Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What if our stories aren't the same?

Babies 11,12, and 13 have been here almost 3 months. We have all had to make a lot of huge adjustments since suddenly doubling the number of kids in our family. I haven't really gotten into the swing of feeding a family of 8. The "seat of your pants" style of meal prep where I buy what looks good int he store and then cook what I feel like each day does not work for a family of 8. I am so thankful they came during warm weather, because having 6 kids playing inside the house all day is a bit like torture. My new guys aren't yet out of the dump everything out of this box, then everything out of the next box style of playing. I have yet to get all the kids out the door for church, instead taking 1-2 each week in a rotation. I feel bad about that last part. I don't take all 6 kids anywhere, but going out is time for individual attention, at least for now.

I am so in love with these new 3. Baby 11 is the most chill baby ever. He sleeps like 37 hours per day, waking up only to spit up down my shirt and give me a crooked smirk. Baby 12 is smart and sassy. She needs a lot of supervision and argues like a lawyer, but she also gets super proud of herself when she's done a good job and she likes to sit and talk about anything. Baby 13 is angry. He doesn't know that's what he is or why it happened, but every stimuli throughout the day is met with growling, throwing, and yelling. You look at him and think, "If there was every a kid who needed bootcamp...". Then he sucks his thumb, asks for a kiss, snuggles right into your neck, and becomes your favorite.

Baby 4 is having a hard time adjusting to the new delegation of attention. He talks a lot about missing being the only kid to pick TV shows, or being able to pick the bottom bunk if he wanted to. He sees the other babies getting so much of our time and gets jealous, not realizing that they are getting reprimanded and redirected more than anything. I think they bug him like siblings are supposed to, but that happened before the love and bonding that he has with our girls.

Baby 9 was freed for adoption in June (getting it's own post later). She is picking up every single bad habit she sees from our new kids. She's growling, and hitting, and touching poop (yep, that's happening with more than 1 of the kiddos). She has said she's doing it, "Like Baby 13" or "Because Baby 12". She is sharing a room for the first time ever, and her sleep is suffering. Baby 12 sleeps pretty well, but Baby 9 is really distracted by the extra movement and noises in her room. 9 is like a super fun mix of sleep deprivation, being 2, and copying unpleasant behavior. She still has her chubby doll face that makes us stop short of sending her to boarding school.

Baby Girl is OBSESSED with Baby 11. She has signed more than a few times that she is his Mom. Her nurse says she asks where he is all day at school. She hugs and kisses the big kids, and they respond in kind, but mostly she's all about the baby. When she's not holding him, she's looking through pictures on my phone of her holding him. It's really cute, even if it's also a little stressful.

Baby 2&3 were also here for 4th of July week, temporarily giving us 8 kids. They are doing great. Baby 3 is starting Kindergarten in the fall. When I look back at our fostering, they are our success. We loved them hard. We let them go. We've stuck it out. Foster Care worked for them and they are going to be OK.

While the case may be new to us, still, it's been going on for quite a while for 12 & 13. I got word last week that their TPR petition is being written. I know with certainty that the only way these kids get freed for adoption is after a trial and 2 appeals. This is not a situation where the parent does anything except go down fighting. Baby 11 is not on the same case, so the parents get the full time to try to reunify with him. There's no clear information yet about how that is looking for them to get the baby home. all the offered family resources have fallen through.

This leaves the (thankfully) unspoken question that I am dreading... Are we an adoptive resource for these kids? The honest truth is, I don't know.

I love them. I can see myself loving them forever. I see our family being the big family of crazy kids that have lots of fun.

In that scenario, I also see us not being able to foster anymore. I see us living on a very tight budget. I see less vacations and more public school than I'd prefer. I also see half of my kids living in open adoptions and the other half having no family contact.

Brandon immediately said, "We're not the kid of people who send kids back." when we were talking about this. He's right. We're not. 12 &13 have had 5 placements in the past 2 years. They never know if they are coming or going. They've been separated from their siblings already. Moving them is not a good idea.

If we say we are foster only, and can not adopt them: We can still foster. We can make their transition slow and organized. We can offer to stay connected as extended family instead of parents. We also lose any control of how their story goes. What if they get disrupted from the place we send them, and placement 6 turns into placement 7,8,9 and they are never adopted. What if they get split up? Photolsited on the internet for out of state people to come pick up like puppies at a shelter?

And Baby 11... Does he go with them? What if he goes home and they get tossed around?

What if our forever love story isn't their forever love story? What if it is?

The reality of talking TPR right out of the gate is haunting me.The caseworker will ask us at some point, and by then we will have talked about it tons more and have an answer planned out. For now, we just enjoy this crazy awesome ride.