Two weeks ago we got a call from our foster care agency for a little boy who needed a home to stay in. My husband and I have been licensed as foster parents since January of 2017. This was our second kid for the year (with the exception of a couple of kids who were here for 2 or 3 days). Our first girl came to us at the end of the school year and on into the summer. She was here for a month before she successfully moved to a family member’s home. She was six.
C arrived on a Thursday night as a five year old. The next day was his birthday. So he celebrated his sixth birthday with strangers. He kept saying he needed to get back because he had passed out invitations for his party.
Except there would be no party with friends.
I found at 6:30pm that it was his birthday the next day. With the help of a neighbor we scrambled together a new set of Legos and a fidget spinner for the next day and I made him a cake. I showed him his room when he arrived 3 hours later and we pulled out his pj’s for him to change into. He was asleep before I finished signing the papers with CPS.
While I can’t tell you his story, I can say that the house is loud with three boys. Even though he is six, there are behaviors he lacks. Things you would teach a two year old such as obey/not obey are areas he hasn’t been trained in. So we start at the beginning.
Which produces lots of stress and yelling (just being honest here). How do teachers do it? So much respect for them!
It’s been especially stressful because it’s the holidays and we are reluctant to go out in public with three boys. Our times in public (eating at a restaurant or a trip to Target) were always limited because our two year old has reached that “fun” stage (please read with sarcasm!) and it’s even more so now because C is here.
C only had five days in school before Christmas vacation hit and we are all home. I’m home for a week before I go back to work after the new year while my husband will be here for the second week the boys are home. I know my husband will want to run for the door when I get home from work next week. Who can blame him?
Having him here has thrown off our whole routine. There is no quiet, no spur of the moment “let’s jump in the car and go somewhere”, or even structure to our day. Our oldest, bless his heart, has repeatedly asked for alone time so he can read a book or practice his piano. So we’ve instigated “alone time” in the afternoons so everyone can have a break and do their own thing and we can try to have the two year old nap.
C hates this time. He hates being alone. Not in a crazy, scared way. He just hates playing by himself.
Which also brings me to the fact that I haven’t been able to write and my husband hasn’t been able to work. Our concentration has been lacking.
While this sounds like a lot of complaining, I know from experience the first month is the hardest. You’re establishing a routine, there are so many people in and out your door for visits such as the CASA worker, the child’s attorney, CPS, our agency case worker, and next week a behavioral health specialist will come and visit C. We’re also required to get him into a doctor during the first month and a dentist by the second month.
I’m hoping the next two weeks we can settle into a routine and we can establish our new normal. We’re glad that we get to do this but it’s hard. So hard.
Want to know what grace looks like? Become a foster parent and experience the stress of shaping a kid’s behaviors and then imagine how God approaches us with love, unconditional love, despite our sin. That is grace.
I couldn’t do this without Him.