I know that on the day after Easter I should be overflowing with joy, glowing with God’s grace, and feeling like I am able to handle whatever comes my way, but instead I am faced with a sick kiddo while taking on another child while his foster parents are off for a wedding and the children are starting to buzz with the upcoming summer vacation!
Part of me always looks forward to summer….. but in the same breath I dread all the arguing, hearing how they are bored, and so on. Every year I attempt to plan camping, activities, games, movie nights, game nights, and on and on, to which we never get to due to behaviors, appointments with therapist, funding, visitation, team meetings, behaviors, and more behaviors.
How do you approach summer? I am really hoping that someone has the magic answer for a less nerve racking summer! (If you have a magic wand or potion please let me know in the comments!) Taking children who are or have been in foster care camping is always a gamble! For some it is the reminder that they were homeless before, others it is the smell of the campfire that brings back the trauma of their families misfortune with fire, panicking about having enough food in those boxes, not being comfortable without walls, and on and on. We work hard to replace those horrible experiences with new ones, to take each opportunity to learn new skills, to have new experiences so we no longer find them scary, and in some way building trust between you and the child.
We also continue to work on math skills, reading skills, and the big one …. social skills. There are groups, camps, sporting events, and even art therapy! So often our kids struggle with the change in schedule. I know routine, routine, routine, however it is hard to obtain and keep to a routine with everything in flux.
I personally feel that this is the time that foster and adoptive parents need the most support! Behaviors escalate as the child is being told over and over about school being out, they hear about summer activities that they either like or hate, and they start making their own plans for what they want done this summer (like trips to Disney and Seaworld)! I have always joked around that I just need to find a year round school where the weather stays overall the same! I have been told to look at the equator or at the north and south poles by more than one therapist!
I guess the big thing that we do is try to stay consistent from summer to summer. We know that things will be different this year as we work to help out my parents and learn about metal working, woodworking, and the kids just received a huge bag of seeds that are ready to be planted! I pray that this year is better and we can keep them going with all of these activities, however we will be expecting the meltdowns, the temper tantrums, the threats of bodily harm and address them just as we currently do at home.
I am blessed with an amazing family that is more complicated than most soap operas, however this is where I have been called. Yeah me the only child who was never getting married and NEVER having kids! I could have stuck to those guns, however I would have missed this amazing life! (Ok it is amazingly frustrating often, but still it’s better than anything I could have imagined!)
Ray and I made a pact early in our relationship that we would follow God no matter what. This is what got us through oh so many difficult times! We have lived in some pretty hairy periods of working opposite shifts, learning our biological children were not making it in public school, working full time while homeschooling and working towards a Bachelor’s degree, this chaos continued (and still continues today) almost constantly! When fostering came around it was an exciting time in our family because we could feel Jesus in our day to day lives in a very mighty way.
Once we brought the boys in I will tell you it was overwhelming and exhausting! BUT through all the blood, many many tears, and a whole lot of sweat we STILL felt Jesus’ presence! I will never tell you that fostering is for everyone, however I can tell you that if you put yourself out there and you are willing to be used by God, then there is so many experiences that you have to look forward to (some are good, some you could probably live without) and you will be grown!