One Week Ago Today

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but on my 30th birthday I had mentioned that it had been a rough week.  I use the word “rough” lightly. The truth is I actually felt numb.  The months of June and July which consisted of blending the teens into our family and Baby D’s sad court date had caught up to me and I didn’t have any emotions left.  I couldn’t feel anything bad or good about our situation because I was simply surviving.  I didn’t write about it for the privacy of our new family, but we were struggling with our 14 year old.

I say the word “struggling” lightly.

There were good days and bad days.  Each good day brought a fresh hope for Ryan and I that things were going well, but then each time a bad day came along the behaviors got worse and worse.  We leaned on each other and we looked to Christ.  We sought wisdom from families who had kids around the same age and tried different discipline techniques in our home.  We received research articles from friends on parenting hard teens and we asked for prayer from a ton of people because we caught on pretty quickly that it was not going to be on our strength alone that we would get through this.

The week before my birthday was a mess, which escalated into an *incident* that happened on Thursday night.  It was awful. It ended our stressful summer with the confirmation that Ryan and I could not do this alone.  Our spirited girl had floundered through the foster care system for five years and never received any help for trauma that got her into care in the first place.  Her behaviors were never reported and people just dealt with them until they’d had enough and would kick her out.

We have four young children. Ryan and I probably could’ve dealt with her behaviors as well but we have four young kids watching.  Four kids witnessing the fighting and screaming, there were actually moments when Brooklyn and Gavin would cover their ears.  Four kids seeing that you can say “no” to mom and dad, that when parents give you a choice, you can refuse both choices and just do what you want anyway.  Four kids that saw you can spit at adults instead of talk to them.  Four kids saw you can physically hit your parents and destroy property as well. 

Not only were our three year olds picking up on behaviors, they were acting out as well due to the tension and stress that was always present in our home.  Brooklyn had reverted back to baby talking often and Gavin was so out of whack we weren’t sure what was going on.  We talked to a specialist in the field and she said that Gavin’s body was reacting to the stress in our home, because it was the stress that he experienced before going into CPS as a baby.  Even though he can’t remember, his body does.  It’s heartbreaking watching two young kids fall apart while you are trying to put together the pieces of another broken child.

One week ago today our 14 year old temporarily moved out.  As a foster family we’ve had one disruption before.  You can read about that here.  I was so ashamed and at the end of the post I mentioned that it would never happen again no matter what the circumstance was.  Well, that was over two years ago and our family dynamic has changed.  After the *incident* on Thursday we knew that our home was not safe.  We have five other kids to think of now and we could only give so much grace to our 14 year old before it really made our other five kids collateral.  God has entrusted us with these children and we had to make a decision that was best for the entire family. 

I don’t have a problem sharing this story, I feel so confident this time around.  I know that I’m protecting my young ones and my 16 year old.  I know that our 14 year old needs special help, and Ryan and I are not trained for those services.  I know that she is still a part of our family.  We will see her often, she still has a place in our home, she just needs some healing before she can live here day in and day out.   We pray she can return one day after she gets some much needed healing and coping techniques for her behaviors.  Right now she is with a foster family who specializes in counseling with teens who have endured trauma so she is in very capable and loving hands.  When we FaceTimed with her she was so excited to show us her new room and house she is in!   

I was asking God why our summer was so trying, all of the work and patience we had that ultimately would end in a disruption anyway.  He gave me a peace knowing that we were just part of the process.  If our two girls had never moved in, our 14 year old would’ve never gotten the help she needs and our 16 year old would’ve never had a chance to flourish, to let adults worry about her sister so that she can finally at the age of 16 focus on herself.

So yeah, Foster care is messy.  If I knew what our summer was going to look like before taking the girls in, I would have done everything the same.  We have two new girls that will forever be a part of our family.  Ryan and I truly appreciate all of you that have lifted our family up in your prayers.  They have been felt, and He has given us strength to make it each day, and wisdom to make this tough but necessary decision for our family.

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