party with her mom, her aunt, and her grandma. (We were invited to attend. Touching!)

Sweet Pea — Eight Months

The girl is on fire! She wants to get up and go, go, go with her older sisters. On top of that, I highly suspect she…much like her beloved Eden…is an extrovert. Though my snuggly-wuggly wee babe has been replaced with this go-getter, Sweet Pea has retained her sweet, gentle, contented yumminess. Everything she does feeds my soul with such peace and joy.

At eight months, Sweet Pea:

  • sits up. All on her own. Just like she’s been doing it her whole life. Oy.
  • wants to play ALL day. She down to only two good naps a day. And so it begins…or rather, ends.
  • holds her own bottle.
  • experienced her first camping trip. She happily played out in the “woods,” mouthing sticks, rocks…any bit of nature she could grasp in those beautifully chubby hands.
  • eats crackers. Sniff, sniff. Crackers. There’s no turning back now.
  • takes a bath in the bathtub now. Oh, this girl! Soooo fast! She’s growing up so fast!!
  • says “dah-dah-dah,” which is great and all. And to be fair, it was her first utterance. But hearing “muh-muh-muh-muh” makes me giddy. Giddy.
  • is everywhere! She is officially crawling. And nothing is beyond her. Sigh.
  • can drink from a sippy cup.
  • lights up the room…not only with her smile, but with her sweet spirit.