Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Charlotte 6 Months

I just love the Lindeen family! The last time I took pictures of these four miss Charlotte had just arrived and was a tiny little thing. Now she is six months old and just as cute and cuddly as can be! It's been awhile since I have done an actual family shoot and it was nice to jump right in and remember how much I enjoy it. Once life settles down a bit for my family I might just open up some session times after the new year, will keep everyone posted. 

Big brother Cooper was such a sweetie with his little sister. The second shot where she is grinning as he kisses her, oh goodness!

Those chubby baby rolls, just the best!

Happy six months baby girl, you are beautiful!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Saying Goodbye Part Four

  We have almost hit the two month mark since finding out that Bubba would be leaving our family and I "think" we finally have some direction on how things are going to move forward. I found out that the new ICWA unit case worker was assigned this week and just in time for her to make it to court. Yesterday there was an emergency placement hearing which I didn't know about until six days before it happened. This hearing took place because the tribe wants Bubba and his siblings moved to family on the reservation before they go back to their mom but their mom does not want them moved until they go back to her. Nothing was officially decided at the hearing but I did hear from my old case worker who was also there, she said that the new case worker would like Bubba to be reunited with his mom within the next two months. Until then they will be looking for a home that can take in Bubba and his two siblings so they can live all together. Not sure if that is a Navajo family they are looking for or not. If they can't find a home for all three kids then they will consider having the kids moved to the reservation until their mom gets them back. I really am not sure how long they will look for a home to take all three kids but it sounds like that seems to be important to have them all living together before they go back to their mom.

  It was nice to get some info and I am hopeful that this time what we are told is actually the plan. I am anxiously waiting (trying patiently) to hear from the new case worker so we can talk face to face about it all instead of me just hearing from someone else. If what I was told is the case then really Bubba could be leaving us any day now if they find a family to take all three kids or decide to move them to the reservation.  If they do find a family I have no clue how quickly they would move the kids, a week, a few days after we find out?? There is still also the possibility that he won't leave us until he goes back to his mom. Even though we got some news there is still no definite answer, so we wait...

  I wasn't originally going to share this news because it still gives no answers. I was thinking that maybe it could be getting redundant that I share things but then nothing happens. After talking with my sister about it this morning I realized that there are many people on this journey right along with us. Many of you who have graciously prayed for Bubba and his situation and have done tangible things to help our family during this time. So many of you do care and want to be in the loop. So I decided that I would share after all. And for those of you who are considering becoming foster parents I hope it is helpful that I share these things. Getting a feel for the system and all the waiting around you get to do is something I would have really liked to hear about from other foster parents. Thanks to all of you who are in this with us and please pray now that wherever Bubba and his siblings end up going next that it is a loving environment.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Month Fifteen - Saying Goodbye Part Three

  Well, I am not sure how many more parts there will be to the tagline "Saying Goodbye" on my posts because it is looking like things are for sure going to be dragging out now. I'm going to keep it though because it will be interesting to look back and see how long this process actually took. For now your guess is as good as mine.

  I quickly finished Bubba's life book in July after we were told he would be leaving rather soon because I wanted to make sure he would have it to take with him to his new home. Guess I will just have to print out additional pictures that I have taken and will continue to take before he leaves. The picture I chose for the front of the book is my favorite of him as a newborn taken just a few days after he came to our family as a tiny two week old. Sure wish I could show you the whole shot!

  Like I had said in my last post, I take lightly now what my case worker tells me. The latest update was that the paperwork still has not been received by the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) unit so our case worker is still in charge. Originally I was told we should get the new case worker around August 22nd. We won't be getting the ICWA case worker until the paperwork has been received AND thirty days have passed. Not sure why it is taking so long to get the paperwork through and also not sure why there is the thirty day rule. I am assuming nothing will really happen until the case is in the ICWA unit and we have the new case worker, so that could be another month plus. I'm amazed at how long just about everything takes in the system but I am also learning to get used to it. Once again, there is nothing we can do about it so we wait patiently. 

  At first I felt like a quick transition would be the best for our family and for Bubba. I remember thinking and telling my mom when we were in the thick of it that it's good in a way that we don't have to drag this out and we can begin to heal once he is gone. Well... here we are and that didn't happen! But what am I suppose to say really? I do try to find the good in every situation and now ours has changed. So, I am grateful that we get to have Bubba with us for an unknown amount of days/weeks/months. I am grateful that God has given us the peace and patience that we really need right now. I am grateful that Bubba is at such a fun stage at the moment and we would have never been able to experience him like this if he had gone when we thought he was going to. I am grateful that even though we are left in the dark again I don't feel stressed about it and God keeps reminding me that he is still in control. 

  We sing this song (The Lord Our God) at church and the last time we did the words in one of the verses stayed on my heart and they have given me peace... 

"In the silence, in the waiting, still we can know you are good.
All your plans are for your glory, yes we can know you are good."

  I've been asked a few times now if we will continue to foster once Bubba leaves. Jake and I have both been very sure in the fact that we will. We will be taking a break because of our new baby expected in November and then we will just wait and see from there. We will keep renewing our license until we decide to get back on the list. I really don't have a timeline as to when we would be open to another foster child because it depends on a few things. Even though it's been a rocky road this first time around being foster parents there have also been parts of it that have been a lot smoother than we could have imagined. Bubba has been a very easy going baby with no medical or other issues and I know that is not typical with a foster child. He has been an amazing sleeper since one month old and that is also not the norm. Everything about him being in our home has been really great and I think I can even say really easy. Learning about the system and dealing with everyone involved has been the tough part but I think that it's also because this is our first time getting used to it. Now that we have experience things won't be as surprising the next time around but we will have to prepare for a more challenging time at home because I think any child will have more issues than our little guy, because he has had zero:) Thanking God for that.

  Now that Ivy is going to Kindergarten I have had a lot of one-on-one time with Bubba the past few weeks. It's been so fun to grow our relationship as he is growing in his little personality. Here are just a few shots of the little/big guy at home.

This boy sure has a good arm! He's gotten so good at throwing a ball recently. Love these three next shots, typical daddy/Bubba play time routine.

Recently Bubba has been climbing into his bucket of books then getting stuck, he cries until one of us comes and gets him out. Well just seconds after I took this picture he climbed out all by himself, I was so proud:)

My brother Evan and sister-in-law Amber had us over to their place last weekend for swimming and a BBQ. Their sweet dog Jilly was so patient with the kids, she hardly even moved a muscle even with all the fur pulling and sitting on that she endured:)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten

Today we dropped Ivy off for her first day of Kindergarten! She was so ready for this milestone and I am a very proud momma. I can't wait to pick her up and hear all the stories she has to tell me. Ivy and I thought it was a great idea to give her teacher a nice red apple on the first day cause that's just what you do! After leaving the parking lot I prayed that God would protect her while she was away from me and that she would have such an awesome experience. I didn't feel sad, just thankful and excited. I did treat myself to a Starbucks because this is a big deal and even without the tears and sadness there were still a lot of emotions involved so I figured a treat would help and it did:)

To say Ivy was excited about her new backpack would be an understatement:) It's fun to find out what is important to her at each new stage. Last year when she went to Pre-K it was the Twinkle Toe shoes and this year it was the My Little Pony backpack with ALL the main characters on it. I was pretty happy that I actually found this while she was on her California trip. One of the first things she asked me when we got to her new school was, "Do you think there are any other pony girls here?" It was cute and I assured her there would most definitely be a few. When she went to Kindergarten boot camp  at the beginning of summer she made friends with some girls who were also fans of the show and she was happy to see some sporting similar backpacks this morning. And by the way, she has a My Little Pony lunchbox and water bottle inside the backpack as well as few MLP shirts and other accessories lined up to wear for the days to come. 

Ivy and some of her classmates lining up after the bell rang. We decided to stay until she walked to class since she was a little nervous and didn't feel like playing on the playground. She didn't cry which was awesome but she did tear up a little. I must admit, I did too watching her walk away to her classroom. It was just such a sweet moment.

And we couldn't leave Bubba out, he graduated from the diaper bag to his own little backpack!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Saying Goodbye - Part Two

  So I realize that giving an update once a month is probably not a good idea any longer now that we have a direction in our little guy's case. For so long we were just waiting for news and now that we have some and know that he will be leaving there are actually more things to share in a shorter period of time. There is so much going through my brain and tons of things I am learning throughout this process so if I don't write it all out often enough I might just explode!:)

  Here we are a few weeks after finding out Bubba will be leaving (and thinking it was going to happen within a few days!) and he is still with us. I have come to learn that I have to ALWAYS take lightly what my case worker says. When we initially got the news we were told this was going to happen very quick. We had planned a trip for our daughter to go and stay a week with my parents and two youngest siblings in California when we were informed of the case plan change. We were planning on taking Bubba with us to go and pick her up at the end of the week and then spending the weekend there before coming home. But we got the impression from the case worker that Bubba could be leaving us before then which would have meant that Ivy would be away when he leaves. Well, that didn't end up happening but thinking it was going to take place we tried to make the last few days the kids had together fun. We went to a splash pad in Fountain Hills (Bubba's first time) and both kids loved it.

  The morning Ivy left for her trip I took the kids out to get donuts for breakfast. Ivy thought Bubba would like the one with pink frosting the best. He didn't know what to do with it, just kept giving it back to me:) At this point all the tears had been shed days before and it seemed that Ivy had accepted the fact that her brother was leaving. She was able to give him hugs and kisses when saying goodbye even with a smile on her face.

  A few days pass and we still hadn't heard anything about Bubba's move. I was really excited to spend lots of one-on-one time with the little guy. We kept busy swimming at the pool, going to the mall to walk and play in the little kid area (which he actually didn't enjoy without Ivy being there), getting Bubba a hair cut at his favorite salon with the little yellow car chair, and lots of reading time in his room. I think I checked my e-mail about fifty times a day just waiting to hear what the next step was...

  I was expecting to get an e-mail telling me when Bubba was leaving but instead I finally received one giving us the OK to take him on our little trip! It was the best news we had heard in what felt like a long time. We would get one last family get away and that was a gift. I also got some news in that e-mial saying the case was being moved to the ICWA unit (Indian Child Welfare Act, handles cases with tribe involvement) and after thirty days we would be getting a new ICWA case manger. This made me realize that it wasn't going to be as quick of a move as we had been expecting. So with that new information we left for California to see our girl and enjoy time with family.

  We took half a day with the kids and my brother Haddon to enjoy La Jolla. We spent some time lounging on the big grassy field, walking around the shore, eating at the delicious Cody's restaurant, and letting Ivy take a swim in the ocean. 

  It was a really nice time away with my family and now here we are back at home and just waiting. If the timeline I've been given for ICWA to get involved actually takes place we should be getting our new case worker around August 22nd. I don't know how quickly we will be contacted by them but at this point I am going to assume things won't go super fast. I would like to think because the case is now set to reunification with Bubba's biological mother that ICWA will probably do what they can to get the kids back to her ASAP, but really I can't be certain. Usually things tend to drag out with this unit because they are searching for a Native American placement for the kids and that can just take time (so I have been told from other foster families). But because there is a goal in mind in our case it wouldn't make sense for it to take so long. This is what I hope to find out from the new case worker once we hear from them. But at this point I am trying not to assume too much and just have to live with the reality that you really don't know anything until the moment it happens.

  So it looks like we will fall into our little routine this next month as Ivy starts Kindergarden and a little bit of normalcy begins to take place as we wait out the next step. Like I have said before, being in a state of limbo is the hardest thing about being a foster parent and I've come to find out that is pretty much the way it is all throughout. You don't know what is going to happen, you get some news, things change, you are left waiting to hear what is next, and on and on it goes. It's a crazy cycle but you can't let it make you go crazy. There have been moments when I feel myself starting to panic, I get angry, I get tired, I get fed up. But I realize that it is in these moments of despair that you grow if you let yourself. You learn to let go and trust that there is someone who actually has this whole situation under control. If I didn't believe that God's got this in his hands I think I would have gone mad by now. When you have to trust Him and you let yourself do it you change, and you have peace. And it's every day that you have to remind yourself that He is still there working it out. I've been getting up before the kids lately to get in some quality alone time. I walk, spend time doing my You Version devotional plan, and read up on individuals who have been dealing with grief and loss who I have felt a connection to. Keeping my body, soul, and mind in a healthy place has helped me to cope with all these unknowns. There is so much that I could be freaking out about but instead I am choosing to not do that and I have to ask God to help me to not do that every day.

  And here is a little update on Bubba. He is pretty much walking, he can take a good four to five steps without a fall. His favorite food are bananas (calls them nanana) and his favorite book is "No No Noah", a story about a monkey who is scared to get onto the ark (he calls it nonono). He is getting his "N" sound down. He can roar like a lion and bark like a dog when we ask him to. We are teaching him to be gentle because the hitting stage has begun and it's usually poor Ivy who gets the worst of it since she hasn't learned to respect his personal space too well:) He is definitely more aware of things and has started to cry when he leaves for visits. I think the longer this reunification drags out the harder it will be for him. We know and can begin to prepare for it but he has no clue and is so attached to our family at this point. But kids are resilient and we will pray that when it does happen it will go as smooth as possible for the little guy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Payton is Two!

Payton recently celebrated her 2nd birthday! I got together with the little missy and her mom last weekend to get some picture of the birthday girl. She was so cute and gave me some great smiles.

Showing off her muscles:)

Michelle hopped into a few shots, love how Payton gave her momma a big hug.

By the time Payton got an outfit change she was pretty much done with the picture taking, a two year old can only take so much:) She did manage to give me a few last smiles to end the shoot. Happy Birthday Payton!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Month Fourteen - Saying Goodbye

  Last week we got some news, sooner than we had expected and not at all what we had imagined. There was no trial just a change in Bubba's case plan, he will be returning to his biological mother. The reason there was no trial was because the state did not feel they could satisfy the ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act) requirements. Everything leading up to the past year and everything we were told kinda just got thrown out the window. The process didn't happen the way it normally does, but I guess in the world of foster care there isn't really a normal. Now that I have had a good few days to process everything it's easier to talk about and begin to plan things out. Our case worker came over on Wednesday and I was hoping to get some specifics on how long this reunification process takes and how much time we will have to begin to say our goodbyes. Unfortunately I didn't get any answers on what the plan is, just that it is expected to be a pretty quick move. So for now we are just waiting to hear what the next step is.

  We have already begun to feel the process of grief since the day we found out he was leaving us. It's hard right now not knowing what the plan is because I want to be able to make this a healthy transition for all four of us and being in the limbo stage makes it rough. The toughest part was initially telling Ivy and holding her as she wept at the reality of losing her brother. I have been constantly amazed at her open and loving heart towards the little guy and I am so thankful that they bonded so easily. Some good news is that Bubba has two biological siblings that are both around Ivy's age and they will also be reunited with their mother. We are trying to do our best to stay positive and find the good in this situation. More than anything we really want Bubba to be loved in his new home and we hope and pray that is the case.

  There have been so many reminders the past week that God is in control. I LOVE reading each day from Oswald Chambers' My Utmost For His Highest and the subject from July 16th was "The Concept of Divine Control." I want to share a few quotes from this day that have stuck with me and this situation. "Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, 'My heavenly Father knows all about this!' Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God's will is behind it. Therefore you can rest in perfect confidence in Him." Thank you Jesus for this truth.

  It's been good for me to find stories on blogs and websites of families who have also gone through this process of saying goodbye to their foster child. Knowing we are not alone in this and getting ideas of how to make these last days special has been very important. I have begun to make a bucket list of sorts of the things we want to do together as a family before Bubba joins his new one. I have also began to finish his life book which is something we were told to do in our foster care licensing classes. I started making this photo book online from the moment I started taking pictures of his two-week-old little self because there was always the possibility of him leaving us and I want him to have pictures of his time with our family. I think it will also be great for his biological mom to see that he was truly loved in our home and that's also the purpose of this book which will be packed with his other items he will be taking to his new home. It will be therapeutic to finish the book for Bubba and to have one of our own to keep, remembering the good times is so important.

  We would appreciate your prayers for this sweet boy, his new home and future, and for our family as this big change takes place. God knew this was going to be the outcome from the start and I see so many wonderful and life changing possibilities in it. God is good and this time with Bubba has been SO good. We will forever be changed because of him and he will always be a part of our lives. We are going to make our last few days together as joyful as possible.