Foster Care: A Hard and Beautiful Calling

foster care

At 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 6, I was upstairs doing "the bedtime marathon" with my husband and little ones.  Hair was washed, teeth were brushed, and we were on to our favorite part of the evening: stories.  I love reading to my kids, but even as my oldest sat in my lap, I was already thinking about snuggling with my husband on the couch with Netflix and a glass of wine - the makings of the perfect at-home date night.  

Also at 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, January 6, my phone was ringing on the kitchen counter downstairs because a sweet 2-year-old was sitting in our local CPS office.  When I came downstairs and saw an unknown 405 number on my screen, I knew immediately why we had been called.  Shakily, I pressed "play" and listened to the voicemail.  "Would you be willing to accept placement?"  It still seems strange that such a life-changing event begins with a phone call.

We said “yes”, and so began our foster care journey, less than a week after our home was open and less than an hour after that phone call.  

People have asked us how we are doing and what has been difficult about adding K to our family.  "Everything!" I often want to say.  "Everything about this is difficult."

But that's not entirely true.

Pride is easy.  I can, all too readily, fall into the trap that elevates our family above others who aren't doing foster care.  Along a similar strain, I can feel sorry for myself with absolutely no effort at all, believing the lie that others' lives are less messy than mine and becoming angry with those same people, who have done nothing to warrant my irritation.  

Compassion is easy, too.  If I can have compassion, anyone can.  As more of K's story unfolds, my cold heart continues to melt.  I hate what she has had to face in her short life.  This is not the way things should be when you're two.  I want better for her and for her family.  Saying "yes" on January 6 was both simple and obvious.  How could we not?

foster care 2

What's hard has been saying “yes" every day since then.  Continuing to hear and obey this calling for our lives, even when our will is weak and the Voice calling us feels distant, is anything but natural.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, "When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die."  Foster care feels a lot like dying sometimes.

It's hard to have two two-year-olds.  Period.  God bless you mommas of twins.

It’s hard to explain this broken system to my four-year-old when I don’t quite understand it myself.

It’s hard to watch her cry for “mommy”, knowing that that person isn’t me.

It’s hard when very few people really understand how big this thing is that we are doing.  I didn't just birth a newborn, but we added a two-year-old to our family, which I would contend is equally consuming at times.  Most people expect us (and anyone else with a new foster child) to continue with life as it was yesterday, when it will never be that way again.  

It's hard to have family in Texas who is willing but unable to help because crossing states lines requires permission every single time.

It's hard for a Type A person like me not to have a plan.  She might still be here in six months, or she could go home next week.  Either way, I'll probably be among the last to know, just as I'm the last to be informed of team meetings and home visits which I'm supposed to attend.  It's selfish, I know, but I hate being at the mercy of everyone else's schedules.  (Selfishness- there's another easy thing.)

It's hard that her language is so limited.  

It's hard that our family is under constant scrutiny by the same people who removed K from her home.  I'm doing the best I can, but I live in constant fear that I've done something wrong.  I'm afraid that someone will think I'm not doing my job if she falls off the bench at dinnertime and bumps her chin or her head, as my own two-year-old does basically once a week.  

It's hard to have very little information regarding the child who is living full-time in my home.

It's hard to pour out my life for this tiny soul, to be the umbrella that she stands under, taking the rain ... and to be unappreciated for doing so.  She doesn't want me.  I can't comfort her like her mom can.  Her mom doesn't want me, or even like me, either.  I tell K every night before bed that I love her, and she never says it back.  Maybe one day she will, but it's possible that she won't.  Perhaps the hardest thing about all of this is choosing to love someone without expecting a single thing in return.

I've put my life on hold for the moment and am not taking any classes for dental hygiene.  I wanted to slow down this semester in order to give our family my full attention, because I know that what we are doing is important and needed.  And yeah, it's hard.  It's dang hard.  Knowing that it would be hard hasn't made it any easier, and sometimes I wonder if all of this is worth it.

But there are moments when it is also beautiful. 

There are these brief reminders that I get the privilege of doing for another what Jesus did for me: He welcomed me into his family, and he pursues me when I don't want him.  He provides for my basic daily needs but also goes beyond that and loves me, simply because He loves me.

Today, she laughed at me while I played with her.  

Yesterday, she and my biological two-year-old played blocks together ... without screaming or crying or stealing.  Yesterday, I didn't even scream or cry or steal ... all day long.

Last week, our friends rallied to bring us clothes, diapers, and food, reassuring us that we are not in this alone.  She has a built-in new family and set of friends who all adore her.

She knows three words in sign language that she didn't know when she came to us.

I get to be the one to give her experiences that she's likely never had before.

Even when they're all fighting, our own daughters LOVE having another little girl around.  Though everyone has had a rough adjustment, K really is a perfect fit for our family.  

Everyone tells the scary stories of foster care, and then everyone understandably gets scared away from doing it.  I want to tell the good stories, about how the most difficult things are also the right ones and how redemption can be found in the most hopeless of situations.    

This is a hard calling.  And it's so beautiful, too.

Fan Club Friday: Social Butterfly OKC

Social Butterfly Logo

When I began blogging professionally several months ago, I knew that part of the gig would include social media engagement.  

You guys.  Those words kind of make me cringe.  I want to write content and be done.  I don't want to promote my latest post on my Insta account because a) that's awkward, b) I'm old school, and c) I have no clue what I'm doing.  But did you know that the average person spends two hours a day scrolling through feeds?  Managed correctly, that's a ton of publicity and engagement!

When my friend, Nichole Hughes, told me about the social media management business that she started with her sister, Laynie Snider, I was immediately intrigued.  Companies need to be promoted via social media in order to draw more clients and keep their current ones satisfied.  (You can thank millennials like me for that one.)  However, updating Facebook is often too much for an eye doctor, for example, whose full-time job is to take care of eyes.  Laynie and Nichole actually enjoy scheduling posts and moderating comments, which frees entrepreneurs and established businesspeople alike to focus on their careers.  It's a win-win situation because both parties get to pursue their talents and passions.

social butterfly coffee

Why work with these two coffee lovers?  Several years ago, Laynie opened Blo, OKC’s first blo-out-bar, in Classen Curve.  As the former owner of Blo, Laynie used social media exclusively for marketing, which quickly grew a large following in the community.  Braids, big hair, brides, blush, and beauty products (alliteration intentional!) filled Blo’s Instagram feed.  Blo’s exposure and profits through social media drove them to become a leader in the OKC beauty industry.  Laynie saw an opportunity and had the desire to partner with other local businesses to recreate the success she had initiated at Blo.  She knew that she would need help, and it made sense to ask the best friend who grew up with her in south OKC: Nichole, her identical twin sister (born four years earlier).  

Though I don't know Laynie personally, Nichole has been a sweet friend for years.  I can only imagine that since Laynie is so much like her sister, she's a tough and hilarious go-getter with wisdom beyond her years and a genuine love for people.  These extroverted girl bosses have six small children between the two of them, but they still manage to work hard for their clients, care well for their families, and look perfect while doing it all.  (I mean seriously, have you seen two more attractive brunettes?)  The fun, yet professional personalities of these ladies makes them a joy to have as friends and a dream to employ.  And let's be honest, they don't need me showcasing them on my blog because we've already discussed who knows what they're doing in this situation, but hey ... I like writing about gifted people.

At this point, you may be asking, "Who is Social Butterfly for?"  Everyone!  It doesn't matter if your company has one employee or 700, Social Butterfly can help grow your business.  Services they offer include:

Photos by:  Kate Bernard

Photos by: Kate Bernard

  • Daily Posting: Seize the day every day because they post for you!
  • Social Media Strategizing: They help you decide what your pages will look like and how the layout and theme will best reflect the values that your business has.
  • Brand Engagement: Grow real followers, not robots!
  • Community Management: Social Butterfly responds to the comments and questions of your audience.  Check that off your to-do list!
  • Content Calendar Creation: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  Nichole and Laynie do content creation and planning for you so that failure is not an option.  All of the next month's posts will be submitted for your review and approval 10-12 days in advance.
  • Media Management Flexibility: Since Laynie and Nichole have been business owners themselves at one point or another, they know that needs vary depending upon the size and stage of the company.  So, they're willing to work with you and devise a plan that pleases everyone!

Don't waste any more precious time attempting to grow your business alone.  Check out Social Butterfly OKC on their Facebook page and Instagram, or email them directly at socialbutterflyokc@gmail.com.