Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Family Update.

We are in need of a serious update here on the blog. I realize that I have not posted since August, which means I have neglected to document all back to school, birthday and holiday events. Since there are only 3 people reading this, including myself I am sure you were not broken up over it.

So as it seem that raising four kids seems to be pretty time consuming. Everyone is doing, fine, maybe even amazing, but busy.

Parenting it hard work that has to be consistent and yeah that's pretty much exhausting. However, if this wasn't what I was doing I think my life would be pretty boring. I may be more rested and read more books but pretty boring.

I'm still busy driving my kids around to all different schools attempting to get their needs met and keep some sort of sanity. Last year they were all in four different schools, this year I succeeded in having them in 3 different school and the next year they will all be in 2 different schools. After that the next year,for ONE year they will all be in one very awesome elementary school, just before Abbie heads off to middle school. Light at the tunnel folks, light at the tunnel.

We have successfully remodeled our kitchen. It's almost done. By almost, I mean livable. We love it and I can only remember two fights between the husband and I dealing with that chaos. I am still finding dust everywhere and plan to spend the first week of summer home cleaning. The kids are not happy about that.

Abbie is now 8 and doing well, she got braces in January. She also got glasses last fall. Which means she is going through that awkward growing up stage. Third grade has been hard for her relationally. Her class is full of girls so we have the drama of being left out, not being invited to parties, thinking people are talking about you behind your back, and the list could go on. I have tried to explain to her this is just how girls are, find one amazing friend and stick with her. I may be giving her some of my issues. So far she is not buying into it and just wants to be friends with everyone. Learning has been easy for her this year after the first month of school it was like something clicked and she has sailed through everything else. She was very nervous about our states mandated testing, so much so she could barely eat and said she could hardly write her name on the test she was shaking so much. At the end of the day she was confident that she only missed one question. She has major plans for the summer and none of them involve hanging out with me, just having me take her places.

Josh turned 5 and is also doing great at school. He was recently dismissed from all his therapies and his speech has become so amazing. It made the sometimes 4x a week trips to the therapist since he was two worth it. He literally hated writing and coloring until sometime in November. He has never colored. He can now write his first, middle and last name and draws me pictures all the time. He is a great big brother and is still obsessed with super heroes. He recently discovered the love of video games. I would usually be opposed to such things, but honestly I was so impressed as I've seen him struggle with fine motor skills over the years, I was floored to see the natural ability he had to make the controller work when I barely know how. He played t-ball this last fall and loved everything about it, except the dirt. He starts Kindergarten in the fall and I cried the day a registered him, the day I did a tour of the class rooms and when I bought him a clearance star wars back pack to save for August. I sure I will be a basket case come fall. (just teared up writing that sentence.)

Josie is now 4. She is a super diva, loves her lip stick, dresses, sparkly shoes and dirt. She can really sing all songs on any station on the radio. I've introduced her to Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Dave Matthews, Michael Buble', Casting crowns and many more, but her favorite is still Barney. She is still Nathan's care giver and I have to remind her daily that I am his Mom. She loves to play games, but hates to lose even more. She has more shoes that I do, but can never find any of them. She recently has decided she needs to always help me cook and stays by my side when I am cooking. She just disappears whenever its cleaning time. She is super excited to be having Nathan join her as her school next year. She loves her teachers. She loves lizards and frogs, and collects all bugs. Yesterday, she made a home in the back yard for her love bug she caught and was really upset when her sister said it was dead, because she was convinced it was just sleeping.

Nathan is also 4. He still has a giggle that is contagious and can send our whole family into the giggles. He is still obsessed with wheels and cars. He almost always has one in his pocket. He still wakes up way to early for the rest of us but its getting better, he now sleeps until almost 6:30. Over the summer we are hoping to work on this a little more. He loves to be outside. They all got bikes for Christmas and he loves his. We just keep have to remind him to keep his eyes ahead or her crashes into things. He loves school and is beginning to write some, but his favorite choice of canvas is usually the walls or floors. He has figured out how to use his cute charm and attempts to get out of most things with a smirk and giggle. Fortunately for him it works about 50% of the time. He is still pretty much of a dare devil and we have to keep our eye on him. My favorite thing he does is each morning when I drop him off at school I begin to walk away and he always yells one last time, "by Mom". I turn to say good bye again and see him point to me and tell whoever will listen, "that's my Mom". He points and nods his head in a way with such confidence each time,I am floored when I remember I've only been his Momma for a little over a year.

There is a quick update. Hoping the summer allows me more time to write and document our journey here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beach Trip Summer 2012

Our Summer has been crazy.  I spent the first couple weeks catching up on all the things I can't get done during the year.  You know, laundry, mopping and shaving my legs.  The kids spent their first weeks of summer catching up on all the things they couldn't get to when schools in session.  You know....Movies, television and video games.  As I moved on to cleaning closets and underneath the couches, Josh would come to me and say," Mom, lets do something fun." Since he is please by simple things in life a Popsicle usually did the trick.  As the summer came to an end we realized we were finally brave enough to attempt a beach trip.  I haven't been able to go because Nate's surgery left him with a huge open wound on his hand not ideal for sand and salt water and I had not convinced myself I was brave enough to do it on my own.  Nathan can't wear his hearing aids at the beach due to them being pretty expensive to replace and their not water proof. Plus my children tend to wonder..... always in a different direction. I haven't come to a place where I can decide on who to save first. So I chose to just avoid the issue.

Last weekend we were excited to find out we would be able to stay at Nathaniel's families Condo on the beach.  Perfect since the copays and surgery fees have taken up all our spending money this year!  I was still pretty nervous considering the Condo is owned by his great Aunt who has fabulous style.  The condo is beautiful but its major down fall it is mostly white.  I am sure most people love it and before I had four kids I never even noticed the color of the carpet.

In the end we had a great time.  The sun rises and sets were beautiful and the Perseids meteor shower also was set to peak that weekend.  We were able to see many shooting stars through out the night.

Here they are posing on our walk on the beach.  There were actually jelly fish was a little like playing Russian roulette with four kids. But the lighting was really beautiful.

Josie has decided she now needs to pose in every picture.

Josh was pretty excited...each time we go to the beach he gets braver about the things he will try.

Josie, " Mom take a picture of me!"

I love pictures of my kids running and playing. Nathaniel was making fun of me for continuing to take them over and over.  I was wondering the same thing.  One thing I love about the ocean is God always uses it to speak to me.

As I asked myself, Why do I love seeing them run and play?
 For one I know that one day I am going to miss this.  As much as some days are so hard, I know I am going to miss seeing their chubby flat feet slap on the wet sandy beach.  I am going to miss the giggles that chasing each other brings.

Then quietly I heard God say to my spirit,"Failure to Thrive."

Simple words He knew only I would understand, as I have read over each diagnoses and comment made by medical professionals and social workers about my kids it always seemed to be negative.  As if they needed me to know my kids wouldn't be able to thrive like normal kids. Two of my kids were diagnosed with "failure to thrive", two of my kids required physical therapy. Josh had major sensory issues and cried through many beach trips concerned with noise and the way sand felt.

So as I saw them all running and thriving tears came to my eyes and I was reminded of the complete blessings that I have been given. 

They surpassed each mountain set in front of them.

And can't help but document their amazing ability to thrive no matter the adversity.



Our final sunrise. The small figures fishing are Abbie and Nathaniel as I watched from the balcony.
A typical picture from these four.... 

Her final pose from the weekend!
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

I used to hate Mother's day.

I used to hate Mother's Day. 

In my life time I have called 3 woman Mom,none of which are actually active in my life today. I decided never to call another woman by that name for fear that she would leave me too. I have always hated trying to figure out how to celebrate.  As I child I remember wondering where my Mom was, you know the one the hallmark commercial showed.
I didn't know her.

I have never been able to stand in the card line and pick out a card for Mother's day.  Years ago I banned this practice and refuse to ever read them again because I could never find the right one.
Which one should I pick...the "You've always been there for me.." or the "Through all the years I knew I could count on you...." or the "I hope that I can be half as good as Mom as you one day..."
There was never the card that said," You did the best you could and it wasn't enough." Or the "Your not really my Mother,but I wish I didn't want you to love me like you actually were."

Then there were the years of waiting to be a Mom and the years of infertility that seemed to be highlighted on this day. As I grow older and the pain of the past fades some, there is a huge drive to become the hallmark mom.  Even I can't live up to my own expectations of her.  

This morning I received lots of loot for the day. In my oldest daughters card it said,"Mom, you are the best Mom I have ever had." I don't really think I am the best Mom.  I still yell at my kids.  I still have not enough patience to really cope with them.  Most mornings we are searching for socks from the sock bin and they are eating cold cereal.  But the truth is, I am the only Mom she has ever had and that is more important to me than being the best at it.  

For my other kids, I am their second Mom.  This is where the drive comes in to be the best at it.  But sadly the bar was set low for me.  I don't have to be the most amazing or the best.  All I have to do is be consistent and never leave.  As someone who struggles with abandonment I know this will not be a wound that will simply be healed for them by calling me Mom or me showering them with gifts.  It required me to be there for them everyday failures and all.

I don't hate Mother's day anymore.  I am not sure Mother's day will ever be the Hallmark commercial on t.v., But each year that passes heals my heart a bit from the pain of the many ones in the past, and I hope it does the same for my kids.

This year I celebrated my first Mother's Day with this guy.  I am looking forward to the many years ahead as I attempt to love him in a way that I hope his heart heals from his past wounds and daily his smile heals mine.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Thinking about Mother's Day.

Among the many changes that happen in your life adding children through adoption is Mothers Day.  With Foster Care you have the unique situation of getting a case history with your child.  You get to read or watch the poor choices the birth mother and father made that helped your child come to you.

Technically, I am not supposed to know who my kids parents are.  By the time our kids came to us they were in foster homes and were placed in our home as a foster adoptive placement.  Our state has an adoptive reunion registry set up for kids like ours.  We have the option of registering our kids privately and if their birth parents ever want to find them they can register and when the system sees a match after the child is 18, they will contact them and let them know where there birth parents are.

Because I believe the system is crazy broken and in all our years working with social workers we have only had one good one,I took a different route.  We did put our kids in the registry,but we have a back up plan. The records we are suppose to have all the parents names, date of births, etc blacked out.  But when you are talking about an over worked underpaid social worker he/she usually misses at least 1 area that should have been blacked out.

Sometimes, I simply took the tragic details of my kids situation and put in their last name on a google search and up popped the parents names. I regularly gather information on my kids birth parents.  I have an online file of current mug shots, latest addresses and sometimes photos I have been able to gather from face*book. 

I did all of this because I am their Mother. I spend everyday documenting their lives by taking pictures, blogging,putting in the new things their learning, and making scrapbooks so they have the history of themselves.  Because of my past and not knowing where I came from I knew they will have questions about their past. Logistically, we are talking about parents that "lost" their kids because of their actions.  Some of the parents are already older than me and have lived a lifetime with addictions that rule their lives.  If my kids couldn't count on them to raise them, I can't really count on them being around in 15 years.  I don't know if they will be able to kick the addiction, get jobs, be out of jail or even honestly be alive.

At first I will be honest and say I was very angry with all these parents.  I couldn't see how you can make choices like that.  There are still days where the injustice of their choices and the battles of grief I know my kids have ahead of them makes me angry. 
But as I have seen the parents faces compassion begins to grow. Some case history gives me details of what their lives were like growing up which was also not a pretty picture. 

Mother's Day is different for me now.  The day doesn't pass with out me thinking of the other 3 woman that gave my kids life.I grieve for them knowing what they are missing out on.  I pray that one day they are able to get their together.  I pray that someone can come in to their lives and help them with their issues.  I realized that it was vital for me to love the parents of my kids if I was going to be able to completely love all of who my kids are (dna included). I have to have worked through my angry with them so that I can be their for my kids as they struggle with their grief and anger over their birth parents choices.

For now I will spend Mother's day playing with my kids, kissing them and praying for their birth mother's where ever they may be. I will also be preparing my heart to one day be sharing this special day with her if my kids choose to do so.

Mothers Day is different in our house, but I look into my kids eyes and would rather have them than anyone else.  i would rather share Mother's day with someone else, just so they can have a Mom to actually celebrate on Mother's day.This week Josh learned how to spell Mom just for me on Mother's day,I am the one who gets these little gifts along the way. For this I am thankful!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fighting the "I don't have time for this" lie.

  A couple of days ago I wrote about what I believe is the most common excuse to not get involved in foster care.  Very quickly after I posted that....I began to have to fight the same lie.  In all honesty from an outsiders opinion I have complemented my duty to society.  People have said this to me, "don't you think you've done enough?"

I don't really have time to blog each day to tell others about my heart for the foster care system.  I am just as busy as any other mom.  I am tweeting and blogging in between therapy sessions and school pickups.  I have a passion for the foster care system because that is where my kids are from.  However, I am neglecting laundry and making dinner to tell other people about it.

Last week my work load increased.  My husband had broken his finger and we discovered he needed surgery to repair it.  We both found this a little silly but he had lost the use of his hand from what we thought was a simple broken finger.  So off he headed to surgery. 
 We really thought it would be a simple fix.

Three hours later this is what I saw.

Due to a tendon that could no longer be attached to repair the broken bone, the doctor had to take a tendon from his arm to fix his broken finger.  We literally were sitting there thinking, Seriously you've got to be kidding!
So he no longer just had his hand not working....he now also didn't have a useful arm.
In all reality this is a short lived.  We understand that it should be almost back to as good 
new in 4-6 months.

Real disappointment began to set in.  This is my partner.  We have to do everything together.  I need his help.  Over the next few days I quickly realized what he couldn't do. He can't put Nathans hearing aids in with one hand.  He can't put on his socks.  He can't help Josh brush his teeth.  He can no longer feed himself and a kid.  He needed help in the shower.
I thought this was going to be a simple fix.  

May is the last month of school...we have events at four different schools to attend. I have a campaign I am running for foster care awareness month. I have an event I am running in honor of foster care. I have a graduation party for our youth group I am helping plan.  Some of our kids are showing some behavioral issues that need to be address now.... and then there is always the laundry.

And then comes church on Sunday.  The sermon is about compassion.  This girl that thinks I have it all together and I am totally compassionate thinks, "What wonderful timing".  This fits perfect with foster care awareness month.  People will have to see the need as this guy helps prove my point with the Bible!
And then the speaker says something to the effect of caring for someone where you get something in return isn't compassion.  Compassion is a selfless act.
For me it gave me a clear understanding of how as much as I think I have a compassion for the kids in the foster care system, I don't get to stop with simply adopting my kids. ( even if I really don't have time for more.) People don't understand that parenting them is hard, but I get so much more out of it. I get to be a Mom.  We didn't adopt because we wanted to rescue an orphan in our American Orphanage system, we did it to grow our family.  It wasn't a selfless act.

With as much as we have going on with our kids, and health issues, we found ourselves asking how can we give more to these kids stuck in the system?  What is truly a selfless act.
For us the answer is actually doing foster care.  We are not sure when, where or how we will head back in that chaos in the system,but there are more kids entering the system everyday than exiting.  If we really have compassion for the hurting we have to be willing to get hurt, willing to work hard and somedays willing to let the laundry go and put someones socks on.

Real life stories from foster care.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Foster Care changes your lives- and your kids.

For today's post I asked my sweet friend Samantha to share about her experience with the foster care system.  Becoming part of the foster care system wasn't exactly her choice.  She isn't a foster parent, she is a "foster sibling".  She has almost as many responsibilities as her parents and experiences the joys and hardships of the system right along side of them.
I believe her parents choice to take on kids from the system was a brave one.  They already had 4 kids, they were past the diaper toddler stage and had hit the difficult years of having teenagers in their house.  Most people in their position would have used the excuse of, "it's to late I am almost done raising my kids", or the"what if it changes my kids life, I don't want to risk my own kids."

Here is what Samantha has to say about her experience.

When my parents told me they were going to become foster parents I didn't really know what to think, I honestly had no clue what it entailed. After becoming a foster family, we all had to make some sacrifices, time, patience, but for me the hardest was space. I now have to share a room with my 7 year old sister, I was not very happy when she first moved in and still get upset every now and then. The hardest thing I personally have gone through was realizing you can't help every child, we had a child who was with us 10 months and ended up being reunited with his family who was on drugs and had abused the children, it just didn't make sense that I couldn't stop that. Some positive things that I've experienced is definitely the diversity that the boys have brought to our family, they bring so much happiness to our home and even when they're screaming you can't help but love them. I think that foster care also made me realize how lucky I really am, as I teenager I hardly ever stop and think that I have a good life but looking at these children helps me to humble myself and want to help them. There have been no social hardships for me personally, all my friends love the babies. I definitely see myself doing foster care or adoption when I am older!
I have loved watched Samantha and her family in this journey.  With out her parents trying to teach her to care about others who have less than her, they gave her an opportunity to learn about others needs as they lead by example.  It wasn't just one day of service feeding the homeless, but a life style of serving others.  Their isn't a lot of Thank yous, and there is a lot of heartache.  However,her life is forever change.  Not only is she taking part in helping her parents make a difference, she plans to help others in the future.

Thank you Samantha for sharing your story.
Please pray for Samantha and her family as they love on these little guys that are in their home.  They have had them for while and would really love to have them become a permanent part of their family.  


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