Our Foster Care Update

We’ve waited all summer to make this decision and we know that many of you are eager to know what is next for our foster care journey. After several months on break Sam and I have decided to put foster care on hold.

The reason for the postponement is a lack of space. Right now we just don’t have the adequate space to continue sharing our bedroom with an older infant or possibly a toddler. We are so so glad we fostered Baby E and would do it again in a heartbeat, but going forward we need more space. We also have no room for our families to come stay and help out from time to time. Not having that extra room put a strain on us and our families when they did come and visit. So until our lease is up we are putting foster care on hold.

While we wait, we will still continue to advocate for foster care and the children who are in the system. I will continue to talk about and advocate for foster care here on the blog as well. This blog began as a way to share our journey with family and friends and it will always be a topic I talk about.

Maegan — xx

If you’d like to read about our foster care journey start here.

If you’re like to learn more about the foster families I featured in my Unsung Heroes Series you can find it here.

Baby E Final Update

As most of you have probably noticed I have been absent from social media for the past two weeks. There was a lot going on with Baby E’s case so I intentionally stepped away from social media to focus on what was most important. I am back today to announce that Baby E has officially left us. I cannot go into detail about her case, and as with most things in foster care there are still a lot of unknowns, and as such we do not know if she will be returning to our care.

Sam and I are so blessed to have been Baby E’s foster parents. Of course we were very sad to see her go but we are confident that we gave her the best start we possibly could and are confident in God and His plan for Baby E. We are proud of the people that this experience has shaped us into and blessed beyond measure to have fostered a child in need.

We will be taking a few months off to rest and rejuvenate and spend time together as a family.

We want to thank each and every one of you who have diligently and fervently prayed for Baby E, Sam, and I throughout this entire journey. We have felt your prayers in a powerful way and cannot express out heartfelt and sincere gratitude enough. Thank you so much for all the love and support we have received from each and every one of you.

Maegan and Sam

Baby E Update

We are now a little over three months into fostering Baby E and, though I have not posted any updates lately, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes. Sometimes, I get so frustrated because there is so much going on that I believe is really worth sharing but I can’t because it is not my right to share. I believe the longer we foster the better I will be at sharing without breaking the rules. Y’all should know that there is always a lot going on that I can’t share and if it gets a little quiet on the ‘update front’ there is a high likelihood that there is a lot going on I can’t talk about.

For example, February was nuts–it was not a great month. There was a lot going on with the foster care side of our lives that was not positive and unfortunately none of it is shareable. I can say that Sam and I learned a lot of valuable lessons and appreciate our foster care agency more than ever. I’ve talked before about how important it is to foster with an agency and I cannot emphasize the importance of that enough. If we did not have such an amazing agency I don’t know if we would have survived February. I think my takeaway from February could be summed up in the words ‘appropriate communication’. Once the appropriate communication started flowing things got much much better.

On the personal side of things, I had to have a cracked molar pulled in February and that was miserable and complicated. I hate the dentist(as most people do) and it was just the worst timing for it to fall in the middle of everything that was going on. The infection was starting to spread down into my neck and ear so we had to bump up the extraction date and it just so happened that Sam was supposed to go out of town that same day for work. I was freaking out because I wasn’t sure how I was going to have my tooth pulled and take care of an infant at the same time. I was freaking out. But Sam has such an amazing and flexible job (and boss) who allowed him to move his out of town trip to the next week and he stayed home with me. It was a good thing too because they ended up having to give me laughing gas and I was so out of it afterwards. There was no way I could have driven home. I was glad to see February go. March was a much much better month. A lot of the foster care things got smoothed out and both sides of our family came to visit. It was a relief to have family here.

One of the things I am most proud of Sam and I for is our willingness to take on the responsibility of foster care despite both our families living far away. That is probably one of the most taxing parts of foster care for us. When we need a sitter, we have to have a certified sitter and all but one of our certified sitters(family) don’t live nearby. So Sam and I had not really been able to take a break until our families got to town. We got to go on our first date since baby E! And just having someone else to hold and bounce the baby so we could take a break or wash some clothes was much needed relief. I’d say that this is another lesson we have learned on this journey–have at least four babysitters certified and scheduled before you get certified. Seriously. By the end of February Sam and I were both exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When our families came to visit it was like taking a swim in a cool spring–refreshing and renewing. I also learned that I have to reach out to people and tell them I need help. In the middle of February I started reaching out to friends asking if they would become certified sitters for us because we were drowning. By the end of April I think we will have several babysitters certified! I’m so very grateful for all our friend who are pitching in to help us out. SO So much.At the beginning of April we found out there will not be another hearing until the middle of the summer. That means we will definitely have Baby E until then. We are loving her, and really enjoying being her foster parents. As I have said before, I don’t know how this will turn out for her or us but I do still believe that God has a plan. We pray everyday for God’s will for her life. Our plan is just to enjoy all the time we have with her and take it one day at a time like we always have. Foster care is a waiting game and while we wait we have fun plans ahead! Sam and I have so many fun activities planned for E in the upcoming months!

Baby E is doing really great and I’m so proud of her! She has made HUGE progress with the OT and just the other day she rolled over for the first time! I am so proud of her! She might have been a bit behind but she is really making strides and catching up developmentally. She has also turned into a really bubbly and vivacious baby! She really really craves social interaction and has started a lot of ‘play’ behavior. She is definitely relationship motivated. She is starting to have interest in Lemon now and watches her every chance she gets. She is sleeping really well–almost through the night now–and Sam and I could not be more grateful. Conversely, she is staying awake more and more during the day. She still has a really gentle and easy disposition and she smiles all the time now. E has already started identifying Sam and I as her parents. We weren’t sure when that would happen. All babies are different and some don’t form that attachment until much later on. She still struggles after every visitation–though she does better now than in the beginning–and now when she comes home she wont look at me for several hours because she is mad at me. I try so hard not to take that personally. I put myself in her shoes and I can see that I would be mad too. Even at three months she is so aware of what is going on. It is so surprising to see how much she understands and that she is trying to regain some control over her world. I can only imagine how confusing it must be for her. I have said it before and I will say it again; no matter how young a child is visitation is still hard for every child.Aside from visitation day, she is a happy baby! We live a normal life six days a week–Sam and I make sure of it. I take so many pictures of her and us together. Right now she is definitely going through a growth spurt and she is growing like a weed right in front of my eyes! I wake up and something about her changes every day. I honestly don’t know how she is growing up so fast or where the last three months went. I am excited to see her growing though–that is a really great sign that she is going to be a healthy, happy, little girl. We only want the very best for her even if that means she wont stay a sweet snuggly baby forever.

We appreciate every single one of you who read our posts, and pray for us, and invest time in our lives. We feel your love and prayers. We are so grateful to have such an amazing support group like you!

Maegan

Westbrook Family Visit

My parents came to visit last weekend and it was heavenly! I haven’t seen them in months and months and I was so glad they were finally able to meet “E”–as my mom calls her. We had the best time and they fell in love with Baby E! They brought her a chocolate Easter bunny that was almost as big as her, clothes, and the cutest little books! It was just a perfect visit! E recognized my mom’s voice as soon as they arrived!–she Facetimes with E and I quite a bit! That was so special to me that she recognized my mom’s voice. My heart was so full for E because she has been touched and handled by so many people for her whole life that it is really important that she has people she can anchor to besides myself and Sam. Like every child, she needs to know she has family who loves her and who she can recognize–even though, for now, we are her foster family. It is always such a range of emotions for me when E meets a family member for the first time. I’m excited for her to meet them but, at the same time, I worry it will be overwhelming for her and cause her to have a meltdown after they leave. I want her to know she has so many people who love her outside her foster care experience but I also want her to not be inundated with new people. Thankfully with both sides of our family she has been so comfortable! She laughs and plays and loves being with our families–and she has never had a meltdown during or after.On Saturday the weather was beautiful! We sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather by the pool, ate some Fuzzy’s Tacos, bounced the Baby and generally had the greatest time. Baby E loves being outside and I am so so happy because as the weather gets warmer we will definitely be spending more and more time out of doors! For me, the experience as a daughter and mother was really special because I get to see my foster child bond with my parents and my parents with her. This is my parents first grandchild too and that made it even more special. It is such an interesting experience to watch my parents from the perspective of parent and child. I understand now how important it is to have children because the experience makes you a more rounded person. It grows and matures you and your perspective on life in its entirety changes, and in a lot of ways becomes more realistic. A lot of things I believed were so important before we began fostering are not important as I believed them to be–and some of those things no longer matter at all.My Pop(my mom’s dad) also got to meet Baby E for the first time too! It was so sweet to see her so comfortable with him. Pop was all about her. It was adorable. Also, isn’t the family resemblance in the photo above striking? The Walker genes run strong! I took so many more pictures than I’m showing here but most of them have E’s face so I can’t show those. Boo! But seriously, it was so good to see my parents and for them to spend time with E. They are so attached to her that I think it will be just as hard on them if she is returned to her bio parent as it will be on us. I hope they get to visit again soon!

I am so proud of our families for embracing this sweet child like she was Sam and I’s biological child. So. Proud. So, so, proud. Not every foster family can boast that and I don’t take it for granted. She really does have two big families who love her so much. I don’t know many foster parents who can boast that! We are truly blessed!

Maegan

Johnson Family Visit

Extended family is hard to come by around here. Both side’s of our family live far away and have not been able to visit much since Baby E was placed with us. So it was a real treat to have Sam’s side of the family here for a visit two weeks ago. We were so so glad to see them! Sam’s brother and his wife were even able to be here and we had not seen them for almost two years! Having family visit with a baby is different–but in a good way. No one expects your house to be clean and no one expects you to entertain. And let’s be real–they all really came to see the baby anyway so no one is looking at my dirty floors that haven’t been mopped in several months. I’m into full disclosure around here.We had such a good time. It was nice to have eager helpers who were more than happy to bounce the baby, and feed the baby, and change the baby, and hold the baby. Everyone even pitched in to fold laundry–queue the Hallelujah Chorus! In the hustle and bustle of my two new jobs( parenting and foster care) I hadn’t realized I really needed a break or how much I really needed to see family. It was really great to sit around and chit-chat and just relax.

It was also nice to be able to step away from Baby E even just for a minute and goof off with Sean and Liana and just be normal adults. We made a quick Walmart run for–what else–diapers, and even though that’s a really simple thing we had a great time. Also, what is up with the new Lay’s potato chip bags. I mean, it’s brilliant marketing but it’s also kind creepy. We almost bought a bag of chips. Seriously.On Thursday we took Baby E on her very first Zoo trip! Sam has been DYING to take her to the Zoo ever since she arrived. She stayed in her stroller most of the time and slept but it was great to get outside and it was the perfect weather. It wasn’t too warm and there was a nice breeze but nothing too crazy. It was perfect! And we all had a really good timeI’m trying so hard to remember to take pictures when we are out doing fun things but it is so hard to remember sometimes! I’m dong better about taking pictures and now I’m trying to incorporate more video. This week I plan on getting my big mama camera out and start using it. I need a good camera strap–a cute one–so if anyone has a suggestion will ya leave it in the comments below? Thanks!

It is killing me not to be able to post full pictures of Baby E. We took so many good pictures with Papa Randy and MeMaw and Papa Baker(great grandparents), and then with Uncle Sean and Aunt Liana. I wish I could show them all! Maybe oneday  . . . I’m trying to share her as best I can while still complying. But it is SO HARD!!! There were so many good pictures y’all!On Friday night Sam and I got to go out on our first date since Baby E!!! We had the best time! We planned on dinner and a movie but it turned into a movie and fro-yo. It was a good trade off. We ended up seeing The Greatest Showman and it was so flippin’ good! We jammed out to the soundtrack all the way home–one of the few perks of technology–and I’m still loving the soundtrack weeks later. ‘This is Me’ is such a good anthem song, ya know? There was a shopping center near the theater and that’s where we took these photos. They are grainy and a little dark but I love these photos because they are so “us”. For once, I kept it simple and just wore a bold lip, a comfy shirt dress, and (gasp!) comfortable shoes. It was good to get away together for a few hours.It was a really great visit and Sam and I are so thankful for our family. We really are. Parenthood can be so demanding and with foster care added to the mix life can seem completely impossible. It was such a great relief to have family here because we got to forget about foster care for a few days and just be a family. Ya know? It was good just to be. We were sad to see them go! Johnson weekend visit was a super success and we look forward to seeing everyone soon.

Maegan

Our First Month as Foster Parents

I struggled with how to begin this blog post. How do I even begin to describe the whirlwind of life-changing events that was the last thirty days? Being first-time parents and foster parents has been a dream come true and overwhelming at the same time. It has involved all the emotions, struggles, and triumphs of being a first-time parent with the added stress of meeting the demands of foster care.

The Takeaway

I would have to say what I have learned the most from my first month as a foster parent is that the stress of foster care doesn’t come from actually taking care of the children. It’s not the crying, or the sleep deprivation, or the fact that I sometimes have nothing clean to wear and I haven’t taken a shower in three days–though those things pose their own challenges. The stress and the ‘negative’ that is the dark cloud hovering over foster care stems from meeting the demands of the actual foster care ‘system’.

Baby E

In the first month of Baby E’s life, she went to four doctors visits, four visitations with her bio parents, one visit from her lawyer, a court hearing (she did not attend), two visits from our agency, and a home visit from her CPS case worker. That is so so much to do for a regular adult–much less an infant. It’s taxing on her and it’s taxing on us–not that we are complaining. Our agency properly prepared us for what was ahead and it is a responsibility we gladly accept. It is hard to watch her struggle with such a demanding schedule, and though there is only so much that an infant can take, it doesn’t matter if she is having a rough day or if it would probably be in her best interest to stay at home and rest, she is obligated by the state to be at whatever visit or appointment they say she has to be.

I’ve also learned that is doesn’t matter what age a child is when they come into foster care, they ALL struggle to cope. I can only imagine how much harder it is for children who are old enough to understand what is happening around them. For Baby E, we all hope this is just a blip in her life–no matter what the outcome–and that she never remembers any of her foster care experience. On the other hand, just because she will most likely not remember, she still experiences the effects of going through the process of foster care. It doesn’t exempt her from how hard it is.

If I could get each person reading this post to come to the CPS office just one time with me and you could see the brokenness, the darkness, the sadness, and the hopelessness of that place, you would all be lining up to be foster parents. Not to mention, it is physically one of the filthiest places I have darkened the doorway of in my life–and I have been on mission trips to impoverished countries where people were grateful to have cardboard boxes to live in. Dropping Baby E off at the visitation office is the most gut-wrenching, stress-inducing, heartbreaking experience. I’m not going to sugar coat it for anyone. It is miserable. I’m not allowed to stay during the visit so I have to occupy myself for two hours until she can be picked up again–and we do this once every week. It is important for her to see her bio parents every week and I know this.  But, it doesn’t make it any easier on me to hand her to CPS and walk away. Each time, I have to remind myself that this is not about me and that no matter how afraid I am, God is in control. Sam and I are here to help Baby E because she needs someone to help her. If she didn’t have us, who else would be able to take care of her?

There are hundreds of kids who come into foster care every month just like Baby E. It is not some far-off distant imaginary thing that happens to someone else. Can you see how much these kids need you to help them? If Sam and I hadn’t decided to be foster parents, who would Baby E have right now? If not us, then who? It just breaks my heart to know how many children right this minute–not tomorrow, not ten years from now–have no one. Are you hearing me? They have NO ONE to be there for them. And guess what? That doesn’t mean that they still don’t have to do EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Baby E is having to do. Are you hearing me? These kids still have to go to every visitation, every court hearing (children four years and up have to attend hearings), every CPS visit, and every doctor appointment on their own. ON. THEIR. OWN. Are you hearing me? There is not one excuse for why every person reading this is not involved directly with a child in foster care. If you’re a Christian, then you really have no excuse. James 1: 27.

As the Foster Parents

I would say for us the struggle has been watching Baby E cope with her situation. She is a really easy baby with a sweet disposition and is not really prone to crying or fussing. And in the beginning, when she would come back from visitation, it was like they handed me a totally different child. She was a total emotional wreck when she would come home from visitation. Hours of crying and whimpering and needing to be held constantly. Constantly. Once I could get her calmed and soothed, she would be OK until I would try to lay her in her bassinet so she could get some rest or so I could go to the bathroom. Instantly emotional eruption. She would cry so hard all day long that she would make herself hoarse. The first month, I was the only one at home with her after a visitation and I was really just winging it on my own. A few weeks ago, Sam was able to be home with me on a visitation day and he was really blown away by how rough it is on her. It is rough for many reasons and thankfully it is getting better as we have figured out how to help her transition, but is it still something no child should have to deal with on her own.

Sam and I have had to learn how to manage her schedule in a way that takes some of the burden of this whole process off her too. She is definitely the victim of her circumstances and even though she didn’t put herself in foster care, she still has to abide by all the state rules and do as she is told. So, we have learned that there are just certain pre-visitation and post-visitation activities that we do or do not do. This has helped to reduce a lot of stress for her and us. We are learning there are just certain things that trigger her and certain things that soothe her.

I have also learned that our agency is an invaluable resource and support. I have no idea how anyone is fostering without the help of an agency. I really don’t. They have really guided us and helped in ways that I never could have anticipated. To me this is such a big deal I’ve written an entire blog post dedicated to this topic. If you are considering becoming a foster parent please, please, please find a great agency. Your experience will be so much better. I promise.

People’s reactions to Sam and my new life has been quite educational. People have one of two very distinct reactions–they either think what we are doing is amazing and inspirational and they are in turn very supportive, or they are very negative and distrustful of our decision. For example, the supportive person uses words like, what a blessing, thank you, I’ve always wanted to know more, how can I help, I’m so glad you can help Baby E. The negative person uses words like, I don’t know how you do it, don’t get too close, it is probably not going to work out, foster care is such a broken system, I have a friend (usually quite distant and removed and this person is truly ignorant and has no first-hand knowledge of the actual foster child or their situation) and it was a nightmare for them, just don’t get your hopes up.

Surprisingly, I haven’t been upset, but rather enlightened, by people’s opinions. And it’s very telling about what kind of person I’m dealing with. The person that uses supportive words unconsciously tells me that they look at foster care from a selfless place seeing the needs of others before themselves. The person who uses negative words unconsciously tells me how selfish they are. Foster care is about them and what they can get out of it. If it is too hard, or painful, and not all about them in the end, they have nothing positive to say.  So just know that I know who really supports Baby E and what Sam and I are trying to do, and who doesn’t as soon as they open your mouth.

And even after all the hard stuff I just shared–and I have just mentioned a lot of hard things–we have gotten to take care of Baby E and that has made it ALL worth it. Seriously. It is worth it. Sam and I get to take care of this precious sweet child who God knew before she was born and called her by name. We have already made so many wonderful memories with her. So many wonderful memories! And, it feels good knowing that I am making a positive life-changing impact on another person’s life, and in turn, on the world.

Foster care has also been a balm to my mama soul because it has allowed me to be a mother–despite all the hardships. I feel better now than I have in several years. I’m in the middle of writing a big blog post about this topic because I want people–especially women–to know how being a foster mom has changed me and empowered me and given life to my bones. I want you to know my experiences. So more coming on that soon!

I’m excited to see what the next month holds. Baby E is growing like a weed and is the sweetest, cutest little girl ever! If you would like to know exactly how to become a foster parent,this blog post has everything you need to know. If you missed her latest hearing update, you can find ithere.

Maegan

Over the Weekend

As Baby E has gotten a little bit older we’ve been able to get out and about a bit more, though with it being flu season we are extra careful and we don’t get her out of the car seat while we are out if it can be helped. This was our first big weekend to venture out of the house together as a family and we had quite a bit of fun. On Saturday we decided to have an impromptu lunch at Five Guys, which as some of you may know is a lot easier to manage when you have another set of hands to help you out. I tried to get Sam to take a few pictures for me and with me at Five Guys but all I got was his hungry face–and I was really hungry too–so this was as good as it got.I had my hamburger bun-less for the first time here and it was really good. Some places you go and get a bun-less burger and its a soggy mess but this burger still had a crisp bite to its lettuce and the burger was nice and hot! It was good all around!

Once we finished eating we decided that since we were out we should take advantage and run a few errands but we only made it to the Target parking lot before Baby E got hungry and we had to feed her in the backseat. We have been having a lot of back seat feedings and I am curious if this is the plight of a lot of first time moms. To me it makes more sense to feed them where you are then to force yourself to go home just so they can eat–and scream all the way there mind you.Once we were done with errands Sam and I thought a sweet treat might be nice so we drove to Sprinkles! Oh my sweet sugar overload. I LOVE Sprinkles! I particularly like their Salted Corn Flake Cookie Sundae with Captain Crunch ice cream. You guys, it’s drool worthy. My mouth is salivating just writing about it. So we drove to Sprinkles and split my favorite cookie sundae and it was scrumptious! Poor Baby E did not get to have any.

Sam was such a good Sport and let me take his picture. There are no pictures of me because I looked like a hot mess but as we get more and more used to our routine I’ll be able to better prepare myself for impromptu outings.Then on Sunday, Baby E attended her very first Sunday morning church service! I am so mad at myself because we forgot to ask someone to take our picture! We had so many people stop us and want to meet Baby E and express their excitement over her. She has so many people who love her and are praying for her–it is so humbling. I did manage to snap a picture outside before we got home. We also had out first Sunday after church lunch with some friends from church. Did I get a picture of that either? No. We also attended Sunday evening services and then went to dinner afterwards with more church friends. Sunday was a very full and joyous day. I’m so sad I didn’t get more picture taken but I know I will have those moments in my memory forever. I just wish I had more photos for Baby E’s scrapbook. Whatever God’s plans are for her I always want her to have good memories of her infant-hood to look back on.

In the next few days Baby E will be one month old! It’s so hard to believe! I look forward to sharing her milestone pictures here on the blog as best I can!

Maegan

Baby E’s First Court Hearing

I know this update is a little overdue. Thank you for bearing with me as I navigate motherhood and foster care at the same time. OK, on to the good stuff.

Last Friday Baby E had her first court hearing and though I cannot go into great detail I will share what I can. Every child in foster care has a standard court hearing two weeks after entering the care of CPS. The night before her hearing her lawyer came by the house to meet Baby E and introduce herself to us. I’m glad we get to meet her lawyer and that she gets to meet us too. Part of her lawyer coming by the house is to meet the child but also to have a first hand account of her in her foster care environment as she will have to report what she sees to the judge at each hearing. We were surprised and relieved to find out Baby E is not allowed to attend any hearings because she is so young and her attendance is too distracting for the bio-parents though older children do have to attend court hearings. Baby E has also been fortunate enough to have a CASA(Court Appointed Special Advocate) Volunteer assigned to her case who also appears at every hearing and acts as an advocate on her behalf. We could not be more excited about this! Not every child in foster care is fortunate enough to have a CASA Volunteer, so Sam and I are so grateful that Baby E is going to have the benefits of that extra support in her life!

We decided that Sam would go to this court hearing since the bio-parents have never met him or seen him. This turned out to be a wise decision as he was informed once he arrived that they did not want him meeting the bio-parents and that it was best they not know he was there. He did glean some information while at the hearing but we really learned more once the CPS investigator called us later that evening. I will preface with there are no definites in foster care until the judge makes his or her decision at the final hearing. We have our hopes and best interests always at the forefront for Baby E and we want what is ultimately best for her. That being said, it looks like at this time, unless something changes Baby E will be in our care for a while.

We are so humbled and honored that we get to be Baby E’s foster parents and walk the road of foster care with her. I’m also so so glad that she has a lot of people in her corner fighting for her best interests–and I’m not just talking about her lawyer, her CPS case worker, or her CASA Volunteer. I’m also talking about all our friends and family praying for her everyday and for our church family embracing her with open arms. We have had such an outpouring of love and support from so many people and I’m proud that Baby E has so many people who already love her and are praying God’s will for her life.

So as always we are just taking it day by day trusting God. I hear people say so often, “I don’t know how you handle all the unknowns. That must be so hard.” And it is. It’s extremely hard. But I trust that God did not lead us down this path and light our way for everything to end in misery. That’s not the God I serve. I am trusting and believing that God actual has–ya know–a plan, and that we are not just hurtling through our lives on a kamikaze mission of chaos. God has a plan for us and God has a plan for Baby E, and the Bible says his plans are Good.

As always thank you to everyone for your prayers. Keep them coming!

Maegan

The Call

I sit here writing this at a very late hour bleary eyed and incandescently happy. Friday afternoon we got a phone call for our first placement– a little girl fresh off the press. In a matter of hours CPS brought her to us and after a mind boggling two and half hours of paperwork our agency case manager and CPS packed up and left us alone with a precious, tiny baby girl. My head is still spinning a little.

We actually got our first phone call for a placement the day before; Thursday. That was such a nerve wracking phone call, mostly because of the unknown. The unknown is the hardest part of this entire journey to be sure. I was a nervous jittery wreck by the time they called us back. I just felt so much anxiety about the whole thing. It was definitely a learning process as we were under the impression that once they called us we would have a definite placement–this is not the case as we soon learned. What really happens is our agency is contacted about a placement, Upbring goes through their database for suitable families, they choose families and then start making phone calls. Upbring calls and ask if you are willing to take the placement and then they tell you they will alert CPS you are a willing candidate. Upbring alerts CPS and then CPS looks through the list of families and then decides which family is the best match for the child. Then your agency calls you back–eventually–and lets you know if you’ve gotten the placement or not.

So, Thursday we got a phone call, and when they called back to tell us we didn’t get it I was really really disappointed. I cried a little. I was more upset that I had misunderstood the process and I felt, understandably, that we had been misled about the process. But Sam was quick to point out that Upbring just can’t tell CPS that we will take the child–we have to give consent. That means they have to call us, and then update CPS, and then call us back. We just misunderstood.

We weren’t expecting another phone call so soon after our first. We were actually on our way out the door to IKEA on Friday when my phone rang. This time I felt completely at peace after they called. I think because I really knew what to expect I was much more calm and relaxed. They had a placement needing a family, we said yes and twenty minutes later I got a text from our case manager that our placement would be happening that day and the CPS agent was already at the hospital discharging the child. Things moved so quickly we didn’t even have time to go to the store and buy clothes or diapers. In a few hours our agency case manager was here, and then the CPS agent and the little girl.

It really did take about two and half hours to get through all the paperwork, the introductions, and then all the information they had to relay from the hospital. Once that was said and done, the CPS agent left and then our case manager made sure we were comfortable, answered all our questions, reminded us to call her if we had any questions or concerns and left too.

It was late at night by this time, but we still had to go to the store to pick up things Baby E (that’s what we are calling her) needed right then. So we–unbelievably–put this baby we’d known for a few hours in the car and went to the store. Yes, it seemed nuts to us too. But, it went beautifully. The next morning our case manager text me to check in and see how we were doing. Just one of the many reasons fostering through an agency is the best way to foster.

So far things are going very smoothly. She’s already almost back up to her birth weight, and she’s eating and sleeping well. What the future holds for Baby E is unsure but for right now we are enjoying her! She is the sweetest, cuddliest thing ever. Lemon loves her too! We have been so so so blessed to have so many family, church family, and friends be so excited and supportive of us and Baby E! She is already loved by so many people.

The next couple of weeks will go quickly and her first court hearing will be in about two weeks. Please keep us in your prayers as we transition into parenthood; for Baby E and all the important decisions being made that will impact her for the rest of her life; for her bio-parents; and for every person who is involved in the decision making process for Baby E. Whatever is decided we want what is best for Baby E.

It did take me a couple of days to get to a place where I had the time to write this post–I didn’t sleep at all the first night so welcome to parenthood–but that is already getting easier and easier as we establish a routine.

Maegan

Waiting

So, it’s been six days since we were placed on the vacancy list with our foster-care agency and we are still waiting on that phone call. Seriously. When we found out Thursday that we were officially on the vacancy list I freaked out a little and cried. I think it was just my being completely overwhelmed with the whole situation and also overjoyed at finally reaching a huge milestone after everything we have been through. It was a ‘nervous–cited’ cry. lol.

The next couple of days were the worst because every time the phone rang or pinged or chimed we both jumped like two feet. I’ve been constantly glued to my phone because I’m the contact person and I’ve been so worried I will miss that very important phone call. It’s important because if we don’t answer they immediately hangup and call the next family on the list. These kids need home like yesterday and they don’t have the luxury of waiting for you to call them back. After those first couple of days we have kind of gotten into a rhythm of keeping busy and waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. We are getting good practice at patience.

While we are waiting I thought I would kind of introduce our placement and answer some questions about what we do know about them. I shared our story here but I haven’t shared what we do know about our future placement.

These are some of the most frequent questions we get asked when people find out we are fostering to adopt:

How many children will you be fostering? 

One child at a time

What age will they be?

Newborn to Eighteen Months

Will you know the gender?

No.

Do you know what ethnicity the child will be?*

No.

*Sam and I honestly had no preferences about race or gender and that worked out great for us because specifying either of those in the state of Texas is not an option for infants.

Will the child have his clothes and toys from home?

No. Most children, if not all, come into foster care with nothing but the clothes they have on–and in our case that might be a diaper and nothing else. No clothes, toys, memorabilia, diapers, formula, wipes, bottles, pacifiers, blankets, car seats, bouncers, strollers, swaddles, nothing. none, zip, zero. They might have never had any of the things on this short list of items.

Will you know a lot about the child’s past, bio parents, family?

No. We will probably know very little about the child when they first come to us. A name, an estimated age, gender, race–that’s probably it since they will be so young and there’s nothing to add like what grade they are in, their favorite school subject, things like that. Bio parents information and the child’s past situation is not something by law we can know much about. And what we do know we cannot share with anyone because it’s against the law and violates the parent’s and child’s rights of privacy.

Will you be able to adopt your first placement?

There is no guarantee we will be able to adopt any placement we receive. It just depends on how everything plays out and that will take a while to figure out. It’s all in God’s hands.

How long will you have your first placement?

We don’t know. Maybe a couple of weeks? Maybe a few months or a year? Maybe forever! Each placement’s situation is unique and completely unpredictable. We will trust God and cherish each day we get to love and cuddle and spoil them.

Will they be adorable, perfect, squeezable, and basically the best baby ever?

YES! YES! YES! AND OF COURSE!!!!!! This we do know for sure!

I do want to touch on how the age and gender of placements is decided for each family because I think it’s pertinent. A lot of people think you get to choose the age/number/gender of children when you become licensed foster parents but this is an ignorant misconception–one that often sets people who desire to be foster parents up for disappointment. In almost every case you do not get to choose what age of child or gender of child you will be able to foster. There are actually several key factors and a complicated mathematical equation that determines those specifics. And those specifics are set in place by the State. Factors like available space in your home, number of licensed foster parents in the home, number of biological children in the home–their age and gender, foster parents working/not working or working from home, and what county a person lives in all play a role in what age and gender of children you will be eligible to foster.

For instance, because Sam and I live in a one bedroom town-home we can only legally foster children that can sleep in our bedroom. The state of Texas says that children who can sleep in our bedroom must be 3 and under. Because the foster and adoption process can take a year a to a year and half or longer to complete that means the child can be no more than eighteen months at the time of placement with us before they age out of our room. I stay at home full-time, we have no  biological children, and we also happen to live in a county that has an urgent need for EVERY age group. Because of these factors we happened to be good candidates to foster infants.

That’s the latest update and a little about our expected first placement. Please pray for us to have patience as we wait for that special phone call. We appreciate prayers so much!!

Maegan