foster parents & family & friends.

I’m not sure if I have written about this topic before. I vaguely remember mentioning it before, but I don’t think I’ve dedicated an entire post to it before. I could be wrong though.. I can barely remember anything these days.

Either way, I need to talk about it again. I need to talk about our family. Our friends. This time last year, we were telling our family and friends over Christmas break that we were going to become foster parents. That’s how we said it: We wanted to let you all know that we are beginning the process of becoming foster parents. We didn’t ask them if it was okay with them, we didn’t ask them what their role would be. Of course, we wanted their opinions and support, but whether or not we pursued it was not up for discussion.

A year later, and we’ve already had five children come into our lives. It’s crazy to think about. And you know who has been greatly affected by it? Our families. I never thought about it, really. When we said goodbye to little love.. our parents said goodbye too. My dad still talks about how much he loved her. In fact, someone in my life seems to mention her almost every other day. My point is that our parents didn’t sign up for this. We did. We decided we would suffer through goodbyes if it meant following Gods calling for our lives. We decided we would spend lots of money on diapers and formula and babysitters. We decided that we would deal with doctors appointments, therapies, visits with parents, social workers, home visits, and about a million others things. We knew it would change OUR lives drastically. We knew we would make sacrifices when it came to time and friendships and sleep. We talked about all the “costs,” but were really quick to determine that loving these kids was worth it all.

Our families and friends didn’t get to make that decision. They didn’t get the chance to say, “Hey, I’m okay with it too.. I think I can say goodbye. I think I can get attached and heal too. I think I can make sacrifices too.” I don’t know what I would have done differently. I guess I would have made this decision more of a group one and more of a conversation, but honestly, I know the outcome would be the same. My point of it all is, even though they didn’t choose this life, they are in it with us. SO many of you are in it with us. And I couldn’t be more thankful. I am torn between feeling guilty for bringing so many along for this crazy difficult ride, and feeling thrilled to see people coming together to love and support children in need.

My husband has worked seriously like 24 of the last 36 hours. And it’s continuing today. He also was really sick right before that. You know how my family responded? Welcoming the girls with open arms. Letting me get my first full night sleep since they’ve been here. Changing dirty diapers. Changing dirty diapers 10 minute later when they pooped again. My parents.. who already raised three girls. They are way past this stage, and yet they are willing to wake up every three hours two nights in a row because they know we need a break. Oh and let’s not forget that my husbands parents have let us borrow their cars with no notice when we call them freaking out because SOMETHING else went wrong and/or broke in our lives. The struggle is real in that department. Thank goodness for rentals.

My sisters. My younger sister babysits. All. the. time. My older sister does not live in this country, but she was home when we had little love. She took her to the doctor with me, she waited hours for medicine with me, she played musical instruments with her and loved her (even if she doesn’t like most kids). Both of them have made sacrifices, both of them have had to say goodbyes, both of them have had to see the harsh reality of what foster care is and how it affects these children.

Our friends. Whether it’s play dates, emotional support, sending food, making us dinner, offering to come over and watch the babies so I can take a nap, they are there. Our friends have rallied around us in such amazing ways. My friends at work have basically provided clothing for all of the foster children we have had. They’ve donated TONS of things to the Village. They have printed sub plans, helped with my students, kept me on track when things come up and I’m having a hard time at work. They’re never mad when we bail on something, or when we have to have children tag along on our time together.

I guess what I am trying to say is this: My husband and I made this huge decision that we thought would change OUR lives dramatically. Neither one of us really thought about others in our lives. Sounds pretty selfish. I didn’t consider the tears that would come from my family when we had to say goodbye. I didn’t consider what they would have to sacrifice in order to be there for us and to support us. But here everyone is… sacrificing and supporting. I know this blog post can’t possibly explain the gratitude that I feel.. but it’s a start. Foster parenting takes more than just two people. I am so thankful for all the people in our lives that have joined us in foster parenting. It’s changed our lives in a huge way.

 

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I have this thing about doing things well. I’m not perfect.. in fact I’m super unorganized, forgetful, constantly flustered, and about a million other things.. but I like to be the best I can be. 

I try to be the best teacher I can be.  The best wife I can be. The best friend I can be. The best mother I can be. You get the picture. Honestly, I think we all try that. Or at least we pretend to try. But man.. After these past ten days, I am totally failing miserably. 

With twins in the picture, I’m struggling to keep up with work. I’m lashing out at my husband and my parents because I’m exhausted. I don’t see my friends as often. I am not as patient with my students. I think I wouldn’t feel as down about it all if I knew I was at least doing one thing really well. Like, if I thought I was being a really amazing parent to these two babies, it would be okay that I was struggling in other areas of my life. But unfortunately, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything with great success. Don’t get me wrong.. in general I think I’m a pretty decent teacher, a good wife, a loyal friend, etc. But today, right now, I feel like I’m just holding on. 

I wasn’t willing to admit it. For whatever reason, I have it in my head that because I chose to be a foster parent, I can’t always be honest about how it’s going. As if, because we chose to say yes to these babies, we can’t struggle. It wasn’t until my mother in law told me it’s okay to not be okay the other day. I really got to thinking about it. Yes, we chose foster care. Yes, we said yes to twin infants in the midst of our crazy lives. But people choose things every day. And they struggle! If I chose to have a child biologically, I could still be very honest about how it was going. I don’t know why I have it in my head that I have to be okay and I have to hide some of what we’re going through. 

Real talk: these have been some of the hardest days of our lives. Every single aspect of our lives changed dramatically when we said yes. And we are still adjusting. I love these babies so much.. we just found out we will have them at least a week longer than expected and I teared up with joy. We would say yes again tomorrow. But. It’s hard and we are struggling. And I had to decide that it’s okay. I am living day to day right now, maybe even moment to moment. Honestly if I think past a day it all gets a little overwhelming. 

God doesn’t always call us to things that come easy to us or things that would be convenient for our lives. Right now, He’s got me in a place where all I can do is desperately lean on Him. There is absolutely NO way we could do foster care without our faith. And if at the end of it all, if God uses these babies and sleepless nights and hundreds of loads of laundry and the constant smell of spit up to bring us closer to Him.. I’ll be thankful. And I think I’ll finally understand that Christ’s power is made perfect in our weakness..

just the four of us. 

the four of us. I can’t get over it. Right now, I’m using my phone to type this. I have one baby sleeping in my arms, and another one sleeping right next to me. Our world has been flipped upside down this week.. And it is the hardest, best thing I’ve ever been a part of. In an effort to finish this post before the babies wake (and let’s face it, I have no idea how long that will be), here are the highlights: 

  • We got a call last week asking if we were willing to take in two babies. We said yes. 
  • We feel a little crazy, but we have a lot of trust in our God. 
  • I thought I knew what tired was. I spent the past two and a half months waking up at 3:30 AM to get to my trainer, work all day, and then do whatever activity I had after school. Exhaustion seemed to be a part of my life already. Man.. I was wrong. There is no tired like this tired. We are adjusting but realistically know it might get worse before it gets better, seeing as we’ve only been parents of two for less than a week. 
  • We are content being foster parents. These babies have made people curious as to when we will have biological babies. Not yet. We are happy with this complicated, heartbreaking, incredible life we are living. Of course they make me want to have a baby to snuggle 24/7, but hey, right now I have two 😉 
  • My husband rocks. I knew that, but it’s been reiterated again and again these past five days. I can’t get over how many people were shocked when I told them he was home with the girls the past two days. Everyone responded with something along the lines of, “Wow! That’s impressive!” or “My husband/boyfriend would be way too scared to do that!” So. My husband is a rockstar. And I’m thankful. 
  • Babies have a lot of stuff. My house is a disaster zone. I don’t know how to do ANYTHING at home that doesn’t involve diapers or bottles or rockers or onesies. We have apparently forgotten how to remember grown up things like taking out the trash or keeping up with the mail or grocery shopping for anything other than baby items. But despite all that, my heart is full. 
  • I took a break this week from my early morning workouts (okay all workouts.. let’s face it). But this whole “I don’t always eat because I forget and then hours pass and then I fall asleep” diet is working pretty well. 
  • My feelings change by the hour. Happy. Terrified. Encouraged. Supported. Lonely. Overwhelmed. Grateful. Honored. Thinking of saying goodbye to these babies already crushes my heart. I am so in love with them. Thinking about not saying goodbye to these babies crushes my heart even more. A momma somewhere is missing out on precious moments with her children. And I’m cheering for her – completely – to get them back. And yet I feel like I’m stealing from her. Stealing the joy of her babies, the moments that she’s missing. But I so badly wish I could tell her that we are FOR her.

Foster care has totally wrecked me. I will never be the same.