A friend emailed me this week and invited me to an online event on Friday night. I told her that I would love to be there, but Brian was going to be a men’s camping retreat with church so I was going to be on my own with the four kids. I said that I would be there, barring any unforeseen chaos.
I actually used the word “chaos” in my email to her. I learned a lesson this week.
Don’t use “chaos” in reference to something you are hoping doesn’t happen with three boys and a foster daughter. I also shouldn’t play the song “I Lived” by OneRepublic as it has the line “With every broken bone I swear I lived.” It’s only setting myself up for failure.
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I’m sorry for the absence of a post last week. My computer had other plans. I actually had everything written out and ready to go when my computer turned off. I turned it on again. It decided it didn’t like the position of the power cord and shut down again. And again.
And I gave up.
It seems like it has become trendy to complain about social services. You’ve probably seen the stories of parents ending up in the crosshairs of CPS because their 11 year old was playing outside by himself for an hour and a half while his parents were caught in traffic or heard of the case in Massachusetts where the state took custody of a teenager. Doctors at one hospital disagreed with the diagnosis of doctors at another hospital and alleged abuse…
I made the mistake of reading the comments on some of these articles and it was… ugly. Hideous. Wrong.
People were left and right on multiple threads bashing the work that child protective services does, saying they are just causing trauma by taking kids and they shouldn’t be allowed to do it anymore… and this is the tame version I am repeating here. People were asking why isn’t CPS commenting on cases and why aren’t they answerable for cases gone wrong and insisting that the whole system needs to be done away with.
I’m sure you’ve heard the sentiment. Maybe even felt it yourself.
There are two competing narratives going on right now regarding the work of CPS and foster care.
This week, I have to confess I got kind of annoyed with a sign. Yep. A Sign.
And all this offending sign said was, “Smile!”
I was taking out two of the boys to McDonald’s just to hang out when I was confronted by said sign at the register. Maybe I was just a little tired, but it seemed funny being told just to randomly smile by a sign that clearly had no self-awareness. I suppose that the management wanted to reinforce that McDonald’s was a happy place to be, but it’s symptomatic of an interesting trend.
I wish I processed things faster. I honestly feel a bit slow sometimes and just this past week something dawned on me that had been staring me in the face for the past year and a half…
Last summer, at the very beginning of summer I might add, Luke had an accident and broke his foot. We went from “I really hope that isn’t broken” to “I think that might be broken” to “I’ll be surprised if it isn’t broken” over the course of hours as it started to bruise and swell up. I felt sick when I saw the x-rays the next morning. You know it is bad when I can tell that it is broken since usually my expertise in radiology is limited to “yep, that’s a foot”; it was really broken.
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I think there is a funny transition that happens to us when we are finally out of school. We spend years being poured into by teachers, professors, and mentors only to graduate and feel like we are “done”.
I know I said it: “I’m so happy to finally be done!”
I usually get a lot of funny looks when I’m out. Maybe it is the four kids or maybe it is the fact that the oldest three are boys, but someone inevitably says, “Boy do you have your hands full!”
And I laugh (though sometimes I want to cry depending on how many times I have told said boys to stop hiding in the store racks… and if I have had to help them become unstuck from their hiding places in the store racks).
But I really don’t like the question, “How do you do it all?”
This week didn’t turn out quite like I thought it would be. Last week was an emotional high since we are now officially adopting our precious foster daughter (if you missed it, you can read it here). I think I had expected that feeling of walking on cloud nine to continue… and it didn’t.
I’m late in posting this because I feel like I am still processing what has happened.
Friday was a profound day: my foster daughter had a court hearing to make some decisions for her case. I’ve always hated court dates because they are such a poignant reminder of how broken everything is. It’s heartbreaking that a situation could go so off the rails that it ends up being debated and decisions made by outside parties in a court of law. Nobody wins. Ever. It is simply about mitigating the damages.
I’m feeling the strangest mix of emotions as I’m absolutely elated and wretchedly heartbroken. My foster daughter’s biological mom had her parental rights terminated on Friday.
We are going to adopt her.
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Learning To Live
Five years ago this week I lost a friend. The word friend doesn’t seem to even adequately describe her because she was so much more. Emily changed my life.
I met her during a very dark period in my life since I was just diagnosed as being chronically ill and I was so bitter at the prospect of being in constant pain for the rest of my life. I was grieving since my plans were upended and life wasn’t going to be what I thought. We ended up in the same dorm at college and instantly, I thought she was one of the sweetest and brightest people I’d ever met.
And then I found out she had cystic fibrosis.