Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mom is Not Uncool

Junior and I are learning from each other. I have a wide variety of musical tastes and I tolerate most music. He was listening to his music the other day while working on his pepakura project and I was working on my computer - both of us in the living room. He was shocked I actually knew some of the songs and that I did not run screaming from the room. Granted you will not find me listening to his music on my for fun, but if he has it playing at a reasoning sound level, I will listen; it is not offensive.

Friday I volunteered at the middle school social. Most parents do not think spending 2.5 hours with kids high on sugar and listening to loud music is a fun afternoon. Most kids in 7th grade do not think it is fun to have their parent around at such an event. I worked in the snack booth where students could purchase as much candy, pizza and soda as they had money to spend so I was not around spying on Junior. I could see him occasionally dancing on the dance floor with the mob of kids or when he came through the snack line. Junior spent all his $7, but he bought candy to bring home to share with us adults (Mike, my sister and me) after dinner Friday night. The kid really enjoyed the social and even said he enjoyed having me there. For now at least I am not uncool so I will continue to volunteer where I am seen.

Pepakura and other common interests

Mike has been teaching Junior how to create a costume using pepakura. They each chose a character - Mike a Star Wars Storm Trooper and Junior a Halo Master Chief. Once the various parts are assembled in paper then Mike will cover the paper with fiberglass in his workshop. Junior has been working on assembling his paper parts - chest plate, upper arms, forearms, backpack. Mike assembled the helmet for Junior due to its complexity. They have enjoyed working on their costumes. Besides a fun project, Junior is learning spatial recognition - taking a 2-D image and constructing a 3-D model. When a mistake is made he has to problem solve as there is usually more than one way to correct the mistake.

Below is the Halo helmet in paper form.

It is exciting to see them find a common interest. They are also bike riding together now that Junior's bike has been repaired thanks to our pastor. Pastor Don repairs bicycles in his spare time, but he discovered his appointment to our church this summer does not allow for much spare time. Mike and Junior have continued to find things to do to spend time together which allows them to bond as father and son.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bonding Continued

My husband has been trying to find something that could help him bond with Junior. Mike discovered a new hobby that Junior is interested in - Pepakura. Each of them has identified costume pieces that they printed out the pattern and are working on cutting out the shapes then glue the paper pieces together. Once the parts are assembled they will cover the model with a resin then paint them so the models act as a model. In the end they will have wearable costumes. Besides learning patience, precision, spacial recognition and problem solving skills, Junior is spending quality time with Mike.

We are forming a nice family. We are incorporating his biological family into our family. The number of people that love this young man is amazing and we are all truly blessed! I pray for him, his relatives and our parenting every night. The Lord brought us together to not just provide a home for Junior, but to enrich all our lives. We are to be in relation with each other to fulfill God's commandments.

Motherhood is unbelievable! My joy overfloweth!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Signs of Bonding

Matthew 5:3-16 New Revised Standard
"'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven."
There are small signs Junior is bonding with us. Last week he thanked me for a good meal and gave me a hug around the shoulders. Tonight, he actually hugged Mike and me before going to bed. That was his first sign of affection towards Mike since moving in with us.

I have been working on bonding - tousling his hair, listening to him talk about his interests and childhood memories, telling him "I love him" and not expecting affection back, back scratches, and bandaging scraped up knees after a fall at the park. We are spending time as a family - meals, games, movies, walks, day hikes, the park, church and drives around the county. I pray our actions are truly influencing Junior's actions and he is actually bonding with us and not just showing affection because he thinks that is what we want. It is important for a child to deeply feel love and to be wanted. We do want him and we do love him unconditionally, no strings attached. Could we actually be cracking the shell that so many foster kids develop?

He's talkative, but he does not talk about emotions or anything beyond the surface too often. Junior has expressed a few distant emotions from more than a year ago. To decipher feelings we have to read between the lines, the unspoken feelings. We need to crack the shell open without causing Junior to build an iron wall for defence.

We begin family counseling this week just to work on family dynamics because we, as a family, are a work in progress. Being a family of three is new to all of us so each of us - myself, Mike and Junior - have something to learn about these new dynamics. Our lives are no longer just husband and wife, our actions and thoughts have to consider Junior. Junior is learning how he fits into this new family dynamic. Mike and I are learning to interact with each other as parents as well as loving partners. Then life includes school, work, church, friends and extended family members plus DSHS/foster care. We have had two really good weeks, but Wednesday marks real life - Junior starts school and I return to work full time. Then we will see how our family dynamics really function.

With the start of school, Junior is going to face some reality regarding his case. Now that he is over age 12, Washington State law declares he is old enough to receive his case file even if he is not emotionally ready to handle the details. Now, his copy of his case file has more information in it than my copy as a foster parent. We are not permitted to review his copy before giving it to him since we are only foster parents, but have been advised by the Guardian Ad Litum (GAL) and Social Worker to have our counselor review the case file with Junior. I already claim this boy as "my son" and want to protect him as much as possible. I understand he is legally permitted to view this information, but wish I could be there to comfort him while he views it for the first time. I trust our counselor wholeheartedly and she will surround Junior with love, protection and prayer when it is time to review the case file. Just from the copy I am permitted to read, I would not want a 12 year to review it without us there, but we do not have that choice. If Junior chooses to speak about that particular counseling session with us afterwards, we are willing to listen, comfort and answer questions to the best of our ability. We do not know what this new knowledge will do to his understanding of his self-identity, his self-worth, to his school performance, to his behavior at home, etc. Please pray for Junior and us during the month of September as we deal with some major issues. However he deals with the knowledge, we are here to love and accept him just as he is, just as our heavenly Father extends grace to us all.

Habakkuk 2:3 Revised Standard Version
"For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end -- it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay."

Psalm 39:7 New Revised Standard
"And now, O Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in you."

Daniel 2:21b-23a New International Version
"...he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him. I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors; You have given me wisdom and power, you have made known to me what we asked of you..."