I've given a few details on who we are throughout the blog, but I'm going to take advantage of the opportunity to summarize our story (so far).
My husband and I have been together since high school, and got married the day after my husband graduated from college. We both went into teaching at local middle schools and worked part-time at a local animal shelter. After a few years of trying to get pregnant (unsuccessfully), we opted not to pursue fertility testing/treatments and to go full throttle into the world of adoption. We considered domestic infant adoption for a little while, but didn't feel like it was the right fit for us. After a lot of discussion and research, we decided to adopt a young toddler, and we began the long, emotional-rollercoaster journey to adopt from South Korea in 2010.
In April of 2012, I received a phone call from our social worker while at work...and her first words were "IT'S A BOY!!" Within seconds, we had pictures, information, and (more!) paperwork to fill out. A few months and one whirlwind tour of Korea later, we came home with our baby boy, who was 17 months old, emaciated (he wore 6-9 month size clothing at the time), and simultaneously overwhelmed and devastated that he was no longer with the foster family he'd known for so long. We loved him...but he had no idea who we were. We had a LOT of ups and downs that first year. Thankfully, eating was not a problem...he was hungry and would eat anything (and everything!). Today, Eli is an asynchronous, very sensitive kid, and he is an extraordinarily quick learner. When he decides he wants to accomplish something, he is unusually perseverant. He is now four (and a half), and completely obsessed with all things Dr. Who and Star Wars. He will go to Kindergarten next year...but is still slightly confused as to why he has to, since he can already read. I'd love to home school him entirely (we currently blend home school and preschool), but it's not possible right now, since I am still a full time teacher.
|Tiny Eli, wearing 9 month size clothing at 18 months|
In the meantime, late in 2014, Patrick and I decided that it might be time to start the process to adopt again. While we initially thought about going back through the Korea program, we heard about an agency in our state that facilitated foster care placements. At first, I mentally fought the idea. I wanted every child who came into our home to be a PERMANENT member of our family. But, our hearts kept tugging in this direction. We decided to go to a foster parent 'interest' meeting to talk ourselves out of this craziness. After surprisingly little discussion and deliberation...but with LOTS of concerns and worries...we jumped in with both feet. In less than 6 months of making the decision, we became foster parents and had our first foster child.
Our first foster child, W, was 3 years old and was with us for 6 months before reuniting with his family. Surprisingly, though we all still miss him (and not a day goes by that I don't wonder how he is doing), his leaving did not cause the major devastation/grief that we expected. We were very much aware of how much his family loved him and how hard they were working to bring him back home....and that eased the sadness, allowing a part of us to be happy for him when reunification happened.
|Eli and W playing this summer|
In the middle of W's time with us, as we went on summer break from school this year, I got a call requesting that we take a slightly pre-mature newborn baby. We did seriously talk about it...but timing couldn't have been better, as the baby would be plenty old enough for daycare by the time school resumed in the fall. Itty Bitty joined us the next day, when we went to the hospital to pick him up and receive special instructions for his care. He is still currently with our family, and we hope and pray that we may one day be able to adopt him. He is a bouncy 7 month old baby with a gorgeous smile, who is happy-go-lucky and, in the words of my students, "very chill" (relaxed). He recently failed two Early Intervention evaluations, and will soon begin physical and occupational therapy. In the meantime, we will be consulting with some additional medical professionals to see if we can figure out the underlying reason(s) for Itty Bitty's difficulties.
|Eli and Itty Bitty hanging out in the stroller|
After W's reunification, we had space available for another child to be placed with us. We actually received several calls after W left....at least one per week. We said "yes" to most of them, but the placements didn't happen...until the two year old dynamo, Wonder Boy, came along. Our time with Wonder Boy was....challenging. We actually breathed sighs of relief when he left 3 weeks later to go to a placement with all of his siblings. Wonder Boy's behavior and his leaving set Eli into a tailspin of unusually terrible behavior that took several weeks to correct.
After Wonder Boy, we had a bit of a break between placements, partially because of Eli's need for time/healing, and partially because Itty Bitty got hit hard by RSV and bronchiolitis. By the time things began to get back to what passes for normal in our house, I wrote - and posted - that we were ready for another placement, but hadn't had any calls. Within 60 seconds of the post, we had a call for another 3 year old boy, Scooter.
|Eli and Scooter (the storm trooper) playing together|
Scooter joined our family that night, and has been utterly confused ever since. I have a lot of questions about what happened to him and the county's plan for reunification, but am trying to be patient as the wheels of the system grind away. He is a super-sweet little boy and we feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy him and help him while he is with us. He ADORES going to preschool and really likes being with his teachers and friends.
At this point, we are quite clearly in the thick of the ups and downs of foster care. We don't know how long we plan to continue fostering, but we will take one day at a time. We definitely enjoy the kids we have and are happy to be able to parent them while we have them. We don't know if we'll get the opportunity to adopt any of our foster kids - though, as I said before, we are definitely praying for that to happen in Itty Bitty's case. For the moment, having 3 kids works for us, though...it's enough kids to be a lot of fun and a little boisterous...but not so many to be completely overwhelming for us.
Looking forward to linking up this year!