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How One Month Can Change Everything

One month ago our lives were completely different.

One month ago we became parents through the foster care system. Within 24 hours, we’d “had” 2 toddler boys and infinitely increased our knowledge about life with toddlers.

Since then, we’ve laughed more and lived life more in the present. It’s been a huge adjustment to my workday and made me 100x more sensitive. Heck, we’ve even become “those parents” that everyone stares at in the store, but we don’t really mind.

We no longer go through our day just doing what we do when we want to do them, so long as everything gets done and all of the bills get paid. Our schedule has become our constant except when family visitations mess with Boy’s attitude and naps. I am have resumed my walks (nearly daily) and he likes to hold onto my Vest hoses when it’s running, so doing my treatments isn’t a big deal.

One of the highlights of my day is when he wants to throw each bit of my morning neb trash away, but my favorite time is a tie between “coming home” from upstairs before dinner to a running, laughing boy saying “daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy” and reaching up with both arms and bath time. I give him a bath even when he doesn’t need one because he’s contained and I like playing with the foam letters that stick to the tile as much as he does.

Life is pretty good.

A Whole New World

It’s been almost a month since we were officially licensed, yet this is my first post since we have been inundated with foster care up to our necks. Our lives will never be the same again, I can tell you that with absolute certainty.

We got the call at 2:05pm on April 25th that we were licensed! We waited and waited and waited for the phone to ring with a placement. No dice. It wasn’t until we were about 5 minutes from home from an evening out that we got a call. Shortly after midnight, we had a tiny, scared bundle of cuteness in our arms. He was a 20-month old boy who had a twin sister and older brother that had to go to other homes that night. He didn’t say a word or make a sound all evening as I fed him applesauce and Beautiful put him down to bed. Well, that’s when he screamed. I went in and rubbed his back until he calmed down and we had a different boy the next day. Man, was he ever fun!

At 3pm, I was upstairs getting work done when I got a call from his case manager who said that they went to court and he was being taken home! I stopped working and went down to play with him until he left. I hadn’t been downstairs more than 30 minutes when I got a call from placement saying they had a 33-month old boy who would be arriving at the airport after dinner and they knew we’d have an empty bed by then. We fed our first one dinner, put him in the van for his ride home, and sat around until our next one came after 10pm.

This one came with a happy meal of nuggets and a box of juice. We quickly learned that he likes apple juice and his blue monkey, which he calls Bear. Since we can’t post photos, just picture young Anakin Skywalker from Episode One and you’re not too far off. Adorable. It hasn’t been until this week that he’s started to show his other side – undoubtedly some combination of early trauma and the Terrible Twos. We finally had to use timeouts today, but he fully cooperates with them and is all hugs and kisses when his 2 minutes are up, so we may have found something that works (sparingly) for him rather effortlessly.

He will be with us for a few months, but we face a challenge each week after he has family visitation. This week, we’ve had the added joy of a surprise visitation yesterday, so we are prepared for an unrelenting barrage of strange to bad behavior. When he’s good, our hearts melt. When he’s bad, we have to use every ounce of the training we’ve had to decide one of two things quickly and unanimously:

  • do we treat this as parents of a toddler or
  • do we treat this as parents of a severely traumatized little boy who just needs love a million miles before he needs discipline, even if the discipline is a quiet rebuke that hitting is not nice (he clearly doesn’t understand “we prefer you do x, y, or z”)

Getting my work done has been a challenge, but this is what we signed up for, so we are continually working as a team to find our happy medium where I’m involved but able to leave to go upstairs to work. We are tired and exhausted beyond what we thought possible. I am, especially, because I have an engrained sense of responsibility to fix everything, so I’m constantly analyzing him to gain an edge into his mind, figuring out why he did something, what he is thinking, and exactly what happened to him in the past. I’ve gone from crying over what I’ve been told to absolute rage over the knowledge that someone did something to this precious boy in diapers when he was even younger than this. I have to rest in the promise of renewal for those who want it. People can change.

I can assure you new dads of one thing: you will absolutely feel like the king of the world when you come home to a toddler running all the way across the room with his face hidden behind a smile and screaming “Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy!” the whole way. Nothing compares.

Now that you’ve been caught up, I can resume writing snippets of our lives and how CF fits in with foster parenting and running a fully-booked business. Oh! I’ve started walking again in the morning. I supposed you may have guessed that from the photo.

We Passed!

The health inspector for Hillsborough County arrived just a few minutes before noon today. He took one step into our town home and complimented us on how nice things looked and headed to the breakfast bar, so we stood in the kitchen facing him with the counter between the two parties. He kind of looked around every few checkboxes, sometimes not, and asked things such as: is it public water? Public sewer? Do you have running water? Upstairs, too? Regular garbage pick-up… refrigerated food storage (looked at the fridge) and I pushed the temperature setting/display when he asked if we monitor the temps. Fire extinguisher? I opened the pantry door and pulled it out, but he only glanced and was on to the next question.

Never went upstairs.

Didn’t snoop around the garage.

Didn’t snoop in closets or in every nook and cranny – no nooks or crannies at all.

He signed it, I signed it, and he left.

Now we just have to sign papers our specialist will bring the next time she gets in touch with us and then the paperwork is submitted to the agency and county for approval.

We’re almost there!!!!!!!!!!!

The Health Inspector Cometh

Today is our last hurdle before our foster care papers are submitted to the agency and county: a visit from the county health inspector.

[cue ominous music] Duhn duh, duhhhhhh!

We’ve been assured by other foster parents that it’s an easy visit to check that it’s generally clean, the refrigerator is cold enough, and that the water doesn’t run scalding hot. The fridge was 36-37, there was ice in the freezer, and our hottest faucet (the kitchen) was 105 when I tested everything this morning.

He said it only takes 15 minutes, so it can’t be all that thorough looking in every nook and cranny, but it’s a little intimidating. He could have come today but it was laundry day, so we didn’t think that was the best presentation we could offer… or anywhere close. Laundry is one of those things that gets worse before it gets better, you know?

We have been looking forward to this point for so many months, it’s almost surreal.

Then after work

We have our friends Jim and Denise Fahr coming over to Tampa/Brandon while they are with Denise’s parents at their time-share about an hour away on the west side of Orlando/Disneyworld. The CF Wives are meeting at Olive Garden for dinner and invited Denise along. The rules are that you 1) have to be a wife 2) of a CFer to join the Facebook group. They share all kinds of info, stories, and trials – and I’m sure some triumphs along the way.

Jim and I are both Mac-addicts, so we’ll hit up the Apple Store at the mall after the four of us have some time together. Jim had his double-lung transplant shortly after I started this site – let’s see, it was May of 2010. Ever since he was on the mend and back to being himself, we struck up a friendship of mutual respect for being driven, hard-working dudes who are crazy about their wife. [Read more…]