My Life Is Full of Drama (or, how moving is hard)

Dallas Townhome front

For some reason, Jesse and I do NOT have an easy time moving. We never have. I don’t know if we’re cursed, if we are picky, or if we aim too high, but for some reason, we always wind up in the most weird and stressful moving situations.

Remember in 2007, when we had to live in a drug-infested motel because our apartment wasn’t ready yet?

Or how I found out I was pregnant and Jesse totaled our car 5 days before we moved back to CA?

Or how about our horrific house-hunting saga where we endured close to 10 different escrows?

I don’t know why I expected this move to be any different. I mean, I have been preparing for this thing ALL frickin summer, trying my darndst to break the cycle. In some ways, moving so slowly over the course of 3 months was good because we got to say goodbye in stages. In other ways, however, it’s been like ripping off a bandaid in the slowest and most excruciating way possible.

But I should have known. Moving, despite how much ANYONE prepares, is always crummy. We rely on our home for safety when the storms blow. What to do when your home is in boxes, you can’t find anything, and you work sun-up to sun-down, dealing with countless frustrations and set backs?

Jesse always says that the only difference between moving and a bar fight is that at least at the end of a bar fight, you know where your stuff is.

Anyways, back to our moving drama. Since we had decided to rent our house, Jesse and I decided we were okay renting in TX, since we are building equity somewhere. We figured renting would be less stressful than buying.

Read: Less stressful. So, instead of it feeling like a crowbar to the face, it just felt like someone breaking our toes.

After weighing the pros and cons of lots of places, we decided to rent sight-unseen. I had read the reviews, all of which stated that the complex was older but well maintained. We aren’t familiar with the area of Dallas we’re moving to, but I’ve been assiduously checking the crime reports for months and I felt okay about this neighborhood. The 5 minute proximity to Jesse’s job and 2 of our best friends helped the deal too. Not to mention the fact that it was a dream come true for our budget (around $900/month for a 3 bedroom, utilities mostly paid).

When Jesse arrived in Dallas at the beginning of last week, it was almost 2 days before he could check out the complex. Mind you, we’d already paid a couple hundred of dollars to secure it, but we hadn’t “signed our names on the dotted line”, so to speak.

He hated it. Hate hate hated it. When he called me, his exact words were, “It’s not about to fall down, but…”

Maybe this part of the story would be better told in pictures.

A picture from the website

A picture from the website

lakefront villas 2

What Jesse saw when we got there

I knew that if Jesse was saying it was bad, it had to BA-HA-AD. If the roles were reversed? Perhaps not, but Jesse’s a go-with-the-flow guy, and for him to knowingly walk away from something we’d already set up and put money down on (not to mention, we’d already hooked up the utilities!), it had to mean it wasn’t going to work.

So, instead of spending all of his time and effort getting acquainted with his new job, Jesse had to drive around Dallas for 3 days, looking for new places for us to live, with less than a week until the boys and I were due to fly out. I was worried sick on this end in CA, spending all day on the phone calling places.

I called about one particular house, and a realtor/property manager picked up the phone. Right off the bat, I asked if the property was even available any more. She said, “Yes, it is, but why are you asking these questions? A good realtor would be able to help you with all of this.”

Silence on my end.

She continued: “Do you HAVE a realtor?”

“No.”

“Do you want some help?” she asked.

“YESSSS!!!!” I half sobbed, and then I proceeded to start crying on the phone.

Within 3 hours, she had already found us the perfect place and had driven Jesse to the bank to get the deposit money and sign the lease. BOOM.

And that, my friends, is the dramatic story of how we ended up with a 2 bedroom town home with nearly the same square footage as our house in CA, but half the monthly price of our mortgage. The best part is that it’s only a 2 minute drive from Jesse’s work (around a 20 minute walk, if the weather is permitting!).  It’s on a quiet and safe culdesac, and the HOA pays for a pool and a playground! There are even hardwood floors! 🙂 But my FAVORITE part is that there is a large sunroom in the back, something I’ve always wanted in a home. It’s right off the kitchen, so it will make the perfect playroom for the boys.

The boys and I drive to LA tomorrow to pick up Jesse from the airport, where we will then go to his brother’s wedding and fly out to Dallas on Friday. Pray for a safe and uneventful last chapter of our move!

I Want To Be A Turtle

sea-turtle-2

After 7.5 months, today is our last day as legal guardians of four boys. After today, we will have just our two biological children to care for on a day to day basis.

I’m not going to lie, I feel very relieved, in one big sense. Having four boys while working, selling our house and finding a new place to live across the country has been stressful.

I mentioned that the boys were back with us because there was a irrevocable problem returning to their biological family. I won’t give any more detail than that, but it was heart breaking for all of us, and made for a lot of extra damage control over the past few weeks. Our boys were angry– who wouldn’t be?

I’ve been asked by a few people, what are you going to do? Are you going to “answer the call” and adopt?

What I’m about to say might shock some people. We did NOT feel called to adopt these boys. For where we are in life, we cannot make such a heavy commitment for the next 13+ years. Jesse definitely feels called to grad school, and I know that I am not up to the challenge of single parenting four boys for half a decade, moved away from all of our family and support systems. Unless something about our calling and situation were to change, a commitment like that could have the potential to rip our family apart with all the stress.

I bring this up in order to share a very valuable thing that a friend/mentor shared with me. She adopted a troubled child many many years ago, and has served as a valuable resource for me these past few months. When it looked like the boys were not going to return to their family, she said to me, “Kelly, adoption is hard enough when it’s within God’s will. And if He’s not calling you to it? It’s impossible.”

When the boys returned to us, we had a very difficult conversation with their social worker who was pleading on their behalf. We made it clear, as we had all along, that we were not the right “forever family” for these boys, despite the fact that we love them immensely.

Just saying those words filled me with all sorts of anxiety and dread, however. I panicked. Our boys! Our special special boys! Who was going to love them and care for them? There were many times that I approached Jesse and said, “Maybe this is like Jonah and Nineveh! Maybe we’re supposed to!” I was saying this out of guilt and panic, not out of a sincere conviction. I’m so glad that Jesse is the strong head of our household, and that he was able to say to me each time, “God will provide. We need to obey.”

So, instead, I started making phone calls. Day in and out, for days. I alerted everyone I could think of. Prayer chain emails were sent to quite a few churches in our area. I didn’t want to wait for the social worker to find just any old home, I wanted it to be a Christ filled home, one where are boys could continue to flourish in their new found and oh-so-precious and childlike love for the Lord.

In just a week, (just a week!) we had not just one but TWO families come forward wanting to take our boys. The family who is taking them couldn’t be more perfect. While I won’t share many details about them, I will say that it has become clear that God has been preparing them for years, even though they had no idea they wanted to adopt until just days prior to my phone call. Out of nowhere, God had put it on their hearts. And then, a few days later, I called and told them the situation. I have no doubt that God had them in mind the entire time and that this was the reason we never felt called to adopt them. God didn’t want our good intentions getting in the way of such a beautiful thing, even if this meant we had to let go of our control.

I bring this up for a few reasons– first of all, I want people to know that there ARE so many willing and wonderful adoptive parents out there that just don’t know how to go about finding kids for their families. You never know until you ask.

Secondly, God works in such a mysterious and wonderful way, and I am so glad that I got this opportunity to doubt, panic, and then see Him follow through. He made sure that we were “clear” on the fact that we were not called to take the boys, because He wanted to make it clear that He had a different plan for them. Forcing things, especially when it comes to something like the marathon that is adoption, is not a good idea. One should never foster or adopt out of guilt.

Thirdly, I have been so humbled by these new foster/adoptive parents of our boys. When I approached the mom over the phone, it was clear that her heart was there, bleeding for these boys just as mine was. But that did not mean an automatic yes. Without ever having done foster care, this couple knew that they could not make such a serious commitment without days and days of prayer. Instead of jumping head first into things and regretting the consequences later, like I so often do, they slowly followed due process. As a result, when they did say yes to taking our boys, I knew that I could trust them. I realized that I have so much to learn from the way they handled this decision making process. We need more adoptive and foster parents like these people.

Last week, as we were headed to our foster child’s pre-K commencement, I couldn’t help but ponder all of these things, and I became quite emotional. This graduation, this time in his life wasn’t just about singing cute bible songs or getting permission to go to Kindergarten. This graduation was about a new life, a new beginning, with a new family that is going to love him more than he knew adults were capable of loving. This graduation was about leaving the horrific nightmare of his old life behind and being shown love, care and stability.

During the graduation, they asked all of the kids what they wanted to be when they grew up. Most of the kids said things like, “police officer”, or “doctor”. A few said things like, “Spiderman” and got a few chuckles from the audience. I couldn’t wait to see what our foster child would say (previously, he’d told us things like, “Robo-nurse-cop”, so I had no idea what to expect).

What did he say, when the microphone came to him?

“I want to be a turtle.”

A turtle?

All day, my mind kept coming back to this. And then I realized– a turtle carries his house with him on his back. A turtle has a shell that he can retreat to when he’s scared, somewhere safe that the predators of this world cannot get to. It would make sense that a turtle would be his favorite animal, something he was actually jealous of.

I am so glad that our boys have found a place where they can finally take off those shells, where they don’t need to be afraid any longer. I am thankful for the small part that we got to play in rescuing them from the miserable life to which they were headed, and I’m so thankful that the Lord loves his babies so much that He wants to show them the beauty of adoption so that they can better understand His love for them.

15 Tips for Moving and Staging Your Home– WITH Kids!

Staging House with kids

When we decided to move, I began scouring the internet for ideas and tips for staging a house. And I found a ton of them until I found ourhomelove.com which had everything I love, all the way from the best espresso machine to vacuum cleaners. We decided to get rid of furniture, clear out our closets, remove personal items, touch up the paint, and many other things.

What I couldn’t find with any of my searching was any idea of how to do all this staging with kids. I mean, it all sounded great, but kids have a lot of junk! And how is one supposed to hide diapers, bibs, placemats, etc.?

I also couldn’t find any advice on how to keep a house clean for the weeks/months that it takes to sell. Kids are messy! It’s hard for me to keep the house clean enough for ME to stand, much less for a potential buyer! Cleaning a house with kids in it is, as they say, like trying to make a smoothie without a blender top. And we have 4 boys. Impossible, much?

So I had to come up with my own list, made through much trial and many errors.

1. Clever Storage: There have to be a couple of places to stash those last minute items that you use all the time. They can’t remain on counters, but they do have to be close by so you don’t pull your hair out in frustration while living in your staged house.

We have a special deep drawer in the kitchen for me to quickly put away the boys’ huge place mats (to keep the tablecloth clean– invest in THESE ones from Green Sprouts because they’re sturdy and have a lip all around them to keep in spills) and bibs. Normally, these things are on the table or in the dish drain after cleaning, but they aren’t part of a staged house. We use them ALL the time when we’re home, so they still needed to be accessible. We have diapers and wipes stored in a desk drawer. We have our Expedit with bins in the laundry room for shoe storage.

Staged House-- table

2. Oven dinners only— Jesse was actually the one to think of this and insist on it. He noticed how much time we were spending cleaning our stove top, and wondered if it would be possible to only make oven dinners. If we had thought of this sooner, I would’ve started making casseroles a few weeks ago (we have vegan and gluten free restrictions to consider in our family, so store-bought is tricky. Try our delicious and easy Thai Quinoa Casserole!). Dinner cleanup is hard when your kitchen needs to remain picture perfect for a showing at any moment, so make it easy on yourself.

3.  To go bag for kids— Basically, make sure your diaper bag is on steroids for a few weeks. Given the fact that gluten and dairy free snacks and lunches are hard to come by for the kids, I keep ours stocked full of snacks and juice for the road, ready for us to leave at any time of day with just a moment’s notice. Don’t wait until the realtor calls asking to show the house, have it done ahead of time. I’ve also packed ours with a few favorite toys for the kids.

4. To go bag for adults— For some reason, I can remember to get the kids dressed with their stuff. I can remember to leave the house perfect before we run out the door. But I can NOT for the life of me remember some of my own essentials. Full disclosure– I’ve even been forgetting to put on deodorant in the mornings! There’s only so many things my multi-tasked brain can remember. So I’ve decided to pack myself a to-go bag, much like the diaper bag for the kids. I’ve packed a phone charger, makeup, snacks and water for me, and, yes, deodorant.

5. Keep Just A Few Toys– Put almost everything into storage. I wrote about how creative our kids’ have gotten in our “minimalistic” home as of late. I know that even if the kids destroy everything, I can get the toys cleaned up in 10 minutes.

Here’s a big one– Do NOT leave any art supplies in your house. None. Keep pencils and pens out of reach. Creativity can come later, after you move. You do not want to get a call from the realtor asking to show the house, right after one of your kids has drawn all over your rug or wall (not that I learned this the hard way…).

staging house toys

6. Find a “safe house”– Early on in the staging process, when you’re cleaning everything out and packing boxes, you’ll need somewhere to put it all (your garage should be empty). We were lucky enough to have my parents 2nd garage just 2 miles away, but you could also ask a good friend. If worse comes to worse, rent a storage unit for pocket change every month. It’s worth it.

This place can also be where you can go to hang out, unannounced if the weather is bad or your kids need to nap somewhere. Just make sure they’re a really good, really flexible friend 🙂

7. Cleaning Supplies– This one may seem obvious, but especially with kids you will need to make sure that the vacuum, broom and mop are in spectacular working condition. You will be using all 3 of those puppies on a daily basis when you’re making a mad dash out of the house. The last thing you want is your vacuum to get clogged and leave your house smelling like burning rubber (isn’t that the worst??). Our mop has a trigger-operated sprayer that I fill with awesome smelling essential oils, so I never need to worry about the batteries running out or where to dump the mop water.

It’s also important not to have any cleaning supplies, not even hand or dish soap, left on the counter. I bought a plastic caddy at the dollar store for all the things I normally keep by the kitchen sink. That way, I can stash it underneath the sink during a showing, but still have it all on the counter when we’re all home.

photo (56)

8. Just a week’s worth of clothes– We went ahead and cleaned out most of our clothes (a good excuse to get rid of things we haven’t worn in forever!), leaving only a week or two’s worth total in our drawers. This was also necessary because we decided that having two dressers was making our master bedroom seem smaller, so we sold one of them. I cleaned out most of my dresser and now Jesse and I share it easily. Our closet now feels only about half full, which is good for staging (your storage areas should NOT look maxed, or it’s a huge detriment).

Having just a week or two’s worth of clothes out not only makes it easy to find clothes, but it also makes laundry easy. I can get laundry for a household full of 6 people done in two loads– light and dark– and put it all away, all in under 2 hours. There’s nothing worse for a staged house than piled up laundry!!

9. Tackle just one or two extra deep cleaning items a day to freshen house— It’s too much to EVERY thing EVERY single day. After our initial deep cleaning in the days leading up to listing our house, I’ve decided I only have time to get to one or two extra tasks a day, whether that be using our Magic Clean eraser on the walls, washing the windows, or dusting. It’s all about being realistic and not stressing yourself out.

10. Plan lots of activities out of home– I scouted out a few activities ahead of time, writing down opening and closing times, collecting cash and gift cards, etc. I knew I’d need places to be with the kids when someone wants to see the house, and driving around in circles does NOT sound appealing. So far, we’ve been getting our “park” and “feed the ducks” fix on. I also decided to use these times to catch up on dr. appts. and errands that I’ve been putting off. I’m kind of a home-body, so all of these showings have forced me to get out and give my kids a taste of the big world 😉

Staging the house activities

11. Clean the shower while IN the shower I saw this trick somewhere a long time ago, and it really IS a timesaver. Does it get rid of hard water spots? Well, no, but if what you need is a quick wash for dirt or dust, just fill one of those sponge-holders with some soap and keep it near the shower. Every time you shower, give the tub a quick scrub down! And remember, it needs to get stashed away before a showing, along with ANY and all soap or shampoo (nobody wants to see personal care items in a shower…especially razors and toothbrushes, ICK!).

sponge for staging

12. Spot clean and freshen carpet– My favorite trick for getting our house to smell nice is to mix 1 part Borax with 1 part baking soda in a sugar shaker, then add 10 drops of peppermint and lavender. I sprinkle it on the carpet, then vacuum it up 10 minutes later! The house smells so fresh afterwards, without overpowering anyone (good to know, because air fresheners are a NO when it comes to showing a house, apparently. It sends the message that you have something to hide.) For other Pinterest cleaning tips, you can read my list and reviews here.

As far as spot cleaning, sprinkle baking soda over a stain, then pour vinegar on top. The chemical reaction causes bubbling, which lifts the stain, then you scrub for a minute. Just make sure to vacuum once or twice afterwards!

doterra oils

13. Start the organization/clean out process early– We began the process about a month or so before ever trying to pack up or stage. We made a list of the furniture that we didn’t need and also a list of stuff that cluttered up the house. And we just started listing and selling, listing and selling, taking car load after car load to the thrift store. I’d say we spent at least two full Saturdays just devoted to cleaning out and selling. It made the packing and staging a BILLION times easier.

A piece of advice our realtor gave me was: “You pack twice: first, when you stage your home, and next, when it sells and you’re moving out.”

14. Last minute cleaning– This is my checklist for the ten minutes prior to leaving the house. Go ahead and print it off!

Checklist Before a House Showing

15. Easily-made Beds– When we started staging our house, I replaced the boys’ cartoon character comforters with blankets that matched the curtains. Then, I decided that they would sleep on top of the blanket, using their comforter as a blanket and then folding in the morning and shoving it under the bed.

At first I thought I was perhaps just being lazy. And then I realized that this was a brilliant idea! Making 5 beds in a morning while in a rush is stressful and hard (especially since most showings occur early in the morning before people go into work). This trick considerably cuts down the time spent making beds!

Staged House-- bed

 

There you are! If you have any tips to add, feel free to write them in the comments!

Why I Blog About Foster Care

Spring Cleaning FlowersThis post could really be titled, “my response to my post that went semi-viral on Friday”.

First of all, it’s so funny to me that bloggers long for an extreme amount of hits to suddenly show up on their doorstep like magic. It’s actually quite exhausting, emotionally and logistically. I started getting emails from my host site, warning that they might shut me down. I made the mistake of reading a few of the comments posted to the original post on Facebook (which suddenly had over 9,000 views because it was posted by AdoptUSKids) and had a hard time going about my day as a result.

All of this has inspired me to clarify a few things, and, more importantly, address the mission statement of this blog.

I will start with what this blog IS.

This blog IS a way for me to write about things that help me in my life as a mother, wife and teacher. If you’ve stuck around for a while, you know that this includes a myriad of things, from moving tips (coming tomorrow!), to funny/inappropriate stories, to outfit posts.

This blog IS full of articles about foster care, and will continue to be so. You see, when we first started foster care, there were not many resources for us, and what IS there often gets sugar-coated. We had already watched my sister-in-law go through the foster/adoption process, and yet there were so many things we didn’t know. We were absolutely blind-sided by a lot, and a little more information about what we were getting ourselves into would’ve gone a LONG way. As a result, we almost quit.

I’m so glad that we gave things another try. Our second experience has been a complete 180, in many ways, and I feel that it’s in large part because of what we know now. Our expectations are different. We know what’s normal, what comes with the territory, and also what’s unacceptable and needs to change. That line between manageable and overwhelming is a very gray area, and information helped us navigate it. As a result…

This blog IS a tool for me to encourage other foster parents, both current and future.  Three years ago, I had absolutely no idea foster care was in our future. And then it became 90% of our lives. Just like that. You never know when the Lord is going to call you to serve in this way, and you need to be ready.

 

All that being said, I can now tell you what this blog is NOT.

This blog is not the be-all, end-all source of information about foster care. When I wrote the 10 Things I Wish I’d Known, these were things directly related to my experience and our training. Different states, even different counties, have COMPLETELY different procedures. Foster care is a system, yes, but it’s made up of people. People are unique and people are flawed. Everyone’s experience is going to vary, even placement to placement. We went through three social workers in five months with our first placement. This time around, we’ve had one all-star of a social worker, one who treats this as her calling.

For the article, I picked 10 things that would have made my life easier had I known them the first time around. For instance, if I had known that I’d be spending so much time on the phone, doing therapy, scheduling appts., etc., I never would’ve tried to increase my work hours at the same time. I would’ve cut back. That, alone, would’ve made my life half as stressed during our first foster care placement.

This blog is NOT a place to share my foster kids’ personal stories or information. There are rules about these things, rules which I have signed and take seriously. I will never use my kids’ names, I will never use my kids’ faces in a picture, and I will never talk about anything that I haven’t seen them discuss openly amongst all sorts of people. If I need a small detail, here or there, to help me prove a point worth making, it comes down to a judgement call. But, in the end, if all I have to tell are their stories (which belong to them, not me) then I really have nothing worth saying on this forum.

I have received a small amount of critique on this arena because some believe that foster care should never be blogged about in any way shape or form, and that the only support worth having is that which comes in person-to-person contact.  Some of this boils down to arguments that one might have about why blogs, in general, are never as good as real relationships (more on this at the bottom).

I am always willing to discuss this, and I am always willing to admit that there are parts of my heart and selfishness and that I have not yet given over to the Lord. But is this blog a place of selfishness that I have not yet surrendered? Or is it an extension of me and my flawed gifts that the Lord is using to encourage and support others? At this juncture, I have only to see evidence of the latter, in the form of dozens of emails thanking me for the support.

I never wrote any of my articles for more “blog hits” (haha, I honestly thought that no one would read them! I just hoped that somehow, someday, my 10 Things article would somehow make it’s way to some hapless soul, struggling with their own foster care situation). Everything I have said has been to encourage or inform.

Having examined my motives extensively on this matter, it’s now up to me to not respond or react to the hurtful comments that come my way. They can say what they want– it’s up to me to choose how I react. I cannot stop writing about these things if I feel convicted to do otherwise. I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that foster care needs more awareness.

This blog is NOT a recruitment tool. When the 10 Things article was first published on Facebook, I saw a lot of comments about how the article didn’t encourage them. Some people said that they used to want to do foster care, and now they don’t.

At first, this made me sad.

And then I realized.

If an ARTICLE is enough to turn someone off to foster care, how much more so the real thing? I didn’t even go into detail about how horrible our first placement ended (yes, it can happen to anyone). I didn’t even talk about the PTSD and the nightmares I still have from it all. Even good placements are still hard and a lot of work. I’ve never met a SINGLE PERSON who said that foster care was easy.

So, if my article scared someone off, then I consider it a job well done.

Because the turnover rate for foster parents is staggering. Long term foster placements are quite rare. Kids get bounced around from home to home like it’s not a big deal, as long as they have a bed and food. The reality is that I’ve seen more damage come from our kids’ previous placements than from their original homes. Every failed placement is another abandonment, and every time kids have to move it makes it twice as hard on the new foster parents to break through those walls of self-preservation.

The world needs more foster parents who can stand the test of time, not well-intentioned people who are only going to hang with things so long as they’re easy. That being said…

This blog is NOT a warning and scare tactic for potential foster parents. I firmly believe that there are not enough foster parents in the world, and that many people who SHOULD be foster parents are not (yet!). As I said before, three years ago, at the ripe old age of 25, I had no idea that I would feel called to foster care. I was pregnant with my 2nd baby, and had just figured out how to keep my toddler from running into walls. I barely knew how to balance a check book.

And that’s why it kills me when people say things like, “Oh, I could never do that!” or, “Wow, it takes a special type of person to do what you’re doing!”

Because it doesn’t.

I’m not a “special type of person” unless you’re talking about a “special type of selfish” or a “special type of anxious”.

I am a 28 year old who looks 15 and still gets carded when buying spray paint. I am a mom who constantly forgets to buy enough groceries.  I have two babies under the age of 3. We are a one car family, living on a shoe string budget. We don’t have tons of patience. We don’t have extra time. We don’t have a large house.

What we DO have is a calling from God to help the widows and orphans.

And God’s strength and love is more than enough to fill all those imperfections and minister, but only if we’re willing to make room for it. The clutter that surrounds our hearts in the forms of expectations, entitlements and selfishness needs to disintegrate if there is to be room for God’s grace and help. When I hear, “Oh, I could never do that”, I think that what the person might be saying is that they aren’t ready. And that’s perfectly alright. We are all on our own path to Salvation, and we all answer individually to someone not of this world. Far be it from me to decide who is called and when.

But the church is failing in this regard. We NEED more foster parents. There are tons of orphans in our own backyards, and many of us are too busy with all of our extracurricular activities to do anything about it. On the dreadful day of judgment, do I really want to look my Savior in the face and tell him that I didn’t have the time? That I was too scared? That I was too comfortable in my own way of doing things? Jesse and I have decided that the answer is no. We will not be too scared or too busy. We might take a break for a time or two, in order to regroup and regain our footing as a family. But we will always be waiting for God to show us the next step, the next hurting child.

 

Now that I’ve clarified what this blog is and isn’t, I have one last bone to pick, one last issue to discuss:

Foster parents beat up on each other and are some of the biggest critics of one another. One foster mom I know said she was the MOST worried about telling her foster mom support group things, because they were the harshest critics she had found, tearing her down instead of building her up (one of my arguments for online-foster care groups).

This criticism NEEDS to stop. For heavens sake, there are enough Mommy Wars going on, we don’t need to start Mommy Wars 2–The Fosters. Every foster mom is different, and there will always be the holier-than-thou bunch who go around starting a blame game about how someone is “doing it wrong”. We have enough battles to fight for the sake of our foster children– we DON’T need to start more of them amongst ourselves, if, indeed, we have the same goals.

For instance, many of those who made personal attacks against me as a foster parent can’t actually have the well-being of foster children at heart. Critique is one thing– ad hominem attacking is another. Perhaps it’s the nature of the internet, in that, just like road rage, people forget that there is a REAL mother behind the other computer screen.

What the harshest critics should have realized is they were critiquing a very REAL foster mom, with REAL foster kids to pick up within an hour of reading about how she was a basket case and shouldn’t even be a foster parent.

They were critiquing a foster parent who was battered and tattered after a week of fighting for her kids, without even a spare moment to herself.

They were critiquing a foster parent who has had to hold back tears daily, just so that she doesn’t add further burdens to her foster children who are barely holding it together.

In a very real way, those who threw harsh critiques towards me yesterday were spitting on a soldier fighting a battle. I pray to God that I never do the same thing to someone else.

You might ask, why all this critique? Why so intense?

Foster care is tricky because there is a LOT of emotion wrapped up within it. We all want someone to blame, most often, “the system”, as I’ve so often heard it called. People like social workers are easy targets because they are the gate-keepers, in many ways. Foster parents are also easy targets, because they can never fill the aching hole that the kids have.

But neither of these are the problem. “The system” is not the problem. Birth control or sex ed are not the problem. Lack of funding is not the problem. Lack of training is not the problem. Lack of awareness is not the problem.

The problem is that because of sin in our world, horrible things happen to beautiful, innocent children. It hurts. And we want someone to blame.

We need to realize this. We need to realize that all of our ranting and raving about who’s doing what wrong is just an effort to make ourselves feel better and more in control.

But we’re not in control, and thank God for that. All we can do is care for what we are given, one day at a time.

Hopefully, anything and everything I’ve written here helps you do the same.