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.

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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.

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The almost surrogacy

Based on the title of this post, you know its not going to be a happy one.

Come on, you really think I am a happy blogger?

Its so hard to go on living everyday when the one thing you want so badly isn’t happening. Its so hard to go on when each lead ends in complete disaster.

A few months back we revealed that we had met the most amazing women ever. A woman who generously offered us her body, which would be an incubator to a precious life created by my husband and her egg. We were over the moon excited to make our parenting dreams come true.

Every day I spent time working with a lawyer, calling insurance companies, planning the fine details for the surrogacy. Then, one day we received rough news. The insurance needed for our surrogate was going to be way more than we had anticipated.

When hubby and I really sat down and crunched numbers, we knew that it wasn’t financially smart to spend 50-60k on a baby. We had to be realistic with it and know that if we did spend that money, we would literally need to eat Ramen and give up a lot. Which is worth it, but not smart. Fundraising it not as easy as it sounds and asking for money isn’t right or possible.

When we left for our much needed vacation, we knew beforehand what we needed to do. Telling our dear surrogate was going to be the hardest thing. Hubby and I made a plan to not talk babies on vacation. Our days were filled with fun, drinks, shopping and sleep. Yet, whenever I would go relax in the spa my eyes swelled with tears and the decision that we had made. On the last night of the cruise we confirmed what we already knew and made a plan to break it to our surrogate.

I still remember sitting on our couch as I placed the call to the woman who had already given up so much time and energy on us. Telling her the situation and how we needed to be smart wasn’t easy. I expected her to hate me and to say mean things. She never did. She respected us, cried with me and said we would still be friends. Have I mentioned how amazing she is?

I’m not totally ready to talk about the loss of something that seemed to perfect for us. Honestly, I am not sure where we will go from here. I still stand true to my feelings on adoption and I don’t think we make enough to even be considered with an agency. We will try, but I don’t think it will be our decision, it will be the agency. Thanks to the generous donor’s, we have met our goal for this particular agency. If they accept us, we will be able to proceed quickly in getting licensed. We appreciate every prayer, donation, and support.. Infertility isn’t an easy road.

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April 27,2010; the day my life was changed forever. A day where in a matter of hours I became part of a percentage of  stats that no women should ever be part of.

Infertility is tricky, there is alot to learn, understand and decide.
When I met my husband, telling him I was infertile was the hardest thing. He embraced the challenge and has proven to be a team player in every way since.
We have had many discussions about how we would like to become parents. We discussed foster to adopt, agency adoption and surrogacy.
Becoming a parent is such an intimate act. Inviting others into that moment because you are infertile is interesting to say the least.
I have learned that there aren’t any right or wrong ways to become a parent. What works for some won’t work for others, and that’s okay, it’s not their journey to judge or understand.
As we begin our parenting journey, my visions have changed drastically, what I once thought would work isn’t and what I never thought I could do, I’m currently doing.
This weekend, we met up with our surrogate. This makes our second time seeing eachother. The feeling of excitement, familiarity, and growing bond reassures me that our decision to choose surrogacy over agency adoption was the best choice for us.
I have nothing against adoption. Adoption is a beautiful thing. Every year thousands of children are placed for adoption into loving homes of people who are just like my husband and I. that’s beautiful.
We have had so many people say “why don’t you just adopt?” Adoption isn’t that easy. I want to address the misconceptions that we have discovered first hand and why its not a good fit for us personally.
When we began our quest on gathering information for adoption, it opened our eyes to something we knew wasn’t for us.
Personally, I have a huge issue with the cost. I was left dumbfounded when I heard a voice on the other end of the phone say ” our fee is a nominal $35,000. In addition to money placed in an escrow account for the birth mother.  A fee of which is non refundable, should the mother choose to parent the child.”
Excuse me, what? I couldn’t hang up the phone fast enough. Adoption is a great thing,  putting your trust 100% into a super risky situation is tough. Especially when the funds are already sparse.
My husband and I have heard so many horror stories of agencies disappearing after the initial deposits being paid and you are “waiting ” for a placement. We also have heard of a number of failed attempts. Where the adoptive family was matched, money was paid and when delivery time came, birth mom had no intention of placement or changed her mind. That money was gone. They were left with an emptier bank account and an empty nursery.  my heart  breaks for those left with those feelings and heartache.

My husband and I aren’t rich . We are just an average couple with a tiny quirky home. As we began browsing the agencies, we were encouraged to browse the competition other waiting families. I suddenly felt so inadequate. These families were gorgeous, their homes equally as well. Some had photos of their huge kitches, lake homes ( that were just waiting for a baby to fill it), expensive cars and super model looking parents. How would we ever compare? My tiny old home was nothing compared to that. I began feeling angry. I felt like my husband suddenly wasn’t good enough for me, like I could have done better. That’s not the point of marriage or parenting. My life is perfect, I was letting the images of perfection jade me. chalk up another reason why I couldn’t embark on this journey. I knew birth parents would be looking at all types of families, but when I compared myself to what was out there, there was no comparison.

Spoiler alert! My husband and I fight, I get super annoyed with him. As a  mom, I lose my patience. We aren’t perfect. That’s ok though. If we were going to choose adoption. I would have to change my ways. What birth parent would willing choose a couple who fights, acts annoyed with one another and laughs at bodily functions?
I strive to be real 100% of the time. That’s why when we met our surrogate, I knew that surrogacy was for us. She knows we aren’t perfect. She doesn’t want to see us perfect. She knows we make mistakes, argue and she is okay with it. I know that she doesn’t judge those faults and count them as parenting fails. She knows that no matter the size of our home or bank account that this baby will be loved more than anything in the world.
I would have a pretty hard time trying to keep my smiling, cheery self for a birthmother and agency all the time. It would be exhausting. After all, I am only human.

This weekend was only the start of our surrogacy journey, yet, I am left feeling excited. Excited that the choice we made months ago to forego our adoption journey was the best choice. I’m feeling positive knowing that we are being authentic with the people involved in this intimate experience of having a baby.

My heart goes out to all those struggling with infertility, no matter which journey you feel is right for you. May your parenting dreams become a reality. Because that’s all that matters in the end.

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.

Some days……I just can’t

Infertility sucks. every single day I ache. I ache for a baby, for a way of parenting that doesn’t require consent forms, court, 3rd party parenting, and parenting times.

Little girl has been a complete joy. In her short 110 days here, she has made great strides, and overcome issues that I thought we wouldn’t be able to hurdle over. As usual, in typical kid fashion, she has shown resiliency and adaptability in being a kid who, given the chance can overcome the impossible and thrive with the correct family.

Lately I haven’t had it in me to document our foster parenting journey. The end of the day comes and I am just exhausted. It takes everything in me to finish the day and rest up for the next day of drama.

because, quite frankly, it sucks. I just cant keep putting myself through the emotional trauma, added stress, and struggles that go with this journey to becoming a parent. I feel like every time I have a need to blog its a complaint and the same old story of disgust. It has been mentioned many times that our area has a foster parent deficit. I know exactly why…. The way we are treated and the expectations set for us are unrealistic and stressful on a marriage. The expectation that we are required to do everything correctly and the emphasis that birth parents only need to do sup par expectations is taxing and creates a toxic situation for all involved.

I don’t know what direction we are headed as foster parents or how easy our surrogacy journey will play out. I do know that in the coming weeks we prepare to go off the grid and leave behind the stress of foster parenting and focus on us as a couple. A couple who has endured so much in just under 2 years with 4 children who have entered our home and left a mark on our hearts.

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?

Purging the past

I have always been a sentimental person.
If I had to pinpoint why, I would attribute it to being an only child. The extra special attention I received from family always led to extra special gifts. I felt special to be allowed to have an object beyond my years. It was a treasure.
As an adult, I still have items that I keep near and dear to my heart. I know exactly who gave them to me and for what occasion. By no means am I a hoarder of all things, but the special things are very difficult to let go.
Naturally, the same trend would occur for all things baby/child related. We have numerous totes in our basement with clothes. The totes are sized beginning with Baby Bug, Baby Bird, and Bookworms items of clothing. When each child left it took quite a while to pack their belongings. When that time came I remember picking each and every piece and remembering a special moment we had with the child wearing that particular outfit. I know most moms have that same moment with their child’s clothing, but I feel that my memory box is extra full, simply for the fact that when our children wear the outfit I never know when the next time I will see them in it will be.
The totes have been left untouched for months now. When we were placed with our little girl ( name still yet to be determined) we obviously bought different gender clothing. Another reason for those totes to remain untouched.
As the weather changes and I prepare to buy summer clothing for our little girl, and she grows out of the outfits bought for her when we she first came to us, I knew I had to sort through the clothing in our basement to make room for the new. We are also having our surrogate visit next week, and cleaning up is a number one priority.
Its like a band aid, you have to do it fast, or you wont ever do it.
Yesterday I sat in the basement while little girl played. My husband responded ” You cant hold on to the items forever. When we get a new child you will want to buy new things for him. We cant keep these clothes. Its like keeping them for a child who has died.” I didn’t think his words were at all harsh, he was simply speaking what deep in my heart already knew.
The first tote belonged to Bookworm. He was with us the shortest time, but also the most fun time; summer. His cute little t-shirts and plaid shorts were just so adorable. My mind immediately went to park play dates and applying sun block on his skin and long days spent by the water. I could almost feel those moments again.
The task of setting out the clothing in “lots” to sell on our local moms buy/sell page began. I posted the photos and got a response from someone interested in buying whatever I had. I took more photos. grateful to have someone buying them so they would just be gone. We set a date/ time to meet and I took the clothes upstairs to bag them. I came across one set of shorts in particular and brought them to my face. The smell was still there. The sweet smell of the beach, lotion and fun. My heart began to ache. I missed Bookworm all over again.
As each day passes, it gets slightly easier. I miss the boys less and less. There is no doubt that as summer approaches, I will miss Bookworm a little more, after all, Summer 2014 was pretty amazing 🙂
I know that purging the clothes is best for my mind and soul. I cant live with regrets. By purging the past now, I already feel ready to face the future. Whatever comes our way, I’m ready… I think.

Operation clean the house ( aka annual review time)

Time has been flying by in our home. Since the arrival of our little girl (nickname still pending) we have been busy bees around here.

There is one thing I know to be true- having children in the home makes for chaos, chaos means that there is a nonstop feel to life and that makes the days fly by in the blink of an eye.

It was about a month ago, when we received a nice regular sized envelope from the Berrien County DHS. Inside was a letter letting us know that our yearly review was approaching soon. Every year our caseworker comes into our home to check up on us. They look for any changes in the home, as well as see how things are going with the current placement. This will be our second “review” It really is nothing to stress about, yet every year I go into panic mode and make a huge to do list.
I have been stressing for weeks. We painted up some spots on the walls, and I took down the curtains to make them look sparkly new. I cant seem to get the floor clean enough, yet I am sure its the cleanest I have seen it since we moved in 🙂

I long for the day when I don’t have to go into stress mode to try to impress some important people and prove that my home is fit for a child. Its one of many thing I wont miss when we have our own forever baby. Foster care has so many rules and regulations, yet the birth parents can get away with it all. Its something that will never make sense to me.

Tomorrow afternoon is the big day. I am sure all will be fine. There aren’t any new changes to report and all should go smoothly. Wish us luck!!