The Best Gift

Of all the gifts I received this holiday season there was one that really got me. The past 2 years have been a bumpy journey but through it all I have had my family. They have been there through the good the bad and the crazy….

But it was this Christmas season that really blew me away. Our families have truly excepted these girls as family. The amount of time, gifts and love given to them through the holidays has left me glowing. I know that it has been an adjustment for the older generations of our families to have two children instantly added in the way our girls were, but everyone welcomed them with arms open. Watching my grandparents, parents, sibling, aunts, uncles and cousins embrace all that these amazing little girls are has made me realize just how lucky I was to be part of this family, and my family isn’t perfect but I am beyond thankful that they are mine.

Stronger

We had never parented before. We were the youngest couple in the foster care licensing class and we were the only couple looking to foster children age 5 and up. While becoming licensed we shared what we were doing slowly with friends and family. I’m pretty positive that the first year of this journey was a test for us. I’ll admit we contemplated giving up a couple times but we moved forward. Every day we got closer and everyday we became stronger.

To my boss who threatened to fire me when I told you what my future held, I feel sorry for you. This journey belongs to me not you. I left after 6 years, stronger than before.

To the employer who told me he would have liked my “situation” better had I decided to have my children, I feel sorry for you. Not all families are built the same.

To the family members who would not speak with us in the beginning, you truly missed out.

We stood our ground, and some days were harder than others but in the end we made it. And I’d do it all over again because those days brought us to them. They brought us to the roller coaster ride we are on of laughing and learning each day with our Little’s. Our family grows everyday stronger, closer and the past has begun to seem so small in comparison to what the future may hold 🙂

Anticipate the wrench….

While doing foster care I have learned to anticipate the wrench being thrown in…. Our bio moms tpr trial has been rescheduled for the SECOND time and is now being moved to another court because the one we were at had too many trials to get through… On the day of the trial we sat in the waiting room for over 2 hours just to be sent home. Bio mom did show up and despite her attorneys efforts to get her to consent she refused. So now we are playing the waiting game once again until they can secure us our THIRD attempt at a trial date.

Trial

I think back to the beginning, the day I called our social worker from work to tell him that if the plan ever changed we would want the girls to stay with us. I didn’t know what the future would bring and this past year and a half has been a whirlwind of unexpected! At the 9 month marker the plan did change and with no family resources the department looked to us first for permanence. Fast forward another 9 months and we are here….the night before the TPR trial. I feel uneasy even though we already know what the results of tomorrow will most likely bring. This feeling is coming from what will happen after tomorrow. The thought of telling these amazing little girls that bio mom didn’t do what she was supposed to has me torn. I’ve read a lot about addiction but I will never really know her whole story. This is something they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives and it’s not fair. I’m sure the social worker will tell them what is next but there will always be questions. All I know is that we will be there for them every step of the way (or as much as we can) no matter where life takes us all. These girls will always be more than worth it.

MAINE

 When I was young my dad would take me, my brother and my sister to Maine several times a year. We would hike, swim, ice skate, explore and visit LL.Bean. These trips gave me a love for this place that brings me back and let’s me reconnect with things I love to do most. Thankfully my husband shares this love with me even though he hadn’t ever visited ME until we were together. We visit at least once a year but this summer was special because we got to bring the girls 🙂 They have never traveled and were so excited for this adventure! Watching them climb the rocks along the ocean and skip through LL.Bean was awesome. They were thrilled to stay in the lodge and to go to dinner at a nice restaurant. My sister and I were their ages when we would visit and I could see how this place had collected so many memories for us. There’s something pure and wild about Maine  that captures a child’s imagination.
-H. Marie

They call me Mom

It’s been almost a year and a half that they have been with us and in the past month they have decided to call me Mom and to call him Dad. They know the plan is for us to adopt them, and they have both expressed that they are in favor of this decision. At first hearing them call for Mom almost seemed awkward, they would only do so here and there. Now they have given us these titles permanently and I have to say I almost feel honored. It’s been a long road for them but these are the strongest children I have ever had the privilege of knowing. 
“Children born to another woman call me Mom. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”

– Jody Landers

Back to school!

The school year has finally begun! The air is cool at night and we spend our evenings at soccer practice! There is a new school this year with a new schedule and lots of new friends 🙂 the girls were transferred to the school in the town we live in as we await the TPR trial. We were finally given a date in the beginning of November, the girls will have been in care just over a year and a half by then. They were so excited to change schools and start fresh. The past year has been so much for such little people. 

Just listen 

I sit and listen as they tell me stories about the bio family. Some stories are good, like their grandpa used to make pancakes and some make us cringe…. but we just listen. The older of the two can see now that her life before coming to us was not as it should have been. I can hear the tension in her voice when she asks if we will be done DCF soon. She craves stability and I know she will always love her bio mother but I can see how much she wants to move forward. It’s a harsh reality for a child to understand that the person who made them is incapable of caring for them. This beautiful little girl had seen more in her lifetime than most people ever will. She asks me as I do her hair before camp when I will be all theirs and my heart sinks. I always wonder if these memories they keep will fade, if they will settle in the back of her mind. My hope is that they will grown and come to terms with what is and what was without getting stuck in the past. Our family has so much love for them and hope of a bright future, no matter if they stumble there will always be someone there to help them get back up.

No Rules!

It all went by so fast! Like really fast…. we are at 14 months now and it’s weird to think of what it was like before our girls came. We have such a good system now, everything seems normal and our days flow like our family has been like this forever. I could have never pictured this in the first few months though. We were exhausted and to be quite honest we really didn’t have much of a clue of what we were doing. The first morning they were with us they demanded cookies for breakfast and we caved… I was so afraid to make them upset, hadn’t they been through enough? We had to learn this lesson the hard way because as it turns out a home with little rules turns upside down fast. After a few weeks we called in help and the best advice came from someone whom we really admire. She has been a lifesaver in this journey! She came to the house with her husband and watched us put the kids to bed, our routine (or lack there of) was anything but organized. Afterwards we sat together and she told us if we were REALLY in this to buckle down. The kids would still love us at the end of the day if we had rules and discipline in our home.

The first week of real rules was hard. We had meltdowns, and it almost seemed as if behaviors we didn’t like were amplified…..but guess what by the end of the second week the tantrums began to disappear. They brushed their teeth and showered without a battle!? They even went to bed and stayed in bed!! We were kind of shocked and we definitely were getting the hang of this parenting thing 🙂 it does get easier and for everyone’s sake there needs to be organization and rules for a home to feel like home.

the beginning

I’ve always wondered if somehow we all have a journey that is sort of meant for us.

I wandered up and down the barbie isle at Benny’s with my younger sister. We were going to pick children to complete our barbie families (we could have played dolls forever) She picked 2 babies and a Kelly doll, she was thrilled! I also picked three children to complete my family except that mine didn’t “match”. They were all different colors and my little sister asked why? I told her that families didn’t have to look the same and my barbies children were adopted, I was 7.

kelly doll

In 2015 my husband and I attended a meeting for information on Foster care. We had attended this same meeting a year prior but my husband insisted that he wasn’t ready, so we waited.  The meeting lasted a little less than an hour and I was sure that all the questions asked in the meeting would scare him away for the second time. In the car on our way home he asked me if I truly wanted to go through with the classes for foster care. I knew that we had to, I believe that if you cant stop thinking about something you should do something about it. He asked me if I was afraid, what if foster care is horrible? what if the scary stories online are really what its like? What if we get a child that’s out of control, we haven’t ever parented before how would we be ready for that? I told him you don’t know what you don’t know until you know. So our journey began

 

My husband and I have a very strong relationship and that has certainly been a key factor in this journey. We were young to be doing foster care, at only 25 and 28 we were the youngest couple in the foster care training course. We were also just about the only couple who wanted “older” children between the ages of 5 and 10. We are extremely active and our life seems a little to go go go for an infant. I cant tell you how many people asked why we didn’t want our “own” children. I will have to share the ups and downs we has while getting licensed in another post…Regardless of everything we became licensed within 9 months and received our first placement call 2 days after getting our license. I declined our first placement. The situation with the case explained to me on the phone was terrifying. I knew we wouldn’t be able to provide these children with the care they needed, they needed to be placed with someone who had experience with trauma and kids in care. I was bummed after the call, what if all the cases were like this and we just weren’t cut out for the job? I will admit that I was was pretty naive in the beginning, I pictured us with this child going to the beach and teaching him to play baseball, it all seemed to make sense in my mind! But guess what when you have never parented and you haven’t got a clue of what these kids have been through the beginning is anything but a walk in the park. Two days after that call my cell phone rang with our case workers number, it was just after noon on a Wednesday in May. “Can you take two girls for a few days? We think they will go with a relative shortly but we need a placement for right now?” I thought this would be a great chance to get our feet wet, I called my husband and he gave me the green light!