A Lighter Note

Our Central Park kids started back school a week and a half ago.  This newness has been a welcomed distraction for us all.  Madelyn has started 5th grade!  She was totally excited to step into her new school year with these red kicks.  She is most excited about being the oldest students in the school, the new 5th grade space, more art and yoga classes, project time, and her own lucky (cross between a locker and a cubby).  

Kalen is pictured below.  He is starting his 3rd grade year.  He has a fabulous teacher.  He is excited about the science opportunities that are in store for him in this particular class.  He has a few of his buds that have followed him from last year’s class to his current class.  Right now, his class is talking about good health and healthy eating.  I love that.  

Brayden (below) has started his second year at Central Park without hesitation.  He is in the 1st grade.  It is incredible to think about where we were last year and where we are now.  Last year it took months for him (and I) to get used to him being away from home.  Now he feels a part of this school community and anticipates being an active member of it.  He has the same teacher Kalen had for 1st grade.  So far, so good.  Brayden is blessed to be with several other buddies from his Kindergarten class.  Don’t you just love the way Brady likes to wear his socks pulled up?

Our Julian got accepted into Duke School.  This was a lengthy process.  We are all very excited for him to go there for his 7th grade year.  Duke School is another project based school.  For now, he is enjoying his summer.  Currently, he is away with our church middle school youth group at a camp in Florida.

We continue to think of our foster kids.  We wonder how they are transitioning.  I am considering reaching out to their caregivers just to see how they are doing, for peace of mind.  We still adore and love them.  We will do our best to heal from this loss.

I have been substituting this past week.  Full time work outside of the home is not something I am use to living out.  I have been worn slap out!  It has been a good distraction though.  I enjoy being at Central Park with our kids.  I have been filling in for a teacher that is away for two weeks.  I have four more days next week with her second grade class.  Stepping into a substitute teaching position in the very beginning of the school year is full of unexpected challenges.  The kids are sweet though and I feel like I have done my best.

Scott is wrapping up his summer school teaching jobs.  He has done an amazing job of juggling the many things going on this summer.  He will be moving into full writing mode.  This is a good thing.

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Incredible Sadness

Our foster children left three days ago.  It was heart and gut wrenching.  We all cried.  Words will not suffice regarding this transition that has taken place.

Friday, there were no tears in their eyes, only solemn faces in response to our unexplainable sad eyes.  There were no fits, no kicking and screaming.  We did tell them about this transition in as much detail as we thought they could understand.

M & S were silent upon leaving.  They took in as many hugs and kisses as we gave.  Believe me, we weren’t shy about covering them with I love you over and over.  They knew something big was happening.  It was bittersweet to notice the trust that they showed that day.  We’ve worked hard to earn their trust, and yet we were handing them over to caregivers that we don’t know well and we are unsure what the future may look like for them.  Believe me, it felt totally unnatural to hand these children over.  They left waving out the window of their new caregivers’ vehicle.  Our hearts sank, and some of us couldn’t even bare to look up.  I did though.  I felt like I was in a sad movie.  I mustered up a forced smile and called them by name.  The caregivers looked upon us with wordless apologies.  They all waved and off they went.

I drew in my arms and hands to my chest, turned and headed in to let out my sorrow.

The next few hours were full of worry.  Would they be okay?  I wanted to say, “Wait a minute, don’t be trusting kids… put your guard up… who knows what is going to happen in your life next.”  Did I forget to pack anything?  Would S & M need me and call out for me?  I wouldn’t be there.  I have physically let them go, but emotionally I haven’t.  I am partly still anticipating their needs and waiting for them to come back so I can mother them.

I have prayed a lot.  I have prayed for angels to escort them here and there and everywhere.  I have lifted them up each night asking God to calm their bodies, minds and hearts and allow them to rest.  I have prayed for their family, hoping they are healthy and able to take on this responsibility.  I have also repeatedly prayed, “Lord, help me.”

We have all been processing and grieving in our own ways.  There is an unspoken sadness lingering.  I am sure it will remain for some time.  We do talk about them.  And yes, I have found little tiny curls and little cars left here or there.  They are everywhere and they will remain.

This was just before they left.  That is a forced smile on Scott.  Isn’t she beautiful?

This was a few days before they left.  She was so taken with me painting her nails.  The delight in her eyes was breathtaking.

Time Together

It is starting to sink in a little more.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law came to spend time with us today.  Not only did we just want to see one another, but they needed to say their goodbyes to M & S, our foster kids.

It was a sweet evening of hugs, laughter, good food, and yes, tears.

It sank in a little deeper as I watched Jan hug them and kiss them just before bedtime.  That pain in my gut quickly came seeing Shanda cry.

This is really happening.

We will soon let them go.

When I read our little girl several books before bed tonight, I remembered those first few days she came home from the hospital.  I remember rocking her as I read.  I remember those early days of teaching her to look at a book as the pages were being read, instead of throwing it.  She has come so far.  She loves books now.  We read our favorites tonight.  And even though I had to stop a couple of times because of that lump in my throat, I savored every moment.

Time together is a priceless gift, eh?  It wasn’t many days ago that I kissed my sweet grandmother goodbye.  Although we’d had our share of time together making wonderful memories, I still wanted more time.

We still have time, three days, left with these two little ones.  I’ve caught myself staring at them a lot this week, just in awe of their growth and development.  Maybe the Lord will allow us to continue to share life with them somehow down the road past this transition.  I don’t want this goodbye to be the final one.  I am holding out hope.

Tomorrow I will set out to start gathering their things and neatly packing them away.  I don’t wish this process on anyone.  I have done it a couple times for foster children and there is just nothing fun about it.    However, the day does have some fun energy built into it that I will be feeding off of … it is our Central Park School kids’ first day of school!

Long Goodbye

Currently we are in the midst of a long goodbye.  Our foster children will soon be leaving us.

Court was in session for our foster kids’ case last week.  The judge decided to terminate the mother’s rights and move the kids to a long-term placement with extended family in a neighboring town.  We knew there were several options the judge could choose from in regards to the kids’ care.  We didn’t exactly think it would go this way though.

Shock is not a fun thing to feel within fostering.  Lack of control is very unnerving.  However, this was a decision out of our hands and we have to go with it, as painful as it may be.

Our foster duo is staying the weekend with this extended family of caregivers as a pre-placement test run.    They will move the next weekend.

Even typing that hurts.

I can honestly say that I do not regret one single minute of this fostering journey with these two beautiful human beings.  It has been quite a ride this past year and a half.  A ride full of ups and downs.  An experience that has often left me breathless and exhausted.  Somehow, we have held on tight, as a family, as we have sought to provide a safe and loving home for these kids.  It has been hard, but needed.

We are not looking forward to saying that goodbye next weekend.  It was hard enough yesterday, even though we knew we would have them back in a few days.  I feel like pieces of me are walking around in another town.  What are they doing?  What do they see?  Are all their needs being met?  What are they eating?  Are they sleeping well?

There is nothing to prepare one for letting go like this.

There have been moments this week when Scott has looked at me and said, “I can’t do this.”  I understand.  This type of process seems unbearable at times.

Days and weeks from now I am sure I will find a Hot Wheel or Cars car in an odd place in our home.  I will feel that weight in my gut and tears will form.  I will also, inevitably, find tiny black curls here or there left by our little girl.  I know I will feel the same pain.

For now, I will pray.  Pray for our foster kids’ future, that it be full of promise, love, learning and safety.  May they always know they are special, smart and dearly loved.  My hope is I (we) can still play some role in their lives as they continue to grow up.  I also pray for our family of six that we navigate this time of grieving well and continue to hold on to one another tightly come what may.

This relationship with these foster children, has not been natural from the start …. and yet it has.  They came ready to be loved.  I am so glad we stepped up to that call.  We’ve met their longings for unconditional love with open arms.  I don’t think we were prepared or aware of the love we would receive in return from their tiny voices, tiny hands, arms and hearts.

What a gift we’ve been to each other.

 

Eager

 

Here’s Madelyn, Kalen and Brayden just as the mail truck passed our house with the long awaited school mailing with teacher assignments for the 2012-13 school year.  I love how excited they were.  They attend a year around project based school that is a year around school.  They start their new school year this wednesday.