Highlights from Beginning of Foster Parenting Journey to mid 2012

So much has happened since the year 2012 and there are so many more stories I have shared through Facebook, my new blogging circuit.

That said, I have had quite a few people ask us about our story as a family.  Here are a few recommended blog entries you might enjoy reading.  There is more to the story than these blog entries, but these give a great framework.

Eventually, I plan to delete the blog (and save my entries for my own personal memory), but for the time being it is here for you to read.   🙂

First Blog Entryhttps://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/first-blog-entry-great-news-monday-september-21-2009/

History, Part 1:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/small-excerpt-of-our-story-tuesday-september-29-2009/

History, Part 2:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/excerpts-of-our-story-part-2-friday-october-9-2009/

Our 1st Foster Children.  Baby was moved after living with us for one month.  There was a relative placement DHS felt benefited her bond with family better, but Big Brother stayed with us for 6 months.:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/please-pray-thursday-october-15-2009/

Why Did We Become Foster Parents?https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/why-did-we-choose-to-become-foster-parents-tuesday-november-3-2009/

TD (Teenage Foster Daughter), moment forever changed our lives.  Now moved into her own place and very much part of our lives.  We love her to pieces:  When the Miraculous INTERRUPTS the Mundane Monday, December 21, 2009

Letter to Big Boy, our 1st foster child:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/to-big-boy-how-can-i-wednesday-january-20-2010/

Little Brother and Little Sister are coming!  Later to become our oldest adopted children:  BREAKING NEWS!!! Monday, March 15, 2010 & Update on Breaking News. Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Big Boy Leaving:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/big-boy-leaving-us-wednesday-april-7-2010/

Little Brother & Little Sister Adopted!:  It’s Official!

Xavier & Lana Baby Dedication:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/babychildren-dedication/

Pregnancy Announcement:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2011/08/30/an-announcement/

Would we bring more in?  5 days after writing this, Jayden was born!!!:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2011/10/17/would-we-bring-more-in/

Baby J comes to us.  He was officially adopted at 18 months, after I stopped blogging:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2011/10/28/baby-j-is-here/

Baby D Born!:  https://thepainteddresser.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/baby-d-is-born/

We now have one more precious son, Baby M, who is Baby J’s biological brother and our family is temporarily complete.  When the kids grow up, we plan to become foster parents again and continue in ministry to children in need.

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The Unknown (Continued)

The last blog post took me nearly a week to finish because I get so tired at night (when I usually write).

Miraculously, as I type, both babies are sleeping and Little Sister is playing independently. Instead of taking a much needed shower, I decided to blog. Ha! Choices, choices.

As I continue on with Baby J’s update, I want to acknowledge that I know these past few entries are not happy happy joyful. If I only gave happy, confident posts, I would not be representing the life of a foster parent fairly. There is such joy in foster parenting and also such “deepness” or “seriousness”. You spend your lives together as a normal family would, but many times with a nagging reminder in your ear that it might not last.

As I drove to court last week, I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be. Once again, I can’t share case details. If I could, it would make it so much easier to describe everything I am sharing. But, since I can’t, I will say that I went to court with uncertainties.

For those of you who are parents, can you imagine someone who doesn’t know “Johnny” [insert your child’s name] very well, telling you that they think it is best he lives with someone else? They happened to find a bloodline to Johnny and that is enough to tell us that it would be best for Johnny to live with them. HUGE ASSUMPTION, if you ask me.

You might say, “Well, you are foster parents. You knew some kids would have to leave.” Yes, this is what we signed up for. To help children and love them and care for them. We always expect (initially) that they might leave. The thing that has been extra difficult with Baby J is that there has been little involvement from his birth parents. Usually, I am working with a birth parent (which is called co-parenting) as they work toward their parenting goals. Such was the case with Little Boy (one of our first placements). I was so attached to him and it was hard to let him go, but because I was working with his parent, there was a level of peace I had knowing he was going to be with a parent that worked so hard to get him back. With Baby J, I have been mommy and Jeff has been daddy. He doesn’t know anyone else as his parents. We have had him from day 5. He is as much our child as Little Brother, Little Sister and Baby D.

Knowing he looks to me as Mommy and Jeff as Daddy, my heart is concerned for him. If anyone ever told him he had to leave, he would be so lost. I know children adjust easily, as so many like to say. But, let’s be honest. They shouldn’t have to adjust when they don’t have to. He would be looking for us, wondering where we are.

The other day, Baby J had a visit with part of his birth family, who I have really come to like. They are so supportive of me and Jeff and we have such a great relationship. When I returned to pick up Baby J, the caseworker told me he did well for the first part of the visit. Then, when he realized I wasn’t there anymore, he became unconsolable and cried and cried. When I saw him, he was crying and waving his arms and kicking his legs. Let’s just say it was a long hallway before I could scoop him up into my arms and comfort him! After that, he wouldn’t let me put him down all day without crying. He had to be held to go to sleep at night. It literally effected his whole day…and my day…I can’t bear to see my children hurting.

So back to my drive to court….. My mind racked through all my feelings. Back and forth, back and forth. Jeff and I have wondered if we could ever foster parent again if we lost Baby J. Then I thought of how unfair that is to other children. It is like making other children pay for something that didn’t go my way. Then I reflected on our true trust and true surrender to God. I prayerfully expressed that nothing would take away my devotion from God. “I will always belong to you, God.”

In those raw moments, there is nothing to live on but our relationship with God. Knowing we are not in control means we HAVE to depend on God.

When I got to court, it wasn’t bad news. There has to be further research done before any possibilities would pop up for Baby J. In the meantime, we continue to trust God, love on all of our children and believe that God knows best.

There is nothing more to do than TRUST. And trust God, we do…even when it is hard.

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The Unknown

The unknown future. What does it look like? Is it dark, is it light? Is it easy or hard? Is it broken or whole?

These questions have invaded the heart of this foster parent.

You see, I have fallen in mommy love with my Baby J. He is not ours, but who else does he belong to but us?

I carried him home from the hospital. I care for his every need. I wipe his tears when he cries. When he’s tired, we have mommy and Baby J time. I hold him and he rubs his forehead on me for comfort. If he screams a certain way, he is hungry. If he screams another way, he is tired. If he says “dada”, he wants Daddy to play with him. If he says “mama”, he wants me to hold him. When I get him from nap, he greets me with the most genuine, loving smile. When I lift him out of his crib, he squeezes me tightly and expels a long baby sigh.

Simply put, I am his momma and he is my son.

But I signed up for this thing called “foster parenting”. A situation that provides an opportunity to love extravagantly, but also offers no guarantees.

Courts, lawyers, and case workers team together to make decisions for his future. At court, everyone but me speaks to Baby J’s future. I am not asked to share input as to how he is doing nor does the judge acknowledge my part in Baby J’s life. (I have never felt the judge was ever against us, by the way. I am merely sharing my lack of participation in the legal process of his future.)

In those moments, I am harshly reminded that I am not really his mom and he is not really my son…..

It means our life together can be a bit of a roller coaster.

We aren’t supposed to share details of his case. I can say that it seems he will get to stay with us, but we aren’t totally sure either. There is one very unlikely scenario that someone possibly related to him could try to become involved. There are a lot of details regarding this that simply aren’t substantiated yet.

Though that scenario seems unlikely at this time, Jeff and I have gone from thinking we were going to be able to adopt him to wondering IF we are going to be able to adopt him.

This past month, his caseworker visited (as she does each month) and we talked over these new, though unlikely, possibilities. As we spoke, I must have not been myself because she asked, “Are you ok, Dana?” I couldn’t contain my tears. I shared with her how much we love Baby J and cannot imagine life without him. I can’t imagine gathering all of his things and meeting someone at my front door and handing him over and saying goodbye. What would he do without us? What would we do without him?

—-to be continued

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I Can Trust God.

The title of this blog could go in so many directions.

I can trust God as we parent our children. I can trust God in specific matters that relate to Big Brother and Little Sister. I can trust God to help determine Baby J’s future. I can trust Him in every area of our life that pertains to marriage, finances, insecurities, and the list could go on forever.

If there are things that I strive for in my walk with Christ, it is to trust and obey Him more and more and more. If I can just trust that He knows best and offer simple obedience in small and big things, then most other issues will automatically resolve themselves.

A few days ago, trusting God really hit the center of my heart and mind. Especially in the matter of how God answers prayer. Continue reading

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Baby D is Born!

Baby D’s Birth

March 24, 2012

8:52 PM

7 lbs., 1 oz.

On March 24th, I gave birth to Baby D!  We were scheduled for a C-section on March 29th, but Baby D decided to come a little earlier than that!

Continue reading

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A Few Updates

There are lots of things I should be blogging about and that I WANT to blog about!

Instead of expecting the impossible of myself and sharing in a lot of depth, I want to at least put a few things down in this blog entry to get us up to date.

Continue reading

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More and In My Time

The past few days, a few things took place that kinda pricked my heart. Things I might not have paid much attention to before, but God seemed to highlight them to me for my own personal application.

#1 I know you are NOT supposed to feed table scraps to a dog. It is bad for them. They get fat. Ok! Go ahead and slap my hand, because I do it all the time. The other day, I made roast beef in the crock pot. Normally, it comes out juicy and tender and yummy. I can even eat it on my food plan! This time, though, I must have purchased the wrong cut of meat because it was dry and tough. Sometimes, we pour a little of the gravy on our dog’s dry food as a treat on roast beef nights. This time, instead of sharing leftover gravy, I literally handed her a hunk of beef (not the whole thing – don’t worry)! I figured it would keep her busy for a while and she would certainly enjoy it. I couldn’t believe what I saw. She carried the hunk of beef over to the edge of the kitchen, proceeded to drop it on the floor and then turn away from it to see IF SHE WOULD GET ANYTHING BETTER from me. She was not satisfied to eat the generous gift I offered her until she saw she was getting nothing more.

#2 I sent my kids to play out in the snow today. They had been cooped up for quite some time and even if the snow was less than 1/4″ deep, it was still snow to play in! I bundled them in snow pants, boots, coats, gloves and hats. They played for a bit and then I brought them hot chocolate with mini marshmallows on top. After more time passed, I felt pretty generous. I don’t normally give them treats before lunch or dinner, but thought I would make it fun for them this time. I brought out a sugar cookie for each of them. The sugar cookies I brought them were from Grandma’s house. That means they are huge, soft and covered with icing. They must be delicious! Lana gleefully grabbed that cookie and started to munch away. However, I couldn’t believe Big Brother’s response. He got a frown on his face. He said he would like to save it for another time. He would come to the door when he was ready to eat it. I was kinda shocked at this. I mean, I am not gonna push sugar on my kid. So, I received the cookie back, but told him that I didn’t plan on giving him a cookie any time soon as lunch was coming up not too much later. Then, he started to jump up and down and cry that he really wanted it. By this time, I could see he was feeling emotional about NOTHING and told him it was OK. He can save it for dessert after dinner. He doesn’t have to eat it now. To which he responded with more crying and jumping up and down and whining. To which I simply handed the cookie back to him with a bewildered face. He wanted to determine a BETTER time to eat it than when I provided it. I kinda felt generous to even offer the cookie to him when I did. I would have thought Big Brother’s response to be one of joy. Not him telling me when he wants his treat or how he wants it.

OK – so I know Goldie is only a dog and Big Brother is only a five year old. I didn’t EXPECT their responses to be different. I don’t expect Big Brother to never become emotional or feel strongly about something at all. He’s going to have his “off” days – just like I do. That is not the point.

This is the point………

How many times has God tried to offer HIMSELF to me generously? How many times have I felt His tug to spend time with Him and have instead looked to things I must get done or things that don’t require as much discipline (and yield fewer results)? How many times have I seen what He can offer me and have first looked to see if He would get anything better for me? How many times have I resorted to spend time with Him only when I realize I can’t know Him any OTHER way? How many times have I tried to dictate when, where and how I should receive the most generous gift of His presence? Then, when my comforts aren’t met, I start to jump up and down and whine and say, “No, I really DO want You!” when I sense the sweet nearness of His presence dissipating?

On pondering these questions, I realize am just like a dog and a five year old. I may not make these choices all the time, but I am certainly challenged in my heart to make sure I accept the generous gift of God’s presence in my life DAILY in HIS way and HIS timetable. It was a warning to be careful of self centeredness that so EASILY creeps into my heart and actions.

I pray these real life experiences remain as a challenge to my heart this year and all years going forward.

I want Him just because He is God and He is enough. That plain and simple.

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How We Are Doing

I have had several people mention to me that they would like to hear how we are doing. Honestly, there has been a bit of activity here at our house and I haven’t been great in keeping up with this blog. Also, I like to write from my heart and not feel overly rushed…which makes for longer lead times in updating this blog!

I am doing pretty good over here. I have found myself to be a little extra tired lately even though Baby J is sleeping quite well at night. I assume that’s due to the baby growing in my stomach! I also find myself getting a little edgy at times. I have never been a perfect angel as a mom. Yes, I do raise my voice at my kids even though I hate that about myself. Yes, I do lose my patience and show it in my face and tone of voice. I have to remind myself, on the other hand, not to be too hard on myself as most normal moms struggle with these same things and I also have a bit extra hormonal energy surging my system. Sometimes I will think I am developing more impatience and really it is me needing to be aware of my pulsing hormones and to not trust my feelings at the moment. Hormones are not an excuse, but I also don’t need to tell myself I am a bad person either!

My husband has been a saint! There are areas of the house I normally handle that he has been covering for me. Having a newborn, being a little over 6 months pregnant and two young children can be tiring in and of itself. Trying to keep up on our roomy house is a whole other level! I do what I can and Jeff has been able to help me with the rest. He especially helps me keep up on the laundry. He washes, dries and folds the laundry and carries it to the second floor so I can put it away! All the laundry! He often helps with dishes and has even helped me do a detailed vacuum on all three floors on occasion. He is the BEST cleaner and if only he could do everything in the house, you would all be amazed at my spotless home (which is not something I can say for my house at this time)! 🙂 He has now created a ritual for me on Saturdays. I don’t have to do any dishes on Saturday. On Sunday morning, he cleans every dish from Saturday and cleans the kitchen for me. I kind of smile at him when I put a plate on the counter on Saturday. I tease, “Oh yeah, I don’t have to do the dishes today!” He always says, “That’s right!” He is such a great husband and I am so grateful for him!

Little Brother and Little Sister have been doing really well. We feel like we are seeing yet another level of “improvement” with Little Brother. We went through a season of him getting his name on the board every day at school. We were consistent in how we handled it and did everything we knew to do. It was stumping us quite a bit that he wasn’t seeming to connect the dots between his behavior and consequences. Then, Jeff started waking Little Brother up early every day for school to do devotions with him. He would read out of The Message Kids Bible and say a prayer with him. He has not had his name on the board one time since starting this routine. We have seen his focus and obedience improve and he has begun to mature before our eyes. I used to think it would take years before he would stop kicking, hitting and biting us. Now, I am amazed at God’s work in his life! He is a normal boy! We have to tell him to stop half of what he is doing, but that is pretty normal for boys. Ha!

Little Sister has become quite the personality over here. She always had a little bit of spunk in her personality. But, wow, is it starting to really bloom! She has begun to reason things out with us and we are teaching her perimeters on what is appropriate to discuss with parents and what is not. For instance, if I tell her to do something, it is NOT appropriate to tell me she is not going to do it. LOL! She can be a bit smart for her britches sometimes, but is equally just as adorable. We know this testing of her limits is part of her normal development as a three, going on four, year old. As long as we are consistent, we will see her bloom into a polite little girl and still keep her cute spunk! She has a soft spot in her daddy’s heart and I will often hear her ask Jeff (in front of me), “Daddy, can I have a piece of candy?” Or fill in the blank with something they assume I would say no to at that certain point of the day. So funny!

Baby D has been kicking away. For so long I didn’t feel it when I was told I should be feeling it. Then, all the sudden, BAM BAM, BAM BAM BAM. I felt kicks! I feel them often now, though I don’t chart them. I still find it so hard to believe I have a baby growing in my stomach and it is all really happening. Something I had hoped for so long is now actually happening! As of now, we have not had one complication in this pregnancy and I can only give praise to God for that miracle!!! It is hard to believe I am only a few more months away from giving birth! I am due April 3rd, but who ever delivers their baby on their due date?! It could be a full three months more and then we’ll have four on board! Wow!

As for Baby J……
Right now as I type, Baby J is sleeping in a bouncy chair on the dining room table to my right. He sleeps in perfect peace, one edge of the blanket next to his cheek and his opposite hand over the other half (the way he likes it). He is full of smiles, coos and giggles when awake. His personality is coming out more and more and he has been such a delight to have in our home. Jeff loves to talk baby talk with him and has become buddies with Baby J. Little Brother and Little Sister love having him here and have often admitted to me that they hope he can stay. I always tell them I hope he can stay too, but we just don’t know what will happen… I am aware that my hopes are quite selfish compared with his unknown future and all God has for him. Understandably, my hopes are limited to what I can see now and not to the big picture of what all God has for the remainder of his life.

He had another visit with his family last night. For the first time I felt separated from my emotions a bit. I was somehow able to leave him there for 4 hours and do things with Little Brother and Little Sister and not feel overly emotional about it. I think part of the reason I handled it so well is that I aware of the facts of his case. No matter how things look on the surface at the visit, I am aware of how much work has to be done for him to be able to go back to birth mom. I will not go into details at all. It is just a general statement that there is a lot to be done. The only trump card is his extended family and if they want or are able to bring him in. So, I knew that after those 4 hours were over, I would get to pick him up and bring him home and he would be with us for quite a bit longer.

The other thought I had, regarding feeling emotional separation during his visit yesterday, kind of scared me. I remember feeling this way when Big Boy had to leave our house. Somehow, God was able, by His grace, to allow me to emotionally separate from the idea of him being with us forever when he had to go. I still loved and cherished him as much as ever, but was somehow able to let him go. It was clearly a miracle God did in my heart. I had the fleeting thought last night that maybe Baby J is going to have to leave us soon and God is preparing my heart. I have no facts to base that on. I don’t even know if that fleeting thought is accurate! I just know it scared me because I can’t imagine our family without him. I know God fills in all the healing we need when children have to go, but I still can’t imagine my arms without Baby J in them! So, I was scared at that thought, whether Dana derived or not.

As usual, we place our trust completely in God KNOWING He holds ALL things in His hands. There is no other option and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, that is pretty much a brief snapshot of what is happening in our home and lives at this time. I am so grateful for all God is doing!!!

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The Ultrasound

Oh my, it has been soooo long since I have posted a blog.

I wanted to take an opportunity to explain how our ultrasound went when we found out the sex of our baby.

First, here is a picture of me at 21 weeks. I am even bigger now – oh my – but here is a little update on the belly action. 🙂 Never thought I would be so proud of a big belly! ha!

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It’s a Boy!

We found out today we are having a boy!

Definitely a blog entry to come on our ultrasound experience, but for now I am too tired. 🙂 ‘Twas a loooong day today. 🙂

Can’t wait to update you all!

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