June 30, 2010

Uphill from here.

I got a call from the caseworker yesterday letting us know that they were back from court.  The judge ruled that Mom’s home is not appropriate for the kids.  Dad’s homestudy wasn’t approved either.  The case goal will be changed to adoption as soon as the judge has the official paperwork on the failed homestudy for dad – probably early next week.


I guess in the grand scheme of things this is a good thing – the boys will be safe and taken care of.  It’s just difficult sometimes to see all of that through their broken hearts.  With all of our previous placements, I’ve always felt relief at the thought of the kids not returning home to the abuse or neglect, or whatever plagued the family.  I’ll get there with the boys too, we just have a lot of hurt to work through first.  It will be nice to be at a point where they are through all of the transitions and we can just start focusing on the healing.


One of the questions that I received recently asked if we are open to adoption with Jae and Zee.  There are a lot of unknowns right now that will have to be considered before we can make a decision like that….

  • The boys have two other siblings – a girl who is just slightly older than Jae, and a boy who is 5.  We’ve not even met their siblings yet, and they will keep the four of them together for adoption.  (Thank goodness!)
  • The boys’ siblings are coming here to visit the weekend of the 10th for an overnight stay.  At that point we’ll be able to see the kids interacting together, family dynamics, etc.  We’ll also be able to get a better feel for behaviors exhibited by the other two.  We’ll have a few overnight visits before we even consider having the other two kids move in with us.
  • If they move in, we have to assess how things are going/where we see things going down the road.  Brian and I would still like to have more children (as in birth more children) and we have to be sure we still feel like that would still be a possibility.
  • Also, we are still assessing any safety concerns with the boys.  Since camp, there haven’t been any more threats toward Sylvia – only toward Brian.  So far, so good.


I could go on.  As you could imagine, it will be a very big, very life changing, very prayed over decision.  …So much to think about.  Right now I’m having trouble thinking past 4:00 today when the boys will return home with their hearts crushed, full of hurt and anger.

June 29, 2010

A Shelter to Weather the Storm.

Last night was a very rough night. (How many blog posts could I start with that sentence? Ha!)  But really, probably one of the top five worst nights since the boys came to us – almost three months ago – how is that possible?  We were having a wonderful evening, and had just gotten home from practicing their baseball skills at the park.  It was like a buzzer sounded in our house signaling the boys to completely lose it.

One minute we were having lots of fun, and the next minute there was yelling, there was name calling, there were toys being thrown from one end of the house to the other, there were doors slamming, there was screaming, and there was  more disrespect than any one person should endure in one evening.

And really, I would do it all over again.  Because afterward,

Jae talked to me.  Like really talked.


He told me how he’s feeling really stressed.  He told me that he just gets mad so quickly, and he doesn’t know how to change it.  He told me the things he’s worried about.  He told me that he’s upset because his birthday next week will be the first one without his mom.  He expressed to me that he doesn’t think that it is ok for him to cry.  He told me how much he misses his mom – how he misses watching t.v. with her, and helping her with the dishes.  He told me how much he misses his other two siblings.  He said sometimes it just feels like he explodes.  He told me the things that he’s sad about should their case go to adoption.  He told me how he’s been praying that he will go home.  He cried.

I listened.  I tried to empathize.  I cried.  I prayed.  I comforted.

It felt so good to actually get to talk to Jae.  Not to his anger, or to the wall he has put up between himself and the world, but actually to him.  We talked about how it feels better to get to talk to someone about all the feelings instead of keeping them inside.

I know that this is not the end of his anger – but it is a beginning.  I can’t help but feel like this is progress, that maybe some very small part of him is beginning to trust me.  There will be lots more hard days, but I pray that with every hard day there is a rainbow like last night – a promise of redemption.


Everything in me knows that last night was a result of prayers for his little heart.  Thank you so much for the e-mails letting me know that so many of you are praying for them.  It is making a difference.


Today there is a court hearing for the case.  It is likely that today, this afternoon, Mom will be ruled inappropriate for placement, their goal will be changed to adoption, a very strong anchor will be cut from these boys’ lives.  My heart is so broken today – I hurt for these boys deep in my heart. Please pray for them.

Today is likely the worst day of their lives.

Pray for their hearts.  Pray for Brian and I to have wisdom, empathy, and love strong enough to help them through.  I know their hearts will break, but please pray that they are mendable.  Pray that they’ll know our love, that they’ll know God’s love, and that it can be a shelter and a comfort to them.


It don't have a job
Don't pay your bills
Won't buy you a home
In Beverly Hills
Won't fix your life
In five easy steps
Ain't the law of the land
Or the government
But it's all you need..

Love, will, hold us together
Make us a shelter
to weather the storm
And I'll, be, my brothers keeper
So the whole world will know
That we're not alone
It's waiting for you
Knockin' at your door.
In the moment of truth
When your heart hits the floor.
When you're on your knees then...

Love, will, hold us together
Make us a shelter
to weather the storm
And I'll, be, my brothers keeper
So the whole world will know
That we're not alone.

June 28, 2010

Defining Relaxation.

Wow.  Last week was so. nice.

Is that terrible to say?

The boys were at overnight camp all week, and I seriously felt about 30 pounds lighter instantaneously.  {Which in reality would be really unhealthy, but in the proverbial sense, was *heavenly*.}  I got to hang with the Sylvie girl, say more than two words at a time to my husband, indulged in some minimal craftiness, and even got to go on a date.  Amazing.  I know. (Don’t generally ask other people to watch the boys.  Mostly  because I like having friends.)


And I didn’t get yelled at.

Every little bitty thing was not a huge confrontational mess.

I didn’t get called ‘woman’.  (whoever taught them that little charm, I’m not a fan.)

I didn’t have to leave dinner early.

And I didn’t have to have a battle strategy in mind every time I left the house.


*You know you’re a foster parent when the previous five sentences comprise your definition of relaxation.*  Ha!  Just kidding.  You really should foster.  You’d be great at it.


The boys have really been letting their true colors shine here lately, and we’re not talkin’ pretty rainbows.  I get so worn out.

Completely aside from the possible safety concerns, there are times that I just feel like throwing in the towel.  I so wish I didn’t feel that way – ever – but I think it kind of comes with the territory.  The territory of doing something hard.

And fostering is HARD.


But our pastor reminded me yesterday that God gives us trials for a reason.  He gives us what we need to get through.  He supplies what we need.  He will not leave us stranded.  He always knows best.  And we come out of trials better, stronger in faith, and better able to glorify Him. 

He also reminded me that when faced with trial we can respond in one of two ways:

   We can respond in the flesh.  Our instinct is to be selfish.  This is me wanting to quit.  This is me dwelling on how much easier life would be if we didn’t foster.  (Oh, so. much. easier.)

   Or we can respond with Joy.  Dependence on Him.  Reveling in the strength He provides.  Truly being satisfied in what He has for us.  Letting go of doubt. (Now that’s relaxation.)  This is me trusting that we can push through.  This is me knowing that there is always hope.  This is me loving these boys the way that God loves me when I turn from Him for the ten millionth time.

Lately I feel like I’ve been responding more in the former, and less in the latter.  Of course there is the whole mess with Jae pushing the limits with threats – but other than that,

I pray that I can respond with Joy and hope. 

June 27, 2010

Project 365 – Week 19


Sylvie going on a walk with cousin Simon and Nana


IMG_0852 Makin faces with my brand new nephew, Desmond.  Sooooo sweet.



Sylvia is now into everything.  She loves to help me unload the dishwasher – unfortunately she favors doing this when it is full of dirty dishes.



These four babies are good friends – we all hang out a lot.  We were trying to get a picture of them, as one of them is moving away.  Of course, Sylvia is not capable of sitting still for more than half a second.  Luke volunteered to hold her down, Zack is just shaking his head - “what’s wrong with this chick?”




Jae’s already gotten to the stage where he’s too cool for most things.  Especially if it involves me.  Or Brian.  Or anyone under the age of 10.  But listening to his radio?  Very cool.



My bouquet from the boys this week.  Somehow they seem to find unique flowers every week, even in our little yard.  Love the flowers this week. 

June 25, 2010

They're baaaccckkk...

The boys came home from camp today.  Responses were varied:

Zee: (Very Excited) It was so much fun!!! {Insert list of all the fun things they did}

Jae:  We didn't do anything fun the whole week.  (Typical)

I'm praying with everything in me that Jae's heart can begin to heal.  We are going to play the next couple of weeks by ear and see how things go.  I so hope that we can work through all this.

Their caseworker was going to cancel the visit again this week.  She called me late on Wednesday to tell me that the person who takes the boys to the visit was out of town and that they couldn't find someone else.  This leads me to believe that she didn't contact the company that does the transportation until late Wednesday either - so, really?  Is it any suprise that they couldn't replace the driver with a whopping two days notice? 
Court is next week, and I think there is a chance that this week would be their last visit with mom.  Possibly ever?  And it's cancelled?  For the THIRD week in a row?  Ugh.

Luckily I'm married to the best man ever and he is, as we speak, driving the boys two and a half hours to their visit.  He's fabulous. 

June 23, 2010

Colorado, Part Two.

The camp had so much for us to do!  The boys enjoyed every new experience.

….Like rock climbing

IMG_7533 IMG_7536 IMG_7538

Horseback Riding…

(Of course it was hard for the boys to get past the part about the horses pooping. “What? Bodily functions are involved?  Alright!”)




We also got to go to a wolf preserve called Mission:Wolf.  They talked to us about how the wolves communicate, and how to act around them to show them that you are their friend.  The boys did a really good job being calm with the wolves and listening to directions.(which may or may not have been influenced by my telling of Little Red Riding Hood on the way to the preserve. Ha!  Not really.  But not a bad idea.)  They actually got to go in the area where the wolves live (I stayed outside just in case Sylvia looked too much like a pup.).  They were instructed to show the wolves their teeth, and….


IMG_7554 The wolves came right up to them!  They even got to pet them – not something they’ll forget.


Lots of snuggle time.



On the final night they have a banquet night.  Everyone dresses up and we were served a four course meal.  yummmm.  The boys were excited because I got them their own ties like Brian wears. 





We had a really great week.  The boys had a lot of fun, and it was nice to get to spend so much time as a family.  Next year I think we may try to get to the last week of camp which is specifically for adoptive and foster families.  It would be neat to get to build relationships with others who have similar experiences.  I’m hoping that experiences like this end up being treasured memories for our kids.  I hope that the boys never forget it, and that they remember it as ‘family camp’ where they really felt loved as family should.

June 22, 2010

As Clear as Mud.

I said I’d be honest on here.  And honestly,

We’re not sure what to do.

Zee really seems to be making progress in our home. I feel like our parenting is effective to some degree, he seems to be settling in, it seems like, for him, this is a good place to be.

Jae on the other hand…  He is just very angry.  And rightfully so, I’d be angry too.  Being angry is a normal response in this situation.  However, he also doesn’t know what to do with his anger.  He does alright for a couple of days and then he just explodes.  When he gets angry it’s really as if he loses control.  He throws things, he kicks and hits the wall, he screams, and more recently, he makes threats.

The last time he had a really big explosion was right before Horn Creek.  He was fine one moment, then Brian corrected him about something and told him that he needed to spend a few minutes in his room thinking about it – and he lost it.  And the issue at hand is:

He made a couple of threats toward Sylvia.

He’s made threats toward Brian and I, and really that’s not a serious issue.  I’m a big girl, I can read body language, I know de-escalation techniques, etc.  But Sylvia’s safety is really where we are forced to draw the line.  God has given me responsibility for her safety and her well being. 

So the questions start.

Will he act out on his threats?

Do we assume he will?  Can we assume he won’t?

Where do we draw the line?

Is this his behavior coming to a head?  Or will it get worse?

Are we almost over some ambiguous hump?

Do we decide not to react?  Not to make any harsh calls, until…

Until something does happen?  No, no, that is not ok.

But it feels like to disrupt because of threats is premature.  It feels like we are giving up on them.  Because it’s likely that nothing would ever happen.

But is there a chance?

I am certain that it is best for the boys for them to stay here.  I am not certain that it is the best thing to do.

So here we are.


The boys are at an overnight camp this week, and we are taking it as an opportunity to pray a lot about this situation.  We will follow where God takes us – right now we are just so unclear.

I pray for clarity.  I pray for trust.  I pray for Jae’s heart.  I pray for our discernment.

I plan on discussing this more with our caseworker and their therapist.  I’d also like to see how things are after we get back into a routine after camp.  At this moment, we are taking some time, I don’t know how much, to assess the situation and really feel like we are doing what needs to be done. 

If you could pray for Jae, and for our discernment, we would so appreciate it.  This is one of the things I hate about fostering.  Every decision has such weight.  Every decision is a big deal. None of them are easy. None of them are clear cut. 



June 21, 2010


Well, we just got back from Horn Creek.  It was great – I’m not really even sure where to start…

The first 24 hours were rough for the boys.  They ended up having to spend a significant amount of time in the cabin as a consequence for their behavior.  We went out to dinner after we arrived, and they did all they could to make sure they made a scene.  I was afraid that night was a preview of our week to come…but overall they did pretty well for the rest of the week.  We had a few bumps, but nothing major.

There was so much for us to do together, and in the down time we didn’t have to worry about who the kids were running around with, so we just got to let them run and play.  They made a pretty substantial fort against a boulder, explored the woods surrounding the cabin, and made lots of friends.

So much fun, I’ll probably have to do it in two posts.


IMG_7372 This is the part where I have to close my eyes and hold my breath until my husband regains his sanity.



IMG_7384 Zee spending some extended time in the cabin after making some ‘bad decisions’.  At least he’s happy!



One night they hang a log from the ceiling, two people straddle it without touching the floor, and you have a pillow fight until someone falls off – great fun!



One day we went into Colorado Springs and went to Whit’s End.  And Adventures in Odyssey fans out there?



mmmm….Sylvie loves her some ice cream.



We also went to Garden of the Gods – gorgeous.

The boys did some climbing.


Sylvie did some climbing of her own…



One morning we had a pancake breakfast, but you have to catch your pancakes as they’re flipped off the griddle – Sylvia obviously was not a fan of this idea.



Bowling at the rec center… Jae has an…interesting form.




Western night!


Both the boys developed severe crushes on a couple of the teenage girls…



Sylvie even developed a little crush of her own…


June 20, 2010

Psalm 127:1-5

“Unless the lord builds the house,

its builders labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

the watchmen stand guard in vain.

In vain you rise early and stay up late,

toiling for food to eat

for he grants sleep to those he loves.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord,

children a reward from him.

Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.”



Happy Father’s Day Brian, Daddy,


       Cassandra, Mena, Alondra, Jose, Alan, Jacob, Jason, Morrel, X-man, Popcorn, Kady, GG, Zee, Jae, and Sylvie.  And Maggie.  We love you more than you know.

Project 365 – Week 18

I missed a week.  Which makes me sad.  We were in Colorado, and why would I spend a bunch of time posting pictures when I could be out on the side of a mountain soaking up God’s b-e-a-utiful creation?  So, I’d say it’s justified.


IMG_7353 IMG_7357 Driving in the mountains on our way to camp.


IMG_7363 Exploring camp with my Daddy.



This picture really captures Zee so well…spidering up the side of a rock with a wild look in his eyes.



Me and my Grandpa!



How cute is this little man?

(If anyone from SRS does read this blog – it’s IBC Rootbeer.  No worries.)



Napping on my Mommy during a hike through the forests of Colorado.  Does it get better than this?



The whole fam.



More to come on our trip to Colorado….

June 16, 2010

We are here.

And it is spectacular.
The kids are having a great time.
With the exception of the first 24 hours, the boys behavior has been decent.
All of our meals are served.  And I don't have to do any dishes.
Hikes.  Waterslides.  Horseback Riding.


June 11, 2010

Catching up on all this mess.

Oh man.  Summer is definitely here, and with all three of these crazies running around all the time, getting posts up is like planting flowers in the middle of a hurricane.  I am, however, loving summer time.  I love actually having time to do fun things with the boys, going to the pool, not being constrained by a school schedule, and getting to see the boys experience all kinds of new things.

Zee is really doing so well.  We still have issues on occasion, but overall he generally gets about 2 out of 4 marbles a day – which is huge!  He is very open about his emotions, which I think is helping him to deal with and get through his situation pretty well.

Of course then at their last visit, their caseworker (who I’m beginning to think is a genius.  A regular Einstein.)  talked to them about the next court hearing.  I’m not sure exactly what she said, but they came home saying, “On the 28th, we are either going home with our mom, going home with our dad, or we are being adopted by someone.”  Now, obviously none of these things will be happening on the 28th.  So we’ve had lots of conversations about what the court does, and that it is likely that nothing will happen on the 28th.  So the boys have taken sides, Jae wants to go with mom, Zee wants to go with dad.  But pretty frequently Zee will say thing like, “Maggie, when you adopt us, will our last name be Popp?” or “Brian, when you adopt us, will Nana and Grandpa be our real grandparents?”

Talk about ripping your heart out.  Adoption isn’t even on our radar screen yet – we’ll just have to see.  So we also have lots of conversations about how we don’t know what will happen yet, but that we’ll find out together.  And of course that we love them no matter what happens.

Speaking of ripping your heart out, Zee came home yesterday from Vacation Bible School and told us that he’s pretty sure a girl there has just stolen his heart. 


It went something like this:

Zee:  There’s this girl, at VBS, and I’m pretty sure I like her.

Me: (Holding back all of my awwww’s and motherly grins.)  Oh really?  What’s her name?

Zee:  Well…..I’m not really sure.

Me: I see.  Well, how do you know you like her?

Zee:  Well, she’s really nice.  She let me wrap her like a mommy. (aka mummy – Egyptian themed VBS)  And she’s cute.

Me: Well what does she look like?

Zee: She has brown hair, and it’s pretty long.  It’s really pretty.



I just keep pumping him with the ‘girls are trouble’ routine.  He’s only 8.  No girlfriends yet.


Jae is having a lot more trouble.  He’ll do fine for a while, and then he just. explodes.  It is a fury in his eyes, and he loses control.  He screams and throws and hits things and makes threats.  All we can do is send him to his room until he cools off, and then try to talk to him about it.  I’ve had some intense conversations with his therapist about it, because he just makes me a little nervous around Sylvia sometimes.  Right now he just doesn’t have the capability to feel very much but anger.  My heart hurts for his.

Of course, last night we were on our way home from Brian’s softball game and he randomly says:

“Look how beautiful the city looks at night.”  And points out his car window.

I could have cried.  I mean, this kid has himself and his heart sealed up with super glue, and then out of nowhere he is commenting on how beautiful the Days Inn looks against the night sky. 


Anyway, this has turned into a ridiculously long post.  If I posted more often I’d keep them shorter.  We’ll see what I can do.

Now I have to go finish packing all five of us for our seven day vacation in the mountains in Colorado!  Jae, you’ve not seen beautiful yet, you just wait.

June 10, 2010

So Perfect.


Introducing:  Desmond McKean!!

My new nephew born June 8, 2010



So perfect!  Makes me want to go for baby number two!

June 8, 2010

Clothing Question.

Q:Random question to get you started:  You seem to take all ages, shapes and sizes. Do you have a stockpile of clothes, or do you start from scratch each time?

A: We do have a stockpile of clothes. When we started fostering a bunch of people gave us clothes (not so much now that we've been doing it a while) and I organized them into bins for ages.
We collect clothes as we go, like clothes that kids grow out of while they are in our home, and we keep those organized too.
We don't have a ton of clothes for any one size, but usually enough to hold us over until we can get to the store.

P.S.  These posts are from the "ask me anything" box on the right hand side of the blog.  When I answer a question, formspring automatically puts it up as a post - so that's what these are!  Feel free to send your questions my way!

Discipline Question.

Q:  What's your discipline philosophy? What do you do when they aren't listening and can't verbalize enough to communicate?

A:  Sorry it's taken so long to answer!
That depends on if you mean they can't verbalize because they are so upset, or because they are so young.
If they are too young to verbalize (2 and underish) then I just go with redirection - at that point they are really too young to understand discipline. Above 2ish I start doing time outs.
If they can't verbalize because they are so upset and out of control, then we do 'cool down time' in their room or on the couch. They have to sit there until they can talk through it and are able to calm down.
Not sure if this is helpful at all! If you have any other questions about how we discipline then let me know!

A Special Night.

We have progress!  (Can I get an ‘amen!’)  The boys saved up enough marbles for a special night.

The story on the marbles is as follows:

  They each have a behavior chart (which seem to be working pretty well as reminders of what is not appropriate behavior, and motivation to at least try.).  Each behavior chart has four behaviors that need some work {by some work, I mean full blown renovation.} and each behavior has three checkmark boxes next to it.  Each checkmark box has a specific discipline linked to it, with each checkmark getting progressively more serious.  We actually write the consequence in the checkmark boxes so that it is completely clear to the boys what will happen should they get another checkmark. 

  At the end of each day, we look at their behavior chart for that day, and if they do not have any check marks for any of the four behaviors, then they get a marble for that behavior.  So they have the opportunity to get four marbles per day.  If they save up 10 marbles, they can turn them in for a pack of Pokemon cards.  If the save up 20 marbles, they get to go out for a special night with either Brian or I.

  Both of the boys saved up twenty marbles as of Saturday, so they got to decide what we were going to do for the evening!  We couldn’t get babysitting for Sylvie at that late of notice, so the movies were out.




First they decided that they wanted to go to Fazoli’s for dinner.  A ‘fancy’ restaurant.  (It’s possible restaurant should be in quotations as well.)


IMG_7299 Zee’s best effort to take a pic of Brian and I.  Fail.


Then they wanted to go bowling!  So fun!





Jae was very dramatic about the bowling experience.






IMG_7315 Then we went for frozen custard!


It was such a fun night, and the boys were so excited that they had saved up enough marbles.  I was so proud of them!  Hopefully it won’t be tooooo long before we get to celebrate a special night again.

I really do feel like we’ve made some progress with their behaviors.  {I say that now, don’t ask me in five minutes.}  And I can tell they trust us so much more than they did at first.  It’s looking like they could be with us for a while (more on that in another post.) so I’m looking forward to seeing even more progress!


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