Becoming First Time Foster Parents

On Thursday, April 24, I woke up with a feeling we'd get a phone call. I think when you are waiting to become a foster parent, everyday you think you will get a phone call, but I really did think that we would. My mom says I must be in tune, because that afternoon, we got a phone call to do respite care for the weekend. Respite care is basically overnight babysitting for another foster family. We were expecting a 6, 5 and 3 year old to come and stay with us from Friday to Sunday while the foster parents went out of town. My heart pounded. I decided to take the next day off. We were definitely not prepared to bring three kids into our home, even if it was only for the weekend.

I woke up early Friday so I could get everything done and be ready to receive the kids around 2:00 that afternoon. Around 9 AM that morning, Mike called me from work.

"You'll never guess who just called me", he said.

And that was the moment my life changed forever. On the day that we were supposed to be receiving three children just for a few days, we got a phone call for our first placement. Three children. They said that if we chose to accept the placement we would be receiving them that very afternoon, and they would take care of finding someone else to do the respite care for the other foster family. Shock wouldn't even begin to describe how I felt. How is it possible that in less than 24 hours, all that had happened? Mike told me about the kids and we discussed how we felt. I began what later became almost an entire week of tears. We decided that we would take the kids. Mike made the necessary phone calls and I immediately fell to my knees in tears. How was I going to actually take care of three kids? Was I really ready for my life to change? I prayed and prayed for strength and then, of course, I called my mother. Because who else knows better than my mother? She listened to me cry. Offered her advice and assistance. And she immediately became a huge source of knowledge that I never knew I needed. She sympathized, but also questioned my emotions. "Abby, you've had 6 months to prepare for this, why are you so upset?" And what I realized was I was never ready. Nothing can ever prepare you to be a foster parent. Nothing can prepare you for the immediate 180 degree shift in your life. Nothing can prepare you to take care of children that have experienced such chaos in their life. And I was terrified.

When I got off the phone with my mom, I went into robot mode. The kids that were being place in our home were 10, 9 and 5, which is a whole lot different than the 6, 5 and 3 year old that I had originally been preparing for. We were expecting them to come around 4 in the afternoon, so I had plenty of time to get everything in order. Mike came home from work early and we put the final touches on the bedrooms. And around 4 PM, we got a phone call telling us that there had been a change in court that afternoon and now we would not be receiving the children until Monday afternoon. And since they had already made the switch for respite care, we would not be having any kids in our house over the weekend.

Most would be disappointed, but I was so relieved. Most foster parents don't get the opportunity to have the weekend to prepare, whether its mentally or emotionally or physically. I was able to have a few days to spend preparing myself and spending childless time with Mike because come Monday, I would be a full time mom.

On Monday afternoon, two caseworkers, and two boys and their sister knocked on our door. I feel like things after that moment are a blur. We went to Wal-Mart to pick up a few necessary items for the children and I made tacos for dinner. I do recall the children going to bed fairly easily, which was a surprise. But that next morning, as Mike was leaving for work, I became an emotional mess. I hugged and cried and begged him not to go. What was I going to do without him? I don't know how to be a mom. And my dear sweet husband started crying along with me and I realized that I'm not in this alone. Take it a day at a time. It was the longest week and one day of my life before we could get the two boys enrolled in school. Which just reminds me that my school district is year round, which means 3 weeks off every 9 weeks. Crap.

Every night and every morning that week I cried. The longer I am a foster mom to these children, the more I realize what those emotions are about. Which is a post entirely on its own.

The difficult part about having a blog is that I am usually brutally honest with myself and everyone who reads. As I have said before, many things in the foster care system may not be shared, and the things that I do share, unfortunately, I think most people may not like. My opinions are all my own (and my husbands, of course) and even though my journey is not conventional, I'm discovering things about myself that I never would have known otherwise. As I continue to express my feelings in the future, please be sensitive to the fact that I am a person, and that if I cannot be honest in this space, I see no reason to even continue to write.


If You Follow Me On Instagram....

....you would know, that last Monday, we had our very first placement. I wish that I had had time to write about it in the moment. When all the emotions were so prevalent. But now I sit here, on a Saturday night, with a 10 year old on my couch, a 9 year old on the floor, and a 5 year old running around flipping the light switches. This has absolutely been one of the most difficult weeks of my life. Becoming a mother as quickly as I did, I did not know how to prepare. What I have learned is that there is no preparing. When you don't know the ages, genders, or personalities of the children coming into your home, you just have to hold your breath and hope that you're ready. And I'm learning. 

I'm learning how to be a mom. I'm learning how to take deep breaths and count to 10. I'm learning that my relationship with my husband is absolutely one of the most important things in my life. I'm learning that it's a whole lot harder to keep my diet on track when there are three kids around (and it's not even overeating, I just don't eat when I'm so busy taking care of their needs....pathetic). I'm learning that sometimes, you just have to do things yourself. Never rely on the system. 

I'm just learning. 

When I get another moment, I will write about the placement and all the emotions that went along with that day. But for now, it's off to bath time, and story time, and probably a song or two, and then the sweet moment when the house is quiet, and I'm able to lay my head down next to Mike and maybe shed a tear or share a laugh at the reflection of another crazy day of being a foster parent.  

7 Years

Happy Anniversary to the person that makes me the happiest. 
The one that I love more than I ever thought possible.
My very best friend. 
So glad we will be together for all eternity. 
I love you.