Foster Parenting changes your life in obvious ways. Rearranging car seats to include the newest child and lengthening the time it takes to finish the bedtime routine because there's another bath to take and set of teeth to brush.
These day to day things are expected.
But at 2am when I'm nursing my baby by iPad light and perusing Christmas pajamas, I realize just how unknown the future is when fostering.
We are currently caring for two toddler boys that came to us from separate families in crisis. They are polar opposites all the way from their complexion to their personalities and temperaments, down to the way they respond to discipline and rewards. They couldn't be more different but I love them both very much.
I braved Costco on Saturday with all five kiddos (Hannah, William, Logan, *Jason, *Sawyer *not their real names) while Chris was at work. Chaotic, yes, but once everyone was in the shopping cart and we were walking the aisles it was great. They found these toy Tonka trucks that lit up and had sounds, and the three toddlers (aka Musketeers) couldn't decide which ones they liked more.
I immediately noted that they'd be great Christmas presents, and could envision three trucks with big bows just sitting at the bottom of the tree as the boys ran in on Christmas morning. The excitement and noise would kick the day off with a burst of joy.
But my excitement was quickly tempered.
The thing about fostering is that I have no idea what tomorrow will bring.
Just as I don't know when to expect a call about a child that needs a safe home, I don't know when my current kiddos will leave. It often happens when you least expect it.
So when I'm flipping ahead in my calendar and making notes, there's always a tentativeness to my plans.
Will they spend Halloween with my family or theirs? Thanksgiving? Should I buy them matching pajamas to open on Christmas Eve, or a stocking with their name on it to hang on the mantle?
Or will they have those with their bio family?
It's such a frivolous concern when there are such huge questions looming over these children and their futures.
The caseworkers and lawyers and parents are all making big decisions for these little boys. I just want what's best for them - be that mom or dad or adoption, I'll let the courts take everything into account and decide.
So while I don't have much say in what happens in the future, I do have the opportunity to make sure they know Love every day they're here.
When I order Logan's Christmas stocking I'll order their's too.
When I decide on a set of family jammies to open after church and before hot cocoa, I'll order their size too - And if they leave before they have a chance to use them, well then I'll lovingly tuck them into their suitcase alongside the note for their mom about how much I loved their son and what a blessing he was in my life.
and I'll cry, just like I've done in the past.
and I'll stay up nights worrying and praying for them.
and I'll answer the phone the next time a child needs a home
and I'll do it all over again.
Because that's the thing about being a foster mom: These children are amazing. They deserve to have someone up late at night planning ways to make them smile and feel loved - and I hope, I hope from the very bottom of my heart, that is exactly what their mom is doing while she works to get them back. However, I learned a long time ago that the only person I can control is myself.
So regardless of what everyone else in *Jason and *Sawyer's life is doing, I'm up at 2am in September picking out their Christmas stockings, because if they're here on that magical morning, then I won't have them feeling like anything less than a loved member of our family.