Monday, September 30, 2013
The Final Chapter...Really...
When Don and I decided to become foster parents, all those years ago....we didn't have any dreams or magic number of how long we'd be fostering. We used to go to those annual foster parent banquets and be amazed at just how long some people fostered...40-50 years...ya, can you believe it! We knew that we could never do it for that long! When we had to go to court once for Paul and Ben, the judge said to me...'Are there any children that came into your home that you DIDN'T adopt?' , I was able to say, 'yes, there were a few' .....
Lauren introduced me to an author, a British woman that wrote about various kids that she had fostered and adopted. She gave a lot of details, a lot of drama. It made for fascinating reading, but I couldn't do that.
There were many things that I could have written about that I didn't....some things were so private that I couldn't reveal those things to just anyone that could possibly read them. These weren't just foster kids passing through our family.....these were our children, our sons and daughters....there were many private moments that I wouldn't want everyone to know and I'm pretty sure my kids wouldn't .
When Don and I started out there was absolutely no way that we ever thought we'd have nine children! It's kind of overwhelming when you think of it.....family meals are huge....this Thanksgiving we are suppose to have three extra ( non family) guests...if everyone comes the total is 26! Twenty-Six! I'm trying to figure out how everyone will sit at the same time....we don't have a huge house, in fact, before we did our addition six years ago we had around 900 sq.ft. of living space....the addition gave us a total of about 1200.... Still not huge....over the years we did add three bedrooms and a 3 piece bath downstairs.....but ....it's downstairs...not those glamorous basements you see on television....this is a regular basement....bedrooms, bathroom, storage , laundry (not a laundry room) and furnace.
We have looked after and parented many different kinds of kids, with many different challenges..... emotionally damaged, physically damaged, developmentally delayed, sleep apnea, Tourette's, speech delays, cocaine addictions, alcohol effects, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Cutting, Asthma, Allergies ( both food and medicinal) , Lung Surgery, Tonsils, Adenoids, Ear tubes, Croup, heart condition, migraines, Sickle Cell, hallucinations, and drug use....and did I ever think that I'd talk to one of my kids thru that phone system in the local jail...you know the one...when you have the plexiglass wall between you and your kid is dressed in orange? Priceless.
I became pretty good at accessing the system to get the help needed for each child. I knew who to call and when and where to go. I have spent so many hours in doctors, dentists, orthodontist, counsellors, and psychiatrist waiting rooms that I could have written a book...for real.
I learned how to advocate for my kids....I am quiet by nature, standing up for myself is difficult...standing up for my kids?....watch out...I learned a lot. When you have kids with special needs they can fall through the cracks if someone doesn't advocate for them. I would have to give all my thanks to my sister...a teacher and principal in the elementary school system...without her input , I would never have known when I could say no or when I could push for yes.
What I am saying is that I have no idea of what kind of person I would have become without being the mom of nine. Certainly, not as diverse as I am today. I have become a lot more patient as the years have gone by, and somewhat more tolerant. I still draw the line at a few things and my kids know what they are....I'm not entirely a pushover but I will admit to not being as dogmatic as I was when Leslie was a baby!
I've also learned how to cook in very large quantities!
Don and I have always been a team....I would joke that he looked after the finances and I looked after the kids! We are very close and enjoy each others company...we like nothing more than to get away...just the two of us...the younger kids don't understand but I think the older ones do by now. We would really like to see the three remaining kids settled in other living arrangements in the next few years so that we could enjoy our retirement years...but there's a good chance that that will not happen. We're a little bothered by that , not just for us, but we would like to see them settled and happy before something happens to us and there is a huge upheaval in their lives. That would be very difficult for them, and for their siblings.
Would we do this again with what we know now....we've actually been asked this....I've spoken twice now to a group of perspective adopting parents...they have wondered...heck, I have wondered but upon reflection, I would say yes. One of my kids used to get annoyed when I would say this but I truly believe that this is the plan that God had for our family all along. He knew that each child, no matter what there birth circumstance was, would make up our family.
So...would we..ya, we would because even though there have been tough times....there have been way more good times....each child, no matter born to us or adopted by us, had there special moments...times that I can look back and smile....and the times now...seeing them with their own families, buying their own homes, getting married...taking on the responsibilities of adults and we can be pleased that we had a part in all of that. We like to hope that we've set a good example, that we've shown that we love God and have a personal relationship with him. Some of our kids don't appreciate that right now but I hope one day they will because this is the basis for their security, the commitment, and the love that we have for each and everyone of them.
To Leslie, Ryan, Corey, Lauren, Paul, Ben, Maya, Emma and Megan
James, Jennifer, Ryan, Sara....and Jairus, Honour, Verity, Afton, Donovan, William and Samuel
We love you all....this is for you.