These are times where you sit in front of the teacher and they have 15 min. to
rattle off how your child is doing. It's not a conversation, it's a mini
speech. I learned my oldest daughter, Pancake, now 12-- is being recommended
for advanced math. As I looked over the 'AP' classes of algebra, trig, and
calculus...I was flooded with wonderful memories. I loved math. I am a nerd and
still am. MATH RULES!
I can't wait for my daughter to excell in everything she does. I can't wait
to read over her math homework and wax nostalgic. My head will explode with rapturous
joy when she starts reading Shakespeare!
My foster daughter is getting better with reading. And behaviors. Yay!
Then there is Mac, now age 8. I left his conference in tears. Not happy
tears but sad ones. WHICH IS WHY I SHOULDN'T GO TO THESE THINGS.
Mac is smart. Like Mensa smart. I know, we've had him tested. We tested him
because he struggles with behaviors. Sitting still, paying attention, keeping
his emotions from flying all over the place...all of these things are not his
strong suit. It was of no surprise he has attention deficit disorder. His mommy
has it. His daddy has it too.
We knew he was smart, but genius level was a bit of a shock. It makes sense
though. Yesterday, in the car, my eight year old was asking about cloned sheep.
And radiation. And what ibuprofen means.
At the conference, his lovely blond teacher was telling me how Mac doesn't
participate. He sits at his desk and reads. Reading at super high level, much
higher than his peers. He doesn't want to sit on the carpet with the rest of
the kids. "He wants to be alone", the teacher said. So, they let him
read and do the 1/2 hour assignments in 2 min flat. They let him not participate
because he's not disrupting the class.
That's an improvement. He used to be a huge disruption. Pounding, kicking,
angry. Letters and calls from school. Now it seems instead of going outward,
he's going inward. That's my trigger to start crying. I'm INWARD AND IT SUCKS. I'm
an introvert who struggles with making small talk. Who struggles with fitting
in, social gatherings and acting nonchalant. I'm 39 for land's sake. I've
gotten very good at faking it but it's still a struggle. I want to tell Pancake
and Mac to fight their inward leanings. You can be smart and outward.
Here's the thing, as the kids get older, the less they need to listen to me.
Like Pancake. She's entering adolescence which is, by definition, the most
awkward and struggle filled time of anyone's life. Meanwhile her life is
unfolding before her. She needs to start figuring this out. It is up to her to
pass the AP math classes. She'll figure it out if she wants to. I'll be there
but I'm not going to hover or push.
Mac is eight. He's outgrowing time outs and becoming more scattered with
things. Regulating his behavior is different. Less difficult and harder at the same
time. He has long moments of emotional calm and his charming genius fills the
room. I pray and imagine this will be him as he grows into a man.
The bright spot in all of this is that he's been recommended for a special
school for gifted kids. It's a school where kids learn twice as fast and learn
twice as much. They cater to the kind of learner Mac is. I hope upon hope this
is where he'll flourish.
But, I always remember I was a genius who almost flunked out of high school.
They didn't test me until 9th grade. And I have a master's degree.
So. I've had the wee foster ones in
our care for quite some time now. It makes for a crowded house and a crowded
table in my head.
People always ask, "Are you going to adopt them..." And I
have to go into a shortened version of no and why.
The end game of foster placements is permanency. The kids are not meant to
stay with foster families forever. They are meant to return to mom, go to a
relative or the foster family adopts them. Another option is someone becoming a
guardian. Which is not quite adoption.
This is the most likely option for our foster son. He lives, most of the
time, with his grandparents. They rely on us for support and care of the little
guy. They cannot raise him without us. I say this not out of arrogance, but out
of three years with this family. However, once they become guardians, things
What we think about, what I think about, is our obligation to this little
guy. He loves us. He sees us as a stable loving family he gets to be part of.
We agree. We don't agree to keep enabling his grandparents. To be completely
selfish, we don't want them in our lives ever, ever again. Three years is
enough with those people.
But again, those people can't raise him without us.
It's a tough, tough, tough, tough, tough place to even think about. So I
won't. Nothing will change in the next month so I'll just end that here.
I can say my life would be very empty without the crowded table.
Entanglements being what they are, it's not a bad way to go about being useful.
I'm not meant for a life of ease. I've been given much too much strength for
I don't have much to say but I want to write something. So here goes.
It is said no one operates without an agenda. This is unbelievably true and not an indictment on anyone's character. My motivation, for most things, stems from a deep inner restlessness and obsessive nature.
2. Anger management
I've recently learned how to call up anger, channel it through my muscles and lift some very heavy weights. This is so very useful.
The Crossfit games in an annual competition that has three parts. The first is the Crossfit Open. This means everyone who does any sort of crossfit can do 5 workouts and compare themselves to the rest of the world doing the same work out. I did an intermural open last year where we formed teams at our gym and competed against each other. It was amazing! It begins in a month!
I look back on my workout journal and see how far I've come from last year. I lift 3 times the weight I use to. This is especially true with thrusters. I use to do them at 15 lbs. Which is the 'girl bar' without any weights. TODAY. NOW. I do them at 65 lbs. BOOM!
Behold! The thruster!
My weakness is box jumps. This is me conquering the 20 in box. It's a giant effin leap. It's more mental than anything. Working on them though. BTW. Both feet should be hitting the box at the same time and I should be more upright. Again, this is my weakness and I'm working on it.
Last year I jumped on a 10 inch platform. So improvement is noted.
4. And lastly, foster care
Things are humming along with the two bonus kids of ours. It's been three years now. The bio moms are out of the running for reunification. Family will take in one, family will hopefully take in another. If not, they've identified adoptive resources a.k.a. foster families that can adopt. We've chosen not to adopt. It has been a long road but my guilt about this has all but dissolved.
I think about the kids' stories. How it doesn't go smoothly. They don't say, "My mommy and daddy fell in love, got married and had us." They say, "When I was four I went to live at my grandma's and my mom went to jail. I live at the Halls some times." Or, they say, "When I was four my mom went to the hospital and I went to live with the Halls." Then they both say, "My mom didn't get better and now I'm living with my other grandma/auntie. They're adopting me and now I'm staying there forever."
This transition from our care to others is the next step. I'm not sure how it's going to go but it's a step wise transition. First hour long visits, then overnights. Then week long stays. Then permanent.
I wonder if memories of us will fade like all memories do for kids. I wonder if our bonus kids will remember anything of our years together. Or will they just ask, "Didn't I stay with a family that had a pool once?" ...."What was that about?"
Been fostering low these last two years now. Two placements. One is on and off. One is here for the duration. It's been a crazy experience to say the least but nothing prepared me for the sheer longevity of it.
Nothing happens. Literally each month goes by without much changing. There is no checklist and things are done. There is no timeline. Things seem to drag forever. Foster daughter's mom is doing about the best she'll ever be doing. We've made peace with that. She's not an addict, a child hurter or a monster. She's a mom that struggles but when she doesn't struggle she's decent enough.
She's not struggling now. We are though. We.are.tired.
Our third child came within months of our foster kids and then we had five. Again, that was 2 years ago. Through a lot of prayers and tears and me want want want wanting...I have finnally accepted the reality that we can't be their parents. Like Mr. Hall said, "They have parents. They need to go back to their parents." I realized that my need to adopt was truly clouding my vision. And I realized Mr. Hall is correct.
At this point we are exactly where we were a year ago. Foster daughter spends more time with mom than with us. As it should be. We still have her a few days a week and the ensuing aftermath that comes with that.
They say foster kids' behaviors (tantrums, screaming, ripping wall paper, screaming) gets worse as the reunification comes closer. They are correct. It's a lot of manage this type of thing. It's not normal tantrum. Someone called it 'a behavior storm'. That person is correct.
I feel for my foster daughter. She wants to go home. We want her to go home. She can't though. Foster care is not a checklist and done deal. Mom has to prove SUSTAINED non struggling. I have no idea how long sustained is. I don't envy the social worker who has to quantify that sort of thing.
Part of me thinks the birth mother is done too. Which would make her work harder than she ever has to get her kid back. But who knows? This is the exact same spot she was in a year ago. She was two weeks from getting her daughter back. Then she completely unhinged. She knew enough to not pick her daughter up that day. We were a safe place to put her daughter that day.
That is what Mr. Hall wants to be. He never wants to be done being a safe place for these kids. No matter what, he wants to be there for our foster daughter. Even after she's long gone from our house. That to me is amazing.
So. I need to focus on what I can do.
Which is lift heavy weights, count weight watchers points, accept God's plan of stasis. Pray and put myself inside a tiny child who feels a million times more frustrated than I ever will.
I heard about tough mudder years ago. At the time, I wasn't sure the people who did tough mudder and I were the same species. But I started to dream. I started to want.
I would run into folks who had done this and I would ask them millions of questions about it. I can't remember any of them saying, "you should do this." When people ask me questions I don't encourage them. Maybe I should.
But after the want--- years passed on. My want never passed.
Then I had my last baby making me a mother of five (three our own, two foster kids). A month post birth, while I was still nursing, I joined weight watchers. I was determined to get healthy once and forever.
And I stumbled onto crossfit and said out loud, "I'm going to do the tough mudder". It was a bold but quiet peep of a statement. It caught in my throat and startled me. I was determined though.
So, let's begin shall we?
I don't believe there is a way to train for the tough mudder. You need to be ready though. Be strong, be fit, be badass and work hard. That's what I did for a year prior. There was a lot of crossfit involved.
The event itself is 12 mud laced miles of running, climbing, bashing, running, hills, reaching, swimming, climbing, MORE EFFING RUNNING, hills, berlin walls and running. Go ahead and google the photos. They're pretty accurate.
These yellow things have electricity in them.
Grabbing stangers in places you normally just grab your husband.
WOOPS!! SORRY DUDE!!
These monkey bars are fun. I got on one ring and promptly feel into the water.
IT WAS AN AMAZING DAY WITH MY HUSBAND AND I COULDN'T WALK FOR THREE DAYS AFTERWARD.
With a little downtime today I can talk about why we aren't going to adopt our foster daughter.
When Mr. Hall told the social worker he didn't want to adopt, he was teary eyed. She was there to start the paperwork and I thought maybe we'd just discuss things. I know he had reservations but I was in denial. Turns out, he really doesn't want to adopt and feels shitty even saying that. The social worker was very kind and saw us, Mr. & Mrs. Hall, divided. On the couch.
"You guys are in a tough spot.", she said.
Oh my heart that day! I was sinking, sinking, sinking.
The number one thing people ask us as foster parents--is "Isn't it hard to give them back?" And I always said, "No, they have parents that love them and if they can get better, the child wants to go back and that's were they belong. We're just temporary."
So, with that pressure in mind, the pressure of what people expect from him, what I wanted from him, he had the courage to say, "No. It's not right. I don't feel connected to her. She needs to be with another family when the time comes."
Oh my heart that day! Sink.........sink ....sink....
I felt for my husband. It makes him sound like a bad guy. He's actively hurting me, with my big let's adopt ALL THE CHILDREN puppy dog eyes.
It was a rough week after that. My heart was just aching and I couldn't go to Mr. Hall, the one I go to. It was the first time we've ever had uglies and sad. Foster care challenges us in ways unbelievable.
So we prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. And I cried and trusted God and trusted God and prayed.
And his heart didn't open and mine opened other ways.
Mr. Hall wants to help ALL THE CHILDREN. He sees many foster kids coming and going through The house of Hall. We'll work on their stealing, lying, scratching, temper tantrum fitting for two hours and ugly. Helping them and sending them on their way. And, he says, "When the time is right, when I feel it's right, we'll adopt. This is what we talked about three years ago when we started this." I guess I didn't remember having that conversation. Hearing what I want and ignoring what I don't is a habit of mine.
A few weeks have gone by and we revisited how we felt last night.
I feel better. It's better to be honest. So we talked about the future of our little girl. Nothing BUT NOTHING will change for a good long year. Even though bio mom's rights will be terminated and she'll be available for adoption, that wouldn't happen for a year. A year for the termination and another year for someone to finalize an adoption.
In other words, she's not going anywhere. She's hear for the duration. And whatever dream I have of children, our permanent children, is still fuzzy. The dream is not clear yet....so I dream on.....
This is me in all my badassery. I love this photo for the following reasons:
1. I look super badass.
2. I am photo'd at a 3/4 angle. DUDES--never photograph a woman from the side, always 3/4!!
3. The dude behind me is at least 6'4". I am a foot smaller. I like the dude behind me. He's a swell guy. Super nice.
4. The exposed particle board shows how unfancy crossfit is.
5. I supered the color so my tank top pops.
6. This was during a partner workout and Mr. Hall was struggling. So I took over for him doing my part and his. Love being strong enough to help him.
7. Feel kind of proud I was tougher than him that day. That doesn't ever happen and while it's petty, I'm proud.
8. This is a praise position. Like at church, when people raise their hands up in praise. Only my hands are holding 55lbs. SUPER PRAISE!!
1 Timothy 2:8 New International Version (NIV) 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
Mr. Hall and I have had many tearful conversations about our foster daughter. Tears on my part and his. At the end of many prayerful nights we have decided not to adopt her. Our intention is to love on her and then transition her to an adoptive family when the time comes.