Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fostering: Successful Reunification

I have not written much about our lives as foster parents.  Mainly it is because we had 5 kids, I was pregnant and sick much of the time, still working, and then we had 6 kids and one was a newborn.  I just got away from blogging in general.

On September 4, 2011 we took on 3 children.  2 boys and one girl.  Now they are 11, 7, and 5 (almost 6).  Our lives became hectic.  We were thrown into this world of school age children, and having to cook a decent sized dinner every night, and different forms of discipline than we normally use for our own children.  I was so sick in the beginning from being newly pregnant, tired, and hormonal.  And although we knew what we were doing was being obedient to God and to our hearts, it was still very hard.

We raised these kids for a year.  We went through the ups and downs.  We had great times and really difficult times.  There were times we did not think we could take anymore, and then moments of pure joy.  We became broken before the Lord in ways that we did not know possible.  We relied on others more than we ever have before.  And God provided.

They became our kids.  And then we had to give them back.

Thats the goal of fostering.  You have the kids, raise them as your own, and then one day the judge says "they can go home" and you  find yourself frantically packing up things for them to never live with you again.  Its strange, but also it really is such a joyous thing to be able to do.  I have watched their mother learn and grow and build a relationship with the Lord that I pray continues. She did everything she could to get her kids back. And she did!

I am amazed at the changes I have see in the kids this past year.  Sometimes we wondered if we were doing any good at all.  Did we get through to them?  Did we teach them anything?  Did we model what a Christian family should look like?  A Christian marriage?  Were we too hard?  Not hard enough? Did we do it right? I hope so.

Throughout most of the year we were told by DHR not to have a lot of contact with their mom, so we remained distant.  This is not something I agree with but we got our hands slapped a few times so we did as we were told.  Once the kids started getting weekend visits with her, I had more time to talk to her and I feel like we have a good relationship now.  What a blessing!  This has been the most amazing triumph to me.  These kids have had father figures come and go.  Now Matt could have just been another one of those.  But I think we will be able to stay in these kids lives forever, Lord willing.  I hope Gabe calls Matt (not me!) about a math question, and Anahi comes and has a sleepover with the girls who she considers her sisters.  I hope Angel can continue to see Matt as an authority figure over his life who can guide him and help him make good decisions.  And right now I see that as a possibility.  Their mom says we will always be like parents to her kids, and she even said she considers us as her parents in a way.  I hope we can remain a constant in her life as well as she learns how to be a mom again.

They went home August 14th.  And there were many tears. And what amazed me most as we were leaving their house, their new home, was the 7 year old was the one who was crying most.  He was the one who always acted out.  He was our most difficult child.  He just wanted to go back home.  And we had to be tough on him.  But he was taking this the hardest.  It showed us that even when we think we have done nothing, it wasn't nothing.

Matt got down at eye level with him and told Angel that he wasn't going anywhere.  That he was always a phone call away, living at the same house and was not going to leave his life.  And Angel cried even harder.  I was amazed.  I thought he would give us a hug and run off and play.

Gabe even asked if he could come spend the night with us the next night.  We all laughed at that.  They wanted to go home more than anything.  And I feel good about it.  But it has to be difficult to be thrown out of the life you know, make a new life, then get thrown back into the old.

We came home to a very quiet house even though we still have our 3 kids.  I teared up at seeing the boys room, still full of all their things.  And when I walked in my bathroom and saw 3 pairs of little girl flip flops.

They stopped by the next day to get some of their things.  And all the kids played outside for 2 hours while their mom and I chatted.  It had not even been 24 hours.  

This is not typical in fostering but right now I am grateful.  It has been a roller coaster of a year but it ended better than I could have ever hoped for! We are going to take a few months to enjoy our family of 5 since we have not been a family of 5 yet and see what 2013 brings.  Right now I have a great peace inside me, a little heartbreak, and a feeling that our family has just been extended.

These were taken the night before we left.  Noah was taking a nap, so he is missing.  The one at the top of the page was actually taken the day after, when they came by to get some things.  


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