It sounds cliche to say "I just haven't had time to post"... but it's really true. Since my last post here's a brief version of what's happened:
1) We got licensed as foster parents
2) I finished up a pretty intense semester of school
3) I continued to struggle with several health issues that give me a lot of pain and fatigue
4) We got a call about an allegedly gorgeous 1 year old girl in perfect health who was a rare "truly fost-adopt placement" (in the words of the caseworker who called us) in that the TPR process had already started and she had been in a kinship care situation that was no longer working out due to nothing related to the baby. My hands shook, I could hardly contain myself. And then 1/2 hour later we got a call back saying "Uh, just kidding. We found another family member." We both felt really sad for a day or two, but praying for the baby and feeling happy for her that she was able to be with a family member got us through that.
5) We got a call about a teenager. Um, what? What part of "0-5" don't you understand, Agency?
6) We got a call about 1 and 9 year old brothers in mid-June. Because we are completely out of our minds insane we said YES! Little Guy, age 1, was a chubby and delicious and unusually adorable bundle of sweetness. An easy baby who slept through the night, was easily comforted, and adored his brother, Big Guy, like nothing else. He followed him around the house like a puppy dog and belly-laughed every time Big Guy yelled or whined or threw a tantrum. Big Guy was handsome fellow, with a sweet neshama (soul). Kind and helpful and funny and affectionate, when doing well... and extremely behaviorally challenged when not doing well. Diagnoses include Oppositional-Defiance Disorder (ODD), ADHD, depression, anxiety, impulse control disorder, so on and so forth.
7) After a week with us, our Agency totally screwed up their court case, which led to the judge requiring that Little Guy being returned home... but not Big Guy. So now the boys became separated, and for the last 6 weeks we've just had Big Guy, whose honeymoon period ended after 2 or 3 weeks with us. Since then we've been spending most of our energy managing his incredible tantrums and outbursts, which include throwing and breaking things, turning over furniture, threatening to run away, and threatening to hurt himself. In between those challenging episodes, he shows how much some of his behaviors have improved, he shows how much he's bonded with us (he's now asking if he can call us both Mom, and even though we told him we thought it was too early and we didn't want his Mommy to get upset, he's started to occasionally call us Mom-type names), he a pleasure to be around, and he amuses us ceaselessly. School says he's doing better since he's been with us. All his social workers are impressed. Yet at home, we are struggling with how much we are in love with this boy yet how totally clueless we are about how to manage some of his behaviors.
8) So, we're foster parents. It feels like it's been a lifetime. This has been the longest 6 weeks of my life. We know rationally that we're doing a great job with him, even if emotionally it doesn't always feel that way. It seems like Hashem (G-d) must have known what He was doing in leading a 9 year old with intense behavioral issues to our family instead of the 0-5 year olds with mild to moderate needs that we had originally signed up for. Except at the very most difficult times (when I am exhausted and hurt and angry and frustrated and sad and burnt out, and feel utterly isolated and unsupported) I feel like this was totally Meant To Be and I am so grateful that we've had the opportunity to learn how fulfilling it can feel to parent an older child. I miss Little Guy so much. We see him at Big Guy's weekly visits, and sometimes get to hold him. I am angry they have been separated - Angrier than words can express. At the same time, it's amazing to me the ways in which parenting an older child can actually be more satisfying than parenting a baby. I never would have dreamed I could handle this. But so far, I can. Just barely.