“Would you consider taking in 4 brothers? That was a phone call I received one day. Wait, what? Say that again?
I had just relicensed my home for foster care, which happens every 3 years.
It seemed like every time I relicensed, I’d get more calls than usual for a placement. This call took my breath away. It was a Social Worker who knew me and said they’d been working SO hard to find a place for all 4 brothers so they could stay together and she thought I was such a great parent. I laughed at her, we both chuckled and I said, “No.”
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About 2 weeks later, another social worker, who did not know me, ran across my relicensing paperwork and called me to ask if I would consider taking four brothers for long term care. I’m sure my mouth fell open. I explained that I already had 3 children in my home (as Beatrice, Clara, and David were all keeping me busy) and that, while my heart was saying yes, my reality dictated ‘no.’ But my heart was already starting to wonder. What did it mean that two different social workers had brought this up to me?
Again, about a month later, my social worker called again and said they still REALLY want to keep these brothers together and several of them had put their heads together and think our home would be good. I laughed again and asked her why. But my heart had finally sat up to take notice.
I am a spiritual person (liberal Christian with a bent for Lutheran worship) and firmly belief that The Spirit (from any faith) works in our world continuously, giving humans the option to act towards wholeness and love. Sometimes it’s a whisper in my heart, sometimes, repeated ideas presented to me, sometimes a whop on the side of the head. Much of my journey in foster care and adoption has been because I listened to what is calling me, whether it is logical or not.
Anyway, I started to think that I was receiving these calls for a reason. My social worker explained that there was an adoption fair coming up (where kids are brought for a play day and prospective adoptive parents and wander around and play with the kids. She said that the brothers would be there and would I at least come meet them. I told her I would, but that I need to be responsible for the 3 kids in my home and that logic dictates that these boys belong to another family.
I said, “Yes”
My heart was opening up, but I still told the social worker that if any other family inquired about the boys at the fair, that I am the bottom choice on their list. I met the boys. And fell in love.
The plot had a twist in that the boys were already in separate foster homes and the second brother really needed to be moved soon. So, I said ‘yes’ and the social worker got tears in her eyes. Later that night, I sat in my room and cried and cried and cried. It was grief for the boys, fear for what I was saying ‘yes’ to, joy that I’d been called again into a new ministry.
Within 2 weeks, Eli, the second brother, a CUTE 5-year-old had come to live with us while they worked on details for the other 3 boys. We had a whole community step up with two sets of bunk beds, toys, clothing, and meals. Beatrice and Clara were teenagers and David was an 8 year old, so I had a lot of conversations and plans to work out with them. They seemed excited, but I was still worried about what this would do to their lives.
The biggest twist was a blow to Eli. Once he had moved in with us, biological family stepped up and committed to taking the other 3 boys (in two separate homes). I am a very strong advocate for keeping siblings together, so this was a huge grief for me. As I learned more, Eli and his older brother (4 years older) were extremely bonded as they survived severe neglect together and had only each other. The biggest trauma for Eli was probably that he was separated from his older brother. He had been Eli’s protector his whole life. The other two boys were younger at 3 and 1 year, and they were in a home together, But Eli and his older brother lost a great bond.
So, we settled in with Eli and a new adventure began. He was funny, curious, very busy, and quite resilient in some ways. He was also filled with grief and anger and we saw plenty of that, too.
Eli was born with hydrocephalus, which is fluid on his brain. His bio mom had not received prenatal care. When she was finally seen at 36 weeks along, the medical providers discovered the hydrocephalus, they did an emergency C-section and then the poor boy had brain surgery to drain the fluid and put in a shunt at 2-days-old. But the fluid had already done it’s damage and left Eli with permanent low vision (legally blind) and CP, Cerebral Palsy, with right sided hemiplegia (weakness of his right arm and leg).
However, after bringing Eli into our home, it was apparent that he was quite oblivious to his different abilities. He ran headlong (literally, sometimes) into almost any situation and was very strong and adept at climbing, along with other physical endeavors. But he had not learned to let his right side help very much and he used his mouth and/or his chin/chest to hold things instead of his right hand. It was an interesting, new journey for me as a parent.
In the blink of an eye, our family changed again. And we added another layer of joy and pain to our family journey, finding ourselves blessed, over and over again.
If you want to read more about any of the kids’ journeys, click on their name(s) under categories to the right –>
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