What I Learned from a Middle Schooler

I've written primarily about our foster care journey on this blog through my eyes, but I learned tonight to see the journey more clearly through the eyes of my middle schooler, Grant.

Tonight Grant and I went on a mother/son date. He had Open House at his school and Shannon and the younger kids had other commitments, so it meant it was just Grant and me time. A time that I deeply cherish. That means splitting a steak at Grant's absolute favorite restaurant, Longhorn, and getting some good talking time in. I love that he still talks to me and that now he is talking to me on a deeper level.

We opened dinner with a reorganization of school notebooks - oh my, not sure how he finds anything! Our dinner came and we proceeded to move to talk about the day. We spoke of his favorite parts, the work he's doing in one of his extracurricular clubs, his favorite teachers and what I should expect at Open House tonight.

Then, just as the check came, Grant asked for an update on Sugar Ray. We have decided that he is at the maturity level to handle some of the honest answers that come with foster care. He specifically asked, "What's the status with Sugar Ray staying with us?"

My most honest answer, "I don't know." Because I truly have no idea. I told him that we had tested the baby's DNA with a potential father and that he had a potential grandmother interested in having him come live with her. That grandmother lives in Washington state.

His face and head dropped, and I think the color may have drained from his face. Upon me asking if he was okay he said, "I'm a little confused - I'm happy for Sugar Ray because he has family who wants him, but I also want the DNA test to come back not a match." I almost lost it in the middle of Longhorn. Oh yes, baby I understand that confusion. The struggle is real...

As I choked back tears, he pushed his plate away from him and said he had lost his appetite (there were only a few fries left - ha!). He proceeded to describe to me that feeling of nausea that comes over you when you are thinking of something really sad. And he talked about how Sugar Ray had been with us his whole life and that he didn't understand how someone would want to take him from us. He was worried that the baby may cry a lot if he moved somewhere else and then what would they do. Would he come back to our house?

All I could do is say that I completely understood. Because I did. He was describing my inner world in my head and my heart for the last month as this potential reality draws near for us.

And then it hit me what he was teaching me in this moment. He was showing me how to feel and react with no filter. No need to try to explain things away. No need to dodge the painful truth and the hard questions. He allowed me to simply sit in my pain and accepted that I didn't know all the answers. And he sat in his pain too. He gave me the gift of true empathy.

He also showed me what I already knew about him - that he is truly one of the coolest kids I know. He has a heart of gold that loves the Lord and his family and for that I couldn't be prouder. This moment showed me this truth and the tour through his schedule at school affirmed it. Every teacher said, "I love having Grant in class. He is such a neat kid."

From the previous experience with the school folder, I knew that didn't mean the most organized or put together. They had the chance to tell me anything they could about him and what they didn't say said a lot -  they didn't say he's the smartest, the coolest, the funniest or the cutest - they just said he was neat. To me that meant that he was simply himself and a joy to be around. What more could a parent ask for?

Thanks be to God for really neat kids.


  1. Aimee, This is beautiful! Gene and I can relate as we adopted our Dora at 10 weeks and Joey at 6 weeks. However, we had to wait 2 years for each one. Dora: we had to wait 13 months because they had to legally declare Dora abandoned. They didn't want to give her up. There was a financial problem and it couldn't be met. A long 13 months. Of course we didn't think about it all of the time, but it was there nonetheless.
    I will pray for you family. Just remember that God IS in control. Love you, Loretta


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