Haters Gonna Hate

One of my favorite things about the preschool where my little ones go is that they stay in touch with me.  They let me know when the children struggle, when they are having good days, and when they are hilarious with their cereal:

Today was a huge day, in some pretty interesting ways.

First, my “Frenemies” blog from last night got more responses from any blog since the Joplin tornado.  People really responded to it, not to my exact situation, but to their own experiences of either struggling to find friends or struggling to be one.  It’s legit hard, sometimes, but it does make finding good friends worth it.

Right now I am back in Tulsa, where I have lots of friends I do not get to see because of working two full-time jobs and spending the rest of my precious time with my family.  I am so glad this season is almost finished!  We go to a ward where I do not even know people’s names, though I recognize the kind faces who have helped our family so much, as well as some of the brave faces who greet me as I breeze past wishing I got to stop and chat (or hiding since I don’t have to try).  But my heart is full of love for them, and I don’t know what I would have done without my church family in all these hard years.

Because last night was my overnight as chaplain, that meant I had today off.  This was so great!  I got to hang out in homeschool with the second graders, and we got through laundry (again).  The little ones went to preschool still, and Kyrie went another day tube free.  Once the children were finished and outside playing, I even got our taxes finished, which is always a relief.

And then I took care of me, and took a nap.

Really!  I did!  I know you don’t believe me, but I am working seriously on self-care.  Last night my overnight shift was not one of those nights where it is quiet and I mostly get to rest and sleep even though it is not as good as being at home in my own bed with Nathan.  It was one of those nights with one code blue after another, and I was so tired today!  So instead of working harder on the house, I got the big things done, and then let the rest go, and laid down and slept for a whole forty-five minutes.  BOOM.

I remember sitting down with Nathan’s parents and with the Bayleses last summer, talking about the chaplaincy residency, and how hard it this year would be.  We were really worried about how we would get through, and that was when we thought we would have their help.  But moving to Tulsa so that I could be home those extra two hours a day before and after work, instead of driving back and forth to Bartlesville, was really worth it for our family – even though it was a lot of work to move here and we miss our family and friends there.  It was the right thing, and the focused-on-our-family thing, and I am glad we did it.  We have had so many moments together that made worlds of difference, moments we would not have had if I had hours to drive each day and missed that extra time at home.

I still miss being at home, but Nathan calls me from pickup line at the preschool, and we FaceTime with the children.

I love that man.

I call when they are finishing supper, for prayers and good night tele-kisses before he tucks them in.

Except for on extra exciting nights, when second graders have tickets to the ballet!

Many thanks to Nathan’s parents, who drove all the way down tonight to stay with the little ones while Nathan had a date with Mary, Alex, and Kirk.  They had such fun!  I am very excited for my residency to be almost finished, so I can play, too!

The other big thing today was that we got our first haters!  We got our first nasty remarks in some comments on social media, which we knew would happen as not all the reviews can be positive.  Obviously not having read the book, one lady was saying that we should have written about our experiences of fostering instead of what happened to the children before we got them.  We assured her she could get the book and learn all about our fostering experiences.

A second nastygram came in an fairly legitimate concern about us telling stories that belong to the children.  They said that we should not tell the children’s stories at all, because now we have made that public and the children don’t get a voice in what is shared.

It is actually a totally valid concern, and I agree with it.

Except that it’s not entirely accurate in our case.

Our children had stories already made public by biological families and in one case, a foster family that did not follow privacy rules and got their home shut down and all fosters removed because of it.  So their stories were already public, and some of it even on the news as well.  Because of all this, the children were being traumatized by those versions of their stories and wanted to tell it their own way.  They worked on this in therapy, sharing their story in their own way, and we still do that when we go around to speaking engagements.  But they also get to share their story through the book, and the children helped choose which stories to tell or not, and they have listened to the whole book several times and approved it before publishing.  Kyrie was too young, it’s true, but our focus on her is the advocating work, and that just requires sharing a story.

We have an older daughter who did not want to be included, and we respected her wishes.  We rarely talk about her, not because we don’t love her, but simply to respect her privacy.  As the other children have gotten older, what we share in the blog and how we share it has also changed.  The children also often pick which pictures of theirs they want to share, and still love making their song videos.  They love having a YouTube channel where they can watch a playlist of themselves!  It’s so funny!  But as they grow, we hope that shifts into their own voice in some way, and will become more about their own style and voice than us helping them do it.  We totally agree that they are individuals, and get their own votes – and that those votes shift and change as they grow.

Mostly I love that they still like dressing up in matching clothes, because I know those days are numbered.

Besides that, the response to people sharing our story through the Humans of Foster Care facebook page has been outstanding!  Emails are pouring in, of families who have now signed up to be foster parents, or foster parents who called caseworkers because now they have the courage to go ahead and adopt, or special needs moms who are now connecting together, and even many former foster and adopted youth who want to share their stories, too, and talk about how to connect with their biological families.  It’s so huge!

And on Amazon?  People buying the book?  Our book has jumped all the way up to 25,000 in the rankings (out of two million), which is huge even if not fancy, and we are grateful for people spreading the word.   We are getting so many foster agencies and CASA agencies and other advocacy groups saying they purchased it for their libraries for parents, and so many high schools and colleges who are getting the book as required reading textbooks for their classes.   We are so excited that people are finding it, and hope it is doing well.

In the meantime, I am avoiding the hard work of writing the next chapter of our next book, so I ought to work on that while I can!

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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