A Weekend to Visit

What an awesome weekend we had with A and his parents! We continue to be amazed at their openness and willingness to allow us to share a part of A’s life. Keep in mind that once a child has been reunified, there is no obligation on the part of the parents to keep in touch with foster parents. However, A’s parents have made it clear that they think it would only hurt A to be cut off from all the people he knew as his family for the last six months. I believe they really are doing everything they think is best for him. We agree with them that there is no reason to limit the number of people in his life who love him.

Saturday morning I can’t even explain how excited I was to get to their house. We were up early to make sure we had plenty of time to do everything we needed to get done before we needed to leave. Even though we had no doubts about A being taken care of, it sure put my heart and mind at ease to walk into their house and see him being his smiley and goofy self. All week it had been impossible not to think and worry about him constantly. After all, we had had to change nearly every aspect of our lives to fit around his needs. There were even times that I almost forgot he wasn’t still here, like I needed to tell Jesse to turn the television down a little so as to not wake him up. So just getting to give him hugs made this foster mama super happy!

A brought us straight into his room start playing, which of course we were more than happy to do. I think he’s still beyond thrilled that he gets to have a big boy bed at mommy and daddy’s house. We never changed him from sleeping in the crib because we were worried about him wandering to the stairs in the night, and he never tried to escape the crib so we figured there was no reason to change things. They tell us he likes being able to wake up and start playing in his room.

After a while we all headed over to Home Depot to work on their kid’s project of the month. This month we made a turkey napkin holder, which wasn’t quite as cool as last month’s fire truck project, but I think A still had lots of fun making it. He definitely enjoyed painting part most. After that we headed back to their house to get the lasagna in the oven while we played some more. We enjoyed our meal together and then headed home in time for A to take his nap.

Sunday morning we were back at their house again to pick up A for church. A’s mommy and daddy visited church with us a couple of weeks ago and said that they could tell that he really enjoyed going so they wanted him to continue being able to go with us. We told them they were always welcome to join too, but this week I think they were definitely ready for some time off from A. We sure know how that feels… we were always telling our family they had an open invitation to come play with A so that we could get a chance to rest some. I’m glad that we could help fill that role for them now that he’s back home.

A was pretty cute when he first saw they rest of the family. We usually would see them pretty often so it probably felt like he hadn’t seen them in forever. He acted a little shy at first when he went to say hi to Dewey. When Nana and Papa came it a little later, he went right to them but then looked at them like he was so confused. After just a second he clicked in and was so excited and gave everyone big hugs.

After church we brought him back to our place for some lunch and a little play time. I think it was good for him to come back to his old home and know that we were still here, but that he belongs with mommy and daddy now. It was so funny how he noticed a couple of little things that had changed since he moved out. For example, on our patio we had our patio chairs pushed off to the side when he was here so he would have more room to play. When I was cleaning up out there this week I put the chairs back to how they used to be. As soon as he saw them he said, “Why have new chairs out there?” So cute how good his memory is on little things like that.

The whole family came over to our house for lunch, so A had fun getting to play with everyone. But then he started to act a little frustrated and confused about what was going on. I think he was just ready to go back home. With all the attention he was getting, it was like he knew goodbyes would be coming again. Plus it was getting close to nap time which wasn’t helping his mood. But it was still a great day for all of us.

I feel like I can breathe again knowing that he is doing fine and we can keep visiting him to make sure he still knows we love him. I said all week that I’d feel better once A was back to our house to visit and drive tractors, which was almost always a constant request of his. Jesse had gathered a few tractors when we picked up A so that we could do just that. A filled them up with little pieces of trash and we all drove them… that’s all I wanted. As hard as this has been on us, I can’t imagine what it’s been like for A who has had way more changes this week than we have. He’s only three and can’t express any of his feelings and emotions. I wish he didn’t have to go through any of this mess, but if it hadn’t have happened we never would have met him or his parents. Even when we can’t understand God’s plan, I know that everything happens for a reason.

One highlight of my week: when A’s mom let me know that they had framed one of the family pictures we had given them and put it in his room so he could see us whenever he wanted. We had made a picture memory book for him with lots of pictures for him to look back later at the time he spent here. They chose the last picture I had in there which was of the whole family with A right in the center. I couldn’t help but notice it on display when we were there. How sweet is that!?! I know A often asked to see pictures of them when he lived with us, so it totally made my week to know that they were doing the same.


Our little A has been reunified with his parents! This was the goal for his case plan all along and is considered a happy ending… even though it doesn’t feel so happy right now. We miss him so much and everything we see around our house is a constant reminder of his absence. However, on the other side of the story his parents are beyond excited to finally have him back with them. We have been receiving emails from them about how their first couple of days are going and it sounds like they are doing a great job. I know they had to work really hard to comply with all the agency requirements in order to get him back, so we are truly happy for them… but still sad for ourselves at the same time.

The call came on Tuesday to let us know that he would need to be reunified by the weekend. We were stunned because throughout the case plan we had been told that his parents’ visitations would progress from four hour visits, to eight hour visits, to overnight visits, to weekend visits before reunification would happen. So we always figured we would have at least a couple of weeks of warning before he would ever leave. Bam! Just like that, the whole plan changed. My mind started racing right away trying to figure out how we would get him ready to move out that quickly. After being here for six months, we needed to remember which things were his that he came with, which things were given to him as birthday presents or other gifts, and which things we were keeping that we had set up before he even came to us.

:: We decided to take A out to eat that night to put the news out of our minds for one more night. We had taken him out to eat very few times since it’s so hard to do with my food allergies. We though that would be a fun change… and it was!

:: The next morning we sat him down and explained to him best we could that it was time for him to go live with mommy and daddy, and not live with Jesse and Kristin anymore. We told him that we were so glad he got to live us, but that it now it was their turn to take care of him again. We must have reminded him a million times in those last days that even though he was leaving we still loved him very much and will always love him.

:: Wednesday the three of us had a great day playing together all day. I was just trying to memorize every second of him playing in our house, knowing that he wouldn’t be here in a couple of days.

:: Thursday morning we brought A over to his parents’ house for him to be able to check out his new room and get to play in his new house before he just moved in there all of a sudden. Even though this wasn’t required we and his bio parents all agreed that it would be best for him and help him feel more comfortable. We so much enjoyed his parents’ hospitality as they welcomed us into their home for the first time that day. They allowed us to get to see his new room too, and we all talked for a while about A’s schedule, likes, and more!

:: Both Thursday and Friday we had dinner and play time at Nana and Papa’s house, with Dewey and ‘Cole. They’ve been such a big part of his life too, so we really wanted us all to be together for our last dinner (times two, ha ha).

:: Saturday morning we finished packing up all of his clothes, toys, books, and many other items and drove him to his parents’ house. A was silent the whole ride over there. I think he kinda understood what was happening when he saw us carrying in all of his things, but at the same time he was still confused about what was going on. When we left their house I cried all the way home, knowing he was gone.

:: Saturday afternoon we got to see A again! We had made plans weeks ago to attend an event that A’s parents had invited us to. Little did we know A would be arriving with them instead of us. It felt different knowing that he was now in their care instead of ours, but I think it made the transition a little easier on A to get have all four us there to play with him. It was so hard to leave him all over again and head home without him.

:: Sunday we did absolutely NOTHING. We slept in and then sat around all day watching television and moping… and waiting for more email updates from A’s parents. Fortunately for us we got about five email updates about how their first day back together as a family was going. It was completely making our day just to know that A was fine and happy.

A’s parents are being awesome about wanting us to have a continued role in his life. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to keep visiting him occasionally and they said that he could still come to church with us too. They are nice people and I think they will do a great job raising A from here. I still remember how scared I was to meet them for the first time. I honestly thought they would hate us because we had their son and they wanted him back. But they are not like that at all… they appreciate how much we have loved A and now we’ve gained new friends!

We can be praying for A and his parents as they transition into this new chapter in their lives. Pray for renewed energy each day to keep up with A, for patience as they learn how to be a family again, and for some other challenges they are still working on. That’s what I prayed for ourselves the whole time we had A, so I’m sure they could use the same prayers!

An Empty Farm

We are back at the Sipes farm once again. It’s a much less happy trip than when we were here for vacation with A in July. Jesse’s Grandpa Sipes passed away on Saturday. We knew his time was coming. He had been on hospice for quite some time and in the last couple of weeks it became clear that he wouldn’t be around much longer. Still, it was hard to believe that he would soon be gone and no one could do anything to make him better.

When we got the final news that he had gone home to be with Jesus, it hurt to know that he was really gone. Now that we are here it’s even more real that he is gone. Even though the house is filled with people, his family, it feels so empty not to have him here. He was always ready to greet us with a big hug the second we walked through the door.

Our urgent need to travel here was even more complicated by the fact we are now (foster) parents to A. We discussed at length what our best decision for him would be while we took the time we needed to grieve and process all that has happened. We came to the conclusion that it would not be right for him to come along with us on this trip.

We decided that our best plan was to use our respite time, even though the whole plan seemed horrible when it came time to actually make the call to place A in a respite home until we return. I was so worried that we would loose his trust and make him think we had abandoned him. We did our best, in the short time we had, to prepare him for our leaving and promise him that we’d come back for him. We did hear from the respite foster parents that he is having fun with their other kids and seems to be doing fine. Nana has plans to pick him up and babysit him at our house tomorrow and again over the weekend so that he doesn’t feel like his foster family has disappeared on him. I can’t wait to get to see and talk to him tomorrow over FaceTime while he is with Nana.

I really surprised myself with how much I miss little A already. After all, I’ve only known him for five months. We’ve been saying for months now how much we need a little break, and now that we have it we just wish we could see him really quickly. Although, it was really nice to have no responsibilities today. It makes me so sad to think that this week is just a preview of how we will feel when he is reunified with his bio family. We will miss him so much!

Tomorrow we have the visitation for Grandpa Sipes before the funeral on Friday. After that we plan to rest and recharge here for a few days before making the trip back home.