Wonder…..


It seems like forever since I last sat at a computer to write. I haven’t had much “me time” over the past year. But again, when you have 6 kids, “Me time” is redefined.

My family moved, again, and hopefully we can stay put for a while. We have been in this house since April and I will say, although not the house I think my husband and I dreamed of, this will fit our family for a long while and I love that. I often times sit outside with a cup of coffee, staring at the mountains, the sounds of my kids in the background and feel content. True content. That’s a pretty powerful feeling. Like all of the puzzle pieces are starting to form the picture……

Our picture has changed over the years, the past 17 years of marriage (21 years of couple-hood) , my husband and I have lived in 6 different homes (7 if you count the apartment I had the year before we got married and commuted to our shared home on weekends)…. twice we were in my Mother’s home in transitional times.

We went from one child, to three….now six.  It’s sometimes overwhelming.  If you would’ve had told me 17 years ago that this would be my life, I would think you were lying.

In adoption class they used to say, if you have any problems that you have not yet confronted, fixed, discussed…..whether it be in your childhood, marriage or personal demons, the adoption process will find it and magnify it…..

I ignored this.

Over the past month I have been slapped in the face with how true this warning was.

First…..my father. I have written about him in the past, his escape from responsibilities, leaving my mom and his kids because that wasn’t the life he wanted. Only to fall into the exact life he had, with different people.  New wife, new kids. He’s now going through another divorce and after 12 years of being out of my life completely, he’s back.  He wanted to rid his regrets, claim back his role as father and I am cautiously allowing him in.  I know that had I not just gone through the process of adopting the littles, he would not be welcomed. But with life comes small lessons, acceptance and forgiving and my gift of witnessing such change in my littles’ lives, their story of horrible loss and pain, brought them to our family. The experience of me becoming their mom has changed me. In a way I never expected and am not sure I can articulate. What I can say is that nothing can change the hurt my father caused, the years lost, the tears shed…..but he’s my father and nothing can change that role. And while I am protected of how much I allow myself to trust in this relationship, I will never have the burden of wondering. Wondering if he would see how amazing his first three grandsons had become. Wondering if he would ever meet his new grand kids. Wonder if he would ever see the success my husband and I would become and the incredible life we share.

Incredible……our marriage. My biggest joy is my husband and my biggest fear is losing him. Lately I have had some regrets in our marriage. One was not listening to the advice of putting your marriage before your kids.  Anyone who is a parent knows how hard this is. Over the past two years, during the adoption process…. my husband and I began jobs that would shape our careers, give financial stability for our future and in return, ripped each other away from our marriage. We focused on the “Bigs”, making sure they were not negatively affected by the adoption and focused on repairing the lives of our “Littles”. My husband has always suffered in silence.  Not letting anyone in, not being able to ask for help and not able to share in his pain. Lately I have seen my husband become more distant, from not only me, from his kids, from his role in the family, from the life we created. I’ve seen this behavior before, once after his mother came back into his life, through disappointment of jobs, after the birth of our twins (and the financial struggles three kids under two overwhelmed him), before the move to another state……and now. I’ve been able to talk to him, to verbally knock him back to reality, to love hard and this time I think I forgot that my role was not only to be his wife, be the mother of his kids, be a financial contributor….I forgot how to be his friend.  And he forgot how to be mine. I forgot I needed to help him back up….this time I didn’t even notice he was down.  I was so busy fixing things at work, making my mark in my career, being a mother to six very different children and fostering their individuality, that I forgot about him. I forgot what it was like to focus on our marriage. I became subconsciously bitter….directed it towards him. I missed him. I missed us and I was internally screaming for him to be back in the role of my friend….lover…..husband. While externally screaming to get him to notice me in mundane trivial ways.  I wonder how to erase the hurt and move towards the wonder. Move towards to greatness.  Move back to content. I am proud of our lives we created together, the love we shared can’t be over?  He says it is. He says he doesnt know why….he just does. I wonder? I wonder if I were prettier if he would stay? I wondered if I helped him more if he would still love me. I wonder if he really ever loved me at all? I don’t yell….I don’t restrict……I’m just me. Big, loving me. What could I do…….I wonder…… 

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Normal….


Since the adoption finalization in June, our lives have been pretty “normal”. The guilt my 7 and 5-year-old had leading up to the adoption, seemed to fade away in the court room.   In the few weeks leading up to the court date, they felt a sense of “betrayal”.  Commenting on how their Bio family would be “probably” be sad if they got a new family….wondering if bio family would ever be happy for them since they got a new family, would bio family cry if they knew….requesting to “go back” just one minute to explain….
 
It was enough to tug at your heart-strings and remind you of how much they have been through in their short lives. (and grateful the 2-year-old was too young to remember)  The day of the adoption finalization, they were excited!  They were looking forward to the future, making plans for family vacations, plans for what they wanted to be when they grew up, plans for Halloween costumes.   It’s as if they were waiting until it was safe to dream for the future.  Safe within the new family they were thrown into.  The court room was their beginning.   The beginning of our new “normal”. The beginning of our future as a family of 8.
 
We have done so much since that day, it seems as if time has flown by.  I took the summer off, selfishly wanting to be with all 6 kids.  The 8 of us all boarded a plane and visited family and friends in Chicago for a week. Not as many friends as we would have liked to….we skipped the whole “adoption party”. Mostly because “the littles” seemed to get stressed in large crowds. They were still learning to trust and meeting so many new people in one week can be a tad overwhelming.  The littles had many firsts this summer. First plane ride, first beach trip, first trip to the zoo, first experience in a large city with big buildings. First Ferris wheel ride, first shopping trip with Grammy (trust me this an event of its own kind)!   First trip off the diving boards at the pool (yes even my two-year old), first time fishing, and catching them…It was a great summer.
 
It’s hard to believe that they have only been here for 7 months.  SEVEN!!!!  In just 7 months my kids were traumatically removed from Bio home,  dropped off by Child Protective Services, to a family that was beyond happy to have them show up to the door step, adopted, vacationed, played, started school, made memories, grieved the past, dreamed of the future.  Seven months to gain new parents, 3 new big brothers and a whole new extended family that showered them with love.  SEVEN months to get new names, new birth certificates, new rooms, new clothes and new pets. (and seven months cannot erase the pets they left behind, the tangible items that we can never replace.)
 
It’s amazing the changes that the “littles”  have taken on, the transformations I have seen.  I know things are not perfect, parenting is never perfect……but having the 6 kids I have, the husband that dreamed the dream along with me, it’s pretty darn close to perfect that I will ever see.

What a difference a day makes…..


It’s true what they say, “What a difference a day makes!”…..

Today, we met with our adoption specialist, talked for 30 minutes and designed a list of questions to ask the children’s case worker.  We spoke with the Child Protective Service worker for over an hour.  Basically it was a mind zapping experience.  Every emotion was felt, the gravity of the situation still, unfelt in its entirety.

What I do know is that we are happy to announce that new additions will be joining our family. Boy 6, girl 5, boy 2 are a sibling group that need an emergency placement and we said yes. (clearly we have lost our minds)

Per the rules, we will not be sharing very much information about the children’s background.  It’s the children’s story to tell. I can say that birth mom had her parental rights terminated 2 years ago, birth father’s are unknown. Maternal grandparents currently have custody and situation is very unsafe.   It’s not a typical situation as we would normally have months to transition, we might have children by end of the week.  They are saying Thursday.  With the situation being so unsafe, the children will not be removed from their homes.  They will be removed from their schools.  I can say with certainty, this is the situation they train you on and it scares the shit out of you.

Our priority is transitioning three new children into a strange home with three biological children. Our journey is far from over.  Oh and did I mention their primary language is Spanish? Let’s hope the advertisements of  Rosetta Stone are factual.   We will have 5 sons (holy moly) and a daughter…..A daughter…. Never thought that would be possible.

Due to the fact they are still considered “wards of state” we cannot post pictures.  (we actually don’t know what they look like yet, as pictures were not obtained for us to see. This was in order to not tip the grandparents off that the kids would be removed at any time). Sad thing though, court ordered removal of children 45 days ago and it has taken this long to finally take action. The foster care system is a tough system to navigate.

Timeline, for those that are interested, December 2011, my husband and I made connection with adoption agency to pursue foster/adoption. May 2012 we completed our training in order to adopt a child from foster care. Home inspections……that dreaded fence (which is a blessing as kids coming cannot swim) thousand’s of forms filled out, we were finally licensed January 7th. 5 weeks ago. We turned down 8 placements since November and we were turned down for a sibling group in December. That sib group went to another family in time for Christmas. It has been a roller coaster so far and the ride is far from boring.

We are celebrating the idea of our new additions, but sad for our new kids as well. We cannot imagine how terrified they will be.  In my preparation, I found this poem…

You first came to us in an email,
With letters, forms and such
Just names, no little pictures
and with nothing warm to touch.
You grew in our imagination
In our hearts and in our minds.
You brought us greater joy
Than we ever thought we’d find.
A phone call started labor pains
Which lasted ’til we met
Strangers brought together
A day we won’t forget.
You bloomed as you were planned
In our hearts, our lives, our home.
Our child of chance, of plan, of will
You’re now our very own.
-unknown

Be still my heart….


While Valentine’s Day has come and gone….the day has left my heart a flutter.

It started out like an average day. I woke up,  got coffee, went to work and began my mundane routine of going through emails.

After 8 hours and with only 30 minutes left of my work day, I noticed I had 2 missed calls and an email from our Caseworker. I listened to the message my Caseworker left and it went a little like this…..

“Hi, I had an unusual situation, a bit of an emergency situation, that I need to discuss with you.” I sent an email to you with the details.”

I listened to the message three times, frantically pouring over the email she sent….

Could this be THEE call?

Here is the deal, three kids ( 3 again!) ages 6, 5 and 2. Boy, girl, boy. Removed 2 years ago and placed in kinship adoption placement. (kinship is when a relative plans to adopt). The children can no longer be with family and now a “non-relative” home must be found.

My husband and I need to go to our agency tomorrow, to expedite our foster care license, in the event they need to place the kids with us. The kids will then be our foster children and we need to attend a court date for judge’s approval to move towards permanency.  Making this a foster to adopt scenario.

My husband is cautious, especially after we were crushed by not being able to adopt the last sibling group. I am freaking! Me, the planner, always thought we had a “transition” time. Some time to shop, to redecorate, to organize…. well….to transition from a house of 5, to a house of 8.

We also meet with our Caseworker tomorrow, who will join us in a conference call with the children’s caseworker.  If all goes like we think, we could have three more children living with us by the end of the week.

My oldest birth son said “I feel like this is the adoption we’ve been waiting for.”

Please keep the children, their family and us in your thoughts….this process can change in an instant.

A change is gonna come….


Today, I think about the world in which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived….his idea of how the world should look and the amount of courage it took to try to change it.  I think about the influence Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has on my adoption process, how he has made it possible for me to consider adopting a child outside of my race…how I would never be able to consider it without him fighting for the changes he died for.

I think about how America just swore in a black President for the his second term, the bible of Martin Luther King Jr. present, with surely the spirit of the man that held the bible so long ago,  beside the president along the way.  We have come so far….yet we still have more changes to make.   I dream of the day when my gay friends can love free, without debate.  I see changes coming…

I also challenge you today, to do something for a stranger.  Have the courage to do something, no matter how small.  Be the change you want to see in the world…do something, even if it creates the smallest of influence.  It was quoted by the man we remember today, “What are you doing for others?”  – Martin Luther King Jr.
Change is coming….I can feel it!

Letting you in….


When my family first decided to commit to the process of adoption, we collectively decided to keep it close to our heart…mostly because we were afraid of if it didn’t happen.  Call it over protective or obsessively protective….it is what it is. I like to think of it as when you don’t tell anyone your pregnant in the first trimester. You know….just in case….I’ve had “just in case” and I’m glad I stayed hush.  I’m glad I didn’t have to look at the faces of pity and sadness.  I’m glad I could be with those I loved and not worry about the whispers.

My adoption “trimester” had gone on for over a year and I’m so ready to shout out loud….

WE ARE ADOPTING!!!!

I know the comments;

“Foster care? Aren’t those the kids that are put in cages or sexually abused?  Why would you want a kid like that?”

Or my favorite…

“I had a friend who adopted and the child tried to set the house on fire so they gave the kid back.”

It is true….kids in foster care are there for a reason.  My question….Why wouldn’t we want to make sure a child was given a chance?  Why should a child not know what a family is?  Why shouldn’t a child wish for “a nice mom or dad?”.  Why can’t a child just be loved?

My bio kids stare at “littles” (kids smaller than them) and smile.  My bio kids wish upon the stars and pray to the heavens that they will soon be big brothers.  As a family, we notice that almost EVERY Disney movie is based on adoption and every USA commercial plays “Home” by Phillip Phillips.

We hold our decision close to the heart….slowly letting the ones we love in on the process.  Sharing our, mission for an addition, with those that are dear to our hearts, those that can support us in the madness and can see beyond the process.

There are children out there that are wishing for a family.  Dreaming of a bedtime story read, a ride on the shoulders of a Dad, a kiss from a mom on the forehead…..a home with their own bed.

And I am a Mom, hoping to find a child in an uncertain world, an unpredictable process and I’m letting you in and grateful you’re here for the ride.

New day…


I’ve been licensed for only a few days and the amount of, frustration, hope, anxiety and desperation has overcome my senses.  Within 24 hours of being licensed, our CW sent over information on a 5-year-old boy, a 9-year-old girl and two sets of siblings….all of whom I said “no” to.

If you think I’m torn apart….I’m not this time.  I’m plain pissed off.

One child, the 9 yr old girl was perfect!  However, our great friends, who are just as crazy as us for going through this process, were already planning to attend the match meeting for her and we didn’t feel like competing against our friends for a daughter.

The 5 yr old boy, on his “report” said he needs a quiet home and with no other children in the house.  Does anybody read our home-study?  We have three kids…..and we are anything, but quiet.

The two sibling groups were slightly different, one group went over our maximum age guideline by 5 years and the other just didn’t feel right.

Does anybody in CHILD PROTECTIVE SERVICES want to do what’s in the best interest of these kids???!!!  Or do they just want the kids off their case files???!!!

Don’t get me wrong, there are GREAT CPS workers out there. I know, I’ve met them.  I’m friends with some.

But in general, the majority just sees a family in the system and sends their report into cyber space.

I seemed to have so many emails that were tossed my way within the first 24 hours, I was scared to even open my email.  Much different from the 24 hours prior…..where I longed for an email from anyone in this system.

Anything can happen in the world of foster care and adoption.  My child is out there.  I hope he/she, or they, will know how hard I’m trying to find them!

Hang on sweetie……Mommy is coming!