It’s been 6 days since Little Miss has joined our family, and 13 days since we got that initial phone call that made us aware of her existence.
I’m sure you have noticed that my blogging has been on the back burner, and that I’ve been maddeningly short on details. I thought I would give a little update of how things are going, as well as try to answer some of the questions that I get asked frequently.
Last Sunday I got home from my conference, and we visited Little Miss one last time.
On Monday, I secured a babysitter for Tera (HALLELUJAH thank you Laura and Austin!) and drove the 10 miles to pick her up. If you are wondering where Theo was…I’ll give you one guess. That’s right. At work. But at least this will make a great “when Theo is Gone” post!!! On that day, I literally took a precious baby right out of her mother’s arms. The mother was weeping, and I was doing my best to hold it together as well. It was raw, and it was real. And from what I have heard, that is not how most foster placements happen! I drove home to the waiting Tera. Little Miss screamed the whole way home and I honestly wondered what I was getting myself into.
I am so thankful for Austin and Laura who stayed with me on that first evening until it was time to put the girls to bed. Little Miss cried a lot, and it was so nice to have extra hands to hold her and also to entertain Tera. Austin and Laura brought me caffeine, chocolate and dinner. I owe them BIG TIME when their own kids come along!
The rest of this week has just been adjusting. Adjusting for me, adjusting for Little Miss, adjusting for Tera, and adjusting for us as a family of four. In many ways, its just like having a second child in the home. We are up at all hours of the night. I am struggling to find a schedule that works well for both girls, I am trying to manage two different types of meals at about the same time. I am trying to teach Tera to be gentle, and help her to learn that she is not the only person in our little world anymore. In many ways, it’s much easier than giving birth to a second little. I haven’t gone through 10 months of pregnancy exhaustion and pain, we didn’t just go through the marathon of labor and we didn’t have to upend our routine for a several day stay in the hospital. Besides the lack of sleep, I’m feeling great! However, there are other ways that make it harder. We all have to bond. I didn’t know of the existence of this little girl until 13 days ago. She didn’t know of my existence until I took her from her mother and brought her home. The transition is similar in many ways, but also very different.
Little Miss is adjusting, too. She has been through a lot in her first three weeks of life, and she needs a lot of cuddles and soothing. She is a fierce little one, and her lungs are in excellent working condition (sorry if you are one of my neighbors!). She seems to be coming through the worst of it, and we hope to only see improvement from here on out!
Tera is doing GREAT. She has suddenly grown into a full-fledged toddler. She has done so many things in the past week that make her seem so grown up! I’ve been teaching her to throw her dirty diapers in the trash can, and the other day she picked up one of Little Miss’ diapers and threw it in the trash can! She has also been very helpful in burping Little Miss. While I burp her, Tera will come up and add her own taps on Little Miss’s back! So sweet! Tera is also excellent at sharing her toys, and she will pile her books and toys and dolls all on top of Little Miss if I don’t watch carefully! Tera is not a very gentle girl, and head thumps are her favorite form of love, so I’m pretty much constantly busy with crowd control when both girls are awake and in the same room!
This was after night one with both girls. A feeding at 8 pm, 11 pm, 2 am, 5 am, 8 am and 8:30 am. Now that is exhausting!!!
So here are some of the questions that I have been asked. I’m still trying to figure out a balance of keeping you all in the loop with foster care, and yet being respectful of the fact that their are other families involved in this situation, and I am legally bound to respect their privacy. As always, if you have any questions…feel free to ask them. I may have to say, “I cannot answer that question.”, but at least you asked!
What is her story?
I get this one a lot. And to be honest…I cannot answer that question. The answer that I’m supposed to give is this: “Little Miss’ parents are in a place in life right now that they cannot take care of her. We are simply stepping up to take care of her while her parents work towards getting their lives to a place where they are able to care for a her.” That is all of her story that we are supposed to share.
What is her name?
Her name cannot be shared online. If you meet her in person, you will know her by name, but I cannot share on my blog or on social media. I can share over text or email. For now, she will be “Little Miss” online.
Why can’t you share her name/pictures?
There are several reasons for this. First, we are not her parents. We are simply her guardians. For that reason, we are not legally entitled to take her photo and share it. For any of my teacher readers, it’s the same reasons that you can’t take pictures of your students and post them online. Rules, rules, rules!
Another reason is for her/our safety. This little girl was taken away from her Momma, and her Mom is only supposed to have supervised contact with her. If she was to find me online by googling the babies name, or her specific details (birthday, birth place), that could turn into a very sticky situation. Mom could know where we live, for one. Which is kind of scary. Mom could look for updates on where I will be with the baby at a certain time, which is also kind of scary.
A third reason is to protect us if we were to go to court over this baby. Anything can and would be used against us. A picture of Theo throwing Little Miss in the air could be used against us as abuse/negligence. Trust me…it sounds a little ridiculous, but we have to be overly, overly, overly cautious.
Again, I can share her name with you in person. And I can email or text pictures to you (as long as I trust you enough to not put them online). The issue is with social media/public profiles/searchable terms, etc.
Does she/you have contact with her parents?
Yes! She does. We have visitation 1-2 times a week. We take Little Miss to visitation and meet her Mom there. We leave her for a few hours so her Mom can have (supervised) 1 on 1 time with her. We will never meet in a setting without a supervisor, and Mom does not have any way to contact us, unless she goes through the agency.
We have not yet had any visitations yet, so I don’t know how that will go.
How long will she be with you?
Short answer: We don’t know.
Long answer: Little Miss’ Mom has some pretty serious life decisions to make. It will probably take her a while to complete the case plan that is laid out for her. That being said, we will probably have Little Miss for close to a year. Once a little more time goes by, we will see how Mom is doing and go from there.
If for some reason Mom can’t/doesn’t start taking steps in the right direction, somewhere down the road her parental rights would be terminated. At that point Little Miss will be a ward of the state and will be up for adoption. The first people they will ask to adopt her is us. And if all that happens, our answer will yes. But for right now the plan is not adoption, although that could very well become the plan down the road.
All that being said…nothing ever goes according to plan in the world of foster care. Someone related to her could step forward to take her, Mom could “earn” her back, or she could stay in our care for a very long time without getting adopted. We don’t know….only God knows.
For now, we are working to bond with her no matter the outcome. Yes, I will be heartbroken and devastated if she is taken out of our home. But going into this, we know that is the likely outcome. So we will carry on each day, and love her as our own and just trust that God knows the outcome and will lead us all through whatever that is.
What can I do to help?
Thanks for asking! We have had SO MUCH help. It is completely blowing my mind. People keep saying, “Good for you!”, “That is so amazing!” “You are a superhero!”. We are only responding to God’s call. And we are not doing it alone. From meals, to gifts from the store, to flowers ordered all the way from Africa (thank you, Kindrea!!), to friends popping over to just hold a little one or burn some energy from Tera. Honestly, we are not doing this alone. And we will continue to need your help.
I recently published this blog post that lists some ways that you can help foster parents (not necessarily us, but all foster parents). Honestly, what we need is this: people to come over and hold Little Miss while I make dinner, or play with Tera while I take care of Little Miss. We also desperately need alternative caregivers (the fancy word for foster care approved babysitters). I can’t have just anyone watch Little Miss, they have to complete a packet of information and a background check so that the state knows she is in good hands :). If you are willing to be an alternative caregiver, please let me know!
Can I still come visit you?
YES!!! You can! You can come over just as you would have before! You can hold Little Miss and play with Tera, and you can stay for at least 13 days! 😉 If you want to stay for longer than that, you will have to get fingerprinted and submit a little packet of information.
Will you be fostering more children?
This was the first question our caseworker asked us! He said we had impressed everybody in the system, and that if they needed to place another child, we would be the first name on the list. This made me want to cry….it was so overwhelming! No pressure! Here’s alllll the kids. No seriously, I was overwhelmed. Our answer was……. “maybe”. At this point, I would not take any more children until we get a little more adjusted. Once we get adjusted to this, that is a different story! We will most likely be fostering many more children in our future. We are legally allowed to have several more placements, but we will just take it one step at a time. And for now…that is just Little Miss!
And let me just tell you one little story of how God has beautifully ordained this whole crazy wild ride! On Monday, right before I went to pick up Little Miss, our neighbor rang the doorbell and gave me this gorgeous arrangement of flowers. Tears sprang to my eyes and I asked her, “How did you know?”
“Know what?” she asked. And then it dawned on me. She had no idea we were getting a little baby girl later that day. She said she just saw the flowers and thought of me. There is no such thing as coincidence. Um…thanks, God.