Thursday, April 12, 2012

gray area

Don't know if you've been in the market for baby clothes recently or not, but I keep stumbling on a new, unexpected problem...
I didn't realize how seemingly 99.9% of all infant clothing these days are decorated with words.
And 99% of those words are about mommies and daddies.
Never noticed?  Didn't care? 

Well, now that we're in this foster care world, it's constantly sticking out to me like a sore thumb and it's surprisingly hard for me to find clothes for this tiny babe that are neutral in this area.  Apparently clothes with words and funny sayings are more prevalent now than when I last bought baby clothes six years ago.
It's not just slogans and sayings like "50% Mommy + 50% Daddy = CUTE!" or whole t-shirt things like that... it's also a cute little polka dot outfit with simply a tiny little bug or cupcake or penguin on the chest with a little tag stitched under it saying "i love mommy", "mommy loves me" or "my dad's cool".

And while I have no doubt that this little girlie we have here has a mother and a father who really do love her, it's a little... awkward(?) to have that splayed across her clothes right now.
I'm not quite her mama, but yet her own mother has not seen her since she was two days old.
And I'm not comfortable "labeling" her as "daddy's girl" or putting words in her mouth, so to speak, about how her "dad rocks" or that her dad is cool, when frankly her father's behavior is anything but cool right now.

One of the first things I bought when Miya first came to us was a three pack of cute little onesies bundled together; one has polka dots (I fell for the 'hug me' on it!)(a rare, non-mommy/daddy worded one!!), one is covered with little elephants, and one says "i love my mommy"...

...the first two have gotten lots of use and I so far have left the i love mommy one on the hanger.  
Because I don't quite know what to do with this gray area right now.

Our Resource Parent Support worker came over for a visit today and she called me Miya's mommy.
She was holding her and talking right to baby Miya about how lucky she was to have a big sister and brother here to love her. And when Miya got fussy a bit later on she handed her over to me saying she must be ready for her mommy to hold her again.
That really threw me off.
I know I'm her foster mom, but I haven't really let myself think of myself as "mommy".  Or refer to the other kids in any way as her siblings.  I have referred to Ryan, speaking to Miya, as The Daddy... but it was THE Daddy- as in, he's the dad around here, not a more personal, attached, Daddy.

Three weeks in and I tell her all the time how pretty she is, how special she is, how glad we are that she's with us and I tell her many, many times that I love her.
But I don't tell her I'm here to stand in for her as Mommy.
I just can't voice that yet.
With us not knowing what her permanency plan is yet, I just haven't let myself go there.  And I've felt rather lucky that she's young enough that we haven't necessarily had to label things yet as far as what she should call us, you know?

Honestly I just can't wait to get to the next court date and [hopefully] finally know whether we get to love on this girl for only a matter of a few days longer or if it will be months.
And y'all probably don't have to guess which it is I'm hoping for. ;)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

you just can't know

That's the one thing that was playing in my head all through our state training, all through the phenomenal conference we went to last fall, all through these months of preparations, and most definitely all through the evening yesterday:  You just can't know.
When it comes to this crazy world of Foster Care and Adoption and how we will navigate this as a family and how our home functions as we open it up to the unknowns and what God will bring to our plate... we can't know.  Any of it.  How bad could it be?  How good could it be?  Which child is right for us?  Which child(ren) are we the right place for?  Where do those two align?  It's impossible to think about.  So many things we just can't know 'til we get there.

Add one more to the list...
I've also realized I couldn't know how that first placement call would go and how I would feel about it.

We were notified of our approval late on Friday.  Our home was officially open for Foster Care placements.
Monday I got a call.
Fast, much??

We have specified that we would take any race, any status (re: parental rights and permanency plans) and either gender preferably under the age of 6 (trying to maintain the birthorder already in our home) with very few red flag situations that we would turn down right off the bat (for the safety of our family).  We are also in consideration of  sibling groups of two or three and an exception to our age parameters might be made there...  Meaning, we would consider, say, a ten year old connected to a preschooler and/or infant, etc.

So the call Monday was for three girls coming into care.  Three of five girls actually, ages 3 to 11.  The three-year-old had some major physical needs and they had already found a place for her and a six-year-old sister together.   Because they weren't even attempting to find someone willing to take five girls together, the youngest of which has special needs.  So that left a seven-year-old, an eight-year-old and an eleven-year-old and they were hoping we might take them.
Our first thought was "three kids... to start with??".  We don't know what we're doing here and they're throwing three kids at us?!!  And three that are as old and older than our kids at that.
But still, we talked it over a bit, discussed and I prayed about it (for the all of 15 minutes in between caseworkers' phonecalls!).
I ended up telling the caseworker no; that starting out with three made us a little leery and the fact that they were all older than our parameters had me hesitating and we would have to pass on this situation for now.

But when I hung up I felt torn.  Honestly I felt horrible.
Did I really just do that?  How can we possibly turn kids away??  Just because that situation would fill up our house and our car and our table immediately, no easing into things?  Or just because they're older and maybe not as cute and unscarred as a baby might be?  Just because it isn't what we "wanted" and it might be a crazy hard way to start out this foster care adventure or it might not be "convenient" for us this week?  Just because I have a hard time picturing us being open to the possibility of adopting three pre-tweens at this point in our life, and simply don't want to be the first of many homes to shuffle them around since who knows what will come of it? 

No matter how I tried to word it; the situation wasn't for us... we didn't feel comfortable with it... the situation didn't fit our parameters... it just wasn't right for us... what stuck out to me, and what I was most convicted with, is that it all comes back to US, WE, OUR, US.  Did you see those words in those sentences??
And how selfish is that?
There are five girls taken away from their mother's care, in a situation completely out of everyone's control, having to be separated from each other on top of that and feeling completely scared and lost.
And I basically said we just don't want to help.


I prayed for them all last night.  All night.
We chose not to take them in and I believe, in the end, that was what we were supposed to do.
I'm choosing to believe that God had a different family prepared for them last night and that these girls will be as safe and stable as they can possibly be in this situation.  I have to believe that.  And pray for that.

But in saying no to that placement, the Lord broke a little bit of my heart last night for these girls that I don't know, and prompted me to change the way I look at this process.
He's reminded me that -hello!- this is not about us.  This isn't about who we "want".  This isn't about how these kids will fit into our family.  I'll let God take care of that; and trusting that He'll change our hearts or change our routines or change our whole little world to accommodate things that might look different than the picture in our heads if need be.
What this is about is the kids.  It's about how we can be there for the kids.  Kids who need a family to be there to support and love them in that moment.  In whatever way we can.  And that as long as we CAN, we are called to do so.  Even if I can't quite see what that looks like on this side of things.

That is not to say we'll take in anyone they put in front of us... obviously we have parameters that need to still be in place.
But I do know that I'll be looking at it from more of a truly "are we able to be there for this child?" mindset the next time I get a call rather than a "does this work for us right now/does this fit our guidelines?" view. 
Because yes, it has to be good for our existing family... it needs to be right and it needs to be doable and I'm not going to completely disrupt and derail our lives intentionally for something that's not going to be good for anybody.
But.  With that said, I do have to remember that it's okay to be uncomfortable... it's okay for us to be inconvenienced and challenged and stretched.
It's worth it for those kids.
A little bit of stability for them should be worth a rough or crazy week for us.
A little peace of mind for them should be worth the inconvenience for us.
Offering hope and what respite we can in their bleak situation -and a hug if they'll take it-, should be more than worth a little extra stress in our lives.
We can handle it.
Scratch that- God can handle it.