Our Foster and Adoption Journey: An Unexpected Message
It was the beginning of a brand new year – 2013. Paul and I had traveled back to my childhood home in Alberta to spend the New Year’s holiday with my family. Before leaving for our trip, we had completed the last of our home study, and now we were eagerly awaiting the final paperwork to be processed and for our license to come in the mail.
I still remember exactly where I was sitting when my husband got a text from his brother back in North Dakota. He said a coworker of his was trying to get a hold of us to let us know that the two little boys that we had cared for that previous summer were once again in need of a home. This coworker was a relative of these two little guys and had been caring for them for a few weeks now, but she also knew that we had had them in our home that previous summer, and was hoping we would be able to care for them once again.
So there I was, sitting on the carpeted floor of a friend’s house with my husband beside me when we got the news that these two little boys that I had already grown to love so deeply needed us again. As much as I loved being back in Alberta, gathered with family and old friends, I could hardly wait to get back to North Dakota and welcome those two little heart-tuggers back into our home. We didn’t have to welcome them back into our hearts: they had never left.
Suddenly we needed to move things into high gear. I don’t remember exactly what day of our visit the text message came, but to the best of my recollection we were back home within the next few days after that. Our license still had not come in the mail, but we were expecting it any day.
No sooner had we arrived back in North Dakota then I got a call from our social worker: there was a brother and sister pair that were currently in a county home, but their team was considering moving them into a PATH home. Our worker said she knew our license had not arrived yet, but would we be willing to consider taking this pair as our first placement as soon as things were in order?
We told her that we certainly would be willing to consider it, however, we told her that we had also just received word that the two little boys we had taken care of the previous summer were now in need of foster care. Since we had shared a lot about these little guys with our worker during our licensing process, she already knew all about them, and agreed that it would be ideal if they could come into our home again, this time as an official foster care placement.
Everything moved quickly then. The boys were transitioned into our licensing agency, and their relative brought them to our home on Saturday, January 12, 2013. She had been caring for them and their other siblings for several weeks, in addition to continuing to work at her demanding full time job, so she was in dire need of some respite. So, the boys’ five year old twin sisters also came on that Sunday so we could care for them for the upcoming week and Laura* (not her real name) could attend a work conference and just have some time to decompress and reorganize her life.
As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. At this very same time, Paul’s Grandma passed away in British Colombia. As he was making plans to travel out to the funeral, I was making plans for how to survive going from a mother of none to a single mother of four very energetic, high needs children, if only for a week.
We muddled through that week. There was nothing glamorous about it. There were a lot of tears (not all of them were from the children), but there were also lots of fun times. No doubt about it: our lives had changed forever. A friend sent her teenage daughter over to my place to help out for a couple days while Paul was gone, which was a life saver and I am forever thankful for that support during that first week of adjustment.
The twins had Headstart preschool every day, so other than the rush to get them to school on time each morning, the rest of the day with just the two boys allowed me some more time to focus on meeting their needs. When Alec had left our home the previous summer, he had just started to crawl and pull himself up on things. Now at a 1 ½, he was walking, and it was a challenge to keep up with him. Mason, now 2 ½ seemed to have lost the few words he had learned to speak that previous summer, but his lively personality was showing through even though he didn’t have words for what he was going on in his little mind.
The girls went back with Laura and her husband the end of that week, Paul returned home from the trip to his Grandma’s funeral, and together with our boys, we began the lifelong journey of settling in to our new normal, learning to understand and love one another, and learn what it meant to be a family, rough edges and all. Soon after the boys arrived in our home, our license arrived, and the boys were officially placed with us in foster care. At this time, reunification with their birth family was the permanency plan, and we honestly had no idea where this road would lead. We were taking one day at a time, trying to stay open to whatever God had in store, and to hold “our boys” loosely, while at the same time letting their bond with us begin to grow and their little hearts begin to heal from their trauma and loss.
To be continued! If you haven’t already, please make sure that you are signed up for email updates, so that you are notified as soon as there is a new post with more of our family’s foster care and adoption story. Thank you!