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This morning, I saw a parallel universe, where we weren’t foster parents.

It was after church.  Husband and Little Daughter were mixing up the pancakes in the kitchen, Junior and Big Daughter were playing a game on the floor, laughing with each other, and I was sitting on the couch, nursing Baby.

It was Rockwell-esque.  No trauma, no meetings, no caseworkers, no wacky bioparents.  Just us.

Comfortable, easy, tranquil.

I took a deep breath and enjoyed it.  Then I opened my mind and my ears, and listened for the sound of Aaron and Allie, in the front room, where they were playing with a tape player.  I let them back in to my reality and came back to this universe.

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I’ve forgotten completely how it arose, or even what he was actually trying to say, but Aaron reportedly came out of the bathroom and told Husband:

“Guess why I’m real glad I’m a woman!”

The kid CRACKS ME UP.

 

I’m growing to appreciate Aaron and Allie’s counselor.  She’s a bit too analytical in my opinion.  For example, she theorized Aaron likes to put his parents on speaker phone because he’s afraid to ‘be’ in a place alone with them, i.e. the phone conversation.  Really, he just likes to press buttons.

But on other areas, she’s spot on, and the kids enjoy their time with her.  I also like that her approach is not focused on helping them, but helping Husband and me help them.  When you’re dealing with little ones like this, that makes so much more sense than individual counseling.

We’ve focused most of our sessions on Aaron and his feelings/communicating, but I think we’ll need to spend some more time with Allie.  There has got to be more emotion in her than she lets out, and, I believe, more resentment towards Husband and I than her smile lets on.  She loyally idolizes her parents.  She also burst into tears a few days ago when Junior told her she lived here.  Even after 5 months, it still pains her intensely at times.

We’ll keep building this relationship as we prepare for the impending biggest pain of their lives.

Remembering Good Friday two years ago, when I received the call for a placement – K and S.  They celebrated Easter with us and left the next week.

Hope they are safe, warm and happy, where ever they are.

Took Baby and Allie to the grocery store yesterday morning, and of course, there were cameras filming ALL OVER the store for some ridiculous cable channel TV show.  I politely inquired about it to the man who looked in charge – he first asked me if I wanted to be on it (No Thanks!) and when I told him I had to be sure the little girls with me didn’t end up on camera, he assured me no one would be filmed without their permission.

Except they were in the peanut butter aisle when we wanted our peanut butter!

So we circled the perimeter of the store, dodging cameras and looking for bicycles, which Allie insisted to me they sold at this store.  Finally, Allie realized they don’t actually sell bikes there, the cameras had moved on to some other aisle, and we could get our PB and get the heck out of there.

I still can’t figure out how they could be so sure we wouldn’t be on camera – background footage doesn’t count?  I just don’t want anyone’s mama figuring out the locale of my local grocery store.

 

So it’s been 3 1/2 weeks since Mark and Nikki left, and I think that’s the longest we’ve gone without a placement since licensing.  This is the least antsy I’ve been awaiting the call ever – I hardly even think about it at all, but then again we have had two major holidays in that time.

Those holidays could also account for why there’s been no calls, or not, I really have no idea how holidays affect these things.  Our agency used to have separate emergency homes for the placements that had to take place during off-hours, and then would move the kiddos to long-term foster homes within a day or two, but that system stinks for the kids, so they recently switched to everyone being ‘on call’ for those emergency placements.  So I’ve been prepared, even on Saturdays, Sundays and sleeping hours, 🙂

But we did tell Lulu that we won’t take any placements after Jan. 31, so the closer we get…well, I don’t know how I feel.  Do I want to have extra kids around while taking care of a newborn?  Well, okay, I may want to, but should I have them?  Should I just take my six months and enjoy it?  And another added complication: a planned out-of-country trip the end of July, just before our six month sabbatical ends.  Lulu has told us it’s not impossible to take foster kids out of the country, but it will involve a lot of paperwork – duh – and may not be able to happen at all, depending on the family circumstances involved for the foster kids.

I just really looo-oove making my life more complicated.

(And I think it’s funny how much I’m analyzing my feelings even though my feelings have nothing to do with when we might get a call.) (But my feelings might convince me to extend our deadline a week, and then another, and then…)

 

Yep, it has been nice.

We had a nice, relaxing break.  The peace and quiet of just three kids is so profound.

Mark and Nikki’s family called once over break, but then the reception broke up, and we still haven’t called back (we’re awful procrastinators).  I really need to do that, for our kids’ sake and so I can talk to their mom.  She wrote me a really sweet letter thanking us for all we did, and I don’t want her to think we’ve just dropped them out of our lives.

But honestly, our own kids have adjusted very well to the changes.  Daughter complained about missing Nikki a bit, but it was surprisingly easy to settle back into our family-of-five routine.

And getting just two kids ready for school in the morning is SO much easier than four.

 

Have some unofficially official word that the return home will not be until school ends for winter break.

Okay.

I can definitely handle that, now that I finally know.  If it stretched out that long without having that end in sight, well, that would be a different story.  But this recent startling development I mentioned earlier took away any possibility of an earlier time frame, and now I can feel comfortable actually planning the future!

Like, when Husband and I can get away to a bed and breakfast (that would be 3 days after they return home – I’m already reserving a room now…but shouldn’t I know better than to do that?  See my feelings below.)

and when/how we will consider new placements after the reunification (we’ll stay open until January 31st and we’re at the least changing our age range to 3 – 7.)

But given all the people I’ve been telling for months that it will be soon, I hope by Thanksgiving, etc etc., I’m feeling sort of sheepish about it too.

Like, do other people think I’m a dope for being so hopeful?  And I’m even going all the way back to the spring when I was telling people they would return home in the summer.  Did they think I was a sucker after the Great Summer Setback of ’10?

By people, I mostly mean those people in my everyday life who know I’m a foster parent and take a general interest in my family’s life.  So, other parents from school, Husband’s colleagues, family members, neighbors, and the like.

And I know I’m an eternal optimist.  I have faith in humanity, and certainly, Mark and Nikki’s parents have given 99% good signs that I should keep my faith in them.  It’s just those sneaky curveballs they throw my way.

I’m not going to change, even if I could choose to.  I hate cynicism.  But I wonder if I should even worry about how other people view me.  Do I give the impression that foster parents are naive?  Or that they are manipulated by the system?

Hopefully, people realize it’s just me.  I’m unabashedly hopeful for happy endings.

Yes, I WILL turn in my mileage sheet for September before the 15th! In fact, I’ll fill it out and mail it in today because I know there won’t be any more miles to log this month!  I’m so organized and on top of things!  I’ve got it printed and waiting to be filled out – oh but there goes the mail carrier…

Okay, I’ll mail it tomorrow.  That’s still WELL before the 15th.  It will be so nice to start a month without that constant nagging feeling that I need to remember to turn it in.

(It got really bad in August.  I actually didn’t get July’s form turned in because I knew I was missing a few of the visits, and I was going to ask the kids’ mom when they were.  But I kept forgetting, and forgetting, and forgetting, until it was too late.   There weren’t that many visits that month but there were two team meetings.  The reimbursement for those two team meetings alone was $70!  Ouch.  Don’t tell Husband.)

I’m taking some time off.  And this time I’m officially giving it to myself, rather than just feeling sheepish about not posting anything.

I’ve decided to come back September 20th.  It’s enough time to get refreshed, get into the school routine, and most importantly, figure out for myself what direction I’m going to take in my posting.

I’m over the morning sickness, but I’m still exhausted a lot, so I also hope by September 20th, I’ll be starting that fabu 2nd trimester zeal!  (Please, oh please, let me have zeal.  I know I’m parenting 5 children and I’m running myself ragged and I’m feeling physically way older than my 29 years…but please let me have zeal.  Amen.)

So then, I’m signing off for a sabbatical.

And honestly, I’m already looking forward to coming back.  That’s a good sign, eh?