Foster Care Lessons

We have had our boys for 4 months today. Officially our longest foster care placement. We have court tomorrow, and we are not sure what the judge will order. Just another unknown. Will they be with us for March break? Will they be able to take the gymnastics class we signed up for? Should I register him for kindergarten?

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With our previous foster children there was already a transition home by this point, we just started home visits, so that is a step in the direction of reunification, but the agency does not feel confident in returning the boys…yet. Too many factors, that I cannot get into.
As I reflect on these past 4 months, emotions overwhelm me. I have been real and honest with the fact that this has been our hardest placement yet. Somedays, I feel like I don’t want them here anymore. The turmoil, and frustration these boys have caused our family has been great. We have had many difficult days, where my patience is maxed, and I just want to cry (and do).
You see, the thing is I refuse to raise rude children, even if they are only mine to raise for a while. I expect children to be kind, gentle, get along and be respectful to others as well as property. I, of course, understand there will be good and bad days, and there are always teachable moments, but I refuse to be walked all over and to feel out of control in my own home.
Parenting kids with trauma is very different, and I really am only realizing how different with older foster children in our home, vs babies. We have more bad days than good…but oh the good ones are great. The good ones are reminders of grace, love, and truth.

I have very little sleep between the baby and the night terrors. Which breaks my heart and brings compassion back to my heart after a difficult day. 

The good ones are when you go in for midnight check ins. When instead of hearing screams, and looks of terror on their faces in the nightmares they are having, you see sweet little smiles, cuddled up with stuffed animals, and even wakeful comments like “mommy I need a kiss and a hug to go back to sleep”.
The good ones are when grandmothers remind you of how far they have come, and how happy they seem. How eager they are to please, and feel the reward of my “foster mama” hug.

The good ones are hours of happy play between 4 children. When the boys go to their big foster sisters for comfort from a fall or navigating hurt feelings.
The good ones are lots of stickers on the “I did it” chart.
The good ones are “mommy I have so much fun living here” comments.
The good ones are the days where I feel like my heart will break when they go home.

These boys, and the trauma and turmoil they brought into our home, have brought so much more than that. They turned our life upside down.
We will forever be better parents. We will forever be less judgemental of the kid freaking out in the grocery store. We will forever be able to navigate certain diagnoses a little better. We will forever be able to understand what it is like to be parents of rough and tumble, loud, want to wrestle, and be dirty all the time boys.
Sweet boys. Boys that love to cuddle, and smile, and be filled with laughter. Our boys.
I am not sure how much longer their story will be intertwined with ours, but I will count each day as a blessing. I will practice my patience, and cherish the fact that there is no more screaming in the night.
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