Monday, April 14, 2014

Beginning Again

After our first two girls went home we put our house on hold. It gave us time to regroup and rest a bit. We weren't sure how long we would need. I had started a new school year and definitely needed some time to focus on work.

After 2 weeks we started getting antsy. We knew our agency was turning kids away right and left, which left us constantly feeling guilty. No one was pressuring us to re-open our home, we just kept wondering where all these kids were ending up. We finally decided on a date. Saturday, September 14th would be the day we would be available again. We had certain things going on that week that would have made a new placement difficult.

Friday the 13th came and we received a call. Guess they thought it was close enough. Did we want to take a placement of 2 more girls. This time they were 7 and almost 2. They were from the next county over. We never know where our kids will be from since we're with a private agency. Kids from that close by was like a dream. Transporting to visits wouldn't take an hour each way. Although it was a day earlier than we said we would open, we couldn't say no.

They came around 4:30. Someone they were familiar with brought them. The little one was ok if she was by her sissy. The 7 year old would sit for a little while and then pace the room. More than once she told us she felt like she had a knot in her stomach. Poor baby. Taken away from her family and dropped off with strangers. It's just worse when they understand what's going on. She was so incredibly brave. She only teared up once. Everyone left after all the papers were signed and there we were, strangers trying to get to know each other.

They pretty much came with no clothes. We were headed out to the first high school football game of the season to watch our daughter cheer. Before that we had to hit the store. An outfit or two would get us through until we could get a wardrobe. After Walmart and McDonalds we went to the game. We just decided we would just incorporate them into our lives and schedule as much as possible and see how it went. It went well.

The girls getting to stay together was a blessing. The older one was used to being a care taker and the little one didn't want sissy out of her sight. After a few days we were starting to get used to each other. Through various trainings we learn that each house has different expectations, so we tried to be patient as the 7 year old gave orders. She wasn't trying to be rude, it's just what she was used to. "Get her some milk, and get me some too." After I put my eyeballs back in my head I calmly explained that we didn't take orders from 7 year olds, but if she'd like to ask for some milk I would happy to oblige. She was quick to comply.

The almost 2 year old quickly became attached to us. It was a bit of a struggle for the 7 year old to give up being the parent. Once when we sat the baby in her bed for a minute because she was having a meltdown, her sister went and got her out of the crib. We had to explain that we weren't mad or hurting her, but we had to be in charge. She could just be a kid. There were tears and it took a bit for her to let go of that role, but eventually she did.

Our older one was not overly affectionate, especially with me. One night she was not feeling well and after getting ready for bed I asked if she wanted to lay on the couch until her little sister fell asleep since they shared a room. She said yes, walked into the living room, and climbed directly into my husband's lap. Sweet, sweet moment.

These sweet girls stayed for 3 1/2 months. Again we were told it would only be about a month because a family member would be taking them. Again that didn't work out. They ended up going to their grandmother. She was so happy. She was desperate for her grandbabies. The final permission was slow in coming. We waited until we had the final approval before we said anything to the 7 year old. She had already had enough disappointment. It was 2 days before Christmas. We asked to be the ones to take them to grandma. Since we already had Christmas ready for them their grandma and uncle suggested we go ahead and have our own little Christmas because they had bought Christmas gifts as well. We gave the news, packed bags, and had Christmas all in a few hours. The 7 year old really wanted to be with her Nana. We packed up the car and headed her way. Somewhere on the way we realized our 7 year old was crying. What a jumble of emotions. So happy to be going back to the familiar, and still sad to leave the normal of the past few months. Of course that made me cry.

We got to Nana's house and unloaded the car. We spoke for a few minutes and said goodbye. The 7 year hugged us quickly and ran out of the room. Nana asked if she was crying. I think she was quite surprised. She went to get her and told her to not run from her feelings. She was just incredibly sweet about the whole situation. We left and saw her Nana holding and comforting her through the window.

I wasn't the emotional basket case like I was when we took our first 2 home. Maybe I knew what to expect, maybe the shorter time they were with us made the difference. They were sweet girls and easy to deal with, easy to love. We keep their pictures up. We plan to do that with all "our kids". I don't want to forget any of them. Each of them becomes part of our family and part of our heart.

Their Nana has let us keep in touch. We text on occasion. We saw them a couple weeks after they went back to return some things they had left. We went last weekend to take our 7 year old a birthday gift. We plan to take her to our daughter's high school play in a couple weeks. I know we won't always be able to stay in contact with all the kids who leave our home. Some families won't want to, and it will eventually be impossible if we have high numbers of former foster children. We'll be happy for whatever contact we can have.

Thinking about our dark haired girls, who looked enough like us not to get stares in public, brings a smile to my face. I wonder as the years go by what I'll remember from each of our kids. Will I remember all their names, a funny or sweet story about each of them? I hope so. Each of them touches our lives and I would hate to forget that.

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