#wearethefosters

Life has been an adventure around these parts the last 3 weeks or so. We got our license to foster parent in writing just about a month ago. Dec 4th.

It was a Wednesday.

Then we spent the entire weekend wondering if we would get a call. And we did not. It wasn’t disappointing of course, it was just nerve-wracking. We had our dear friend’s oldest daughter who goes to college in a nearby town over to our home all weekend so she could rest, eat real food, and I could do her laundry and buy her groceries. Just loving on her. So we were busy. But it was on our minds.

Then the call came. Tuesday, Nov 10th.

Our sweet, sweet littles came into our home that night. Late that night. They were tired and for sure a little bit scared. I fed them some animal crackers and milk and whether they were stress eating or really hungry, I couldn’t quite tell, but they munched for a long time while we got to know each other a little.

“Princess” is 4 1/2.  But really she is more like a very young 2-3 year old. She is verbal, but can be very hard to understand. She does not have most of the developmental markers of a 4 year old. We have no idea yet if this is due to an actual delay, or if she just hasn’t had the right stimulation/environment to nurture her along. She is also in 2T clothing, so it helps to remember her developmental stage, since she is so tiny. She is truly delightful and we are enjoying loving on our little Princess.

“Dash” is 2 1/2. But he is really more like a young one year old. He is also very small – wearing 18 month clothes and even they are roomy. He is smart as a whip, just like sister, but when he came to us he only said the following words:

bye, hi, drink, no, and he could sign ‘more’.

Since living with us, his speech has improved dramatically and his vocabulary has increased by at least 100 words. It’s been awesome to watch.

Highlights:

Emma & Timmy adore Princess & Dash. They dote on them and snuggle with them and tell them how much they love them. This was exactly what we were hoping for when we made the decision to bring children into our home for whatever season God had in mind.

Princess & Dash are both incredibly happy. They have adjusted really well to life in our family. It’s been kind of ridiculously easy. Natural. Right. Even things like family prayer every night, they each get settled in for it and can’t wait to bless everyone. Tonight we skipped because we did evening mass & devotions around the Advent dinner table and at bed, Princess couldn’t stop blessing me and asking for blessings. Beautiful.

Everything is just more fun with littles around. Going for a walk, going to the park, going to the store. Everything is more fun. They are so adorable, and so easy that we spend a lot of time giggling. Giggles are a balm to the soul.

and

Lows:

All.The.Diapers. I mean, for real, that’s not really a low, but kind of. I mean, we haven’t had diapers in our home for nearly 8 years and so this is just a bit of an adjustment.

All.The.Plastic. I am working really hard at doing some things differently than how we did with our littles – you know because you learn some things along the way. And as we get older, you know, things just shift. I love wood toys and soft felt things and creative experiences instead of plastic and lights and sounds. But then life happens and people are generous and give you things and you pull out the toys and they love them so much, that you just clean them up again and stick them on the shelf and you acknowledge that perhaps you have bigger fish to fry.

Mom. The kids call me Mommy. And mama. So when I talk about Mom, I am talking about the dear sweet woman who gave birth to these two sweet souls that sleep in the other room. Those sweet souls who call me Mommy and look to me for comfort when they are sad, or for just an extra touch of security when we are out of the house and they want to know I am still there. Friends, this is by far the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my entire life. I still simply cannot wrap my mind around this reality. It seems so completely impossible to me that some where tonight there is a woman whose children are absent from her life, from her home, from her sight and that she is so broken that she doesn’t seem to care. I am not saying she doesn’t care. But when you are supposed to have the first visit to see your children the week of Thanksgiving and you cancel, it really makes it seem like you don’t care. And my brain? It CANNOT figure that out. This tragic world has got me completely wrecked. And so I just do the next thing: I feed the children, homeschool the olders, fold the hundredth load of laundry, bathe the children, rock them to sleep, sing them all the songs, and pray my guts out over them. Then I crash into bed and do it all over again the next day.

Because really, I can’t wrap my brain around it. So I just live it.

All in all, our season of life, our experience of foster parenting thus far has been nothing short of miraculous. While I cannot wrap my brain around the tragedy of the situation itself, it is not lost on me that I am participating in the very real work of the Gospel and that is humbling and encouraging in a way that is just so authentic. I have never felt more fully alive. We are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing and for that I thank God every moment.

This video speaks to what foster care means when lived as a calling for the Kingdom.

You are not foster children, you are engrafted into my home.

I am your Mama. Everything that belongs to me, now belongs to you.

Same way with the Kingdom. Now you’re engrafted into the Kingdom of God and everything that belongs to the Kingdom of God belongs to you.

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Paper Pregnancy

waiting

There is no question.

Pregnancy is hard. Gestation. Growing a human. Your body is pushed to the limit and your mind races with worry of the unknown, and add to that the excitement and anticipation of the day that baby FINALLY comes into the bright shiny world and you hold her in your arms.

No one would argue that those days and weeks near the end of your pregnancy are the hardest. Every day it’s own marathon. The slow-walking waddling, the never-sleeping, the hungry-but-full, indigestion, leg cramps, get-this-baby-outta me, when-are-you-due days….

The days are filled with last minute getaways with your husband, washing and folding and prepping of the layette, stocking the freezer with meals, and praying… lots of praying.

Some people call adoption “paper pregnancy”. It’s a catchy phrase that helps to bridge the gap in understanding between what it’s like to wait on a biological child to be born into the world and waiting on an adoptive child to be born into your home. There are so many similarities, really.

While we wait for our adoptive children to be born into our home, we prepare just like any other parent. We paint rooms, we pray, and we lose sleep both in excitement and in anxious anticipation of the unknown ahead. I remember a conversation with my mom when we first explained what we were going to be doing and she asked us if we were sure, because you don’t know personalities and what if you don’t really gel?? I remember it being like a lightbulb that went off in my head: how is that any different from biological pregnancy? There are no guarantees. Plenty of biological families have struggles and personality differences and things that they face that they never would have said yes to when they were pregnant. That’s just life. More and more our passion grew for the children who, through no fault of their own, have lost their family.

As we wait to foster and adopt kids from hard places, there are a few marked differences, however.

Instead of prepping a layette, we wash & fold 20 bins of clothing of every size for boys and girls.

Instead of doctors visits and hearing the heartbeat, we have interviews and unending paperwork.

Instead of stocking the freezer, we measure ballusters & windows, lock up medicines, collect  “stuff” for every age and fill our homes with 5 twin beds and two cribs because you never really know what life is going to bring, and count smoke detectors for our homestudy house inspection.

Instead of people asking when we are due, folks stop us in church to ask us if we have adopted yet. I can’t help but look around at my crew and think to myself some sarcastic remark: “Yes, but we left those other kids at home since they aren’t really ours.” But that really wouldn’t help anyone and I am afraid my sarcasm would be lost on them.

Instead of allowing us to be “paper-pregnant” and let God do his thing with bringing us the child we were meant to parent, people see sibling groups up for auction on facebook (which is almost always bogus, by the way) and think that perhaps we’d like to peruse a catalog and shop for some kids…. “Um, I like this one, but do you have it in any other colors?” (Insert sarcastic eye-roll here)

Instead of a baby-shower and a meal train, we get intrusive questions and patronizing pats on the arm: “At least you have the two you have,” and everyone feels the need to share with you the most horrific adoption story they have ever heard of: “Are you sure you want to do that?? I knew of a family who adopted this one child from foster care and he set their house on fire and killed them all in their sleep.” Awesome. Thanks for sharing. I will keep that in mind when I am catalog shopping: “No murderous arsonists, please.”

Instead of congratulating us on the gift we await, they tell us how lucky that child will be to have us. I.can’t.even. If they only knew the redemption and grace that these children will be for us. We are not saving anyone but being saved ourselves. This is going to just have to be another whole blog post in and of itself.

Perhaps the most marked difference is the timing. Those last days and weeks of a physical pregnancy are excruciating because you are counting down the days and hitting a wall of exhaustion. You may feel impatient, but objectively, we all know that you will give birth and that baby will in fact be in your arms within a week or two of your due date. There is a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. But imagine if there was no known end? Imagine if you got to the 9th month and your doctor called and said “I’m really sorry to tell you this, but there has been a small delay on our end while congress is out of session for the holidays and we are going to have to put off delivering your baby for at least a few months. We’ll be in touch.”

We have been waiting to adopt, with many kinks and turns in the road for the last decade. We have announced our paper pregnancy countless times and waited for the child to be born into our home. We know now that this broken road is one that God brought us on to prepare us for the mission he is calling us to… which is to adopt not an infant, but a sibling group. Of 3-5 kiddos.

Cara and Eric Taylor's Christmas card and adoption announcement

You read that right. 3-5 kiddos. We are pregnant with quintuplets. Of varying ages and unknown genders. Kids who are coming from chaos-ridden homes whose stories of loss and trauma we will never fully comprehend. When it comes to the nesting instinct, which is in overdrive… I am at a loss. I don’t know how many children we are waiting for. I don’t know their gender or ages so I cannot prep their bedrooms. I cannot buy them clothing. I don’t know their personalities or their likes & dislikes, and I don’t know their story that has brought them to our front door and into our arms & hearts forever. These unknowns creates a tension deep inside and is a universal experience for adoptive mothers.

But perhaps the thing that unites us to our sisters who will only ever give birth from their bodies, is the prayer of a mother’s heart.

A biological mother is…

Praying the baby comes soon but not too soon.

Praying that she is healthy & whole. And that if she is not that you will be equipped to carry that cross.

Praying that your body can do what it is supposed to do during labor & delivery.

Praying your body can withstand the trauma of being torn open as you release this new life into the world.

Praying that your family receives the new babe with as much love as you have had grow in your heart these last months.

Praying that your heart doesn’t break when that baby’s heart no longer beats beneath yours but out of you in the cold, hard world.

Praying that all this child’s hopes & dreams come true.

Praying big things over this new life that came from love.

An adoptive mother is…

Praying that her child will be home with her before his next birthday… a milestone which marks another year without a forever family. 

Praying for the woman who has given birth to the child that will call her mom.

Knowing that your child will come to you broken. Perhaps physically, but almost always emotionally. So you pray you will be equipped to carry that cross.

Praying that your body can withstand the physical ache of a child who will undoubtedly utter the words: “You’re not my real mom.”

Praying for grace for the everyday.

Praying to be made worthy of the privilege to raise another woman’s child as your own.

Praying your heart can withstand the trauma of being torn open as you recover this tenderheart from the hard places and walk with them towards towards healing.

Praying that your family receives the new child with as much love as you have had grow in your heart these last months.

Praying that your heart doesn’t break when that child’s eyes reveal the hidden tapestry of pain and abandonment that only a child who has been taken away from his parents can know.

Praying that you will one day genuinely love this child that has been entrusted to you.

Praying that you will be able to get out of the way and not be an obstacle to them experiencing the joy & healing balm that awaits them in a home full of people who are committed forever to this messy beautiful thing we call family.

Praying that your bio children will accept and love these new people in their lives that we are calling their siblings.

Praying that calling them siblings will make it so.

Praying that all this child’s hopes & dreams come true.

Praying big things over this new life that came from love.

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United in prayer for my sisters and friends who are expecting a child in their womb, and a child in their hearts. Motherhood. Any which way it finds us, it’s a blessing.

Family Camp week one: farm to table

Next week we start family camp in the casa de chiklettes. 

Week One: Farm to Table 

Some of the planned adventures include:

  • Menu-planning
  • Strawberry picking
  • A visit to a local dairy farm
  • Farmer’s Market
  • Cooking lesson
  • Taste-testing 

 

    Faith component

    Growing up I went to an awesome summer camp where we learned all kinds of fun songs and graces. I am planning on teaching my kiddos a few of these silly graces as well as making the habit of praying the Angelus before meals. To me, nothing reminds me summer camp more than the Angelus prayer before meals.  Except maybe campfire…. But we’ll get to that.  

    We will also learn about the patron saint of farmers, and learn the prayer for a bountiful harvest. 

    Service component:

    We will make a meal for a family in our community who could use one and we will take some time to bring food donations to our local food bank.