Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Tribute to My Grandpa

Yesterday, the world lost an incredible man.

My grandfather, who had just turned 80 this year, passed away last night from cancer. It was very quick, and unexpected. We didn't even know he had cancer until very recently.

I am so grateful that we were able to go visit him this weekend. We were able to talk to him a little bit, and to give support to my grandma.

I've been thinking about him a lot the last few days, and a scripture keeps popping into my head.

It's in Mosiah chapter 2.
 23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
 24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast? 
This scripture is about our Heavenly Father, but I've really found that it applies to my grandpa as well.

All my life, he's been there for me. He and my grandma paid for my college education when I attended Utah State University and when I went on my mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am indebted to them for so many reasons. However, it seems like whenever I try to do something for them, they instantly pay me, and I am only further in their debt. My grandparents are the greatest example of God-like service that I know.

When I attended BYU-I, they allowed me and my siblings to stay in their apartments for free. I was able to get a full-tuition scholarship as well, and because of that I came out of college debt-free.
When I married my husband, my grandparents again allowed us to stay in their married apartments for free. Because of that, we were able to pay off all of Kevin's hospital bills even though I had to have a c-section.

I can never pay back my grandparents for all the things that they have done for me.

One of my greatest desires was to someday approach my grandparents with a bunch of money and, at the very least, pay them back for my college tuition. I wanted to show them that the money that had invested in me had paid off, and that I hadn't wasted it.

I know that they wouldn't accept the money. That's not why they helped me out. However, it was still something I longed to do.

It hurts that now I'll never have the chance to say that to my grandpa.

It wasn't just me, either. They have spent thousands of dollars on their children and grandchildren. They were always there, willing to do anything they could to help us be successful. My grandpa leaves behind a legacy of love and service.

My grandpa is also the most intelligent and hardworking man that I know. Even in the hospital, he was still fixing and building computers. How many 80-year-old men know how to run a computer, let alone build one from scratch? His whole life, he's always been at the forefront of technology. He never retired.
This is one of my favorite pictures of my grandpa. He's in his element here, and doing what he does best

He taught me how to work. I began working on his apartments when I turned 11, and every summer I would work with my grandpa, dad, aunt, and siblings.

One of my favorite memories is when we were working all day on apartments, and we stopped for dinner. It was already dark, but we just sat on the porch of one of the apartments and talked. For some reason, that memory just has such a sense of tranquility for me. I loved working with him and I learned so many important skills. I am proud of my ability and strength that I gained from working. He helped me have high expectations for myself, and I've been really grateful that I've been able to help my grandparents again during the last few years.

I was also able to work for him in his computer store for a while, and I treasure the time I spent near him in the office. I learned a lot of important skills about keeping track of money and paperwork.

When I walked into his hospital room for the last time, he told me how beautiful I looked. I was a little surprised, because my grandfather has never really said things like that. He usually showed his love through service, and so his words meant a lot to me. He also told me he loved me. I knew he did, but I don't know that I've ever heard him say the words before that day.

He had the greatest sense of humor. Even though he couldn't speak above a whisper, he joked with my little "Superman" and smiled at my sister's baby. Even at the end, he was giving everything to his family.

We prayed and fasted for a miracle, but we didn't get the miracle we wanted. Instead, we got the miracle that he needed. His death wasn't long and lingering. He didn't have to be in pain for months and months, and I am so grateful for that.

My grandfather taught me about my Savior. He shared his testimony with me, and I loved to hear him pray when we would eat together. He was always kind to me and my family.

More than anything, I want my grandpa to be proud of me. I want him to see that everything that he invested in me was worth it. That I am worth it. I hope he knows how much I love him and how much I'm going to miss him. I want to live the rest of my life in a way that will make him proud.

I know that we can be together forever if I keep the covenants that I have made with my Heavenly Father, and that I will see him again. I have no doubt that my grandfather is resting now, and that Heavenly Father has an important mission for him on the other side.

I love you, Grandpa. Thank you, for everything. We'll miss you.
Until we meet again.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Foster Care Meetings 7&8

The last two foster care meetings were excellent. We finished our classes the Monday before Thanksgiving, and then everything has been a little crazy for a while. Between NaNoWriMo and some family concerns, the blog kind of got put on hold for a while. I'm hoping to do better from now on...but I have said that before.

Goals are good to have anyway.

Meeting 7: Long Term Separation; Adoption Issues for Families

This was a very interesting meeting. One of the primary reasons that we are looking to do foster care is because we would like to adopt some children. However, the main thing that we've learned through all of our classes is: if children can safely be with their parents, they WILL do better with their parents than with you.

In this class, we learned why. For the first part, a teenager in foster care came and talked to us. I can't go into any detail about her situation or most of the things she said, but it was really impressive how far she'd come and how well she was doing. We were supposed to have a larger panel, but the other teenagers weren't able to make it, so it was just one girl. It was really neat to hear things from her perspective though.

Here are my notes from this class:

  • The only way you adopt a a child through foster care is to have their family die. (Literally or figuratively. This was a tough one to hear. You want families to succeed, so in order for a kid to join your family, their family had to be so broken that there is no way they can return to their biological parents.) This point probably had the biggest impact on me.
  • When teens start creating their identity, they want to know where they come from. 
  • Plan how you're going to help your adopted children deal with their search for their bio parents.
  • We DO NOT talk to the children in foster care about adopiton until reunification is NOT POSSIBLE.
  • All questions and issues usually boil over during adolescence. 
  • Validate children's feelings. Don't dismiss the things they feel or say. Especially teenagers. 
  • Have open communication before an adopted child gets to the adolescent stage. They need to know EVERY aspect of their adoption story: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  • If you lie about anything, to them, you lied about everything.
  • If possible, and healthy, allow them to talk to their birth parents. Continue communication. Base your decision on what is best for the child, not you.
  • Don't push the kids to say "I love you," and don't make them call you Mom or Dad. Let the relationship progress at the child's pace. 
  • Don't be afraid to talk about their parents with them. 
  • Treat them like your own children. 
  • Children will test us to see if we really care. Don't give up on them, NO MATTER WHAT!
  • If someone asks about foster children, don't introduce them as foster kids. Just say, "These are my kids."
  • We are going to mess up. Just don't give up.
  • Let the children guide the discussions. 
  • Honesty is ALWAYS the best. 
  • Don't wait for the kdis to bring things up. Talk about everything. 
  • Foster kids ARE different. Celebrate the differences and help them feel accepted BECAUSE of their differences. 
  • Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful for it.
  • Children will go through the grief cycle. It may happen at any time adnthe children willtry to figure out what happened to them. 
  • What would it be like to never finish your process of self-creation? To never know the final piece that tell you who you are, and why you act the way you do? What would it be like to have no idea where you came from?
It was a really eye opening class for me. Life after adoption isn't cake. Even when children are infants, there are consequences that come from trauma. 

Open communication is so important for children who are in foster care and who are adopted. I think a lot of these things apply to children who are adopted through other means as well. The fact that they want to find their birth parents, doesn't mean they don't love their adopted parents. They are just trying to figure out who they are, and your biological parents are a big part of that. 

Meeting 8: Transcending Differences in Placements

Our last class was essentially about culture. The way we do things in our home is a culture, whether we recognize it as such or not. When children in foster care enter a home, they don't know how anything works, and everything foreign is another reason to feel uncomfortable. We need to try and incorporate our children's culture into our home when it is safe and appropriate to do so. 

  • What does your child like to eat?
  • Reunification, tell yourself they're going home. 
  • Build a relationship with bioparents. Ask them questions about what their children like and how to help them.
  • Don't focus on the things you don't have control over (like the court)
  • Save clothes receipts (Around $45 of the monthly reimbursement HAS to be spent on clothing.
  • People shouldn't be able to distinguish between your biological children and your foster children by how you treat them. 
  • Try and incorporate children's culture. 
  • Teenagers throw everything out that they've been told, and then they begin cherry-picking and forming their own identity. 
  • When children are given food they don't recognize, the brain's first reaction is to tell the child it isn't safe. 
  • Ask the children what they like to do with their family, and what their family does for things like birthdays. When a child comes into your home, everything is new. Have a flexible culture. 
  • Ask them what they want to do for their birthday, and then do it. 
  • What matters to them, needs to matter to you.
  • Am I aware of and sensitive to their culture?
  • They will be thinking literally. Don't expect them to conform to your culture. 
  • If you allow yourself to give up in team meetings, you eliminate your ability to help. 
  • What you don't talk out, you'll act out. 
  • Kids spell trust "t-i-m-e." 
For the very last thing that we did in our foster class, we watched the following video. The idea behind it is that "every child is just one caring adult away from being a success story."

I would highly recommend watching the video. I think it's applicable to everyone, even if they're not doing foster care. 

Here's the link: 

What next?

We've had a few people ask us what happens next. Our goal is to have foster kids by Christmas. We can't do our home inspection until we get our background checks done, and we can't go in any sooner than our appointment next week. Until then, we need to get our CPR/First Aid class done, and try and get our home ready for inspection.

We've had some pretty neat miracles. For example, we finally found someone who would haul away our hot tub and other garbage for free! It is so wonderful to have the junk that was left by the previous owners out of our home.

Here's everyone loading up the trailer.
Here's the backyard without the hot tub!
 Things seem to be going well. Both brother-in-laws are trying to find an apartment out of our home too. We're not sure how everything is going to work out yet, but I know the Lord is involved in it, so if we're supposed to have children from the foster care system in our home by Christmas, we will.