Seven weeks ago today, our lives changed as we welcomed four children into our home. On very short notice, we sold furniture, stored furniture, bought new furniture, assembled said furniture, and child-proofed our home.
Seven weeks ago today, four beautiful, intelligent, funny, charismatic children unpacked their bags in their new bedrooms.
Seven weeks ago today, I wondered if I would live to see my 40th birthday. I’m only halfway kidding. I’m going to be honest – these past few weeks have been anything but a fairy tale. Childhood trauma is no joke, and as the kids have gotten to know us (and vice versa), the transition has been difficult for us all. When we signed up to foster these four children, we knew we were agreeing to an unknown adventure. And like all good adventures, we’re still not sure how this one will continue to unfold.
And yet, as I greet my 40th birthday today, I feel grateful. Without the love and support of our family/friends/neighbors/church networks, getting through these past seven weeks would not have been possible. Our family is incredibly blessed. The number of “thank you” cards that we owe to so many stands at a ridiculously high number. Gretchen and I can only shake our heads in disbelief at how so many of you have shown up for us in countless ways.
With that said, in honor of my 40th trip around the sun, here are 40 things I’m feeling particularly grateful for on this day:
- Friends who came together in early November to help assemble furniture and ready our home for our kids
- The myriad of texts/emails/phone calls/cards that have showered us with support and words of encouragement
- The grassroots effort to raise money for a good-sized down payment on “Rosie” – our new (to us) red minivan (a.k.a. party bus)
- Our minivan. Yes, I admit it. They’re wonderfully practical. I’ve been convincingly swayed.
- The delicious meals that arrive ready to serve nearly every other day
- St. Anthony Park Lutheran and House of Hope Lutheran – both churches which have given us parental leave so that we can work on attachment with our kids these first weeks
- Advent cheese and whiskey calendars which gave us something to look forward to every night in December
- Washable markers…our house walls say “thank you!”
- Temperate weather – while this isn’t a good trend for the environment overall, it has extended the season for us to get the kids outdoors without (too many) complaints
- Neighbors who field texts/ messages from us asking parental questions and looking for children’s medicines at all hours of the day
- Surprise coffee deliveries for Gretchen (when she’s happy, I’m happy)
- Our friend who faithfully has Petunia over to her house so that she can get the 1-on-1 attention (and quiet house) she deserves
- People who make Costco runs for us
- Our friends who have taken the kids on afternoon playdates and offered much needed respite for me and Grechen to catch our breath (and take a shower!)
- Our 8 year old who loves playing games (often winning) and anything turquoise
- Our 6 year old who loves doing hair, makeup, and might just have the best dimples in the whole family
- Our 5 year old who can’t go to sleep until he has neatly organized all of his most precious belongings in his multiple backpacks on his bed
- Our 4 year old who is inquisitive and loves his experiments (e.g. making a mess in the kitchen)
- Black-owned and operated salons and barbershops who take good hair care of our kids
- Our social worker, adoption “coach,” and the kids’ social worker who work with us to problem-solve and think creatively about how best to meet the kids’ needs
- The kids’s therapists and my and Gretchen’s spiritual directors who keep us all just a little more sane
- Our home which keeps us safe, warm, and provides spaces for memories to be made
- Gretchen – When we lay our heads down on our pillows at night, finally closing our exhausted eyes, I give thanks to God for her patience, tenderness, sense of humor, and love
- High school helpers and personal care attendants (PCAs) who give us the extra hands/bodies in our home necessary for smooth(er) functioning
- Target pick-up and ShipIt that allows us to cover up for our forgetfulness/lack of time to grab much needed grocery/household items
- Pizza and movie nights
- The Calm app and its awesome sleep stories
- Maintaining good health in this time of Covid, colds, and the flu
- Former foster care caretakers who continue to be in the kids’ network of support
- Faithful ministry colleagues who continue to show up for their people, preach the good news, and spur us to acts of justice for and with our neighbors for the sake of the world
- Uninterrupted nights of sleep
- Snack packs that keep the kids (and me and Gretchen) fed and happy
- Snow pants
- Christmas cookies
- Family members who keep us grounded and remind us that we’re loved
- Fuzzy blankets and pajamas
- My 30’s – they started by meeting Gretchen, midway through I got an incredible church call, and they ended with our family growing to six
- Our washer, dryer, and dishwasher which have never worked harder
- Petunia…who is only slightly annoyed that she’s no longer an only child in the house
- 2021…we may only be two days in, but I’m already grateful for you!