Monday, June 29, 2015

Little Things

I think we all know -- theoretically -- that small acts of kindness or thoughtfulness can build up into waves of positivity. Or that what seems like a small act to us can seem like a big gesture to another person receiving or even viewing that choice. I got a reminder of this fact last week, which I hope will inspire me to continue choosing to do the small things.

It was Vacation Bible School week. The story for the day was about the feeding of the 5000 and the directions called for me to bring in actual bread to break in front of the children and then pass the basket of pieces around to allow each child to take a piece. The author of the instructions had thought about food allergies and sensitivities, but their proposed solution was that I use a picture of a loaf to break and skip the passing around.

I didn't much like that idea. I asked the overall organizer of VBS for a list of food allergies, but never got it. (She was a little swamped as a stomach bug ran through our volunteers and attendees.) So, the day before the breaking of the bread, I asked each group leader as they left my room if they had any gluten or other food allergies in their group. I had a few no-gluten kids passing through, but no dairy or egg allergies. One group leader (the youngest group -- rising 1st graders) said she would tell the child's parent about the lesson and ask that an alternate snack be sent that day.

That wasn't the only class with a gluten-free child, however. So, when I went to the store to buy the bread to break, I simply picked up a small package of gluten-free sandwich rolls from the freezer case at my grocery store. It was small thing to me. No extra trip. Not a large outlay of money. Just a few extra steps and a few extra dollars. (For good measure, I picked one that was also dairy free and made in a nut-free facility, although I think it did contain eggs.)

The next morning, on the day of the feeding of the 5000, the parent of that 1st grader came rushing into my room before VBS started, asking what we were doing with bread today. She had forgotten the alternate snack. I showed her what I had bought (label still on for her to read) and explained my plan. I could almost see some of the stress leave her face as she assured me that what I had purchased would be OK for her child to eat.

But the really big moment? Wasn't just helping another mom ensure her child had something safe to eat and would not be excluded from the class lesson. (Although that would have been big enough.)

The really big moment came later in the day. I had noticed her child's reaction when I asked the group if anyone needed gluten-free bread and held up an alternate basket -- big eyes and a hand shooting into the air to claim that bread. But I hadn't thought anything much of it until the parent came by to see me towards the end of the day. She said her child had been "so excited" that I'd had an option ready for her.

It was a small thing for me to do. I just picked up one little extra loaf while I was in the store anyway. But, by doing that, I was able to include children who might otherwise have felt left out. Everyone got a piece of bread. And isn't that what the story is really about anyway? We were all fed, and there was bread to spare. For everyone.

Friday, June 12, 2015

What I know... still not a whole lot.

I know:
  • Kayla is certainly pregnant. She posted pictures on Facebook that make it obvious and confirmed the pregnancy in the comments when asked.
  • the implication (by the pictures) is that this baby has the same father as M. (Which means no paternal family members likely to be possible placements if one is needed.)
  • Kayla also said (in the Facebook comments) that this new baby is also a girl. I think that means she has to be at least 15-20 weeks along (4-5 months pregnant), but I don't know how long she's known that.
  • Kayla was due in court last week for one case and this week for a different one (neither related to DFCS cases).
I don't know:
  • when the photos on Facebook were taken
  • what the actual estimated due date is
  • what happened in court on either of those dates or even what sort of court it was. (I can see the charges on the court's website. The list on the docket makes both court dates look like "arraignments," but I thought those had to be within a certain amount of time after the arrest and at least one of these arrests seems to have happened months ago.)
  • whether Kayla is still taking drugs
  • whether she will make it to the due date this time (M was over 2 months early, but spent the first 5 weeks of her life in the NICU)
  • whether anything she says on Facebook is actual fact (She has said other things on Facebook in the last year or so that I know are not true.)
We have one more piece of paperwork to complete before our home is officially "open" (but only for this particular baby) again. That status will be valid for 1 year. For 3 years after that, we can "reopen" with minimal effort on our parts. So, I'm feeling pretty good about our readiness to be a resource if M's new baby sister needs a foster family. At least, our legal readiness. Not so sure about my emotional and physical readiness to take in another newborn or to have 5 kids, but who's ever really ready for those things.

It feels safe to assume (based on the photos on Facebook) that nothing will happen this month or next. That's good; it means the odds are good that, if this baby comes to us, the 3 older kids will all already be back in school and the routines will have been established that help them get up and off every morning. It also means the odds are good that I will have completed the first semester of my coursework; I am only taking one class a semester, so am hoping I can maintain that, even if we take in another baby.

I keep saying "If." "If" "If" "If."

I'm protecting my heart right now. I don't know if this new baby will come to us. I have no control over that. I've done all I can. We will soon be legally ready. We have told the agency caseworkers what the situation is. They have told the county caseworkers that we are available. All I can do is pray that this is enough...or that it isn't, if this baby doesn't belong with us after all. 

We've said nothing to anyone else. Nothing to the kids, nothing to our families, nothing to the friends who have been our best supports as a foster family, nothing to anyone in our church. I find myself occasionally imagining the look on the nursery staff's faces one day when I show up with a toddling M (whom they adore) and another new baby....

It feels like a big secret we're keeping from everyone right now. But, given how little we know, I am confident that discretion is the right course at this point. When I know the baby is born, when I know she is being taken into custody, when I know where she is going....then I can share that with others in the circle. But, right now, no one else needs to know.