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.