Monday, April 30, 2018

You've All Been Waiting...

After 508 days we are officially introducing you all to
Henry Robert-Graham Klepfer.
Here are some pictures I have wanted to post over this last year and a half.  





 ONE YEAR





NINE MONTHS






THREE MONTHS





NEWBORN
 










Monday, April 23, 2018

The Ache.

The reality of foster care is tough, the system as a whole exists because of the reality that our world is broken. The struggle is real. Being a (foster) parent has been the most tangible picture of the word “bittersweet” I have experienced in my life. Within every sweet moment exists a hint of bitter and vice versa.

A little over four years ago I stepped into the world of foster care. After attending an informational meeting I was left with a choice. I could turn away assuming someone else will take care of it or I can embrace the small whisper in my heart, (that I call God) prompting me to step towards it. That voice reminded me that I CAN do something about it, even as a 27 year old, naive, single, barista. In that moment when I said yes, I underestimated the life altering reality that choice was. That choice put me on a path that wrecked me and rebuilt me in the most chaotic, crazy-beautiful, stunning kind of way.

I have experienced the exhilarating joy of gain and the paralyzing reality of loss. The ups and downs of time and verdicts. The complex reality of adoption, which is not a happy ever after, clean and tied up with a bow but an act of redemption, messy and tangled with hope. In the midst of the loveliness of adoption is the harsh reality of the bitter. To walk life with bio parents and children who know the weight of the choices made, the lives forever changed by the verdicts delivered. The things we can not tidy up or make sense of, the hurt and trauma that ripples through our stories and our home.

The flip side is the overwhelming, suffocating reality of loss. The forgotten loss, as foster parents “we know what we are getting ourselves into,” that fact is not truth nor is it a free pass for us to not feel the ache of loss. Becoming a foster parent is knowingly opening your heart up for open heart surgery, the kind without anesthesia. You will feel the deepest pain possible in the all the corners and it lingers. You step into a world that is hurting, you love deeply dimpled faces, with dark eyes. You kiss, rock, talk, play and celebrate little souls that are hurting and in a moment, one verdict changes it all, you pack their things and say your goodbyes, grieving the loss that in some ways feels worse than death.

Loving them is the hardest thing we will do in a day. Losing them is one of the hardest things we will feel in our life. I have had the painful honor of learning the gift of love and the pain of losing that love. Those experiences help keep me grounded, the honor of experiencing a love so deep that I don’t ever quite feel “normal” again after losing it, I am beginning to see is the definition of a life well-lived.

To be a foster parent is to count the cost, to see the risk, but to say yes. To experience the kind of love that is an all in kind of love, where the risk is high and the impossible reality dwells of holding them in an open hand ready to let them go in a moment. To know what beauty exists in the ashes of loss, when the clouds are heavy and the darkness is great, to still find hope that the sun will rise again. Being a foster parent is to change the world and yourself.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Let's be real...

I am often asked “how I do it?”

Not emotionally, people really want to know how I logistically single parent seven children ages 10-4 months? They wonder how I work on top of it? They wonder how I do it and look so good all the time (still seeking the lucky man who gets to be the dad/husband of our home, so this Mama has to look good, haha!)!?!

I do not like feeling stressed so I work really hard to create an ecosystem that is peaceful, productive and sustainable. I work really hard to not live in chaos, I love kid chaos but I stress chaos is a whole other thing. That goal forces me into a juggling act that requires energy and when my energy is in short supply there are things that don’t look picture perfect. Here is a list of things not done by the book, we break the rules, we break the mold and sometimes we even cross the line into gross.

Bathing, let’s be real one bath a week is about all we manage. We recently got a family gym membership and I have to admit I love that I can now bulk “bathe” my children in the locker room. During bath time it is common to have a momentary guest dipped into your tub, drive thru convenience style, fast and efficient. Wet wipes are a nice alternative to actual bathing, they make an appearance often in our weeks. Dry shampoo is a game changer, I make my own using cocoa powder (for all you brunettes out there, it is equal parts cocoa powder and arrowroot/cornstarch) and I can get some mileage from it, plus my hair always smells like chocolate (hello future husband).

Sleep, I am a fan of sleep, we need sleep and I work hard to protect that. We have a no nonsense sleep routine. My crew can be ready and in bed in less than 5 minutes. We don’t always (rarely) read a bedtime story, there is not talking about our day (we do that at dinner), we brush teeth, get in pajamas, pick out clothes for the next day and get ourselves in bed. Once they are in bed I walk through kiss, tuck in and snuggle everyone, my crew knows that bedtime comes and we are tucked in for the day. My babies self soothe (within reason) and sleep great. My kids are trained from early on to be good sleepers, I work really hard in the first few weeks of someone joining our home to ensure that our sleep schedule is barely affected and they quickly sync up.

Teamwork, our family is a well oiled machine, we buddy up, big kids help little kids and everyone in our family plays a part. We do family cleaning hour, where we crank up the music and divide up tasks between even our smallest crew members. We dance and clean and get our chores done in a timely and fun manner. We hold hands, get cups and all set the table together, our home is successful because everyone plays a part. We talk about what a blessing it is to help others and we look for ways to serve one another, big siblings help out and little siblings learn thank you. We work as a unit and each person is taught how important their role is.

Tardiness, I literally got a call from our school district today asking me how they can help me get my children to school on time. Well, I am going to be honest, I have seven children and while being late is not okay and some people are actually offended by it, I do my best. We have been late less than twenty times this whole school year, 20 times out of 140 days or so?!? I feel like we are winning and when we are late it is never more than a few minutes. I very calmly told them, we would try harder. Which we will (and do) but between the trauma induced meltdowns, baby pukes, spilled milk, baby poops and forgotten items with eight of us trying to get out the door most days leaves me celebrating only being one minute late. I am not proud of it but I gotta pick my battles and this is not one I am willing to lose sleep over, I have learned and instituted lots of things that help us get out of the house with more success but some mornings the odds are against us.

Chores, our home is clean and I work hard to live in a non cluttered space. Everything has a place. Yet, if you were to walk through my home with a white glove, you would leave with a grey glove. My children and I do the housekeeping and so most of the jobs around the home are done with children who have a Norwex rags and spray bottle of essential oil cleaner. They are learning how to clean, so we celebrate the small successes, like the greasy hand print is gone from the glass but it was replaced with a smaller hand print of the child who scrubbed really hard to get rid of it. So things are not perfect, our corners have piles of beads and dog hair, our carpets have stains where blackberries were ground in and the surfaces are dusted to the height of a certain seven year old. Laundry, don’t even get me started one outfit change for my entire family is load of laundry, we re-wear and do the sniff test a lot. Just this week several of my children got dressed from the hamper. I am teaching them to be resourceful and that is a great skill to have.

The reality is through this all, I don’t feel alone because I have this beautiful community, that has surrounded us. My one wish is for more one on one time with my kiddos. Being a single parent of seven, that works, keeps a home in order and puts wholesome meals on the table means that unfortunately sometimes I have to say no to my kids. I work really hard to balance my "to dos" and my children, that is a never ending battle and mom guilt is real. At the end of the day my children win but I must say there are times where the dishes have to get done, dinner has to get cooked and work creeps into the night. Those days mean the baby sits in her bouncer a little longer than I wish or I have to say not right now to that story being read. That is where my community comes in, they come over hold babies, dye Easter eggs, play games and make recipes with my kiddos. It really does take a village and I am so thankful for mine.

Monday, April 9, 2018

...

“I like you.”

He looks up at me, its been six weeks since I have stared into those baby blues. His eyes a bit darker than they were when he left, he looks tired, older. During his time away he transitioned from a toddler to a big boy.

He showed back up, Friday at 8:30pm. We unloaded his stuff and bringing it back into our home. Placing his clothes in the drawers, still empty. As I make his bed we resume our bedtime rituals, as if we just hit pause.

He takes a step towards me, resting his forehead against mine, pausing for a moment. Letting out a sigh, he hooks his arms around my neck. Settling in, to the hole left in my heart, fitting himself back into the curve of my neck. In that moment, we both just sat, honoring the 10 month bond we had created.

The reason for his return, a combination of under resourced facilities and demanding needs of four children on one mom who is trying to learn how to live with each day without her escapes. He has stepped back into the “pecking” order and seems to be readjusting just fine.This transition has a price tag, a cost to him one we may never know. A loss yet again and a timeline so unsure, how many times can they do this?

Today he is here, sleeping down the hall, his tiny shoes are by the basket and his Paw Patrol shirts are mixed in the laundry. Sigh. I missed those, more than I even realized. I have been so moved by my crew they have welcomed him back with open arms, caring and loving on him so well. For now, we press in, soak it up and fight hard for healing. For whatever reason, his journey brought him back here, to us and for that we are so thankful, even if for just a moment.