Category Archives: Fostering

What Mother’s Day Means to Me.

Mothers Day. 

It rolls around every year with super cute memes’, the best handmade cards and the most ridiculous but epic school art class presents. It’s the day that our little angels actually try and act like angels while bringing us breakfast in bed and offering, but not always doing, to clean the kitchen.

Overall, it’s a sweet day filled with hugs, kisses and thank-you’s. It’s a good day.

For me, and the many other Moms to Many like me, it’s also a really, really hard day.

It’s the day that reminds me of all my littles that no longer have their Mommy’s. Of the Mom’s that are missing their babies because of circumstances and bad decisions that you and I could never truly understand. 

It’s a day of tears, broken hearts and memories that fade a little bit more each day.  It’s little faces looking at pictures of the Mama they so desperately love but will never get to see again.

It’s trying to figure out who to give that amazing Mother’s Day gift that was made at school to. Save it for Mom, just in case? Give it to Grandma at an upcoming visit? Or give it to Auntie or Foster Mom that takes care of them now? It’s such a simple thing but the pain & confusion it causes is very deep and very real.

It’s the day when I remember the 30+ faces that have called me Auntie or April or Mom. And the milestones that I’ve shared with children that I did not birth. It’s the first’s and the victories that Mamas long for and then celebrate when they finally arrive. It’s looking into the eyes of children and knowing that their hearts are longing for another time, another place and another face. It’s being okay with being Mom for now. It is joy and pain wrapped up in one Sunday. 

It is the day that reminds me of why I do what I do. Mothers Day is my ‘why’. 

Every kid, everywhere, needs a Mama. They need THEIR Mama but when that’s not possible, we need to step up and fill that space. We can’t all be foster parents, I get that. But we most certainly can take a moment and love someone that so desperately needs it.

This Mother’s Day, be that safe place for someone in your world.

Your Mom would love that. 

    

A little bit of Hope.

The phone call arrives from the jail that I’ve never visited. I can’t go there, because it’s the place that I’ve been fighting to keep kids out of for so long. Somehow it’s become a part of my story, and I hate it. I hate that everything I fought against has now become a comforting and safe place, and seeing that particular number on my call display gives me peace somehow. She is safe. Again. I hate it.

The words are a blur as they’re always filled with bravado and slang and nonsense. There are stories of conquests and bad choices and just plain stupidity. There are tears and apologies and promises of doing better this time. There’s fear, and sadness and the loss of hope. There is nothing that I can say or do anymore, so I just listen. I listen and pray and hope and wait. I hope that her desire for change will someday outweigh her desire to be cool and fit in. I hope that she’ll realize that her “friends” aren’t friends at all and that bad ideas and having each other’s back, does not a family make. I hope that she’ll grab onto that tiny glimmer of light and hope that is buried deep inside of her and not let go.

I hate it. I hate that I can’t fix it, that I can’t go back and redo her start in this world. That I can’t heal her hurts or help her forgive and move forward. That I wasn’t able to change her life.

He looks at me and says, “it sure is nice not having to do my job anymore to get food for everyone”. What job, you’re not old enough to work. “You know, going to people’s doors and asking for money for charity”. What charity? “Well, I just said that so I could get money for food for my brothers and sisters”. Okay. I’m glad you don’t need to do that anymore either.

He looked at me and asked “why don’t you lock me up in the closet when I’m bad”? Because I don’t do that. “But why”. Because that’s not how people should be treated. “But my Mom does that and she loves me”. Your Mom didn’t make a very good choice, but I’m glad she loves you. “So I won’t ever get put in a closet here”. No sir. “Okay, can I have a sandwich”?

They called their Mom on the phone, and begged and begged to see her again. They ask question after question that Mom just can’t answer. They collapsed in my lap sobbing, confused and torn by the feelings and knowledge of being completely safe and warm here, but being pulled by a love that they can’t deny. They can’t be little kids because the burden that they carry is so strong “Is Mommy safe, does she have food, where is she sleeping”.

She has done nothing wrong. She makes good choices and has achieved many great things. She has hope and a very bright future, and because of that, she’s been forgotten. Somehow, the darkness and bad choices that are all around her got more acknowledgment and support, and she’s forgotten. She works harder and harder to get their attention, but still the “bad stuff” seems to have more value.

I hate it. I hate that I have to do what I do. I hate the conversations, I hate the stories, I hate not being able to reply exactly how I want to, I hate that I must protect a relationship with a person that no longer even deserves that relationship anymore. I hate that their normal is so abnormal. I hate that someway, somehow I have to find a crack in their tough little amour’s, and find a way in. That I have to redefine a role in their lives that has already been filled by someone else. That my “right thing to do”, is so completely foreign and distant from what they know that they believe I’m wrong.

I hate that they have to be here in the first place. Not because I have them, but because the world, their parents, drugs, circumstance, alcohol, despair, depression, and abuse has failed them. It is so not fair, and how in the world am I supposed to “fix them”? How do you teach a 12-year-old something that most kids learned when they were 3? How do you make someone really truly feel safe?

So many of our days are spent running like a hamster on a wheel. It’s just a-round and a-round having the same conversations, working on the same skills, teaching the same things over and over. Many days are just about surviving and making it to bed time. I can spend hours open hours questioning my sanity and why I choose this life for me and my family. More often than not, I feel like I’m getting nowhere and that I’m not actually making a difference anymore. I wonder if I’m doing the right thing, or if there’s any point.

And then I get something like this.

thenote

And I’m reminded. I don’t need to be perfect or change them completely. I just need to be their Mom. I just need to give them a little bit of hope and a whole lot of family. I need to remember that.

So now when I get the phone calls, and have the conversations, I need to remind myself that I’m not trying for perfection or that I have to fix all that has been broken. That burden does not belong to me anymore, and I think that I’m finally okay with that.

Our children, mine, the ones that I’ve borrowed and yours as you read this, deserve a safe place, and we owe it to them. My hope now is that when they leave us and move on that their wings will be strong, that they’ll know their worth, that they’ll always know that “home” means safe, and that they will KNOW that they are loved and belong to someone. This isn’t about being a foster parent, this is about being a parent. We all need to stop focusing on the stupid piddly pointless things and focus on what really matters.

Take a moment and look into your children’s eyes and let them see YOU. Let them see your heart, feel your love, and see that you’re on their side, no matter what. They’re not expecting you to be perfect, or even care if you screw up and do the wrong things. They don’t see our mistakes or bad choices, they see YOU.

Don’t ever question how strong that bond is, and never take it for granted. I’ve seen kids that have been abused beyond belief that still love their parents madly and deeply. They’ve forgotten about all the mistakes but they remember the love. So, as a Mom or Dad struggling with guilt and questioning if you’re doing everything wrong, remember this connection and honour it.

I fight every day to make that connection and some days I’m successful and more often than not, I fail miserably. But now instead of focusing on fixing, I’m focusing on strength, joy, safety and a whole lotta’ hope.

You should try that too.

Happy Trails

If you know anything about our lives over the past few years, you know it’s been tough. We’ve had some tough kids in some tough situations and we’re tired.

Tired of fighting, and fixing and waiting for things to change. Tired of hoping for different outcomes to the same situation that just plays out, over and over and over. Tired of trying.

So, we’ve decided to run away for a little while. We’re taking two weeks off to enjoy our kids and do no thinking. No fighting. Just being a family.

Teachers, employers and coaches aren’t overly thrilled with us but this HAD to happen. Our kids need time to breathe and refocus too. Kevin and I chose this path for our family, and we don’t regret it for a second. But we have to remember that our choices became our kids choices and when we struggle, we ALL struggle.

I know that we’ve made it through the worst of it, and feel like we’ve now found a good groove again. The kids have all gelled and are getting along pretty well. The bigs have become much better friends, the littles are happy to have a home, and the bigs are adjusting to the millions of questions per day that the littles continually ask. Overall, we’re finding our way back to ‘normal’.

Not sure what our normal is exactly, but I feel like we’re getting there. I finally feel like I can breathe again and that’s such an amazing feeling. A fresh start is a wonderful place to begin, so we’re making one now.

As I write, the three are sound asleep as we cruise down the highway. They are beyond thrilled for the adventure that is to come their way. They’ve talked non-stop and are planning their shoe purchases and photo ops. They are already making us crazy with how much further questions and calls for more food. They are happy and laughing, and its good to see. But for now, we let them sleep and we enjoy the peace and quiet of just ‘being’.

We are 5 barreling down a highway, in a motor home heading towards sunshine, outlet malls and naps. Junk food, stupid tourist attractions and Carl’s Jr. are calling our names. An Akita, a dog sitter and some very amazing friends & family are watching over our home and the new pieces of our hearts.

At this moment, I can feel our blessings and I am so very, very thankful. Let the Happy Trails start NOW. I love my life.

Unanswered Questions

Have you ever been asked a question that warrants an answer but you know you can’t answer it?

Today was that day for me, and unfortunately, I couldn’t answer how I wanted to. I had to redirect the conversation and basically avoid the question completely. I had to be comforting and reassuring without saying what they wanted to hear. It is such a horrible position to be in, and it’s one of the things that I can’t stand about being a foster parent.

I believe that I know what’s best for the kids that live with me, but it doesn’t really matter. There are rules and laws and procedures that must be followed. There’s right and wrong, and a whole lot of grey areas all over the place. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense, and quite often it seems downright wrong. Unfortunately, my opinion doesn’t matter. Instead, I smile, give a little hug and keep on keeping on.

My heart is broken but I must bite my tongue and hope for the best.

Today I’m going to think of the unanswered questions as blessings. I cannot answer them, but for now, they are here, they are safe and they are mine.

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. If you want to follow along with all of us “challengers”, click on their links below.

Liam ~ Natasha ~ Zita ~ MagzD ~ Peter ~ Christine ~ Cliff ~ Hethr ~ Tracy

A very important CHOICE

Can you imagine what it would be like to wake up every day and not know the things you knew yesterday? You can sense that somewhere deep in the recesses of your mind,  the answer is there, but the question has you so confused that you can’t figure it out.

You “know” that you need to tie your shoes, and you know that you can do it, but for some reason, you can’t remember how.

You are constantly getting in trouble, for the same things, over and over, and don’t understand why.

Your “friend” tells you that it’s a good idea to jump off the roof of your house if you hold your coat open like a parachute, and that seems like it makes sense, so you do it.

You have a really hard time “feeling” your body, as in, you don’t really sense how much space you fill. Because of that you’re constantly getting in people’s way or sitting way too close.

You try to sit still and watch TV, but your body just wants to do something else. You can’t stop bouncing and wiggling, no matter how hard you try.

All of your friends seem to be much older than you, even though you’re the exact same age.

You’re at school sitting in your desk, and your teacher corrects something you’ve done wrong, and you instantly start crying. You can’t help it, and you can’t stop.

Your life is a constant battle and everything seems to be out of your control. You feel lost and confused the majority of the time. You are very emotional. Your forget how to do simple tasks. You don’t understand the instructions that are being given to you. You are stuck inside a body that just feels “lost”.

This is what your life could be like if you have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Your life has been forever changed by your Mother’s choice and your disorder was 100% completely preventable. It is not your fault, but you have to live with it.

Every day, I look into the faces of children that have been affected by alcohol. They struggle more than they succeed and it’s heartbreaking. They’re victims of a crime that was committed before they were even born, and it makes me crazy.

This disorder isn’t saved for alcoholics or regular drinkers, it is much bigger than that. It can be ONE drink at a particular MOMENT and still have dire consequences.

FASD is the leading known cause of preventable developmental disability among Canadians. It is estimated that FASD affects approximately one percent of the Canadian  population.

FASD cannot be cured and has lifelong impacts on individuals, their families, and society. Effects, including alcohol-related birth defects,  can vary  from mild to severe and may include a range of physical, brain and central nervous system disabilities, as well as cognitive,  behavioural and emotional issues. – Public Health Agency of Canada

Today is FASD Awareness Day. Please don’t drink when you’re pregnant. That one simple act can effect your child’s forever and frankly, that’s just not fair.

fasd

Photo courtesy of:  http://fasday.com/

For more information, please go check out the Health Canada site. If you’re pregnant and drinking, please stop. If you need help stopping, please seek help immediately. Your baby is counting on you.

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. If you want to follow along with all of us “challengers”, click on their links below.  Please go and give them a read … writing every day for 30 days is TOUGH to do.

Liam ~ Natasha ~ Zita ~ MagzD ~ Peter ~ Christine ~ Cliff ~ Hethr ~ Tracy

Stuck in a Story

Raising other peoples children always makes for interesting conversations. More often than not, it’s a bad interesting and not good at all. Sometimes I hear happy, fun stories and they’re awesome but they’re few and far between.

Some of the stories sound like they’re exactly that, stories. There is no way that they can actually be real, there just can’t be. But then I learn that they’re true.

Many times I want to throw-up, or scream or hit someone or just cry and cry. But I can’t, instead I just sit and listen quietly and try to digest what I’m hearing. I try and figure out ways to help them see that their stories aren’t normal and that life can be so much better.

They speak of hopes and dreams and what they want to become. It breaks my heart to hear that their
“dreams” are things that you and I take for granted. Food, shelter, new shoes. Or that Daddy will be out of jail soon.

It’s hard to do any future planning when you don’t know what their future holds. Especially when they’re begging to live with you for always, as long as they can just visit their Mom every now and then. And knowing full well, that they will be going home again.

I wish I could find the words to empower them for when they’re no longer with me. But it’s hard to teach right from wrong when to do so would mean that you’re saying that their Mom is wrong. But how do I say it’s not okay that Mommy locks you up, without actually saying that? How do I say that it’s never okay to choke someone when they say that was Daddy’s favourite game? How do I teach them that it’s a parent’s job to take care of their children when they answer with “that’s not how it works in my house”.  How do I help them feel comfortable in my world, when it’s completely opposite to all they know?

It’s been 14 years of trying to find the right words, and I still feel like I haven’t found them.

 

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. Click on the links below to check out some of the other awesome bloggers involved in the challenge. So much awesome.

Liam ~ Natasha ~ Zita ~ MagzD ~ Peter ~ Christine ~ Cliff ~ Hethr ~ Tracy

Everyday, Ordinary People

As most of you know, my husband and I are foster parents and have been for the last 13 years or so. We’ve had over 20 kids enter our lives and that number continues to grow.  My parents started fostering when I was 12 years old so I’ve also been blessed to have many foster brothers and sisters to call my own. This has been my “story” for the past 28 years and frankly it’s all I know.

People tell me all the time that the job we do is amazing. How much they admire us, and how they could never do what we do. I’ve heard that the world needs more people like us. That we must have the patience of saints. People thank us, congratulate us and pat us on the back.

But here’s what I have to say to all of that.

We are no different from anyone else … we just chose to try.

What we’re doing isn’t rocket science, or anything that’s really all that out of the ordinary. We are parenting the exact same way but with extras. We are still the same parents as we were before they moved in. We are exactly like you.

Our lives are so not perfect, just like yours. We have really, really bad days, just like you. We pray for more patience, more income and more free time in our days. We laugh, we cry and we have complete and total meltdowns. Just like you.

We have struggles and challenges that are “different from yours, but that’s all they are, they’re different. We see hurts and pain up close and personal, but we’re all surrounded by that, we just don’t always notice. We have more bodies sitting around the table at meal times, but who doesn’t like having company over? Our world is quite often chaotic, but isn’t yours? We just call it for what it is….Life.

Being a foster parent isn’t something reserved for a “special kind of person”, it’s a journey worth considering. It truly is an honour and a privilege to be able to say that I’m someone’s Mom. And in my case, those blessings are many.

If you’re even remotely considering giving it a try, send me a message. I’d love to help you make a difference. All it takes is everyday, ordinary people willing to give kids a chance. Are you that person?

This post is part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. If you want to follow along with all of us “challengers”, click on their links below.

Liam ~ Natasha ~ Zita ~ MagzD ~ Peter ~ Christine ~ Cliff ~ Hethr ~ Tracy