Thursday, September 24, 2015
These past 2 1/2 years have been a struggle. I fell totally in love with our first kiddo, even knowing she would never be "ours". We knew it was temporary but couldn't help it. I spent most of the time scared to death because of how sick she was. She became healthier and then she was gone. Then came the second round of kids. I was scared to fall in love again, so I didn't. Of course the little boy wasn't with us long enough for me to develop any kind of relationship with but his sister was with us for 202 days. I took care of her when she was sick with pneumonia, rushed her to the hospital, got her caught up on vaccinations, all that mommy stuff. I couldn't let myself fall in love with her. I cared for her a great deal but I couldn't deal with that heartbreak again. In the moment, you just DO. You're a mom. You do what needs to be done; doctor appointments, diaper changes, bathtimes, meals. You secretly love the pats on the back and the compliments from people who don't know what else to say. "Regular" moms don't get that. No one calls them heroes or angels. No one tells them they're amazing. Who doesn't like to hear "Wow, you're awesome!", "I could never do that", "you're an angel"? I loved the feeling I got when people would say nice things and make me feel like what I was doing was just so incredible. I was a rockstar!!
I....was a fraud.
I am a woman who wants so badly to be a mother that I'm willing to live under false pretenses of being this hero, rockstar person, taking care of someone else's child simply to hear a little one call me mommy. I'm not a foster mom because it was my intention to minister to these children. I didn't become a foster mom to mentor someone else in how to be a better parent. I got into this with the hopes that somewhere along the line someone would fail and I would be able to adopt their child. I'm not a foster mom because I'm so good and strong. I'm a foster mom because I'm selfish and weak.
All of this and in spite all these wrong reasons, it still feels like what I'm supposed to do. Like I said, I do NOT want to. After declaring that we wouldn't take any more kids in unless they were legally free and potentially adoptable, Cliff and I have, or more specifically, God has decided that we will. We will continue to foster until God calls us home or makes it crystal clear that we're done. For some reason, God put us in a house with extra bedrooms, with the means for me to stay home, and a heart to take care of kids whose parents can't for one reason or another. We don't know why God has brought us here. I'm reminded of Esther in the Bible. Her cousin told her, (Tamra's paraphrase) "help will come from somewhere else, but maybe you were made queen for such a time as this". I know there are other foster parents out there. There are other people who can take care of foster children, but who knows? Maybe I was made a foster mom, for such a time as this.
I don't want to love, lose and hurt again, but I will. Even though I don't feel "called", clearly I am. Your prayers are greatly appreciated as we prepare our house and hearts for more kiddos.
Monday, February 16, 2015
Soooooo yeeeaaahhh again it's been a while. LOTS going on! Let me see if I can catch up.
Back in October our little Sweet Pea had surgery to remove part of her lung. That was such a difficult thing to go thru. There just aren't even words... even now I think back to that morning and my heart starts pounding as I picture the other half of my heart being prepped for surgery. Thankfully she's young enough she was oblivious to what was about to happen to her. I wish I could've been like that. I'm so grateful for our pastor who came to the hospital to pray with us as she was being prepped. I know his prayers aren't any more powerful than mine but at least I didn't have to try to form the words that were screaming from my heart. Sweet Pea went into surgery as her mom, mom's aunt and grandma, cliff and I waited. I'm so grateful her mom allowed cliff and I to be there. After surgery, the doctor said her lung was so bad she could tell just from the outside of the portion they removed how damaged it was.
They allowed 2 of us at a time to be with her in the PICU. Mom's aunt said "well I think the moms should get to see her first". I almost cried. That gesture of her referring to me as Sweet Pea's mom touched my heart in a way I can't describe. Her mom and I went into the room. We walked into the hospital room to find our little girl writhing on the bed, so many tubes and wires, crying pitifully "ooowwwie...all done....all done." We both started crying. Seeing her like that was too much to bear. The nurses assured us that she wasn't in any pain but that she was confused as she was coming out of the effects of the anesthesia. I'm calling BS on that one. Knowing how cliff felt when he had a similar surgery, I'm sure she was pretty dang uncomfortable. We took turns rotating shifts in the room. Other than seeing baby girl like that, the most heartbreaking thing was seeing my husband cry at the site of her.
At one point, the nurses asked us to step out so they could do a chest xray on her. Cliff and I stepped in to the hallway. As they were positioning her for the xray, she and I made eye contact and she again started crying "owie...all done mama...all done". Even now it brings me to tears. I stood there sobbing and this woman, speaking very broken English, touched my arm and said "she'll be ok. Just trust her to Jesus. She'll be ok".
Few things will put you in a constant state of prayer like your kiddo having body parts surgically removed. I don't know if I've ever prayed in my whole life as much as I did those 4 days in the hospital.
Which brings me to this...thank you to Mom D for letting me stay with you during that time. I am so very glad I could still be there for you and Sweet Pea.
The first night Mom D and I each took turns sleeping on the fold out couch while the other slept in the super uncomfortable chair by baby's bedside. The next night we were finally comfortable enough (or exhausted enough) that we shared the couch. Those 4 days were spent trying to entertain a toddler, convince her to eat the hospital food, and keeping wires untangled (virtually impossible on a 20 month old by the way) and hoses unkinked. Pain management was interesting. One of the pain meds they tried made her super hyper so we ended up having a midnight dance party one night. It was nuts. I'm pretty sure she drank her weight in chocolate milk but at least she was getting something. Hospital food was not to her liking. As she began to feel better it became harder to keep her chest tube from kinking up. There was a limit on the amount of fluid they wanted her to be putting out before they would pull the tube. Once the tube was gone she could go home. The last night there her acrobatics ended up pinching off the tube. In a way, this showed the doctor she no longer needed it. They pulled the tube and it was like taking a wild dog off a leash. She was all....over...the...place!!! Running all over, climbing on stuff, 4 days after major surgery! I tell you, the resilience of a child is truly remarkable. She was given a clean bill of health at her post op appointment and has been doing so well.
We've had the chance to see her a few times since her return home. She and her mom came to our family Christmas gathering. It was so nice to be able to see her during the holidays!
Though we miss her terribly, we're so thankful for the times we've been able to see her.
As we've had opportunity to get to know her mom a little better, we've grown to love her too. She's just as much family to us as our little Sweet Pea is. This whole experience with their family has been amazing and truly what foster care should be, partnering with the parents, and all for the good of the child.
After Sweet Pea went home, we had told our agency we wanted a little break. We had just moved. The crib wasn't even put together, boxes everywhere...and we were grieving the loss of our first placement. Cliff's mom was in the midst of chemo treatments. My mom was scheduled for knee replacement surgery right before Thanksgiving. We had A LOT going on. Our first week in our new home the agency called us twice about taking new placements. Every call from the agency is life changing. Whether you take the child or not, you still think about that kid and wonder what's going on with them. We had to say no to those two placements but then they called again. Things were still crazy for us but for some reason we didn't say no to these kids. It was a brother (alias "chrysanthemum/chrys" 3 years old) and sister (alias "Lily" 15 months old) needing a home. Thus began the longest 2 weeks and 6 days of my life.
The little boy, who we had been told was "high energy", had some pretty significant behavioral issues on top of the "high energy". He wasn't potty trained yet, knew no colors, letters, or numbers. Right away I started with potty training. I know probably not the best thing to try for a kid in such turmoil and upheaval but is was pretty hard for me to change his diaper given his size...not to mention how yuck they could be. I began teaching him his ABCs while we washed hands after going potty. We counted our fruit loops in the morning at breakfast. By the time he left our home he was partly potty trained, knew some of the alphabet and could count to 3....MAJOR accomplishments on his part. As he became more comfortable in our home it became clear that he was not used to boundaries or structure. He had zero respect for me and was violent. When he was put in time out I was called names a 3 year old should not even know. I was hit and kicked hard enough to leave bruises. It was awful. I was unable to run errands as it would end with this child calling me vulgar names in walmart or with him running from me as I tried to get everybody in the car. Cliff came home from work on multiple occasions to find me bawling. I was so beat down all....day....long...by a 3 year old!!
We struggled with trying to understand where he had come from and why he behaved this way. It quickly became clear that he needed more than we could give him. Sometimes love isn't enough. We ended up requesting an emergency removal for him the night before Thanksgiving. We still have his little sister with us. She's doing really well. She is a sweet little girl whose vocabulary is expanding every day. She loves to dance and loves for Cliff to give her kisses when he gets home from work. As soon as she hears the garage open, she starts puckering up and saying "muah". She loves being the center of attention and is just thriving. She has her moments like any 18 month old. We have to walk around the house as she points out all the no-nos just to make sure they're still off limits.
The other day she got a hold of the cable remote and did something so that it wouldn't work. I got down on the floor in front of the cable box to try to figure it out. I manually turned off the cable box (something she gets a time out for). She leaned over me, pointed at the cable box, shakes her head and very sternly says "noooo-noooo!!" She's a little goofball and makes us laugh.
Keeping with the euphemism where all of the kids who come to us have flower nicknames and they're new to our "garden", we got a call about a new little sprout. Well, let me back up...i have been increasingly frustrated at the fact that we still haven't found our forever child. Feeling like it will never happen going through foster care, i talked to cliff about pursuing an open adoption outside of the foster care system. We decided to go ahead and start trying to find a birthmom on our own. The next day we get a call from our agency. This little girl is needing a new home and it is an adoption situation. If we took her in, we would be fostering her until we were able to adopt her. Mind= Blown! Are you kidding me? ! Is this for real? ! We got pertinent information about her. I contacted her current foster mom and we made arrangements to meet the baby. As the meeting approached, I began to have a slight breakdown. I became flooded with all of these emotions, the greatest being fear. I texted my sweet friend Beth, who has adopted her son. She called me back and listened and encouraged me as I cried my way through my emotions. Cliff asked why i called Beth. I began to tear up and explained how I was feeling. (Partially? jokingly) he says "so you're gonna cry about it?" I said "see now THAT's why I called Beth!" Ugh...men :P
So Saturday night we went and spent the evening with the family and met this beautiful 10 month old, little girl. It was a nice evening and we had a good time. Cliff and I got home and discussed taking her. We had prayed about it for days. I had prayed that I would know if she was "our" baby. Sadly, neither of us felt like we're the family for her. Do you have any idea how hard it is to call someone and tell them you "don't want" their baby? Ugh it sucks! We absolutely weren't rejecting her. It was just clear to us that God was saying "nope. Not that one". I have to say as hard as it was to make that decision, I feel like it was the best for all involved.
I'm not sure if it's a luxury or curse that we get to "try out" kids before we decide to adopt them. It's just a crazy, weird feeling. I don't know if I could explain it if I tried.
The day after we got the call about the possible adoption, we received another call from our agency telling us that Lily may be moving soon. The family that has her brother has requested that he be moved in order for him to receive the attention and services he needs. Since the state tries to keep siblings together, Lily will be included in that request. If the state is not able to find a home that can take both kids it is possible she may stay with us. Right now we just don't know!
So now you're all caught up!
*whew* that was quite an update. Sorry it was so long. Hopefully, it won't be so long in between updates next time!
Thank you to everyone who is supporting us in our journey to find our forever family. Your prayers and shoulders to cry on are very much appreciated.
Friday, September 26, 2014
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
I miss her SO much.
During the day, when she's gone to her visits, I can keep myself busy getting stuff ready to move. I can pack or paint or whatever. Come 8pm when I settle down for the evening and would normally be putting her to bed, is when it hits. Then when I go to bed and I can't hear her breathing or music in the baby monitor, I begin to cry. Like right this minute, I can't stop. I can barely see to type this out. I would rather stay awake all night than toss and turn in the silence.
Her visits have gone to 4 overnights for the next 2 weeks until court. Basically, we get her for this next weekend (just the 2 days) then pending the outcome of court she'll return to her family.
The silence is deafening. Her absence is heartbreaking and most painful. How do foster parents do this multiple times? !
We talk about her almost as if she has died. "Remember when she..." or "just the other day she....". We laugh. We cry. We miss her so very much.
We signed papers for the new house today. We lamented about how Sweet Pea wouldn't be able to move to the new house with us. Tonight, as I sit missing her, I wonder if that's better for her. Will it make transition easier for her if she comes to visit us in the new house rather than coming back the house that she lived in for so long? Will the change of scenery be less confusing for her...or more confusing? I don't know.
All I know is right now my arms are empty. ..again. My heart is sad...again. I'm crying myself to sleep...again.
I know there are so many kids in foster care who need a loving, safe place to stay but I really don't know how many times I can do this. I knew this would be hard but you never know just how difficult until you're in the midst of it.
Is the pain worth it? Dare I say? Absolutely.
Friday, August 29, 2014
I knew the day would come. Unfortunately, that doesn't make this any easier. We knew going in to this that Sweet Pea wouldn't be staying forever and now the time is upon us for her return home. Of course, we're grateful that she is able to go home but our hearts and our home now have a void that just can't be explained.
When I was in high school, Garth Brooks had a song called "The Dance ". Not until recently have the lyrics been echoing through my mind.
I could have gone this past 18 months without the "joys" of parenthood like teething, sleepless nights, frightening trips to the urgent care, breathing treatments, diaper rashes, etc. But then I would've had to miss my first mother's day, first family portraits, planning the first birthday party and the first time putting out cookies for Santa. I could have gone the rest of my life without scooping poop out of the tub...twice, but then I might have missed all the fun of soapy hairdos, bubble beards, and her giggles when she would splash me or pour water on my head. I could have gone without the pain of packing up her little suitcase but I would have missed out on all the shopping for cute little pink frilly outfits. I could've done without packing up all of her toys and books but then I would've missed out on all the block towers built and all the stories we read together.
I could have gone the rest of my life never knowing the heartache of saying " goodbye" to her but I would have missed the immeasurable joy of saying " hi" to her one April evening.
I could've missed the pain but then I'd have had to miss the dance.
Thursday, August 21, 2014
A couple of updates from today...
1) Sweet Pea had a follow up appointment with her pulmonary doctor today. For those not aware, she had severe respiratory problems when she came to us. At an appointment last November, she had a chest xray that showed an abnormality. It was thought to be scar tissue from all the respiratory infections, some sort of cyst or possibly a genetic anomaly that she was born with. At the time, the doctor felt safe waiting to follow up in 9 months which brings us to today. Sweet Pea had another xray today that indicated there's been no improvement. The problem is if there's a cyst of some sort it can get infected and lead to serious problems. It would need to be surgically removed. The doctor has recommended a cat scan of her chest to try determine more clearly what is in her lung. She will need to be sedated for this which frightens the crap out of me! Please pray that the cat scan will give definitive answers and that whatever is in her lung will not require surgery.
Sweet Pea update #2
Things are definitely on track for her to return to her family very soon. We met with the social worker today and the date we've been given is between September 10 and 12th approximately. Yes I've been crying most of the afternoon. Yes I will likely burst into tears if you give me the "I'm sorry" look or if you hug me. This is your fair warning.
Prayers are greatly appreciated for the coming weeks as we face the challenge of letting her go.
Friday, August 15, 2014
Let's see...since my last writing we had a mini family reunion with my cousins from Alaska. It was a lot of fun to hang out and visit. I was sad to see them go. There's been talk of making it an annual thing so I look forward to seeing them next summer too!
We finally found a house!! My mind has been swirling with organizing things financially so we can afford to move and I've also been mentally organizing things as I pack and unpack (mentally) and decide what to take and where to put stuff in the new house. This has literally kept me awake at night. We've decided to rent out our current home so our mind set has changed from selling the house "AS IS" to doing minor repairs needed in order to rent it out.
In addition to buying a new house and moving, another major life event has occurred and my mother in law has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma, cancer of the blood cells. It was likely brought on by all the chemo and radiation she had the last time she had cancer about 10 years ago. The initial diagnosis was very difficult for all of us as we were not sure of the prognosis. However, we are more hopeful now as she is doing chemo to help treat it. All of the kids have split the chores (housecleaning, yard work, etc) and take turns taking her to doctor appointments, trying to help her out. Please keep her (and us!) in your prayers.
Next...Sweet Pea.... Her transition home is going smoothly (so far). She has 2 overnight visits a week with her family and it seems to be going well. It won't be long before she is home with her family permanently. Although this is what being a foster parent is and this is what we strive for, our hearts are broken that we are "losing" our little girl. Every time I drop her off for her visit, it is all I can do to make it to the car before I start bawling. This week, as I dropped her off for her 2 night visit, I started bawling before her mother had even made it to the front door. Then I cried the whole time I did dishes once I got home, and if I took too long of a break from packing. The house is so quiet when she's not here. I've known the quiet of a childless home for too long and do not look forward to that again. When she is here, there is literally the pitter patter of little feet as she's discovered the awesome sound her feet make as she stomps them on the hardwoods. She's filled our lives with so much laughter and joy. She is truly a "Daddy's girl". She knows Cliff would move heaven and earth for her. I think she loves having him wrapped around her little finger.
In addition to losing our Sweet Pea, I cry for another little girl. A couple of weeks ago we received a call from our agency about a baby who had been born prematurely whose mother wanted to relinquish her rights. At the time of the call, the baby was 3 days old, 3.2lbs and in the NICU at the hospital. Since we had told our agency that we wanted the next child we take to be one that we can adopt, and since Sweet Pea will be transitioning home soon, they called us. With heavy hearts, we felt we had to say no. Our reasons sound so lame as I type them out (buying the house, moving, mom's diagnosis and doctor's appointments, Sweet Pea transitioning home), but these are all major things going on in our lives. I don't know where I would've been able to fit in trips to the NICU to visit this baby. If you know me, you KNOW how hard it was for me to say no to a baby who is having such a rough start to life. I just know I could love her to health. It kills me to think of this baby "unwanted" in an incubator somewhere. I have to trust that there was another family meant to have her and can devote the time and attention she needs right now and not in a month when I would have a little less going on. I think about her every day and wonder how she is doing.
It has been a really rough couple of weeks for me. I'm either on the verge of tears or crying all the time lately. I struggle to remember that I don't have to do it all, I don't have to do it alone and I don't have to save the world. It breaks my heart but it's ok that we said no. I know God has a plan for us. He has plan for Sweet Pea and for that little baby in the NICU. My God is greater than my pain and heartache.
Some days I feel like I'm barely holding it together and some (most) days I just can't and I cry....and that's ok too.