Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Our first placement

John 15:12-15 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
As I have mentioned fostering was going to be a Church effort, we were a fine Community, some of us even friends all going to get licensed, all getting their homes ready for social workers, home studies and one of the more exciting things, baby rooms! We were all going to buy cribs, fire extinguishers, baby locks etc. The Church was even going to reimburse most to do such a work. I personally, didn't mind boy or girl, but definitely wanted a baby under 12 months as my Fay, Fay was only 3 at the time, home only 2 years from China. As most of my friends received placement first, we anxiously waited, well I mostly was anxious...and why was I? We were fostering, I had short term goals thus far, it was going to be like a revolving door really, baby in then out and then another baby that will be united and then another! One bumpy thing I do recall during the home study process was that ours said we would foster one child up to 2 years old instead of 12 months and under. I remember this worried me, my friends all had newborns and I remember seeing all the newborns arriving straight from the hospital and waiting in cribs to be placed. We were told by the agency not to worry that they'd be mindful of this and that it was better for us to have our home flexible for if a child did stay a length of time we wouldn't have to go back and change it. And we agreed with this, a third home study at this point was redundant and tedious...I was actually tired of hearing our story this time around honestly, my past had to be mentioned as usual and so did Freddy's divorce. It didn't matter at this point, we needed to keep moving forward God was calling a Community of workers! We got our first call for a child and I could not believe it! I was so excited yet so tormented that it had taken so long for us to finally be called, we were the largest family as ours needed a waiver to foster our sixth child. Though the call was troubling because it was for a 2 year old! We will call him T. And Fred and I were both on the line for this call and it went something like this: Person: "Hi Jeannie, we have a placement for you." Me: "really, 2?" Person: "Yes, he says bad words, like &&&^%$##@@@!@!$%&&**(( will that be ok?" Me: "He is 2?" Me: "oh bad words, that is not good for Faith, she is just developing language." Person: "Oh I understand." Me: "Ughhh can we pray about this because its unsettling." Person: "No worries, we can find another family for T, I know you want a baby." Me: "Ok, thanks for understanding." Sighhhhhhh. After she hung up my husband and I were still on the line. He seemed bothered that I had said no and I was bothered he didn't mind the cussing that little T says, quite regularly. Still, he was right I felt terrible. T was a child who needed a home. It wasn't forever? I was kind of taken by my own reaction, that I had said no, I'm usually a yes person, but I was concerned for Faith. I was always thinking about her during this journey, I wanted her to be excited too. Well as I preceded with my day as usual, we had ballet that evening which was actually very close to the shelter. I crossed the train tracks ignoring the shelter I was passing on our way to the girls' classes. Just then I got a phone call, it was from our dear friend Chuck, and when I heard his voice I knew why he was calling. Still I thought, or he is calling to tell me he has another placement for us, he knew we were waiting for a baby and had the room ready in sky blue. Well he said he wasn't at the office but instead at the shelter. I cringed, and said oh, I am close by too! I am at ballet with the girls. If anyone knows Chuck they know he loves Jesus, believes Jesus wasn't limited by boundaries (I was working on mine). You also know that Chuck has 7 kids of his own, has a heart for orphans especially those from troubled homes and who are caught in the system of things. Chuck adopted his foster child's daughter and was currently raising her along with all of his kids. Chuck understood the system and was way more experienced than I was, I was like a fish out of water...I just knew children were matched and it didn't get confusing. Or did it for foster parents? Well Chuck said, Chuck: "Hey I am sitting with a young man here, his name is T and I think you should meet him too." Me: "Ya, I heard about him..." Chuck: "Well his cussing isn't so bad, he doesn't know what he is saying." Me: silence. Chuck: "If you're in the area, then you should stop by and at least see me and say hi to T." Me: groanings. "Ok Chuck, I will come see you." I did think Chuck was crazy for calling me to 'just stop by' but I knew Chuck, he was a good man, God fearing and he was full of wisdom and discernment...he knew me well enough to know I was making a mistake. I was caught up in the 'Community' and was not listening to our Lord Jesus Christ. I stumbled over to the shelter and just felt so embarrassed and yet I was oh so grateful God loved me enough to give me a second chance with T. As I walked over I saw Chuck outside playing basketball with the kids from the shelter, and I had nothing but awe for him. It was so good to see him on the mission field and it was so good he called me and knew I needed help here. He brought me to T and T was a mess. He was also the tiniest 2 year old I'd ever seen. He looked like he was 12 months! He wasn't well, he had a fever, runny nose and pink eye! He was terrified. He was also gorgeous! People who were there were staring at me, and were smiling I guess at my the dumb expression on my face. I am sure mainly they were smiling at the amazing Chuck! I was amazed with Chuck. That he knew me enough to call me and correct me in this grievous error I would have made had I not seen T. Half-shaking, I reached out my arms to T and held him, he was so light weight and warm. He kept crying, out for mommy. She was here....sort of, the stand in I guess....oh ya the foster mommy. Here I am. My friend Chuck did get into trouble I am sure for having me 'visit' and I was worried about him as he was pretty new on the seen. He didn't seem to be worried, he was just happy T was coming home with us. And I was still confused and without a toddler seat for T. So T would be transported to me. My brother David arrived home before I did and met T as did our children and they all fell in love with T instantly. My husband and I met up at a Publix to scurry around to buy milk, and food and bottles as well as medicine for our first foster baby. It was nerve wrecking, yet so exciting. It was less of our hands in it and more of Gods and that is always better. When we arrived home T was super smiley and talkative. A great vocabulary came out of this boy, G rated even. He was skateboarding with lil Freddy and Freddy seemed very excited and this brought joy to my heart. Yes, ok, we are doing the right thing, this feels right....six kids, it will all, really be okay. The days flew by and it all seemed so natural, T fit right in. We took him to a Christian concert, thought he'd love it, turned out he hated it, because it was too loud. He still had a fever. He would say he missed mommy. I would tell him I know. One day, while we were at ballet, T was running around and I was asking him to run and stay close by me and he began to scream and yell at me. Then I heard the words come out of his mouth. There it was, the hurt and pain. He felt angry and rejected when I corrected him and so he mimicked mommy. I got up to hold him and told him not to say those words anymore. He said, T:"mommy says them." Me: "But T doesn't say those words, Jesus doesn't like those words, do you know Jesus?" T: "yes." As the day went on and when T would slip into his rages, I would just hold him close and our kids would too. They'd correct him and he would kind of reset, until the next bout. I knew that I was falling in love with his handsome face. One day I met T's Guardian Ad Litem. She was new to this process, she was young and in law school. And her and I did not see eye to eye at all. She didn't seem to appreciate the bond we had all formed together, it seemed foreign to her. I tried to be patient but had a huge wake up call as to what these children are actually subjected to. Remember the 'players and characters' this was it. And each one of them have their own opinion as to what is best for the child. One suggestion was to not let T call me mommy and not to snuggle or carry him around. Instead I was to allow him to leave with a complete stranger who is still in University learning about 'law'. These were the rules, and I had to understand that I am just a foster parent, T's sitter perhaps. One day I had to meet the Guardian at the library and she just took him out of my arms and T was screaming and there was a scene, my kids were upset too. I called our agency and told them I could not sit and allow this to happen. They said they understood, that I had rights and that it was best to work together as best as possible. What I witnessed was a loveless system. A strange system even. This was not natural and T was caught in this not for what he did but what had happened between his parents. I am sure not even his parents understood nor would ever choose this for T, but their emotions got the best of them as did their rage like T. They couldn't help themselves. And who am I in all of this? T's watcher, his caregiver, his friend....sometimes even his mommy. One day T had a supervised visit scheduled with his daddy. I was nervous and already quite upset about the previous visit with the Guardian. So I decided it would be best if I didn't go but instead have T transported as I too had to protect myself and my heart and I had no idea what I was doing anymore. So I got T dressed, packed his snack and had him ready to go. I prayed as he left and let him go. He returned shortly after, and he was very excited that he'd seen daddy, it was the happiest I'd seen him. He returned with toys and clothing and pj's, Ninja Turtles, his favorite. HIs daddy knew him, he loved his son and T loved daddy. Wow, I saw that and appreciated that. I was not happy for T and excited for him. At times I was sad for me...as this would mean T would not stay he would go and it was soon. We received a phone call that T was leaving to live with a relative. I assumed his dad would be his placement, but he wasn't dad wasn't ready to care for T nor was mom. This probably hurt me the most, T wasn't getting a mommy and daddy, he was getting a relative...who was the relative? When you foster and you have a case you start to get nosy, and you think you should know all of these things...but really you don't. Only God needs to need to know the whole picture, not you or I but I was going to miss T God. This was going to hurt but I didn't fully understand why yet. I later learned that T's relative was no relative at all, instead mom's best friend, which upset me honestly, but it made sense. So I let my agency know I was going to drop off T myself and I wanted to foster another child....oh what a privilege that would be and how it would help me say good bye to T if I knew that on the other side, there was another T waiting for help. I didn't care how old anymore, all those details were rubbish to me now. I still had to say good bye to T though. All the clothing I had bought T and his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles socks and blankie and pillow...he had to keep it and have it with him. SO he would know he was sincerely loved by us. Also, I had to meet his relative and look into her eyes and see if she understood who it was that she was taking away from me. And when she pulled up and when I did look into her eyes I knew, she was sent for T and she did know. She knew everything about him and mom and dad and she knew T needed Jesus as did she. She hugged me and thanked me, I hugged her and thanked her too for loving him and for all the plans she had for him. She wanted to give him her best and I knew that it was right and good of her. I kissed and said my final bye to T. He was smiling and said "Bye mommy". I Love you T!

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