Wow, here we are. I can’t believe that today marks one year that R2D2 has been with us!
This is the longest we’ve ever had a placement and truth be told: we’re pretty attached to him.
The last year has been a rollercoaster of emotions, mainly because we have no idea what is going on with R2 in regards to how long he will be in our home. It feels like we just wrap our minds around one idea (like him staying or him going home soon) and then it changes.
A couple of weeks ago I figured he would probably be out of our home by the end of February.
Since I shared a mini update last week we’ve had a little bit more of an update.
There are a few different “options” floating around out there:
- BB8 goes home in about a week. (This would be the ministry’s ideal)
- BB8 goes home in about two weeks.
- BB8 AND R2D2 go home in about two weeks. (This is a possibility, the ministry may decide that if it’s safe enough for BB8 than it’s safe enough for R2.)
- BB8 goes home in two weeks like #2 above and then R2D2 stay another couple of months for things to get into a routine before he joins BB8 at home. (This is the one their social worker is pushing for.)
That all being said, this depends on things “going according to plan”. There are people involved in this plan and if they don’t follow the necessary steps or things go downhill in some way this could totally change. In that case their would be a fifth option:
5. BB8 and R2D2 are here long term. (This is the last resort, the ministry’s goal is always reunification.)
Fostering has been a growing experience for our family in the last year and a half.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s something we are particular good at nor do we feel like God has called us to it.
We are doing it simply because we see a need and we have the space.
I don’t think a person needs to feel called to foster. The Bible tells us time and time again to look after the orphans and fatherless, if we are Christians we should be doing that in some way.
It’s not something that’s a calling, it’s already been commanded.
That all being said. If R2 and BB8 end up leaving our home I’m not sure what we will do.
After we saw Buzz and Woody go home so suddenly and then end up back in care a couple months later we’re actually leaning towards taking a break for a few months so that incase R2 and BB8 end up back in care we can take them back right away.
That all being said, we really have no idea what the future holds. But whether or not we have another foster placement we’ve already said, if these two go home and then end up back in care, there will always be a place for them in our home.
Or they may be here for years. Only God knows and only time will tell!
P.S. I’m planning on sending out my first personal newsletter in a long time, hopefully today if life and babies allow. At this point I’m hoping to send one out every three months or so and then maybe increase it to once a month when we don’t have an under one year old in our home. If you want to get the newsletter, sign up here.
I had full intentions of writing a fostering update today. Next Saturday marks one year since R2D2 came into our home, I guess I’ll write that update next week, for now, here’s a mini (or not so mini) update.
On Wednesday we got a call and on Thursday R2D2’s little sister came into our home. In sticking with the Star Wars theme, her nickname online will be BB8.
BB8 was our one exception when we changed our range of acceptance last year.
She isn’t quite six months old and as of right now we have no idea how long she’ll be here.
I’m hoping to have more to share in next week’s update but I just wanted to share this for now.
Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us on our fostering journey!
If you are curious, our foster care timeline is here.
Yesterday marked a year since we had our first foster placement and I wanted to share a bit of a review of the year and an update since I haven’t shared a fostering update since May!
This year has been the hardest year I’ve had in a long time, but honestly, also probably the most rewarding.
We honestly feel like so many others we know would be much better at this fostering thing than we are, so, we are praying God will work in all your hearts to take the step to get approved for foster care. Just a heads up for when God starts nudging you. 😉
AN OVERVIEW OF THE YEAR
BUZZ & WOODY
A year ago we had Buzz and Woody enter our home. They stayed for 3.5 months. In so many ways we were ready for a bit of a break after them, we were exhausted! But, on the other hand, it felt like we were just getting somewhere with them developmentally and then it ended.
We knew they were working towards reunification with family and we were happy for them but at the same time their transition was very abrupt and without warning.
Our first real experience with realizing you just always need to expect the unexpected with foster care.
You can see all the posts that mention Buzz and Woody here.
Then we decided to take a little break, we wanted it to be a month but it ended up being a whopping six days before we welcomed R2D2 into our home.
Little R2 is actually still with us – it’s been about 8.5 months now.
It is looking like he will be transitioning back to family and he will probably be gone before Christmas. But, who knows with foster care!
We have so many good experiences with R2 and interactions with his birth family, I wish I could gush about it all here but for privacy reasons I’m not really allowed to say much of anything.
We have loved this little guy and it will be hard to say goodbye but at the same time I am really rooting for those working to get him back. That has been one of my biggest surprises with fostering, how much I am cheering for these birth families.
You can see all the posts where R2 is mentioned here.
For six weeks – from the end of March to the beginning of May – we also had little Cece.
We thought we would attempt a younger placement, six months old, and that did not work out well for us.
I have friends who love the 0-12 month stage (and one of them is in the process of getting approved to be a foster family!) and I’m so thankful for these people because that age group is so not for us.
We made the incredibly hard decision to ask for Cece to be placed with a different foster family.
You can see all the posts where Cece is mentioned here.
There have been many good things to come from this last year . . .
We have learned compassion for others like never before.
We have learned to love and show love to every child that has come into our home.
We have seen these kids come to love us in return.
Our kids have learned responsibility in a way they wouldn’t have without fostering.
We have learned flexibility and to expect the unexpected.
We have gotten to know birth families and to show them love.
Phew! This year has had it’s ups and downs. There have been many hard parts to the year.
It’s so minor but not being able to show the faces of these sweet children here on the blog or on social media is really hard!
We’ve been tired and at times, down right exhausted.
We have felt utterly overwhelmed.
We have felt alone.
We have seen people intentionally try to keep their kids away from our foster kids.
We have seen judgement in the eyes of others who don’t understand the stories these kids come with.
We have had to say goodbye without warning.
I have been faced with my own selfishness, not just once or twice, but again, and again, and again.
The saddest part of this whole year is finding out earlier this week that Buzz and Woody are back in care.
My heart breaks for these boys and what they’ve all been through. All the transitions that they have had in their short lifespan . . .
It’s not their fault but they have suffered.
I would love it if you would prayer a special prayer for these boys, and also us as we consider having them back in our care.
I have prayed many prayers in regards to foster care in the last year.
I keep praying for more families to take the risk, to show Christ’s love to those in need of a home. Honestly, we feel like some of the least qualified people for this “job”. We aren’t very good with kids, this doesn’t really fit in with any of the gifts we feel like God has given us, but we have seen the need and know that with a lot of God’s help we can love the kids that come through our doors.
I have been praying for birth families in a way I never expected. I have an alert on my phone that pops up at 1:00 every afternoon to pray for R2’s birth family and I think that has played a huge part in how we have such a good relationship.
And I continue to pray for these precious little kids. They have struggles as a result of the trauma they’ve been through, and it’s so hard to see because it’s not their fault. They are paying for the poor choices of their families and I pray so much for their little hearts.
Thanks for following our foster care journey, we would love and appreciate your prayers as we continue down this road (and we would love to have you join us!).
This weekend is Mother’s Day weekend, so it feels pretty ironic that I am writing a post about feeling like a failure when it comes to mothering.
The timing was not planned.
I admitted here right off the bat that we were struggling ever since Cece was placed in our home. Our struggles were much more with ourselves than with her but for a number of reasons the placement was not a good fit and yesterday she ended up moving on to a different foster home at our request.
This was not a simple decision.
It was the right decision for our family but I still feel guilty.
I feel like I failed her.
But, having her here was really affecting our family, we didn’t want to take two placements after our time with Buzz and Woody but because we struggle with saying no we did anyway.
So, she moved to a different family. We still have little R2 and for the foreseeable future we plan on sticking with just one foster child at a time.
I really don’t know what else to write, I’m still processing a lot of this but wanted to share this part of our foster care journey here for now while it is fresh.
Welcome to a day in my life! I share a bit about our homeschool and foster care journey. If you want to see more videos like this, please let me know!
If you found the video interesting and/or helpful and would like to see more in the future please let me know!
About two weeks ago I got a call from our social worker asking if we would be willing to accept another foster care placement. According to her they were planning on shutting down some emergency homes due to COVID-19.
We agreed to have kids presented to us and we could decide on an individual basis if we would say yes to a placement or not.
Later that week we got a call about a seven month old boy that we ended up saying no to. Mostly because he was not a great sleeper and lately R2 has been having some sleeping issues, and the only room we have for foster kids involves them sharing a room. (And if the babies aren’t sleeping, than I’m not sleeping and that’s not good for anyone in the house!)
Then last week we got a call about a six month old girl.
We do feel like taking just one foster care placement of one child works best for our family (and it helps if they are as easy as R2) but I thought with COVID going on and my complete lack of responsibilities and expectations outside the home, this would be an okay time to take another placement.
We were told this girl (who we’re calling Cece) sleeps well, so we said yes.
Guys, it’s been ten years since I had a baby this age! I totally forgot how this stage works and I realized we have none of the stuff needed for this age.
She didn’t come with any kind of schedule written down (and she came to us from a place that could have done that), they didn’t say when she last ate or napped and she didn’t even come with a bottle! (Thankfully I found a bottle in R2’s stuff that he’s not using because I’m trying to keep the trips out of the home to the minimum right now.)
Currently neither of the two littles are napping well during the day at all. And the little napping they are doing does not overlap. On the positive side they have both slept through the night 50% of the nights she’s been with us.
R2 and Cece are a year a part and this is closer in age than I’ve ever done before. And I’ve never had two in diapers at the same time (I changed six poopy diapers today alone!). Cece can’t sit yet and is pretty much only happy if she is standing, I hear she likes the jolly jumper, we’ve got one ordered and it should be here in a few days, but for now my back is killing me trying to hold her while she jumps. Oh, and have I mentioned that R2 still doesn’t walk and he’s jealous of all the attention Cece is getting?
Honestly, I’m overwhelmed.
Also honestly, it doesn’t take much.
I feel bad saying this because I feel like it’s taboo for women to say but I am just not a baby person. I’ve probably only volunteered to hold people’s babies like five times in my life.
If you are wondering why a person like me is fostering, don’t worry, I’m wondering it too.
For years I struggled to find ways to serve that worked with my gifts but in the last couple of years I’ve come to realize that one of my spiritual gifts (and Jared’s too) is/are service. I am willing to fill in when there is a need, even if it is not something I am super qualified for. It’s why I do a lot of things that I do.
I don’t think it’s bad to serve in areas that don’t come easily, I think we can have seasons of huge growth when we do so, but I also think it is a lot easier to get burned out when doing so for extended periods of time (ask me how I know).
There are lots of reasons I don’t want to admit that fostering is hard for me. And it mostly comes down to my pride. I have friends that have way more kids than me and foster on top of it and they don’t seem to struggle nearly as much as I do. I often mentally think If they can handle XYZ, why can’t I handle just Z that I have on my plate?
But God hasn’t made us all the same, we don’t all have the same limits, the same gifts, the same amount of patience, etc. We are all unique creations, and that is something to be thankful for, not something to get down about.
In this short adventure of fostering I have often wondered why we are doing this. Why did we take action when I so many people who are much more gifted and qualified for this role?
And now with this pandemic going through the world and so many people are finding themselves with more time on their hands, I’m wondering, why did we say yes? Why does it feel like we always choose the hard (for us) path?
I know God has a purpose behind this all, and it may end up being something obvious down the road and it may not, and I know I have to be okay with that.
I definitely know this journey has already driven me to pray in ways I wouldn’t have even thought about before. I am praying for children, for birth mothers, for social workers and for more people in my life to take action and become foster parents.
Our province is in desperate need for foster parents, when I was looking up stats last summer I read that there were something like 5,000-6,000 kids in care in the province and just over 500 foster homes. That averages to TEN KIDS A HOME! Obviously they aren’t all in homes and that’s incredibly sad (but also understandable, because there is no way we’re taking another eight kids on). So, I’m praying for more people to open up their homes, because if we can do this, pretty much anybody can.
This got a little long winded for a post that was just supposed to say that we have a new placement but I’ve got lots of thoughts and feelings on the subject and it feels good to share some of them.
If you have been thinking about being a foster parent and serving the hurting in your city in that way I would highly recommend getting in touch with social services and seeing how you can get more information. I don’t know what our local social services are doing now in regards to approving foster homes during COVID but I’m afraid they’ll lose a few homes during this time and if they aren’t training and approving new ones they are going to be in an even tighter spot than they already are.
If you’ve made it this far, I’m surprised and probably shouldn’t ask for a favor, but I will anyway, will you take some time to pray for us today? And if you’ve thought about fostering at all, pray for that as well.
So, I thought it would be interesting to document some of the ways the Coronavirus has been changing our life.
I’m curious if when we look back years from now this will just be a little blip in our lives or if it will have affected every day life.
When I was a teenager I used to keep a journal, but in the last few years this space has become my journal so this is where I will document it.
Just a little timeline to start:
Monday, March 9th – friends who were in China but had spent the last number of weeks in Thailand due to the virus were on their way home. I met some ladies from church at the friends’ house where we dropped off some groceries so they would have some food when they arrived home the next day. These friends had chosen to do a 14 day voluntary self quarantine so they wouldn’t be leaving the house. I was with a bunch of introverts and we were jokingly asking how one gets a 14 day quarantine. At this point COVID-19 was very much something overseas, not something we were actually thinking would come to us.
Thursday, March 12th – our province got it’s first case of COVID-19 (someone who got it while travelling and then came home).
Friday, March 13th – things were really starting to blow up locally, Jared brought his laptop home from work because he didn’t know if he would be going to work on Monday. That evening the university announced it was cancelling all in-person classes.
The next week other school institutions followed suite and by the end of the next week all schools, colleges and universities were closed.
HOW LIFE HAS BEEN LOOKING:
+ we are pretty much not leaving our house except to get groceries and go for little walks around the block. As of yesterday, March 25th, our city had closed even closed down all playgrounds.
+ the last two weeks we have joined our church services thanks to the power of the internet. I think most churches still had in-person services that first week but because our church rents a building from a school and they cancelled all building rentals we couldn’t.
+ last week temperatures were still quite cold, with some mornings still being -30 with the wind so we haven’t been getting outside as much as I would like. That being said, I have never seen so many people walking around my neighborhood, normally the number of people outside ramps up in the beginning of the spring, but generally it’s not this early when the temperatures are still as cold as they have been.
+ Jared is still working (what a blessing!) but now instead of having an hour commute in his day he just heads down the hall to his office. We like having him at home and this is way too easy to get used to. Plus, he made us oatmeal cookies before our church service on Sunday, we’ve got to keep him around.
+ this pandemic has also affected the foster care world quite a bit. One such way is that our social workers are only doing the most necessary of visits and all family visits are cancelled. There is a visiting suite where we’ve taken our little guys to visit birth family before and those have closed down and our worker informed us that even those who were doing non-supervised visits cannot do those any more. My heart breaks for these birth families who are cut off from their children.
+ being cut off socially as we are we’ve been very grateful for video chat. The kids have each been able to chat with some friends and for the last two weeks we’ve met with our church community group this way. It’s nice being able to check it and see how others are doing.
+ while our friends were still in self-isolation after international travel there were a couple of times where I went and picked up some groceries for them. Self-isolation grocery drop off looks like putting the groceries on the front step, knocking on the door and then waving at them through the window.
+ our homeschool hasn’t looked a whole lot different (other than the lack of outings and hanging out with friends), the kids still learn about what sounds interesting to them (which is currently a lot of science videos on YouTube) and they have been playing Lego together for hours and hours.
+ there have been so many times were I’ve thought “Is this real life?”, this is just such a weird state we are living in.
+ this has allowed for some extra reading time, so there’s a fun bonus! I’ve also made a couple of extra book-ish videos.
Honestly, as a pretty hard core introvert I can’t say I’m sad about this social distancing.
I’m sure I’ve missed some ways that life has changed but this is the general idea for now. It hasn’t been that long yet, it’s weird not knowing how long it will last.
How has COVID-19 affected your daily life? How are you feeling about it?
Welcome to week two of this Foster Care Q&A series!
If you have any questions you would like me to answer throughout this series feel free to leave a comment or send me an email.
Today’s question is one that I wondered about before we started and I have had a few people as about.
While we felt like we were being called to foster we also knew that we didn’t want to do it at the expense of our children.
How Has Fostering Has Affected My Children?
And just like the first question in this series, there is no straightforward answer.
I find there are two ways to answer this: 1) on a placement by placement basis and 2) overall.
There have both been some hard and some good things that I have seen come as a result of our foster care experience affecting my kids so far.
Honestly, our first placement was quite hard on our kids. It wasn’t all hard in a bad way, hard things make us grow, but there were some negatives to it.
It wasn’t until Buzz and Woody left us that I realized Ephraim’s funny personality had been gone for the three months they were with us. Part of this was because of the responsibility of no longer being the youngest and part of it was because Buzz kind of smothered him – always following him around playing with (and breaking) Ephraim’s toys. It was a major adjustment to add a 2 & 3 year old into our family and Ephraim definitely felt it more than Raeca because he spent more time with them.
This was not all bad at all. Ephraim is extremely extroverted and thrives around people, he still misses Buzz and Woody and playing with them but it was an adjustment since it hard for him to ever get any time for himself, something he wasn’t used to since he lived with three pretty extreme introverts for the previous five years.
It was because of this that we decided to change our range of acceptance for the foreseeable future.
Most of how I have seen fostering affect my kids has been very good.
They are learning to take take of younger kids and be more responsible.
They are learning that not everyone has as easy of a life as they do.
They have developed some major compassion.
They not only love on the boys that have come into our home, they are also rooting for their birth parents (even though they also hope the kids will stay here forever).
They also appreciate the time that they can play together more.
All in all there have been hard moments but the good far out weighs any of the hard moments. We haven’t been fostering that long yet, I have a feeling they good list will continue to grow as time goes on.
Curious about our foster care experience? You can check out our fostering timeline here.
If you foster I would love to hear how it has affected any biological and adopted children you have.
I’m excited to kick off this Foster Care Q&A series!
We’ve only been fostering for just over four months and I feel like I’ve been made keenly aware at how desperate the need for good foster families in my province (and I’m sure everywhere else too).
Just a warning, if you talk to me and express an interest in fostering I will try to talk you into it. Now you can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Prior to fostering I had a lot of questions and hesitations. With this series I hope to answer questions people have asked me as well as questions I was asking before we started (and in some cases am still asking!). Obviously I’m no expert, I’ve only got 1/3 of a year of experience under my belt, but I want to both help others wade through the decision on whether or not they should foster as well as be honest about our journey.
So, I’ve got a list of questions (and feel free to leave a comment and ask more questions, I’ll add them to my list!) and today I’m kicking the series off with this question that I was asked:
Do you think you would still foster if your own children were younger?
My short answer: No. And Yes.
My long answer is as follows:
A big part of the reason we did not foster when our kids were younger was because our second child came to us via adoption. There is (for good reason) a big emphasis on making sure your child has a healthy attachment when it comes to adoption and I think if we would have started fostering when he was younger he may have felt as though his space in our home was in jeopardy.
When you have a biological child (assuming you are there to raise them for the first few years of their life) they will automatically have a healthy sense of attachment. When you adopt a child at a year and a half who has had a number of different caregivers, who you’ve uprooted from his country and all that he knows, attachment is something you have to be intentional about.
We were very fortunate with Ephraim, he did seem to get it and attach well and quickly to us but I think that is in part because life was very stable for the first five years that he was home with us.
I think if we had started fostering when he was younger it would have been harder for him. He knows he’s adopted and I think things would have gotten a little fuzzy as to why some kids were coming and going and he was staying and would that mean he could leave at any time too?
This was just our particular situation and how we chose to handle it. For Ephraim’s sake I don’t think it would have been smart for us to foster when he was younger, but that’s because of his adoption history, not because of his age.
Now, for the yes side of things.
If we had only biological children or maybe even if we had adopted Ephraim when he was a newborn maybe we would have started fostering sooner. It’s obviously a different situation.
I see a lot of benefits of fostering when your kids are young, like you won’t have the shock of not being able to sleep through the night after being able to do it for years! For that one I think a person is just better off not knowing what they are missing. 😉 (This is kind of a joke and kind of serious. Our first placement didn’t sleep much the first week, our current little guy slept a full 12 hours the first night he was with us, your ability to sleep through the night obviously depends on a lot of factors.)
We wanted to foster kids younger than our own for a number of different reasons (birth order, homeschooling, etc – I could go more in-depth in a separate post if any one is interested) and if you also want to foster younger than your kids that is another thing to consider.
I can think of a ton of reasons for fostering when your own kids are young, here’s a few:
+ there’s the whole, not-completely-out-of-the-sleep-deprived-stage
+ you still have all the baby stuff and probably haven’t gotten rid of it all (twice) like we did
+ you’re still a baby-stage pro and don’t need to re-learn everything
+ fostering will be completely natural to your children
All in all I think what we’ve done has worked best for our family but it doesn’t mean that something else won’t be better for your family.
Have more questions for this foster care Q&A series? Leave a comment below or send me an email!
You can see our foster care timeline here.
Little R2D2* has been with us for almost two weeks now and I’m so thankful he was our second placement.
(*Originally I was going to call him Alfalfa here on the blog but he makes this noise that sounds just like R2D2 and the kids were adamant that his name here had to change, so R2D2, or R2 for short, it is.)
Honestly, if he was our first placement I think we would have been lulled into a false sense of security and feeling like “we got this”.
Our first placement was hard (for us) and now I can say it was a good thing.
We’ve only been fostering for four months and I feel like our two placements have pretty much given us a look at both ends of the spectrum.
I’m also glad we changed our range of acceptance. Not only has a younger child been good for my kids but I find he’s in a very fun stage.
As with most foster kids, he’s behind developmentally. While he’s 17 months in age, developmentally he’s closer to the 11-12 month stage.
He came to us with one word: “uh oh” and in a week and a half had four more: “kitty”, “down”, “tickle tickle” and “go”. He’s a pretty timid child and isn’t walking quite yet but is on the cusp. He’s the fifth kid we’ve had in our home but only the second I’ve had the chance to help learn to walk. (Ephraim started walking about two weeks before we arrived in South Africa.)
We have no idea how long he will be with us, and even if the social workers told us a guess, there’s a good chance they would be wrong. We were told to expect Buzz and Woody to stay for a long time and they were with us less than four months. Sometimes the not knowing drives me crazy but I just have to trust that God has a plan that’s even better than I could imagine.
I’m curious to see where things go from here. I don’t know if we will take another single placement while we have R2 or not (since we are approved for two kids), Raeca thinks we should say no to all placements until we get a girl (she figures it’s time for a sister), if I knew that the other child would be as chill as R2 I could handle it, if he or she was as high energy as Buzz or Woody that would make things a lot more difficult.
Once again, it comes down to trusting God and whatever He has in store for us.
Sidenote: I am hoping to do some foster care FAQ posts in the upcoming months, if you have any questions you would like me to try to answer, let me know!