Monday, March 23, 2015
Saturday, March 21, 2015
When Tim and I felt the calling to do foster care, 18 years ago, we had two biological children. Stephen was 9 years old and William was six months old.
We, as a family, must have been very sheltered from hearing much about this part of society, as we were not prepared to see the amount of abuse or neglect that we regularly saw. When we went to foster care meetings, we would talk to other families and hear the stories of their cases as well. It was almost over whelming at times.
Many of the children came with major issues. Who could go thru what they did and not have any? Being torn from the only family they ever knew, whether good or bad, is enough to cause great stress and emotional trauma. Then add to it what they had seen and experienced in the form of neglect and/or abuse and you have a child whose normal development is off. Their idea of love is off. There emotional structure is just not normal. There behavior can be all over the place and uncontrollable. Some hoard food. Many have trouble sleeping. Some scream and cry for hours on end with no way to comfort or console them. To our children who live in a normal loving stable home, these behaviors are hard to understand. We spend a lot of time talking to and explaining things to, our children that live at home.
So many people, myself included, go into fostering or adopting, thinking that faith in God, a stable home and love, will fix and heal all that is going on with a child. Very soon we learned that is just not the case. Those developmental years are so tender and the imprinting done on them will effect a child for life. Children can and will change and improve in areas over time but some will always just be compromised in many areas of their person, just by not having anything normal in those developmental years. They often also develop survival skills and behaviors that become part of who they are and can not be changed. Also, when doing foster care, the only form of behavior modification you can use is "time out" and in older children, restriction of some privileges. So for bad behavior, options are very limited.
Laying these thoughts and ground work for what I am about to discuss, allows you to see that there are many facets to the children that come into our homes in foster care. We have to take the good with the bad. What I am about to say is hard to do and practice but... it is best to embrace and love a child for who they are, the way they come and pray and hope for the best for them. Then the improvements and milestones they achieve will be so sweet and such cause for joy and celebration. If you take in a difficult child with hard behaviors and think you can "fix" or change them, you set yourself up to always be frustrated with that child and possibly never bond with them. It sets you up for a possible placement disruption and honestly, you will truly never be of any help to them at all. It really is so hard to put into practice with some children though.
We have certain rules in our home, in place, that can not be broken, ever. There are never boys allowed in girls rooms or girls allowed in boys rooms. Not even for playing. Tim and I are the only ones that change any diapers, ever. The only bedroom with a door on it, is the Master bedroom. No one is ever allowed to lock a bath room door. These are just some of the rules that stand in our home. Not just when doing foster care but also when we took a several year break. When one has special needs children in the home, in all stages of growth, development, cognition and back rounds, this is just best. It is better than having something very unexpected happen and have regrets.
Tim and I have been thru a lot in life. Every hard time brings us closer and closer and makes us more united and one. We try to serve God in all we do. When we know a foster child is coming to live with us, we sit down and explain the situation the foster child is coming out of, to the children in our home, that can understand. At times, Tim and I have been asked to take a foster child or children and we have asked the oldest child or children, in our home, if they think we should take them because in some situations, it would not only increase Tims and my responsibilities but theirs as well. It would be more work for everyone in the home and cause a season of intense stress. So, we often ask the older children, in our home, to get their opinion on the situation before acting. Since Stephen was the oldest child for many years, in our home, we often asked him the question about taking in one more child. He would always listen carefully to the background of the child and say, "No". "I don't see how we can take even one more." and go to his room. It was never even five minutes and he would be back and say, "I'm sorry, I was wrong." "How can we say no." "Where will they go." "Who will take them. We have to take them."
When doing foster care, there are constant conversations, with our children, about the foster children that we have in our home. We try to always be open, honest and upfront with our answers. Our children always have so many questions....why were the children taken from their parents? Are they staying or going somewhere else? Why does this child or that child do this behavior, hoard food or have night terrors? To explain why, helps our children give these foster children grace in their hearts, about the behavior they are seeing. A compassion. All of our children have at one time or another said to me. "Mom, I will never do drugs or drink and do this to my child." This is a profound statement. I could talk to my children about the addiction of alcohol, not doing drugs and pray that they understand and stay away from these things in society. I could preach to them about the damage they can cause in a persons life but them seeing the outcome, disabilities and struggles of the children exposed or neglected because of addictions, speaks volumes to their core. They see the broken families because of it all.
Now that I have spoken my heart on the heavier issues, I will share the precious side. The love. God has used the many foster children who have come thru our home, to grow us and shape us all. All of our children embrace all children no matter the skin color, ability or disability. They see the beauty in all children they meet. My older children are so tender and loving with the young foster children we have.
More specifically...child by child... I can say that doing foster care this time around...
Even though Stephen does not live home anymore, he comes to visit often. He loves to play with and spend time with his siblings. True to form, even though he questioned if it was wise we take in more children at our age, he is supportive of our decision and loves the foster children we have in our home. I believe it is because he understands the big picture of it all, as he was raised in it. He does special things for each child and spends time with them all when he comes. Even with baby "K".
Antonio loves the toddlers and baby. I can ask him to watch a toddler play in the living room while I cook dinner (I can see the living room from the kitchen) and he feels like a big help to me and tells me every move they make and what they are doing. He was the first one to ever see our baby "K" roll over, as I had asked him to watch her playing in her crib while I was doing something for a moment in the next room! He loves all our foster children.
William has a tender heart and understanding for what the children have went thru as he is older. William and I have had very long and in depth conversations about the state of this world and how and why these things happen to the children that come into foster care.
Carolyn LOVES children. On sunny days, she asks to take "T" out to swing, as it is his favorite thing to do. She will also watch "B" ride his bike or play on the playground.
Zeke has autism and does not like change at all. When we first talked to him about going back into foster care he told me one day he was praying the child we took in would be a girl. He told me this many times. I thought it was very sweet to want a baby sister. One day I asked him why and he said, "So he didn't have to have a baby in his room crying all night and smell the stinky diapers." :/ Ok...not so sweet. :) But very honest. When the foster toddlers came to live with us, they were a handful, very loud and screamed a lot as they were detoxing Meth. Zeke literally hid and stayed in another room from them for a few weeks. He would come and peek into the room they were in, watch them and then go and play in his quiet area on the front porch. He slowly started to warm up to them and now loves them very much. Zeke functions at about a five year old level in many areas, so he likes a lot of the same things that "B" does. So they actually play together a little. Zeke likes to play toddler games with "T" like chase me.
Elizabeth has deep issues with close personal relationships. She is a pleasure around strangers or acquaintances but can not act appropriately to the people that love her and are close to her. She deeply enjoys playing with the toddlers but because of her strong, stubborn, personality, she often ends ups squabbling or fighting with them while playing even though they are much younger. I have to supervise her with them at all times if she plays with them. So the rule is she is not allowed around them unless she asks permission.
We have a large, diverse and busy family. It is loosely structured.
|Tim and the foster toddlers playing Legos.|
Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
Saturday, March 14, 2015
The weather is warming daily. The frogs are peeping in the pond and turtles are out sunning themselves. I have seen a lot of geese flying North. The daffodils are up so cheerful and the forsythia bushes are blooming as well. I see swollen buds on trees and bushes everywhere. The ponies are all happy that the grass is finally growing. The ground is covered with hen bit and chick weed. Those are the first things that start to grow here in Georgia when the weather warms. It carpets everything. God is so good.
I got my spring rush of energy a few weeks ago and have been busily working inside sorting and deep cleaning. I am itching to get some things done outside but we have had so much rain, its to wet to really do any of the projects on my list. We might attack cleaning and organizing the barn one day next week as we can do that rain or shine.
All of the baby goats have gone to new homes except the little doe I am retaining. I kept a little buckling to keep her company till she is big enough to blend into the herd. Bottle feeding two baby goats is not to much work and the children enjoy watching them grow.
I have no lofty gardening plans this year. I am still very busy with our three young foster children and their many intense needs. So I don't want to get in over my head, in things that need attention from me daily, when these children need me so much right now. I might put in a few tomato and pepper plants and call it good for the year.
The children are all doing well.
Stephen is busy with his life in a town north of us.
Antonio was having a lot of trouble with his joints locking up and muscles being very tight.
William has been going over to our local college twice a week to participate in their GED program. He has, for the most part, been able to drive himself. He is still struggling with his health but is doing good over all. His new dog has been such a blessing for him. He spends a lot of time with her and I can tell it keeps his stress levels down.
Carolyn is about to undergo testing by our local school system. She is a little nervous about it all. We need to see exactly where she is at and how her psychological looks in order to get full understanding of how to help her plan for her future. She will be 15 very soon and we need to start to think about, what is available to her, with her special needs in life, to be successful and as independent as possible.
Zeke has gone thru a huge growth spurt and his voice has gotten very deep. I often have to think who is speaking in the next room and realize it is him in his grown mans voice. He is spending a lot of time working on his animation and videos he makes.
He tries to have a movie made for Tim and I to watch each Friday Night Movie Night. The children take pictures of each other all the time and doctor them with funny things. Here is Zeke in a mustache sent to me from William!
|Zeke said for me to post it. My very serious young man. He only smiles if asked to or if something strikes him as very funny.|
|Carolyn throwing a snowball at Elizabeth throwing a snowball at Zeke, two weeks ago in the big snow!|
|Reading in bed.|
|"B" out in the snow with Yellow two weeks ago!|
"T" is doing very well.
|One of his favorite pass times!|
Baby "K" is looking much less like a baby now and more like a toddler. She is 10 months old. She is far behind according to the developmental charts. Those things are so over rated anyways. :) But is progressing nicely. God really is doing an amazing miracle in her. When she came she could not see and did not even blink to protect her eyes. She now will smile at me, if I smile at her, from even up to 10 feet away! She has optic nerve hypoplasia and is considered legally blind but is using the vision she has wonderfully! When she came she was a very floppy little baby and did not move her body much at all. She seemed to not know she had arms and legs and when she did move them, she acted like they were to heavy to move. She can now roll over both ways. She can pivot around while on her tummy, in a circle and she just learned to sit!
Hypoplasia of the Corpus Callosum) so coordinating moving both halves of her body is very difficult. She also has low tone CP so things like crawling or walking is really going to be hard for her to learn. I can see her determination and with much prayer and us helping her practice, I can see she will crawl one day soon. Maybe in a few months. All in Gods timing! She is such a treasure and blessing to our home. A very happy, sweet good girl!
God is so good and even though we have hard days at times, we feel so very blessed in life. May the Lord God in heaven be with you in all you do. Leading and guiding you to preform the works He has for you to do for others in life.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.