Saturday, December 6, 2014

Where We Were and Where We Are

I can hardly believe we are in the month of December already.  Ever since the two foster toddlers have been added to our family, in February, life has been literally non-stop in appointments, daily work and intense child care.  Trying to help children, of any age, over come a hard past, is not an easy task.  To be honest, it is a lot harder than what I remember.  Maybe it's because we took several years off from foster care.  Maybe it's because these two toddlers are just more intense than children we have had in the past.  Maybe it is my age but it definitely has been harder to work thru this time around.  When I have a hard day or get discouraged, I look back and remember what the toddlers were like when they came and realize they have really come so far.  They are not the same children that came to us 10 months ago.  God has done a great work in them and still is.  The boys were neglected and exposed to so much that was not good in their short lives.  So many things were not done, that should have laid a good foundation for their growth and development.  We are having to go back and help them learn some things and unlearn others.  These things can not be done in a short period of time but will take a while to overcome and get past.  All in all, the boys are doing well.  I will give you a short but honest and for real, update on each of them.  Things I have not felt to share but will now, to encourage myself and help encourage others that have just gotten a hard foster child and can't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

"B" just turned 3 years old in November.  He is in feeding therapy as he can not chew food well and does not self feed.  Nothing is wrong with him physically.  His mom just had him on a bottle for the first 2 and a half years of his life.  The only solid foods he was fed, were snack cakes and bags of chips.  We found out he has six cavities that need filling, in his front teeth, from bottle rot.  When he came to live with us, meals took forever.  Not only to get him to chew and eat but to eat healthy food.  Now, he eats anything we eat but the average meal, for him, takes about an hour and a half, with me feeding him almost every bite.  He eats very slowly.   He only feeds himself about five or six bites of a whole meal.  I have a teething/chewing toy I clip to his shirt during the day for him to mouth and chew on to help develop those chewing muscles.  He still sits in a high chair as he smears food all in his hair and over his body at every meal and he can not stay seated unless strapped in. 

When he came, he was not potty trained.  He potty trained very quickly but used his excrement and urine to....hmmm... lets just say....make a statement when he was mad.   He is no longer pulling out his little boy part and urinating on everything when he gets sat in time out or scolded.  Praise God!  But will still do the other sometimes.  He is a very smart child and learns very quickly.  When he came here, he knew 20 words and two were very bad.  He now knows his letters and letter sounds, numbers, shapes, colors, body parts, animals and so much more.   He talks all day long non-stop and is constantly asking very good questions.  He is VERY active and has trouble sitting still.  He loves for me to read books to him and cry's when I have to stop.   He loves doing anything educational.  He is a lot of fun to teach.  We are still having issues with him being violent toward his brother and the other children in the home.  It has gotten better but it is not gone.  He used to scream and kick my van or bus window the whole time we went anywhere when he came and would try to get out of his car seat.  (We were told by DFCS the boys were tied in car seats their whole life before we got them)  So I can understand the trauma of being restrained in a car seat for them but this still made it no easier to ignore while driving everywhere.  Now, he no longer does that.  He happily climbs up in his car seat and even tries to buckle it himself.   He understands we are putting him in, going somewhere, will then come home and he can get out.   When he came, he used all toys as weapons or tried to break them.  Now, after months of my children "playing" with him and modeling appropriate play, he will play for a short while before trying to break something.  He rarely uses toys as weapons anymore.  Thank God.  These are just some of the areas and things that have went on that we have had to try to manage. He gets Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Feeding Therapy.  He needs them all because he was not let down to play, like in a functional home or from not being fed properly.  We love him dearly and he is doing so much better all the time.  He has two or three good days following a hard day.  That is much better than it used to be...a constant battle every day, all day long, to behave and control himself.    All the Glory to God. 

"T"  just turned 2 years old.  He is so much younger than "B", that he has overcome much quicker (comparatively) and easier the issues he came with, than his brother.   Because of the neglect, "T" was very immature and acted much like a baby when he came, so he has less anger and less inappropriate behaviors to over come.  Both boys screamed off and on day and night when they first came.  They did this for at least eight weeks straight.  It was a high pitched scream, from them detoxing the meth that was smoked regularly around them.  They would not be comforted.  They only thing that helped some, was giving them a bottle.  At about eight weeks it slowly started to subside.  "T" also is a climber.  He would  not be contained and needed constant supervision.  We zip-tied toddler gates all around the top of the crib making it taller.  So tall, that I broke my ribs putting him to bed one night when Tim was out of town.  (Tim is much taller than I am)  Finally, I sewed "T"'s pajama legs together, with a narrow towel, so he could not hike his leg over the side.  Praise God that worked.  (got the idea off the internet)  Neither boy could fall asleep on their own or slept thru the night for a long time.  If I tried to put them down, with out me helping them fall asleep, they each exhibited bad self injurious behavior.  "B" banged his head and broke off pieces of his hair while screaming,  and "T" poked his eyes and bit hard on his nail beds.  His nail beds were actually inverted (cup shaped) when he came and I didn't know why, till I saw what he did when he was upset.   I started out rocking and singing them to sleep, with the only bottle I allowed them for the day and putting them down.  After a month of that, I was exhausted.  As it took over an hour for each boy.  So then Tim and I put them in bed with us (with "baby praise" music playing) till they fell asleep and then moved them to their beds.  After another month or so of doing that, we started just putting them in their own bed with the same "baby praise" music playing.  They would wake and scream every three hours or so.  They did this for many months.  Now we can put them into bed and they are happy to go.  I can walk in and out of their room and if they are awake they do not cry for me.  They also both sleep straight thru the night!  Glory to God neither one of them do any self injurious behaviors anymore!  (They both used to hit themselves and kick their feet hard when I put them in time out and they don't do this anymore either)  I was very concerned about these behaviors and the fact they are gone is a true miracle to me. Praise God! 

"T" had a lot of tummy issues and didn't seem to be developing, so we took him in for testing for food allergies.  We found out he is casin and gluten intolerant.  Once we took those things out of his diet, he was less clumsy, came out of a fog in development and has learned so much very quickly.  When he came he also had been bottle fed milk day and night and ate snack cakes and chips but because of his young age, he excepted good food much quicker and eats anything we eat very well.  But he also does not self feed.  He eats about 10 bites himself throughout his meal and I have to feed him the rest.  Needless to say, meal times are still not a fun time of day for me, as I have to feed both boys almost their whole meal.  They will only eat for Tim and myself, so the other children in our home can not help me with this.  So meals take a while.  On the upside "T" graduated out of his highchair a long time ago.  He is a very neat eater and sits very well at the big kid table.  All in all, I would say that "T" is now a normal acting 2 year old little boy.  He is such a joy to be around and when in trouble it is normal typical two  year old trouble, like climbing or sneaking somewhere to get into something he knows he should not touch.  Glory to God.

This post is getting long so I will do a separate update post on our foster daughter baby "K" at a later date.

I give glory to God for answering our prayers of  "What to do with our future years to serve Him".  We prayed this prayer for many years and God has led us back into foster care.  I praise Him for bringing the children into our home He wished to be here and for giving us the strength and help needed to get through every day.  That when I have felt like quitting He has made it clear we are where He wants us to be.  When I have felt like I could not move forward, that He has given us peace in some form for even a hour before heading back into it all again.  The nights are so much better and the days are getting better all the time.  The children are bonding and becoming a part of us...the Nichols.  They are starting to talk like us and act like us.  We love them all dearly.

Lord, please shine your light down on the path you wish for us all to take in our lives.  Give us the Fruit of Your Spirit, to do all things in Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control.   Living our lives for You because you gave your Son for us.

Philippians 3:14  I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.




  1. WOW! I'm exhausted just reading that! :o)
    I do think foster kids are harder- and I think the abuse now is more severe. But why? And that's why we don't have enough foster homes for these truly disturbed children- no fault of theirs.

    It took our Mercy 18 months to stop screaming at night. I walked on egg shells when she was in bed!! Now I do a little dance as I walk to the bathroom knowing she no longer screams! :o) AND best of all I can take a bath when she is in bed!! Any time of night!! (she goes to bed at 7 p.m.) A miracle- since bathing while a child screams is so stressful!!

    I selectively forget lots of the difficulties so I don't lose my mind! LOL!! Mercy was bottle fed till age 4. Is this new to bottle feed so long? I can see why orphanages do it in other countries- but here?? My severest abused son who happened to be our first foster child was not bottle fed past 2, but then he was just not fed. Which is bad as well.

    Oh my! Memories!
    (((((((((BIG HUGS)))))))))
    God is doing amazing things through all of you with these little blessings! :o)
    We keep you in our prayers :o)

    1. I do think the abuse has gotten worse in a lot of ways. Especially from meth. I have never seen so many meth babies in care in my life. Sibling groups of children brought in, no family members to take them and no hope of ever going home the parents are so addicted and totally refuse treatment. It is all so very sad to me.

      I totally agree about the screaming. It is one of the hardest aspects for me to handle at my age now. And you had 18 months of it with Mercy!!! Bless your heart! I remember sneaking around here with the toddlers too. If anything woke them up they screamed for hours and could not be comforted. It was horrible. God is so good. It is all so much better now. I had not realized how much I had forgotten already about the behaviors the toddlers came with until I sat down to really think on it all and write this post. I was needing some encouragement lately and as the Bible says...rehearsing past victories is very uplifting. God is amazing how He works and heals in these little children you and I have. All I can say is that it has stretched me beyond what is I know it is all God and I would not want to miss this life, of seeing daily miracles, for anything. All the Glory to God!!!

  2. It sounds like it's been so very hard! I can't imagine! I too am very sensitive to noise... the screams of toddlers are very hard to bear. It would be so hard in your shoes, hoping that things are going to get better and not knowing for sure if they will. I can't believe the progress in the amount of time you have had them. Will they stay with you long? I am not too familiar with foster care so forgive my ignorance on any comments I make. : )

  3. We never know how long a child will be with us. We trust in God and always pray He will bring into our home the children He wishes to be here. We also put our whole trust in Him as to which children He wishes for us to adopt. The toddlers have been with us since February and their mother was given a case plan to work in order to get them back. A list of things she needed to do to get them back. On the list was going into treatment to get off of drugs and some other things. She has refused to do any of it. So there is still no way she can parent these two toddlers. She is always not thinking straight as she is always high. Meth is a terrible drug. Very hard to get off of. Anyways the toddlers case and time has come to an end. They give the mom so long to do her case plan and her time is up and she is still refusing to do anything. So they are terminating her parental rights. It is very sad for all involved. The toddlers will then be put up for adoption and it is possible we will just adopt them. We were asked by DFCS to adopt them if no extended family can be found. We said yes. So now we will have to wait and see what happens next. Sadly....And this is very sad to me...the toddlers mom is now pregnant again and still using drugs. More than one kind daily. I have been praying for protection, in the womb, for this little baby she is carrying. So sad.