Like so many dwarves wrapped in a spider web and hanging from a tree. Thank you, Tolkien, for the visual image.

I’m trying to even pinpoint what I want to say and figure out how to make it sound true, yet concise; complete, yet honoring. Sometimes the truth is just messy.

Sometimes foster care is.

Three weeks ago from tomorrow we dropped Baby T off for a weekend visit with another foster family and two of his brothers. That was the last time we saw him. He did not come back to us.

And I mentally blasted DHS because, really, thanks for the notice, you guys.

We could have pushed for the 5-day notice they are required to give us, but in the end since we knew they were going to move him we felt it was better for him to go ahead and stay rather than come back to us for a few days and then go back again. And being with his brothers is also a good thing. But still.

And now we’ve been back to a family of 8 for the past three weeks. And it’s been one big blur. I’m finding that managing the lives of at least 7 people (7, since Craig generally manages his own) is really kicking my butt. Every single night I open up my computer and email myself a detailed list of who has to be where and when. It looks an awful lot like this one from last Wednesday:

  • 7:15: Craig takes Katie and Millie to school
  • 7:55: I leave with A5, R4, Maddie
  • 8:05: Drop A5 off, head to R4’s school
  • 8:40: Drop R4 off, head to Eye Doctor
  • 9:15: Eye Doctor with Maddie
  • 10:15: Walmart for meat and cheese tray supplies
  • 11:00: Home, drop Maddie off to do school
  • 11:45: Leave for school – pick Katie up and head to school
  • 12:30-2:30: Durin’s Day Festival
  • 2:30: Craig heads to R4’s school and picks up R4, Megan heads to North Campus and picks up Millie
  • 3:00: Pick up Millie and go home, Craig picks up R4 and brings him home
  • 4:30: Pick up A5
  • 4:45: Take Maddie to Guitar
  • 5:00 Figure out dinner
  • 5:45: Leave to pick up Maddie
  • 6:00: Pick up Maddie
  • 6:15: Finish feeding anyone who hasn’t eaten. Mad scramble to prep house for City Group
  • 7:00 City Group

Add to the insanity that a schedule, similar in length, yet different in implementation combined with trying to figure out the logistical, physical, and emotional needs of everyone here and it’s a wonder I’m not on some kind of antidepressant yet.

The boys have had to deal with so much grown up stuff in the past few weeks it’s a wonder THEY aren’t on some kind of antidepressant yet. Seriously. So much has happened that I decided to seek therapy services for them. I made an appointment based off the recommendation of my foster care support worker only to be forced to change it by the boys’ social worker. I did some digging around and found I do have the ability to push on this, but I never know how hard to do this. I pushed a little. I said I’d stick with the social worker’s preferred place for 6 weeks but if I didn’t see improvement in the boys, I was going to seek collaborative services between her preference and the place I wanted to go with. Seems reasonable, right? I got this email today, “I appreciate your concern for the boys but OKDHS has custody of this case. And we make those decisions regarding the children. Please be [in] compliance with our process.”

Y’all. I’ve tried and tried to be nothing but supportive for OKDHS, but this email right here? It makes me want to OPEN UP A FREAKING CAN.

Because I don’t really see OKDHS comforting little boys who wonder why their life sucks. I don’t see OKDHS taking these little boys to the park. I don’t see OKDHS desperately creating sticker charts and reward systems to motivate little boys to follow the rules. I don’t see OKDHS rocking little boys when the rules simply don’t make sense and they can’t handle them. I don’t see OKDHS micro-managing where I take little boys to the doctor. I don’t see OKDHS giving one flip about the education of these little boys. I DO see us doing these things. We are the ones parenting these boys. We are the ones taking them to the park. We are the ones navigating them through the rocky sea that is their life. We should the the ones who make these important decisions too.

At the very least we should be allowed to give input.

At the very very least we should be treated with the same respect they expect us to treat them with.

And I could very well be taking this way too personally, but I just feel like this is a power grab and not one that really seeks for the best interests of the boys, but just a way to say, “I’m making this decision and you can’t change it. So there.”

This is foster care. And sometimes it makes absolutely no sense.


A Return to Sabbath Rest and Meals

I am possibly the worst technology offender in my house. On one hand, I don’t feel like I’m as dependent upon it as I probably am; on the other hand, I know I utilize it far more than I really need to. As we came home from our family Thanksgiving yesterday, I woke up this morning feeling like I could very well lose the day. I could get sucked into a waste land of Facebook and Pinterest and the like and give in to the perpetual, “Can we watch another movie?” request by any one of six kids in this house.

And in truth, we did do a fair amount of that this morning. But sometime before lunch I decided: We needed to return to our old tradition of taking a media/electronics fast from 5pm Saturday to 5pm Sunday and bring back the intentionality of a thought-filled meal time. Now then, I didn’t plan this well in advance and we had a lot of chili leftover from last night’s dinner, so I didn’t stress over the meal. I simply set the table as nice as I could for a chili supper and we gathered around to eat, pray, and read from the Bible together. And I discovered that really it isn’t the meal that sets the tone so much as it’s the intentionality that does. Chili on china communicates something far different that does chili served in a paper bowl.

I’m writing this post on Sunday night, so our media fast has come to an end for this weekend. It was a fairly fascinating exercise. Our kids played better together than they had in a long time. I was primarily concerned about the boys, but they just followed our lead and didn’t mind. The girls played Legos with them and they pulled out cards for some Nerts. Chloe did some extra baking. The girls decorated the Christmas tree. We read some books. I reorganized both the fridge and the pantry. Craig reorganized his study area and we shuffled around a lot of books. We even fired up our ancient victrola for a bit.

Oh, and we got a lot more sleep.

It shouldn’t surprise me like it does. I’m so resistant to pulling back and doing this, yet when we do, the blessings of efficiency and peace and rest and enjoyment just abound. It just so happened that this was also the first weekend of advent, but that wasn’t the driving force behind this decision earlier in the day – I just took one look at the calendar and realized our whole family desperately needs this time.

And so here we go. We are making an attempt to return to our weekly Sabbath meal and technology fast. Since our church meets at 5pm on Sunday nights, I think I may propose the fast go from 7pm Saturday to 7pm Sunday, or I could just suck it up and do a 26 hour fast. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

At any rate, it was a lovely way to bid adieu to November and tip our hat in the direction of December. I already have our meal for next weekend planned and I’m looking forward to it already.