#ShowEm what family means

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Jockey for IZEA. All opinions are 100% mine.

When you close your eyes and envision who your children will be when they grow up, what do you see? I love that the Jockey #ShowEm campaign celebrates the values that make up who we truly are, beneath the surface.

As parents, we’re tasked with guiding our children on their journeys to becoming men and women, and a hugely important part of that guidance is imparting values such as love, courage, perseverance, and family. So when Jockey asked me to create my own #ShowEm captioned photo, I knew that my value would be “Family Is Everything.”

Child development experts will tell you this question should be at the core of all your parenting decisions.

Who do you want your child to be when they grow up, and what do you need to do to get them there?

#ShowEm what brothers look like

I want my children to be giving and compassionate. I want them to naturally gravitate towards helping those with less – less money, less love, less family…. I can’t imagine a better way to teach them that than continuing to foster as they grow up.

People considering foster care often ask how the decision will impact their “own” children. Understandably, they’re typically concerned about any situation that may pose a threat to their biological children. Frequently, would-be foster parents also worry about any sacrifices their children may be required to make – from quality time with parents, to fewer resources for activities, to sharing a bedroom or bathroom.

SuperDad has expressed similar concerns. He worries that continuing to foster isn’t fair to our young boys or that they must sacrifice too much. I believe that raising them to think about others is of far greater value than having time for one more extracurricular activity, but I’m not sure SuperDad could fully understand before Snowflake came to stay with us earlier this year.

The day Snowflake came to stay with us, she woke up as an only child, secure in the devotion of her mom and dad. She woke up the next morning in the middle of a traveling three-ring circus.

The boys, on the other hand, had gone to bed a trio, secure in their family, belongings, and their positions firmly in the center of the known universe. They woke up to a new little sister who was tired, scared, and clinging to their parents.

Before everyone woke up, SuperDad and I strategized how to explain Snowflake’s presence to the boys and ease the transition for them, while making sure that she felt safe and loved and secure. We needn’t have bothered with the frantic strategy session.

Squish, always the most eager to take on the day, walked into the living room, took one look at Snowflake and one look at me, and without some much as a by-your-leave, wrapped Snowflake in a gentle bear hug and asked, “Are you going to stay with us for a while? Would you like to sit in my chair and hold my school bus?”

When Squirm wandered in a few minutes later, rubbing his eyes, Squish led Snowflake over to him and introduced his brother. Squirm was the first to ask her name, followed immediately by, “Do you want cereal and milk? Mommy, will you get Snowflake some cereal and milk?”

#ShowEm what family looks likeNow, SuperDad and I knew we had some pretty awesome kids, but Squish and Squirm were not quite 4-years old at the time. And they responded to our surprise addition more gracefully than most adults would have. But what about Lil Bit? He was just over 2, and really, truly, seriously spoiled. He’s also the LEAST friendly in the morning, so we were a little more worried about his reaction.

When he walked into the living room to see his brothers calming eating breakfast next to a little girl with a tear-stained face he stopped and stared for a minute – at her, at his brothers, at SuperDad and I.

And then, just as if it was a normal everyday occurrence, he walked right up to Snowflake, sat down next to her and shared his favorite blanket before asking if he could have “some milk please?”

That was the day SuperDad and I realized we’re no longer foster parents. Now we’re a foster FAMILY.

Whatever you see when you imagine a family, it probably doesn’t look like mine. I’ll be honest, my family doesn’t look like what I pictured when I was younger – it’s extraordinarily more beautiful than anything I ever dreamed.

 

 

Jockey understands the importance of confidently and unapologetically expressing who you really are inside. I encourage you to visit the ShowEm Meme Generator and create your own meme to #ShowEm what family means to you. Then share your own stories of family in the comments—I would love to see them!

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Getting to Know Our #Partyof8

#AdoptionTalk: Getting to Know our #Partyof8

For the moment, everyone in our household is a forever-member, so I can actually share our family photo with no stickers or strategically turned heads.

Without further ado, please let me introduce our #Partyof8 (from left to right):

Squish (adopted from foster care 3.4.14), Jamie (me), SuperDad, Lil Bit (adopted from foster care 10.23.15), The Boy (our oldest child, SuperDad’s bio son), Squirm (adopted from foster care 8.22.14), Punky (our youngest daughter, SuperDad’s bio daughter), and Princess (our oldest daughter, SuperDad’s bio daughter)

Yes, you read that right, for the first time in 4 years, we have no foster children! How long that continues to be true is still under negotiation. After finalizing Lil Bit’s adoption in October, SuperDad wisely realized the importance of a little fostering break to semi-cocoon a bit and focus on family-bonding. After successfully getting Squeaker home to her forever family in time for Christmas, we began to discover life as a family of 8. For the first time in recent memory, there was no fence around my Christmas tree!! SuperDad is convinced that makes me sad – mostly it’s just weird….

With approximately 37 children under 4 years old, we get the “hands full” comment very frequently. Just the boys and I went to the zoo last weekend – when anyone mentioned my “full hands” I couldn’t help but respond how much easier 3 is than 4. Like, seriously, y’all. When you’re used to wearing an infant, while pushing a triple stroller full of toddlers, only having three to wrangle is a piece of cake – and just weird….

On the other hand, we’re starting to explore the things we have wanted to do with the boys, but are just too complicated with an infant. Next weekend we’re going camping. Later this month, we’re rejoining the sailing club we belonged to before we starting fostering. Now that everyone in the family gets around under their own steam, we can start planning to get back out on the water.

It’s also been nice to be able to just hang with the older kids when they stop by – with no one needing constant care, we can actually listen when The Boy tells us about his latest business venture. And it’s been a real treat to just enjoy the boys playing together in the evening. Without a baby who might be trampled, we can let their imaginations run wild and just enjoy the show.

If you’re new to Starfish Confidential, please check out:

When I decided to be a foster parent

How we found “twiblings” (and part 2)

Adoption stories: Are they twins? and The Sequel (Lil Bit’s to come soon, I promise)

And finally: our family’s journey (through 2014 when I apparently forgot this post should be regularly updated)   😳

Now on to the #AdoptionTalk Linkup!

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Today’s topic is Getting to Know You. Grab a button for your post and join Ashley, Erin, Jenni, Jill, and me!

New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how.

No Bohns About It

 


Faking Holiday Cheer

When I was a kid, Christmas was a huge deal for our family. Every year on the day after Thanksgiving, every decoration in the house was put away and Christmas decorations put up in their place. My sister and I would always grumble about the work required to put up the decorations, but I have always loved Christmas.

For most of my adult life, I followed the same schedule. I even began to look forward to the day after Thanksgiving. At least until my family and I stopped speaking two and half years ago. The details don’t matter, but suffice it to say that situation isn’t changing anytime soon.Faking holiday cheer

While it’s never easy to be estranged from your family, the holidays are exceptionally hard for me. For the majority of the year, the absence of my family like an old football injury that acts up when it rains. Yeah, it hurt when my mom ignored my text about Lil Bit’s adoption, but I told myself that everyone makes decisions and focused on enjoying my kids.

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5 Things Foster Parents Wish You Knew

5 Things Foster Parents Wish You Knew

 

  1. I’m not a saint! I don’t do this because I have a heart of gold or more patience than the average person (trust me on this one!!). I’m human and I make mistakes – and I don’t have ANY special qualities that make me “good enough” or “strong enough” to foster.
  2. Reunification is the goal of foster care. Most of us got into fostering because we believe in helping families stay together. We almost always support reunification. And if we don’t, we really can’t talk about it
  3. We don’t do this for the money! Yes, we get a small stipend for the children in our care. Emphasis on small. It varies by area and agency, but I can almost guarantee, it’s less than your child support. A lot less. If you do it right, foster parenting is like owning a boat – instead of a hole in the water you throw money into, fostering is a hole in the minivan you throw money into. (I wish I was exaggerating)
  4. We don’t know how long we’ll keep them. Really, we don’t. We’re not trying to be coy – it’s not up to us. There are 5,000 variables, and almost as many opinions – the least important of which is ours.
  5. You don’t have to be a foster parent to make a difference. Not everyone can foster. Not everyone SHOULD foster. There are numerous other ways to help out foster kids and/or foster parents.
    • Become a Guardian ad Litem or CASA – these court-appointed volunteers are the voices of our kids – the good ones are worth their weight in gold & there are never enough of them.
    • Offer free babysitting – this may involve getting finger-printed and background-checked. Find out what it takes and do it.
    • Be a safe place to land – and be consistent about it – even when it’s inconvenient. Offer an advice- & opinion-free zone. Give us a place to vent/cry/scream/get drunk without piling negativity on top of what we’re already feeling.

BONUS: We do get attached! If ever your heart doesn’t break when a child leaves your home, you’re doing it wrong! The length and depth of the grief is different for every single placement, but it hurts when they leave – even when you also feel a little relieved. At the end of the day (everyday), we continue to volunteer for this heartbreak (and the frustrations) because it’s not about us!! No child chooses to be a foster child, but EVERY child deserves to know unconditional love and unquestioned safety.

I’m willing to grieve if it means another child has known unrestrained love. For however long they’re mine, they get All of Me.

#AdoptionTalk Link Up

This week’s topic: Anything Goes

Please join ErinJenni, Jill, and me! New to linking up? We’d love to have you join us, here’s how

An InLinkz Link-up


In Everything Give Thanks

Thankfulness in Adoption: In everything give thanks“In everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:18

One of the things that I don’t blog about very often is infertility. I am infertile. SuperDad and I tried 2 years of infertility treatments before becoming foster parents. I’m certainly not ashamed of it – I’ve been known to inform unsuspecting, intrusive strangers, “These are my real kids. I don’t have biological children because I’m barren. Thanks for asking.”

The reason I don’t talk about infertility much is that I am no longer battling it. I am still infertile. That’s not going to change. What’s changed is that not only am I at peace with my infertility, I’ve come to a place where I’m thankful to be infertile. No, that’s not a typo.

First, let me say that I would never suggest to a woman or couple battling infertility that adoption would solve all their problems. That is a cold, insensitive, and hurtful suggestion, and I would never presume that my response to infertility should be everyone’s.

But let me explain what I mean (in no particular order)

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