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

 

 

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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.

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?