If you’re reading about us becoming foster parents for the first time, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 then keep reading. Those of you who know us, know how this story ends. But there are many would-be foster parents out there who don’t and are unsure of what they’re experience is going to look like. So I’m going to continue telling our story…
Holy Pink. So many lovely friends gave us clothes in preparation for our foster daughters to come and live with us. But never did I see so much pink in my life. And never did I see anyone so excited about all that pink than C, our 5 yr old foster daughter. She is ALL GIRL. Princesses, ponies, ballerinas, stuffed animals, dresses oh the dresses! H, our 3 yr old foster daughter, is pretty indifferent to all of this, thankfully. Its not that I am anti-pink. Ok, yes I am. I am anti-pink. I said it. Moving on.
Our daily routine drastically changed. For the first six weeks the girls lived with us we only had childcare for 3hrs a day. For stay-at-home parents this may seem like a lot but we work two full time jobs. It was insane smashing an 8-9 hour work day into 3 hours. But looking back, it was amazing how we were able to use that time. We’d pick up the girls, have quiet time/naptime for about 2hrs and then we’d split up. I’d take one girl, Ben the other. And we would just go out and explore Lincoln. Parks, libraries, thrift stores, coffee shops, museums. We just soaked up our time with them, got to know them, let them get to know us. Instead of stopping for dinner, friends just brought over food. Looking back, it was miraculous how many people helped out. Thats the other thing, we asked for help, a lot. Help with food, help with rides, help with babysitting when we got food poisoning. The girls went to stay with their former foster family for one weekend a month. They spent the night with Ben’s parents. We needed, and still need a lot of help. But what we learned about that time was how important building relationships with your children are. It takes time and work. They’re different when we got them away from each other. They had things to say, questions to ask. We had to earn their trust. And I don’t think this just applies to foster/adoptive children. All kids have a right to be known separate from their siblings.
Our discipline plan: here goes. After the first two weeks, I was pulling out my hair trying to communicate with C & H, C especially. She was throwing tantrums all the time and you never knew when she would go nuts. I was wandering around on a Montessori blog and stumbled on a recommendation for the book 1-2-3 Magic. The next day I went to a book store, read the first three pages, looked at Ben and said ‘We’re doing this’. I don’t need to explain the method, you can read up about it or go buy the book. We HIGHLY recommend it. This made an immediate difference in the atmosphere of our home. There was calm, less arguing, no lecturing (which never works anyway), and more playtime. We followed this method explicitly, no deviation. It does not work unless you go all the way baby. We spent a lot of time developing routine. Not because ‘kids need routine’ but because we wanted to girls to feel safe. We wanted them to understand what to expect at different parts of each day. It helped them acclimate to a new home, new relationships, new everything. We are not naturally structured people, we’re artists. But some parts of the day, like the beginning and end, are very steady. Not strict, just steady.
My mom mode: My own mother was absent for a good deal of my childhood. Being raised by a single dad there was no sitting around playing with hair or nails. We played in the woods and in the creek beds. We climbed lots of trees. We wrestled. We were still given barbies and dolls and my grandmothers loved buying us girly clothes, it just wasn’t apart of my everyday life. As a result (I think) I’ve never felt maternal. I don’t get gushy at other people’s babies. In fact, if you offer to let me hold your newborn, I will kindly say ‘no thank you’. They’re just too blobby. Kids in general are a toss-up. A few are ok, most are just annoying. But somehow, I found my mom-mode…before Ben found his dad-mode, to the shock of us all, especially Ben, lover of all kids. I will not go into detail on what this mom-mode looks like. Lets just all praise Jesus that it came. I do.