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.

 

 

 

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…

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!!

just maybe….

I remember when my doctor and I talked about the need for a hysterectomy. The decision seemed easy, at the time my health was the most important thing. The idea of having a baby seemed distant. Heck, the conception process alone was going to be time consuming, rough on my ever aching pelvis and body…. It seemed like a no-brainer.

I was single… My health trumped it all.

Fast forward a few years, now an almost married woman, and someone with the ache to become a mom.

Thinking of the initial calls made still make me cry. I spoke with numerous agencies about adoption, we would need a lot of money. I dug deeper, surrogacy, even more expensive.  $35-40,000 seemed like a lot of money. Money we would not have for a long time, if ever.

Fast forward…. A married woman with her handsome groom.

If we were going to remain a happily married couple, spending that much money and stretching our monthly budget to that limit was not the option.

the exact moment of when the idea of fostering to adopt Came to us is a bit vague to me. It seemed logical. $35,000 was a lot of money. Free (little to no monetary cost) was enticing.

We created a plan, did significant research, spoke to our family, got disrespected by some, praised by others. Despite the culmination of feelings, we were doing it, fostering was our only logical option.

We opened our lives, secrets, home, and felt the most vulnerable I think we will ever feel in our entire lives. The paperwork was endless, the training was draining. Having a baby in our home was going to happen, but not before everything was exposed.

We were reassured, adoptions from foster care happen all the time. Biology wasn’t a necessity, a baby or child would happen from foster care.

Looking back now, I clearly didn’t research enough. I wanted a quick fix to calm my ache. I wanted to feel that endless love.

What I didn’t know, is that approximately only 10% of children are terminated rights from their parents. The odds of forever aren’t  in our favor.

I don’t have to remind you of our 3 failed placements. How 3 times we have lost a piece of our hearts. 3 boys hold them in the lower Michigan region. The battle we face on any given day is awful, the memories, emotional turmoil, the caseworkers who dictate us.

My heart hurts, I’m bitter, angry and sad. I am the one person I never wanted to be..The one thing I want so badly I cannot have.

There was once a time when $35,000 seemed like a lot. A set of numbers that maybe I overlooked too quickly…

Now, I’m not so sure,  what if $35,000 could get us a forever in a way we never imagined? Is it worth it? Maybe, just maybe it’s worth it?

No, I’m lucky to have her

I always imagined finding Mr. Right, marrying him, having the most elaborate wedding possible ( which I did both of those), having my husband lay his hands upon my belly as he felt our growing child inside my womb. having those picture perfect mommy moments filled with love, laughter and awe. I never imagined that endometriosis would take my fertility at a young age before I could fulfill that last vision.

Never in my life did I imagine ever researching foster care with the intent to adopt a child. When I searched the internet for ways for an infertile couple to have a baby I never thought we would be foster parents. It wasn’t that I didn’t agree with foster parenting, it just didn’t feel right. I cant explain it.

Our journey began and the idea of having a little one roaming around our home began to feel right. The process was so different that I imagined. Preparing for a baby that you may never get to have and hold forever is not traditional, naturally preparing for baby would fall in the same category.

To date, we have had three wonderful boys, all who have touched us in so many ways. Recently, we accepted a two year old little girl who has gradually won my heart.

The holiday season has been a whirlwind. This past weekend has been even more of a whirlwind of emotions. Our little gift became quite sick and needed medical care. We ended up in the ER, which lead us to the pediatric floor in our local hospital. This little girl who barely knows us had to trust and cling to us for support as they completed a series of tests to see what was wrong with her. Throughout the ER visit, ambulance ride ( transfer to a different hospital, which was more equipped for her) and while we spoke to the medical professionals who took care of this little girl whom I am falling for more and more each day, we found ourselves hearing the same sentence from each medical professional. ” She is SO lucky to have you for her parents now.” Each and every time I quietly nod in agreement and move on to the next topic.
What I don’t say is, “No, I am SO lucky to have (them) her.” let me explain why..
Many think that foster parenting is this job that we are called to do to save these innocent children. Yes, there is partial truth to that. yes, I am saving this innocent child during his/her time of need when society has failed their birth parents and caused chaos amongst their lives.
I don’t walk around expecting to be rewarded for this job. I do it because I have been blessed, chosen to have these little ones enter MY home, MY life to teach me something.
These children fulfill that last vision. They are the reason that “mommy moments” are happening.
Without these children I wouldn’t know endless love, laughter, chaos, fear and so much more. My heart grows when I see my husband having a moment with our new daughter, as she looks up at me when I speak to her, when I rock her at night and read her stories and teach her the way of the world.
That is what I don’t tell those who reply with how lucky she is to have me.
because in reality the awe I feel when I see this little girl interacting with my Mr. Right cannot be described…
All I know is,
no, I am lucky to have her.

where you least expect it……

Baby Bird hold a special place in our hearts. He will forever be our first ” newborn baby” that we accepted into our home and hearts.
Bird was trial and error, sleep deprivation, blow outs in public that were blown way out of proportion ( no pun intended)
When Bird left, it seemed like our world was collapsing. I couldn’t imagine what a life without that gummy drool covered babe would be like. It was devastating.
Bird was placed with a relative placement. An aunt who I was able to speak to on multiple occasions before his placement.
I can remember spending nap times begging and pleading to her on the phone to let us keep him. We knew that his case would linger and potentially go into an adoption process. We had come to love this baby so much. Seeing him leave was going to be so painful.
She listened and respected us, but ultimately said she wanted him. She said that we wanted us to be a part of his life. Deep down I felt like she was trying to pacify me, make me feel better about the situation.
We had agreed to meet her at a local restaurant to have her visit Bird. She seemed so nice. Again, we begged and told her our story. She said she had made her mind up. He needed to be with her.
The day of his leaving is a day I will never ever forget. I don’t think I have cried so hard in my entire life. A part of me died that day.
We knew that seeing him would be so hard. It was something that would take a long time to get over.
We let a month or so pass and we reached out to Bird’s aunt. She welcomed our olive branch and stood by her word of letting us see him.
The day that we drove to a local McDonalds was nerve wracking. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be able to see him. It was going to be too hard. Would he remember us? Would he still come to us? When they walked in I cried. I couldn’t believe how big bird had gotten. He wasn’t a tiny infant anymore, he was almost 11 months old. We spent a little bit with him and parted ways saying we would be in touch and see him soon. I cried the whole way home.
Bird is spoken of often in our home. Sometimes we laugh about the memories and other times we cry over the loss of what we once had. We found that the more we spoke of him, the easier it seemed to want to see him.
There have been multiple visits with Bird and his aunt.
Each time, the visits seem more natural. He is becoming a part of our lives again and its not how we ever imagined it to be.
I never thought that I would be able to accept seeing Bird as something other than my son. The thought of seeing him and handing him back over to her seemed unreal.
The relationship that we are building with baby Bird’s aunt is becoming a blessing to us. We are grateful for her allowing us to be a small part of that special little boys life. We know we have so much to learn from him yet.. He is so loved and so cherished in our hearts.
I wouldn’t change how our life story with him is playing out.