It’s been a while since I’ve posted about life around the house. Part of it is that because of many of the rules put in place to protect children in foster care, I can only say so much, and the other part is that life is somewhat in a groove. And when you’re in a groove, not much changes from day to day. None the less, there are a few of you out there that have been following our lives that have expressed curiosity about how things are going.
So, first off, let’s start with our current status: we currently have eight children, six of which have been placed with us. The six children consist of two sibling groups. There are three brothers, W (14), C (10) and S (9). The younger three are three of the four children that I found sleeping in our back alley. You can read up on how that happened here. They are L (3 – almost 4), K (2, almost 3), and, of course, TJ (1). TJ has been with us for about 11 out of his almost 13 months of life. And then, of course, there is Eli (11) and Brenna (6). That puts us up to a grand total of ten people in our family.
Many of you remember the first three children that we took in. It’s the incident that prompted me to start this site to begin with. The three brothers are living with their mom, but we do, from time to time, get to have them as guests here. Big A (11) is coming off of an improved year at school, but has tested his boundaries on occasion. N (4) is staying with us for a week right now. It’s good to have him here and he is loving his stay. It’s heartbreaking, though, to hear him say that he doesn’t want to go home. He still calls Jessica and myself “Mommy” and “Daddy.” As some of you might remember, he is a bit behind mentally, and we are not sure that he’s advanced much since leaving. He’s the one we worry about the most since it takes extra work to encourage him to thrive. And lastly there is A2 (2). He stayed with us last weekend. It was the first time we had seen him since he went back to live with his mom. Both Jessica and I noted that he does not seem to be advancing as he should be, either. He spent a lot of time playing by himself without being very verbal.
We have revisited the question of whether or not we made the right decision to let them go back and the answer is that, despite the above statements, we are sure that we did. Had we contested the guardianship reversal, it would have caused more problems and more anguish for the kids. And, had we kept guardianship, we would have never ended up where we are now with a great combination of kids that just “click.”
W is 14 and loves basketball. When he came to us, his academics were severely lacking and he suffered from thinking he was “stupid” as a result. We have pushed him hard, both to achieve excellence in basketball but to also achieve excellence in school. And while he has fallen way behind, he has worked hard and made great strides. At a basketball camp we had him in, the coach pulled Jessica aside to request that he go to his high school where he could be coached. The coach told Jessica that it was not because of his skill (he can find skill anywhere), but because of his character. While W doesn’t think that’s such a big deal, both Jessica and I teared up when we heard it. He’s a GREAT kid and he and Eli have become great friends. They see each other as brothers. W also looks at Brenna as a little sister and will do anything within his power to protect her. A couple months ago, the subject of adoption came up. When we told him he would have the option of keeping his name or changing it, he said he’d want to change it to Marc. About the time I started feeling all warm inside, he then informed me that I would, however, have to change my name. So much for the feels.
W & Jessica have a fantastic relationship. He really looks out for her and they have lots of talks. Her influence on him has been noticeable and profound. He may be 14 but he still likes to hang out with us, watch movies, make wisecracks and goof off.
C is 10. Of the three, he’s the most different. He has a super sweet nature, a million dollar smile, and is almost always laughing. His talent and passion seems to be dancing; and he’s good! I don’t know that he walks around the house so much as dances his way to everywhere he needs to be. When he came to us, he could hardly recognize letters. Sounding them out was such a struggle that at times, he’d just collapse on the floor and give up. We have hired a private tutor for him (the same one we hired for W) and I’ve noticed that all of a sudden he does things like read subtitles on the TV. Today I actually caught him sitting at the dining room table reading the description on his Pokemon cards. And he was doing well! He doesn’t struggle so much and today, he even told me that he likes to read!
S is 9. He also loves basketball and has a mouth that doesn’t quit. He was so mouthy that it took us a while to realize that underneath it, he has a heart of gold. He loves to hang out with all the kids and is the most social. In fact, I think he has a hard time being alone. Academically, he is the one who is not behind. He is whip-smart and catches on to things very quickly. He was very resistant to us when he came (he later told us he was scared at first because he was told that white people do mean things to black people), and he definitely had his behavioral struggles at school. We have worked hard and the boy we see now is a far cry from the one that came to live with us last November.
L is 3. She is one high-maintenance kid. Last year, when she first lived with us before going to live with another foster mom, she was very difficult to manage. But a few months of growth has changed her, too. She’s turned into a kid who is a lot of fun to be around. And while she does still have the occasional temper tantrum, it’s not what it used to be (there was one time she was on time-out for an hour because she was that stubborn. She only needed to say “sorry”). She and Brenna have really clicked since coming to live with us about a month ago (and it looks like she will be here long-term). They will go away for hours into Brenna’s room and play. I know that Brenna is relishing the big sister role and she also appreciates that she’s not the only girl anymore (although she used to rule the roost when she was).
K is 2. The more we have him the more we are pretty sure he has some cognitive learning issues. It is likely that, like TJ, he was in a “failure to thrive” environment and it’s caused long-term effects. To be honest, he is the one I have the hardest time “clicking” with. He is so dependent on his sister L for everything (they are so close in age and she’s always been around – plus she has such a strong personality) that he has not really had a chance to develop his own personality. We are doing what we can and we’ve been told by the people who monitor such things that they’ve seen improvement with both K and L in the short time they’ve been back. I know that one day, K will grow on me. I just have to learn what makes him tick (and he may need to learn that as well). He, too, has a stubborn streak, but we have not had challenges overcoming it like we did the first time he was with us.
Lastly, there is TJ who just turned 1 this month. When we got him, he was a month old, one pound less in weight than his birth weight and we could clearly see he was already experiencing “failure to thrive” symptoms. If we fed him a bottle, he’d spit most of it up 9 times out of 10. He was always stiff, and if he was crying, you could be right next to him and would barely hear it. After several months of both occupational and physical therapy, lots and lots of love, and lots of good advice, I am so happy to say that you’d never know he ever had issues. He started walking at 11 months, has a mouth full of teeth (7 or 8 now), a smile that would melt anyone’s heart and keeps a sleep schedule like no other baby I’ve ever encountered. Jessica is teaching him a bit how to sign, and he’s even trying to say certain words. As far as his crying? You can hear it a mile away! And that’s a good thing!
So that’s it! That’s our lives in a nutshell. And it’s good! We have a great group of kids and the chemistry is bombdiggity awesome! If I had any complaints or concerns it’s that we no longer have a vehicle big enough to tote a family of ten around. We’re working on solving that one, though. Hopefully soon.