So You Want To Help? Part I.

I posted a link on facebook to this great blog post about ways to help families adjusting to new kids in the home. It’s funny how everyone jumps up to volunteer to bring meals and help out when a newborn baby arrives, knowing that newborns suck every minute out of the day, and the minutes leftover belong to the big sisters and brothers who still need some mommy and daddy, too. But people don’t often realize that bringing home bigger kids is just as hard as bringing home newborns. I realize how uniquely we are blessed to have a wonderful church, school, and neighborhood community who has rallied around us and wants to help us when things are hard!

When our car broke down and our other car couldn’t hold all our kids, neighbors and school friends jumped right in to carpool our kiddos. When I’ve been overwhelmed during these three years of fostering we’ve had family and friends who have taken any combination of our children off of our hands for hours or days just so we could breathe. We’ve had flowers delivered after sad court verdicts. We’ve had friends donate their timeshare to our family as we grieved the first loss of Midge. We’ve had neighbors who’ve brought over a sandwich in the afternoon, asking if I’d eaten lunch yet today, and when I stopped to think, I realized I hadn’t. We’ve had meals delivered and bathrooms and kitchens cleaned by loving family members. And we’ve had SO MUCH PRAYER and babysitting and friendship that it overflows.

We’re in a “just hanging on” place again right now, and I know there have been so many people asking me how they can help. It’s a hard question to answer: I think I need a clone.

Because the foster kids just need healthy doses of Greg and I. They need to feel secure that we’re not going anywhere and that we love them all the time. They need to go through that toddler-aged clingy time of trust vs. mistrust because they’ve never gone through that with us, and perhaps not at all. They need us to be constantly available to them so they can be assured that we’re trustworthy, and in theory, that will help their negative behaviors decrease.

And guess what Jake and Tyler need: more of us, too! Surprise! Most families have a hard time balancing the needs of their traumatized kids with the needs of their biological kids, especially in the beginning, and we’re no different. While Jake and Tyler are securely attached, they do still need parenting and encouragement and time without the other kids and reassurance that we’re still there for them, too.

Plus we all need time with each other to bond. I’m trying to be more purposeful about seeking out activities that help me bond to E. And I’d like to be purposeful about finding activities that help Jake bond to E, also. So in my fantasy world, I’d love to be able to take Jake and E out to do something fun on a regular basis, just so that Jake can begin to associate pleasant feelings and memories with her.

And while all of this ‘being present’ and ‘patient with clinginess’ and ‘available for the kids’ and ‘manufacturing bonding opportunities’ (not to mention ‘dealing with mega-tantrums and other behaviors’) is happening, I do need to keep the house running and drive the kids to school and visits and cook and clean and make time for the therapy and social worker appointments and such.

But I realize that the last paragraph is the one part that I actually can delegate out. So I’m going to try it. Hopefully within the next couple of days I’m going to put together a list of particular ways that people can help our family. I’m thinking that if we can get just a little bit more help in the next six weeks, maybe we can make it to Christmas and feel a little more secure in our family relationships.

Stay Tuned for Part II: The List.

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