Thursday, January 16, 2014

Respite Turned Emergency Placement: A Play-by-Play

A Play-by-Play of our Respite Turned Emergency Placement

3:30- listened to voicemail from licensing worker asking for weekend respite care. We call her back, ask lots of questions, and tell her we'll call back in a minute. Amos and I discuss briefly and call back. We tell our worker that we need to be sure our road is passable after the snow/rain and that we'll call her in 10 minutes. On the way home, we talk to the kids about the new weekend plans, ask for feedback and give them time for questions.

4:00- We get home safely and call to say we're on our way. I leave instructions for J to pick up/baby proof while we are gone. Amos and I (along with Noah) pick up a few things from the van and head to Children's Division.

4:30- We arrive at Children's Division and meet the boys and their family members. Noah stays with our worker while we visit with the adults about the situation that led to the need for respite. We agree to keep the boys until after a Monday team meeting. Workers tell us that, depending on the outcome of the meeting, the boys may need long term care. 

4:45- We leave CD, run by Wal-Mart to get snacks and a crib mattress and bedding. We grab chicken and head home.

The rest of the evening is consumed with getting the boys settled, dinner, assembling crib, and bedtime routines. The boys' family calls to say goodnight.

SATURDAY is spent at home. The kids entertain each other for most of the day. I spend my day monitoring, cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. The family calls to check in. After the younger kids are asleep, we have a long chat with Juliet about the possibility of long term care. Big Brother wakes up missing family. We call to let him chat and arrange a park meeting for the next day.

SUNDAY morning we go to church, get donuts, and spend an hour at the park with the family. We learn a lot about the boys, their parents, the case, and the family. We head home to make dinner. Then it is time for school prep and bedtime. The family calls to say goodnight. I wash the boys' clothing, pack their things, and organize the house for the morning.

MONDAY I wake up at 5:15 and get ready for the day. The kids get ready, and I take them to their schools. Little brother and I hang out at home for most of the day waiting to hear when the team meeting will be. Our worker leaves a message indicating that she's like to switch us from respite to emergency care status. I spend a lot of time coming to terms with the idea of long term care. Around 1:00 we get word that the meeting will be at 3. I call to see if my mom will get my kids from school, finish gathering the boys' belongings and head toward CD. The meeting is inconclusive, and the team asks us to keep the boys for another night. We agree to be the boys' long term care providers should the need arise and are told we will know something tomorrow. After the meeting, we gather all five kids and head home for dinner, playtime, and bedtime. Big Brother talks to family to say goodnight. I wash the boys' clothes and organize their belongings for the next morning. 

TUESDAY morning we repeat Monday's school preparations. Little brother and I get groceries. I take him with me to volunteer in Miriam's classroom and then to a play date/lunch date. We go home for nap time, still waiting to hear what is decided about their care. I pick up our bio kids from school and head home. At 4:00, we get a call explaining that there was some miscommunication and asking if we are willing to keep the boys for one more night. Amos goes to pick up Big Brother. We let him choose dinner and play video games until it is time to get ready for bed. The family calls to say goodnight. After the kids are in bed, I do laundry and organize the kids' belongings.

WEDNESDAY morning we repeat our morning school routine. I do my best to get the house ready for our quarterly licensing inspection while entertaining Little Brother. At 11:15 our licensing worker arrives, checks our home and discusses the case, prepares us for long term care and answers a slew of questions. We share what we've seen and learned about the boys and their family members. Little Bother and I run J to an appointment, then back to school. Then he and I visit my parents' house and gather some larger toddler toys from storage to take home. At 4:00, as I am getting kids and toys loaded into the van, the kids' worker calls to say the kids are ready to come back to the family. I leave Noah and Miriam at Mom's and pick up Amos and J. I feed Little Brother in the van on the way, and we are at Children's Division by 4:45. The worker and the family meet us in the parking lot. We switch carseats, say a quick goodbye and are on our way home by 4:55. 


In the handful of days we just finished living, I watched my crazy and very flawed family of five come together in a way I never imagined. Every one of my children embraced our visiting boys as brothers, Amos and I worked together as a team, and our temporary family of seven was real in those brief moments.

My sweet J wasn't sure about this foster family bit a week ago, and now she can't wait for the next placement. She's talking about being a social worker. Noah took Big Brother under his wing and made sure he felt as comfortable as possible. Miriam grew up and assumed her responsibilities as a big sister with grace and humility. And everyone loved on Little Brother like he was their very own.  

Life was busy, but peacefully busy. 
By God's grace, I know in my heart that THIS is exactly where He meant for us to be in this moment. 
We were IN HIS WORK. It was scary, stressful, chaotic at times, but in ALL of that, there was more beauty than I've ever known. 

What God taught me in these days is that there is no truer happiness than in letting go, completely, of our plans and trusting in HIS. 
This life is about living for Christ with RECKLESS ABANDON. 
He knows my children; after all, they are HIS first and forever. He knows my marriage, my heart, and my loved ones. God's plan is a beautiful one, one that can lead everyone involved closer to Christ. I have no words to express how blessed we are to be fumbling through this life in search of HIS path. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Respite Follow-Up

Thanks so much for praying for us over the weekend! Just a quick update for you all. 

We decided that we would say yes to long term foster care if we were needed.

 The boys went home tonight.

It was an easy goodbye. Grandpa was happy and to have sorted through the issue at hand and have everyone back under his roof, and we were happy to see them reunited. 

More details later... and  LOTS of reflections and lessons learned! 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Unexpected Adventure: Weekend Respite Care

A blue eyed cutie is asleep in our crib. His older brother with manners that put my kids' to shame is upstairs with Noah and Miriam resurrecting the Tomas the Train set. We're on respite duty this weekend! 

J was set to have a chess tournament today. With nearly a week of snow days, it was canceled at the last minute and left our weekend wide open for some family time. 

Amos and I decided it would be fun to take off, straight from school, no bags packed, on a family adventure. 

We stopped into Amos' office. I plugged my phone in to charge its dead battery. We started to check weather and decide what direction to travel. A kid-oriented resort. Indoor water park. Bunk Beds. A great last minute deal. We were set. As Amos was filling out reservation forms online, my phone sounded its voicemail notification. And just before we booked the weekend journey we'd chosen for ourselves, the voice of our licensing worker took us on an entirely different kind of family adventure. 

Last minute respite care for two brothers. A Monday morning team meeting. Would we take the boys through Monday. If we were open to the possibility of being long term foster care for them, we were invited to come to the meeting as well. 

It was easy to say yes to the boys for the weekend. They fit into our official age and behavior parameters. They fit into our minivan. They fit surprisingly well into our family. 

So here we are, entertaining two sweet boys who may need a new place to call home come Monday.

Needless to say, there will be lots of praying and observing and listening this weekend. We are officially open to short term foster care (up to 30 days) and adoption of children who have already had parental rights terminated. The possibility of long term care wasn't something we had planned for or prepared our kids for. However, God has been working on our kids, and if He wants us to be in the business of long term care, I have faith that He will equip my family for it.

If you find a moment, we would so appreciate any prayers for our discernment, for the hearts of our kids as well as the two sweeties visiting this weekend and their family. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Catch Up

Quiet months in our home have given me peace about the possibility of huge changes in 2014.  We had a whirlwind Advent. It was more hectic than in years passed. More hectic even though I didn't have my usual girls' holiday trip. Even though I didn't help out with classroom Christmas parties. Even though our new name drawing with my extended family left me with a more simplified shopping list. It was filled to the bring with physical and spiritual preparations for Christ's coming.

This year was our first Christmas without my sweet grandma. I missed our normal quiet Saturday afternoon of dipping buckeyes and coating nut logs with powdered sugar. I missed her final nod of approval after a taste of each recipe. I missed the quiet moments I would have spent sitting beside her recliner. 
But I know she loved all the women gathering in the kitchen to carry on her traditional Christmas candy making. I know she was happy to see her children all gathered together on Christmas Day. She so wanted everyone to keep getting together.

Christmas brought much needed down time. I cuddled my niece and nephew and caught up with my baby sister. J and I organized a group of her friends for a last-minute day in the city. It was so fun to watch the girls ice skate and enjoy their first experience with  fondu. We hosted play dates. I snuck off to the theatre with a mommy friend. We rang in the new year with a bottle of sparkling grape juice. We shared dinner with friends. We got snowed into our little blue house by nearly a foot of snow.

In the middle of all of this life, I find myself ready and anxious to see what God has in store for my little family. We have been blessed with exactly what we needed: a truly peaceful Christmas. Amos and I are more open than ever to God's plan for us. We want the coming months to be filled with lots of "Yes, Lord." and "Here I am, Lord." and "Your will, not our own." We know that a life lived for Christ is where true happiness is found, and we're giving that life our very best (and very flawed) effort. 

In foster adoption news, we are still waiting to learn more about the cute little 7-year-old that we inquired about in early December. We finally received contact from his case worker. Now, at the suggestion of our adoption worker, we are waiting to get his long profile (the one with the real story) before we officially submit our home study. 
Our licensing worker will visit later this week for her quarterly home visit. I couldn't believe it had been three months since we last sat at the dining room table with her. We've had no calls for respite or emergency care. And while I'm feeling excited about helping, I'm keeping in mind that no news is good news when waiting for the foster care call. We are very excited to help but also happy not to be needed.