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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Exchange

Well, the meatballs I planned to make for dinner may never get made, we were busy driving to Starbucks at rush hour instead to meet Sweetie (not her real name, obviously). She had fallen asleep in her social worker's car and was NOT interested in waking up when we arrived. It was a strange experience, signing papers in the rain, loading a couple of bags, and taking a child. I wonder what he thought, the man carrying a gas can who had asked for money to fill his tank. Did he continue to watch? Did he know what was happening?

She hardly said a word as I buckled her in our van. But as I pulled out of the parking lot, Capper initiated, "What's your name again?" and that started one of the most adorable conversations ever conducted! I wish I could have recorded their sweet banter as they chattered the whole way home.

The evening was fun, we skipped AWANA so Sweetie could have some time to adjust. It's clear she has been loved and cared for, we don't know her past  story (and won't be sharing it when we do learn it) but I am thankful we get to be part of her current story. As for her future, only God knows how long she will be in our home but we will love her as long as she is with us.

First Placement

Making her a sign while we wait
Oh yes, now I remember. Dealing with the social work system is a whole lot of hurry up and wait!! It felt like forever that we've been assembling paperwork and applying for our foster family home license. On Friday we were told it was granted...then we waited the weekend to hear more. On Monday (right after the last post) a placement worker called but she was easily confused and pretty unorganized so she said she would call back. I waited. She didn't call back Monday, or Tuesday, or this morning...but this afternoon she called again. And within an hour I had a placement letter in my inbox...I guess this means we're getting a child in our home tonight.

What seemed like forever (really only an hour or so) I had another call from the child's social worker saying he was getting her stuff together and he'd be heading out in 15 minutes or so..."Oh! Ok! So I guess I'll see you then." Of course I was late picking Capper up from preschool (I wish I could say it was the first time) and soon we'll meet a little 4 year old girl who needs a home for a month or two.

Let the Royal Expansion Adventure continue!!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Licensed

An email, just a quick note to say that our foster care license was on its way. We had been approved. The Placement Coordinators (social workers seeking homes for the children brought into care) would be notified. It came during our drive to Great Wolf Lodge for our family adventure celebrating Capper's 4th birthday. What a great time we had, swimming, splashing, eating ice cream, and playing! But I kept wondering- what would it be like if we had another in tow? Who will be joining our family soon?

We are back in the waiting game. Waiting for someone to call or email seeking a home for a wee one (or two). I imagine what it will be like, but the images keep changing, will we welcome a baby? A toddler? A preschooler? Our license is for up to two children ages 0-6 years old. I wonder how long they will be with us. Will it be for a week or two? Maybe a few months. Maybe a few years. Maybe we will adopt them into our family forever.

On the drive home Daniel and I touched on the ambivalent feelings we have. On what it may feel like if they leave our home. A lot will depend on where they go from us. A lot will depend on how long they are with us. But we will choose to support their transition, even if we don't agree with it, we will choose to support the children who enter our home and the journey that the court system sets them on. We will do what we can to adjust that journey, but sometimes I think we may just have to swallow our feelings and choose to support their journey.

There was a time when I sought to control every part of my life...but we are at a place where I've long  loosened my grasp. In 2 Kings 13 we can read of a young ruler who was grieved, knowing the prophet Elisha was at the end of his life. Elisha told him to throw down arrows. The ruler threw three and Elisha became upset, saying he should have thrown 5 or 6. You see Elisha was a prophet who held nothing back with God. He was persistent and he made lofty requests. Did this young ruler have 5 or 6 arrows in his quiver? Did he hold on to a few, keeping them in case they were needed? I recently heard this story and was  challenged to hold nothing back, keep no arrows in my quiver but exhaust all that God has given me. Afterward, Daniel and I talked, we felt we could honestly say we're throwing all of our arrows right now. This is the year for TRUST, this is the year that we throw all our arrows and see what God brings about. I have a feeling we might embark on quite a ride this year, but just a Capper felt at the end of the huge waterslide at Great Wolf Lodge, I know we'll be glad we took the risk!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Our future back yard
These two are enjoying the property until we can move in.
"Did you say you were building a house?" Well, yes, kind of...hoping to build one at least! After lots of pricey consultations and land studies we have yet another proposal in to the health department for a well and septic system layout. Thanks to our INCREDIBLE General Contractor (thanks Dad!) we might actually be moving forward. If you are wondering why it is taking so long, I don't have an answer, I can just tell you to ask anyone else who has tried to build in King County in the last 20 years...maybe they have an explanation for why the county is so difficult, but I doubt it! We're praying this proposal gets approved at which point we'll apply for building permits! Yay!

We have finished the homestudy process for foster care. The social worker has come out to our house for her required two homestudy visits and has looked inside every cabinet and closet.  Back to living in a fishbowl, once you're a foster parent nothing is private! We've signed agreements about supervision and following the licensing rules and agreeing to only let one kid  trampoline at a time (initially we were told no trampoline for foster kids but we convinced her to make an exception). Our social worker has asked us a million questions (maybe only a hundred but it seems like a lot!) and she is writing up the homestudy document. Once the document is written we will review it, after that she will submit our entire packet for approval.

I'll keep you updated if we have progress in either of these areas!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Transition

We started 2015 with baby chicks, they were a few weeks old but still chicks. New life, excitement at the year that we would shine "BRIGHT." That was the word for the year, bright. The previous year had been so great, moving closer to family, the birth of our third child, Anellah starting kindergarten and loving it! And then 2015 started with a hospital stay in Spokane. Anellah's liver disease had moved to the next level. And as I drove alone from Spokane to my parents' cabin an hour away, I cried. I cried and grieved that life would never be the same. Nothing was final but in my heart I knew that nothing would be the same.  Wise council reminded me that rather than try to "look on the bright side" that night was a time to sit with my grief. Sit with my grief and deal with the fact that we would never live abroad with Anellah, that we would never travel far from hospitals with Anellah again.

But life did get back to "normal" off and on. Anellah returned to her beloved school and the rest of us returned to a schedule too. We planted a garden and went frog hunting. We baked cakes and cookies and had Grandparents and Great Grandparents over for dinner. We did craft projects and read books. Anellah learned to read. Capper turned 3, Anellah turned 6, and I turned 30. I realized that I had my "three kids before 30" that many women hope for. Life was pretty good again. Then in April, slowly, things changed. It started with a cold that turned into a sick household, and a few stomach bugs and I was tired. I wanted to leave the house but there was always someone sick or asleep. And then Anellah got really sick. And we were in and out of the hospital for a few weeks...until we finally left for the last time. But we didn't leave together this time. This time she went with Jesus and Daniel and I went with each other.

So I grieved again. This time many grieved with me. Some might say the bright light had been snuffed out, but ironically in those months it seemed to shine even brighter! We celebrated a beautiful life. And we remembered her, when we rode bikes in the driveway, when we baked cakes, when we played. We remembered her when we went camping, and had swim lessons. And I still don't think more than a couple days go by when Capper says, "Anellah and me used to..."

Looking back on 2015 I'll always feel my heart burst and be torn apart simultaneously. It was a year of tremendous growth...because the real work of growth comes during the challenges. It was a year of perspective shift, a reminder that life is both too short and far too long at the same time. It's too short to sweat the small stuff and too long as we yearn again to see those we love who have passed. Looking forward I feel ambivalent too. I hate to leave 2015, it's hard knowing that each day that goes by brings you farther away from the last moment you spent with your child. But I'm also really looking forward to 2016. I'm looking forward to Capper's birthday adventure at Great Wolf Lodge. I'm looking forward to Capper and Evelyn continuing to learn and grow and laugh every day. I'm looking forward to expanding our family through foster care. And I'm looking forward to more growth, different growth, growing in my TRUST. That's this year's word, TRUST.