I haven't talked much about my bio kids, but today, I'm feeling the need to be open and honest about their adjustments. It has been a mess this week.
When I heard that there would be an initial honeymoon phase to each placement, that seemed logical. And when I thought about that period coming to an end, I expected the foster kids to start acting out, pushing boundaries, and being generally less controllable. What I wasn't prepared for is that my own bio kids would also have a honeymoon phase, that their phase, too would end, and that there would be a surge of misbehavior once it did. This week was most definitely the end our our honeymoon in every area.
The sisters were exactly what I expected: more defiant, more difficult to please, and more unhappy. They required more redirection, more affection, more discipline and more entertaining. All of this I was prepared for.
J has been a dream. She is helpful, loving, and selfless for all four of the other children. She has given me hugs when I was losing it and ushered Miriam away when she was needing extra attention. The biggest trouble with J has been my guilt over how much sacrifice she has made. She has stepped up to be a supporting parent, a nanny figure, and I have been so grateful but so sad for her all the same.
Miriam was ready to have her life back this week. She was tired of a three year old who was disagreeable. She was tired of being shoved off of her chair, tired of having her toys taken out of her hands, and tired of NOT being the baby of the family anymore. There were fights, there was shoving, and there were a few times when Miriam cried and asked me if they could leave because she didn't like them.
Noah has been even more out of character than Miriam. I've been on my knees in tears, begging God for wisdom and guidance. Noah has been obstinate. He refuses to follow almost any direction. He gets enraged if he looses a privilege. And he screamed at the girls for wrecking an origami project he was working on. Once, I had to quarantine the girls in my room with a movie to give Noah enough space and time to calm down. It has been a hell of a week with him. I texted my sister during the worst of it, and she wrote back, "Sounds like Satan is trying to kick you in the knees today. I hope you kicked him back!" It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it has helped me tremendously to keep her words in mind since then.
We are by no means through the woods of this transition. There are likely many more growing pains to endure. BUT I have been able to be more patient, more careful with my own behavior, parenting, and reactions to the stress. I've been praying for baby steps forward, and so far, God has been faithful. Today was still full of disputes, but the intensity of bad feelings has been far less that earlier in the week.
Court on Tuesday determined that the girls would remain in the system; the next court date was set for the end of June. For Amos and I, this meant a huge deep breath. I thought I had gotten to a place of acceptance of long term care, but finding out that were were actually living it really rocked my world. I saw our Easter, our family vacation, and a dozen kids' extracurricular events altered. Even though I was aware of the huge possibility that the girls would need to stay, it was disappointing and sad to loose the simplicity that comes with our "base" family of five. It felt selfish to be focussing on my own loss when the girls and their family were dealing with so much devastation, but I think it's important to acknowledge and feel the emotions that come with fostering. Once I sat with the idea for a few days, it seemed less like loss and more like honoring a commitment.
Yes, the honeymoon is over... for all seven of us.