Happy New Year !
At this point I’m more than a TAD late in wishing you all the best in 2019, but sick kiddos and just the general everyday chaos of 4 little ones age 4 and under has kept me distracted from ever finishing this blog post. I’ve lost count of how many times I have attempted it!
ANYWAYS…The start of a New Year is a great opportunity to reflect on the year gone by while also planning for the year ahead. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning. Brad Paisley once said, ”Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365-page book. Write a good one.”
Since I am getting such a late start in writing this reflection, tomorrow is now the 20th page of our 365 page book entitled “2019”. How do your first 19 pages read?
I love Paisley’s analogy because, to a certain extent, we can write the story of our lives. Our choices, our drive to make positive changes or to do hard things, and our attitudes and perspectives contribute to our life narratives.
We cannot control all that happens to us of course, God is the ultimate narrator, BUT we have been given free will and our choices have power.
What choices did you make in the last year? How did the 365 pages of 2018 look in your “book”?
If you’re like me there are pages you’d like to tear out and shred, pages you want to highlight in neon colors, pages that give you goosebumps, pages that bring you to tears, pages that make you laugh out loud, and pages that have you thanking God for being the ultimate writer and illustrator.
I thought it may be fun to outline our 2018 below, to reflect and also to possibly help someone else considering fostering to understand the timeline of events that lead up to approval and your first placements.
So here we go, My Outline of “2018”:
–Chapter 1: January 2018—
In January God was still working hard to get us to take that final leap and “sign up” to foster. At this point it was heavy on our hearts and I (likely) was annoying the heck out of my husband talking about (over-analyzing) it all. I knew we needed to take the initiative and make the call to do it, but I was scared. So scared that I actually called the number and hung up before leaving our info a few different times (it is a voicemail you get that asks you to leave your info if interested in fostering or adopting in KY to receive a call back from a worker).
At the end of this “chapter”, a sign was placed at the entrance of our neighborhood that read “FOSTER or ADOPT A CHILD (and the phone number)”, a final nudge from God we believe. I had friends (neighbors) texting me asking, “Did you see YOUR sign?!”
-Chapter 2: February 2018–
On February 12th, at 10:30 PM, I FINALLY sent in all the necessary info to officially sign us up to register for the training required to begin the certification process (step 1). Before hitting “send” on that email, I remember asking Bryan once again, “Are you SURE?!”
I babysat my niece and nephew and remember thinking of it as a “test run”… the 4 carseats in the mini van just like they are again today.
My friend Meghan visited from out of town and our kids were terrible and I remember thinking “we are nuts…she probably thinks we are nuts”. She was one of the first people I told about the journey we were now signed up to begin.
-Chapter 3: March 2018–
March 1st was our first class. It was actually more of an “informational meeting” so we could still back out I remember telling my husband afterwards. I wanted to give him an easy out if he was feeling overwhelmed or like this was a mistake. We talked on the (truck) ride home about how it actually made us both feel even more called to it. We were in–110%.
The following 5 Thursdays from 6-9pm were spent learning about caring for children from hard places (however we also agreed that it was helpful just as a parent in general… that ALL parents should probably take these classes). We all brought in food to share and went through Powerpoint after Powerpoint. We got to know some other couples and singles choosing this path as well and exchanged information. The classes were long but overall enjoyable and we used it as a “date night” out for us.
March 30th, Good Friday, we got our fingerprints done at 10am for our background checks etc.
-Chapter 4: April 2018–
The session of classes came to an end and we “graduated”. They actually had a graduation “ceremony” that kinda made us all chuckle. We had to skip one class due to a stomach bug running rampant through our house in March, but they still let us graduate since we were already signed up for our makeup class in June.
April 13th was our first Home Study and April 26th was our final Home Study (they do 2 so as to give you time to “fix” anything and or complete any leftover paperwork). I way over-prepared for the Home Studies and it was far less intense than I had expected (don’t fear the Home Study!).
In April we also completed the process of finishing our unfinished basement, which we made kid friendly and added an extra bedroom (for a guest room as our old guest room upstairs was now prepped for more children).
-Chapter 5: May 2018–
May was a nice break from everything “Foster Care”. The Home Study and paperwork were all finished and we got to just get back to “normal” for a while. I ran in a Marathon Relay, took the kids to the Zoo, the Aquarium, the art museum, the library, went bowling for the first time with the kids, went to several parks, planted flowers and played in the backyard, babysat a friend’s kids, and watched my youngest brother graduate from college. It was a month of fun and shorter To-Do Lists!
-Chapter 6: June 2018–
June 9th we attended our “Make-Up” foster care class from 9-noon.
On the 13th I received word that our fingerprints were LOST in the system and never submitted. We had to redo some paperwork and wait a bit longer (small delay).
At the end of the month, my husband’s family came in town from Kansas to visit and we had a blast showing them around town and playing here with all the kiddos together. I got to babysit my 2 young nephews while my sister in law worked some of the time she visited (more practice with 4 kids and lots of really fun memories).
-Chapter 7: July 2018–
In July we went on a family vacation with my family to Hilton Head, SC. Foster care was on our minds as we were told we would be approved mid-July and possibly have a placement soon after our return from SC. We enjoyed our trip away with family and knew it was possibly our last vacation for a while as a family of 4.
I turned 30 (!) on the 24th and was eager to see what this 30th year of life would look like.
-Chapter 8: August 2018–
Due to a supervisor on vacation (and the delay with the fingerprints/background checks) we were still not licensed until mid August. On August 15th we reviewed and signed our Home Study and on August 17th we received word that we were APPROVED!
We continued on as normal, visiting parks, going to pools, the zoo, the aquarium, preschool Open House for my oldest, and a MOMS group Playdate Bike Parade… all while carrying my phone on its loudest setting and wondering if each call could possibly be THE CALL. I tried to enjoy this time as much as we could because I KNEW it would be harder to do all these outings with more kids and all the foster care related obligations.
-Chapter 9: Sept 2018–
September 1st and 2nd we spent on the Lake at my Aunt & Uncle’s lake house enjoying time with family. It is one of my favorite weekends of the year and I was glad to be able to go.
Tuesday, the 4th, my son started Preschool. I remember friends asking me after drop-off, near the parking lot, whether we had gotten a call yet. I said NO not yet, having no clue that TODAY our lives would drastically change with one phone call. That evening, 9-4-18, we got our first placement, “Sweetheart” (more on that in past blog posts). We fell in love with her fast (immediately) and she was with us 5 weeks until a very unexpected and abrupt goodbye on Monday AM Oct 8th.
-Chapter 10: Oct 2018–
Between October 8th and 29th we had a break in fostering and re-grouped as a family of 4 again. We missed “Sweetheart” like crazy and got to visit with her once more to give her some final things and snuggle her one more time. We were back to the unknown (who will join us next and when) UNTIL the day before Halloween. On Tuesday 10-30-18 (it always seems to happen on a Tuesday), we got a call for a newborn baby girl (“Precious”) and her toddler brother (“Little Man”). I picked “Precious” up from the hospital that afternoon (at 2 days old) and we became an instant family of 5 again. We were told her older brother would be joining us from a different foster home within a (relatively) short period of time (to make us a family of 6). We (again) fell hard and fast for “Precious” (it is amazing to me how easy it is to love these kids even though they are not from your own womb) and enjoyed all the newborn snuggles. The first visit with birth mom was the day after placement, Halloween. She visited with mom and I took my two to the dentist that morning.
-Chapter 11: November 2018–
For 2 weeks we remained a family of 5. We adjusted to life with a newborn again & really enjoyed this time. On 11-7-18 I joined “Little Man” and his then foster mom for a Dr appt & met “Little Man” for the first time. I gave him a stuffed dog that remains his favorite thing and I think we hit it off (though the time was cut short d/t me falling ill with kidney stones and having to go to the ER mid appointment). On November 10th, “Little Man” came to spend the day with us and on the 12th he joined our family making us a now family of 6 (mom, dad, newborn, 16 mo old, 2 year old, 4 year old). That is the day the REAL crazy began (ha). From 11-12-18 on it has been kind of a blur! It is amazing, and beautiful, and full of joy, but I have to take it one day at a time and just trust God to equip/provide because I cannot do this on my own. It is overwhelming and HARD and I use a lot of dry shampoo and don’t get much good sleep and I am usually covered in snot & toddler grime, and drowning in laundry BUT I wouldn’t go back to March and back out or I would have missed all of this. It is so worth it. All the hard- worth it! (OK back to completing the “review”)
-Chapter 12: December 2018–
December was full of appointments and therapies and visits (13 total foster related “events” on the calendar). We also celebrated Christmas with my family here in KY and with my in-laws in Kansas, plus a mini Christmas with our little family of 6 at home in between.
We drove through a 2 mile long lights show with the kiddos, enjoyed watching their excitement at finding their “Christmas Elfie” all around the house, went to the Aquarium to see Scuba Santa, did lots of “experiments” (my sons new favorite thing to do), and successfully completed two 10 hour road trips with the 4 kids. In Kansas, we spent lots of time with family, jumped in jump houses, swang on the swings, rode mini 4 wheelers, visited their horses, and exchanged and opened presents. We got home to KY the Thursday after Xmas at 11pm and had a visit with mom at 10 am the next morning.
It was an exhausting month. Full of memories, but I was left with little in the tank. We brought in the New Year at 8:30 PM with pull-poppers and popscicles and last years ball drop!
—END OF REVIEW ; )
So there it is… my Review of 2018. I can’t imagine what is in store for our next year but I trust that God will be in all the details and will provide, protect, and pave our way.
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
Here’s to a great rest of 2019!
P.S. I really am TRYING to post more often. Stay tuned and to “follow” to receive updates go to MENU and click “follow”. If you are considering fostering and have questions post below in comments or contact me via the Contact Me page. Also, if there are any topics you would like to read more about comment on that below too and I will try to write more! The writing is therapeutic and a good “keepsake” to remember this journey. And if you are STILL reading, thank you for the dedication (lol… I have always been “wordy”!).