Early Easter 

Two weeks from now this house will be a lot emptier. There won’t be a trace of the heaps of never ending twin toddler laundry. The blocks, dolls, and push toys cleared from our living room. The make believe appliances and pretend food gifted out to other kids in need. Our sweet girls – gone

Today is not that day. In fact, instead of things disappearing tomorrow it’ll be quite the opposite. People, toys, joy, and laughter will be in abundance here. Early Easter is coming. While I had a Pampered Chef show this morning, my mom and Mitch were here stuffing 200 plastic Easter eggs full of candy and trinkets. Once I got home, Mitch and I ran errands all afternoon for tomorrow’s party. There was one special item to buy – the girls Easter dresses. 

Store after store. Full parking lot after full parking lot. Crowd after crowd. We finally found the perfect dresses. It was a meaningful shopping experience for us. We know that this is our last holiday with the twins. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of “last times” for us right now. We are working hard to make tomorrow great because we know it’s the last party we’ll have them here for. For those of you that know us well, you know we love to party here in the summer. It may be chilly and wet tomorrow but it’s important to us to have these moments with them and they’re happening rain or shine, dammit. 

I only got choked up about 10 times today. As we walked through aisles holding up shirts and laughing at how cute they were. Smiling because the sayings on the shirts made us nod our head in agreement that the shirt was, “so Nay Nay/Sassie!” I hated having flashes of the impending doom of them being gone. I truly wasn’t trying to focus on it. It’s like, here and there it was sprinkled in on top of my happiness sundae. 

All of that being said, we are excited to see our girls in the morning and share the day with those that are attending. For many, it’ll be the last time they see the girls. Don’t feel too bad for yourself because in 12 short days, we won’t see them again either. Their mom has repeatedly said she will never let us see them again. That sentence feels like someone lit a razor blade on fire and then cut through our hearts. It’s like trying to control a bleed that no number of bandages can heal. It sucks and we hope she changes her mind. 

But for now, for today, for tomorrow, they are still ours. We will choose to celebrate. We may cry here and there. We hug them a little tighter. We give them extra kisses. We love them harder by the day. Even if only for 10 months, we were their mama and dada and they knew genuine love, security, and consistency. 

We love them bigger than the sky. 

xo,

a

It’s Off

I got up when I felt like it today. Went to Legendary to grab a few donuts. Used up the last of my Starbucks gift card. Dropped a donut off to my mom and helped her with an app on her phone. Came home to Mitch and sat casually on the recliner while we chatted and started to watch Lockup on Netflix. He decided he was still tired, so he went back to bed. I scrolled through Facebook and texted with Stephanie, who has been home since Thursday but I just realized that TODAY. Felt like a shitty friend. Wondered what else I’ve been missing/not realizing/forgetting lately. Probably a lot. Sigh.

It’s off. This whole morning. I should have gotten up when I had to. Chased the kids around to get them ready for their visit with their dad. Tried six times to get their coats on. Told them to keep their shoes on at least 27 times. Put on Doc McStuffins or Goldie and Bear to let them have a little bit of TV time to distract them from the fact that we were putting their shoes on…yet again. Fed them *only* a banana because that’s all they want and their dad feeds them when they get to their visit. Saw them off to the visit transporter at 8:30 and then promptly began to rush around to spend hours cleaning the house so it could inevitably be a mess again before days end. I should be running around doing errands with urgency so I can be home by about 2:20 when they get home. Or taking a nap and setting my alarm to be awake when they get home.

Instead of doing all of that I had a casual morning. It’s off. For almost a year now we’ve had to establish a routine for the sake of everyone’s sanity. For almost a year now we’ve had to build our life around their six days a week visit schedules. It’s hard to believe we’re just three weeks out from all of that. Hard to believe it has been almost a year. Hard to believe we crammed so many memories in. I remember when they got here. We pulled them out of their car seats and they weren’t even a little bit reluctant to wrap their tiny arms around our necks and hug us. Strangers. A new face. Again. We were an instant family.

Nay Nay had just learned to walk, so she was still pretty wobbly. Sassie was still crawling. We taught one how to stabilize her new ability and taught one how to walk. Taught them how to use a fork and spoon. Taught them how to brush their teeth. Worked with them on their words so their speech could be on track for their age group. Nurtured their interest in the potty. Allowed them to wash themselves in the bath tub. We watched them go from needing us to do everything for them to watching them try to do everything for themselves. Watched them outgrow an outfit that fit them fine the week before. Put their own coats and socks on. Buckle themselves into their booster seats. Use the remote. Open doors. (YIKES!)

When I posted this profound article earlier this morning on my Facebook page, I said that, “Being a foster parent means you’re willing to put everything on the line knowing you could lose it all.” It’s true. And for those of you out there that do this repeatedly, I applaud you. It’s pretty brave of you to know you’re going to use up every ounce of energy and love you have to give only to have it questioned, accused, misunderstood, and to feel unappreciated. Of course, that’s not always the case. I’m sure there are situations where it’s not as volatile, not as much of a tug of war as it has been, and not so jagged at times.

Don’t get me wrong, we get to be thankful for the time we had with our littles. The things we taught them without even realizing we were contributing in some small way to their development and happiness, but they weren’t the only ones learning. They were our teachers, too. They taught us how to parent, how to budget, how to make the most of our time, how to stay up for too many hours (ha!), how to fight for something no matter how slim the chances of success are, how to be a child advocate, how to love others in ways we never understood, how to be adaptable, and it doesn’t stop there. The lessons they teach us every day will continue on after they are gone not here anymore back with their mom go home…well, you know. Having a hard time saying and hearing all of those.

I know you’re reading this and it’s probably hard to know what to say. Some of you have expressed love and comfort so willingly, others have stayed silent, some have sent a text or a Facebook message. Some of you have told me something along the lines of, “I have been following your story…I don’t know what to say…I’m sorry that…” Please don’t apologize. You checking in on us is perfect. Saying you love us and we have been great is perfect. Saying you don’t know what to say is perfect. Saying, “This is what you signed up for…” or something like that is not helpful. This roller coaster of emotions is super hard to navigate. It’s all new to us, just like being parents was new to us. It’s weird when they aren’t here. It’s weird I won’t see them until Monday night. I cried on my way to work Friday morning knowing I wouldn’t see their sweet faces for what seemed like forever. Maybe that sounds silly/stupid/dramatic and maybe it is.

If I have learned one thing in the last few times that they’ve gone on overnight visits with their mom, it’s that I believe having kids gives me a life that I love. It makes me feel like I have a purpose. Before them, we were so casual, and we liked it! Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that we don’t enjoy a quick and rare chance to have a date, watch a movie together at home after the kids go to bed, or sleep in, but it’s different when they’re gone for a long time. And it’s different when you have a family. I want to be the snack mom at their sporting events. I want to join the PTA and put my fundraising skills to use again. I want to be the reason they look back on their childhood and smile. I want to let them be a child during their years of childhood, something in which is robbed of far too many kids. 

How soon after the girls leave can we continue to contribute to the well-being of a child and their family? That remains to be seen, but I know we want to do it. We are scared. I know how much this hurts us right now and I know it’ll hurt even more come “the day” that they…go. I’ll be honest, I really don’t know how our hearts and energy will be replenished after all of this, but I know it’ll happen. When it does, we’ll welcome him, her, them just as we welcomed the twins. We will love them, provide for them, encourage them, and fight for them because if not us, then who?

xo,

a

P.S. On April 2nd, we are participating in a bowling fundraiser for foster children in our area. We are $50 short of our required minimum and we need your help. Please donate any amount here. Thank you!

Sucks.

I am so tired of this emotional roller coaster. This has been the most difficult period of my life and a close second for Mitch’s life. The transition has been hard on the girls and on us. The emotion has been a lot to try to work through and I can feel myself crawling back inside my head to avoid working through my emotions, which was a coping mechanism for me for my entire life and only in the last year or so have I learned how not to do that. Still, I’m tired of crying myself to sleep. I’m tired of it consuming my mind. I’m tired of trying to mentally prepare for a house without them in it. I’m just tired.

When you walk in their room it smells like them. I think it’s a combination of mac n cheese, playdough, and sweet lavender lotion. Eventually, that smell will disappear, just as they have, and it’ll be excruciating to go in there for any reason whatsoever. If I just shut the door and never open it I’ll still know what was once on the other side of it. My counselor told me of a quote she recently read.

When your parents die you become an orphan. When your spouse dies you become a widow. There is no word for when your child dies and there’s no word for when you lose your foster children. People really don’t understand what that must be like for you. To love and fight for something so hard and then to let it go. 

I have tonight to spend with them and that’s about an hour, at best, until they go to bed. I won’t see them again until Monday night. This is going to suck. This last 3 weeks of them being with us will be hard because the visit schedule will be increased as they approach the day of return to their mom. I know everyone says to focus on loving them while we have them, and we do, but let me ask you something, and, please, answer this honestly. Think about your own children. Think about how much you love them. Would it be easy for you to watch them leave and never see them again? I’ve asked this question in a blog before, but it is worth asking again. I’m sure the answer is no, it wouldn’t be easy. “But this is what you signed up for…” WRONG. What I signed up for is to be an advocate, to give love, to share experiences, to teach, to be taught. And, yes, the end result is that they usually go home. I get that. I didn’t realize the heartbreak this would cause. Call me stupid if you want to, but put yourself in our shoes and then tell me if you’d want me to be that inconsiderate and diminishing of your feelings.

My counselor has warned me not to revert to my old behavior, which is to close up, say “I’m fine” and to not cry. I’ve gotta say, that seems like the best thing to do right now. I’m tired of feeling all of this emotion and thinking all of these thoughts. Enough about that…

 

xo,

a

Regrouping

I got a lot of traffic on my blog last night after I went on a rant about their mom, the system, and my feelings. Then I went to bed. Thanks to those of you who just rolled with my bitching. So now let me tell you the rational side of things.

I get it. As best as I can, at least. She knows we’ve done well with her girls. She knows that even her older daughter loves us as she has asked to come stay with us on multiple occasions. She’s threatened. Insecure. Hurting because she did this and another family was so readily available to step in and make right what she wronged. This is her fault and she knows it. 

Still, she deserves a fair chance, which she has been given, in our opinion too many times. We’ve been told and now it has been proven that the state of Washington is heavy on giving parents too many chances. We’ve seen this in other cases as we are part of many foster parenting support groups. It’s frustrating to watch good families that bend over backwards to be good people to kids, the parents, and the system only to get slapped in the face. Repeatedly. 

She’s young. To me, that’s no excuse. Woman up. Take responsibility for your actions. Accept help. And be the person you fake being when you’re standing in front of the judge. I hope that this will all come in (very quick) time, not only for the kids but for her sake too. She’s likely had a tough life and she’s not making it any easier on herself to have a great future. The only person that can change that is her. I hope that bone of confidence grows strong in her spine because she’s going to need it. 

I’ve meant what I’ve said about not being sure I can do this again. Mitch is not feeling the same way, although, we do both agree that a break is needed once the girls go home. To me, the system fails kids. They slip through the cracks. I get that the team of people on the case are overworked. Still, you hear these horror stories about kids in our community being victimized by a broken system. It hits an exposed nerve for me. They’ve already experienced neglect and the one place that they should be giving respite is letting them down. Does anyone else have a problem with this? Meanwhile, the foster parents (some, not all) are working their asses off to help these kids while other people take a back seat. We are often unsupported in a role that requires us to be a perfect parent (which isn’t even a thing!) without being given information and support. And they wonder why they lose good foster families. THIS IS WHY! 

It’s all a shit show, okay? It’s not an ideal situation. It can be really fucked up. We’re happy for their mom. We know she loves them, will keep them clean, fed, and she will protect them. Those are all VERY essential to their well-being. We do wish she wasn’t so nasty with us. We can’t change that. Maybe some day she will. 

xo,

a

Noted

Well, that backfired. Instead of being appreciative of the letter I sent, we were told today not to speak with their mom. Even though we were just encouraged to “make nice” so we could see them after they go home for good. 

I don’t fucking get it. We’re wrong either way. I’m so sick of watching kids get further victimized while their piece of shit parents get coddled. I’m so sick of being treated like a doormat. Not appreciated. Not taken seriously. Why are we even here??? 

And I’m not just talking about the bio parents in this situation. I’m venting here, so don’t go on about the poor parents or the people on the case being overloaded with work because even though those two statements can be true, it’s no excuse for treating foster parents like they are insignificant. Further, it’s no excuse to let these kids suffer because nobody gives a damn about what’s truly best for them.

The amount of times they have overlooked major shit just floors me. You wanna break the law? Suuuuure, go right ahead. What further irritates me is that there’s an entire group of people bending over backwards and going through stress and heartache because ONE person got their kids taken away, yet that ONE person isn’t mature enough to comprehend that we’re all bending over and taking it for HER benefit. 

How nice of her to sit there and piss and moan about how the entire world is against her, yet everyone in her world is fighting for what’s hers! Fighting for her to have something back she should have never lost in the first goddamn place! 

Honest to God, if you don’t agree with me or can’t understand my frustration please don’t comment. I’m coming unglued in my writing so I can stay put together in the rest of my world. Don’t use my safe place as a way to redirect me. I need these words left here so I don’t speak them into the air. 

xo,

a

Slumber Party

Our littles are about to leave us until tomorrow night. In fact, by the time you read this they’ll be gone. It’s their first overnight visit with their mom. We’re excited for her to have this experience. If I’m putting myself in her shoes, I can only imagine that she can’t wait for them to get there. She has never put them to bed. We know she’s been waiting a very long time for this. 

I wrote their mom a note and gave her a few pointers as to what the bedtime routine has been here. I know she may choose to burn the letter and do it her own way, and that’s her choice, but when it comes down to it, it benefits everyone if she knows what works for them. She can and should put her own spin on it and I’m sure she will. 

I went to T-Mobile last night to add a phone line to our plan so she can call us on that phone anytime she needs to. I realize that phone may never ever ring but I want her to have a little piece of mind knowing she has someone if it ever gets too hard, and don’t we all need that as parents? Someone to call when we just need a break. And if I’m being honest, it fulfills our selfish need to know she has a way to contact us now or later if she ever needs us. 

Trust me, it would have been easier to be petty and not write the note. Not get the cell phone. Alas, we did it because we know it’ll make this a little bit easier for them. As much of a struggle as this has been, we are trying to accept this. Don’t get me wrong, we’re nowhere near acceptance but we’re working on it. We’re doing our best. That’s all we can do right now. It’s a good start. 

Our hearts are sinking a little bit but we know they need this experience, and so do we. We don’t want them to go, but we know it’s part of their inevitable transition and we need to work through this…as painful as it may be. Here goes…

xo,

a

Hollowed Out

I have been searching for the words to help people understand the devastating pain we are in but I come up short. Every piece of us has gone to the girls and the tiny bit that is left of us will go home with them. We will be a shell of a person. Empty. Hollowed out. Nothing left inside.

Foster care is tricky because there’s always that “maybe” they’ll stay with you, so you risk everything and go for it and it hurts like nothing that can ever adequately be described when it doesn’t work out. You need a thick skin and a soft heart. Talk about extreme vulnerability. 

Foster parents are expected to be A+ parents while their biological parent(s) can get by with being a D parent. We are under the microscope constantly. There’s half a dozen people to have to check in with or notify when there’s a doctors appointment or you want to take them to Seattle for the day. 

We become the bad guy, the ones that stole your kids from you, the ones that get a say over your kids life. We’re the ones “doing it for the money” or because we ourselves want to abuse children not our own. These are just some of the things we’ve heard. Couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The truth is, we get no say in any of this. They plop those kids on our door with a bag of clothes, their trauma, and little to no further information from that point. What do you do? You look at them and love their little faces because that’s what they need. You give them a voice. You fight a battle you’re not prepared to fight. You empty yourself out and it is exhausting. 

I realized tonight that I’d rather go through the heartbreak and rejection process that separated me and my dad than feel this pain. This shattering, devastating pain. The pain that says to me, “You can’t do this.” It’s true. I can’t. Yes, we will get through this because we have no choice but to, but as for owning any additional strength – that waved goodbye long ago. 

My poor Mitch, he’s familiar with this pain. He has said it hurts like when his mom suddenly passed away. The tragedy in his eyes when he tells me that shifts my energy in such a way that it freezes my body from being able to fluidly hug him. I feel rigid and cold as I try to hold back my utter heartache for him. Inside, I’m crashing to my knees and drowning in an ocean of my own tears for him.

As much as I believe I simply cannot come back from this, there’s a microscopic twinge in the deepest, darkest corner of my broken heart that says that there’s a little nugget out there waiting for Mitch and I to be (his?) parents. If I quit after the girls go home, will I miss the chance to be the mom of the most incredible son ever? But what if I stick to my guns and realize that Mitch and I need a break to reprioritize our own lives. Those girls walked in the door and all traces of previous Mitch and Aubrey disappeared and we became unrecognizable people with a life we couldn’t have imagined. 

I just don’t know. I really don’t. I’m so scared. Truly terrified for that quickly approaching date to come. The day their mom, who hates us, will gleefully have her family back together after almost 2 years. The day we heartbreakingly go from having a family to having nothing but a quiet house, toys that won’t be played with and smells of our sweet girls all around us, yet they will be nowhere to be seen, hugged, cuddled, and kissed. The day our spirits will be undeniably broken. 

xo,

a