Today we had our monthly home inspection with our foster agency. Normally this is no big deal. They check in with us once a month to make sure there are no big changes in our home or family, and that everything is still safe for the kids. (You know, the usual, “do you have food in the fridge?” and “where are your guns currently locked up?” and “can you show me your fire extinguisher?” … etc.) What was a little different about this home inspection was that it was the first one with our new foster agency office.
Why a new agency office?
Mr. Bean and I moved to our current residence almost two years ago. In doing so, we also changed counties. So we could have changed to our county’s office back then. (It makes sense, as it is more straightforward when your placements come from your county.) But given the status of Little Bean’s case at that moment, and where it was headed, there was really no need to make a quick move. (Sidenote: you can read more about our history with Little Bean here and here and here.) His caseworkers were already well established. Also, WE had really bonded with the staff at our original office, and were in no hurry to leave. (Shout out to those folks: you know who you are, and we love you!)
But a few months later, after we finalized his adoption, we took a year off of everything. (Or, I should say, a year that has now been 15 months long. 🙂 ) It was delightful! The respite from fostering, adopting, social workers, etc., has been a very nice (and much needed) breather. We have enjoyed the time off to settle in as a family of three. But … we have kept our certification current to give ourselves time to figure out what comes next.
So, the fact that we finally moved our certification and home study docs to the foster agency office in our new county is … well, … the next step in moving forward to reopen our home. But before any of us gets excited about that, I am mentally going through the reality check. Because this time around, we are not greenhorns. We are moving forward with experience (and scar tissue, as the case of Mancub and his reunification).
The good news is: we know what to expect!
Also … WE. KNOW. WHAT. TO. EXPECT!
We started our journey (pre-kids) as Perfect Parents. With all the right ideas about how this was supposed to happen and opinions for every topic. (I’m still full of opinions, BTW.) And then reality hit: this is not a perfect situation. In fact, there is a lot of messy, emotional stuff going on. All. The Time. And also, foster kids don’t operate on the same timeline because of their background! So somewhere in the midst of the last three years, … thankfully, … the Perfect Parent mindset got shattered into oblivion. And what has emerged in its place is a more real, more approachable, more vulnerable mom … which is entirely fitting for these very vulnerable kiddos.
And the truth of the matter is, no matter how challenging and emotional the journey was with our first three kiddos, I do not regret it for one millisecond. Given the opportunity, I would do it all over again. But honestly, if I had it to do over again, I would want to get MORE training and be MORE selfless. I truly would. Because this way of life has a way of exposing my rough edges that are so desperately in need of smoothing.
At the same time, the thought of taking on everything that comes along with reopening our home … is a lot. Not gonna lie … its a bit overwhelming even. So that is weighing heavy. I just know more now. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I am not a stranger to it. And, like this meme shows, … it will involve a lot of coffee. And prayers. And sleepless nights. And tears. (And wine.) Hence, why the year has grown to 15 months and counting.
“Is there anyone here who, planning to build a new house, doesn’t first sit down and figure the cost so you’ll know if you can complete it? If you only get the foundation laid and then run out of money, you’re going to look pretty foolish.” (Luke 14:28-30)
So we are moving forward. Gently. Cautiously. Together, this time as a family of three. To an unknown. We are hopeful for the next phase of our journey. And this time, instead of thinking about what Mr. Bean and I will face together, we are now asking questions like, “how would you feel about sharing your toys … and your mom and dad … with the kids who really need a family … maybe only for a little while?”