This is the THIRD day in a row that Younger Boy has just started doing his homework on his own...without me asking.  Right now he is reading a story to me about Canada. 

Last night he did homework that wasn't overdue or even due yet.  He told me just a little while ago that his teacher was really proud of him and maybe I was right.  This might make his life easier. 

I am hesitating to praise him.  It seems like when I make a comment on his actually doing his homework it all falls apart again.  I think I'll just do a little cheer on the inside today!!

Praises for focus on homework and potential changes in perspective!!
As soon as Younger Boy got in the car tonight he started crying.  I wasn't sure what was going on.  I tried talking to him and all he would say is "I just really want Middle Boy to come home."  I do, too, buddy.  I do, too.

We talked about how we don't have much control over when Middle Boy comes home and we can be sad that we miss him, but we can't let it ruin our days.  We can pray for him every night and we can talk to him on the phone every day.  He will be home soon.

It seemed to help Younger Boy a little.  He did tell me that he wants to write him a letter today though, because it will help him miss him less.

These boys are meant to be brothers.  That makes my heart smile.  We are kind of a hodge podge family, but that's okay.  We are a forever family!

Prayers for peace for Younger Boy.
Today Service Coordinator was stopped after her visit to the juvenile center and told that Middle Boy has more support than any person she has EVER seen at the center.

They keep track of the number of letters he receives and to date he has received 390 average of 13 per day.  The person who reviews the letters before they go to the kids has WAY MORE work than she has had in the past.

The center therapist also remarked that he is by far the most mild mannered polite kid she has ever seen there and he is always very open and straightforward with her.

I am overwhelmed by the number of people reaching out to Middle Boy.  He is starting to truly understand what it means to have support and love.  It totally fills my heart and I can't wait to see who has been writing to him.

Praises for AMAZING support of people we don't even know.  Wow God!!
I went to visit Middle Boy today.  He had a visit from Service Coordinator this morning.  They must have had a good discussion, because he had a lot of questions for her and subsequently for me.

They must have discussed the likelihood of him being home on the day of arraignment, because he drilled me with questions.  It was a tough conversation.  We had to talk about what we hoped and what might be real if we removed all of our hopes from the equation.  We had to talk about the possibility of him not being home for Christmas.  We had to talk about how this is the point where we figure out what we're made of and whether or not we can get through anything together.

At one point during the discussion he started to shut down.  I was proud of him though, because he kept talking through his tears.  This is a major break through for us.  It isn't easy for us.  Imagine having to have a tough conversation as a kid with someone you truly just met ten weeks ago.  Not easy for me...can't be easy for him.

I told him I am proud of him.  I told him he can't give up on himself and that whatever comes his way we are in this together.

Praises for being able to talk about the tough stuff. 
About an hour after he had gone to bed Younger Boy knocked on my door.  He was in tears.  I asked him what was wrong.  Through his sobs and tears he said "Mom, I miss Middle Boy".

I didn't see that one coming.  He has cried at bedtime before, but it is generally over bad...really bad...dreams.

We went to his room and prayed.  Prayed for sadness to go away and for Middle Boy to be safe and come home soon.

Throughout the night I heard him almost yelling in his sleep.  Every time it jarred me awake.  It was never completely coherent and I went in a number of times to see if he was okay and he was always still asleep.

This morning he woke up exhausted.  He couldn't have been sleeping restfully.  His bed looked like there had been a wrestling match held there during the night.

Prayers for peaceful sleep and for all of the thoughts that are so obviously there to be healed and replaced.
So...I just got another call from Middle Boy.  It was a good call.

Afterward Therapist A called to talk about my feelings about the day and also what Middle Boy's mental status seemed like to me.

I told her he had called a second time and that he apologized for not being able to call again later, but the lower level phones aren't working and there is a really long line.  Every time I tell her things like this she tells me that she is shocked.  Middle Boy is a RAD (reactive attachment disorder) kid who has never formed a bond with anyone.  She tells me there is no logical reason for this attachment, but that she believes God is all over this relationship.  Honestly I can't explain it either.  I feel it though...the relationship and the attachment.

Therapist A is a good therapist.  For me she is a good friend.  She is calling me and talking to me about this almost every day.  I have offered to pay her, because she truly is acting as our family counselor but isn't able to bill for this time.  I am thankful God put her in our lives....very thankful.  I also like that she is real with me.  We are able to talk about all of the fears I have raising someone who is likely PTSD. 

Praises for relationships that come in to our lives when we need them...completely unexpectedly, but exactly what we need.  Thank you God!
Younger Boy and I needed to do some shopping tonight.  I am not a fan of shopping in general and adding anyone into the mix does not make it much fun.

We did well.  Before we went in I told Younger Boy he could get himself one treat and we would get one "special project" for us to work on this weekend.  I can NEVER guess what the "special projects" are going to be.  I always let the boys choose.

This weekend we will be building a gingerbread house.  I have never made one, but this one seems like it won't be bad.  It allegedly has everything we need to build it EXACTLY the way it appears on the outside of the box.  I have all the confidence in the world this will not be the case.

The rest of the shopping trip was pretty much as planned.  Younger Boy asked for at least 10 things which I didn't buy resulting in stomping and pouting.  The difference these days is that it is almost always followed immediately with an apology.  Realizing it is happening is the first step to making the change.

Praises for a good trip to the store without any stomping to the car.
Middle Boy called earlier today.  I'll be honest...I was expecting the worst.

I was wrong.

Middle Boy called to tell me that he didn't really think he was going to get to come home today so he wasn't disappointed.  He also wanted me to know that he was off of suicide watch.  Then he said, "Mom...I wanted to call earlier, but this is the first chance I got.  I know you are sad and worried.  This is going to be okay." 

It totally changed my perspective.  Completely changed.  Yes, I am sad.  Yes, I am worried.  I am proud of him for not being discouraged.

We still have no idea when he is coming home.  He knows that now.  He likes his attorney.  Middle Boy isn't necessarily one of those people who will talk to just anyone so I may leave well enough alone.  If he feels like he can talk to Attorney maybe I shouldn't interfere.

He made me promise to continue to visit on Wednesday and Sunday.  Like I would miss!!

Praises for uplifted spirits and changed perspective.

Prayers for continued relationship building!!
I am going to seclude myself for a while.  Just me and Younger Boy.

I need to think.  I need to cry.  I need to pray.
Middle Boy has continued detention.

In a way it was the outcome I had expected.  I am VERY SAD though.

I am also frustrated.  It is difficult to sit through a case where Attorney had not met with Middle Boy, Service Coordinator, Therapist A, Detectives, or read the police report.  Judge T scolded him for coming to the hearing unprepared.  Now I am back to wondering about the attorney and whether I should hire one.

Judge T ordered two psychiatric evaluations to make sure Middle Boy is not a safety threat.  Timeframe is likely six weeks to two months to have those completed.  We are lucky in the aspect that they usually don't order those until adjudication, but this will move the process faster.  It could have been that those were ordered at the disposition hearing which comes four to six weeks after the arraignment which is at the end of December.  Realistically speaking I think we are looking at something like a March release...just guessing though.'s my job.  Keep Middle Boy's spirits up.  He has to prove he isn't a danger to himself or others.  He can't be on suicide watch.  He can't get it fights.  He need to do the right thing.  It is REALLY HARD to be an encourager for him right now.  REALLY HARD.  Not because he isn't worth it...he is, but because I am pretty discouraged.

I know that this is God's plan.  I may NEVER understand this.  The outcome Middle Boy and I want may NEVER happen.  For now I have to do what I KNOW I am called to do.  Love Middle Boy with all of my heart and be an example of unconditional love and support for him.  I am also going to be an advocate like he has never had before.  All of that is easy.  I do love him with all my heart.
Today was our monthly meeting for Younger Boy's case.

He must have been really anxious about the meeting, because he sat through most of it with a blanket covering his head and when he wasn't doing that he was making a variety of different animal noises.  All stress related.

We talked a lot about school.  It isn't going well.  He does great on homework for a while and then it all falls apart.  It's like he doesn't want to be good at anything.

He had written me a letter last week when he was in trouble and signed it "You should hate me, Younger Boy."  We talked a lot about that.  We talked about how behaviors don't change love.  I can get frustrated, mad, sad, or even happy and it doesn't change the amount I love him.

We also talked about adoption.  We talked about whether or not he wanted to continue to wait for Middle Boy like they had agreed on or if he wanted to go ahead and do it now.  He is thinking about it.

Prayers for Younger Boy.  He is stressed out right now.  It could be a reflection of me, I'm not sure.
...Younger Boy.

Younger Boy continually makes me laugh. 

Last night he was absolutely convinced that he was singing the right words to Twelve Days of Christmas when he was finishing it with "two hummingbirds and an ostrich in a pear tree".  I actually had to listen to it two or three times to understand what he was saying.  I think we are temporarily straightened out!!

Shortly after that he said " old will I be when I turn fourteen?"  I was initially puzzled by the question.  He thought he was asking me if he could have contacts when he turns fourteen.  There is no mention of contacts in his question.  Just how old will he be when he is fourteen.

Praises for Younger Boy.
...another miscommunication?

Middle Boy's attorney did not show today.  I didn't mention the possible hearing tomorrow when he called this afternoon, because after he told me Attorney hadn't been there I wondered what was going on.

Luckily he called during our family team meeting so Service Coordinator and Foster Care Specialist heard the same thing.  I am going to call juvenile court in the morning to see if there is really a hearing or not. I will be in limbo until tomorrow morning.

I have been all over the place emotionally.  I was super excited about the hearing when Service Coordinator called this afternoon.  Now I am feeling sick.  I just want this to be OVER.

Pray for us.  Pray there is a hearing.  Middle Boy is so angry right now.
There was a lack of communication on Middle Boy’s case between Attorney and the rest of the team.  Middle Boy’s detention review hearing is tomorrow morning.  We are scrambling right now to get our paperwork done so it can be presented in the morning.  After a really rough holiday weekend with Middle Boy ending up on suicide watch this is an amazing blessing. 

Pray God’s will be done and that Middle Boy (and I) will be at peace with whatever the outcome may be.  Our hope is he will be able to come home.

Thanks everyone for your continued prayer.  It means A LOT to us….more than you will ever know.
I am conflicted.  Attorney was supposed to go see Middle Boy on November 18th.  He hasn't been there yet.

Guardian ad Litem's mother passed away on Saturday and she is not going to be available most of this week.  She has been the biggest advocate so far in getting Attorney motivated.

Service Coordinator is back from vacation and able to help again.  She is finalizing our plan this morning.  I am hoping she will initiate contact with Attorney, but I am not sure she will.  She typically doesn't take that kind of initiative.

Therapist is on vacation until tomorrow and has plans to see him on Wednesday.  She also has her report ready for court and will meet with Attorney as soon as he meets with Middle Boy.

CASA is calling this morning to find out what on earth is going on with Attorney.

I am calling Legal Aid to see what our options are.  Do I hire a private juvenile attorney?    Can I legally even hire one for him since I am not a part of the case?  Would it slow down the process at this point in time?  What kind of cost would I be incurring?

We are now looking at a possible detention review on December 8th or 15th.  A miracle could happen with a detention review on December 1st, but that would give us a fill-in Guardian ad Litem and that is a bad idea.  His GAL has been with him for seven years and knows him really well.

Arraignment is still scheduled for late December if a detention review doesn't happen.  He could come home at that time.  He could also be ordered to a group home for some period of time.  God has a plan.

Prayers for all involved.

Prayers for Guardian ad Litem as she mourns the loss of her mother.

Prayers for wisdom regarding an attorney.
Younger Boy is back home.  It is SO GOOD to have him back.  I honestly missed him.

We talked a lot this evening.  He had a great time with Mentor R and his family.  He played a lot with other kids and got a lot of sleep.

On the way home he kept telling me he loved me...just in case I forgot.  I thought it was pretty sweet.

Praises for a good weekend for everyone.
Today was visiting day for Middle Boy. 

I'll be honest.  The kid who I visited today does not need to be on suicide watch.  There is no way he can turn his moods on and off.  We had a great conversation.  Better than the past few visits.  He is irritated about the suicide watch.  Part of it is that he has to wear a different outfit than everyone else.  He described it as a combination mat/sleeping bag with arm holes.  He uses it both as clothing and to sleep.  He hates having attention drawn to him, so that is probably the worst part of the whole thing.  He also mentioned that it moved him to a different unit to sleep and that part was actually good.  He didn't really say why.

D, my visitation angel, has her prayer group praying for him.  In a weird way I think we are going to continue to keep in touch when all of this is over.  I continue to pray for her grandson, Clementine, as she calls him.

Continue to pray for Middle Boy.  I think it is more frustration than depression at this point, but I also think that he has a real difficulty distinguishing between the two.
Middle Boy is on suicide watch.  They must have deemed him depressed enough to actually watch him for the next few days.

It breaks my heart...more than I can describe.

When he called last night we prayed for the entire fifteen minutes.  By the end we were both crying.

Today is visiting day.  It will be so good to see him and reassure him that things are going to be okay.

Prayers for a good visit and for hopefulness.
As I thought more about it the more concerned I became with the suicide discussion.

I called the juvenile center to talk to them about it.  Their therapist is going to check in with him right now and see what is going on.

He is going to be furious with me.  I don't care.  I love him that much and I don't want him to do anything stupid.

Prayers for Middle Boy.
Middle Boy called today to tell me that he needs to know when Attorney is coming. 

He said he has a plan for Monday night if he isn't there on Monday.  I asked about the plan and he said he plans to try to kill himself.  In his mind that will land him at a psychiatric hospital and then he will be able to come home from there.  He was briefly in the psychiatric hospital a long time ago and he believes it will be better.

As his mom this breaks my heart.  I think I convinced him that this plan is not the best choice and that we need to have hope and just keep doing what is right.  Honestly, though I don't know.  I really don't. 

Prayer for Middle Boy.  He is so frustrated and sad and seems to have lost all hope.  We prayed together on the phone will again later tonight.

Pray he can find a sense of peace and hope.
It is SO HARD to talk to Middle Boy right now.  He wants to come home.  I don't even know if this home is where he is going to be coming back to.

He is right when he says I don't understand what his life is like right now.  I have no idea.  However...I want him to come home more than anything I have ever wanted in my life. 

There is so much frustration that his attorney hasn't been there.  He sees other kids get attorneys and leave and he wonders why it has been a month and no attorney has visited him.  I wonder that, too.

I emailed Guardian ad Litem and CASA today to see if there was ANYTHING they could do.  I wanted to make sure that they were aware he still hadn't had a visit. 

I am trying to be hopeful for the December 1st date.  I was reading online today about the juvenile system in the state and it appears pretty unlikely.  All pretrial motions have to be filed in writing five days in advance.  We are closer to December 1st than the five days.  I hope I am wrong.

We are now to a point where it seems more likely that we will just be going straight to the arraignment at the end of December.

Prayers that there is a detention hearing and that the arraignment can be concurrent.  Prayers for hope...which seems to come and go these days.  More for Middle Boy than for me, but I still have my moments.

Prayers for Attorney.
This used to be my "normal".  No kids....just me with no real agenda.

I liked this?  Really?

I am so bored and lonely.  I am kind of regretting saying Younger Boy could stay with Mentor R for the entire weekend.  I miss all three boys right now.

There are so many things I could/should do...maybe tomorrow.
Middle Boy called twice today.  The first call was really good.  He recited the Psalm he had memorized and then we talked about the things we are thankful for.  When we got off the phone he was on his way to Bible study.  I am thankful they were there on Thanksgiving morning.

The second call was HORRIBLE.  He is so frustrated with this whole thing and he didn't want to hear anything I had to say.  He is so focused on the possibility of his detention hearing being December 1st and I just don't know anymore.  We talked a little bit about how he might feel if it doesn't happen.  He told me that at that point he would just give up and stop trying. 

The call left me in tears of sadness and frustration.

Please pray he will hold on to hope until the detention hearing and beyond. 
Younger Boy and I had Thanksgiving dinner at the home of Mentor R.  It was a nice time.  It is always interesting how very different families are. 

The meal was great.  We played games during the afternoon.

On the drive over which is about 20 minutes Younger Boy and I listed all of the things we are thankful for...taking turns.  We decided to try to list enough things to fill 20 minutes.  We could have gone on much longer.  I wish we could have written down the list.  I would love to look at the things we said again.

It was such a great reminder to me that we need to be more thankful...every day.

Praises for our extended "family".
Older Boy called this morning to tell us Happy Thanksgiving.  It was so good to talk to him.  Even though it was so stressful to have him living here sometimes I really miss him.

We talked for about 15 minutes.  He had a lot of questions about my new niece and how things were going.  He said he is doing pretty well, but he still gets mad.  He invited us to his birthday party...which is two months away. 

He and Younger Boy talked about movies they had recently seen and it was good to hear them just talk to each other and not screaming or fighting. 

Happy Thanksgiving Older Boy!!  We miss you and we love you!!

Thank you God for Older Boy and his "new" family. 
Denise relationship with God. family.
...Middle Boy.
...Younger Boy.
...Older Boy. job. friends who have become like family in the past year.
...our home.
...the lessons I have learned this year. church and church family.

This list could go on FOREVER.  This year more than any ever before I understand....truly blessed I am. 

Thank you God for all that you have entrusted me with and all of the blessings you have given me and my family.
One call again today...STINKS.

I hate not being able to pray together at night before bed which is what our last call had consisted of.  Instead I am resorting to praying for Middle Boy and hoping he is praying, too.

I am trying to be excited about the new responsibilities and privileges, because Middle Boy is.

Prayers this changes soon.
Tonight Younger Boy and I received an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday.

Originally it was just going to be the two of us...with food ordered from the grocery store.  In fact it is still ordered...we'll eat it later.

My family isn't getting together.  It's complicated.

We we will be going to Mentor R's house for Thanksgiving.  I doubt it will become our tradition, but this year it is a good fit for us.  It will make us miss Older Boy and Middle Boy less.

Praises for friends who are like family.
Attorney has not been to visit Middle Boy yet.  No idea when he will be there.  Every day since last Thursday he has told Guardian ad Litem that he will be going that day. 

I don't even mention it to Middle Boy anymore.

Middle Boy is frustrated by this.  It made our one call today HORRIBLE.  He is getting frustrated that his detention review won't happen in a timely manner and that he will just be there until the scheduled arraignment hearing at the end of December.

Prayers for Attorney visiting in a timely manner.  Prayers for patience and hope for Middle Boy.
Middle Boy is a Level 3 now.  Basically it means he has good behavior at the juvenile center.  There are four behavioral levels and each higher level earns you additional privileges and responsibilities.  You have to maintain each level for two weeks before getting to move on and there are also a maximum number of people who can be at any level at any given time.

I know there can only be two Level 4's at any given time.  There were two in his unit, but now he is the highest.  He will end his first week as a Level 3 this week.

Here's what I HATE about Level 3.  He can only call once during the times that Level 2's can call, because he has more phone privileges.  So that puts us at one call.  Before the Level 3's can use the phone during their time they have to complete all of their responsibilities as a group.  He is the only Level 3 right now other calls.

We were talking four or five times a day so this stinks!!

I am proud of him for maintaining good behavior in a place where good behaviors aren't the norm.  I just don't like the lessened communication.

Praises Middle Boy is being respectful and staying strong.

Prayers we can continue to build our relationship with the lessened communication.
Younger Boy told me he wants to leave my home and move somewhere else.

When foster kids say this it really means "I know what I did was bad and I know you are going to send me away.  Please reassure me I am staying."

I told him I love him and I really want him to stay, but that it is his choice.  I don't want him to live somewhere he doesn't want to live.  I love him more than that.  I told him he could choose.  I reminded him again that I wanted him to stay.  I also reminded him that if he stayed he would continue to be held accountable for the choices he makes and that he is in control of those choices.

He thought about it for about five minutes and said he wanted to stay.  He wants to change his attitude and his behaviors.

Prayers for communication and relationship.  We have a long way to go.
Younger Boy was still angry when it was time to get ready for bed.  He doesn't like having consequences for his actions.

He went in the bathroom to take a shower and started the water running.  He generally takes long showers.

Tonight he chose to smear hair gel and toothpaste all over the bathroom.  He also cut a tube of toothpaste.

When I went in to tuck him into bed and read him the Bible story I saw the mess in the bathroom.  He had to clean it up...without my help.  That made him even madder.

I asked why he was mad at me, because when you do things like that in my home you are taking out your anger on me.  I explained that all I did was hold him accountable for his behavior at school.  I asked who he should be mad at.  Who made the choices that got him in the situation he is in?

Prayers he learns to be appropriate when he is angry and he understands and can work through that anger.
Younger Boy DOES NOT like to be held accountable for things.  Not one bit.

He wrote his letter to Principal.  He really struggled with it, because he didn't want to admit he did anything wrong.  It is tough to write a letter of apology if you don't want to talk about the behavior that caused the need to apologize.

I had also asked him to write me an apology for not following rules at school and explaining why what he did was wrong.  I also asked him to include the reasons why he told Assistant Principal I said what he did was okay.

The letter I got really showed me how angry Younger Boy is.  In the letter he didn't apologize.  It started by saying "I am sorry I am a jackass."  I don't talk like that so it is obviously from the past.  It went on to talk about how he hates my home, hates his school, and hates his life.  It was signed "You should hate me forever, Younger Boy."

The letter breaks my heart.  There are so many things he still needs to work through.  I copied his therapist on the letter just so he would see what there is under the "sweet candy shell".

Prayers for healing for Younger Boy.  He absolutely has a LONG way to go.
Today I got a call from Younger Boy's school that he had done inappropriate website searches on a school computer while he was supposed to be doing research for a biographical paper he was writing.

Of course he denied doing the searches at school, but according to Assistant Principal it was pretty obvious it was him.  He had googled the person he was assigned to research, three inappropriate things, and then our home address.  You don't have to be a seasoned detective to figure out who did the three inappropriate searches.

He also told Assistant Principal that it is fine with me if he researches ANYTHING he wants at home.  Not true since the parental controls on all of our computers are set to 6 - 8 year old searches.

Assistant Principal talked to him and said that she needed him to write a letter of apology to Principal for not following the rules at school.  He is also supposed to include why this rule is important and how it helps to keep them safe.

Praises for schools staying involved.

Prayers Younger Boy will start to take accountability and make the right choices.
...this post is less about the boys and more about me.

Since the boys have moved in I have noticed God working in me...really working in me.  At first I think the changes were subtle.  I started noticing I had a lot more patience than I would have said I had.  At the same time I was becoming more aware of the things friends and family were sharing and how they truly were exactly what I needed when I needed them.

I also started to notice myself saying things and having wisdom that didn't even seem like it could possibly be coming from me.  I could hear words coming out of my mouth and actually at times think "wow...that was something I would NEVER say". 

I am finding that in the past I would have been a BIG MESS about the situation I find Middle Boy currently in.  I would have been literally sick to my stomach and not able to function otherwise.  I've been there before with worry over things.  Here is what I am finding...I can find the blessings in our current situation.  Without our time apart Middle Boy would not have learned to trust me, I mean really trust me.  While I still really want to control EVERYTHING I am actually learning to trust God.  I am actually able to take a step back and see that while this isn't what I would have chosen there are truly some blessings associated with it.

I don't feel sick about the outcome of Middle Boy's situation.  I feel oddly at peace.  I love Middle Boy, but I know that God loves him more.

I still have a long way to go in this journey...both with the boys and with God, but life is good, because God is good...ALL THE TIME.
Today's visit with Middle Boy was CROWDED.  It is usually crowded on the Sunday visiting day and really sparse on Wednesday.

Usually we play cards while we talk.  Today we just talked.  It was a good conversation.  We talked about the possible outcomes for his detention review.  Obviously they would be leave the juvenile center or not leave the juvenile center.  It is a lot more complicated than that though.  If I was the biological parent or the adoptive parent leaving would most likely mean coming back to my home.  Because I am not either of those leaving could mean a whole lot of things.  We talked about those.  I believe that he will be coming home, but am trying to mentally prepare both of us in the event that doesn't happen for a while.  There may be a group home stay in between.  It is so hard to say.

Pray the right thing happens for Middle Boy.  Pray we are both emotionally strong during the next few weeks and pray that our relationship and trust level continues to grow.
Younger Boy went to a birthday party last night.  He had a great time with his friends. 

He called or texted me a number of times.  It was interesting, because at one point he hurt someone's feelings and he texted me asking what I thought he should do.  I told him to apologize and that seemed like a foreign concept to him.  Almost like it didn't even cross his mind.

When he came home he told me that he hasn't been to many birthday parties before and he was glad he got to go.  Discussions like that break my heart.

Praises for friends and birthday parties and feeling included.
Middle Boy and I had two great calls today. 

We just talked a lot about forgiveness and trust.  The thing I appreciate about all of these calls is the ability for us to just talk and be real.  Forgiveness and trust are not things Middle Boy easily has an understanding of.  In his life he hasn't had a lot of great examples of either.  I am hoping through my love of him and through the examples of so many AMAZING people he is surrounded with he will understand that he can trust God and that he is forgiven. 

I am looking forward to our visit tomorrow.  Sunday visits are tough though, because it is crowded and loud.  I wouldn't miss them for the world.

Praises for forgiveness and trust...for all of us.
Today we had a very precious visit with Youngest Sister and her family.

Younger Boy is a "fan favorite" there.  I haven't heard his name called over and over that much...EVER.  He was so good with them.  He played with the girls and his "mini me".  When it came time for the kids to nap Mini Me wanted Younger Boy to be the one to read them a story.  That is a HUGE endorsement, because Mini Me doesn't really like anyone except his mama.

The most precious time was the time Youngest Boy spent holding his new cousin, Niece C.  He just stared at her.  He had never held a baby before and she is only 10 days old.  He sat there and just held her and rocked her for about 15 minutes.  It was adorable.

Praises for family and new life.
Middle Boy is having a tough day.  He apologized over and over on the phone tonight for having a bad day and being distracted.  I told him it is okay.  It is okay for people to know you are having a bad day and it is okay to talk about it...especially your family.  I am not going to love him less for having a bad day.  I would much rather know he is having a bad day than have him try to cover it up.  That's what he does.

I know all too well the behavior he is showing me.  In this way he could ABSOLUTELY be my son.

Prayers for being real and trusting enough to know that it is okay.
Middle Boy just called to tell me Attorney was supposed to visit him today, but that he hadn't been there yet.  That is super frustrating to me, but not as frustrating as it is to Middle Boy. 

Pray Attorney will be there on Monday or maybe even yet today.
Middle Boy was appointed an attorney this morning.  According to Guardian ad Litem they are meeting some time today.  From here on out I have to get my information from either Middle Boy, Therapist A, or Service Coordinator.  Since I am not a legal party to the case and by law have no relationship with Middle Boy I am not allowed to speak to his attorney.  Neither is CASA according to Guardian ad Litem.  I was a little bit confused by that, but I'm sure she is right.

I have heard mixed reviews on Attorney.  One good thing I have heard is that he fights very hard for his clients.  The bad thing I have heard from multiple people is that he only likes to meet with the client...not other parties in the case.  Therapist is going to try to meet with him early next week, because she has a lot of thoughts on the case.

Pray Middle Boy understands what Attorney is telling him and that he makes good choices.  Pray this moves the case along now instead of this continual waiting.

Pray I can learn to trust God.  This whole thing has been SO VERY HARD for me.  I hate not knowing what is going on.  Here is the one thing I know...I love Middle Boy.  I want to adopt him.  I want him to come home.
I can't pinpoint exactly why, but tonight when I was done talking to Middle Boy on the phone for the fourth and final time of the day I cried.

He had to get off the phone early...only three minutes...but when each call is a maximum of fifteen minutes three minutes are precious.  Was it that? 

Is it the unknown of what is going to happen?  Is it because I don't even know IF he is coming back to my house and so I can't possibly even know when?

What is going to happen if he doesn't?  What will happen to this kid?  Therapist A told me that while he has not appeared to bond with anyone since his biological mother he has DEFINITELY bonded with me.  Her professional opinion is that it WILL NOT happen with a caregiver again.

Wow...God....a friend just sent me a text and it said:

I read this verse this morning and it made me think of you and Middle Boy "I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry." - Psalm 40:1

I needed to hear that.

Prayers for peace for both of us.

Praises for the relationship we have and how God is in control.
Mom and Dad J and their family are our extended family.  We are raising siblings.  I'm not sure what relation that makes us, but we are.

Older Boy is not doing well this week.  He has had complete meltdowns at school the last three days.  Two of those carried over in to home in the evening.  One was over a glass of chocolate milk.  They had to threaten to call the police.

I had figured out...and they are confirming....that from about 4PM until bedtime he is a mess.  The problem is that no one can figure out if it is the med schedule or the transition from school to home.  They are going to watch this weekend and see what happens.  They are also considering taking him out of school in the afternoon to have him take a nap to see if that helps. 

Pray for their family and peace.
Younger Boy did such a GREAT job of doing his homework on Wednesday night.  I was so proud of him.  He really stuck to it and worked hard.

Today he tells me he did the right problems for math...on the WRONG PAGE.  I can't help wonder if this happens on purpose.  She writes the page number down on the board.  Maybe it was an innocent mistake.  I don't know.  It also seems odd that he would go to all of the trouble of actually doing problems when he knew they were the wrong ones.

I am going to talk to Therapist T about it on Saturday.  He has mentioned to me more than once that kids like Younger Boy try really hard to prove that they aren't worth it.

Tonight he did math homework again.  He called a friend to make sure it was the right page.  We finally finished the France poster.  Since he didn't start until 10 days after it was due it is REALLY late, but it is DONE. 

Tonight he also sat down and started his homework WITHOUT me asking.  That was worth everything to me.

Praises for a bit different attitude.

Prayers for understanding what is going on and trying to help him through it.
Tonight we had a small victory as it relates to homework.  Younger Boy was SUPER far behind in homework.  He actually did homework for two and a half hours.  I believe we are actually caught up.  I can hardly even believe I am saying that.

It wasn't without struggle to get started.  Younger Boy is INCREDIBLY rude when we talk about homework every evening.  There is no point to it.  I asked him why he insists on being rude to me every single night when I ask about homework.  I asked if he thinks that makes life in our home go smoother.

Right now I am going to just celebrate the victory of actual homework completion.  The attitude will come later...I hope.

Praises for small victories.
Today was the best day Middle Boy and I have had since he has been gone.  I visited him this afternoon and he called me four times after that.

I was feeling like it was a good day for us conversation-wise.  We talked about a lot of things today and it just felt like everything was clicking.  Middle Boy must have felt that way too, because tonight he said, "I think this was our best day ever."  I agree.

Something else I have been thinking about...I met this AMAZING lady when I go to visit Middle Boy.  Her grandson has been there since August and is likely going home in January.  Not really sure why he is never has occurred to me to ask.  She and I talk before every visit and then before we go in we pray together.  I appreciate this woman so much.  She has made the visits a lot less scary.  We talk a lot about hope and prayer and how good God is.  I think she is amazing.  We have started hanging out with them during visits for part of the time.  I think the boys enjoy it as well.

Praises for relationships...of all kinds...that you can find in all places.
In many ways I am still co-parenting Older Boy with Mom and Dad J.  We have to.  I have a lot of the information that no one has passed on to them yet.  I have contact names and numbers.  I have medical records, dates, and times.

They called today to tell me that there is now no record of him having applied for DD services.  They are in the process of trying to figure out if someone pulled it or if something else happened.  Dad J is about to come unglued.  Based on what I was working on the determination for services should have come last week.  They should know NOW if he qualifies for a DD group home.  From what they were able to find out yesterday there is nothing...NOTHING.

Pray for them...pray for Older Boy.  Just because he moved doesn't mean he doesn't need help!!
Middle Boy asked me tonight point blank if I am sad about him being gone.  Yes I am sad.  More than I let on.  More than I let him see.  More than I let anyone see other than God. 

He said he reads my letters and it makes him sad, because he misses me.  RAD kids don't miss people.  They don't even get the concept.  I asked him what he meant by that, because in theory he shouldn't have the capability to miss me.  He said it is like his heart is hurting and he doesn't know why.

When Middle Boy moved in with me I was told he might not be able to identify feelings....not completely true.  He seems to recognize them.  Granted he does NOT show them on his face...not at all.  He recognizes it to be a problem.  God is working in him.

I miss Middle Boy more than I can describe.  Younger Boy misses Middle Boy.  He still cries every night.

Prayers for Middle Boy and that he would get to come our home...soon.
I realized tonight that Older Boy doesn't have the right attitude about education in general.  He truly doesn't really have a "love for learning".  He considers school drudgery and something to be hated and avoided.

Realizing this makes me think about the approach we should be taking to him.  Maybe if he understood that there are so many people out there who aren't given the opportunity for an education or have the abilities to do it he would think differently.  That is pretty abstract for someone who is eleven though.

We are going to work on making learning fun and loving to learn, because I do.  It never really occurred to me that some people don't.

Prayers for learning and changed attitudes...mine and Younger Boy's.
Younger Boy's school counselor talked to him about having a "level payment plan" for homework.  He agreed to it and they made a contract.  He is going to do homework for 45 minutes per day five days a week.  If he doesn't have homework he is going to either read or work ahead on projects that aren't due for a while.

I am committed to this, too.  We are home every evening for AT LEAST 45 minutes during his normal waking hours.  It might not be how he wants to spend those 45 minutes, but they are available to him.

He also committed to practicing his trumpet for 10 minutes per day with her.  I think this might actually be more of a stretch for him.  Last time I could convince him to do it he played a single note for ten straight minutes...over and over.  I think if this really starts happening we are going to look into the cost of one of those buffers you can put in the end of the trumpet to make it bearable to others.

Praises for suggestions and help from the school counselor.  When I tried to do this earlier it met with much resistance, because I am "just stupid".  When it is her idea it apparently seems doable.

Prayers for follow through...for both of us.
Tonight a women's lifegroup from church came over to have Younger Boy help them pack some boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

This was such a blessing.  He packed one for himself, one from Older Boy, and one from Middle Boy.  The ladies had bought all of the supplies and brought over dinner and just hung out with us.  Younger Boy painstakingly separated the gifts between the three boxes so that all colors and toys were equally distributed.  It was kind of cute.

It was nice for me to have some fellowship time.  I miss it.  I recently took a leave of absence from my own lifegroup and also from leading my high school lifegroup.  I was just too overwhelmed.  Last night really made me miss it.

Praises for people reaching out to us and thinking of us.  It lifted Younger Boy's spirits a lot and gave him a chance to talk about Older Boy and Middle Boy and how much he misses them.
We are still waiting for the appointment of the attorney for Middle Boy.  Guardian ad Litem said today that part of the delay is that the county is getting a new computer system and it is slowing everything down.  She is hoping the appointment is made today and is going to check on it again.

It is a little frustrating, because his detention hearing was November 2nd.  It is now two weeks later and no public defender has been identified.  It brings a whole new meaning to quick and speedy trial.

Pray there is an attorney appointed soon.  We are still hoping for a detention review/arraignment sooner than the end of December, but that can't happen without a motion filed by his attorney...which he doesn't have.
Younger Boy's school counselor called me this afternoon to talk about Younger Boy.  His teachers are concerned, because he is telling them that there is never time at home to do homework, because we are too busy and I don't want him to work on it.  He also told the band teacher that I wouldn't let him bring his band instrument to school.

What?  Of course his teachers think this is not truthful and had asked the counselor to talk to him.

I explained to her that we are actually home every evening after 5:30pm and that he is up until 9:00pm.  The only evening in question is Wednesdays and even then we are gone for a couple of hours.

We talked about the accountability piece.  She mentioned that Younger Boy stopped taking his band instrument the day after the band teacher told him he was doing a really good job and might be one of the best trumpet players in their band.  We also talked about him trying to "prove" he has no worth. 

She made some suggestions about homework and school that she is going to talk to him about this afternoon.  We are going to give the same message.

Prayers this will make a change in his behavior.
Younger Boy doesn't like to be responsible for anything and he doesn't like to be accountable for anything.

He is now accountable for his homework.  He HATES that.  This morning I explained that we weren't going to talk about it anymore.  I explained that I expect him to bring it home and do the work.  I am not going to ask about it.  I will simply look at his assignment notebook and initial it.  It is his responsibility to get the assignment notebook home.

I am trying this for two weeks at the suggestion of his therapist. 

Pray that something will click.  Homework is such a battle EVERY day.
I got a call from Mom and Dad J tonight.  Apparently the honeymoon period with Older Boy is officially over for them.  It didn't even last three weeks.

He had a major meltdown at school yesterday and the behaviors carried over to home last night.  At one point he told them that living at their house sucked more than living at my house.  Mom J and I laughed about whether or not that was a complement for either of us.

Please pray for Mom and Dad J as well as Older Boy.  They have committed to giving him one year unless the behaviors are dangerous to himself or others.  At that point they are going to re-evaluate.  In the meantime hopefully DD funding with come through for him and he can get the actual services he needs.
Younger Boy threw a fit tonight about having to do his homework.  So much of it is late.  There is always a "reason" he can't do it.  Sometimes he already checked the book back in.  Sometimes he doesn't know what he is supposed to do.  Sometimes he didn't get the worksheets.

He is FOUR PROJECTS plus everyday homework behind.  I told him yesterday that he needs to bring everything home to do the projects tonight.  He chose to bring home NOTHING.  He thought maybe he brought home what he needed for the science project, but lo and behold...he didn't.

Tonight I emailed his teacher asking her to check his backpack tomorrow before he leaves to make sure he has everything needed to complete the projects.  She agreed.

We are going to be working on projects and nothing else this week.  We will miss youth group on Wednesday night.  It isn't like there haven't been warnings.  It isn't like rewards haven't been offered.  Now it just isn't negotiable anymore.  Homework gets done or you just go to bed.

I don't even know what to pray for in terms of homework anymore other than my own patience.
Mom J called me this morning to talk about the letter they received from the older sister of Older Boy and Younger Boy.  A few months ago Service Coordinator was court ordered to locate her.  I am not sure if the letter Mom and Dad J received is a result of this order or not.  No one can really figure it out.

It has caused a flurry of activity though.  Mom and Dad J have adopted the younger sister of Older Boy and Younger Boy.  That makes it their decision if she talks to their older sister or not.  Service Coordinator is telling Mom J that all correspondence between Older Boy and their sister needs to go through her.  We aren't really sure why since it is court ordered to have sibling contact.  Older Boy knows about the letter, because he heard his younger sister talking about writing to her older sister.  He cried for two hours.  I haven't said anything to Younger Boy yet.  When Older Boy lived with me he used to talk about their older sister all of the time.  I haven't ever heard Younger Boy mention her.

Here's some of the dilemma...their older sister lives with Younger Boy's biological parents.  He is supposed to have NO contact with them until he is 19 and then it will be by his choice only.  I don't think there is any reason to believe that his biological parents are a threat to us or to any of the kids.  I also don't think there is any reason to think they would pursue getting their children back at this point.  Legally rights were terminated almost four years ago.

We need wisdom and discernment in this situation.  We want to do what is right for these siblings, but keeping in mind their safety and emotional health.

Prayers for wisdom and discernment.
Middle Boy had a request for me when he called tonight.  He said he has been thinking about something and wanted to ask me about it.

Middle Boy wants to spend two hours a week together...just me and we are now when he comes home.  Of course I do.  It makes me smile that he is a teenage boy and he wants to spend time with his mom. 

I told him we would figure it out, because I would really like that, too.  We just have to get him home.

Praises for a sweet relationship with Middle Boy.
Younger Boy is a changed boy....totally changed.

Since Older Boy doesn't live in our home anymore he is much more pleasant to be around.  He doesn't get as angry as he has in the past.  He isn't as defiant as he was.  He follows directions a lot better than he had been.

He is still having trouble with homework and talking in a baby-like voice a lot, but otherwise he seems to be better.  He admits that the isn't really trying to change his behavior about homework.  That is frustrating.

I wonder now if maybe the best thing for him wasn't to have him separated from Older Boy.

Praises for new behaviors.

Prayers for homework and talking like an eleven year old...not a three year old.
Younger Boy wrote the sweetest letter to Middle Boy tonight.

He talked about how much he misses him and loves him.  He said he has been crying every night, because he wants him to come home.

He told him how much he HATES being an only child, because it is boring.

He said he loved him and missed him at least four times in the letter.

It was so sweet.

Prayers for the relationship between Younger Boy and Middle Boy.  Praises that they already feel like brothers.
We are falling into a new routine at our house on Sundays.  While I hope the routine doesn't last is a nice easy day.

We are going to church on Sundays and then coming home and relaxing for a while.  Mid-afternoon Younger Boy heads over to C's house to hang out with her and I go to visit Middle Boy.  It is one of the two hours I am allowed to visit per week.

We have dinner with C and then we head home.  I like this routine...minus the having to go visit Middle Boy.  It will be so much better when he is HOME.  Selfishly though I do enjoy the hour of just hanging out with him.

Praises for friends who help out and for routines.
This weekend if you were under the age of eighteen and were at Grandma and Grandpa's you learned two to play poker and how to polka.

Cousin N is a dealer at a casino.  He used to be a pit boss.  He taught all of the kids how to play Texas Hold 'Em.  Older Nephew J was pretty good, because he already knew how to play.  Middle Nephew J kept yelling "Is this a good hand?".  Younger Boy did fairly well.  Niece L was by far the best.  She quietly observed and learned to play and then pretended she didn't know what she was doing.  Cousin N said she was by far the best, because she was being innocent, but really thinking about what she was doing.

Great Grandma likes to watch the polka show on PBS.  Brother-in-Law T likes to polka.  All of the kids learned to polka.  Older Nephew J was very awkward.  Kind of like a board dancing.  Middle Nephew J wasn't bad.  Younger Boy and Niece L have a lot of rhythm and were both very good.  We tried to get them to polka together, but they wanted NO PART of that.  They both just danced with adults.

Praises for family and family get togethers.  We laughed a lot.  We needed it.
I think Younger Boy has started suffering from migraines.  It has not been fun.

He is getting horrible headaches and then throwing up.  After he sleeps for a while and then he seems to be fine.  I am going to take him to the doctor though, because apparently seizures run in the family as well and they have similar type symptoms.

He cries while he is sleeping and then wakes up crying.  There isn't much to do to help him.  It breaks my heart.

Part of me wonders if it is stress induced.

Prayers for no headaches and that we can get Younger Boy some relief.
I am missing Middle Boy since we are all here as a family.  He should be here.  He should be a part of this.  One thing that is making it a little bit easier for me is that Youngest Sister and her family aren't here since she just had a baby on Wednesday.

Middle Boy has called a number of times.  He wants to know what we are doing.  He wants to know what he is missing.  He is part of this family.

Prayers that we can ALL be together soon.
First of all...Great Grandma is ninety and she is concerned about me.  In a misdirected way, but concerned.

She told me she wishes I wasn't doing foster care, because I am just going to end up on a list of people who can't be around kids.  She said social workers only believe the kids and that I am going to get in trouble.

Later she said that she can't believe I chose the boys over her.  That isn't true at all.  God chose these boys for me.  She isn't the first person who doesn't understand me doing foster care and she won't be the last.  I am not looking for understanding and approval from everyone I meet.  This is between me, these boys, and God.

I love Great Grandma, but that doesn't make me love these boys any less.

Prayers for understanding.
This morning Younger Boy and I left to go to Grandpa and Grandma's for the weekend.  We have been planning this weekend away for almost a year.  It is Great Grandma's 90th birthday today.

We left home at about 9am.  Soon after we got a text from Middle Sister saying they were not far from us.  We asked if we could take Middle Nephew J with us.  She thought that was a great idea since he and Older Nephew J couldn't quit arguing in the car.

We picked up Middle Nephew J and he and Younger Boy had a great time the rest of the way to Grandma and Grandpa's.  They were playing Nintendo DS against each other for awhile and then they switched over to playing chess against each other on my laptop.  I laughed out loud while they were talking about chess and one of them said "Tru dat".  Really?  That doesn't seem to go with chess.

It made the travel time go MUCH faster and the boys really enjoyed each other's company.

Praises for family and for safe travels.
Middle Boy is losing hope.  Quickly.

When he called tonight he asked me to please tell him good news...please tell him he was coming home.  He knows that I can't do that.  I have been really fighting to not show him my frustation in the process.  He thinks it is going too slow.  I agree.  This is my frustration, too.

He told me this was his worst day yet.  I asked if something specific happened to make it worse than the others.  He said "Mom, I am in jail.  How do expect my days to be?'. 

I started to cry.  Silent tears running down my face.  I know his days are hard.  I don't want him to know that I, too, am frustrated. 

I did my best in the conversation.  I really did.  I asked him to call me again tonight, because I want to talk to him.  I want to pray with him.  I want him to know that I will not leave and that I love him.  I need him to know that.

My heart is breaking for him tonight.  He is sad.  He wants to come home.  He has a problem with depression.  I don't want it to get worse.

Prayers for hope.  Prayers for peace.  Prayers for my strength to increase so I can help to hold him together when I want to fall apart.
Younger Boy's school called this afternoon.  They think he might be a migraine sufferer.  Apparently he goes to the office quite often with headaches.  This is the first I have heard of it.  He wears glasses and his eyes were recently checked so I know it isn't his eyesight.

Today he went to the office in the morning complaining of a bad headache.  He rested and it went away.  Shortly after lunch he was back telling them he had a headache and everything was black.  Shortly after he threw up and then felt fine.

Of course, because he vomited he came home, because once you vomit at school you have to be out for twenty-four hours.

He wasn't going to school tomorrow, because we are headed to my grandma's 90th birthday party.  I guess I will just watch him tonight and make sure he is doing okay.

Prayers that he isn't a migraine sufferer and that this was just a fluke event.
This morning Middle Boy's team met to figure out a plan to present to Judge if we are able to get a detainment review. 

Here's what we are waiting for:

Public Defender has to file a motion to decline the appointment.  Once this has been filed it goes to Judge.  From there Judge selects a private attorney for Middle Boy and puts it in a court order.  This happens in a timely manner IF Judge is in next week.  There is no way of finding that out though.

Here's the plan:

We are going to have Middle Boy request a detainment review be held and that it be concurrent with the arraignment.  He has to request this of his attorney.

Judge does detainment reviews on Thursdays.  So optimistically we are probably looking at December 1st at the soonest, because of the Thanksgiving holiday.  He would be really happy about that, because he tells me every day he wishes he could get home for my birthday which just happens to be December 2nd.

He also needs to request an evaluation with a local abuse interview agency and a psychiatric evaluation.  We want him to request these so that they can be in motion so it doesn't drag out at the point of the arraignment.  If we look like we are on top of things it will help the case.

We also have plans for what he will be doing after school each day, how respite will be handled, how many times a week he will have therapy, and what we will do if he needs to do electronic monitoring.  We also have plans for weekend care.

The team is working really hard to get Middle Boy out of the juvenile center.  What is the likelihood...who knows?

Therapist A and I are going to work with him on the things he needs to request and how he needs to open up.  Traditionally he does not open up about anything.  He has done better with me than in the past, but we have a really long way to go.

Praise for an amazing team of people who love Middle Boy and want what is best for him.

Prayers that the attorney will be assigned soon and that the process will move quickly from there.
This morning I found out from Guardian ad Litem what the conflict of interest is in the case.

Public Defender had represented Middle Boy's bio mom in her neglect case.  It is not part of this same case, but is part of the same docket...or maybe I have that backward.  I'm not good with the legal jargon. 

Guardian ad Litem said this is a positive thing, because now Judge T has to appoint a private juvenile attorney to handle the case and they are generally very good and will be more open to filing the early motion for detention review.

God is so good.  I never would have expected this outcome.  I was prepared to hire a private attorney for Middle Boy to help him through this.

Praises for things working out for good.
Middle Boy is calling quite often now. 

He tells me the minimum number of calls is going to be two on the days of visits and three on the days of no visits.  He is calling more now, but I didn't say anything.

We have kind of gotten into a routine.  He calls in the mornings between classes and when I am leaving work.  He also calls sometime in the evening to tell me good night and to have me read the Bible story to him out of our one year Bible.  That's our routine at home.

Tonight we were talking about him not showing emotion, but feeling it.  How he can be stone-faced.  He asked if I have noticed.  Of course.  I grew up in a house where everyone was like that....everyone.  He said it is a problem and he wants to work on it.  We will work on it...both of us.

He told me he can't call tomorrow morning, because he has a flag football game right before lunch and if he calls me he will be "too emotional" to play and he needs to have his game face on.  I love this boy.  I would have never in a million years expected him to say something like that....NEVER.

Prayers for Middle Boy.  Prayers for his safety and well-being.  Prayers he continues to have hope.
Homework is not a game.  Not a game at all.

Younger Boy treats it like a game.  I'm not sure what he wants the outcome to be.  He puts A LOT of effort into not doing it.  A whole lot of effort.

He has FOUR projects that are either due this week or already late.  Younger Boy leaves things at daycare so that the teacher knows they are in his bag and yet they don't materialize at home.  He does his homework and then doesn't actually turn it in, but instead throws it away at daycare. 

He told me tonight that if it is already past due there is no reason to do it.  In our school system you have every opportunity to turn it in until the end of the quarter.  I don't agree with it, but that is how it works.  I told him that it makes it all the more important if it was already due, because it was going to be getting in the way of the things that aren't due yet and that we are going to work on things in order.

I asked him if he knew why he does this.  I asked him if he understood that this isn't a game.  Homework is serious.  It is his first responsibility in life as a kid.  He doesn't have to worry about anything else.  I explained that the choices he is making RIGHT NOW are going to follow him for a very long time and so he is at a crossroads.  It is his responsibility to choose.

I HATE having this discussion with him OVER and OVER.  There are no consequences or rewards that get through to him on this topic.  In many ways I feel like I am beating my head on a wall.

Prayers that he would understand the importance of education.

Prayers that I would have patience while he is figuring that out.
Today was my regular visit with Middle Boy.  It was nice.  It was normal.

He really wants to come home.  I really want him to come home.  I'm not sure what the likelihood of that being a reality is.  There are so many variables.

Today I found out that the Juvenile Public Defender's office isn't handling his case due to a conflict of interest.  I am not even sure what that could possibly mean.  Obviously I know what a conflict of interest is, but I am curious exactly what that conflict might be.

Wednesday visits are nice.  There aren't a lot of other people in the room so it isn't crowded and loud.  We can chat.  Today we played spades, because he has been claiming to be the best player EVER.  I kept telling him I was going to school him in it, but he didn't believe me.  When I left there after our hour long visit the score was Me FOUR Middle Boy TWO.  He claims that he was simply letting me win since I didn't previously know how to play two man spades.  Whatever!!

Praises for good visits.

Prayers for understanding what is going on with his attorney situation.  Everyone I have talked to doesn't really know what happens if the public defenders office has conflict of interest.
Tonight I went to a foster care support group meeting at my agency.  There were only two of us there.  I was really surprised.  Is foster care really that easy for everyone else that they don't need to talk to other foster parents? 

There is a great friendship developing between A and I.  She has been at all of the support group sessions I have been to.  Like me she is a single foster mom.  She just had "her" girls return home, but the older one is now staying with her for an indefinite length of time.  While our situations are very different in terms of the kiddos God entrusted us with I feel like we have a lot of the same things we are working through.

It was good to talk.  It was good to listen.  It was good to be teary-eyed together.

Praises for an agency who facilitates these meetings and for new friends.

Prayers for A and "her" girls.
My support system is AMAZING.  I just keep thanking God for all of the people who have volunteered to help Younger Boy and I both physically and emotionally.

C is hanging out with Younger Boy on Sunday when I go to visit Middle Boy.  By the time it is said and done it ends up being about three hours a week.  She is even making us dinner following the visit and isn't asking anything in return.  Younger Boy likes being there.  She has a dog and a cat to play with and also exercise equipment he can use.  She is willing to help every Sunday.  This is such a blessing for me since I don't have to worry about it.

A lifegroup from church is taking Younger Boy shopping for Operation Christmas Child.  They are going to work on three for Younger Boy, one for Middle Boy, and one for Older Boy.  I'm sure he will love the experience...especially having five adult women hanging out with him!!

There are so MANY very many.

Praises for support, prayers and help.  We certainly feel loved.
I was giving Service Coordinator the benefit of the doubt...I really was...until the whole vacation comment. I sent her an email this morning about not wanting to step on her toes and here is what I got in response...

You’re not stepping on my toes, and I know you are still going to adopt. I know you want him home as soon as possible, we all do. I think everyone just needs to keep in my that I’m still the case manager on this case (or at least am until his service coordinator comes back), and thus, until the adoption occurs, I am ultimately responsible for his safety, well-being, and am the one to have to answer to the judge for why things do or do not get done. If things start happening too fast and I don’t have control over it, it eventually comes back to bite me. I know you don’t feel as if I handled Older Boy's case well, but please don’t let that cloud your judgment on my case management style. I take a lot of pride in how I work with my families and in getting my families the services they need in the most timely manner I can. I can only hope that you can see that in how I work with you and Middle Boy, but you need to trust me.

I am trying. I really am, but honestly her track record with me is horrible. I am just going to let this go.

Pray I can trust Service Coordinator to work for the good of Middle Boy. I am really struggling with it right now and it isn't going to make things better.
We don't know who our public defender is.  We are waiting on the assignment which generally takes five to seven days.  The office told me to call every day until there is one.

A little frustrating, but in the grand scheme of how fast the system moves it isn't bad.

Pray for the best possible public defender for this case.
Middle Boy calls his Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) "Gloom and Doom".  She knows this.  She acknowledges that there has never once been a time when she went to him to tell him anything positive.

I talked with her for a while this morning.  She isn't "Gloom and Doom" she's real.  She is fighting for Middle Boy, but she isn't optimistic that we will be able to get a detention review prior to the arraignment.  She is going to be meeting with his public defender on the case, because she can't file any motions for him now.  She is concerned about one of the charges against Middle Boy and how the public defender might view it.

I am no longer a legal party to the case, but she is going to do her best to keep me in the loop from her end.  Technically "pre-adoptive" parent has no status since he is not currently living in my home.  For that same reason I am not currently his foster parent.  The other thing I learned is that the adoption will be postponed, because he needs to live in my home six consecutive months in order for the adoption orders to be filed.

Pray GAL has some pull with the public defender.
Tonight Younger Boy expressed his displeasure at being an only child.  His logic is that if things get broken or happen in our house he is going to get blamed and he doesn't like it.

Let's take for instance the fact that someone went in the garage in the middle of the night last night and left the light on and the door to the house open.  I know it wasn't me.  For some reason I assumed it was Younger Boy.  Apparently that is frustrating to him.

He wrote a letter to Middle Boy tonight that said, "Please come home soon.  Being an only child stinks."  He signed it "I'm prying for you."  I think he meant praying, but I might be wrong.

Younger Boy actually seems to be adjusting fairly well.  Tonight he was so bored he sat and read a book FOR AN HOUR. 

Prayers for Younger Boy.  He is not used to having undivided attention from anyone and it is taking some adjusting.
There is a BIG team meeting on Middle Boy's case.  It includes me, Guardian ad Litem, CASA, Therapist A, Service Coordinator and Adoption Placement Worker.  We are going to flesh out a plan in the event that it is possible for Middle Boy to come home.

I was irritated with Service Coordinator yesterday when she told me she might not have time to have the meeting in the next two weeks, because she has a lot to do before her vacation.  Probably not what she should have said.

Adoption Placement Worker set up the meeting.  Everyone is concerned that with each passing day Middle Boy is getting further and further from us.  We all acknowledge that the charges against him aren't good, but we also know that there were mitigating circumstances.

Pray that a plan can be developed which is agreeable to Judge T.  The reality of the situation is that I am not a "family home" for Middle Boy and though I plan to adopt I currently have no relationship to the case so he could end up somewhere else until his trial.  That is frustrating, but it will likely go on the recommendations of the juvenile case review board.

Pray what is best for Middle Boy is done.  If it is not my home, pray that I can be accepting of that.
Today I think it clicked with Middle Boy that his is a big deal.  I think it was a combination of things.  Therapist A told him that is it serious.  That it isn't a game.  Since she is usually straight with him he started to get it.

He also told her he didn't want to talk about the whole case any more, because he would have to talk to the accuser.  Therapist A explained that is not the case at all.  Now he is ready to talk about it.

I knew he didn't really get it.

This has also really changed the dynamics of our phone calls both in what we talk about and the frequency of the calls.  He is opening up to me like he hasn't before.  We have been close since the day he moved in, but this is a whole new level.

The other thing that clicked was that he realized with the late December arraignment date he is going to miss my birthday.  He cried about it last night.  It broke my heart.  I told him that I am going to have many more birthdays he can help me celebrate if this one doesn't work out.  Besides...I am a little old to be going all out on the birthday thing anyway.

Praises for understanding and better communication.

Prayers for continued truth to be revealed....on both sides.
Younger Boy is home from his retreat.  He had a blast.  he talked all about it.  I think he made new friends...which he is really needing right now.

C picked him up and we had dinner at her house.  It was great to spend time talking to her and hanging out at her house.  She is such an unbelievable friend...unbelievable.

Younger Boy entertained himself by doing the elliptical machine and stationary bike in her basement.  He came upstairs in her house and he could hardly walk.  As tonight progressed it continued to get worse and now he is basically crawling around. 

He also can't stop eating.  I don't know where that is coming from.  He hardly ever eats anything.  Tonight I am not sure what all he has eaten there have been so many things.

Praises for a great retreat.  Praises for safe travels.
Middle Boy and I had a GREAT visit today. 

Honestly it started off a little rough.  I had some questions for him and it was TENSE.  We agreed that we didn't want our visits and calls to be awkward or tense and they will NEVER end that way.  Today we decided that we will talk about the tough stuff for 20 minutes of our hour long visits and the rest will be spent just working on our relationship.

We talked about what we are learning about each other.  He said he has learned that I am not leaving and that before he heard me saying it, but was still having trouble trusting it.  Now he trusts it.  That for Middle Boy is HUGE.

The rest of the time we just talked about what is going on.  He talked about his "friends" there and why they are all at the center.  He is in the toughest unit there.  It isn't good.  I couple of times I called him on the fact that he was using ridiculous slang.  I told him that I knew it is easy to start talking the way all of the people around you are talking, but that he has to not do it.

I love this boy.  I don't know what else to say.

Praises for protection and relationship.

Prayers for continued protection and conversation.
I spent the afternoon with a friend I don't see often.  It was nice to be able to get caught up with her.  She has been aware of what is going on in my life and I had warned her that I am not necessarily much fun to be around these days.  She didn't care.

That is one of the best kinds of friends to have.

She has been a single parent for about 10 years and it was good to talk to her about those things.  There are things as a single parent that are very different from a two parent household...obviously.  I enjoyed our time and I appreciate that she, too, is a sister in Christ.

More praises for friends.  I can never thank God enough for mine.
This morning I met the director of CASA for the state.  She had heard about our case late last week and was so glad that she was able to meet me.

We talked about the options we have for trying to move the arraignment hearing up or at the very least things we could do in the meantime to get Middle Boy home.

I am so thankful I came to church this morning.  I am thankful I was able to talk to her, because it was helpful.

She actually knows Middle Boy because he has been in the system since he was six.  He's now fourteen.

I don't know what kind of influence she has on the system or what help she can be to us, but I am thankful for her and her work with these foster kids...each and every one.

Praises for CASA and the role they play in the system.
I have never in my life cried as hard as I did this morning.  I think all of the roller coaster of emotion of the last four months finally caught up with me.  It was also foster care/adoption morning at church.  I wasn't sure I was even capable of going and doing it.

I was crying so hard I started to hyperventilate and then I threw up.  Pretty picture isn't it.  I didn't know you could cry that hard.  When I was finally able to take a deep breath and relax I was kind of relieved that I was able to let go of all of that emotion.  Generally speaking I hold most emotion in.

I feel better now.

Praises for being able to finally break down and cry and not having Younger Boy there when it happened.
Tonight we had game night at Gymnastic Coach's house.  There were four of us.  Gymnatics Coach is the perfect hostess.  She even makes triangle points on her toilet paper rolls!!

We ate like pigs and we played pass the pigs (or whatever it was called).  All of us are highly competitive so it was pretty spirited.

We laughed A LOT.  Those women are the best friends anyone could ever ask for.  They are supportive and they are real.  They love me and make me think.  They are smart and beautiful...inside and out.

Praises God blessed me with friends...truly sisters in Christ.
Denise's my first complete weekend with out kids since February.  I don't get nearly enough sleep.  I want to sleep in.  I think I am going to be able to and NO...up at 5:45am.  I don't even get up that early during the week.  Just as I was starting to doze off Younger Boy texted me from the retreat to see if I was having fun.  What on earth did he think I was doing at 7:15am?

After that I was up so I wrote a couple of letters to Middle Boy and did some things around the house that just seem to never get done.

I went and got a massage.  It was awesome.  I might have even slept through part of it.  The rest of it I know I talked to D who I always get my massages from.  We had a good discussion.  It was comforting for a lot of reasons.

Praises for some sleep and relaxation...not as much as I wanted, but some.
Tonight on the way to the fall retreat Younger Boy needed to pick up dinner to take with him on the bus.  Younger Boy has been eating kids meals the entire time he has lived with me and Middle Boy has been teasing him about getting "big boy" food.

Younger Boy decided he needed to get a "big boy" meal to take on the bus.  He decided it should be a big mac.  I told him I thought it would be way too messy to eat on the bus, but he was convinced.  In the grand scheme of things what do I really care if the clothes he is intending to wear for three straight days have big mac all over them.

Apparently I was right.  About 30 minutes later I got a phone call from the bus.  It was Younger Boy.  He just wanted me to know that big macs are too messy for busses.

I doubt this will change the frequency with which he listens to what I have to say, but it is nice to hear that for once he thinks I was right.

Prayers for safe travels for the youth group and an amazing weekend of transformed hearts and lives.
I am overwhelmed in a good way.  Overwhelmed by the number of people who love Middle Boy and are praying for him.  Overwhelmed by the number of people who have reached out to me to tell me they love me and that they are willing to do whatever they need to do to help us...emotionally or practically.

God is so good.  He has put all of these truly amazing people into my life to show me unconditional love and the love of Jesus.

I know that in this journey I am not alone. 

Praises for an amazing support system.  For people who listen to me cry and people who make me laugh.  I need you all.
Today I feel like I got kicked in the stomach.  I found out that Middle Boy's arraignment hearing is going to be in late December.  That stinks.  No doubt about it.

I feel like I am literally going to lose it.  I want Middle Boy to come home.  I should have protected him better.

CASA, Therapist A, and GAL and are I trying really hard to figure out a way to get him arraigned early.  To find who our is attorney is and whether or not we should pursue one on our own.  We need someone who will fight for him.  We need him to move out of DCYC.

The only positive thing to this delay that it gives me a chance to prove that I will not leave.

By the time the end of December rolls around Middle Boy would have been there longer than he would have been in my home.  This is not what I want. 

Middle Boy is remorseful.  He hates what happened and how he doesn't really know the details.

Please keep praying.
Tonight I talked to my sister about Middle Boy.  I am so thankful for her supportiveness and her prayers.  I love that my sister is also my friend and how more than anyone she knows why I am the way I am.  Why I care about the things I care about and why I make the decisions I make. 

She hasn't met Middle Boy, but she loves him, because I love him.

We are praying she and her family will be able to meet him soon.
Younger Boy is REALLY struggling with Middle Boy being gone.  In his case trauma (which this is to him) reverts him back to being like a three or four year old since that is when he was taken from his home.  He is crying and jumping up and down when he doesn’t get his way.  He is sucking his thumb.

Wednesday night we were talking about his fall retreat and he said “are you just trying to send me away too?”.  He immediately followed it up with “I’m just kiding."  He’s not.  If it comes out of his mouth it is in his mind.  Tonight he packed himself, but then told me he didn’t want me to stay home alone.  He was worried I would be too sad.  I told him I would be just fine and that he should go and have a lot of fun and learn so that he could tell Middle Boy when he came home.

He is sleeping in Middle Boy’s bed, wrapped in Middle Boy’s baby blanket, with Middle Boy’s stuffed animal.  He cried last night, because he just wants Middle Boy to come back home.  So do I.  I am going to ask Middle Boy to call us Sunday night after Younger Boy gets home so he can talk to him, but it isn’t going to happen before that.

Prayers Younger Boy has peace about life right now and that he trusts he is not leaving.
Middle Boy can call me once a day right now for free and additionally at $2.00 per call.  He called yesterday afternoon to talk.  At the end of the conversation he said "I hate to ask you this, but would you pay for another call each day?"  I told him to call me 10 times a day if he wants to talk 10 times a day.  I will pay for each and every call.  It's worth it to continue to get him to trust me and to continue to build our relationship.

We had a good discussion.  He seemed upbeat for the most part.  He said that the best part of his day right now is calling me and the optional Bible study he can go to every morning.  He cried when he told me he just wants to come home.

I told him I was writing him letters every day.  He said he had written two to me so far and he hoped I would get them soon.  That is the maximum he can send. 

Therapist A had originally told me that I should not expect him to call and write, because he might not yet understand how to be in a family.  He might not get that I love him and won't leave.  I actually asked her if it would be too much for him if I wrote every day and he called every day.  She didn't think so.

Praises for the ability to still be able to communicate with him.

Prayers we will continue to be able to develop our relationship through these calls and letters and more importantly that he will be able to come home soon.
Up until an hour ago I hadn't talked to my parents about the events of earlier in the week.  I didn't know what to say.  I didn't know their reaction and I desperately needed them to understand how much I love Middle Boy and how I still want to adopt him.

I didn't give my parents enough credit.  To that I owe them an apology.

My mom and dad are so supportive of me in this...of Middle Boy in this.  They are and continue to be excited to have him as a part of our family.  They fell in love with him, too.

I mentioned I was afraid they wouldn't understand.  They said they couldn't be more proud of me for sticking with Middle Boy for my unfailing love for him.  They said it would have been disappointing to them had I chosen to do anything else.  Their blessing matters.

Praises to God for giving me the most incredible parents.  I hope that one day Middle Boy and Younger Boy will be able to look at me and see that I was at least half the parent to them that my parents are to me.
The past few days have been hard...really hard.  The outpouring of love and prayers I have been surrounded with has been nothing short of miraculous.  There are LITERALLY hundreds of people praying for Middle Boy.

For those of you who don't know what is going on Middle Boy was charged and send to the juvenile justice center on Tuesday.  He was taken from school and booked at the detention center on Tuesday morning before I even received a call.  I was in shock.  I was scared.  I couldn't talk to him until last night during visiting hours.  He could have called me, but didn't know my number.  He's scared.

I have spent countless hours meeting with his care team...his therapist, guardian ad litem, and caseworker.  Although there is no denial he was involved there is no history and the expert opinion is that this is an isolated provoked incident.  They fought yesterday at his detention hearing for him to be released back to me.  I want to take him back...I will take him back.

I met with Middle Boy last night.  He told me he was surprised to see me.  He figured I would simply walk away and write him off.  That isn't me.  I love this boy unconditionally.  I love him as if I had given birth to him.  I am thankful God brought him into my life.  I am beginning to understand that our relationship is intended for me to show him unconditional love.  Both Middle Boy and Younger Boy.

Pray for Middle Boy.  This is going to be a lot for us to navigate.  We have a long way to go before he is back home and we can finish the adoption.

Pray for Younger Boy.  He doesn't want to be an only child.  He misses Middle Boy...very much.  He is sleeping with Middle Boy's blanket and teddy bear.  He has written him numerous letters.

If you are at all interested in writing Middle Boy a letter of encouragement or telling how much God loves him or even how much I love him email me.  I would be happy to pass along his contact information at the detention center.

Thanks for prayers.  Thanks for understanding.  Thanks for helping me wipe away tears and giving me things to do so I didn't just throw up.
I can't even begin to tell you how loved I feel.  How loved the boys feel.  I am encouraged by the words each of you has said.

My questions are many and the answers few.

I am surrounded and held up by a powerful God.

A friend sent me the lyrics to Perfect Laura Story.  For now I just need to rest in this:

Stay close by My side,
Keep your eyes on Me,
Though this life is hard,
I will give you perfect peace,

In this time of trial,
Pain that noone sees,
Trust me when I say,
I will give you perfect peace,

And you'll never walk alone,
And you'll never be in need,
Though I may not calm the storms around you,
You can hide in Me,

Burdens that you bear,
Offer no relief,
Let Me bear your load,
Cause I will give you perfect peace,

Stay close by My side,
And you'll never walk alone,
Keep your eyes on Me,
And you will never be in need,
Though this life is hard,
Know that I will always give you perfect peace,
I will give you perfect peace...
Thank you God for loving me and for loving these boys.
Today has been a hard of the hardest I have ever had to face.  It has me questioning God.  It has me questioning everything that brought me to this point.

As I sit and reflect on these boys and this place I am reminded of a song I posted a while ago....I need to write the words again....

Afraid to love something that could break
Could I move on if you were torn away?
I'm so close to what I can't control
I can't give you half my heart and pray it makes you whole

You're gonna have all of me, you're gonna have all of me,
Because you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing every fear
You're gonna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.

I won't let sadness steal you from my arms
I won't let pain keep you from my heart
Trade the fear of all that I could lose
For every moment I share with you

You're gonna have all of me, you're gonna have all of me,
Because you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start.

Heaven broke into this moment, it's too wonderful to speak
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me
So let me recklessly love you, even if I bleed
You're worth all of me, you're worth all of me

You're gonna have all of me, you're gonna have all of me,
Because you're worth every fallen tear, you're worth facing any fear
You're gonna know all my love, even if it's not enough
Enough to mend our broken hearts, giving you all of me is where I'll start

These this this time.  That is where God wants me.  I know that in my heart.  These boys are the boys God gave me to raise and I am going to love them and believe in them until I can't do it anymore.