The End of Summer

I know that technically we have like a month left of true summer. But here in Central Pennsylvania we start to notice the sun going in earlier and the cooler weather before the end of September. Plus I always associate Fall with back to school, so here we are. The end of summer. Three of four  kids are back in school. Backpacks have been purchased. New lunchboxes have been purchased. Kids have sneakers that fit and first day of school outfits. Here’s a look at our last few weeks before school started… We left to see my family in North Carolina on August 6th and returned home on August 15th. That included one night in a hotel, two nights in Charlotte visiting my sister and her family, and six nights in Raleigh at my parents’ house.

summer5At the Virginia Welcome Center!

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Visiting Jordan Lake and swimming!

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Walking on the pedestrian bridge that my dad designed. Madeline didn’t like the street noise!

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Having a blast at the park!

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Walking the greenways.

Before we left for North Carolina, my car got hit by lightning when sitting in our driveway during a regular summer afternoon storm. It took over two weeks for the dealer to get the car back in working order, enough for us to leave on vacation. It still isn’t completely fixed, they’re still working on the modules that control the backup camera and sensor. But the lightning literally fried every computer in my car and they’ve all had to be replaced!

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Here’s my baby being hoisted up and taken away!

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While we had our rental car we made the best of things. I had promised to take the kids to my alma mater, Dickinson College. I thought it was important for them to see what college is like, and we got a nice tour. They enjoyed seeing the dining hall and dorm rooms. I think it gave them a more tangible idea of what they strive for while in school.

We had a fun-filled summer but man, am I glad they are back in school! As the weeks went by, tempers got shorter. Patience didn’t go as far. And nerves/anxiety about the new school year got the best of them. So they were very ready to go back this week!

Family Day

Each adoption, each fostering, and each respite are so different even if the stories of the children are similar. As a family we’ve chosen to celebrate our Family Day rather than Adoption Day. We got through adoption day and are glad to have it past us. Adoption Day brought up a lot of mixed feelings and anxiety. The general idea of Adoption Day is not something we care to celebrate, as it comes with great loss. We are, however, going to celebrate Family Day, which is the day that our kids were placed in our home. Last year they came to live with us on July 14th. If you want to revisit my first blog post after placement, it is here:

https://fosteringourhope.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/phew/

I looked up a lot of things to do for Family Day. We considered going to a theme park or a water park. But our kids really enjoy something simpler, and those would not afford us real quality one on one time. So we looked up destinations that are closer to home, within a 2 to 3 hour driving distance. We realized that we are about 2 hours from the Finger Lakes region in NY, where I haven’t been and none of the kids have visited. So we booked a camping “resort,” so that we have a cabin with a full kitchen, bathroom and electricity (the only way you’re getting me camping!). They have pools, playgrounds and a splash park on site and nearby are such beautiful state parks as any you would ever see. So we will be there for a few nights and enjoy our time with the kids!

BIG Feelings on New Homes and Adoption

I guess being in a new place and doing lots of new things can bring out the best (and worst) in people. For our kids, there were lots of nerves and manic activity surrounding and during our trip. None of them had ever been on a plane (not too rare for a 6, 7 and 9 year old). None of them had been to the ocean (again, not too rare for young children in a land-locked state). None of them had been to a zoo (still not surprising for kids who live at least three hours from the closest zoo). They had never rented a car. It was only their third time staying in a hotel. There are lots of questions from kids about renting a car! And flying in airplanes! They were wonderful and so excited and really made the trip awesome. It’s like when you finally get to celebrate Christmas with your kids for the first time and see the wonder in their eyes. To get to experience everything for the first time again through your children is awesome.

It’s also sad. They get such anxiety over things that are routine for many families. They act like crazy people when you introduce new things like going to the zoo. They don’t know how to act. It’s like being in a foreign country and not understanding the customs. They have to be taught proper manners and how to act in new situations. These kids have been in foster care four out of the last five years. They never went on vacation with their families (save a few camping trips).

The kids talked about things on the trip they never mentioned to us before. They opened up as they begin to trust us and as they attach. We know it’s a long process but it is nice to get more information.

Little Man was not allowed to do sports in the past, his foster family told him that it’s too dangerous for foster kids. Mind you, his foster brothers, one who is the biological son and one who is adopted, did multiple sports. He’s a natural athlete and excels in sports so it just makes me sad. He also said that in his previous foster home he shared a room with the adopted son and the biological son slept on the sofa. Our middle daughter shared a room with a fourteen year old girl whose boyfriend regularly slept over.

Little Man also told us that he didn’t want to go home (to our house) because it’s creepy. He has a habit of using “being scared” of something as an excuse not to do something. But this was the first time that he actually talked about not wanting to be in our house. So when we got back last night we let him choose one of the dogs to sleep in his room. He picked Chuck, the big Saint Bernard/lab mix. When I went in this morning to get Little Man up for school, he was cuddling with Chuck on his bed! He was a happy camper and seemed to love having a big protective dog with him. Chuck loved the attention too! He’s such an easy going dog that he was happy to have extra cuddles.

It was also interesting to spend a week with my parents, sister and her family. It was the first extended time that we got to be around them with all of the kids. I would consider my relationship with my sister and her husband strained. It is stressful. I feel like I have to walk on tiptoes around them and bow to their schedule and preferences. Even though we spent a week at the resort for my sister’s birthday, my sister only came for five days. Each of those days we were limited to my nephew’s naps and eating schedule. I totally understand having a 10 month old, but I also don’t feel like they should rule your life. So my family did a bunch of things while they were giving their son two different two hour naps a day in the hotel room. They also were not very flexible with where or when they ate so we pretty much had one meal together each day. It was disappointing.

On my sister’s birthday, for example, we got our kids ready and headed down to the pool/ocean by 9:00. My nephew napped and they joined us around 11:00. At noon they went to get lunch at the poolside restaurant while we just ordered poolside and ate next to the pool. I guess they were concerned that my nephew couldn’t eat poolside. After they ate they went back to the hotel room to give my nephew his second nap. We went back to the hotel room around 3:00 to get ready for dinner, then we had dinner and they put their son down to bed. So we saw them for maybe four hours out of the day.

It was also interesting to see how my parents, sister and her family related to the new kids. They are still getting to know the kids and their personalities, and I know it can be a lot of noise until you get used to it. But they just weren’t as welcoming as I hoped. I guess it will come with time but they also were not very balanced with their attitudes towards the new kids versus their behavior with Little One. My sister also doesn’t think she will be coming up for the kids’ adoption day. I guess I just never believed people when they said that their families treated their adoption differently from having a biological child. My sister and her husband were at the hospital right after I gave birth to Little One. They came to her baptism and first birthday. I guess I just never realized that Adoption Day to them wouldn’t be as big of a deal for them as it is for us.

Birth Certificates

We were approved almost five weeks ago when the children were placed with us to take them with us to my mother in law’s wedding in Canada. We leave next Thursday after the first day of school… that is, the children will be coming with us next Thursday after the first day of school if we get their birth certificates! We are driving and we have the letter signed by the director of the county youth services and copies of the birth certificates but not the real things. We’ve been promised them every week. Wednesday when the county worker came she said that they had been ordered and expected them to come in any day. I think my husband will give it until Tuesday before he flips his lid with her supervisor. I am hoping to hear every day and have my fingers crossed. I can’t imagine leaving the kids behind and we don’t have a respite in place. We’ve kept our agency in the loop but I just can’t imagine having to leave them while we go for five days! If anyone has any words of wisdom or has gone through this in the past, any help???