Unexpected Journey: Part 3 (A Surprising Interlude)

I got the first two posts in this series up quickly, almost as events were unfolding and then……silence. For nearly two months I left you hanging. Here is a small explanation of how my momentum was cut short.

Unexpected Journey: Part 1
Unexpected Journey: Part 2

I woke early. It was my birthday.

No matter that Mark was heading out of town later in the day (leaving me alone with 13 children, six of them under age 6 including the two ‘new’ children), we would have a little time together at breakfast and I always treasure time alone with him.

We enjoyed a nice, quiet breakfast together and then the children and I said goodbye as he headed off for a week of meetings.

A while later, I was sitting on the floor reading aloud to one of our foster kids when I noticed a piece of fuzz in his hair and pulled it out.

Only it wasn’t fuzz.

Even though I’d never seen one before, I knew. I KNEW, but I Googled it anyway.

It was.

I called over his sister and pulled open her beautiful, thick, dark hair. There they were, all over. There was no doubt about it. It was just like all those pictures from the Google search.

Those two sweet children had lice AND they’d already been living with us for a week, a week filled with long, snuggling hugs, head to head contact and lots of comforting as they dealt with the crisis in their lives.

reading with foster kids

The kids and I went into overdrive. We gathered bed linen and emptied laundry baskets and got my lovely new washing machine and dryer going.  I called a friend who ran to the store to gather some needed supplies for us.

And then I began combing and checking hair.

If I had known how many hours I would spend doing that over the next several days, I may not have been in such a hurry to get started, but the sight of all those nasty critters crawling all through that beautiful dark hair had me seriously motivated.

The children’s mom said to go ahead and shave the boy’s head, but I didn’t like the thought of no hair at all and so I buzzed it the same length as our boy’s hair. But, even with only a 1/4 inch of hair, there were more critters than we could count, so off it went and still, with head shaved, we were pulling them off.

About 2am we were finished for the day.

The older kids sang ‘Happy Birthday’. I laughed. Then we sat down and had a bowl of ice cream together.

The next day bright and early we were combing for lice again.

For 6 days (everyone was clear of lice and nits by day #3) the older kids and I spent 8-10 hours each day combing through hair. The younger kids made food and (mostly) kept the kitchen clean. I’m thankful that the baby was still nursing because that forced me to sit down a few times a day and rest, other than that I was combing for lice.

Mark was gone for the entire infestation. (He has great timing.)

A week later we spent another 10 hour day rechecking and a week after that we spent another 10 hour day rechecking.

I learned one very practical lesson during this process, when foster children arrive at your house, start their visit with a lice check and a good bath. 

All told, 7 people in our home had signs of at least some lice on their head. On the third day of checking EVERYONE was lice and nit free.

At the one week re-check we found one nit on one head and one nymph on another head (knowing the life cycle of lice this would be ‘normal’). At the two week check everyone was clear (also what you would expect).

Now you know what broke my posting momentum. After that first week of dealing with the lice we were SO behind on everything that it took a couple of weeks to recover. (Can I use the excuse that I’m still recovering?)

Next week, Unexpected Journey: Part 4 (I promise).

I posted about our process for treating lice naturally with essential oils, just in case you ever need it.

Part 1: The Call
Part 2: Doubts
Part 3 (surprising interlude) **you are here**
Part 4: Confirmation
Part 5: Happily Ever After

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29 Responses to Unexpected Journey: Part 3 (A Surprising Interlude)
  1. Jacqueline
    June 14, 2013 | 9:09 am

    Oh my…that’s tiring just reading about it! Glad you’ve got the little critters out now! And now I’ll go scratch my head, since reading this kind of stuff always makes me itchy!

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  2. Mrs.B
    June 14, 2013 | 9:45 am

    My sympathies! Lice is tough. We had to deal with it s few years ago . It was an exhausting process. Glad to hear it is gone now. You must be relieved.

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  3. Natalie
    June 14, 2013 | 9:50 am

    Kimberly – I literally felt my heart ACHING for you. I cannot believe you had to go through that. Just the thought makes me FREAK OUT. The clincher for me is that you did it without your husband there – at least for moral support. It sounds like you were forced to rise to the occasion and meet it head on. Enjoy “normal” life again!

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  4. tiffany
    June 14, 2013 | 9:51 am

    Your essential oil mix must work better than the store bought stuff. We messed around with the prescriptions and store bought stuff for two weeks before buying an all natural remedy online-clear lice. That worked but it took 3 weeks from start to finish!

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  5. Tami Lewis
    June 14, 2013 | 9:57 am

    Whoa! What a great start to your new life! I am praying that things stay better!

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  6. Jennifer
    June 14, 2013 | 10:03 am

    Ugh! Brings back memories from when we did foster care. I had 10 kids in my house when my foster child brought home lice from his own mother. She had it and refused to get rid of it. She gave it to them several times before they finally made her go into public health and get her head checked before she could visit them.
    Foster care has it’s goods, but a lot of bads unfortunately :( Between that, death threats, fear of bed bugs, and my son being sexually abused by a foster child, we finally quit after 6 years. After my son was abused social services opened a maltreatment case against US! They lied and put a child in our home that had been sexually abused and WE got a case opened. Just the fear of losing my own kids was enough to stop. Plus my own kids really need me. Doing foster care is a full time job and then some and my kids were really feeling neglected. We spent so much time with homework, redirecting, tons of various appointments, visitations, etc. that my own kids were now spending a lot of time missing us. They started acting out to get more attention.
    Anyways, my advice would be to get the mother and anyone else in her house checked, or you’ll keep getting them :(

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    This is a HUGE advantage of not doing traditional foster care with the government. We are working through a private, Christian organization so almost everything you mentioned is a very minor risk. This is a true charity situation. We are not getting paid by anyone to take and care for these kids, so we have control of what we can and can’t do.

    Rather than working with a godless state which places unbiblical and often unnecessary regulations and restrictions and which very often does not consider the child’s best interests, we are working with other Christians to minister to those in need in the name of Christ. (I am certainly not speaking against those who work with the state and DCS, I hope that Christians who feel that call will work to rescue children out of that situation.)

    For example, as soon as we found the lice, the director of Safe Families contacted the mom and told her that before she visited the children she and all the members of her household would have to go to the health department and get checked.

    The parents recognize that we (Safe Families) are serving them in the name of Christ. I had almost daily contact with the mom of our kids and had many opportunities to share Christ and His gospel with her. For her part, she was EXTREMELY grateful for our willingness to keep her children while she took time to get back on her feet.

    Safe Families does not take any children who have suffered abuse or neglect at the hands of the custodial parent or guardian (those are criminal charges and as such those cases are handled by the state and DCS). Certainly, it’s possible that no one knows, but when you do foster care through DCS you KNOW the children have suffered abuse or neglect (otherwise they wouldn’t have to be in the system).

    Because Safe Families is a group of believers teaming together to serve those in need in the name of Christ they are very conscious about the well-being of the families who volunteer to help. (For example, the director of SFFC will often take foster kids to appointments so as not to disrupt the host family too much.)

    I say all this so that other Christians will not be discouraged to step up to minister to those in need in our society. This is NOT the same level of risk as doing foster care through the state.

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    Eileen Reply:

    It seems as if the goals of the programs are different as well. The state of MD is VERY open with the fact that it’s goal in fostering out kids is that the foster parents end up adopting them. To this end, all of the licensing you need to become a foster parent, is also what you would need to adopt them. I was shocked at how little they talked about reunifying them with their birth parents.
    Kimberly — Your program seems to be more about providing children a safe and nurturing environment to stay while their parents get back on their feet. Because the goal isn’t separation from the parents, but the logistics are very different.
    As to Jennifer–I’m surprised you were put in such a situation. My understanding is that you have full rights to choose what children (and how many) enter your home. I’m so sorry your children suffered like that.

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Yes. The goals are different. Safe Families encourages host families to build a relationship and be a positive influence in the lives of the parents, if possible. I spent several hours on the phone with the mom of these two children (she lives about 3 hours away from us, an atypical situation) and she came to church with us one Sunday. If she had lived closer, we would probably have seen more of each other.

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    Maggie Reply:

    Kim,
    I don’t want to ask you to violate the privacy of the children you’re fostering and their parents, but could you tell us in general terms what types of circumstances lead to children being placed through the agency you’re working with? It sounds like these are cases where a parnet has voluntarily placed their children in the care of others- is that accurate?

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I will tell you some of the typical reasons that children are in SFFC, not necessarily the reasons we’ve had the children that we’ve had.

    Homelessness
    Job loss
    Medical conditions where hospitalization is required or they are simply unable to care for the children.

    Generally it is not problems with drugs or alcohol because then DCS would usually be involved.

    There are other reasons, but you are right, these parents are VOLUNTARILY placing their children with SF.

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    Maggie Reply:

    Thank you for your quick reply! It sounds like a better program to be involved in than state-run foster care, because the parents are more likely to see you as an ally than an enemy! :)

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Both moms that we’ve worked with have thanked us for caring for their children and we’ve had contact with both of them after their kids went back.

    I suspect that we may see the little one from this last hosting (ended this week) again someday.

  7. Stacey Blevins
    June 14, 2013 | 10:14 am

    Oh my goodness this is crazy! Lesson you learned is noted as we want to foster one day too! Glad u all are getting back to normal! Can’t wait to hear how to naturally treat!

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  8. Vickie
    June 14, 2013 | 10:27 am

    We went thru that a few years ago when we had some new kids in the house. Every time they went to visit their dad for the weekend, it would start all over!! We had it around for a few months. We learned that lice love dark places, so the darker the hair, the more that child had. That one happened to be one of my daughters and she was infected easily every.single.time. When the kids moved on, we decided to be sure we had it all cleared up…we got rid of pillows, blankets, mattresses, and even said good-bye to some very special stuffed animals. When our new kids get here, we’ll be checking for it. Even though they are coming from a foster home, you just never know.

    Those little buggers are tough! We had the kids shampoo with a T-Gel shampoo once a week (it has similar stuff as the Nit treatment)for about 6 weeks to be sure there were no stragglers.

    Not fun but a good one-on-one bonding time as I could sit, comb, and talk with the kids. Or watch a fun movie together as I combed.

    Now it is time for me to go take a shower after reading/talking about those little pests LOL

    Have a blessed day.

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  9. melanie fleming
    June 14, 2013 | 10:41 am

    We just had the lice issue here and only my daughter was infested (and a week later so was I). This was the first week I’ve even considered putting the lice comb away. I can’t even imagine having 7 infested.

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  10. Inga
    June 14, 2013 | 10:58 am

    Wow! I once had 3 foster kids bring lice home to my own 3, so I was combing out 7 people (including myself) for 2 weeks. I thought that was awful- I can’t imagine checking twice as many!

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  11. Babychaser
    June 14, 2013 | 1:50 pm

    Bless your heart! We have yet to deal with lice and I’m so glad.

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  12. JoyFilledMom
    June 14, 2013 | 3:03 pm

    Reading this makes me feel so lazy.

    You. Are. Awesome!!!

    Blessings to y’all.

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  13. Cheryl
    June 14, 2013 | 6:22 pm

    Hey Kimberly, glad you are lice free! Just a random note. I remember you were asking for feedback on washers and dryers before you purchased a set. What did you end up going with, and would you recommend it? We are probably going to start looking soon. So would appreciate the advice! Thanks! (Also, do you get the SL instructor’s guides or just go through the books on your own schedule? Trying to figure out if I should shell out more for the IG–we have many of the books already so I don’t need to order the whole core).

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    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    We went with LG front loaders (not the largest capacity because those would not have fit in our laundry area). We love them and would highly recommend.

    Yes. We always purchased the teacher manual. One year I tried to do it without, but the manual just brings everything together so perfectly and keeps me on a good pace to finish in a reasonable time frame. Mid-year I got out the manual and got back onto the program. It vastly improved our experience.

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  14. Rachael
    June 14, 2013 | 11:12 pm

    Ahhh, brings back memories……So sorry you went through that!! Made my head itch reading about it…lol

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  15. Carrie
    June 15, 2013 | 8:44 pm

    Kimberly,

    I was afraid the IRS had gotten you for Christian charity. The lice was probably just as creepy. Although, in the end you had happy faces & a disinfected house to comfort you.

    Many Blessings to you & your family!

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  16. Michelle @My Blessed Home
    June 15, 2013 | 9:56 pm

    Oh my, you poor thing! I’m so sorry you’ve had such a rough couple of weeks. I’m so glad, for your sake, that the lice ordeal is over. I’m sure that will be a story for years to come!

    As a side note, our pastor’s family is also working with Safe Families! They have three children of their own, and right around the same time that your sweet two additions came to stay with you, they had four children come to stay with them! The children have already gone back home now. I thought it so interesting that it was the same organization and the same time. Wonderful ministry!

    I’m glad you are back to blogging again!

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  17. Annette
    June 16, 2013 | 10:11 pm

    We have had our share of lice as well. Endless hours of combing out hair. One natural thing that worked for us EVERY time, was slathering on mayo and putting on a plastic bag for a few hours. The mayo suffocates the buggers. The real challenge comes when you wash out the mayo and have to check for seven days for any new buggers. I am glad your ordeal is over!

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  18. Shannon
    June 17, 2013 | 6:02 pm

    I had wondered what was going on, but now my head itches! I try not to live in fear, as the bible tells us to leave worry to him, but I am 37 and never had lice, with long hair and all girls I just pray we stay lice free!

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  19. Louisa
    June 17, 2013 | 9:35 pm

    Just have to say that we understand your pain! But as a home schooling mom and family there is always a lesson to be learned! Think of all the terms you made understandable-

    Going through it with a fine toothed comb.
    Stop your nit picking.

    Think of all the fun things and laugh it away!

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  20. Cathy Estes
    June 18, 2013 | 9:59 pm

    Reading your post brought back memories of our experience. We have fostered, adopted, and are now doing Safe Families as well. I didn’t think African American kids could get lice (that’s what I get for believing the internet). We ended up spending 5 months and $700 to get rid of it! We finally bought these special metal combs that did the trick with no chemicals, shampooing, hours of combing or anything. I thought the whole ordeal would never end! :)

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  21. DHM
    June 20, 2013 | 2:25 am

    I know we talked oh-so-briefly about this, but when our two new children came, we had 24 hours notice, and they came with scabies. I didn’t have the internet and our case-worker gave us bad information about it. Over the next six months we would fight off recurrences of scabies three or four *more* times. And my husband was gone for two months and two infestations (yay, military life). I had far few children- we only had three biological children when we adopted these two girls, but on the flip side, the eldest of our children was only 9, and both new kids were in diapers.

    I loved reading this story, even as it brought back memories and made me sympathize with how tired I know you must be. By the grace of God I am able to laugh at it all now, but at that final infestation I went back to the doctor begging him to tell me what else we could do. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Well, you don’t really need to do this and it probably won’t make any real difference,but if you want to go totally crazy over it-” and I interrupted him to say fiercely, “Insane is exactly where I want to go.”

    I took all our clothes, but five outfits for each of us, and all but one or two stuffed animals each, all extra bedding, and I burned them in the yard. I steam cleaned the entire house, all the furniture and all the carpets. I boiled the remaining clothes, towels, and bedding. It was nuts, but felt so satisfying.

    Blessings!

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