I’m trying to be careful about how much I post online, first because the children deserve their privacy and secondly because our foster children are part of a very high profile case (think front-page-newspaper-articles-in-their-hometown). But I will say this: we are still doing so well. I had to go to court yesterday and on the long drive there, I thought about what I wanted to tell the judge if she asked about how the girls are doing. I decided the easiest way to sum it up is that they have moved from initially surviving to absolutely thriving.
Here are some things I have learned lately, in no particular order:
1. Connecting with one of our foster children is going to cost me more effort, time and energy than I expected. She is very loyal to her birth mother (as she should be). I can sense that she desperately wants to love me but she has a sense of “cheating on her mom” if she does let down her guard with me. (However, it is worth noting that she is very attached to Paul, which has surprised us all.) The other night, as I was tucking the children into bed, I felt like I needed to let her know that is is okay to love me, if she wants to do so. I said that it was okay to love me and that loving me doesn’t mean she’s cheating on her birth mom. I explained that the funny thing about love is that it multiplies, not divides. As I left their bedroom, I felt like I had maybe said too much or made her feel uncomfortable. You can imagine my relief when I woke up the next morning to find her standing beside my bed. Before I could ask her what was wrong, she simply said “Good morning. I love you.” Since then, she has been by my side constantly, even begging to go to work with me instead of attending her much-loved summer day camp. She even said something mean to me yesterday, in what I believe was a calculated risk to see how I would respond. I see all of this as good signs.
2. Last week, I got to take both of the girls with me on a week long work trip. Over the course of the week they got to make pottery from clay, go horseback riding, swim, etc. This is all on top of the week we spent at the beach in late May. These girls are having the best summer of their short lives! We plan on keeping the rest of the summer very low key for them so that they get to experience the finer things of life like popsicles on the front porch, sprinklers made from water hoses and, of course, catching lightening bugs.
3. The other day, we met up with my grandparents so we could celebrate Father’s Day with my grandfather. I may be biased, but I think I have some of the best grandparents in the world including a step-grandmother who has never let the word “step” mean anything to her. One aspect of infertility that has bothered me is that I really want my family to know my children and I’m afraid that I will lose grandparents before we ever have biological (or adopted) children. As soon as we walked into the restaurant to meet up with them, my foster children were crawling all over them. As I watched them hand out “foster grandfather” cards they had helped make, I almost started crying. I may not have these children in my life forever and I certainly won’t have my grandparents in my life forever, but at least I have had the smallest taste of what it feels like to bring a child home to your family.
4. I like advocating for children who need advocates. I enjoy working with our case workers, attorney’s, etc. to help find what is best for these children. Sometimes I think about putting my masters degree to work and getting a job advocating for children but, for what it is worth, I also commonly think about going back to school to become a teacher, nurse and princess.
5. The girls’ bedroom is finally finished. I need to take some pictures and show it to you. They love their bedroom and make the biggest deal out of the seemingly smallest things. The other day, a lamp I had ordered finally arrived and you would have thought it was Christmas morning in our home. Baby dolls are a big thing in our household right now and we have all of the proper baby doll accessories: a crib (my toy from childhood), a high chair, even a bath tub that is the perfect size for a baby doll and her rubber ducky. We were missing one thing though and, unbeknownst to us, Paul’s mom happened to ship it over the ocean to us:
That, my friends, is an authentic British baby doll pram. And yes, I occasionally let my foster children play with it when I’m done pushing it around the house.