One Year

July 15 marked one year of being foster parents.

It’s kind of ridiculous to think about, but we have been parenting strangers' kids for more than 365 days. Well, not entirely. We took a break for a while. But you get it.

We’ve had eight kids in our care since day 1. Eight little pairs of feet and eyes and hands and eight little smiles and cries and screams (except for K. He doesn't scream.).

I finally put up photos of each of them on our wall. Even though we only had some of them for less than a week, each of them touched our hearts and we will never forget them. I’m going to get a piece of art (or make one) that says “Family” to put above it, because that’s what we consider each of these babies.

I’ll admit, we were hoping that by the time we’d been doing this for a year we’d be closer to at least the on-ramp for adoption. Before we started, I was thinking I would take a month off from work to adjust and then go back to work and keep on keepin’ on. I was just so sweet and adorable, wasn’t I? We got three placements in 6 weeks. (I’m glad I didn’t keep the job I had because that never would’ve worked.)

Anyway, we’re not really any closer to adoption than we were a year ago, but God did answer our prayer for a longer placement. We’ve had our girls for about 5.5 months now, and it’s hard to imagine life without either one of them. But adoption, if it ever comes, will still be a long time away.

Without giving too much away on a public forum, Dubs has begun visits with her dad and is moving toward going to live with him. We of course are heartbroken that she’s not our forever child (though in a way, she is), but y’all — we love her dad. Again, not to say too much, but he has a relationship with the Lord and is so excited to have her, and he’s kind of the best case scenario. He’s turning his life upside down for this little girl and even moving to Nashville, and wants us to be as involved as we want for as long as we want. We are beyond thankful for him and for God working this out.

With P, we still don’t know. Some details have changed with her family, so there’s still a possibility she could go to someone else, but we are praying, praying, praying, that it would be in God’s will to make a way for us to keep her, especially to keep her in contact with Dubs. They are developing such a sweet relationship, you guys. No one makes P laugh harder than Dubs, and whenever P hits her head or falls, Dubs goes, “Ok, P? Ok? I kiss it” and kisses her to make it better. I MEAN.

Speaking of P, guess who is WALKING? WHAT IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, you guys. [Watch proof here.] Remember when we got her and she was 5mo and just stayed there whenever you laid her down? Gah. My heart. This sweet tiny baby (NOT TODDLER, DAYCARE WORKER WHO SAID SHE COULD MOVE UP CLASSES SOON AND HURT MY FEELINGS - RUDE.) is everything. She turns one next month and I JUST CAN’T.

Dubs is becoming such her own little person. She’s delightfully weird and hilarious. We couldn’t love her more. She’s doing great with her language and singing songs (including ‘Work’ by Rihanna which I’m not sure how I feel about), learning colors, counting to 10, and we are so proud.

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive of us and loved our kids so well. We are thankful for our community!

Foster Families And You

“Foster care” is becoming a more familiar word among many people nowadays, at least in my circles (though I am admittedly biased), and I’m so thankful for that. Adoption became a word many people now understand and can wrap their mind around, including all that goes along with it, and I think it paved the way for foster care to come up behind it in its wake. Churches seem to be rallying around foster families in addition to adoptive families, and trying to figure out how to help them. 

The problem seems to be that sweet and kind people want to help, especially if they don’t feel a tug toward fostering themselves, but don’t really know how to do it or what to ask. 

Well, if that’s you, it’s your lucky day because this here foster mama is about to enlighten you. You’re welcome.

Here are some things you can do/say/be for foster parents and foster children:

1) When in doubt, pizza. (Also just a good life motto.)
Bring those tired and weary humans some food. Think about it as if they just had a new baby biologically (no meal train required). Somehow getting meals together becomes infinitely harder when you suddenly have one or two or four extra kids running around, and not having to worry about it is more of a lifesaver than you know. Whether it’s a homemade meal or sending them pizza (a personal favorite to both do and receive), trust me, it’s appreciated. Don’t worry about being an imposition, just ask when to show up. They won’t say no.

2) Try to remember that foster children have different needs and behaviors than most biological children.
One of the most frustrating things to hear is something like “they’re just being 2 — terrible twos come with temper tantrums!” or “yeah, my four year old does that, just try this” or “just tell them no.” Y’all, trust us when we say, “no, this is not ‘normal’ temper tantrums” or “this is different.” Trauma has a big impact on our kiddos, whether it’s past abuse or simply the act of being pulled from everything they know and put into a house with strangers. Sometimes we have to handle situations a little differently. Sometimes we have to say “yes” when you may normally say “no.” (i.e. snack 10 min before dinner or listening to “Let It Go” for the 80th time.) Sometimes we have to bail on dinner out halfway through because #feelings. We know you’re trying to relate, but often it’s better just to say “wow, that’s hard.” So we can go “YES. YES IT IS.” and maybe you give us a donut or something. 

3) Hang out with us.
Sometimes (read: all the time) a pair of extra hands can be super helpful, not to mention give us social interaction when we suddenly go from 0 to 2 kids and realize we have no social lives. We (I) promise to try to invite you to things if you promise to invite yourself, too. :) Come to the park with us or eat with us. We don’t bite. (Most of us.) Promise. 

P.S. Come over and drink coffee and chat with me after the kids go to sleep because I miss you but for some reason kids require supervision?? I mean honestly. So needy.

4) Offer to babysit.
This may be an obvious one, but it really does help to know who genuinely wouldn’t mind if we asked them to wrangle our hoodlums for a couple hours. It’s easier to trust friends with our new little ones than a babysitter from a list. Nothing against babysitters from a list, but you know. Friends get it.

SIDEBAR: I was recently wiped out by a gross stomach bug that had me in turmoil both physically and emotionally as I worried about how to take care of our kids when I just needed someone to take care of me, especially since Craig was scheduled to work at the Peach Truck that day. I sent out an SOS text to a handful of friends at 5:30 in the morning and within a couple hours two friends were basically like, “I’m on my way.” WHAT. I still can’t get over it and was not able to properly act appreciative in the middle of the yuck (let’s not even talk about the state they saw me in) but I am BEYOND thankful I have a village I can count on to help me. They took my kids to chick fil a and the park and just drove around with them sleeping in the car so I could get some peace and rest without “MOMMYYYYYY!” and pulling Baby P away from the TV cords every five seconds. 

5) Take an interest in our kids just as you would our bio kids.
Nothing makes me happier than people genuinely taking an interest in our kiddos and interacting with them. It’s so sweet to see people love on them and enjoy seeing photos of them (or at least humoring me because I can’t post their faces on Instagram and it’s HARD, guys) and ask how they’re doing or say “this made me think of dubs.” 

6) Pray.
Again, maybe obvious, but necessary. Pray for the good of our kids, whatever that may be. Pray for the Lord to work in their little lives. Pray for us as we walk through this ridiculousness. Pray for court dates and decisions DCS makes and decisions the bio family makes. Pray with us. Let us know you’re praying. Ask us what to pray for. It’s so encouraging to know people are in it with us.

7) Ask what we need specifically and see if you can track it down in a hand-me-down sort of way.
I wouldn’t normally just say “give us stuff,” but, well…give us stuff. I just mean, we’ve had so many people ask us what we need and then either volunteer something they have that we can borrow indefinitely or just have that they’re done using, or find one for us from someone else who doesn’t need it anymore. It has helped a TON. I don’t think we bought 90 percent of the baby gear we have. A lot of times people are just happy to get rid of the stuff and we are beyond thankful to have it! It doesn’t have to be the newest or even have all the pieces (you know, as long as it’s structurally sound). But things like cribs and exersaucers and carseats and shoes add up, so we’re happy to take whatever you’re willing to give! Just ask if we need it, first. :)

8) When REALLY in doubt, gift cards.
The aforementioned “stuff” we need also requires cash money, and DCS payments don’t start coming for about a month after you first get the kids. Even then, you’re often playing catch-up. Gift cards to target or zoo passes or restaurants are a huge help!

Those are just a few things I can think of, but I’m sure there are more that others in different situations have experienced. If you’re a foster parent or have been involved with foster care, feel free to comment below with your thoughts!

The Daddy Conundrum

This week we hit the 3 month mark of having #Dubs and #BabyP with us. We've settled in a new normal, or as normal as foster care can be, and these girls have started to feel like family.

This week we hit the 3 month mark of having #Dubs and #BabyP with us. We've settled in a new normal, or as normal as foster care can be, and these girls have started to feel like family.

But that's the strange thing. They're not really our family. They have a real family. Of course we treat them like family while they're with us, but it also leads to the question of what do they call us?

When the girls first came to us in February, we tried to have them call us "Craig and Lala"1. But as Laura started to fulfill the role of Mom to Dubs, we started hearing Mommy from her.

We've always taken the stance with foster kids that if they want to call us Mommy and Daddy, we let them, but we don't encourage it. But what happens when she calls Laura Mommy but she doesn't have a category for Daddy? We felt like she needed something to call me, but she wasn't latching on to Craig.

Every once in awhile I would let a Daddy slip out while playing with her...and it felt foreign.

Laura and I had several conversations about what Dubs could call me and nothing felt right until one night when I was playing with Baby P. As Laura mentioned in her last post, we're starting to hear P using some real sounds in her babbling, and I'm working hard to get her to say Dada. I was repeating this to P when Dubs walked up, pointed at me, and said Dada. Laura and I looked at each other and knew we had our answer.

So I'm Dada now. I'm not her father, but I have an affectionate nickname. Even better, she knows who you're talking about when you say "Go take this to Dada." She still doesn't use it like she does Mommy, but I like finally having a name.

  1. I wish there was a fun nickname for Craig, unfortunately the best we have is Cray Cray...and no. ↩︎