One Year Ago…

One year ago today, according to my Facebook page, I was blogging about a recent trip to China. I had a twin newborn shoot the day before and a wedding to shoot the following day, so I’m sure I was busy working. Little did I know that a baby was being born that I would have in my home 10 months later. I wonder in those moments what it was like? Was there joy? fear? What did she look like? What was her life like in the first months of her life? These are things I might never know.

When she was first placed with me I felt like a detective… I didn’t know much about her and her likes and dislikes. Does she like peas, apples, bananas? Will she let me feed her? What makes her laugh? Did she watch any TV shows? Did her mom sing her bedtime songs and if so, which ones? Has she been around dogs? Has she been to the beach? Has anybody read a book to her? What was her favorite toy? Luckily in the last few months I’ve gotten the answers to most of my questions one way or another. 

This little one has flipped my life upside down but in the best way possible. I wish I could share more about her story but all I can say is that I’m hopeful there will be a happy ending for everybody. Sunshine is surrounded by love and it’s coming from all directions! I’m so happy I get to celebrate her first birthday with her. It may be a weird thing to say but I’m so thankful for her mom. She brought a beautiful, smart little girl into this world. I’m lucky that I get to know her and love her during this time in her life. I hope and pray I will get to see her at her future birthday parties… hopefully thrown by her mom! 

Happy Birthday, Sunshine! 

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Just a Foster Child…

Very innocently and not in a vindictive or mean way, I’ve been told “she’s just a foster child”. For an example I’ve been planning her first birthday party and yes, I may be going a little over the top, but when do I not? One of my friends, in the sweetest way possible with my financial well being in mind said, “But Richelle, she’s just a foster child”. I’ve also heard comments like “You won’t have her forever, so why are you doing so much”. When people say these things to me, I really have to stop and think of where they are coming from because I know they don’t mean them in a mean way. I’ve done my best to understand their thinking so I thought I would explain mine.

Why wouldn’t I throw her the craziest, most fun first birthday party I can throw? She is a CHILD, period. Right now, she is my responsibility, which makes her my child. For any child I am responsible for, I will go over the top and give them the best I can. So she might not remember it… who cares! There will be so many pictures she will never be able to forget it. 🙂 I don’t know what her future holds and I don’t know how many birthday parties she will have. What I do know is that this year she is going to have the best birthday party I could throw together in 7 weeks and there will be a bunch of people there who love her. She is a child, and this is what she deserves… just as any of my friend’s children deserve. So please, don’t remind me of the short time I have with her or refer to her as something lower than any other child because simply, she is a child, period. 

“She’s just temporary, why are you doing so much for her”. If we think about it, aren’t we all temporary? There is no guarantee that we will all have full, long lives. The time I have with Sunshine (baby girl’s nickname) is limited and because of that, I want to do MORE with, and for her. Think about it… if you knew a loved one only had 6 months with you, what would you do? Would you start distancing yourself to make it “easier” for when they are gone or value the time together and do all that you can? Fostering is similar to that. I hope and dream that when she is gone, I can still have a relationship with her and her family but that might not happen and I might never know what happens to her. What I do know is what she does 24 hours a day, right now and I’m so thankful for this time and all the memories I can create with her!

My goal with posts like these is to help educate. Before I started fostering, I really didn’t understand it and I know most people are in the same boat. I am an open book when it comes to fostering so please don’t ever be afraid to ask me questions! I love sharing about this crazy world! 

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Adventures in Fostering :: Two Eggs with a Side of Crazy

Welcome to my new blog! I originally wanted to name it “New Normal” but of course that was taken so the next best thing was Two Eggs with a Side of Crazy because lets be honest, you have to be a little crazy (in the best way possible) to take on the adventures of fostering! 

Hopefully I will update this blog to share my thoughts and feelings about fostering. Of course I have to keep everything confidential about my current foster baby so this will be a challenge! I posted a few posts that were on my other blog and hope you enjoy reading those until I get something new on here! Yay for adding something else to my to-do list! 🙂 

The Bubble

I can honestly say I grew up in a bubble. My parents raised my brother and me in a small town in Orange County where every house had a big backyard and a pool. There was no crime and my biggest concern growing up was having the name brand jeans so I would be cool. I remember in elementary school we went to the La Brea Tar Pits in LA. It was a popular hangout spot for some homeless people. I was intrigued. The idea that someone had no home, no food and nowhere to bath was beyond my understanding. I gave one man part of my lunch and got in trouble for giving away my lunch and talking to a stranger. After that there was a small leak in my bubble. As I grew up, I learned the world around me wasn’t perfect. People struggled but I can honestly say I had no idea what that felt like. I was very blessed growing up and I’m thankful my parents raised me so well and in such a safe place.

When I became an adult I started exploring the world a little more. A trip to an orphanage in Mexico was the first eye opening experience. These kids were happy with their 1980′s, totally not safe, playground and old beat up toys. Yet, it was still heart breaking to see that they didn’t have parents and had to burn their trash (yes, the smell of burning trash is what I remember most!). After that trip, there was a bigger tear in my bubble. Next I headed to New Orleans to help with clean up after the hurricane. The level of poverty and damage I saw in my own country was a wake up call… another tear in my bubble. Then after the Haiti earthquake, I headed to the Dominican and Haiti. We went to drop supplies off in Port Au Prince and we drove by an elementary school that was completely collapsed. School was just about to get out when the earthquake hit and parents were waiting outside to pick up their kids. They were all still buried and dead in the rubble because they didn’t have the equipment to clear it. Nobody should have to see that, let alone live it. After that trip, my bubble was gone. Since the first Haiti trip, I went back one more time and it was an equally heartbreaking trip. I’ve met people in Cambodian villages with disabled children that might be able to live a semi “normal” life if they lived in the US but will die because of where they are. And now, I’m fostering and hearing the saddest stories about kids in my own backyard. There are horrible things that happen in this world and I voluntarily have put myself out there to see it, meet the people and hear their stories.

The question is, why didn’t I just stay in my bubble? Living a naive and innocent life is not a bad thing, right? Unfortunately, I wasn’t made that way… although there are days I wish I was. Being single and on my own, most of my time is spent on me and I have to say, that is probably the most empty, unfulfilling time in my life. We weren’t put on this earth to live for ourselves. I think that’s why we get married and have kids. These things fill our lives and make us complete. Daily, you get to fill your life with others and do for them… how amazing is that?!? Personally, since I’m not married and I just got my foster baby, I have to reach way outside of my comfort zone and since I no longer have a bubble and my heart is in a million pieces for our fallen world, what do I have to lose? I honestly wouldn’t want to leave this world with my heart in one piece. What a boring life I would have to live. 🙂 I have to remind myself that even though I’ve seen horrible stuff in this world, I’ve never had to live it. I visit these people, do what I can and go back to my comfy home. Their lives stay the same. When I think of that, I don’t care that my bubble is gone. If I could bring happiness to one person for one minute who is going through a rough time, it’s all worth it. So, if your are still in your bubble, I dare you to poke out of it! 🙂

 

A Whole New World

Originally written on May 24, 2013

Since I was little I knew I wanted to adopt and/ or foster. I remember sitting my mom down when I was about five and telling her I needed a baby sister. She told me she couldn’t have anymore babies but I told her we could adopt. I would pray to God for a baby and would check the front door thinking He would send someone to our home to drop off their baby. In junior high there was a girl in my class who was a foster child. She was dirty, wore old clothes and had a backpack that wasn’t cool. My heart went out to her. I had learned about fostering when I was young because my neighbors fostered and my brother and I would play with their foster son. We knew he was a “trouble maker” and had “problems”. I never made fun of this girl but many others did. I remember thinking to myself that when I have foster kids, nobody will ever know they are “different” than any other kid. I think I’ve taken it to the extreme… the new little one with me now has an entire new wardrobe including a pair of Joe’s pants.  Birthdays will be treated like any of my friends kids birthdays. Just because this little one is a foster child doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve a fun party! We will go on play dates and maybe even do swim lessons.

My role as a foster parent is to love and care for this child unconditionally while they need it most and then send them to a permanent, loving, safe home. I get asked a lot how I’m going to let go and I always say, they aren’t mine to keep. I get to play a very special role… I get to love them when nobody else is able to. I get to make them laugh, smile, fill their tummies, help them feel safe and secure, take them on new adventures and of course, take tons of photos. I love that I get to do this for them, even though it’s not forever. Another foster mom said to me, “If you don’t shed a tear when you say goodbye, you didn’t do your job.” That really describes it best.

Since I’ve announced I’m doing this I’ve been told by quite a few people that I’m amazing. I’m not amazing… I’m just doing what I’ve always wanted to do. A lot of people say “I could never do what you’re doing” and trust me, I don’t even know if I can do what I’m doing. I know it’s going to be hard. My heart already hurts hearing what these kids go through. But, I have to remind myself that no matter how hard it is for me, it’s a million times harder for the child… they are the amazing ones! I can’t even imagine being in their position. A child was literally just given to me to care for… I’m a stranger, it’s a strange house and there are two dogs that also want to share unconditional love. Could you even imagine what a child must think? Yet, she smiles, laughs, lets me hold her and comfort her. Seriously blows me away.

My adventure in fostering started less than 48 hours ago. I’m exhausted, my arms and back are sore, my home is a mess, I haven’t been able to check email or do any work, but it’s all worth it. There is a little one sleeping safely in her crib as I type this and that’s what it’s all about. I promise to get it together soon. Once we figure out a schedule, this will be “easier”… yes, I put it in quotes because I don’t think parenting is ever easy. 🙂 Thank you to all who have been so supportive. I have the most amazing clients, friends and family and I couldn’t do this without any of you. You are all making a difference in this child’s life.