Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Respite Prep, Head Lice, and Swimming Success

This time next week, we'll either be preparing for our adoptive placement or nursing disappointment. I've been reading and rereading the profiles of the sister and brother. I've kept and every growing list of questions to ask at staffing. I've gotten to visit with my sweet friend who is a licensing/adoptive worker herself and ask her a pile of questions about the staffing. Amos and I have talked through some potential questions and tried to form coherent explanations our very personal relationship to these children whom we've seen but never met. It's stressful to have just an hour to share as much about our family as accurately as possible.

It's not about making the team see our best selves. It's about making sure that they know our true selves- strength and weaknesses- so that everyone involved has the best chance at a successful adoptive placement. 

It's not about passing a test, it's about FITTING-- we either will or won't. I'm not nervous about what they'll think about Amos and I. I'm not really even nervous about the outcome. I'm only nervous about being able to articulate my thoughts clearly. As long as we leave our meeting feeling like we painted and clear picture of our life, we'll have peace.  

In other news-- 

Our respite care has gone pretty smoothly so far with the exception of having to treat for head lice. Lesson learned- find a way to check heads even when they're coming from another foster home. I felt so bad having to send a late night text to their foster mom. These things happen in foster care, but I knew she'd feel bad, and I just didn't want that. As a precaution, we treated everyone and everything, added tea tree oil to our shampoo and conditioner, and I've been checking heads daily just to ease my mind and phantom itching. 

Blondie and Brownie are a week into their stay, and they are still kind and helpful and happy. 

J came home from camp and connected with Blondie right away. She shared her passion for reading, and since Friday, Blondie has been bringing books any time we leave the house. 

Brownie started the visit thinking that she wasn't a swimmer, but today, I watched her swim the entire length of our pool, deep end to shallow, with great confidence. It was a proud foster mother moment for me. As I type, she's jumping off the diving board, swimming alongside the rest of the kids and having a ball! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blondie and Brownie

More sisters are here! Poor Noah hasn't seen another boy in this house since January. He's such a good sport about it. These girls (Blondie and Brownie) will be here for ten days while their foster family is traveling out of state. It's a different world, welcoming slightly older kids (8 and 10) into our family. In a lot of ways, they are SO much easier. No one is hanging on my legs, begging to be picked up. No one needs help bathing. No one needs to be rocked to sleep. On the other hand, they talk more, share more with our own kids, and struggle with deeper emotions than the little ones have. There hasn't been anything truly concerning shared, but a more mature listener recognizes the clues to their story.

Blondie and Brownie are also tragically funny. 

One of the last things their foster mom warned me about was the tendency for Blondie to make up stories. She said, "Only believe about 10% of what you hear." I wasn't quite prepared for the vastness of Blondie's stories. In the first ten minutes, I "learned" that she played the violin, guitar, and drums. She told me that she had a doll sent straight from England where the princess lives. She listed about twelve pets that she had at home as well as 18 siblings. She said was allergic to milk just like her mom. This was all literally in the first ten minutes. Who was I to decide that her tales weren't true?

A couple hours after they arrived, they mentioned that the little sister had a birthday coming up. I asked how soon, and they replied June 20th, which would fall during their stay with us. I certainly don't like to distrust kids, but I was pretty sure their foster mom would have mentioned a birthday. Sure enough, she confirmed the fib, and we both had a little chuckle over the girls' clever scheme. The next time they mentioned the birthday, I asked if it was perhaps on a different date or if someone had written it down wrong at CD. It took about a half a second for Brownie to waiver. Blondie, however, didn't miss a beat.

I'm really not sure how to respond to the exaggerations. So far, I've taken them seriously and occasionally, in a very excited way, asked Blondie to put her money where her mouth is. For instance last night, we got the violin and let her show us her mad skills. She sure did her best, and no one called her out for being clueless. I stepped in and showed her how to hold the bow and rest her chin on the violin. I was prepared for her to shrug me off and claim that she already knew, but instead she gobbled up every last bit of my attention.

Brownie brought a book along that she is to read each night. We sat down to read it together and I discovered that she is very behind in reading. She's going into third grade, but I'd guess she reads at the same level as Miriam who just finished kindergarten. I'm SO looking forward to finding more enjoyable reading for her. Reading science books about coral repeatedly doesn't seem to be sparking her interest.

The difficulty and blessing of having our bio children along for our foster care ride is that the kids play together a TON... which makes it difficult to connect to the kids on a meaningful level. I'm going to make a point to have some one-on-one time with each of them every day- even if it's just for five minutes while we do the dishes.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Staffing, A Staffing!

It's 1:30 AM, I've promised to take the kids berry picking early in the morning, and I can't sleep. I've visited with our adoption worker many times over the last two days. 

The staffing for our sibling group is scheduled for July 1st!!!!
That day, the kids' team members will gather together and interview each potential adoptive family. There are 2-4 families being interviewed. We will have time to ask any questions we have about the kids as well. This is the day we've been waiting for. We'll finally be able to ask the foster parents about the kids' real life and needs.

I was shocked to learn that they will interview all the families interested in the kids and decide which (if any) family will be the most likely fit that same day. Our appointment was originally scheduled for 2:30, which would have given us about an hour to make a final decision about whether or not we could offer a successful forever home. The last time I talked to our adoption worker, she had scheduled us for 9:30 AM instead. In theory, that will give us most of the day to pray, discuss, and discern. And then we'll hear whether we are "the family" or whether we will are meant to be simply prayer warriors for these two kids who have nestled into my heart. If we are selected, the kids will begin to transition immediately. We'll meet them, they'll meet our kids, spend a weekend with us, and then, one at a time, they will come to stay. If we are selected, we will have another child in our home, if not two more, by the start of school. 

I warned myself not to get attached, to keep praying for God's will and not my own. But I find myself planning room arrangements for two more children. And my peace and confidence that we are meant to belong to each other grows in spite of the lectures I give myself. 

Fourteen years ago, my desire to reach out to young women took root. That desire was a huge part of my decision to become a high school teacher. Three years ago, it was the teenagers waiting for homes who tugged at my heart and made tears spill down my cheeks though I never thought I would consider adopting them until my children were grown. A year ago, J asked if we could adopt a girl her age, and Noah asked for a boy his age. I laughed at both of them and said they should pray for what they wanted. And now we're three weeks from a staffing for the very siblings they prayed for.  I can see so many events in our life culminating. So many mountains have been moved, security nets set in place, and affirmations received. And now we wait. We might wait just seventeen days, or many more months. 

Nine months ago, I was so nervous about the idea of adopting a teenage girl, but today I'm more scared of being told that another family has been selected.