Did anyone watch VICE Raised in The System?

The incarceration rate of youth in the U.S. is higher than any other country. My husband and I watched this documentary last night and we’re pretty shocked by the statistics. But what gets me is where these kids are coming from and what they are experiencing so young in life. The documentary made me upset for sure but I’d rather be informed about what’s going on in our country than be ignorant about something that will effect us all. And yes, the youth of the United States is our future, it will affect everyone and I feel sorry for the people who turn their heads.

Slow love

Before this blog there was a journal where I would share my thoughts of this journey.

3/20/17

I didn’t know if I could love them when they came to us. I would keep myself awake at night wondering how it would all play out. What if TPR happened and I didn’t love them? Would I be able to raise children I didn’t love, would that be right or fair to them?

Here’s the thing though – it’s a slow love. It’s a love that builds each day with understanding. It’s a bond you have to build. You won’t always love these kids the day they come into your life. You won’t love them until you are ready, and guess what…the same will go for them. They will not love you, in fact they might even resent you.

In the beginning I was so relieved to drop them off at school and there were days I would dread the end of that school day. But slowly our schedule became normal and we began to enjoy our time together.

You become a rock for them. I could have never imagined the emotions and the love that I have for these girls. When I think back to the beginning I could see how afraid and unprepared I was for this whole thing. I’m not sure anyone is ever completely ready. But I also see how my strength made them stronger, I didn’t give up and neither did they.

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.