Brett and I got to spend an entire day with our former foster kids on Sunday and let me tell you we were astonished!

Reuniting with former foster kids

It had been over a year since we last saw the kids who came to us in January of 2011 and stayed in our home for six months.  If you’re new to my blog you must read some of what I wrote back when they were with us to truly understand what I’m about to tell you.  I’ll summarize a bit but the details of the emotional struggles cannot be conveyed in a few sentences.

On January 10, 2011, three children- two boys, ages 7 and 9 and one girl age 11 came showed up at our house with three three trash bags stuffed with smoke scented blankets, pillows and a couple stuffed animals.  The only clothes they had were the ones they were wearing and the youngest didn’t even have shoes. We quickly learned that they had never been to school, couldn’t read or write…didn’t even know the whole alphabet, couldn’t tie their shoes and didn’t know left from right.   We were faced with challenges that we never expected but we persevered and at the end of the six months that they were with us they were like new kids.  They were still extremely delayed educationally and socially but compared to where they were when they came to us it was like night and day.

That being said, here’s how our recent visit went…

When we got to their house to pick them up they were all in different rooms. The oldest one came out first– keep in mind the last time we saw them I still weighed about 275lbs– she turned the corner, looked and me and said, “Oh my god!”  And then hid her eyes, sort of peeking at me through her fingers. I said, “Hey!” and reached to give her a hug…she was totally weirded out, at one point she even said out loud, “it’s kind a creepy!” She sort of hugged me back but was more interested in being a dramatic 13 year old.

Eventually the middle one came from a different part of the house and he sort of did the same thing only he didn’t really say much, just acted shy and awkward.  When they were both finally convinced I was really me they started yelling for the youngest to come out  but he wouldn’t come.  He’s the goofball of the bunch.  They ended up literally dragging him out into the living room by his hands and feet.  He pretended not to look at me until we were in the car and had driven about 15 minutes away from their home.

We told them that we were thinking about taking them to SciWorks, a hands-on, kid friendly science museum; the oldest one said she’d always wanted to go there and younger two agreed.  We had no idea what to expect from them with regards to the whole museum thing; we didn’t even know if they would know what a museum was and what they would think when we got there.  When they lived with us we’d take them places like the zoo and they wouldn’t get it.  They just wanted to run around acting crazy with no interest in the animals or whatever the attraction was.  They were like big toddlers with very short attention spans and an extremely limited vocabulary.  But this time it was completely different.

Before we even went to the museum we stopped at a pizza buffet for lunch at their request.  Cici’s was their favorite place to eat when they lived with us and they hadn’t been there since so when they requested it we were like, “heck yeah we can go there!”  (Our willingness had absolutely nothing to do with the brownies they serve, I swear!)


When we got there they got their plates and very responsibly got a couple slices of pizza and salad.  They got their own drinks and silverware.  They sat down at the table and ate their food without making a huge mess.  Brett and I were very impressed.  We had real conversations about school and friends and their interests and Brett told them how proud he was that they were all doing so well in school…all A’s and B’s with only a couple C’s.  As we left the restaurant we were walking through the parking lot and I can’t remember what was said exactly but we were all teasing each other about stuff.  Just being playful and NORMAL.  That may sound weird but think about teasing a three year old and having them tease back…it just doesn’t happen.  This was a first for us with them and it was awesome.

As we drove down the road all three of them were reading signs and asking questions and conversing with us and each other. The norm back in the day was for them to fight with each other and for me to stop the car and threaten them with their lives.   Okay the last part isn’t true but they lost a lot of privileges for their “car behavior”.

Anyway, onto the museum…

It was so amazing to watch and listen to them as they walked around looking at all the exhibits.  They read the placards and asked questions.  They sat still and paid attention in the planetarium and the middle one, who struggles the most academically, knew all the planets in the right order!  They were interested and engaged.  As Brett put it, it was like they had learned HOW to learn!  It was very, very cool.


They interacted with everything they could get their hands on, participated WILLINGLY in group photos and sat long enough to each build impressive structures out of blocks– something they wouldn’t couldn’t have done two years ago.


We ended the day by taking them out for frozen yogurt which they thought was about the neatest thing EVER!  They LOADED their bowls and gobbled it up.  Then we took them home, high on sugar to their parents, just like aunts and uncles should do!

Froyo Time

Not sure what the future holds.  We definitely want to be able to remain a part of their lives but it’s kind of a strange situation to be in.  I love them so much and want to see them succeed but it’s also important to me that if we are doing to maintain a relationship with them that we have clear boundaries.  It’s hard to know what’s right.  We want to be able to do things for them that they would otherwise not be able to do or experience but we also don’t want it to become the expectation.  It had been over a year since we saw them last.  I called and called and called for months following our last visit in February of last year with no answer and no return call.  Then, on Christmas Eve we got a call, out of the blue saying they wanted to see us. Brett and I both felt a little suspicious.  I took five more months to hear from them again- which gave us five months to decide how we wanted to proceed.  Don’t get me wrong. We WANT to be a part of their lives and we want THEM to be a part of ours but we want the relationship to be genuine.

Sometimes I wish that I could just be one of those people who doesn’t see that kind of stuff.  You know?  Like I want to be one of those people who just GIVES completely selflessly and only finds joy in that giving… but that’s not who I am.   I justify being that way by telling myself that it’s okay  because I don’t want them to grow up thinking it’s acceptable to expect things from other people just because they have more.  Is that feeling okay?  Is it right?

Brett and I both feel a sense of obligation to do what we can to help grow up to be successful adults. They have been dealt a crappy hand.  We want them to know that there is more out there than living in a single wide trailer in the middle of nowhere with another family because that’s all they can afford.  We want them to know that “normal” people have cars and jobs and go on vacations.  We want them to expect more from their own lives and we both wish that we knew how to make that happen.

We may never figure it out but we’re open to suggestions.  How would you deal with a situation like this?