RSS Feed

Talk, talk, talk it out…

Posted on

We’ve been working on talking to the kids more openly about their adoptions. We’ve been realizing how important having a firm grasp on their history is to them.

We’ve also been learning that since they didn’t have all the facts, they were making up their own. And that they think about their former lives and adoption a lot. A lot more than we imagined. And we’ve been pretty liberal in assuming they think about it.

Here’s a few things we’ve learned:

Simeon thought his mother has been angry with him this whole time, thus the lack of contact.

Raj thinks he never had a father. Immaculate conception?

Lyberty thinks her their dad was a man who was living with them for a few months. And that their mom is getting their house ready for them to visit (oh, boy…)

And there’s so much more misinformation they’ve been perpetuating in their little minds.

This explains so much of the big feelings we’ve been wrestling. Of course they have big feelings! If it wasn’t a lack of information, it was an overabundance of misinformation.

And how easy is it to assume we know what they’re feeling or thinking. Or to assume that it’s impossible to know.

When really, all we have to do is ask.

So we ask. Every morning. And sometimes at night, too. And we’ll continue to ask until they tell us to “STOP TALKING ABOUT IT ALREADY!!!”

Their story, their thoughts, their memories, their ideas; those are all really important to them and their mental health.

If you have a child who’s in foster care or has been adopted (assuming they know – if they don’t you may want to take, I don’t know, 27 steps back or so), then I’d encourage you ask. You know “do you ever think about your adoption (or first family, or where you lived before, or what happened to you, or whatever)?”

I bet you’d be surprised to see how much they do think about it. And how much they may be willing to share. And how much they really want to know. I mean, if you’re where we’ve been, then it really can’t get much worse, can it? ***

*** knock on wood, spin around three times, and spit on your shoes or something – I know it can always get worse, I’m just saying…

So, I may be back?

Posted on

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. It’s been a long while. 

I don’t even know if I remember all of our pseudonyms. So bear with me while I get in back in the swing of things. Or don’t. Because so much has changed that I don’t know if this is really what’s going to work right now. 

You see, since my last post almost a year ago, we adopted Lyberty, Raj and Cupcake. Maybe I’ll come back soon and tell their story in greater detail. Remind me to do that if you’re interested. But since adopting them, I’ve felt swamped. Busy. Overwhelmed at times. They’re great kids and we fall more and more in love with them each day, but each day is busy with four little ones. 

And lately, we’ve been really struggling with Simeon. It’s gotten really, really tough and while there are so many very good reasons why he struggles with his big feelings, we’ve been in a downward spin for the past, oh I dunno, 4-6 months or so, and it’s started to wear thin on me. 

A little bit. 

Ok.

A lot. 

And I remember that before, when things were tough, it was always so helpful to know that there was community out there. And that there were people who understood me. And it really made it not feel so overwhelming when I thought that our struggles might allow us to help other moms. So, I want to get back to blogging. 

It’s not easy to talk about the yuck that goes on at home. It’s really hard to ask for help. And sometimes I don’t even know what to share or how to ask. And Simeon’s dignity is important  to me. I don’t want to announce to all my friends and neighbors that he’s struggling in so many ways. Especially because people with the best of intentions don’t really understand. And make judgements about my child. And it strains those relationships. But I can’t keep it bottled inside much longer, either. 

I need to remember that I’m not alone here. I need to remember that it’s not always so bad. And sometimes I need to laugh at myself. 

If you’re out there and you’re still checking this blog [awkward wave] “He-ey. Thanks for staying in touch.” And if you’re new. “Friend, let’s chat. We need each other. If you don’t know that yet, let me tell you from experience – we NEED each other.” 

Seperation anxiety for the win!!!

Posted on

Simeon has never cared whether or not we’re around. He cares more about the opinion and attention of others than of us. He eagerly talks to strangers and for a while now I’ve feared would follow one off for nothing more than an approving smile.

Then this week we went on vacation and the place we were staying had a mini camp for kids. We let our kids go in the evening. The first evening I went back to pick him up, I opened the door to shimmery eyes. He ran across the room and clung to my hips choking back tears.

I just love you, he said.

The next night was easier, but still an emotional return.

This weekend my parents asked to have him come play by himself. When it was time for me to take him to meet my dad, he ran to Leo and began to weep in his arms.

I just love you, he said.

My heart sung!

Not because my boy was crying, was scared, was afraid we were sending him away, but because he didn’t want to go. Because even though he threatened to run away for the 258th time yesterday morning, he doesn’t mean it.

He just loves us. And he wants to stay and he’s becoming attached. This is an answer to our prayers.

And worth noting that the next week and a half marks 2 years 11 months, which just so happens to be the exact amount of time he spent in darkness before his whole world and our whole world changed. Forever.

 

It’s not you. It’s me.

Posted on

I see some of you have noticed my prolonged absence. Thank you for that.

Mostly, we’ve been absurdly busy. Apparently four children under five require a great deal of attention. Who knew?!

Seriously, though…

We have therapy 9 hours/week. Plus play dates and other outings leaves little time for blogging any more. I will try to be better though, promise.

In the mean time here’s life, in brief:

Cupcake: She’s starting to walk. And teethe. And squeal. And high five. And play peek-a-boo. And dance, etc. She’s buckets of fun right now. Except right now she has a fever, so she’s not exactly buckets of fun. But you get the idea.

Raj: He’s growing a voice which is nice most of the time. He is trying to be a bit of mouthy, though. We’re working on a balance. Everything in moderation, right? Other than that, he’s pretty much just getting into trouble with the rest of them.

Lyberty: Oh, this girl is my daily challenge. She’s beautiful and funny and creative. She’s also very anxious and hard to really connect with. Her affections seem more a barrier to intimacy. When she’s feeling anxious, she’s seriously off tha chain! Some days I can barely keep her reigned in, but she has enough moments of transparency to keep us going.

Simeon: Besides growing more handsome each day, he’s also facing his own daily battles. He struggles with anger. Mostly he struggles with the root of it, so when it over takes him, he blames the rest of us. He’s obsessed with becoming a mad scientist which I find completely delightful. He’s also showing great capacity to fiercely love and protect his siblings, which is a plus.

Therapy is helping me as much as it is them and I’m very thankful for it.

So that’s us as of late and in a nut shell. I’ll try to check in a bit more frequently. Lord knows I could stand to have someplace to brain dump once in a while.

That awkward moment when…

Posted on

You know that awkward moment when your husband goes out of town on business…

And you have a great day…

And you think “I’ve got this. They’ve got this. Things are really looking up…”

And it’s 11pm and you walk into your bathroom ready for a nice lavender soak in the tub while your sweet babies are all sleep breathing in chorus…

And you notice and box out of place…

And you look down and see that someone has left a heafty pile of poop in that box…

And you realize that even though it does get better, some things just get different. And your hurt children are still hurting. And their world really stinks. So sometimes yours does, too….

Then you can’t decide whether or not to laugh, or cry, or be angry, or just throw your hands up and go to bed, so you blog about it, but that doesn’t really help…

But then in your stream of concious brain dump (no pun intended here, of course), you realize that none of that stinky stuff really matters, because that big ol’ pile of poop just reminded you that you really are deeply in love with your kids (all of them, even the rogue pooper) and you’ll wade through their shit with them if you have to.

Yeah…. I really hate that, too.

 

How to celebrate an anniversary…

Posted on

Yesterday we celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. 

It started with Leo taking Simeon to his psychological evaluation so he can begin receiving therapy to help with adoption transition while I cleaned the house and groomed the kids in preparation of a DFCS home visit. You know, how every normal healthy family ends their week….

Leo came home bearing a chinese food feast. All three of my guys put on button downs and neck ties. Lyberty and Cupcake wore pretty pink dresses and I wore a white blouse, with a pretty white head band over long curls – very wedding-ish. We enjoyed dinner, snuggled on the couch and looked at our wedding book, rescued Cupcake from choking to death on some legos, yelled at the kids for being squirrelly, you know, how every normal healthy family spends an evening…

Then the best part of the night: our vow renewal. Simeon served as officiant, Raj man of honor, Lyberty maid of honor and Cupcake obstacle course/flower girl. We played a recording of the song I walked down the aisle to as Lyberty and I made our way down the hallway carrying dollar store flower bouquets to the fireplace where the boys stood waiting. Simeon called us all together, then charged Leo and I to “be nice. be respectful. Kiss.” So Leo and I promised to be nice. be respectful. and kiss always. Then we kissed to peals of laughter and retching sounds from our children. You know, how every normal healthy vow renewal ends…

We all skipped around the living and dining room in a grand processional. Then gathered at the table for a cake cutting. Leo and I cut cake and fed each other pieces. We toasted with wine (the kids had Italian soda) and Simeon played photographer which resulted in lots of wonky pictures, most of which have been deleted.

After dessert, we marched the kids to bed and Leo presented me with an anniversary gift for us to share. One that is sure to bring us many days and nights of fun: bananagrams. You know, the traditional 9th anniversary gift of word games.

I would say that the night was far from traditional. And it lacked a certain romantic magic I think I imagined marriage would hold at times, but it was sweet and it was fun and if there is anything I can say for the last nine years of my marriage, it’s that it has been the sweetest, most fun endeavor of my life.

Feeling blessed.

I’m happy-sad-scared-excited… how’re you?

Posted on

Termination was granted.

It was a very long day. Very long.

But it ended with 1st mom grabbing me in a big hug. She thanked me for loving her babies. Said she knew we would take could care of them. She asked for pictures.

It was really encouraging, strange, unnatural. It seemed too soon to be making peace with the end. I guess that’s was problem all along – a misalignment with reality.

So… here we are moving forward with adoption. And it’s most surreal.

Mostly because we didn’t plan to be here again, so soon, with so many. But also because it’s just happened so fast.

We told the kids pretty soon after. Lyberty is at peace. She’s longed for a home, a mom and a dad. She’s ready for this. She wants normalcy and predictability. Raj doesn’t really want what he’s had, but he doesn’t know that this is such a great idea either. He longs for a fantasy that will never be achieved. He said he “wants to live with Mommy and [another family member] in [a fun kid place]” What he knows is that as good as this is, it’s not what life is supposed to like. He wants a fantasy. For the record, he is super pumped to be “brudders” with Simeon. So he was at least able to find something to be optimistic about.

Our play therapist is wonderful and has been here to talk with the twins already. I’ve also asked her to make a referral so that she can take Simeon on to her case plan as well. He’s been having big feelings lately. He swings from excitement over growing the family to suffing this wave of defiance and anger. He says he wants to adopt these kids and he still wants more (ha!), but that he sometimes feels sad and angry and doesn’t know why.

I completely get it. I’m kind of experiencing the very same thing. I suspect he’s nervous that he’ll end up being less treasured, less precious. I think the idea of this big family forever is a little scary (AMEN!), but I think the most disconcerting thought of all is that his adoption day will be less special if they get one, too. He’s made a few comments in passing that lead me to believe that while he doesn’t mind sharing life, he doesn’t really want to share the wonders of adoption day. And I completely get that, too!

Even though we haven’t even technically transitioned to our permanency worker and it will easily be many, many months before we’re there, I’ve begun talking to him about some of our plans. I want him to know that his adoption day will forever be a special and precious event that cannot be rivaled. We’ll simply do things a little different for the other kids. That reassurance has brought him the most peace.

And last night I broke out the shutterfly book from his first year with us. We snuggled and remembered those amazing months. We giggled conspiratorially while the other kids settled into bed. We stole 20 minutes from the night and remembered what a precious, precious gift he is. And I think, I hope anyway, that those precious memories will help both of us find and create memories like that for the other kids.

Growing our family feels like the right thing to do. These kids really are an incredible fit and we’re starting to really love them. There are many good times. But I think we need to be honest with ourselves about the growing pains we are and will be experiencing over the next few months. It’s ok. In fact it’s good. It isn’t always easy, but the best things never are. And we really are excited about what the next few months will bring.

Friday is tomorrow.

Posted on

The end of this week will bring our TPR hearing for these kids.

I suppose it’s about time I talk about permanency again. Which is really a difficult thing to do.

We were so adamantly against adopting them in the beginning. But things changed. And not just because they have no one. But because we see so much hope in them. We see the potential they have to become magnificent and important people. We have faith that they will find healing. We have faith that they will let us love them wholly.

And I remember so well how three months into loving Simeon, we weren’t even considering adoption and he was a little monster so often it seemed impossible to imagine him not growing up to become a violent predator, except he was the freaking most adorable and chubby cheeked thing you’ve ever seen. And now it’s hard to imagine he was ever really like that.

I cannot imagine what two and a half years with these kids could bring.

But we’re willing to find out.

The stone cold heart I had towards taking them forever, well, it’s softer now. I can honestly say I’m falling in love with them. Oh, it’s not like it was with Simeon. And I’m cannot say I’m completely sold, I’m still open to a surprise change, but it would have to be a miracle of one. See, I’m getting there. I’m allowing myself the freedom to get there.

If termination does not happen tomorrow, I will probably be a very sad, very shaken mama.

Since everything has happened so quickly and we have been so private about how we’ve processed it all, I feel it would be beneficial to introduce them better: the good, the bad, the ugly.

Lyberty

  • The good: Lyberty is a breath-taking beauty. Like you can not fathom the softness of her cheek. The perfect almond crest of her eye. The sweetest cupid’s bow lip. She’s funny. She’s tender and nurturing to cupcake. She’s strong-willed and creative. She’s passionate and vocal and bright. She’s fast and strong.
  • The bad: While she loves people, she has so few boundaries people often push her away. Which serves to make her more aggressive in her pursuit. Which pushes people away. She’s stubborn. She’s vocal. She has absolutely no clue how to use the bathroom like a human. She pees on the floor and herself. She forgets to wipe.
  • The ugly: When she’s anxious, she’s unmanageable. She becomes a wild child. She climbs on furniture like a monkey. She laughs a shrill, loud laugh so people can’t talk to her. She pulls away. She refuses to acknowledge the presence of others. She climbs on people. She is perfectly detestable.

Raja

  • The good: Raj has dimples I could spend all day smooching. The kids is adorable. He’s smart as a whip. He’s quiet and observes the world around him. He is generous and tender-hearted. There are times when he’s my most “with it” and he’s most capable of following instruction.
  • The bad: He’s so quiet he often gets overlooked. He gives up a lot of things he would like in order to please others. This hurts his heart. He’s less willing to attach and receive affection, encouragement or love.
  • The ugly: Raj is a sad, sad boy. Sometimes he has days of heavy boots and it’s impossible to pull him up from it. He cries uncontrollably and vanishes from us. He won’t talk to us about his feelings and so we spend a lot of time watching him break all alone and he won’t let us help. He’s isolated. I worry most about him.

Cupcake

  • The good: EVERYTHING! Cupcake is the happiest, chubbiest, most delicious thing you’ve ever met. I had no idea she was teething until she had two teeth. She sings and crows and laughs and claps and waves and giggles and shrieks with joy. She lights up when we walk in the room. She snuggles in our arms like she was formed there (and she kinda was). She’s determined and beautiful. When we carry cupcake into a room the entire energy changes. She is a light and a joy and she doesn’t even know it yet. We are humbled to be able to love her.
  • The bad: She’s happy all the time. Even at 5AM. Often at 5AM. This is not good.
  • The ugly: Nothing. Seriously nothing.

Prayers for tomorrow would be most appreciated, though I’m not sure I even know what to ask you to pray for. The Lord’s will be done is always a good one.

Thanks y’all.

Regression makes me want to punch myself in the face

Posted on

The good news is that I’m not the only one.

Our play therapist, who is adorable – and a baby – but adorable, practically ran out with her hair on fire today.

Holy shnikes I forgot we cycle through this!!! It’s amazing how quickly you forget these things. Simeon still has some regressive behaviors, but they’re always getting shorter and better and I know them so well he has to do something really wild to get me to notice anymore.

These kids have been out of their skins since we got back from our trip. Which makes sense. But I’m seriously about to go crazy up in here!

Lyberty was so frantic this morning she was literally running around the living room naming the people in the house over and over again. She couldn’t complete a thought or remember our names. She was aggressive and selfish and often, quite literally, standing on her head.

Raj was a silent kind of angry. Or sad. Or both. He hid under his bed from the play therapist. I couldn’t help her. Then he threw puzzle pieces at her in the quietest most passive way possible. Then he hugged her. Then he was angry she tricked him out of his Bumble Bee mask (which she did not) and silently shook his bed rails. Then he hugged her. Weird.

Here’s the thing though, as much as regression sucks, and sucks it does, I can still tell that these kids have progressed so much in only two months. And that no matter how wacky they are right now, they feel safe here. We threw them off with the traveling and all, but we’re back. And we’re on our way to proving to them that good things don’t always end badly. And some people are honest. And they are safe. And they are wanted. And they are loved.

So while we’re in the valley of two steps back, we’re still celebrating the three steps forward we’ve made in such a short time. Not only that, I’m learning how to take care of myself. I’m blogging again. And tonight I’m getting a pedicure. And I have dark chocolate covered almonds in the cabinet. And the sun is shining warmly today, so I’ve kicked them all out to the back yard for a while so I can have some peace and quiet. If things get really crazy I can always turn the hose on them out there.*

If you’re in the valley today. Take a moment and think about where you were two months ago. Do you see even one sign of progress? A bareliest glimmer of hope? Hold tightly to that today. Hold on to the positive, the optimism, the faith that your child will be well someday. And remember, you are not alone.

*totally kidding. I would never do that. Psht…

Gone, but back again

Posted on

This weekend we were able to take a short family trip to an island – one over from where we frequent. We were chosen by our local cps office to attend a state foster care conference. On the whole the conference was a bit of a dud, but we were able to get some training hours in and enjoy time at one of my favorite places on earth.

We splashed in the waves, shivered in the pool, ate good food, laughed – a lot, and had an all around good time.

It was good to spend time so bound together. It was a chance to get to know one another better and a chance to bond more. Which is timely since we have TPR this week.

Before the anxiety of waiting for this week to end begins and we are faced with weighty visits, talks, testimony, possible witness and decisions, I’ll share with you a bit of our morning.

Simeon woke up at dawn and snuggled between Leo and I. Simeon was wiggly and Leo was snoring, so as a storm eased into the day, Simeon and walked out to the beach barefoot and pajamed.

As we sat a safe distance from the rocks and high tide, between the waters edge and dunes, I shared with my son one of the most sacred spaces I know. We were completely alone and undisturbed save for the fiddler crabs and sea spray. I whispered to him that this was the perfect place to be quiet and with God. A place to breathe deeply and know peace, even if the sky is dark and waves churn.  I think I’ll carry this picture with me to court. A little peace in my pocket…