Sometimes my heart feels heavy when remembering our past foster children. This night exactly one year ago, Sunflower was removed from her mother’s care.
I cannot imagine her fear as policemen and strange people trying to explain to her that she is safe.
“What do they mean safe? Why are you taking me from my mommy?”
The state she was living in was terrible by some standards but perfectly normal for her. She was used to the police coming around but why were they taking her mommy.
The trauma inflicted on her that night will forever be in her memory.
The trauma inflicted on her in order for an apprehension to occur will also forever be in her memory.
Trauma Anniversaries are a real thing. Even when your brain tries to forget your body still remembers. This is because our body stores things at a cellular level.
We experience the world through our senses and how we experience things imprints into our cellular memory.
So for sunflower feeling the early summer warmth on her skin, and the buds all starting to bloom on the trees will forever bring her back to that day.
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I was driving with the windows rolled down, feeling that same early summer warmth on my skin and I got a sudden flashback of when we were called and told about Sunflower and her story. I got all these feelings of when she came into our care. Frightening, manic and confused, she was like a deer stuck in headlights. Not able to comprehend what was happening to her.
Vivid memories of her waking up screaming every half hour all night long and me sleeping on the floor beside her for the first 7 weeks she was with us flooded my mind.
I find that each season reminds me of a certain child we have cared for, and I measure the last few years of my life by who was with us.
Breathing in the cold winter air reminds me of our first little guy Peanut, and the brothers. Both of those winters seemed so hard.
With Peanut I was still trying to navigate the whole foster care world. I was a newbie and access visits, paperwork and ALL the feelings were so foreign to me. I was waking up to an alarm every 2 hours to feed him as he had been diagnosed with failure to thrive. I was tired, and terrified to do things right. I was going to doctor appointment after doctor appointment praying for his little life. Praying for improvements and building a relationship with his parents.
The following winter marked a long 6 month with 2 brothers. I loved them dearly but they was our hardest placement ever. The relationship with their mom was complex, the attitudes and behaviours they dealt with were hard to parent, and I struggled every day with feelings of maybe I should disrupt this placement. Feeling guilt for wanting to but then falling in love with them all over and not wanting them to leave. It was a very up and down placement, and my feelings seemed to change daily.
Summer reminds me of when we had our 2 girls Coco and Banana. We had such a fun first summer fostering. Busy, but both the babies slept through the night for the most part. My bio children were not in school yet so I was the mama of 4 little girls 4 and under, all day every day we were together…well with a few access visits a week for the babies. I remember all the little vacations we took, and the fun we had in the pool and at the beach.
Summer also brings memories of Sunflower because she came right at the beginning of summer and left on halloween. Of all our foster loves she was the one who just felt like she fit so perfectly in our family. Lilia and Marissa adored her and they were close enough in age that they would play for hours and hours. We saw so many breakthroughs with her it just seemed like every week got better and better. As you may know she was our hardest goodbye, not because she was being reunified but at how quickly the timeline changed. We are so thankful we still see her on a regular basis, and get to be a part of her and her mom’s life.
Then midway through summer we got the call about our sweet Rosie. Back to being a mama of 4 daughters and loving every minute of it. Rosie was a difficult baby to care for but she was special. I knew the minute I answered the placement phone call for her that she was an answer to my prayers.
We got into fostering to adopt, and we fell in love with fostering along the way. We were happy to support reunification when safe but I always prayed for a child who truly needed a home, who truly needed parents to love them, who truly could benefit from an adoptive family and who would be our child FOREVER.
Rosie was the answer to that prayer. Coming up to a year later and summer is here again. Some days it’s hard to believe she is still with us. Some days it feels like that’s exactly how it was meant to be.
The last few seasons of my life have been the most beautiful, the most purposeful, the most intentional.
My life has changed, and continues to change every day. I grow and develop and become a better person. I know what is important and I know how to be content.
I am thankful for these memories, and how the summer breeze in my hair reminds me of the little girls I have impacted, and how the cold winter air in my nostrils reminds me of hard times but also reminds me I got through them and I grew so much. I created major impacts on 9 little lives in the last few seasons of my life, and I thank God every day for that opportunity.
We don’t know what our fostering future will look like at this point. Beyond doing short emergency placements we are taking a foster care break, and taking this time to devote to Rosie and our family. IF we get to adopt her we want to take some time as a core family to continue to bond, to have a break from social worker meetings and access visits. We want to get her a passport and travel and make some memories as a family of 5. I think it might be time for a season of simply being a family, that doesn’t change. Marinate in that and just be.
Seasons of life change and are always changing. Sometimes its crazy and hectic, and sometimes it needs to be more simple. I want to embrace the simpleness before the next crazy adventure.