I deal with nervous energy by cleaning, organizing, and moving furniture.
This morning we finalized details of our first visit with little S’s foster mom – this coming Sunday afternoon. And I promptly went into the extra bedroom and started moving furniture around. Probably a bit too early. But I feel better knowing that I have gotten started.
I pulled up to the DFCS office Thursday afternoon and of course had no idea who I was supposed to meet. No one had given me the name of the child’s case worker from this county. She was however standing at the front desk when I tried to sign in. Turns out the child’s foster mother was standing right behind us. We were led through a warren of tight hallways. This is an old building. Phones were ringing. Offices were crammed with paperwork. We were ushered into a room stocked with old conference tables, old swivel chairs leaning precariously, an odd assortment of old tvs on rolling cabinets. In the corner was a bright colored rug with the alphabet and a plastic picnic table.
We sat down with the foster mother and looked at each other awkwardly for a few minutes while we waited for all the case workers to arrive. I tried to make small talk. I wasn’t sure what I was “allowed” to ask or talk about. Finally everyone arrived. The boy’s case worker is brand new at the job. She was timid and unsure. Not really a take charge personality. She gave us very little in the way of useful information. After an odd pause I asked if I could just ask everyone questions. Sure, no problem. So I pulled out my notebook and asked everything I could think of.
What is his personality like? How does he play? How does he get along with other kids? Do you feel like he has attached to you? What are his eating and sleeping habits? What about acting out behaviors? I just kept on going. Aaron had questions about permanency. What is the current legal status? What is DFCS plan? Any time line for when they expect to file for TPR? What were the causes of him coming in to foster care?
After all our questions there was another awkward pause. Everyone was looking expectantly at us. What was our decision? We had already talked and agreed that unless something really unexpected was revealed during the meeting we would go ahead and agree to proceed with the pre-placement visits. So we said, “We would like to meet him.” There then followed a few minutes of us and the foster mother trying to coordinate calendars. Apparently we both have a very busy week ahead. No final date for the meeting is set. Maybe next Saturday? We will call the foster mother early next week and set something up.
Foster mother is very protective of the boy. She wants to make sure this is done right. I appreciate that in her. This child is being nurtured in her care, not simply physically cared for.
I then asked, “Could I see a picture?” No one had a picture. Foster mother called her daughter and asked her to email a picture to the case workers phone. It was handed over to me. The first thing I noticed was a gigantic smile. A definite light of personality in the eyes. Sandy brownish hair with a hint of red. A dimple flashing from a cheek. I hold the phone as long as I dare before passing it over to Aaron so he can see.
The meeting is wrapped up. We are ushered back through the maze of hallways. We speak briefly with our case manager in the parking lot. She drives away. I turn to Aaron. Every conflicting emotion I can think up is welling up in me. I want to hug him and let excitement in. But I want to temper that too because we haven’t even met the boy yet. And then fear floods, what if we can’t do this?
We drive to Five Guys and have a juicy hamburger. We discuss what to tell our boys. We cautiously skirt the issues of getting the house ready, and fitting in pre-placement visits, and how the actual timing of this is all going to play out. And as I eat my french fries all I can think is that I can’t believe that this is really happening.
We had a whirlwind week and weekend last week. It was pretty easy to keep my mind distracted and not really think about this upcoming staffing much. Yesterday Aaron and I needed to sit down and at least talk through a few things so we were on the same page before being in a room full of DFCS workers. I started doing some research on toddler transition, attachment, and bonding.
We have quite a road ahead of us.
If this happens, and if we want to do it right (which of course we do), the transition is going to have to be slow, yet intense. What I mean by that is that the recommended guidelines are to have lots of visits, close together, increasing in time, over a period of a few weeks until the toddler feels comfortable and attached to the new home. Obviously we have yet to see if this is what our particular DFCS worker will recommend, but we will fight pretty hard to make sure that we do this as close to “recommended” as possible. This is going to mean a lot of back and forth for us. Extra driving. Pushing back some things on our schedule.
But we really have no idea. I have scoped out the “ideal” in my mind. But who knows what will actually transpire.
Then I started thinking of all this little guy has been through in his short life. How many attachment figures he has had. The things he has seen. And fear and doubt began creeping in. I started imagining all the worst case scenarios.
I think that we are still proceeding in a healthy way. It is necessary for us to do some planning and thinking ahead in the event that this meeting on Thursday goes well and we get the green light. Yet, the thinking and planning ahead have not consumed me the way they did with the other placement. Maybe the fact that I still don’t have a face in mind (we haven’t seen a picture yet). Most definitely the fact that we haven’t met him yet helps me plan without feeling significantly attached.
After the chaos of our busy week last week our house is a complete wreck. So today I am putting my energy into cleaning and getting our environment in order. No matter what happens we can all benefit from a clean, organized, welcoming home.
But I will admit. I am getting a little bit nervous. Any maybe even a tad bit cautiously excited.
Today I want to rearrange the guestroom that will be the new child’s room if the placement happens.
But I won’t.
Today I want to be excited that we may soon be adding a 2 year old to our family.
But I am trying not to.
Today I want to start looking for a crib, and clothes, and toddler gear that I think we may need.
But I am restraining myself.
Today I am going to take a deep breath. I am going to make myself wait until we know the outcome of our meeting before I do any advance planning.
Today I am going to pray for my friends who are in a difficult immigration situation and are meeting with an immigration officer right now. Today I am going to get our homeschool work done. Today I am going to read books to my boys. Today I am going to snuggle and care for another friend’s 6 month old darling girl. Today I am going to try and pull together the last details for decorating the church for an event this weekend. Today I am going to prepare my lesson about Moses and the burning bush. Today I am going to gather little ones around me and pour some love and attention into them. Today I am going to try and squeeze in a conversation with my husband before we fall asleep exhausted.
In the interest of honesty, let me say that today I am having quite the battle in my mind.
On the one hand my mind wants to trust, rest, focus on only today. On the other hand my mind wants to race ahead, control, plan. Today I feel like the battle is especially fierce.
I find the position we are in to be very nebulous. On the one hand we know that DFCS wants to have a meeting with us and possibly place a child with us. On the other hand that meeting has not yet been scheduled and until that happens and we get the final word we really can’t assume anything. Last night I talked to someone who had worked with the same county – they had a meeting scheduled for a possible placement but were never called back and the child was placed with someone else. Of course, my heart sunk, and my mind started racing. And the battle began.
I feel like if this placement is a good possibility then I should start to do some planning, cleaning, organizing, scheduling. But I learned the hard way last time that letting my mind go down that road leads to some attachment on my part and disappointment should the placement not occur. So do I start planning and take the emotional hit if it doesn’t work out? Or do I work really hard to squelch the thoughts in my head and not do anything until we know for sure? Also, I know DFCS. I used to be a DFCS worker. I know that the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So do I keep calling our worker? Can I be politely squeaky? If this child is to be placed with us, the sooner that happens the better. Right?
This morning I texted a friend and asked her to pray for me. I need the Holy Spirit to help me be still. I need him to show me how to walk this path with peace and wisdom.
***Update: After I wrote this got an email scheduling a meeting with DFCS for next Thursday afternoon.
Last night we received an email that DFCS wants to set up a meeting with us to discuss the placement of the 2yr old boy we were contacted about a few weeks ago. I have been pretty proud of how I have been able to not really dwell on this possibility since we learned about it. I really have not been obsessing over details or planning for it. Last night my youngest crawled into our bed at 4am. He hasn’t done that in a very long time. I thought I would fall right back to sleep but instead I tossed and turned. The details about the possibility of having a 2yr old placed here, that I had previously been able to keep out of my mind, came rushing in.
Yet, I still feel pretty calm. I wrote a quick list and was able to move on this morning. All we know at this point is that we will schedule a meeting with the DFCS case managers to discuss the child, his case, and his needs. At that point we will make a decision about whether or not we will accept the placement and at that time a plan for transition will be made. Our last experience taught me that it is pointless for me to try and think ahead. We are at the mercy of DFCS and their schedule. Things will happen when they happen. And we will have to adjust. I also know that I don’t really have to worry about getting the stuff we may need. If we give/get the green light and the placement happens I know that family and friends will surround us and we won’t lack for anything.
This morning there is much to be done in the daily work of our household. School work, laundry, cleaning, yard work are all on the days list of things to get done. Two nights this week we have soccer games. We have our life to live. We will take the next step and see where it leads from there.
This week I read The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriana Trigiani. It is a beautiful book and I highly recommend. However, there was a line that made me catch my breath. The main character has one son, but dreams of having a daughter. Her friend, who has many sons and a daughter says to her, “You never know how children will come to you.” (Those may not be the exact words, I have already returned the book and forgot to write down the exact quote, but you get the idea.) And sure enough, later in the book her friend dies and leaves the care of her daughter to the main character.
I thought this was beautiful and profound because it reflects the way my thoughts have been going the past few years. We will not biologically have more children. I truly have this sense that our family is not complete. However, “having more children” does not necessarily mean that we will permanently add them to our family.
“You never know how children will come to you.”
– I volunteer on Thursday nights at a ministry for kids from at-risk areas. Every week a gaggle of 3 and 4yr olds, many desperate for any kind of attention, gather round me and I have an opportunity to mother them.
– Our church is exploding with young ones. Many of my friends have ones who are littler than mine. I try to make them feel welcome in my home. I try to love on them and build relationships with them. My friends and I joke about how I will be the “aunt” that their teenage daughters come to and talk to when they feel like they can’t talk the their parents. In loving my friends kids I mother them.
– I have a niece and a nephew and a new one on the way. I watch my boys play with their cousins. I see their connection. In being an intentional aunt I mother them.
Today we wait for news about a 2 year old who may be placed with us. We were given today as the day we would get the answer, but who knows with DFCS, we may never hear anything at all. We are heading off to a pumpkin farm with our homeschool group. My friend just had her third baby so I offered to take her other two with us. My kids and her kids are like brothers and sisters. They play and fight and love on each other. My friend’s 2 yr old girl has always had a special connection with me and I love spending time with her. Today I will mother them.
I guess it’s true. You never know when children will come to you.
I have spent some time in the past few weeks sorting through the kids clothes. The process of swapping out summer clothes for winter clothes is always stressful for me. This year a large bag of size 4t clothes mocks me from the corner. Nathaniel has outgrown them and I usually send his outgrown clothes straight on to some friends with 2 boys younger than mine. This year I can’t bring myself to just get rid of them. Because even though I haven’t let myself think about our latest referral much the thought popped into my head, “What if I need them for this 2 year old boy we are waiting to hear about?”
Or what if this boy isn’t coming to our house but in a few months I need them for another boy?
This is one of the small areas that shows how my faith is being built through waiting. I absolutely have to trust that God will provide what we need when we need it. I don’t need to worry or fret about the physical details. I know that as soon as we get a placement I can send an email and my church family will gather around and care for us. I know that if at some time in the future we need boy clothes, that I have already given away, we will have boy clothes.
I am keeping the bag of clothes this week. If this little boy is not placed with us I will graciously pass them on to someone who can use them.
Received an email today that the county with custody of the 2yr old boy is reviewing our file this week. Supposedly we should have an answer by Friday.
I told a friend last week that I obviously don’t feel as emotionally connected to this possible placement as I did before. I haven’t met the boy. I have no idea what he looks like. All I have to go on is a 2 page document that was emailed to me a few weeks ago. I won’t be devastated if we are not “chosen” as a placement for this boy. The part of me that is anxious for an answer is the part of me that is ready to be done waiting.