Saturday, January 21, 2017

5 Years And The Fears Of Moving Forward

I made that call I was telling you about, here. I found out that the next step was attending a foster-care orientation on January 12th, 2017. Since it had been five years since we let our license expire we needed to start the process again from the beginning.

The orientation seemed so far away back in November, until suddenly it wasn't. 

Last week I sat in that meeting in our local county board room listening to social workers share the ins and outs of foster care and foster-to-adopt. And today our family is celebrating Gotcha Day. It is a special phrase that adoptive families use for the day that they "got" their kids.

While we love to remember the day in November when our family officially became a family on paper, it was always official in our hearts that we were a family since that first day that the kids walked into our home carrying all of their earthly possessions.

This year's gotcha day also marks our fifth anniversary of being a crew of seven. Seriously, where did years two, three & four go?!?

Back in January of 2012 FIVE years as a family seemed SO far away, until suddenly it wasn't.

I still remember the day I took the photo below, like it was yesterday! It was the day before the kids were going to arrive and I was already worried about our, first born daughter, having a hard time adjusting to more siblings and well suddenly being demoted to now the fourth born.

Would we be able to love more children, like we love her?

Would she feel slighted? 

Will we screw her up with this whole messing up the birth order thing and expanding our family?!?

Those were all of the fears running through my mind as we went out for a little date together, just one sleep before her world would change forever.

Today we plan on celebrating BIG. The kids are testing for their gold belts and then we are going to enjoy a feast at one of our favorite restaurants, Tepanyaki (Sushi as far as the eye can see AND chicken nuggets...everyone wins!) ;-) And then we'll come home for our traditional gotcha day ice cream cake. A homemade recipe that my mom made at birthdays growing up...a tub of cool whip, a half pint of vanilla ice cream, a container of oreos (crushed in a plastic bag), and then everything is mixed together, spread out in a cake pan and refrozen, serve & enjoy!

I wrote about the reality of our one year anniversary, here. I wrote about our second anniversary and a glimpse into open adoption, here.

I digress.

Back to that board room!

I sat in the back, mainly because I was late trying to find a place to park our 12-passenger van. It is massive and doesn't always fit in parking garages and is one of my least favorite parts about having a large family. 

I saw individuals and couples spread out in that room as they listened intently to the social worker share stories and information up at the front. It felt as though you could cut the tension in that room with a knife. The stories shared were all of the terrible ones. The ones that make you question why in the world you ever thought this was a good idea in the first place. 

And then you remember that they are talking about children

I remember the first time I watched my friend, Beth, carry one of the boys to their bedroom at her house. She was their foster mom at the time. At that point we didn't have any clue that we would adopt them someday.

My jaw was on the floor as that little boy kicked and screamed and kicked and screamed and did everything he could to escape her embrace. 

Then there was that first time that I took one of the kids to their routine dentist visit. I was shocked. How could a child THAT small have that many cavities, fillings, and crowns in their itty, bitty baby teeth?!?

It took my breath away.

People asked questions at the foster-care orientation.

"Do the parents meet us?"

"Do they know who we are?"

Every situation is different, the social worker responded. But in most cases they see you during the visits and for some situations we'll be the middle person to transport the child at the front of the government center from you to the parent waiting upstairs. 

I immediately thought back to all of my fears.

I remember that first time we would see the kids' birth mom again since the adoption had been finalized. 

What will she say? 

Will she hate us? 

Five years later and she has never shown up unexpectedly at our door or used my phone number to call at all hours of the night. Instead she texts me on every holiday and on each of their birthdays asking if I will tell them how much she loves them. 

I will definitely relay the message, I text back.

And my face lights up just as much as theirs does when I tell them what their mom said.

They have SO many people who love them.

That is what they understand!

"No child asks to be put in a broken situation." 

I listened as the social worker shared.

I knew she was spot on. "These stories are hard, you have to learn how to stay calm", she said. They don't want to share all of the happy stories and then have you become a foster parent and come back asking why caring for children in broken homes is so difficult.

But as I sat there listening to the stories I thought of how things are now...five years later. 

I thought of our son who walks independently to his room each night for bed and who runs back to find us and asks for his nightly "hug and kiss."

I thought of how my biggest "struggle" at the dentist is trying to remember to schedule everyone's 6-month cleanings because we spend far less time in that waiting room than we once did.

The social worker said, the greatest impact you might have in a child's life that you foster is teaching them how to use a tooth brush.

And that, that matters.

It matters, friends!

I left that meeting feeling a little conflicted. Conflicted not quite knowing what the next step is for our family.

It felt like all of those old fears came back up to the surface...

Would we be able to love more children, like we love them? 

Would they feel slighted? 

But as this five year anniversary approached, I started thinking about my original fears that I had about my daughter. And it occurred to me that it has been years since I've ever wondered what the answers were to those questions.

The answers are clear.

She knows exactly how much we ALL love her.


  1. Wow, thank you for posting this! My family is in the process of adopting 3 siblings from foster care, a girl and two boys like you. We also already have two young children (1 & 5) and I am so worried that I have totally messed my little girls up forever by messing up the birth order and adding so much to our lives/family. We're only a month into being a family of seven and it's been really rough. This post gives me hope that it can be/will be okay someday.

    1. Hi Megan!

      Wow, what similarities! I'm so glad that this post was able to encourage you. Our first year together was extremely challenging but I kept telling myself to take it one minute at a time. Keep going, it is going to be worth it!



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