Foster Adoption is Exhausting!

I planned to post this last week, but when everything happened with my dad, I put it on hold. I’m publishing it now with no changes/updates from how I originally wrote it, so it’ll make more sense if you pretend you’re reading this last Wednesday.

A blog reader who is a fairly new foster mom, emailed me recently:

“Your blog posts have been right on time for me as I’m struggling emotionally, physically, with caring for my 3 fosters. This is my very first placement. We’ve had them for 7 months. They are good kids relatively speaking, I am just exhausted… thanks for sharing your story and making it sound easy.”

If I’ve given the impression that any of this is easy, let me say right now, it’s not!

I’m utterly exhausted after only four days with Scout and Jem!

Partly, my exhaustion is from lack of sleep; these kiddos pop out of bed bright eyed and bushy-tailed before 7am. I’m usually up by that time, but making tea and quietly doing a little Bible reading before having to face the world. Jumping straight into feeding and monitoring little people is different that having an hour or so to myself to slowly wake up. The nights they were here last week, I fell into bed at least an hour earlier than usual! (On a positive note, Jem is getting to sleep much more easily for naps and night-time; I’m praying this continues once they move in!)

Then there’s the need to keep them from getting into things — especially with Scout sharing Kathryn’s room. This week I’m unpacking and organizing toys and such, so I’m hoping having their own things will help keep them out of Kathryn’s things.

Scout and Jem wrestle like rowdy puppies, get each other totally wound up, and sometimes accidentally hurt each other in the process, so we’re working on establishing rules like no jumping on your brother/sister, etc. And although WonderDog may indeed be, as Scout told her, “the best dog ever,” I still have to closely monitor how the kids (who have never had a pet) interact with her for safety of all involved.

{Below: the kids love on a very patient WonderDog}LacyDog love

But quite possibly the most exhausting aspect of it all is needing to be hyper-vigilant as I learn personalities and watch carefully for hurt feelings or misunderstandings. This one wears me out emotionally.

On top of all this, I’m having to help Kathryn adjust to some pretty big changes of her own. Sharing her room and being in a bunk bed means we have to modify her bedtime routine. It’s already obvious, too, that I will have to be even more intentional than I’d thought about making time and conversation with her; it doesn’t happen as easily or spontaneously with two more kids in the house.

I’m not getting much done.

All this vigilance and early rising means I’m not getting much accomplished: Bible time, laundry, blogging… they’ve all fallen behind. So while Scout and Jem are gone this week, I’ll spend time strategizing how to better manage all these challenges.

I’ve never understood why some parents are eager to send their kids off to school, but I will admit to being glad we’ll have the rest of this school year as a transition. Scout will be in public kindergarten (not my choice til they are legally ours), and I’ll have Jem in preschool three mornings each week. This will give us more uninterrupted time to homeschool, while gradually getting accustomed to life with two new personalities in the mix. By summer, when we’re all at home every day, we should know each other better and have worked out many of the kinks — and by next school year, I’m hoping we’ll be able to keep them both home for school.

We’ll get there. It’s far from easy. I just know it’s worth it in the long run.

I encourage you to find some way to support any foster or adoptive parents you know. Loan a listening ear, offer to run an errand or to for them, or — even better — babysit while mom and dad have a date night! (Foster parents can’t hire a teen babysitter which makes getting out harder; although rules vary by state, you may be able to babysit occasionally.) Another idea: make/take dinner for the whole crew and send mom to take a bubble bath while you feed the kids!