Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What we Learned Our First Week as a Foster Family

What a blur this past week has been.  It took 4 months to complete our foster training and 6 weeks before we finally got a call to take a sibling group of 3 girls. (Now down to 2 girls)

In the past 5 days we have learned more about grace, mercy and the need to stockpile applesauce than we ever imagined!

I'm typing this list so that in a few years. after we have become more seasoned as a foster family, we can look back and laugh over what some day we might come to think of as the "little stuff."  Right now, nothing is little.  We are in survival mode.  Me, as the mom.  My kids, with their new "siblings." As well as the girls who had the rug pulled out from under them a week ago last night.


Things we Learned After Our First Week As A Foster Family


  • When receiving someone else's kids, there probably will not be such a thing as "Love At First Sight."  Learning to love these kids will take time.  I really hoped some deep mothering instinct would kick in and I would instantly love the girls...but that's just not happening.  Love is a process...
  • Just because toilet paper is such a common place item in my family doesn't mean it is common for everyone.  Learning where and how to poop is a skill that I never dreamed I would be teaching this week.
  • Coloring books and water colors have saved my sanity and allowed us to be able to eat this week.  Without them, I would probably still be preparing the first meal for the girls.  This has been the ONLY way so far to keep them in a seat for more than 30 seconds.
  • Boundaries, rules and common sense HAVE to be taught.  And kids who have never been taught not only don't know basic rules in a family, but have no concept of them and don't even know they're breaking them.   We have had to teach things like, "Playing in the street is not ok." and "Biting the top off of a glass weather instrument and drinking what's inside is not ok!"
  • Hungry kids eat OFTEN!  Our girls came very hungry and malnourished.  They eat like little birds, a little at a time and VERY often!  We have had to teach that it is ok to ask for food; you don't have to steal and hide it.
  • Prayer is a must.  In my own strength I would be failing miserably, but with God all things really are possible!
  • There is NO down time...yet! 
  • Sleep and alone time are more precious than ever! The girls like to follow me everywhere.
  • A supportive husband is absolutely necessary!  Especially one who loves kids and loves to draw and has infinite patience.
  • I can't believe that we have already learned that not every placement works out.  When you have a 13 year old girl placed in your home with a 15 year old son of your own, there might be problems, especially when the 13 year old has no concept of appropriate relationships.  The 13 year old already has a new foster mom.  I feel both guilt and relief.
  • In the first week of a new placement, especially your first week of fostering ever, the social workers have become fast friends!  
  • There are kids in the US who have no idea what a dishwasher is or how cool automatic doors at Target are!
  • Having other foster parents to talk to is invaluable!  The need to vent to someone who won't judge you for your raw emotions is priceless and necessary!
  • Reading police reports about the new kids is necessary as well as excruciating!  
  • Working with medicaid is a new skill I am still learning.
  • Like we learned in our training, daddy is the hero!  The girls can't wait for their new daddy to come home from work.  Speaking of their new daddy...the girls have learned that daddy goes to work EVERY day and he comes home EVERY night. They had no concept that dads did this.  
  • Being called mommy and daddy by children who are not my own this soon is weird and cool at the same time.
Things My Kids Have Learned This Week...
  • Privacy that they didn't even know they had is gone.  Especially for my daughter whose bedroom turned into somewhat of a dormitory!
  • You have to have clothes on ALL the time.  No more running around in just underwear!
  • Stuff can be replaced.  Because the girls have no self control yet and touch everything, special treasures have to be hidden for a while.  It's been like baby-proofing all over again, but this time it's for a 6 and 8 year old.
  • Their problem solving skills are being honed as well as refined under pressure.  Sometimes that means its ok to go hide for a while and sneak chocolate with me!
  • Separate bed times are a blessing!  The time we have as a family after the girls go to bed will become VERY precious to us over time!
  • Not all kids react the same to the new kids being here.  They each have to accept the changes on their own at their own pace.   That means some have delighted me with their efforts while some have hidden.  Both are ok for now!
  • Patience, Patience, Patience.  Kids from broken homes don't come fixed.  
  • Fixing takes TIME!
  • Mom is breaking all the screen time rules we set as a family.  TV is one of few ways to get the girls to calm down.  Changing that also takes time.  
  • Psychology 101:  In homes like the one where the girls came from some parts of their brains just haven't been developed.  Parts that control social skills, moods and self control are now up to us to teach.  Time!


We didn't just become foster parents this past week, we have become a foster family.  We are all sacrificing for the mission we decided to live as a family.  We are all tired and ready to throw in the towel at moments already, but we are also determined to press on and see what huge blessings God has in store for us by next week, or next month or next year.  We are living out one of my all time favorite verses:

"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers - not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not for greed for money, but eager to serve; not lording over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock."  1 Peter 5:2-3