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.