Monday, April 18, 2011

Whining About Change

I can never make plans that don't change! I'm sure everyone's life is kind of like that, but life with foster care is always changing every minute. This is definitely a world where a "go with the flow" attitude will take you far. Man, I wish I had a "go with the flow" attitude. I like predictability, plans, and schedules- but I gave it up for love,  sacrificing rigidity for foster care.
Last week I had planned a kid filled weekend of respites. I planned a meet and greet with 6&7 for Wed evening before they came for their stay on Thursday. I prepped 4 for having 3 other kids in the house. Everything was set. Thursday morning I would clean the floors and bathrooms, put dinner in the slow cooker, do physical therapy with Baby 4, then welcome 6&7 at 3pm. But this is how Thursday really went:
9:30am Baby 4 goes into respiratory distress. We head to Emergency

4:30pm- The decision is made to take him into surgery

7:00pm- Tracheostomy is back and we'll be living in the ICU for a week

Baby 4 is doing well now. He had scar tissue in his airway that blocked his breathing and could not be removed during surgery. He'll have the trach for 1-2yrs while the Dr's come up with a plan to open his natural airway. I moved into the hospital with him and we'll be here for about a month while he heals and we find a home-nurse for after discharge. This obviously changed my respite plans for this weekend, but also my plans for where our family is headed in general.

I had been working on how I thought we were going to grow in the coming months. I was going to get Baby 4 in some summer activities to increase his social skills and get him used to responding to others' reactions to his scars. I was studying up on all the coping skills and verbal responses needed when you look different, and body-image boosting exercises that we could do to focus on his strengths. I was also going to go back to work and continue leadership responsibilities at church so I could maintain a personal identity away from Baby 4. We were going to continue taking respites and start lobbying the matchers for another placement under 2yrs old since Baby 4 does well with little ones. I've taken losing 2&3 really hard, but I was on the road to recovery. I had talked to their Dad at the end of March and he said we could see the boys in a week, after they got back from a vacation to see their Grandma in North Carolina. I made their Easter baskets in preparation for that visit. But that was then....

Now Baby 4 is limited in the activities he can do. Now he's not just dealing with curious stares about his scars, but also being treated like a sick kid with his trach. I'm devoting 100% of my time (and identity) to being his full time caregiver, which he needs and deserves. Our time and energy is completely wrapped up in him, so we won't be taking any new kids for now. Babies 2 & 3 have been "on vacation" for 3 weeks now, and Dad is not returning calls. Baby 2's school even called me because they don't know what's going on. The thought that they moved out of state, or are just living off foster care's grid completely made me regress in my healing. If they are removed from Dad's care out of state, they'll be sent to a foster family there. I can wrap my head around them being with their Dad, but if they can't be with him, I can't reconcile them being with strangers. There is also the possibility that Dad is back and just cutting off communication. It was about the one month mark when Baby 1's Dad stopped calling too. I wasn't ready to say goodbye for real.

Baby 4's plan also changed. When he was released from the hospital the first time, the plan was for immediate unsupervised visits with Dad. Before the first one was even set up, that changed to one hour-long per week supervised visit at the county facility. We had one of those before plans changed again. Now Dad can come anytime to see him at the hospital and I'll be monitoring those interactions. Anyone else feel like that's awkward? 'Cause I do. I'm a little relieved Dad hasn't come up to the hospital since we've been here. I've been able to just be 4's whatever-I-am (since he hates when anybody calls me his Mom) without worrying about bioDad's feelings. The flip-side of that is, how do you know your kid in in the hospital (that is a 15min bus ride from your house) for 5days without visiting?!?! He even told 4's caseworker that he was in the lobby about to come up on Saturday and she called me to give a heads-up. He must have gotten lost on the elevator... but that anger is for a whole-other post. There had been talks of visiting with an out of state relative in the near future as well. If that person checked out, the county was thinking this person could be used as a resource for 4. Now he can't travel with his trach, and the relative has said they can't come here to see him anytime soon. I have no idea where that leaves them in the way of becoming a possible home for 4.One of the reasons for Baby 4's placement with us was concern whether his medical needs could be handled by his caregiver. Now that he has significant medical needs that could become life-threatening if ignored, it will be even harder to reunite him with family. While we're happy to have him, I think he was planning to go home, but this changes everything.
Keeping him busy with  log cabin building set

Also changing is my expectations about attachment with 4. I love him as much as I loved the others 1 month into placement. I'm so glad we have him and that our family can meet his needs- from a stay at home Mom that can move into the hospital for a month to having him be the only child until he's ready for some company. However, I'm not as clingy to him like the younger babies. If any of this was happening to them, I'd be a mess- crying and pouring anointing oil over them while speaking in tongues. I wouldn't be able to leave their side even for a moment. It could be a lot of reasons: he's older and more independent, he's handling hospitalization like a trooper with no crying or complaining at all, I've only known him as a child with medical needs, or I'm a terrible human being who cares less about children with each birthday they've had. All are possible, and I have to adjust my definition of parenting to "doing the best I can for Baby 4". I'm just fighting guilt over not being completely smitten with him from the moment our eyes met or whatever.

I can't guarantee what my family will look like from one month to the next, or how the members will feel about each other. I can't make plans too far into the future or even for the next day. I'm constantly conflicted in my emotions. Several times I've made up my mind that foster care is too much for me. Then everything changes.

I have had an incredible epiphany since 4 as been in the hospital. The staff here in the PICU cared for 4 when he was first injured and didn't have a parent with him most of the time. They have remarked several times about the difference they see in him this time around- "He looks so happy!", "He's so polite!". Social workers, nurses, Dr's have all praised me for my selflessness and blah blah blah, but it's not me. I'm not a good person and I don't aspire to go around making other people's kids happy. Dropping everything to rescue a life in danger is Jesus' deal. He did it for me 2,000 yrs ago on a cross, and now He's doing it through me for a kid with no Mom. All I did was follow Him.

 "Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion." Philippians 2:5-8 (Msg)

In the end, it doesn't matter if newborns are easier to love than preschoolers, or that my heart is with Baby 2 in NC, or that 4 may never call me Mommy. What matters is that Christ loves me and has commanded me to love foster care. He left a throne in Heaven to die a criminals death to secure my soul, and I've only been asked to leave the comfort of my plans and be flexible with my schedule. The timing couldn't be more perfect with this being Easter week. The week when the church reflects on the sacrifice Christ made is the week I get to sacrifice for Him, to be the proof of His love for Baby 4.
Watching church online Sunday morning

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