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!

Six months in…

There was all this build up to the day we finally received our first “placement” as foster parents. The call finally came on June 13, 2016. We were told there was a set of 12 month old twin girls. For months, we were preparing for a 0-3 month old drug exposed baby, but we were anxious to put the love we were holding hostage in our hearts to work, so we said yes, and on June 15, 2016, our girls came to live with us.

Since then, we have learned so many things about ourselves, each other, the twins, and the world around us. The bond the four of us have is unbelievable. We became an instant family. This has been the most difficult thing in life we have ever done. It has been excruciatingly painful to realize these sweeties are going back home soon. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been in their mom’s corner this entire time. We’ve had minimal bumps in the road with her, and for the most part, we work together pretty well for the best interest of the girls.

One of the reasons it was on my heart to become a foster (to adopt) parent was because I had gone through three miscarriages already and I couldn’t fathom putting my body and mind through further turmoil. As you can imagine, losing babies, born or unborn, is unfathomable. What I didn’t realize is that no matter how hard I fight against the injustices that these kids have faced, no matter how much I love on them, no matter what right I do for them, they’re still going home. I’m still losing babies but in a different way.

I know that’s a shitty way to look at it, but don’t get too caught up in that. I realize this was what we signed up for but nobody can be adequately prepared for what it’s really like to be a foster parent. It’s an added layer of difficulty when you’re fostering because you’re constantly under a microscope, being questioned, being accused, being misinformed. And as another foster mom said, “You don’t know what it’s like until you do it.” Truer words were never spoken.

Now that I’ve shared what is wrong with foster parenting, let me share with you what is right with it. It’s a blessing to be able to have the support we have had to bring children into our home. Not everyone has the tribe that we have. You guys are irreplaceable. The tears that I’ve cried, the laughs that I’ve shared, the confusion I’ve gone through. You’ve all been there. You’re incredible people. Thank you!

It’s pretty amazing to bring a life into your home and love that life unconditionally as if it were your own flesh and blood. If you think you can’t love someone else’s child you’re wrong. You can and you would do it beautifully. You learn a lot about yourself and your partner when kids come into the picture. I never thought I’d fight so hard for anything in my life. The social worker probably thinks I’m some bitch from hell because I’m not afraid to speak up when we’re noticing things that aren’t healthy for the girls. I’m not trying to be a jerk. I’m trying to make sure they get the very best.

This process is stressful and it’ll be stressful on your household. No doubts about that at all. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Although it sucks that we don’t get to adopt the twins, it’s awesome that their mom gets to have her family back. We helped her with that in a small way. In one hand, we love knowing we could help dozens of families stay together, but in the other, we’re still aching to be adoptive parents. It will happen. Our day will come. If nothing else, the twins have taught us we CAN be good parents. There was never any doubt about Mitch. I knew well before we started this journey that he’d be a great dad and he is. In fact, he’s amazing. Any kid would be lucky to have him as a role model.

As for me, I had (and still do to some degree) some concerns about being a mom. I knew I wanted to be a mom but I was afraid of messing up some kids life. I don’t want that blood on my hands. I still have a long way to go before I could be considered a “good” or a “great” mom, but for now, I’m a mom to kids that need love, safety, shelter, and support.

Anything worth having is worth working hard for. I have never worked so hard. I have never loved so hard. I have never laughed so hard. I have never cried so hard. This process is beautiful, stressful, rewarding, challenging, confusing, gratifying, hilarious, and exhausting. There’s no way in hell I’d go back on the decision to do this. I love being a mom!

I feel like this is a pretty vague update but I wanted to give you something. If anyone read this, leave me a comment so I’ll know whether or not I should keep writing.

xo,

a