Heavy Heart

Last week,  I learned more about the pain that our foster child has experienced in her short life.  She has endured suffering no one should.  As I process what this tiny little girl has withstood, I am saddened greatly.  I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it.  This changes my views regarding her case.

Recently, when I walked in to the visitation room and handed this precious girl over to her birth mother for the next hour (this is something that DSS sets up and is part of the mother’s rights), I felt satisfied.  The mother embraced her child, reaching for her with outstretched arms.  At this time this seemed right.

But now a shift has occurred.  As much as I have coached myself, as a foster parent, to focus on this child’s reunification with her family, and to know my role in that . . . I am not there anymore.  Now, I want to fight for her.  I want to protect her.  I want her to be one of us.

I struggle with the heaviness of child abuse.  I look into her eyes and fear all that she has seen and felt.  I marvel at her resilience.  I am amazed by her strength.  She makes me want to be a stronger person.

As I hold her, I think of the suffering that occurs daily in the lives of children all over this world.  It is extremely difficult to fathom.  I think of the countless innocent children, victims of abuse, that must live through it and carry it with them the rest of their lives, and I shutter.  It is so unfair.

I want to believe that the suffering our little foster child went through is not real, that she is an imaginary victim in a fiction story or movie that I would never see or know.  This shining little girl couldn’t have had to live such turmoil and pain.  But she did.  Turning a blind eye to this devastating reality is only a disservice to the children that experience injustices through abuse and neglect.  My eyes are now wide with awareness.

I wish I could do more.  Calls come in daily to our Department of Social Services regarding children of all ages that need to be removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect.  These children need a safe haven full of love, acceptance, and hope.

Fostering a child is truly a gift and a privilege.  It has brought out the best in each member of our family.   Sure, fostering is not without challenges and messiness.  There are sacrifices that need to be made.  And yes, there is an adjustment period.  But the children are worth it.  Someone has to do it.

Too many children need foster families.

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Relishing His Colors

Our oldest, Julian, is approaching the eleven year mark.  His birthday is next month, and I can hardly believe the rapid speed in which the years are passing.  He is a little man.  With his long arms and legs that seem to be ever growing, he is branching out and being a bigger guy in many ways.  For example, with this newest addition to our family, he has been the most tender, endearing and affectionate Julian we have ever seen.  He has opened his arms out more lately to embrace Scott and me.  He has chosen ways to be thoughtful and a little more lighthearted.  He has even shown us that resistance does not have to play a major role in his days.

Jules has been tricky to parent.  At times I have wondered if I will continue to hold his heart or if he will slip away and succumb to endless selfishness, loneliness, and resistance.  We have gone through many ups and downs.  We have gone through periods of impatient parenting coupled with a super moody Julian.  We have miscommunicated and failed to truly listen to one another.  Scott and I have placed high expectations and seen the error of taking life so darn seriously and choosing the wrong things to get upset about.  Julian, with his sensitivity and strong view of things being black and white, has struggled to move through his last few years with ease and joy.  With his tendency to be on the irresponsible side of life, we have consistently been behind him pushing him to goodness, to care for others, to exhibit thoughtfulness for tasks at hand, and show responsibility for things, people, schoolwork, and chores.

I am so extremely thankful to type this post today with hope and praise for Julian.  He has been aware of others, thoughtful about his responsibilities and less serious about life in general.  In all the colorful ways I want him to experience life, I feel like he is, and he is showing himself more available and moldable.  I see in his eyes the certainty that is he is loved, accepted and even celebrated.  I see in his deeds that he is capable of compassion and unconditional love.  I see the fruit of better parenting.

May he continue to grow.

May I listen to him and be his biggest cheerleader.

If any of you, as parents, feel like you are losing your child’s heart and you feel there is constant strife, there is hope.  The change starts with you.  Soften your heart.  See your child as a child and and don’t set him up with expectations that are more suited for an adult.  Loosen the reigns a little.  Laugh more.  Slow down.  Look your child in the eyes when she is talking.  Don’t interrupt.  Hug him more.  Praise her.  Tell her you love her.  Compliment him when you see goodness.  Eat with your child.  Try to say yes more instead of no.  Choose to be patient instead of easily angered.  See if your relationship changes. I think it will.  Don’t give up.

I am studying him more.

I am paying more attention to his entirety.

I am delighting in him.

He is creative and needs to know I think he is.

He can be tender and affectionate.  He deserves those two attributes from me daily.

He is unique.  May he know he is irreplaceable and he is vital to our family.

 

All artwork by Julian

Having a One Year Old Around


It will be two weeks tomorrow since our little foster child came to stay with us.  Just yesterday I took this quick snapshot up above.  What you see is her sitting in front of the cabinet beneath our kitchen sink.  Yep, she was emptying it out.  Brayden is four years old now (almost five) and I somehow had forgotten about the curiosity of one year olds.  While she explored this little cabinet, I was literally right above her cooking supper.  She likes to stay close by.  She fits right in.

Having a one year old around means diapers, baby food, everything goes in the mouth, lots of babble, crying, baby toys, naps, high chair use, onesies, a tiny cackle here and there, and lots of holding.  For this special little girl, there is also the special care for her burns that are healing, weekly visitation with mom and brother, doctor and physical therapy appointments and a sensitivity and understanding that is necessary when caring for a foster child.

Within the last two weeks, we have fallen for her completely.  I have heard it said that foster parents should be careful when getting attached to a child.  Well, I am here to tell you it is impossible for me not to get attached.  When I care for a child around the clock, look into those sweet innocent and needy eyes . . .  I am going to love.  I ran into a neighbor yesterday and they met our new family member.  This person quickly said, “I just don’t think I could ever do what you are doing.  I am just so sensitive and I would get too attached.”  I understand, I really do.  It is really hard to let a child go that you love and have invested in.  Right now, this baby girl needs a happy environment to grow within.  She needs a place to be loved.

We are uncertain about this child’s permanency.  In the next month or so, we will know what the plan is for this specific case.  This is the way of fostering.  There are a lot of unknowns.  For now, we get to enjoy the presence and messiness of this little joy that has invaded our world.

BFF

I remember in middle school and high school how easily I wrote down the letters BFF (Best Friends Forever).  It was an endearing way to relate to my closest of  friends.  I meant well, but I didn’t know the depth behind the meaning of placing this label on any of my friendships.  Some of those friendships have survived the passing of time, others have faded.

Lately I have reflected on my friendship with my husband and the love we share.  He is truly my best friend.  He makes me laugh.  He loves all of me.  We have a history.  He is an incredible partner in life.  He protects me.  He is extremely talented.  He makes me want to live outside of the box.  He spurs me on.  He cares for me.  He tells me everything is going to be alright” at exactly the perfect moment.  My best friend is a wonderful father to our kids and values family life.  He is thoughtful and compassionate.  He helps me.  In fourteen years we have grown so much, leaning into one another instead of pushing each other away.  I enjoy him.  I want to be with him.  I delight in him.  I care for him.  He holds my heart.  Our friendship will last forever.  For all these reasons and more, I am thankful for my best friend, my Valentine.

Another One to Love is Here

We picked up our foster baby girl yesterday.  What a precious little thing she is.  She has already captured all of our hearts.  We are so grateful for this opportunity to cuddle, feed, love on and care for this little one.

May she know she is loved.  May she feel acceptance and protection.  May she hear in our home the sound of joy and may it bring a smile to her face.  May we, as a family, rally around her and give her strength and comfort.

Hello February … sniff, sniff

Sick this week.  Julian and I have been out of it and can’t seem to bounce back well.  Makes me think about our immune systems and the need to be proactive about staying healthy by eating well.  Although we are vegan, we could still make improvements in our diet within the Morrison home.  We do eat processed foods.  We need to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.  Hey, speaking of that . . . did anyone catch yesterday’s Oprah?  She and hundreds of her employees went vegan for a week.  The show was great, with it I think her message was to get her viewers to be thoughtful about what goes into their bodies.  Click here to read more about the show.

For the past several days I have been increasing the amount of Vitamin C we are taking in.  We use a product called Emergen-C.  You simply put the powder in a glass and add water.  The drink is loaded with vitamins and is an energy booster.  I just made a smoothie with frozen strawberries, bananas, ginger, apple juice, soymilk, a few fresh salad mix leaves, Vitamin C powder (not Emergen-C) and frozen mangos.  I have also been taking shots of apple cider vinegar.  My good friend, Jen, told me about this a year ago.  The vinegar is an effective bacteria-fighting natural remedy for all kinds of ailments.  To fight off this sickness I have also been drinking a lot of lemon water.  We got a really neat hand-held lemon juicer from Target awhile back.  I juice one whole lemon into a tall glass and then add water.  Lemon water is super good for you.  Google some of these things and find out more about them.  Maybe you can implement them into your diet and keep from getting whatever bug that we have here.

*I did want to give an update on the foster child that we are waiting to care for.  It seems it will be awhile longer before she is discharged from the hospital, as she needs even more medical care.