We’ve been fostering for just under nine months, and until this month, I posted all of my updates on the 6th for the sake of marking time. Then, we went on vacation and made it through back to school and suddenly it was August 31st.
I’ve attempted to write something three times, and each time, I was too angry. I’m not saying there isn’t space for those kinds of posts. I never shy away from sharing when I’m feeling vulnerable or sad or confused. But the kind of angry I’ve been over the last few weeks is not the kind that inspires good writing or good reading.
I waited to write in the same way I often type furious emails, go to bed, and then delete them in the morning. (As one friend put it recently—I would not want to be on the receiving end of a Leia lashing.) Part of being an adult is appreciating my God-given gift for using words as just that—a gift, not a way to hurt people.
To be clear, I am 100% angry about things that are out of my control. I have ranted to the inner circle enough that I feel like I can share an update without looking like a raving lunatic and/or sharing things that really shouldn’t be shared publicly at this juncture (because at different points, I’ve definitely wanted to say “chuck it in the fuck it bucket” to protecting the privacy and intimate details of this case).
Since the last post, we had a court date. We met the girls’ guardian ad litem and got to see the judge in action. I was impressed by the amount of patience and professionalism both of these men possessed in the court room.
The lawyer asked the case worker questions. Then the judge addressed the bio parents who were present (E’s dad did not come). Next, the judge asked our CASA worker to report on her observations. Lastly, I spoke to the girls’ development since being in our care, and Scott added that we are honored to serve the state of IL as foster parents. At that time, the judge addressed the bio parents again, challenging them to work toward meeting the requirements for reunification, and then he set our next court date for January.
Following the court date, pretty much everything that could change did. We got a new case worker. We got a new case assistant (the woman who accompanies the girls to their visits). Visitation hours for all the parents changed. Change is hard but almost always good, and I feel like we’re settling into the new normal. Until tomorrow when we get a new normal. Because that’s how foster care works.
People often talk about how “the system is broken,” and I’m not just talking about foster care. I’ve heard people use this phrase to describe various systems—healthcare, public education, the church, the government, the military. Pretty much every system I’m a part of is broken because the systems are run by human beings and spoiler alert: human beings are broken. Pain, suffering, and nonsense are the sign posts on this rocky road, and the running theme (aside from screaming FIX IT JESUS every now and then, which is a totally legit lament) is that we have to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we get where we’re going.
But how about these girls?
A couple of days ago, I strapped E into a high chair, so I could go to the bathroom. F can be trusted to play or at least to stand at the door yelling “Mom!” at me while I pee. E cannot be trusted. In the 57 seconds it takes me to go, she will eat dog food, tear a page out of a book and set off the carbon monoxide detector by pushing the button over and over again. I’m not exaggerating.
E is a beasty baby who takes no guff from no one and never stops moving. A few years ago, we visited some friends in Dallas who had four kids. My friend, Huma, sent the baby to a friend’s house for the day and explained that she wanted to enjoy our day. I thought it was weird at the time, but now I GET IT. If I accomplish anything while this naughty baby is awake, it’s because she’s strapped to me or in a high chair. Otherwise, it’s like trying to rope the Tasmanian Devil.
On the other hand, F turned two this month and has moved out of that crazy busy stage into the imaginative/independent play stage. She can be trusted with crayons (for the most part). She sings the ABCs and counts to six (and then says a bunch of other numbers out of order before swinging back and ending on one again every time). She will be starting gymnastics soon because her gross motor skills are off the charts.
Her keen powers of observation continue to astound us. Often during the week, one or more people in our house will change clothes or take a shower downstairs. We have a designated spot for dirty clothes that I grab the next time I go up. It’s not a fancy system, but it generally keeps us from leaving socks and underwear lying around every room. (I see you judging me for leaving my bra on the kitchen table—LET ME LIVE.)
A couple of days ago, I laid the baby down for her nap and told F to go upstairs. I tidied some dishes and turned to follow her, and she was picking up the pile of laundry. She carried it all the way up the stairs, grunting the whole way. I kept waiting for her to give them to me as it was a big enough pile that she was having a hard time seeing around it. But she didn’t. She kept climbing the stairs, shifting her head from side to side to see around the pile. When she got to the top, she put the pile in the laundry basket in her room. She's teaching me how to be a foster mom simply by being herself.
We’re living in the foster care doldrums right now—not a lot happening for the next few months. Praying people—please pray for common sense to prevail. I’m dining on a mustard seed faith, but I do feel buoyed by my friends whose faith is stronger than mine right now.
8 months and 25 days down.