Foster Swell: Full House
Foster Love. Foster Kindness. Foster Swell.
Our Full House, by Ashley O'Brien
Ashley lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband and son. They are a foster family and have had seven children so far in and out of their home. Ashley is a stay at home mom to all the beautiful children currently in their home, a coffee lover, and a self-proclaimed over-grammer.
Her family has had the incredible privilege of being a part of positive reunification of children in her home with their biological families and she hopes to continue to be able to be a part of more children's lives and the journey of getting them back home.
My husband and I haven't been doing foster care for very long. In fact we've only been at this for six months, but in that short amount of time we had the privilege of loving two very special babies.
We met The Bean when he was days away from turning four months old and he was perfect for us. A month later we received a call from the county saying they needed a home for a four day old baby girl. We accepted the placement and nicknamed her Rae.
It was crazy. My husband and I were now parenting a newborn, a four month old & our son who is two. We didn't sleep much. We changed a lot of diapers. We spent most of our days feeding, burping and cooing at tiny people and overall we were just plain overwhelmed. But in all the chaos we found time to fall deeply in love with The Bean and Rae and felt our family was complete with them in it.
The only problem with that complete feeling we had is that these precious children had biological family that were fighting very hard to get their babies back.
We knew The Bean had a daddy and he was moving Heaven and earth to prove to the judge he could provide for his son. We knew that Rae had a mama that completely changed her life around and wanted to be a better person so that Rae would have a stable loving and healthy home. Even though these babies had families who wanted and loved them it was impossible to imagine our family without them.
But then for our monthly check in with his case worker we were given the news: court is in four days and it seems like The Bean will be going home. And that's exactly what happened. Rather than try to explain it all over again this is an excerpt from my blog on my thoughts on the reunification for The Bean:
"The morning he left was the final court hearing where The Bean would officially be reunified with family.
I had the incredible privilege of sitting in the back of the court room and watching bio-dad fall to his knees in tears & praising God as the judge awarded him full custody. I couldn't even begin to grasp the loss I would soon feel because his joy was far too contagious."-
I feel incredibly privileged to have had such a small part in this beautiful reunification. I thank God for allowing The Bean to show up at our door & needing our love. I thank God that his mom and dad both want him, love him & will work together to keep him safe & happy. But, in spite of all the wonderful that this particular case has held, it does not lessen the pain that we feel.
Then not long after we said goodbye to The Bean we received news that it was finally time to say goodbye to Rae. The morning of her reunification I took a minute to share my feelings on my blog. here is an excerpt:
"Today at 8:30 AM our beautiful little Rae of Sunshine will be leaving to be reunified with her mama.
We love the way that Rae & her mama are together and the joy they share in each others company so we feel a little comfort knowing Rae will probably be happy in her new home."
When The Bean left, he took a piece of my heart with him and when Rae leaves in just a few hours, she'll be taking a piece of my heart with her, too. How many more times can we get attached only to let them go? People are right when they say "I can never do that. I'd get too attached" because it's true. You do get too attached. You watch this child blossom and bloom right in front of your eyes. You watch them learn to trust and love. You watch them find joy and happiness.
So, despite the hurt we feel, we continue on.
We will love more children that will probably go. And we will experience so much joy in sharing their life that we will attach to them and hand over a piece of our hearts when they go too.
Foster care is by far the most complicated adventure I have ever been on.
There are moments of such beauty and moments of incredible pain. And often the beauty and pain somehow coexist in the very same moment.-
We hope one day to adopt. We hope one day we meet the child we do not have to say goodbye to.
But for now, we feel so honored and privileged to have been a part of The Bean and Rae's story. We got to play a role in keeping their family intact. We got to meet dad and pray for him. We got to meet mom and bond with her. And when it was time to say goodbye we were confident we did our job well and their parents were ready to love their little people.
In order to accommodate their growing family through adoption (they currently have a pregnant teen living with them) and other placements looming, friends have set up an auction account on Instagram to help the O'Briens with the purchase of a new van.