Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Praise God for Caseworkers {especially mine}.

I'll never forget that first phone call.  The first time I heard her voice.  The first time I heard her name.

"Hi, my name is Devan and I've been assigned as Allie's caseworker.  Can I come over in an hour to meet her?  My supervisor will be coming, too."

Allie* was a precious 6 month old who had come to us a few days prior.  Because her placement had occurred over the weekend, we knew a caseworker for our new foster daughter wouldn't be assigned until Monday.  It was now that day.

I rushed around the house; picking up toys, straightening pillows on the couch, putting dishes in the dishwasher; praying that not only would my house pass inspection, but that I would, too.  We had only had one short term placement within the past 5 months--that was after the 1 year "sabbatical" we had taken because we questioned if we had misread God's plan for us to become foster parents.

Fostering was still a very new, unknown road for our family.

As I held Allie against my hip with one hand and wiped off the kitchen counter with the other, there was a knock at the door.  I took a deep breath (maybe even two deep breaths) and opened the door.  But instead of seeing two people, I only saw one.

"Hi there!  I'm Devan.  We realized this morning I had enough hours in to come by myself, so my supervisor didn't need to come with me."

Oh, no.  Someone brand new?  Paired with foster parents who still don't have a clue about how this whole thing works?  Cases are all so unique, so different.  I hope I can handle this!

That conversation, and my first interactions with Devan, took place exactly 3 years ago.  Allie didn't stay in our home for very long (her godmother desired to keep Allie until mom could get her back), but I enjoyed that little bit of time with both Allie and Devan.  It was clear God had called us to foster, regardless of the outcome.

Then, two months after Allie left, we got a call to take in a 3 week old baby boy.  Once the investigator placed him in our home, it triggered for our agency to have his case.  And the caseworker?  Devan.

I wasn't as nervous this time, and Devan appeared more relaxed and confident, too.  Not only did Charlie become our first long term placement, but by the time he was 6 months old we knew he was going to become our first adoption.  The length of time from Charlie's placement in our home to his adoption was 18 months.

  • 18 months in which Devan not only spent time developing a relationship with Charlie, but with our family, too.  
  • 18 months in which Devan began bringing new caseworkers with her when we had court hearings, home visits, and an adoption home study.  During that time I watched the former newbie become a very capable and qualified trainer.
  • 18 months that, when they ended due to the adoption, left me a little sad because Devan had no reason to come to our house anymore.


But God, in a way that can only be explained as His Perfect Plan, gave us Devan as a caseworker not once, but twice, during 2014.  Both cases are still open and active, right within our home.  Two cases that, while completely separate from one another, connect together in ways that are truly unbelievable.  And the only other person walking step by step on this crazy, amazing, surreal road of court hearings, home visits, and case reviews is Devan.
  • Devan, who now teaches Domestic Violence classes at our agency.
  • Devan, who just this month began working on gaining her Master's Degree.
  • Devan, who I believe will walk the tough, hectic, and burdensome road of being a social worker for a very long time.
And I'm forever grateful.

*name changed

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Blessings in my Every Day Life

Last week, I had a clever Facebook status in my head that I couldn't wait to type.  And as I drove around town, I believed I could turn the status into a witty and funny blog post.  The gist of it went something like this:
If any entrepreneurs are looking for a booming new business idea, here ya go--oil change stations geared towards moms that allow everyone to stay in the car during an oil change!

The blog would've expanded on fun ideas involving Starbucks coffee delivered to your driver window, and clean bathrooms with diaper changing stations for those who had a desire to exit their vehicles.  And so on, and so forth.

The truth is, I was extremely overdue for an oil change.  And while I manage (albeit barely)  a 2 year old, 10 month old, and 4 month old at doctor appointments, the thought of attempting an oil change with my 3 little ones wasn't something I've had the energy to tackle.  My excuse list is long and very legit.  If only we could stay in the car!  Then everything would be 'perfect'.

The day I came up with my fun oil change idea was the day before Mike & I were driving to Chicago.  I was at my parents' house.  And when I left my parents' I was heading to my sister's house to let out her dog.  Guess what's directly on the route from Point A to Point B?  My stinking oil change station!!

Guilt & responsibility overtook me and I turned down the street of The Grease Spot.  I took a deep breath and prepared to 'stick it out' and not just drive past it.  Lord, help me!
  • Not one single car was at The Grease Spot.  At 12:30.  No one.  No. One.
  • I was greeted by 2 kind and efficient gentleman who have previously worked on the van.  One ran over and opened the store's door for me.
  • I got to wait in the tiny waiting room all alone.  Which is good, because the 4 of us took up the whole space!
  • The van was finished in under 20 minutes.  Everyone worked on my car.  We were still the only people there.
  • When it came time to pay, one man said to me, "I see you brought a coupon!" and scanned a coupon he had next to him.
  • Then I left, and the second man went and opened the van door for Charlie. 
  • As I started the van and buckled my seatbelt, 3 cars pulled up and got in line for their own oil changes.

My clever Facebook status faded from my 'to-do when I get home' list.  I thought about all the ways I constantly wish for things, hope for things, and envision things that would make my life more manageable.  God is caring for me day by day, in ways I don't even notice because I'm so wrapped up in my own ideas.  Now, don't get me wrong--I still think my idea for an oil change place that caters to moms is brilliant!--but I'm doing my best to see and appreciate God's provision in my every day life.  And it's all I truly need.