There are a lot of families out there that are bigger than ours……I personally know of ones that have 12, 11, 8, 7, 6, 5, & 4. If I know of seven different families with all of those kids, than you probably know a few yourself. They are all very busy people, with all sorts of activities that take up their time. Good things, but busy things. Some of these families choose to send their kids to public or private school, and some choose to homeschool. It is a very diverse group.
Yet, I am the only homeschooling foster family of seven that I know. I am sure there are others out there, and I have even found 2 other blogs about families that offer foster care, and homeschool their other children. However, when you search for those like us, they are few and far between.
Reading other blogs about large families and homeschooling is a great way for me to get tips and tricks on how to make it all work. I have written posts before on my love of many of these great mothers who seem to fall on the Good Lord’s Grace……and share their tales with others to give us all hope. Yet, with the problems, trials and daily life of a fostering homeschool family, there are not many models in which to gain advice.
Our daily lives are very different, as we have someone looking over our shoulders at everything that we do. For our family, that is not a big deal……as my ministry is hospitality, so my philosophy has always been, “Come on in and make yourself comfortable!” That is a good motto to have as a foster parent, because there are many people in and out of our home all month long. In our particular family, we have (3) separate social workers who come to visit each month, on different days. We also have visits from a physical therapist and and an adoption worker. That is five days in a month that we have a scheduled visit from our agency. We actually look forward to these visits, because that is the time when we get to share how these babies are doing, and receive information about their cases.
We must leave our home on a pretty regular basis for appointments, as well. One of our children has a speech delay, so he must go to speech therapy once a week, and another child has play therapy once a week. One child is in public school, so there are many activities, field trips, and projects that must be tended or attended. There are also doctor’s appointments at least once a month, and court dates, at least every other month. Having three different foster children that are not related to each other, means there are three separate cases that we must keep up with.
Then there is my ‘original’ family, as I like to call it, or my biological family, as the agency calls it. With two teenagers, there is much to be done in the form of jobs, socialization, church functions, school projects, and entertainment……and they have their own doctors appointments, as do Dave and I. Speaking of Dave, he goes ‘on-call’ with his job, so I have to schedule that too! Sometimes, I will admit, it can be overwhelming.
Keeping it all together, especially for an ADHD mom, is having and maintaining a good master schedule. If it doesn’t make it on the schedule, then its not going to happen. I am very human, and very much reliant on ‘ADHD-Aides’ to get me through my day. I have scraps of paper everywhere, my master calendar, and my family’s daily schedule to help me. Without them…..forget it! However, there are many times I have dropped the ball. Once, I forget that a therapist was coming, and another day, I totally forgot that our one-and-only child in public school, had snack that day. It happens to the best of us.
An good example of what a day in the life of our family might look like, was this past Monday. On this particular day, we had to take our youngest son to speech therapy, then jet over for two pediatrician’s appointments with two separate kids…..one had an ear infection, and the other needed testing done for behavior problems. Then it was off to lunch, then back home for physical therapy, and then taking D.J. to work. That was all on our day ‘off’. My husband works Wednesday through Saturday, so he is off on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays. That works great, so he can lend a hand in the ‘going-all-over-creation-to-appointments-with-all-of-these-kids’ job! Add to that, we have only one car…..a minivan. Talk about planning everything perfectly….whew!
Wednesdays are also very busy, as I teach art classes to homeschoolers, which start at 9:00 a.m., and do not end until 6:30 p.m. They are taught in our home, which is convenient, as I can still help my children with their school work, fold a load or two of laundry in between classes, and get dinner started. Then it is getting three little kids ready, with the help from my two teens, and off to church at 7:00 p.m. That day is a very busy day.
Some might say that our lives can get a bit crazy……..and they’d be right! However, it is also an amazing and abundant life. We have such a new respect for the amazing gift that God gave to us, when he allowed us to have D.J. and Casey right from the beginning. Our foster children are also gifts, but we did not have the privilege to nurture them and raise them from birth. We didn’t come into the picture until these little lives were in crisis, so they didn’t come to us whole. They arrived unstable, mentally and physically, they arrived with developmental delays and physical delays, and a few of them came to us a little hostile over the fact that they just lost their ‘real’ families…….and who could blame them. Yet, it is all worth it. With love, patience, and nurturing, we will get them through their darkest hours………along with a ton of appointments and a ton strangers coming in and out of our house!