An update on our foster care/ Adoption journey...
The last time I updated we were expecting to have a new placement back in August of a teen mama and her baby. Sadly that never happened. The teen ran away from the place she was at with her baby. Even though we had never met her it was sad to have to let go. I feel like the moment you get the call for a child you already have them on your mind and in your heart.
After finding out that she would no longer be coming to us we were put back on the list for admissions to find us other children for placement. Our phones rang off the hook. We were finally matched with a 15 year old girl and a 16 year old girl. They both moved in right as school started in August. (I really need to be better at updating! haha!)
Our sweet 16 year old, "Miss A" wasn't very sweet the first week we had her. We joke about this now and she says I must have her confused with another kid. ;) She is just like this huge flower....when she came to us she was this angry little bud and now she is this hilarious, vivacious, blooming flower. She is a joy to have in our household. She has two teenage sisters as well who are currently living with another foster family but come and visit us about every other weekend. They are just as sweet and funny! It is a joy!
Our 15 year old "Wonder Woman" has certainly ingrained in our life the power in prayer and that when we have nothing left at the end of the day, when we fall at the feet of Jesus, He is our everything and restores our soul. She loves skateboarding, video games, The Bulls and magic. Ryan's work has opened their magic and costume shop to her to do some volunteering hours. She seems to really enjoy it. Wonder Woman stayed with us until November 14th. Due to some scary and unfortunate circumstances she was moved to another foster home.
Over the past (what seems as a lifetime) three months we have learned and grown sooo much not only as parents but as a couple and in the Lord. Somedays we fall into bed with not an ounce of strength left and tears just roll down my face. Other nights I go to bed with a smile on my face and laugh softly to myself and think...we survived. We have certainly been blessed!!! We have such a strong group of support of other foster families, adoptive families and prayer warriors...we couldn't be on this journey without them.
Things we have learned doing foster care so far....
1. Rules are important. More importantly with teenagers, rules should be in print somewhere. That way no one forgets and there are no excuses. Stick to your guns too.
2. Consequences can be effective. We have a consequence jar at our house. If you have a negative behavior you have to blindly pick a task from the jar. It might be something easy like giong to bed 30min early or something "fun" like picking up sticks for 30min or doing 50 push ups and sit ups. We have also figured out that one of our teens LOVES shoes. Consequently, we LOVE good grades. We took all but one pair of her shoes and she earns back one pair for each letter grade improvement! So far she has earned back four pairs of shoes!!!!
3. Rewards and Praise go hand in hand with consequences. Give praise for even the smallest things no matter how insignificant. Offer rewards as an added bonus to positive behavior.
4. Communication. With God, your spouse and your kids. In that order.
5. Put time on the calendar for you and your spouse. Everyday when Ryan gets home we have what we call our daily business meeting. Our teenagers know and expect this. It is ten minutes when we go to our room or garage and catch up and debrief. Since we have teens we can leave them alone for that short time. We have found it's helpful so we are both on the same page in dealing with our kids for the rest of the evening. We also have started sending the girls to their rooms 30min before bedtime to read, listen to music, veg out, whatever so we can have US time.
6. Have a family calendar. We have a whiteboard calendar in the dinning room. (That's where we spend the most time) I write down all the hustle and bustle of what is going on. #1. It keeps my sanity and #2. It prevents them from asking ten trillion times what we have going on or what we are doing. :)
7. Along with the calendar I post our weekly menu. The girls help make the menu and we pretty much stick to it. It again allieviates the unecessary questions of what's for dinner! :)
8. Be a team. Discipline together, talk to them together, praise together etc if at all possible. Typically I will text or email Ryan to give him a heads up on a situation and then we will deal with the behavior together when he gets home. This prevents two things....#1. You don't play the he said, she said game and #2. It shows a unified front to kids who often come from broken homes and aren't use to that.
I am sure there are more things...I will have to update this as I go along.
Things are quiet in our home at the moment with only one kid. There is talk of her sisters possibly moving in with us before the first of the year but we shall see what happens. We have opted not to take any new placements in the meantime. Or at least not until after Christmas.
ADOPTION!!!!! Things are moving slowly...it's just a hurry up and wait right now. We have submitted all paperwork for the moment and we are waiting for our caseworker to write the homestudy. The girls' caseworker is working on filing the paperwork for the sibling split. (There are eight kids total in this family and four of them have adoptive resources, while the other four are remaining in foster care. From our understanding they typically try to have all the children in a family adopted at the same time and since this is not happeneing there has to be formal paperwork filed to allow the younger four to be adopted.) We are hoping the sibling split paperwork will be finished before the end of the year as well as our homestudy so we can move on to the next phase which is the BIS (best intrest staffing...aka the big meeting where they decide yes or no we can or cannot adopt them). At this point we have no time frame or any reference at all as to when anything will happen. Prayers for strength much appreciated. We are VERY blessed that we see the girls weekly and they get to spend a lot of time with us. We love them ALOT, they love us ALOT, they call Ryan mommy sometimes which cracks me up and many of our extended family will be meeting them for the first time over the holidays!!! SOO excited and blessed by this journey. We will serve You, Lord, we will.
Be the change you want to see in the world....
Pray hard, let your light shine and give God the glory!