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Fostering and adopting has changed everything for us.  Some of the changes have been the biggest blessings for us, and some have taken some getting used to.  There are some changes that people tell you about:  the children change your heart and how you view the world.  And some changes people don’t tell you:  it’s very lonely. 

-I’ve traded eating out at most restaurants for cooking.  EVERY meal.  Sometimes that’s no big deal, but some days, like Sundays after church, I’d love to take the crew to a pizza place…or a Chinese buffet….or even McYuck’s…err…McDonalds.  Eating out is a luxury when you have {almost} 7 children.

-I’ve traded Quiet rainy days reading my favorite book (or reading ANY.THING) for playing Bouncer to what seems like a rowdy club, refereeing wrestling matches, and playing all-around Overseer of Everything. 

-I’ve traded my perfectly manicured nails and monthly trips to the nail salon to letting my 6 & 7 year girls paint my chipped, splitting, and dry nails.  The colors probably won’t match, and I’ll end up with more on my fingers than my nails, but the company is phenomenal and they are so eager to please.  In their eyes they are pampering ME, and that’s just what we’ll leave it as.  Who cares if my nails match the seasons or display the newest character from a kid movie…. {sob sob} OK, I care sometimes.  I really miss that pampering.  But my girls are precious and that’s all that matters.

-I’ve traded my cute car in for a sport SUV, to a bigger SUV, to something that now holds  all 8 of us….except that there is a 9th coming next month (and no I’m not pregnant).  At this point, I need a 12 passenger van.  Seriously.

-I’ve traded sitting in front of the TV, watching my favorite show while eating our dinner, for family dinners actually around the dinner table.  This has been a really, really nice change.  There is mounds of laughter, talk of the day, and discussions on every topic you can imagine.  There is no TV in the dining room, and rule states the TV in the living room must be off.  Always.  Yes, we really do family meals at the table.

-I’ve traded ordering ooey-gooey pizza from Papa John’s (my personal FAVORITE pizza place) for homemade pizzas made by the kids.  The girls, don their adorable aprons, with ingredients scattering the counter….laughter bouncing off every surface in the kitchen.  These are wonderful memories.  Some days I miss Papa Johns, but most days I don’t.

-I’ve traded invitations to just about anywhere, for staying home and making memories with my {not-so-small} family.  On one hand, this has been the biggest adjustment, and the hardest to accept, and on the other, it’s always nice to be with each other.  When you have {almost} 9 of you, people stop inviting you to things (“They have 6 kids!”).  It gets lonely.  Sometimes, it gets really lonely.  No more fun night outs playing games with friends or just having dinner together.  There are no invitations with the fun groups from church to go out after the service.  People don’t invite you to the parties or holiday get-togethers.  Just accept it.  Learn to make your own fun so your kids won’t notice what they are missing.  Start your own traditions.  It really will be OK…..you’ll need to remind yourself of this. 

-I’ve traded any semblance of a clean house and organization for anything close to sanitary.  Just keep it sanitary.  Just pick up YOUR things.  Just do YOUR chores for the day.  Just wash YOUR body.  No, no…you don’t need to wash your BROTHER’S body….just worry about yourself.  And pray no one comes over.  If they do, just apologize.  A lot.  There’s no blood on the floor TODAY.  You should have been here yesterday…..

-I’ve traded a modest ability to keep everything together and running smoothly…..to just keeping everyone alive through the entire day.  Most days, I fly by the seat of my pants.  I have no idea what I am doing or even supposed to be doing at this point.  I’m not even sure everyone is even mine….but really, when you have so many kids, does it really matter?  If my phone is ever lost, what tiny thread of organization will be gone.  My calendar on my phone keeps me going.  If “breathe” is not written in, it’s not going to happen.

When you foster and adopt, you trade a lot of things.  Some will be good and some will not be good.  I have to remind myself sometimes what is a NEED and what is a WANT.  Nowadays, we focus on the NEEDS.  And while everyone else around me is focused on Black Friday shopping and what sale item they want…..I am focusing on the more important things…..like changing children’s lives.  I’m focused on trying to save “just one more”. 

Go visit an Emergency Children’s Shelter near you.  I promise it’ll change your perspective.  And hopefully you’ll start “trading” in a few things too. Winking smile

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