Update – Are you kidding me?

Last time I blogged was April, that seems like a life time ago and yet just a few weeks ago all at the same time. Here’s a very quick run down of what has happened in the last six months:

April – R went home, we packed and moved to Savannah where we both started new jobs
May – Overwhelmed with moving and Macon house remodel
June – Listed the Macon house and got a contract
July – Sold Macon house
August – Approved in Chatham County as Foster Parents
September – Four year old H placed in our home
October – Hurricane Matthew evacuation and recovery with four year old H – I don’t recommend you try this at home

So now that you are up to date with our constantly changing lives here’s where my heart is now.

I began praying for our next foster child in July, intentionally and specifically. I felt lead to pray for her safety and for protection and hope for the child. There was this sense of fear that I was praying against. When Chatham County DFCS finally got us approved as a resource (Foster) family, the call for a placement took about a week and I heard about three children who were removed from their home for criminal child abuse meaning there is a pending criminal investigation and someone maybe going to jail due the severity of the abuse. The placement worker let me pick which of the three children we would foster (since we are in a two bedroom townhouse we are only approved for one child) which was a little weird. Pick a kid, any kid. They wanted us to take the oldest child but I picked the youngest since everyone told me over and over again that we should foster a younger child.

September 1st H came to our house. The case manager had all three kids in tow so I met all three beautiful and extremely excited children. H immediately clung to me like a life line. Yeah sounds endearing but actually she was just terrified of Erma our 23 lb rat terrier. The next day Tropical Storm Hermine came to town which meant we spent two days without power stuck in our apartment with a child that screamed her head off every time Erma came into the room. H also regressed quite a bit, she was wetting the bed and asking for bottles. She also slept, a lot, like 14 hours straight. I don’t know if the sleeping was due to the trauma she had been living in or dealing with the removal from her home or if it was a coping mechanism but honestly, we were kind of enjoying the peace that came with the extra sleeping. After a few days of screaming child and washing linens and clothing twice a day (once we got the power back on), I was done. I called the case manager and told her that we would not be able to foster this child due to her irrational fear of our dog. The case manager was surprised and said that the emergency placement home she and her siblings stayed for the first couple of days in care had three big dogs and H had no problem with them. Are you kidding me?

But then it happened. God opened my eyes to the pain of this child. I was told that she was not abused, only the older kids were but over the past six weeks I have learned how wrong the initial assessment was. One morning I came in the room to find her playing on the floor with some toys. She didn’t have to tell me that she had “peed up” because the stench hit me when I opened the bedroom door. When I picked her up to carry her to the bathroom for a bath, she cowered and peed on the floor in fear. As we cleaned her and the room up, she explained that she would get a “beating” for having an accident. Her relief that there was no punishment for accidents in my house sealed the deal. This beautiful child clung to me cried and called me “momma”. Are you kidding me?

I’ve learned so much from this child in these short six weeks. There are issues, lots of issues. She lies, makes up stories about children and adults to get them in trouble when she is mad. She manipulates, dragging out bed time and demanding attention even if it is negative. She has lots of energy, not in the typical four year old way but in the manic, if I sit still or stop moving bad things will happen way, especially when she is tired. But through the ups and downs of our very busy days I have a delightful, beautiful child who asked me to “be her real momma.” Are you kidding me?

Since I am called to foster and not adopt, I know this child will be going home at some point. So I am getting to know her family. Her dad is wonderful. A provider who works two jobs. He calls her regularly. Schedules and pays for her hair appointments and provides school clothes and snacks. I have been touched by his love for his children. Since we got H at the beginning of her journey through foster care, I got to attend the initial Family Planning meeting. I went in with preconceived notions about this child’s family and some of them appear true but most of them are not. These three children have a huge family who wants to support them through this but the family is so broken they can’t come together, at least not yet. My prayers are for this family and for healing and truth and light to come back into their relationships. I left that meeting as brokenhearted for the adults as I am for the children. Hurting people hurt people and damaged parents often make mistakes and repeat abuse that was inflicted on them as children.

Despite the trauma and abuse and fear of the unknown, our little H is a pint sized, cartwheel turning, playground commanding, laughing and running and jumping, beach loving source of light and joy in our house. This kid cracks us up, so much so that momma had her own little accident riding in the car while H was trying really, really hard to teach Mr. Tim the “Pledge Agilent to the United Steaks of America which understands one nation invisible under God.” And finally, H’s favorite response to something she is overjoyed with such as Grandma Liz’s toy closet or her new outdoor Crayola set is “Are you kidding me?” My new favorite phrase.

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