As foster parents, we must be f-l-e-x-i-b-l-e……in every aspect of our lives. Now that Cocoa Bean is here, I haven’t been to church in a few weeks, and although I miss it terribly, taking care of that sweet baby is a blessing. On that score, there are many missed church days, just for the simple fact of having lots of children. It seems there is always someone sick around here, making them miss church, school, and play. Poor D.J. is downstairs right now with another stomach virus, which will make him miss work tonight. I wonder who will be next to succumb to the nasty little bug.
Besides loads of doctors appointments, court hearings, social services visits, and meetings at the agency, our very home life can be altered in a moments notice. Changing policies and revised guidelines must be followed to the letter, not only by Social Services, but also by its foster parents. A huge adjustment had to be made by us last year, or we ran the risk of losing Goldilocks!
In the old guidelines for Virginia foster children, young girls and boys could share a bedroom until the age of 5. When they placed Goldilocks with us, she went right into the nursery with Coconut. We had two cribs in that room, which can convert into toddler beds. She was just two at the time, so she went into one of the cribs, and at three-years-old, Coconut slept in the other crib/toddler bed. They were happier than two bugs in a rug, and all of the toys in their room were pretty gender neutral. They didn’t spend a lot of time in there, as its located upstairs, so all of their gender specific toys were housed in various cubbies and hidey-holes in the living room. Then we got a call.
Her social worker did not want to move her, so the management cleared our current sleeping arrangements in order for her to stay. At the time, she was still supposed to be short term, leaving any day now (she would stay for 11 more months!). Yet, it got me thinking. The way the rooms were set up, we could only house DJ in his room, Casey in hers, and either boys or girls in the nursery. Due to the age of my teens, they cannot share a bedroom with younger children. With just the nursery, and these new guidelines, we were now limited to only one gender of foster children.
Always up for a homestead challenge, I got busy organizing, rearranging, repainting, and redecorating. Our home actually has five bedrooms, but one of them was being used to house homeschool books and materials. After revamping the entire garage, I was able to put in 10 shelves to house all of those things and clear the fifth room. Off to the thrift stores for a few new beds, dressers, and other bedroom comforts to complete my huge project, which I affectionately dubbed, Operation Kids Room Overhaul!
Once completed, I realized how much I missed painting and decorating children’s rooms. At one time, I was finishing two to three kids rooms a month in my painting business, in addition to all of the other houses we painted during that time. It was so great talking to the boys and girls about their interests and likes, and then brainstorming how to incorporate those things into their new room. Sometimes the sky was the limit, and money was no object. However, my favorite projects during my 11 year career was the budget-friendly rooms. Trash to treasure has always been so rewarding to me! As much as I love my new life at home with my children……homeschooling, art classes and caring for my family……it was nice to head up a large project and get those creative juices flowing!
There were 3 rooms that needed to be re-worked…..Casey’s new room (the old homeschool room), a new little boys room (Casey’s old room), and a new little girls room (the old nursery). By putting in the time, effort, and money to rededicate each room, we could now continue to offer a home for boys and girls, instead of just one gender. What we didn’t realize in the beginning of this overhaul, however, were the two other blessings that it would bring. Casey could have the dream room that she had always wanted, and we could offer a home to (4) foster children instead of only (2)! One year later, after all of these changes, I can see why God brought us to this crossroads……and I am sure glad that we rose to the occasion!
Be flexible, be faithful, and God will bless you in ways you could not even imagine!
**Pictures of the kids rooms will follow in a four-part series of posts.**