4am

long ago, my alarm would alert me at 4:40am. I would sleepily slide out of bed, change into my workout clothes and make the 5 mile trek to the gym. Every single morning I hated that routine. It never got easier. In fact, I vowed that never again would I allow myself to see that early of the morning.

Fast forward a couple of years and many foster placements later, 4am became a time when someone needed their blankie, or a simple acknowledgement that mommy was still in the house. While I still didn’t enjoy the wee hours, I had adjusted.

Squishy entered our home weighing a tiny 4.5lbs and he required many small feeds. I began seeing all hours of the night for his bottle feeds. With each passing feed, my eyes became more alert and I was able to begin enjoying the quiet. Just me, squishy, and the silence of our cozy home.

As Squishy grows, his feeds become less and less during the sleeping hours. He quickly scheduled and chose 4am to be nightly bottle feeding time.

He fusses, I prepare his bottle, gently grab his cocooned body and we make our way to the living room couch. We sit right in front of our large picture window and snuggle while he drinks his bottle. Just us, our bodies touching and the sounds of him drinking his milk.

4am, my new all time favorite time. It’s just us. together, no caseworker texting, no other family member interrupting, or outside force making its way into our quiet moments.

All my life I longed for a moment like this. A moment that would bring me complete and utter peace within my soul.  Who knew that such a tiny squish could make me appreciate such an early morning that I once vowed I would never let myself see again.

how blessed am I?

Dear 4am,

See you in a few short hours.

Love,me

 

 

Advertisements

Catching up

Oh my! It has been quite a long time since I have been around to update. Life happens and I had every intention of posting a note or two, but sadly, it didn’t happen.

Theres quite a bit to say, and probably not enough time to put it all into words.

Can I be honest? I have been in a slump.

As foster parents we feel worn out, tired of the system.

As a couple we ache to become forever parents via adoption. It hasn’t happened and we are exhausted.

Today marks a very special 6 months.

On this day in March, we became parents. It was a moment we envisioned sharing with everyone, yet it was taken from us so rapidly, that I don’t think we have processed it or try to even explain it to others anymore.

Let me explain…

My husband and myself are licensed foster parents a well as a waiting family with Bethany Christian Services. We are attempting to adopt domestically with them. This means that a woman who is facing unplanned pregnancy can go to an adoption agency ( preferably Bethany) and make an adoption plan for her unborn child. She is able to choose the family she would like to raise her baby. We have been waiting for just over a year now, and sadly have not been matched.

We thought that if we fostered as well that through some way ( foster or domestic adoption) we would be able to become parents, but it hasn’t happened yet.

During our 6 months waiting, a longtime friend approached us. She was pregnant and unable to parent the baby inside of her. She was choosing US to become the adoptive parents to her unborn son. She was due in July. Unfortunately, she went into preterm labor at 24.5 weeks. Our son, Aaron was born too soon. He only survived in the NICU a few short days.I was able to be  his mommy on earth for only a short time. A moment I will always treasure in my heart. March was a whirlwind month and a month that we don’t want to forget, yet something we simply try not to think about at certain times.

I am a mother. My son lives in Heaven. A selfless woman made me a mother via adoption. Yet, he is not in my arms. I feel betrayed, lost and most of all, I am hurt.

Our son would be 6 months old today.

Where are we now? We have moved on, well as much as we can.

Our home is still a licensed foster home and we are parents to two very amazing kiddos.

The pregnant teenager, J, had her baby in late August and is living with another foster family.

We now have a artistic 13 yr old who has the most stunning eyes and a teeny tiny preemie baby boy who has been the love of our lives since July 10.

Life has been busy, messy, and chaotic, but I can’t imagine it any other way. I can’t wait to share more from our summer adventures soon!

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

The bump obsession

I’m obsessed with my teen foster daughters baby bump. There, I said it. Admitting is the first step.

When teen mom walked into our home newly pregnant I felt a variety of emotions flowing thought my heart and mind. In the beginning I had so much anger and bitterness towards the tiny little blip living inside of her. I was jealous at the fact that I couldn’t carry a baby in my womb like her. While she still doesn’t have the slightest clue about how to care properly for a baby,or the fact that Mountain Dew is not a sufficient liquid to intake while pregnant, my anger and jealously are slowly subsiding.

The other night I walked into her room to check on her and make sure she had put her clothes away. She was standing by her closet hanging a few shirts and I suddenly noticed her belly. It seemed like all of a sudden it had popped out and it was very evident that she was in fact pregnant. I made a comment to her about how her body had changed. She openly talked about how she had been feeling the baby move for a couple of days and it was “weird” feeling. She said the baby was moving at that moment. Reluctantly, I asked her if I could touch her belly and feel. She said yes, and allowed me to place my hand on her stomach. She said “right here” and I moved my hand where she pointed. In that moment I felt the baby wiggle inside of her. I had known all along that she was pregnant, but this seemed to confirm that even more.

Days have passed and I have touched her bump more times than I can count on my two hands. It’s so fascinating to watch her stomach grow and I love it even more that teen mom allows me to intrude on her personal space more than I should be. When I asked  her about my touching her bump she replied ” it annoys me when everyone at school touches me, but your my mom, its ok.” My heart felt happy. She trusts me enough to send positive vibes via my hand on her bump, I couldn’t be more honored.

I am not sure the exact moment that my feelings changed, and I am still feeling a mix of emotions that aren’t always positive, but everyday I am making progress. Tomorrow I take teen mom in for her 20 wk anatomy scan/ gender ultrasound. I am hoping that I can be of support to her and maintain the positive feelings once we find out the gender of the baby inside her.

 

 

Isn’t it Ironic?

Lately the irony in our lives has been cruel.

I am a firm believer in “tests” that life hands you.

One can crumble when faced with the proverbial test, or they can face it head on and laugh, cry, kick, and push through it and stare it directly in the face.

Usually I am the latter… except for today. I crumbled like a stale cookie and received a big fat “F” in foster parenting, infertility, and this life test.

Allow me to explain….

Early last week, we received a call about a teenager who we had done some mentoring for this past fall. She was back in care again and this time she is pregnant. For obvious reasons I cannot go into detail. just know that we are dealing with some higher needs and navigating life with not only a teen girl, but a pregnant teen girl.  (  I know, there are many who have questions about the future of this child, we cannot go into detail with the case or what will happen to baby)

Honestly, I am not sure why the husband and I agreed to take in this girl, but we felt it was appropriate and said “yes”. This past week going from a couple to a family of 3 has been quite the change for us. The infertile takes in the fertile under her roof and subjects herself to the experience of pregnancy.

One of the big unknowns was the gestation of the baby. All week we prepped teen girl for the upcoming appointment and in the back of my mind I knew what was going to occur at this appointment. This afternoon, we walked into the office and began the new patient paperwork, and began the journey on being a first time foster parent to a teenager who is pregnant. It all seemed to be going well. obtaining history, urine test, background, etc.

We had a huge issue with lab work ( teen girl was terrified. a story for another day) and then it was time for the Ultrasound. Looking back now, I am not sure why I thought I would be mentally prepared enough for what my eyes were about to see. The only Ultrasounds I have ever seen were of my empty uterus and ovaries with numerous cysts, yet in my mind I kept hearing  “you got this.”

They lifted her shirt and unbuckled her jeans a bit and placed the jelly on her abdomen. The wand was placed on her belly and the quest for baby began. and there it was. this tiny little jelly bean moving around like a tiny blip. I was overcome with immediate jealously and bitterness. Why couldn’t I experience this? Why was some teenager who has meaningless sex able to carry a life inside her, when here I am broken? I couldn’t handle it. I crumbled. me, the stale cookie, in a million pieces, a blubbering mess. I quietly exited the room to allow her the moment of excitement she was clearly experiencing.

I sat on the other side of the wall and sobbed. I sobbed for myself, for the baby, for everything. I could hear the excitement in her voice when they announced that she is approx 8-9 weeks along. She is just a baby, who is having baby. and millions of women are experiencing loss of that gift. yet, somehow this girl has been placed in my care. Irony at its finest.

I want to experience motherhood so badly and I feel like life keeps teasing me with this scenarios of hope, only to take it away and leave me feeling empty inside.

After a while, I composed myself, texted a good friend of mine who had the right words to say. I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath and walked back into that room.

The rest of the evening has been quiet around here. I think we are all a little shocked from today.

This is just the beginning of a very long road. The ironic moments are just beginning, just like this new life inside her.

Thank goodness for wine, friends, and running.

This heart that I follow

Life is funny. In a matter of a second it can drastically change for the better or worse. The end result changing the direction in which your life is going, often times in a complete directional change than before.

I remember like it was yesterday. December 19, 2014, We recieved the phone call for a precious 2 year old little girl. My Christmas wish had come true and I was on cloud 9.

The amount of love and preparation that went into accepting that little girl in our home was fierce. So many people came to our rescue and helped make her transition and Christmas simply beautiful.

The case quickly became complex. Too complex to write out for others to accurately follow and we soon realized that little girl came with alot more baggage than we ever imagined. Such is foster care. You never get the full story until your all in.

Our hearts and minds were taken on a emotional whirlwind and we quickly tired from the complexity.
Little girl was snatched from our home within 48 hours by the hands of a very hurtful worker and our hearts have never fully recovered.

Looking back, I realize the excitement that took over receiving her was impulse and encouraged by the ache in our hearts that longed for a child. I’m not too proud to admit that we had been approaching foster care all wrong. Our intentions were selfish. There are many lessons learned from the experience and we have given ourselves the opportunity to grow in many ways.

Shortly after the loss of our 4th foster child, we realized that our hearts couldnt take any more hurt.. or could they?  A decision was made that we would pursue domestic infant adoption ( a topic I have not yet opened up on here). It seemed like the safer, much less emotional way to become parents. Boy, have we been wrong. The emotions involved are such a rollercoaster, minus the tiny human passenger along for the ride.

My heart has lead the way on this crazy journey to parenthood and thus far, it’s left our hearts hollow and aching in more ways than we ever prepared to be.
There’s no turning back now, we’re all in…

Happy Birthday, Bookworm!

Dear Bookworm,
It seems like just yesterday that we welcomed you into our arms and home. I remember the day so vividly in my mind and I replay it often.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you, or what could have been. It would be a lie to say that we didn’t make mistakes and poor judgment when it came to those final days and decisions that ultimately led to us placing our two weeks notice in for you.
Today is your Birthday, and while we never actually spent time with you on this day, we take a moment to pause and reflect on what a special kid you were and think about the milestones you have probably accomplished since last year when we said our goodbyes.
I was able to ask about you recently. I hear you are as cute as ever and that your adoption is finalized. You are happy and with your siblings. That makes us happy.
We hope you have a special day and a great year of being 4. We miss you daily and try to live with no regrets about the situation in which we were presented.
We love you so much!
Love,
Your former foster mommy.

image

image

image

losing our foster daughter helped my marriage

* Let me state beforehand, my marriage was by no means in immediate danger of being disrupted. Our marriage was in a rocky moment and that was 100% attributed to foster care. *

It is hard to believe that a month has come and gone since we lost little girl. Her case was a whirlwind of emotions, frustrations, and moments I would never wish on anyone. When we received the news that her worker was putting in a 14 day notice, I was distraught. I fought so hard to have that reversed, simply because I cared for her. When a letter came to our home, hand delivered on a Friday at 8am informing us that we would be parting ways in 48 hours, I was even more devastated. I don’t have the energy to go into detail about our final hours together or how much my heart aches as a result of losing little girl.

Foster care is hard. There is nothing to prepare a couple for what is to come. Each case comes with its own burdens and challenges. When you are completing the licensing process, DHS makes sure that they inform the parents that there are measures in place to prevent burnout, and that when we need a break from the trials that it will be readily available to us. Unfortunately, in our county we are down 50 homes and the number of children needing homes is on the rise. There is a large deficit in the home to kid ratio. There is not that promised respite care to free us for a moment. It’s quite sad, but makes a lot of sense.

My husband and I cannot and do not have our own children. I can only speculate what having a forever child is like, but I imagine it to be a much easier task than having the state breathing down your back and having to deal with workers, judges, and lawyers.

In our two years as foster parents we have experienced a lot of turmoil. Each case varied, some being easy, some caseworkers being supportive and loving towards us. This makes for a smooth placement, easy table talk and all around happy life. When a worker is less supportive, manipulative, bossy and rude, it takes a toll on you, your relationships and most importantly, marriage.

Little girls case was our hardest by far. We were tested, stressed and angry. Looking back on it now, I see how angry and tense I was all the time. Majority of our discussions were angry with our caseworker and  that in turn spilled over into my relationship with my husband. Our lives were completely upside down and we argued a lot about little things, simply because of the pressure from the state and the lack of control we had in making decisions for little girl. When you in the moment, its hard to see that. You think everything is fine and the bickering becomes a daily part of life, it seems natural.

I never imagined that the day little girl walked out of our home would be the day that the stress associated with her case would disappear as quick as it came into our lives. We found that the phone was quieter, emails weren’t pinging in at all hours and we had time for ourselves again.

My husband and I only had each other. We had to learn to lean on one another again and cope with the loss we were dealt with. It made us think about the lack of attention our marriage was getting. We knew we needed to change that and focus on one important thing….. US!  At first it was weird, for the first time in over 7 months we were alone, no little person following us around. Eventually we began to enjoy our freedom, and took on a new hobby, more intimate moments, and focused on why we fell in love to begin with. Our marriage was no longer being deprived and the life was coming back to it.

Realizing how much we needed each other made us think about where our next chapter needs to begin. We know that right now foster care isn’t for us. Becoming parents is not that important if it means our marriage has to take the backseat because the state is in a deficit and our lives will be turned upside down.

Its sad that our hearts had to be broken again, its even more sad to have lost another child, but I know that God has everything happens for a reason and he knew that my marriage was more important than some child that may or may not have been with us forever.

As for the hubby and I, we love the fact that we can kayak, go wine tasting and enjoy being a couple and focus on a positive relationship instead of a stressful foster care relationship. I am unsure of what direction we will head next. for now, we are busy enjoying the summer and picking up the pieces from little girl.

and tonight i’ll fall asleep with you in my heart

There are those monumental moments in life that forever shape who you are becoming in this ever crazy cycle called life.

This morning when I woke up and looked outside our picture window, I saw a shadow. A shadow of myself one year ago standing in the grass sobbing as I took one last look at the little child who made me first time mother for 7 1/2  blissful months

I remember being told the end would hurt. hurt like hell. I remember trying to mentally prepare myself for what was to come. Cherishing those last days before the end. memorizing every touch, smile, snuggle, tear, words, and moments. Soaking it all in and keeping it locked safe in my brain, so that each and every day I could look back and smile because it happened.

I remember when the worker backed out of our driveway for the last time I didn’t know what to feel, it didn’t seem real. I remember shoving bird at my husband and peeling out of the driveway towards the beach. I remember getting out of the car near the bluff, just above Silver Beach Pizza and screaming. I screamed so hard and loud , I collapsed on the ground until I was numb. My world had just ended and that little boy was gone. forever.

In the beginning I didn’t think back and smile, I looked back and saw the empty car seat, the empty crib, the empty highchair, I looked back to emptiness. I cried for months. The child who made me a mother was gone, and there was nothing I could do to bring him back to our home and into my arms.

Not a day goes by where something doesn’t remind me of baby bug, who, one year later, is less of a baby and more like a active toddler ( or so I imagine) I know that it hurts a lot less than it did one year ago, and I know that I made an impact on his life in ways I will never be able to fathom. I know that this road is harder than I ever imagined it would be, yet, there is a reason I keep going back for more… Lastly, I know if it weren’t for someone like my husband I wouldn’t be able to keep on going through this torture.

I also know, that tonight *and every night, since a year ago* I’ll fall asleep with baby bug in my heart.

Gast-6

it was all a lie

There is no doubt that our journey as foster parents has literally put us  through hell and back when it comes to our experience with the foster system.

Most people know an overview of our story and see bits and pieces of what we endure, but I have yet to be completely transparent with how we have actually been treated and what experiences we have gone through with DHS. until now….

I remember a time when we were so excited to begin our journey to become parents. We knew right away that things wouldn’t be easy, not every placement would be a “for keeps” baby, but we knew this was our only shot at one day having a forever baby. The money that we received from our wedding ( a fairly decent amount) went towards an egress window ( required by law) and towards gathering items to complete a nursery. In the back of my mind I wished we could spend the money on us and not on a window, but we knew it would be worth it.

As we began the journey, it all seemed so easy. They promised a support system, quality case workers, a no stress mindset if we signed up for foster care. Looking back, I should have known the background checks, endless paperwork, reference letters, and fingerprinting was a beginning sign of the headaches foster parenting would bring us.

The truth is, since our very first placement, nothing has been easy. I have given up my career, flushed money down the drain, and gone through thousands of tylenol in hopes of helping my endless headache all this has been, to try and be the parent and foster parent they wanted us to be.

Going through each individual case is a moot point now. I can only bring up what we are experiencing in the here and now. I can only be truthful with the feelings that I harbor in my mind and heart right now.

This isn’t about the children we have helped, because honestly, that’s a lie. As a person you can keep telling yourself that’s what foster parents do, is help children. In reality, we are the best thing for them, and the system blatantly wastes millions in tax payers dollars and precious time of people who have a genuine love for children.. all on the people in society who aren’t worth it.

Excuse my language here, but shit is about to hit the fan. and sadly, I am most certain our journey as  {foster} parents is coming to an abrupt end.

The case with little girl has been the final straw, a long time coming. We are left with situations that are out of our control, a lack of support, and two exhausted parents who have had meals burned, an anniversary ruined all because those promises made way back when were a lie. In the last week, I have been yelled at by a case worker, lied to, and expected to give my every waking second for a child that isn’t even mine.

Little girl was removed due to neglect and some other serious allegations. She is lacking immensely. At 2 years old, she is a whopping 23 lbs and severely malnourished. She has many needs that the case worker is mandating that many people would not be able to drop everything in their life for. Unfortunately, the goal is still reunification.

I am only 1 person. I have a job, medical needs, a husband, a home, a life…. no one should be expected to deal with the drama like we have.

There are genuine concerns that need to be brought to the table, yet no one sees them as being legit or necessary to address in a timely fashion. We have been mistreated and left made fools.The entire foster system screams disorganized.

Some may see this as us giving up. Call it what you will, but the stress that we are dealing with us much bigger than myself, my husband and our marriage. I want so desperately want to become a mother, but I cant continue this.

I am honestly not sure where we will be in a couple of weeks, or how long little girl will be with us, but we have checked out.  be thinking of her. ultimately she will go back to the shit conditions, lack of attention and its sad that she may be sentenced to that life after having us for months.

We are sorry to have failed you all who believed in us , those who thought we could stick through the placements in hopes of adopting via foster care. This is just too big..

please send all the baby and money dust possible. adoption is not an option for us, and our last chance at becoming parents lies in our surrogates body and the money to pay for surrogacy.

I wonder…

There are nights when I silently creep into our little girls room and adjust her covers and tuck her in. I often stop and stare at her for a few moments and wonder. I wonder thoughts that so many of my other mommy friends don’t have to wonder about. I wish I could look at her and wonder the basic life wonders. Instead I think about things no adult should have to think about when they look at their child.
I wonder so many things. I cant even begin to imagine the thoughts that go through her tiny head.
As she sleeps in her crib, she seems so content, so happy, so normal. Her life is anything but normal. Each week 2 days in a row she is whisked away by a caseworker who transports her an hour away to the next county for a two hour visit. All I know is she comes back smelling heavy of cheap perfume and menthol cigarettes.
I often wonder if she could talk what she would say to her mother. Would she tell her how amazing we treat her? or about how her closet is full of beautiful clothes that smell of laundry detergent, not smoke, lies and drugs?
I wonder if she knows how loved and wanted she is by us. How I spent years shedding tears about my potentially never becoming a mother, even if only for a few months. How each night as I hold her while she falls asleep that I feel so much love and contentment in that exact moment and I never want it to end.
I wonder where she will be next year this time. Will she be in this exact same room, with the exact same parents? or will she be back to her smoke filled, un loved life with a woman who is more in love with the bottle than her own flesh and blood?
Lastly, I wonder how.. How did my life come to this point? Where did I fail my body, my husband, my family? How did I allow myself to expose my heart so much, when at any given moment it could be broken yet again?
How did I allow myself to lose my faith, my relationships? and where do I begin to repair those relationships?