Hello Friends. It’s been a couple years, and I just wanted to share a little update with you all. If you remember, I can be a bit wordy if I’m not careful, but I’ll try to keep it to an update and not a book.
It has been two years, nine months since our six kiddos moved back in with their mother. I’ve thought about them almost every single one of those days, missing them, wondering how they are, praying for them. I still love and care for them deeply, but the pain of saying goodbye is no longer fresh and raw. And they are really doing well, so that helps alleviate much of the worry and stress.
It has been two years five months since our forever five came and we became the family we are today. They love our first kiddos and miss them too. It’s pretty awesome to occasionally have all eleven of my kids together in one place, enjoying each other’s company! I was blessed to see that last week, as you are about to read.
It has been one year seven months since we moved from our home that was home at one point or another to all eleven of our kids, and we now live a full day’s drive away. Leaving our six behind was hard, but we are in a great place now. Hubby is pastoring a church that is the perfect fit for our family. We couldn’t feel more blessed.
I actually ventured out and decided to use that degree I paid good money for so many years ago, and got hired as the principal and upper grades teacher of a small church school. All mine are school age now so they come with me each day, and I teach grades 4-8 (last year I had ten students in the room) as well as call the shots as the administrator. I LOVE my job, but it is a full schedule for sure. I’m thinking I can keep this up till my student loans and a couple other things are paid off, and then we will see. This summer is slipping by all too fast and I have so much I should be doing right now…but let me finish this update first!
Earlier this month we had some meetings to go to several hours away, and kind of on the spur of the moment decided to drive another six hours back over to see our kiddos rather than the ten hours home. We stayed two days, and got to see them both days. We have seen them about twice a year since we moved – not nearly often enough but really pretty good considering it takes two days just to travel every time we go.
So let’s start with A-girl. She will graduate High School this year with excellent grades and an associate’s degree! Yup! She stayed in the program we helped her get started in, maintained excellent grades (only 35 of the original 70 are still in), and is graduating with honors. She was complaining that there were too many colleges sending her information and scholarships that she didn’t know what to do! Woohoo! Good problem to have. I’m super proud of her. She also got connected as a translator and so has that as a part-time job (some jobs pay $200/day!). And she got her full license so is able to get around and get her siblings/mom around if need be as well. Did I mention how proud I am of her? She has matured so much in the last two years…
B-boy went through a really rough spot and I thought he was going to drop out of school. But the prayers must have worked, because at this point he is in the ROTC and working towards getting a degree so he can go into the Airforce as an officer. I saw a picture of him in uniform – SHARP!
C-girl is just starting High School. She has kept up good grades and while I was a bit disappointed she didn’t do the same program her sister did, I know she will be OK.
D-boy & E-girl are hanging in there. Elementary school still, not exactly dreaming big for their futures yet, but there’s still plenty of time for that and with their older siblings all setting such good examples I feel like they will be fine.
And last of all, F-girl. Oh how I miss my baby. And she misses us too. It seems like there may have been some negative repercussions for her in the past relating to interacting with us, because she is crazy reserved whenever we see her. We have been trying to let them know ahead of time so she can mentally prepare – it’s got to be hard if we just show up randomly on her doorstep. The heads-up has worked better. Every time we go she always asks us if we can come back, if we can visit again. Even as a super-smart five-year-old, it’s hard to comprehend what “moving” means. This last visit was especially revealing. We were in the pool, and at one point most were at the other end and so it was just my hubby and F-girl together. She leaned towards him and whispered “I still love you. You’re a good dad. My dad isn’t a good dad – he does [mean things] to us even when we are being good, and that’s not what a good dad does.” Where does she get these insights? For the record, I don’t think she sees her bio-dad all that often, but she obviously isn’t impressed. And here is where I am tempted to get philosophical about the psychological damage that can potentially occur when you take a child from the only home they remember, from parents they love more than anything, and put them in another family. But philosophizing does me no good because it is what it is and it’s not like I had a say in the matter anyway. In so many ways, though, we can still see that her core is aligned with our family so much more than with her biological family. And that makes me sad – I wish she “fit” better. But she is definitely loved and cared for.
That reminds me of one more thing. Last month on Father’s Day weekend, we were reminiscing with the kids about these guys. My hubby sent A-girl a text saying something about we were just looking at their picture books and thinking of them and missing them. A-girl texted back an unexpected reply. In Spanish, so this is a terrible translation but gets the gist. “Forgive me for not recognizing you on Father’s Day and for not appreciating you as much as I should have during the time I was with you. Miss you too and Happy Father’s Day.” Isn’t that the sweetest thing ever! You don’t become foster parents to get thank you’s, but when they come like this, it feels a million times worth it all over again.
Speaking of Father’s Day, A-girl told us a cute story. At their church they called all the kids up and had asked them to bring in a tool or something to represent their dad’s work. F-girl hadn’t brought anything, but she was up there. The pastor’s daughter’s turn came, and when they asked her about what her dad uses to work, she showed them a Bible. F-girl was soon after, and she looked around and then went and grabbed a Bible. The person leading out was very confused, but A-girl clued in right away. She explained that F-girl was thinking of her foster-dad (my hubby), not bio-dad, and that he was a pastor as well so that was why F-girl had grabbed the Bible. To think that any time someone talks about her dad, my hubby is who she still thinks of…
It is truly amazing to me the impact that we have had in these children’s lives. The fact that a little girl who left us at two and a half years old still remembers us so well, considers us her family and definitely her father, and at five-years old can not only feel the difference in how people treat her but can articulate it clearly. We did teach her to communicate young and always spoke to her like she could understand everything – she could, and can now express so much so clearly herself. It is amazing. To see A-girl, from a family who hasn’t valued education or the independence of women getting ready to graduate with a High School AND College degree, holding a flexible job, and independently driving and handling things on her own… This is not where she was heading five years ago when we met her. And B-boy was ready back then to drop out of school and work construction the rest of his life. Not now – he has aspirations! They have all seen something bigger, something different, something worth fighting for. And they are now more willing to lift their gaze, shoot a little higher, dream a little bigger.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. It was worth it. Every tear, tantrum, and trial. Every heartache, hiccup, and hallelujah. The moments of madness and then ones that melted our hearts. The grief I experienced then, and even the grief I still experience today. Worth it all. I am who I am today because of all I’ve gone through, because of the impact these six lives have had on me. I know my life is better, fuller, deeper because of it. And from all appearances, their lives are richer as well.
Thanks again to those of you who journeyed with me through those two years – you were part of the better, fuller, deeper for me.
Until next time…if there is a next time, God Bless!