Monday, November 17, 2014

Foster First

brrrrrrr. It's cold. Like, actually cold. We had a pretty wimpy snow last night, but I can't remember it being 1) this cold and 2) snowing before Thanksgiving. Ever. I'm a summer person. I love sun, being tan, sweating... but, I have to say, this year I was over the summer heat. Loading three toddlers in and out of the car in 100 degree weather was rough. I love fall, which lasts about a week here in Texas.. This year we jumped to the 20s and 30s fast. Normally this would irritate me, but I'm loving every minute of footie pj cuddles and needing slippers in my house! Alright, I'll get on with it. I'm cozy by the fire, drinking wassail, watching Gilmore Girls (tradition), and decided I'd work out a few feelings on here.

We have very little information about the case. We were told we would know something in November, well, turns out we will know a lot of nothing in November! Fostering is a long process, but we ignorantly put our hope in what we were being "told." Turns out it's only a quicker process if the bio parent is refusing to work services. Bio mom is working services, so we are in it for the long haul.

Last week the boys had a bonding assessment with their birth mother. Basically, a specialist evaluated their time with her and are weighing out if they have appropriate bonds, or if the visits are too emotionally stressful for the boys (short version). We are waiting for the results. I'll be honest, if visits stopped it would make our day to day much easier. However, our goal is to do what's best for the boys. Right now, the emotional state in which they return home makes us think it's emotional abuse. I've been documenting their behavior leading up to visits and after they come home. They revert to the behavior they entered our home with. They have nightmares, refuse to eat, act out, cry easily, and have more/longer fits. It seems like we finally get back to "normal" when the next visit rolls around. Okay, so yes, I think it would be easier and better for the boys if they didn't have visits. I'm not trying to take anything away from their birth mother. But, if she isn't able to make the changes, and reunification isn't going to happen, it's too hard on the boys to see her every other week. I wish they could move on and heal. On the flip side, if they are able to return to her care, I'm not sure the visits help anyway. In my opinion, the visits are for the mom, not the boys. The process is hard to watch.. I know the state has timelines and services to give her every chance in the world to keep custody of her children. But, the ones who really suffer during this limbo period are the boys. They are too young to fully process, they can't voice their confusion, fear, frustrations, emotions, etc. I feel selfish for wanting visits to stop... but, ultimately I want what's best for the boys. If the specialist says it's okay to continue visits, I'll be a little disappointed, but I know it will help me process everything. I'm concerned it's continued abuse and damaging to their current state. If they say it's not, I'll have to trust it'll all be okay.

Which brings me to another realization. It is impossible to hold back love from these kids, we are not holding back. It's also hard to realize it's a different love than the love I have for Carson. Carson is our son, he is ours forever... These boys need love, we are willing to love them, but they aren't ours. It's something you can't fully prepare yourself for until your faced with it. Carson's love was instant. This love is taking time. I love them well in meeting needs, protecting them, cuddling them, etc. But, my heart is not fully in it, and at the same time, I pour ALL of myself into them daily. I can't give more than I have. I do not have love for them the way I will if they are ours forever. But, I also don't know they will be ours. I pray daily for the Lord to grow my love for them. Sometimes I feel so guilty because I don't love them more than I do right now, and I want to. I really do. ** I am sharing this to be honest about our process. I don't know if this is how all foster parents feel. Everyone is different, every kid different, and please keep ugly comments to yourself.**

We are foster to adopt. Foster first. We get questions all the time, "so are you adopting them?" "when will you adopt them?".. Our hope is to adopt several more children, and our hope is to adopt children from foster care. We have zero control over it. So, we are learning to foster first, the goal is reunification. We have a long road ahead of us. We probably won't know anything about the case until April or May.

There you have it. Yes, we want to adopt. Right now that's not even an option. We are foster parents first.

"As foster parents, we are asked to not only care for the basic needs of a child, but also sit alongside them as they digest the hurt and damage they have undeservingly experienced." 
-Carrie Dahlin 

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