Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska – Foster Care Feature

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From Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska—the story of the Eske family’s adventure in foster care adoption in their own words.

Most journeys begin with a plan. Our “plan” was to get into the foster care system long enough to adopt one Caucasian girl between the ages of 4 and 6, and then get out. If you have been in foster care for awhile, well, we can hear you laughing at us. I guess we now know that foster care is not so much a journey as it is an adventure; less planned than a journey, easier with a proficient guide, and a bit more unpredictable and exciting!

Some of our “plan” has been realized. We did become a foster family, we are going down the adoption path, and we got the gender correct. That’s about it. Nearly three years ago two beautiful young Sudanese ladies moved in with my husband, my 11-year-old daughter, and me. (Their average ages fell somewhere between 4 and 6, so I think we can count that as “in line” with the plan!)

Our adventure started on a Monday, about one week before Christmas. We learned that two girls needed a home and, oh, by the way, they need this by the end of the week! We said “yes!,”  and on Tuesday met with Lutheran Family Services (LFS) to learn more. We decided to keep going, so Wednesday the girls came to our home for a short visit. Still, green lights — so Thursday we rearranged our home to accommodate two more kids. Friday? Welcome day for our new family members.  Saturday, we brought Christmas gifts to all three girls via the LFS Christmas party, and on Sunday my husband and I snuck away to do some serious power shopping as our new daughters met their new cousins.  Monday, we baked and decorated Christmas cookies with yet another set of new relatives. We continued to proceed.

I knew our adventure would be an experience, but our experiences have run the gamut. For instance, I have felt wonder and awe when, out of the blue, my new 3-year-old gave me a kiss during a very crowded children’s mass that first Christmas.  I recall the overwhelmingly massive pile of clothing, completely void of underwear that moved in with the girls. Was it dirty? Was it clean? I was not sure.

We were moved by the outpouring of generosity and support we received from our families, friends, and co-workers.  We have never really been in this alone, thanks to our extended family. We have felt the apprehension of phone calls with biological parents and the excitement and fun of sibling visits.

We’ve seen the pain in our oldest daughter’s eyes when she answered our question, “What can we do for you?” with “I want a door that locks.” She had been an only child for 11 years and early on all three girls were sharing one big bedroom upstairs.  She got her locking door within a month.

We have experienced our first call from the school reporting behavior problems, but at the same time watched a very bright girl quickly go from the “beginning” level to the “advanced” level academically.  We’ve watched the drudgery of court hearings and felt the inner conflict that results from the termination of parental rights.  It’s a terribly sad thing, even if it’s the right thing.  We’ve felt the panic of recurrent vivid nightmares along with the power to “make it better” with holding and rocking (and a little deep breathing on everyone’s part).

We’ve experienced the frustration of a kid who, after about a year, figured out how to push our buttons and the relief and confidence of knowing we can keep our cool and control the situation.  We’ve witnessed the foster care reform initiative roll out and remain frustrated and confused.  We’ve dealt with difficult therapy sessions that were thankfully followed by dance class, generally a positive activity.  We’ve felt a strange sense of peace when the girls are actually having engaging conversation with each other. The list could go on and on.

We have felt the self doubt that sometimes comes with realizing the monumental importance of what we are doing.  But in the end, as I stated above, we proceed. We proceed in our mission to unconditionally love and build a strong foundation under each of OUR three girls.

For more information about Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska or to find out more information about foster care adoption please contact Jewel Schifferns at jschifferns@LFSneb.org or visit www.LFSBneb.org.