Friday, April 1, 2016

Becoming a Family of Eight Overnight

So, it's not quite the book I promised, but here are my thoughts from the last couple days.

On Thursday at 1:00pm, I got a phone call from a DCFS worker, telling us about an influx of children in the system right now and asking if we would be willing to take a sibling group of four, ages 6, 4, 2, and 7 months.

I called Joel, our kids' therapist, Joel again, and then a friend who has seven children (to ask her if she thought we were crazy for considering it).  Joel and I decided that we needed to discuss it with our kids before making a decision either way.  He came home from work early, picked up Little Boy from school, and then we had a family discussion.  It went something [exactly] like this:

Joel: We got a phone call today that there are four kids living in [shelter].
Little Boy: Let's go get them.
Me: They need a family to take care of them for a while.
Little Girl: We can be their family.

We talked about possible concerns, struggles, what we'd need and expect from them to make it all work.  We prayed together, made a decision, and then prayed again to let God know what we'd decided.

We decided to say yes.

On Thursday at 2:00pm, I called back the DCFS worker and told her we wanted those kids.

"You mean, you'd take all of them??"

Isn't it heartbreaking that sibling groups often have to be split up?

The next eight hours or so were intense.  Joel and I called our parents (and asked them to call our siblings), and then we proceeded to clean and otherwise prep our house like crazy.  We moved the kids' beds, clothing, etc., so they'd be sharing a room.  We moved my sewing room downstairs so the foster kids could have bedrooms close to ours.  We bought and assembled beds, booster seats, and carseats.  Joel's mom came to help us move things, and my visiting teachers were angels and coordinated meals for the next little while to help us out.  The kids were absolutely amazing and helped until they were so overwhelmed, they cried.  All four of us got priesthood blessings, and a friend / couple encouraged and taught us tricks / survival tactics :) for parenting so many children.

When we went to bed at midnight, Joel and I were more nervous than maybe ever in our entire lives.  We alternated between being excited and wondering what in the world we'd gotten ourselves into.

But when Friday morning came - and time to go pick up those wonderful children - we both felt ready.  All four of us piled into the car, drove to the shelter, and there met some of the most beautiful children I've ever seen.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind.  We watched a movie; they had a blast trying out a new family's toys; we played together, ate together, read together, and Joel and I learned how to take care of a baby.  There was plenty of laughing, and also plenty of crying.  Things were hard.  For us, for our children, for our foster children.  But we worked as a team and tried our best to figure things out.  Our daughter and our oldest foster daughter called each other "Sister" and "My Friend."

And then, around dinnertime, we were asked to drop them off back to the caseworker so they could go to a more permanent placement.

We didn't understand.  They didn't understand.  We wondered why God had asked us to be their home for just a day.  Having to look in a child's eyes - a child who you've somehow already begun to love and who has somehow already begun to trust you - and tell him that he's going somewhere else, is literally one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  As we drove home that night after dropping them off, we told our children we were sorry parts of the day had been hard for them, but we weren't at all sorry that we'd done it.

How could that be?  How could a family drop everything, change everything in their lives, and spend so much time and energy preparing for a giant change, only for it all to go away 24 hours later?  We still have all the beds, boosters, and carseats.  The baby wipes, baby bottles, pacifiers, bibs, new mattresses.  There were three dirty diapers in various rooms when we got home, new sets of sheets in the dryer, a crib set up in our bedroom, and other scattered signs that new people had lived there, if only for a day.  Would we have done it all if we'd known it would've been for just one day?

PART 2, COMING IN THE MORNING (because I'm exhausted and need to go to bed):
Why We're Glad We Did It


It wasn’t the circumstances that mattered but how I responded to them.  I could passively wait for the wonderful to occur - and still find something wrong.  Or I could accept whatever events did come my way and try to appreciate them a little more.
The Grateful Diaries


Catherine Beck said...

I love you, you're amazing and I'm sorry. That must have been so hard.

Annegirl said...

You and Joel are so amazing with such big and beautiful hearts. I have no doubt those children needed to be with YOU for that day. Thank you for being an example of faith and love. ❤️

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