16 July 2015

Life with Cheetah

Cheetah (foster child #13 to pass through our doors) joined our house last week.  What's life been like with a teenager and an infant?  Busy to say the least.  Chase has been driving the kids around for lessons, meetings with social workers, meetings with biological family, and more.  Cheetah is potentially the most well-behaved teenager I've ever met.  Granted we are probably in the "honeymoon phase" of foster parenting, but his behavior and attitude has been top-notch.  He's quick to help around the house, and completes any task asked of him with alacrity....as long as you don't ask him to read a book!  We've enrolled both children in swimming lessons.  MM just flails and tries to cling to whichever parent is attending lessons with her.  She has at least learned to hold her breath after I blow on her face.   Cheetah has never had formal swimming lessons, but is able to tread water.  He got placed with younger kids (8 years old), and he was less than thrilled about it. Hopefully he'll be able to progress quickly!

We started an allowance system with him that was very unique.  When I told other parents about it, they thought it was rather strange.   Cheetah can earn up to $15 a week by completing tasks allotted for a certain amount of money.   I had almost 100 tasks, and almost all of them were geared toward getting to have fun with our family.  Some examples of $1 tasks...
  • Go for a hike
  • Eat with us at your favorite restaurant
  • Share a playlist of your favorite music
  • Beat Katie at a board game
  • Write letters to your siblings
Some of the tasks focused on getting involved with church, engaging in charitable/compassionate endeavors,  reaching out to his family, learning how to function as an adult, and improving literacy.   The educational tasks were worth $2 and can be repeated.  The fun stuff only counted once.   Needless to say, he loved his list!  He's started keeping a bird list, wrote cards to all of his siblings, cooked dinner, cooked breakfast, beaten me at 2 games (and played many more), enjoyed fireworks with us, and more.  It's been a great way to break the ice so to speak.

MM recently turned 6 months old!  Where did the time go?  She is rolling all over the house and can very slowly army-crawl.   She's also got a tooth!  It poked through just a few days ago!   She eats rice cereal, apples, bananas, peas, green beans, broccoli, pears, prunes, carrots, and squash! 

06 July 2015

We're Expecting!

Our household population is changing again.  We are expecting yet another child!  He’s a young teenager.  We met him only briefly for an hour or two over the weekend, but we’ve been told he’s just a very sweet young man…

Over the last 3 years, we’ve had only 2 other long term placements (3 years ago), 1 emergency placement, and 9 “respite” cases.   This will be our first long term placement in quite some time!  Needless to say, we are nervous.  Are we up to the task of raising a teenager along with our baby? Are we crazy to take in a teenager?  Of course, we aren’t ready…and yes…we are probably crazy.

Let brotherly love continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares Hebrews 13: 1 & 2

We felt God’s call upon our hearts to say yes to this young man, and we will rely on His wisdom and providence to care for him.  I’m sure God will use the extensive network of friends and family to help share this wisdom.   

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety. - Proverbs 11:14  

Chase and I worked over the weekend to prepare our home for our new visitor: knives locked away, the dog’s medicines locked in our safe, floors vacuumed, chinchilla cage cleaned, my sewing put away…  Then on Saturday morning, we went to the group home he was staying at to take him to an Independence Day picnic.  We got out of the car, and went from locked door to locked door looking for a doorbell or sign on how to get in contact with the people within.   Finally we found a door with a doorbell.  We waited patiently as one of the house parents came to the door.  We signed the required paperwork to take him out of the home.   The parents expressed their sadness that he would be moving away.   The group home is only meant to be a temporary shelter for foster children, and this kiddo had been there for a few months already.   A few children came out to curiously peer at us.   Then finally a young man cam out.  We introduced ourselves, and I could tell how incredibly nervous he was to meet us.  I can’t imagine what that must feel like:  meeting your future foster parents for the first time.  At least this time, he first met us in a familiar location.
The drive to the picnic was a little…tense and awkward.  He didn’t really volunteer any information, but I did manage to find out he didn’t like fish…or chocolate.  He liked football and maybe hiking.  I told him about his room at our house and our family.  He seemed excited to have a room all to himself.
He barely spoke at the picnic, and we didn’t press him too much.  Ironically, one of his former gym teachers was there and happy to see him.  We introduced him as our friend who would be staying with us for awhile.  The teacher looked at us quizzically.  When we run into people that knew a foster child before they entered care, we always receive that look of curiosity.  However, this boy’s story is his own.  We won’t share why he entered care or any details – only that he is currently staying with us.  We were grateful that he knew at least one other person.  He sat wherever we directed him and didn’t want a plate.  No, he hadn’t eaten lunch yet…but no…he didn’t want a plate.  Honestly, I think he was just too shy.  We decided not to keep him there too long since he seemed so uncomfortable.  Our gracious host asked if he would like a plate to go, and he gladly accepted.  She piled a plate with more food than he can eat with an extra plate with every dessert and covered the plates with foil.  Chase took him back to the children’s shelter.  We will pick him up for good on Monday.  How long will he stay? We don't know, but it's in God's hands.