Monday, June 12, 2017

it's been so long...

Occasionally friends ask if I am still blogging, and I say no as it has been a long time since I have even looked at this blog! Almost two years since I last posted....

And in those two years so much has happened and changed, and yet very little has changed. On the surface, much of life is the same as it was two years ago. But after some heartbreaking fostering situations, the last one ending a year ago, I realized it was time for me to end that chapter of my life.

For over 10 years I had been passionate about foster care, about making a difference in the system, starting when I was volunteering at the shelter. I thought it would be my calling for life, but then you realize sometimes that life direction and focus change and things don't always stay the same.

We took in our last baby in October of 2015. She was a newborn from the hospital with drugs in her system. We fully supported visitation with her mother and had assumed that she would be reunified with her mother, as her mom seem invested in working to get her baby back.

Shortly before she turned 6 months, the caseworker informed us that the paternal aunt was hoping to get custody of the baby and she would be completing her homestudy soon. We were surprised for several reasons, including that the plan was still reunification, so another move for the baby would be detrimental. Also, the paternal family had a history of instability documented through court records online.

We filed an objection to removal in court. Up to this point we had fully cooperated with DHS, had not gotten involved with anything to do with court, nor had we gone to court hearings or staffings, as this time our goal was only to provide care for the baby and not get involved with anything beyond that.

The court hearing was horrible and we were accused of wanting to adopt the baby. The judge made it clear that she was looking at this as an adoption case and that the aunt would be the adoptive home, completely dismissing the mother and her efforts.

The baby was moved the next day. From that time forward all communication was severed. In the following months the aunt was twice evicted from her apartment.

6 months later we became aware that the baby had to be removed from the aunt's home because the conditions had deteriorated. This was shortly before the baby's first birthday. We thought they would call us to take the baby again since by law we should be given first choice for placement. But they had already placed her in another foster home. We asked if we could visit. A visit was set up and then two days before the visit we were told it was cancelled and there would be no further visitation because it would traumatize the baby.

Filing a grievance went nowhere, as everyone pointed a finger at someone else as to why the case was handled as it was. The baby was supposedly adopted by that foster mother and I can only hope that she will have a good future after such a tumultuous first year of life.

At that point, I decided that this time I was really finished. In the past, I would take time to grieve and recover and then be ready again. But this time I realized that I could no longer deal with the stress and emotional roller coaster. The state continues to have a shortage of foster homes and yet I can no longer work with a system that is so very broken. There are many devastation foster care stories and i am not the only foster parent that has had to deal with heartbreak. Some find the strength to keep going but I knew that my time was finished.

It is time for me to focus on moving forward, making a good life for the son I do have, and finding new direction in life.

This blog was not originally started to talk about only foster care although that is kind of what it turned into! So maybe this will be the last post or maybe there will be future chapters,

Friday, July 31, 2015

foster loving.

We got the call June 30th for a preschool aged boy. We said yes, even Daniel was fully in agreement. I said yes hesitantly only because I fear the unknown sometimes and bringing a new person into one's life is always full of uncertainties.

The first week was hard. There were many adjustments for everyone. Daniel and "Striker" were both used to being an only child so they were defensive and bickered with each other. After that first week things began to settle. The boys started getting along, and actually began playing well with each other with fewer and fewer squabbles.

For the first couple of weeks, the plan was that Striker would go to a relative after the home was approved. When that fell through, we were looking at him living with us for at least several months, if not longer. Daniel was definite that he was in agreement with that plan. On my good days, I was happy about it. On my tired days, I wondered if I could really assimilate a 4.5 year old into my life once the Fall schedule started.

But it made me happy to watch the boys playing outside on the trampoline, wrestle together, and hearing them play with cars and Legos together. Daniel is sociable and once he got over the hard first week, he seemed to, for the most part, enjoy having a buddy (not that they didn't get on each others nerves at times!)

So when the caseworker relayed the news to us today that there was another kinship possibility that had come forward, and looked promising, all of the hard things suddenly seemed minor and the sacrifices and inconveniences didn't seem so hard anymore. I realized I was going to miss the little man when he moves, whether that is next week or months from now. When I told Daniel of the latest possibilities, I got teary. I think I cry when every child leaves. Even the hardest one earlier this year, I cried for two days and still have his picture in my room.

I don't like loss and I don't like to be sad. But when these children come and go, I let myself process my feelings in front of Daniel so that he learns that it's ok to love and let go. It's ok to feel sad. And it's ok to grieve.

I still grieve over my little Miss B. I miss her all the time. Each of these kiddos is unique and become a part of our lives.

So we continue one day at a time, trusting that God will work out what is best for this current child.


Saturday, January 31, 2015

The story of Miss B part 2


 For 14 months we provided a home for Miss B. We picked her up from the hospital and dealt with a crazy system for 14 months until the DHS worker arrived unannounced to take her to her biological father, without giving us a chance to say goodbye.
After months of trying to process those 14 months, and the grief that accompanied the whole experience, I have decided to write about all of it. I will not give out specific names of any of the people involved.
Also, I am choosing to focus very little on the biological family in order to respect their privacy. Instead I am processing how a system that is supposed to be about "child welfare" handled her case so poorly. I will be writing this in parts, so this is Part 2, and Part 1 can be found here.

In order to maintain confidentiality, I will refer to Miss B as "Butterfly"

***************************************************************

By October 2013, Butterfly was 6 months old. Visits were still filled with distress and crying and it wasn't getting better. The therapist-candidate sent an email that after "staffing" it she decided it would work best if my mom was in part of the visit so there was overlap to help minimize Butterfly's stress and crying.

Also, in October 2013 an accelerated court hearing was scheduled. At that hearing, the judge ordered that the parents start getting unsupervised visits with the children. I questioned the baby's attorney on this since the mother was not producing clean drug tests and had made little progress on the treatment plan. I could not fathom why the judge was ordering unsupervised visits under the circumstances.

But we had no idea what actually happened in the accelerated hearing, because all of the foster parents were asked to leave the courtroom. Later we were told that the tribal worker made a lot of nasty accusations against all of the foster parents, but us especially. She told the judge that we spoiled the baby and never let her cry. The judge was suspicious that we did not have her in daycare, and the tribal worker implied that the baby cried in visits because she had not had trauma in her life. In other words she was just too sensitive and it was our fault.

An even bigger surprise came as Thanksgiving approached--we were told that the judge was ordering all the children to go to the father's house for several days over Thanksgiving. The tribal worker wanted them to go from Wed-Mon. I thought I was going to faint. Butterfly was only doing two one-hour supervised visits/week and was barely coping with that. The father knew nothing about her daily life or habits.

By this time a psychologist became involved in the case. We had also worked with her in Daniel's case and she had been pivotal in his case for good. She had a reputation as one of THE infant mental health experts in our area, and we were excited that she was going to be a part of Butterfly's case. She visited along with the DHS caseworker at our home twice briefly, and met with the therapist candidate. To my knowledge she never observed live parent/child interaction.

After her visits at our home, she never responded to phone calls or emails, and we learned later that her involvement in the case was primarily getting info from the candidate and the DHS worker and then giving her opinion based off of their info.

But, her involvement put the brakes on unsupervised visits, as well as cancelling the Thanksgiving overnight on Butterfly's behalf. The alternative that was presented to the judge was that Butterfly would increase to 3-4 weekly visits with the parents starting in January.

By this time we had a regular email/FB/phone/text relationship with the other foster families of Butterfly's older siblings. We would talk about our experiences, vent, share encouragement and prayers. I felt close to them since we had shared experiences with these siblings.

In mid-December 2013 there was another review hearing. We were not expecting big changes for Butterfly, but the other foster parents were expecting that their children would be returning to the father. Much to everyone's surprise, their therapist at the same agency raised some concerns with some of the behaviors of the children following visitation and the judge made no major changes with any of the children. The other foster parents were relieved and we all had a peaceful Christmas.

In January 2014 Butterfly, now 9 months old, began visitation 3 times/week--twice per week with the therapist candidate and once/week at the DHS building with the whole family. We drove her to these visits every week and rarely cancelled, even though it was stressful and alot of gas $$ !

I asked the therapist candidate if I could meet with her after a visit in early January. When I arrived she told me it had been Butterfly's worst visit since the last fall. She acted bewildered as to why it was so bad. We talked and I shared some of my concerns with her. I asked her why she only took little video clips when Butterfly was NOT crying in visits and why she didn't video EVERYTHING, including the visits where she was clearly distressed (like that day.) She didn't have an answer except to say that it would be too hard to video the whole visit because the court might subpoena it. (Later I wondered if her short video clips were what she used with the DHS worker and the psychologist to convince them that all was well?)

She told me that her only focus was what happened in the room during the visit and nothing beyond that. So essentially it did not matter what we told her about Butterfly's difficulties with sleeping and her excessive clingingess following the visit. She told me her estimated timeline for when unsupervised and overnight visits would start, and reminded me that she was working for reunification. She took every opportunity throughout these months to remind us that she was helping the bonding process because her goal was reunification.

Also, in January we met with the baby's attorney and the Assistant District Attorney who had the case in juvenile court. We expressed to them our feelings about how visits were going and that we wanted a qualified therapist involved with Butterfly, one who would listen. We also mentioned that because Butterfly had prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol we wanted to have her evaluated in OKC at a place which specialized in children who had prenatal exposure. I thought that early intervention gives a child the best possible opportunities to overcome any hurdles that may come up. We also entertained that possibility that Butterfly's sleep difficulties and extreme stress in visits could be due to prenatal exposure. Both women thought that was a great idea.

In January one of Butterfly's siblings had to leave her foster home due to the foster mother's health issues. Rather than move her to another foster home that the foster family suggested, the DHS worker moved the little girl to the biological father. This was done with no court order or approval. It turns out that the preschooler was there for about 6 weeks with no oversight. Later the DHS worker was reprimanded in court. There was also a referral called in to DHS regarding some other siblings and things that occurred during overnight visits. The DHS worker screened the referrals out.

By this time we were working with a psychological clinician from Soonerstart. She visited Butterfly in our home weekly. She listened, observed, and tried to talk with all parties.  She had us bring Butterfly to her office in order to observe her in a different setting with strangers, and she attempted to observe Butterfly at the therapeutic agency. However, the agency would not let her observe through a window and instead told her she had to be IN the visit, which then changed the dynamics of the visit since Butterfly knew her well and liked her.

February 2014 there was another hearing. At this hearing everyone knew that the judge was going to order trial reunification to begin for the children except for Butterfly. She did. She ordered that trial reunification begin for all the siblings, happening at intervals. The oldest girl was already at the father's home, so two of the children would go next and then the other would go in March. If for some reason anything prevented trial reunification from occurring, the tribal worker wanted the kids moved out of the foster homes and into a relative's home. This relative had already had the children previously, and taken them to the shelter after 2 months of trying to care for the kids. But this same relative got approval from the court to take the children again if trial reunification with the father failed.

Our home was the only ICWA compliant home because I am tribal so that was not an issue, however the tribal worker took this opportunity to again rip into us and she told the court that all of Butterfly's sensitivities were our fault.

At this hearing the therapist-candidate submitted a report that the visits were going well and she had no concerns. This was after her telling me in January that it was the worst visit since fall. We were still documenting and our documentation did not match the therapist-candidate's documentation. The candidate also reported that she was going to organize a meeting with all the people involved with Butterfly to decided on how to help Butterfly overcome her distress in and following visitation, however the people surprisingly excluded from the meeting were us, her foster family--the ones who knew the baby best. The judge was surprised that we were not going to be included in the meeting and said that we should be able to attend.

In February 2014 the meeting was scheduled and those invited included the DHS worker, the Soonerstart clinician, the therapist candidate and her supervisor, both parents, the psychologist, Butterfly's pediatrician, and the tribal worker. However the pediatrician, psychologist, and tribal worker did not go. The pediatrician sent a letter instead.

The DHS worker called us the night before and told us that it was planned that all of the "professionals" would meet first, and then we and the parents would be called in for the last half of the meeting. She said if there was anything we wanted her to cover in the first part of the meeting to email it to her that night.

I emailed her an outline of my concerns but she never printed or saw it before the meeting.

So that Wednesday morning we arrived and were ushered to a waiting room while the professionals discussed the case. When we were called in, we found out that they had already determined the plan and we were just supposed to agree with it, no questions asked. Since we had been asking for months for a separate therapist just for Butterfly, they decided that my mom would bring in Butterfly an extra hour before the parent visit and the therapist candidate would be Butterfly's therapist. She would do Theraplay with Butterfly and coach my mom in that.

At this meeting, the DHS worker said that she had no idea of the judge's timeline for reunification and as far as she knew, the next permanency hearing was in August which was 6 months away. The Soonerstart clinician suggested that we review how things were going after 30 days and see if there were any changes that needed to be made for Butterfly's well-being.

When my mom tried to bring up the concerns that she had hoped to discuss at the meeting, which included the discrepancies between my mom's court report and the therapist candidate's court report,  the DHS worker got testy and said things were settled, we were moving forward and not looking back.

After discussing it at home, we decided that the plan as it was presented was only adding extra hours and not really accomplishing anything. Later we received an email that said that the therapist could not actually bill all of those hours to Soonercare, so the DHS worker was going to have to oversee one of the visits.

Rather than saying no to the plan altogether, we came up with an alternative. We would stay with 3 visits per week, with the therapist overseeing two, the DHS worker overseeing one, and having Butterfly see a very experienced psychologist on our time.

Both the DHS worker and her supervisor rejected that plan, saying that they absolutely did not want the psychologist we suggested involved, and that involving him would only slow down reunification.

The story of Miss B part 1

 For 14 months we provided a home for Miss B. We picked her up from the hospital and dealt with a crazy system for 14 months until the DHS worker arrived unannounced to take her to her biological father without giving us a chance to say goodbye.
After months of trying to process those 14 months and the grief that accompanied the whole experience I have decided to write about all of it. I will not give out specific names of any of the people involved.
Also, I am choosing to focus very little on the biological family in order to respect their privacy. Instead I am processing how a system that is supposed to be about "child welfare" handled her case so poorly. I will be writing this in parts, so this is Part 1.

In order to maintain confidentiality, I will refer to Miss B as "Butterfly"

**************************************************************

Sunday, April 7, 2013 we got a call from DHS needing someone to pick up a 4-day old girl from the hospital. The worker on call had known our family from a few years previously, and thought we would be a good home for a newborn. Looking back, the events of that morning were so precise. Had we returned the call just minutes later, that baby girl would have gone to a different home.

A newborn baby was not on my radar, and a baby girl was definitely not. I had told our DHS worker that I was interested in boys, since I still had boy clothes and boy toys, and I was especially interested in toddler boys. After praying about it we said yes, and that afternoon we brought home a teeny tiny infant girl.

I had never seen such a tiny baby in my life--barely 5 lbs--and had never cared for such a little person. I had been around babies alot and raised Daniel since 2.5 months old, but little Butterfly was the smallest baby I had ever seen!

We settled into routine, waking up nightly every 2 hours to feed her. She slept alot during the day and loved to be held. She was just a doll and we adored her. Within the next few weeks we were finally given info about the family and the case, and her worker came out for a visit, as well as the tribal worker. Had I known about the complexities of the case I might have said no, but when we said yes we knew nothing except that there was a baby that needed a home.

Although we were told about the dysfunction surrounding the case, and the hostility being displayed by the father towards the foster families of the other siblings, for those first few months it never touched us. Butterfly had no family contact and our life was pretty normal. In fact we were told that the father was denying paternity and said even if she was his that he wanted to give her up. A paternity test revealed that he was the father and later he decided he wanted her.

In late June 2013, DHS organized a "Family Group Conference" to discuss the case. I stayed home with the children but my mom attended. A tentative plan was laid out and the worker told the parents what to expect and when the next court date would be. It was also decided that Butterfly would start visits with the parents and siblings at DHS, but the plan was to also begin "therapeutic visits" between the children and parents individually, and then eventually siblings and parents together.

Around this time Butterfly was also assigned her third DHS worker. So in the space of three months she had three different workers. The third worker ironically had been Daniel's permanency worker. That was a little concerning since we had a history with that worker, but we decided to be optimistic and hope for a good working relationship.

The first few visits at DHS were stressful for Butterfly. There were some concerns on our part about her behavior during and/or following the visits. My mom asked to be able to overlap in the visit since the family were strangers to Butterfly now that she was almost 3 months old. The tribal worker was agreeable to that, but the DHS worker initially was adamant that my mom be out of the visit, until one time Butterfly was inconsolable and she finally called my mom back into the visit.

By the end of August 2013, the therapeutic visits had been set up and Butterfly was to go for the intake. We were familiar with the agency from workshops they had hosted for foster families. I was excited to work with them because in the past we always had a good relationship, and I had thought they seemed like they had a heart for fostering and understood the needs of foster children and families.

However, within the first few weeks I wrote in emails that I was concerned with the therapist-candidate (meaning she was not yet licensed) who had been assigned. She lacked experience and credentials in infant mental health, which is a unique field. I also did not think that she was interested in seeing the "big picture," instead focusing solely on what went on in the room for that 1/2 hour visit.

We had experience with therapeutic visits with other qualified individuals, and the current experience with the candidate was nowhere near what previous therapists had provided.

My mom asked the candidate if she could be in the visit initially since that was what was working best at DHS. Then they could slowly work her out of the visit. The candidate said no, so for weeks Butterfly cried throughout the visits with each parent. Or she would cry during the first 1/2 hour and sleep during the second 1/2 hour. The candidate frequently had an excuse for why Butterfly was crying, even though she barely knew Butterfly. And she would make assumptions that she was tired or hungry, even though we made sure we brought her well rested and fed.

By this time, Fall 2013, Butterfly had two visits per week with her parents. One was at the therapeutic agency, and the second was with all the siblings at the DHS building.

September 2013, Butterfly stopped sleeping through the night after a particular visit at the agency. We were documenting everything and doing daily logs. It was recorded in the August court report that Butterfly was sleeping through the night regularly. But after visits increased and then after one particular visit, I sent out an email stating that she had awakened 8 times that night and I was baffled at this sudden change. From that time on her sleep declined.

The DHS worker came for her monthly visit and we told her of our concerns with the therapeutic visits as well as the sudden change in sleep patterns. We had also done research to find some very qualified infant mental health therapists in town who came highly recommended, and asked the worker if we could take Butterfly to see one of them. She said SHE would arrange it and make some calls. She never did and we never heard anything more about it.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

reflections

I can still hear his voice calling for me through the house.... "Heidi? Heidi? Heidi, where are you?" he'd wander around the house calling out and then when he found me, " Oh there you is! I was wondering where you were!"

For almost a week I had a little shadow that followed me everywhere. The only place I could get privacy was slipping into the bathroom and locking the door! And even then, when he'd figure out where I was he'd stand outside the door knocking, rattling the doorknob, and calling my name asking to be let inside. He hadn't yet learned that closed doors mean that you don't just barge right in!

He came at almost midnight on New Year's eve which was a Wednesday. He immediately started calling my mom "grandma." I have no idea why, since no one else calls her grandma. I was Miss Heidi or else just Heidi for most of those days. He missed his real mama and would call for her in his sleep. He talked about her nonstop and carried her picture around with him, hugging it and kissing it.

By the Monday after he came, he was introducing Daniel as "my brother" apparently not noticing that there was nothing about them that looked like they were related! By Monday evening the plan was for him to move to another home. That night I couldn't sleep and was dismayed at the thought of him starting the shuffle through foster care already. His little life had turned upside down so suddenly.

On Tuesday he started calling me "mama." I don't know if he really knew or believed that he would be leaving the next day. But all day long on Tuesday he would look at me and say "you're my mama." I knew of course that I was in no way taking the place of his real, biological mama. No one could take her place. But he had finally settled in and was feeling safe and secure. In spite of my own weariness I guess he trusted that I would meet his needs and hug him and hold him when he was scared, so I earned the title of "mama" at least for the time that his mama was not available to him.

And every time he called me mama, or would talk about "my grandma" I would cringe inside, knowing that all too soon we would be saying good-bye.

On Tuesday night after he went to bed we put together a book for him to take with him. I printed the pictures I had taken while he was here. I wrote a page all about him and talked about his personality, his likes and dislikes, and everything that I thought his new caregiver would need to know. I put the picture of his mama in there, and printed out a Bible verse. We packed his bags. He had come with nothing more than dirty PJs, a coat, and some crocs with no socks. He was leaving with more than he came with. And I cried.

To be honest, the 7 days that he was here were exhausting. He was the sweetest child, so loving, affectionate, and polite. But he also had habits that were different, he had fitful sleep for the first few nights, he was full of energy, and it was a huge adjustment for Daniel.

Partway through his stay here, he had the worst night where he couldn't sleep, wouldn't stay in bed, and went into a rage. We took turns with him and I held him while he screamed. Eventually he quieted, and then until midnight I was rocking him on the rocking chair. He was finally peaceful but unwilling to be put down. I held him and wept for the injustices that rob these children of a peaceful, stable childhood.

He came not knowing about God, not having a church background. We took him to church with us on Sunday and the teachers said that he did so well in class. He had the best time and sang the songs he learned over and over again. He began praying with us at bedtime, and praying before meals. He was blossoming.

He was brave through trauma. He was brave when it was time to leave and go in a strange car with a person he had met only once. I held it together until he left and then as they drove down the street the tears came.

People say, "how do you do that? I could never foster." But you could if God asked you to. I'm nothing special or out of the ordinary.  I get tired, weary. Some days this past week I thought I had absolutely nothing left to give to either boy. And in my own strength, I didn't. I am convinced that God does ask us to do things that are too hard for us to do in our own strength because then we rely on him.

The sorrow when he left was not just because I missed him, although I did. It was sorrow for him and the lack of stability in his life right now. It was sorrow that I wish I could save the world. But I can't and I know that. I wish every child could be loved well and not have to have trauma. I don't have the love, the strength, the resources to make an incredible difference. All I can do is one small part and put the rest in God's hands. For me, that is hard because I want to see the end result now, I don't want to trust that my small part will be one piece of a greater story.

So life goes on and now I'm back to planning other things, setting goals, organizing my life and work and family, enjoying friends and fellowship.

And prayer....now I add him to my prayers for Miss B. Although we do hope to stay part of his life and be able to be a support to his mama and hopefully she will be able to have him back. Lord willing, he will have a consistent home for now where he will be nurtured until it comes time to decide permanency. In this case I do hope for reunification. I hope that he will not be a statistic but that this will be a turning point for both him and his mama.

Friday, January 2, 2015

fostering adventure for the new year

Over Christmas break we've gotten more calls from DHS than at any other time in these last 6 months since Miss B left.

On New Year's Eve I was so tired and had no plans to stay up until midnight. I could not wait to get to bed! But as I was cleaning up, we got a call a little after 10PM because a little boy had just been picked up by the police at a crime scene and they needed immediate placement.

The laws in Oklahoma state the children under 6 are not to stay in the shelter so they try to get them into homes immediately. He was outside of the age range of what we had specified for a child we could take, but they said it would be temporary as they searched for a kinship placement for him.

He came after 11PM that night and we spent some time getting acquainted and trying to figure out sleeping arrangements and clothing. He came with what he had on, and the worker brought a pair of shorts, underwear, and a t-shirt from the shelter. Ironically I had JUST given away all of Daniel's too-small clothes.

Finally by 12:30AM he was in bed and asleep. However he began crying in his sleep two times during the night and had to be comforted. I felt for the little guy, witnessing violence, missing his mommy, being taken by the police and put in a strange home. I can't imagine how overwhelming that would be for a preschool aged child.

It has been a couple days of adjustment, scrambling to get clothes, waiting on knowing what is going to happen with him, and trying to integrate a new person in the house.

The most heartbreaking thing is that he is processing what went on in his home that night and seems to dream about it. He also misses his mother terribly. He talks about her a lot, but it is unlikely that he will be living with her anytime soon.

I was able to download her picture and print it off for him. He shrieked with delight and has carried that picture around the house, hugging it, kissing it, and talking to it and about her. Today it was surprisingly easy to get him to his bed for "quiet time." When it became quiet--after he was "reading" his books for a little while--I looked over at him and he was asleep and clutching the picture of his mama.

It brings tears to my eyes to see both the affect of witnessing violence on this little guy, as well as his normal and strong desire to see and be with his mommy.

I hate that some parents make such mistakes that their children pay the price and that both the parent and child end up in these situations.

I pray that this little man is able to go to a suitable relative, or a long term home that would be the very best for him, to help him heal and grow. And that his mother will get the help she needs.

(Here he is asleep with his mommy's picture, turned over)



Thursday, December 11, 2014

A few weeks ago I pulled out my poetry journal. I used to write in it frequently; bits and pieces of thoughts, poetry, pieces of songs, and prayers are scattered through the pages. It's been a while since I've looked at it, much less written in it.



This past year has been full of ups and downs, and altogether it has probably been one of the hardest and most intense years of my life. I have had strong faith, weak faith, had days that I felt I had no faith left. I've felt sure of God and His presence and had other days where I've felt so alone. I've believed God's Word with all of my heart, and then a few days later questioned if it was even true. I've felt deep anger and then chose to forgive, and then had to forgive again....and again....

Ever since I saw Miss B for the last time on June 2, it has been a struggle to focus on the good without letting all the ugliness of the case drown out the happy memories. I frequently hold back tears when I talk about her even 6 months later.

Fostering was something that was so close to my heart the past 8 years. From April 2013 until June 2014 I poured my life into Daniel and Miss B. During the 14 months I had Miss B, from a newborn until a toddler, I had very few full nights of sleep; now I look back with fondess on the nights that I held her and soothed her back to sleep. My days were busy taking care of the two kids, in addition to working and everything else that happens in life. My heart was happy and my days were full.

After she abruptly left, it felt like my heart had been ripped out and crushed. During these past summer months we were in court a lot, but after it was over I retreated and stopped talking about any of it. Answering questions about her was tough, and even thinking about her brought back all of the heartache and stress that was involved in those 14 months of fostering her. 

Now I feel like I am picking up the pieces of life again and figuring out what is next...
So I pulled out my poetry notebook and looked back through the pages. The last song I had started was for Miss B, but it was unfinished when she left and I couldn't bring myself to look at it again for several months. Maybe I can start to finish it. Or maybe other songs will come out instead.

But I feel like perhaps it is time to start putting some of the thoughts on paper again. And even though I've tried to shove much of the bad memories aside of the dealings with DHS etc I'm thinking maybe it is time to start writing about it, leaving names out of course. Even after several years of being involved in fostering and seeing alot of sad things, I honestly never knew that such depths of ugliness existed within the child welfare system, and it has left me wondering how much I can be involved again. The need is great, but some of the things we experienced in last year were so crazy they were almost unbelievable. However I keep praying that good will come of it all, and there will be beauty in place of ashes and sorrow.

"...weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning...." (Ps 30:5b) believing that it will be true.