Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Grief In Loss

  1. deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death.
    "she was overcome with grief"

December 20, 2014 I learned about a sweet little love that was due in May. This baby had several siblings, three of which had been adopted by an amazing family that I quickly grew to love. We were matched right away with this baby's birth mother which resulted in months and months of planning, preparing, dreaming and loving this sweet little baby love that would be joining our family in just a few months. Fast forward to June 5, 2015, a day I will never, but wish I could forget. The day that we learned that we had been scammed out of thousands of dollars while our birth mom basically sold her baby girl to the highest bidder. Devastation doesn't even describe the impact of her choices that day. Not only did we lose our sweet little love that we had been planning months for, but her siblings, the family that we had been planning on having an open adoption with, also lost out on being apart of her life. 

Alya was working that Saturday, and the kids and I were about to head out the door for a friends birthday party when I noticed that I had missed a call from our lawyer. I got excited because the baby was already over her due date and our lawyer usually just texts me, so I thought that maybe this was it! When I called our lawyer back she said that was she was about to tell me was something that I needed to be sitting down to hear. Instant dread seeped into the pit of my stomach. I remember slowly sitting down onto my daughter's bed while the kids ran around playing, confused why we were now not leaving for the birthday party. Our lawyer told me about what had happened and I just started sobbing. Josiah, my tender-hearted four year old kept coming up to me and asking what was wrong and why I was crying. I said, "I think we lost our baby buddy." He kept asking why and what happened to it and why couldn't we have it anymore. I wish I could have had an answer ... 

I wish that my children didn't have to witness me learning that we had lost our baby. I wish that they didn't have to see their mommy grieving the loss of what could have, what should have been. But one thing that I have always viewed as important is to be honest with my children in an age appropriate way. Our kids had been a part of the dreaming and loving of a new sibling from almost day one of being matched. Josiah especially was so excited about becoming a new big brother and talked about it daily. I think that it is important for my kids to see that it is okay to grieve. That sadness is a normal reaction and that tears are okay to express that emotion. And that talking through those emotions is important. 

The days, weeks and months after that traumatic day were far from what I had planned for our summer to look like. I did my best to drag myself out of bed each day to care for my two kids. I tried to still follow through with fun summer plans for the kids. But to be honest I felt like my soul had died. I don't really know how I survived the summer ... honestly it was probably because of the prayers of all our family and friends. Each day I kept going, kept living through my children but all the joy had been stolen. 

People would say, "Well that wasn't the baby God had planned for you. He has a better one coming soon". I may or may not have said several four letter words in my mind towards those people as I read their comments. Here's the thing ... I get that that baby wasn't the baby that God intended for us to have ... I mean obviously, or we would have it! But that doesn't take away the intense GRIEF that remained. That baby was alive, it was loved, it was dreamed about by OUR family. She was ours for those few months ... and that dream of her will always remain in my heart. Losing her was like a death. The way that we lost her added on another level of trauma. 

Now we have Micah ... and I am so deeply in love with this itty bitty baby boy. But I want to be honest with all of you ... Micah doesn't replace our other baby. What happened to us was awful. It was something that crushed everything inside of me. You don't just get over something like that. Ask any mom who has had a miscarriage, or lost a child far too young, or a fostermom who loves with every ounce of her being only to say goodbye to her kids. I still grieve for that baby that we lost, Micah isn't going to replace her spot in my heart. For whatever reasons God felt like she was supposed to go to that other family. I pray every day that she is as loved as much by them as she is by us. Micah most likely would have had gone into fostercare ... so maybe God knew that he would need us more. 

Now that Micah is here, I have become aware to how much loss Josiah really did experience when we lost our baby girl. Micah was a surprise to all of us, but especially the kids. We didn't tell them about him coming this time until we knew 100% that he was going to be ours. He kept thanking me over and over again for letting him have his baby brother. He kept saying how long he had waited for him. We have had Micah for 8 days now ... and when Josiah hears Micah cry he will say, "It's okay baby Micah, don't cry. We will keep you forever and ever. Sing to him mommy. Sing, Micah we will love you and keep you forever and ever. You won't go away. You are apart of our family forever." I just stare at him and think, he gets it. His heart loved our other little baby just as much as mine did. He has been waiting for a long long time, just like me for our little love to finally come home and be apart of our family forever and ever. 

We are over the moon in love with Micah Burke. And we will continue to love the sweet little girl that we lost at the beginning of the summer. I am a momma to many many littles ... some of them I have the joy of raising in my home, while the others live elsewhere. But I will always, always have a mother's love for them. God may have had a different plan on where they may live, but he always intended for me to love and pray for them. Their lives, no matter how long we knew of them will always be woven into the heart of our family. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

* Beloved *

perseverance (ˌpɜːsɪˈvɪərəns)
1. continued steady belief or efforts, withstanding discouragement or difficulty; persistence


January 15, 2014 is a date that I don't think that I will ever forget. 

It was a day that I never thought we would reach. 

It took 15 months 20 days and a whole lot of tears, ups and downs, a loss, a second embrace and persistence .... 

And then one day the end came. 

It's taken me almost a week to sit down and finally put words to all the emotions I've been feeling ever since that day. And to be honest I really don't even know if I can. I don't know if there is a word that can describe excitement, sadness, relief, anger and unbelief all rolled into one. If you discover that word please let me know. 

Am I happy about the outcome? Oh you better believe it ... but there is just so much more than excitement in a journey like this. It's deeper, it's more complicated. 

And so I've just been kind of quiet. I've needed time to process ... to slow down and just breathe for the first time in those 15 months and 20 days. 

Let me back track a little bit to before that monumental day. The week before the trial I had been having crazy nightmares about what was going to happen to N and our family. One night I had a dream that our lawyer told us that we weren't going to be able to adopt her, that another family had been chosen instead. Just crazy stuff like that. And to be honest, all these crazy things my brain decided to create in my fitful sleep wouldn't surprise me if they actually happened. The system is messed up sometimes ... and things that just don't make sense happen all the stinkin time. Even now a part of me is still cautious until those final papers get signed. 

On Wednesday morning I went to work like any day, but had scheduled to have a sub come take over my class so that I could to go the TPR trial at 1:00. On the way to the court house I received a text from our caseworker saying that her dad had signed surrenders that morning. I l.o.s.t. it ... like ugly cry kind of lost it. I couldn't believe it ... for several months I thought that dad was going to surrender his rights ... but he just kept hanging on, so I didn't expect him to surrender his rights before the trial started. It was like this huge relief to know that I was going into court knowing that half the battle had been taken care of. I parked the car, went to the bathroom and shot my #fostercarecrew mommas a WWPD pic before I went into court. 

**Back story ... so I met this group of foster moms on Instagram back in August(ish). We immediately formed a bond and now call our selves the #fostercarecrew. Our mantra for our group is the verse in Hebrews 6:19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. During a search for an anchor to go with our verse on our FB page a picture of Popeye was stumbled across. So now we have a little inside joke about WWPD? What Would Popeye Do? - I know, I know ... it's funny to us though, so hush. So now whenever one of us mommas has a big court day, visit, etc we put on our Popeye face and give the day all we have.**

So, now that you know the back story, here is my pre-trial Popeye face. 

Friends, literally the second that I posted that picture for my girls, N's bio mom's lawyer came walking down the hallway looking for ME! She told me that she had mom in the courtroom and that she was ready to sign surrenders but was wondering if I would be willing to send her pictures and updates. She told me that I was under no legal restraint to follow through with any of that, but wanted to ask. I didn't even hesitate to say yes. I know that this situation is messy. I know that there is a lot of things that could or could not go wrong with opening up a connection with her bio mom. There is one thing that I don't want to happen though ... I don't want to close a door that isn't mine to close. At this point I don't know what type of a relationship we will have with her bio parents. But I am okay with sending letters and pictures .... I want them to see that she is loved and cared for, that she is happy and healthy. 

After I chatted with bio mom's lawyer for a few minutes we went into the court room and she signed surrenders right then and there. I was asked if I would like to chat with mom and tell her myself that I would be willing to send her updates ... in the moment I said no, but now looking back I wish that I would have. I think that I was just in utter shock about what all was going on. I felt like I was dreaming ... I mean we didn't have to fight. I don't even know what that looks like. I don't know what that feels like. Every single day for these past 6 years of loving and caring for other mommas littles has been a battle. Some of those battles ended in a healthy reunification and some of those battles ended in what I feel was a loss. 

When we lost N back in March it was a death for our family. We had loved a little girl with everything we had for five months ... and then one day she was just gone. All of her things, her crib, her car seat, her toys .... they were all there ... but she was gone. No, at the time she was not "ours", but we don't have a filter to turn off and on when God brings a child into our home to take care of. Some people can do this ... but I just can't, and I don't ever wish to. And then the day came in May where I got a call saying that she was coming back into care ... that she was adoptable ... that it would still take some time ... but was I interested?

I can't even describe to you what that feeling was like. I know I stood there open mouthed in the mix of my three current littles playing around me. I started pacing from room to room ... "umm yes, of course we want her. Wait are you for real  right now? We have three littles ... but we can make it work ... we just need another crib. YES! YES! We want her!" I still cry thinking about that phone call ... 

And then nine months later *haha ... I just got that - man God sure does care about those little heart things ... guess I've been preparing all this time to finally have her become official** we are awaiting the day for her to become an official Cotton. 

After the mom signed surrenders she was taken back and the our judge came out to talk with us. Obviously there would be no trial now, and he wanted to know what was going on. He talked with me for a few minutes *I thought he had been mad at me because a few months earlier I had introduced myself as Lindsay Cotton - adoptive mom instead of foster mom and ever since that day he never recognized me being at court. So for him to talk to me was a huge relief lol* He thanked me for loving and caring for N. He apologized for how long this case had been taking and said that he knew we had been waiting a long time for this day. He said that things should go rather quickly now that they had surrendered. He told me that all I had to do was to fill out an adoption application and find a lawyer, both of which I was able to say were done! So now all we have to do is wait for the legal paperwork stuff to be submitted and this can be a DONE deal. There is a permanency hearing this Wednesday ..... I won't be there, but I'm praying we will be able to get our finalization date. 

After court I walked back to my car with our GAL whom I will be forever thankful for. She is the only one that has been with us throughout this WHOLE case. I still don't think that I had processed what had just happened. It still felt like such a blur.

I got to my car and fell apart. I walked into court that day prepared for a fight ... prepared for a long drawn out battle. And what had happened was everything but that. I wasn't prepared for that .... I didn't know how to not be tense, how to not be ready for battle, how to not be prepared for disappointment. And then I sent this WWPD? picture to my girls #popeyeprobablyuglycriedtoo

My whole life all I wanted to be was a momma. I never ever dreamed it would be so hard. I never thought I would have to fight, I never dreamed I would experience such loss. I wanted the rainbows and unicorns, but God planned something different. 

Adoption is such a beautiful thing. I'll always be a huge advocate for foster care and adoption. But friends with it comes much loss and pain. Not just with us, but for our littles, and for the bio parents. That's why I can't explain all the emotions that are running around in my heart right now. I'm relieved and happy that we don't EVER have to fear saying goodbye to our daughter again. As happy as I am about she becoming ours, I'm also deeply saddened at the loss that her bio parents are facing right now. They are missing out on watching the most beautiful sassy little girl grow up. They've missed all the special firsts with their daughter. Yes, they made the choices that they did ... and I only pray that they take this time and learn and change ... but they are still experiencing a loss. My heart aches for my daughter, that one day I will have to explain why her birth parents couldn't care for her. My heart hurts because I lost so much time being able to dream about her life. When we adopted Josiah we were able to take him straight from the hospital and never worry about a day where he wouldn't be ours. We could dream freely ... with N I lost that. As much as we loved and prayed that she would be ours forever, not a minute went by where we didn't fear saying goodbye. So to experience this freedom is very foreign to me. I'm thankful for it ... but it's going to take some time to adjust. 

A song that really spoke to my heart during this crazy roller coaster was the song "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North. 

I'm Tired I'm worn

My heart is heavy
From the work it takes
To keep on breathing
I've made mistakes
I've let my hope fail
My soul feels crushed
By the weight of this world

And I know that you can give me rest
So I cry out with all that I have left

This last part is what I can belt out now ... redemption has won. The struggle will end. He is mending a heart that is frail and torn. 

Let me see redemption win
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That's frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that's dead inside can be reborn
Cause I'm worn

I'm so thankful for each and everyone of you that have prayed and cried with us. Thank you for celebrating with us. We just have one more hoop ... and then she is finally 100%! The title of this post is Beloved .... it is the meaning of her new name. Stay tuned for the final court date! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

I Could Never...

The hoops we have jumped through, the mountain of paperwork that was filled out, the inspections, the “calls” that have come, the kids we have taken into our home, the ones we said no to, the promises that were broken, the failed adoption, an open adoption, the one that came back home, and the ones that are still to come pretty much sums up the last five years of our lives. And in those past five years there have been a lot of comments that people have made:

“I could never do what you do.”

“I would get too attached and never be able to let them go.”

“It takes a special person.”

As a foster parent (and I think that my other foster mommas would agree), I hate those comments. I’m an ordinary, broken, selfish, opinionated, judging person.

I got into foster care for selfish reasons. I got into foster care because I couldn’t become a mom the “natural” way. I got into foster care because adopting or IVF was too expensive. I got into foster care because there are so many kids that need a loving home, and it would be so easy. (learned that one the hard way) I got into foster care for selfish reasons …. but now I chose to be a foster parent because God has called us to this journey.

But hasn’t he called us all?

The fact is, I CAN’T do what I do … I’m not the one that can take these kids in, can love, comfort and provide a safe place for them to heal. I don’t do that … HE does. It baffles me sometimes when people say, “I could never let them go”. Do you think I can? I can’t tell you the number of times I have wanted to run away to another country with my littles. How I have begged and pleaded with God to let them stay. How I have bitterly yelled at God that this was not fair, that it was not right, that these kids were not ready yet ….. that I wasn’t ready yet. But you see it’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s about HIM. It’s about being obedient. It’s about taking care of the least of these.

Foster care/adoption is a hard, hard, hard road. There are so many days when I want to quit. When I cry out to God and tell him that my heart can’t take this anymore. But then he reminds me of alllllll the times I hear people say “I could never do what you do”, and it makes me think that if I quit, and all these people I know that don’t even want to try … then who will be left to love these kids?

The fact is we weren’t asked what we would like to do. We weren’t asked if we would prefer the easier road. And to be honest, if we were, both of my hands would shoot up into the air. I remember calling Alya last week when we found out that N’s trial was now pushed all the way back to January. I remember being BROKEN. I remember asking Alya on the phone why does this have to be so hard? Why can’t just one time be somewhat easy for us? Why do we have to fight every second of this journey? And the answer: because we are commanded to take care of the least of these. Not just Alya and I. Not just all the other foster or adoptive families out there. ALL.OF.US. That means you too. If I’m stepping on any toes, then good …. we need to constantly be begging God to break our hearts. We need to be following God into those uncomfortable places. We need to fight and be a voice for those that don’t have one.

We live in such a broken world. Fostering and adopting are messy. There is so much loss, there is heartache, and there is brokenness. But in all that mess … there can be redemption, God can and will be glorified. I’m begging you to ask God to lead you, to challenge you, to break your heart for these littles.

Please stop saying “I could never”, “I don’t have enough money”, “I don’t have enough space” … please stop making excuses. If you are obedient, HE WILL provide.

There are so many excuses that I could make for my own family. But if I’m honest, God can shoot down any excuse I try to create. I have seen some crazy God miracles in these last five years. Josiah being one of them … his adoption was $15,000 … and we didn’t pay a penny of that. I have another friend that raised $30,000 in one month … ONE MONTH! God’s heart is for the orphaned. You don’t have to go overseas (though I’m not against that), you don’t even have to be a foster parent. These kids are in our own backyards … they could be your kids friends, they could be student at your school, you could be a big brother or sister, you could mentor … I’m challenging you during this time of “thanksgiving” to look around you and see what you really have to offer. I’m challenging you to ask God to make you uncomfortable. Sometimes, well a lot of the time, God will stir something in your heart that doesn’t make sense. It will defy the norm … but you know that it is right. You know that God is asking you to do something or be a part of something crazy amazing. Don’t hesitate, don’t back out because of doubt or fear … I promise it will rock your world. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Beginning of Something Bigger?

Oh friends, I wish that you could have been with me on this crazy amazing, God orchestrated day. I mean literally ALL of the things that I was praying would happen at court today HAPPENED! Thank you so much for praying on behalf of our family and baby N. Thank you for interceding and really praying for peace and comfort, for vulnerability and openness. Today was amazing ... and it had nothing at all to do with what happened in the court room. It had everything to do with two people who both loved a sweet little girl and honestly wanted the best for her. It had everything to do with stepping out of comfort zones, with being vulnerable and selfless ... and that my friends is how adoption can become a beautiful thing.

Baby N has been in care for a year now. This whole year has seen a million different ups and downs, 4 caseworkers, 2 supervisors, and 2 lawyers. There has been excitement and loss and surprises at every turn. It has been a long road ... and unfortunately we aren't done yet, but part of that is also what makes adoption beautiful.

Let me back up to this morning. You won't even believe it when I tell you this ... I still am kicking myself.

I leave my school around 8:10 this morning after getting all of my sub stuff together. I had this weird feeling like I needed to text N's caseworker to make sure that court was really at 9. Her response was that no, court was at 8:15am. Ummm it was 8:10 and I was still a 30 minute drive away plus parking and walking through a massive court house. My heart sank ... I had planned on giving her parents pictures of her one year photo shoot today, and I was really really really feeling like today was the day that her dad and I could have a heart to heart conversation. And I had ruined it by not being on time. I texted the caseworker back and told her to try see if the dad would wait for me to get there so that I could give him the pictures. I drove like a crazy momma while freaking out with an IG foster momma on the phone. "Kelli you won't even believe what I did!" ;0) *Thanks for helping me keep it together by the way* Only by the grace of God was the judge late! I was able to park, run through the courthouse and into the courtroom exactly ONE case before ours! Just in enough time to sit next to her dad and hand him his copies of the pictures. We were called up, the judge asked if the lawyers needed anything for the scheduled TPR hearing on the 31st. They said no, and boom we were done. I ran over to the mom's lawyer and asked if she could please give her, or let her see some pictures of N (she is in jail for an extended period of time) I wrote on the back of one of the pictures all the little things I would wish to know about my baby. And then I walked outside. Dad showed me some pictures on his phone of when he celebrated her birthday with her at a visit and I showed him the ones we took of her party. And then he left. It was awkward, and felt unfinished ... but I didn't know what else could have been done.

Caseworker and I talked for a few minutes, and then she was like Lindsay, he is coming back. I turned around and he was like hey can we talk for a few minutes? I said sure, so we took a walk and sat on a bench for like 15 minutes just being REAL with each other. Oh friends, I could sooooo feel your prayers during this conversation! He told me that he just wanted to be honest just he and I no legal people around to tell us what to do or think. He told me that there was a grandfather and great aunt that lived in Pennsylvania that was interested in taking N, but that he had been thinking about it for the last couple of days and he just felt that if he couldn't have her then the best thing for her was to be with us. He said that he was so tired of all the changing around, that he was just ready to be done. He wanted her to be safe and loved and she had all of that with us. He said that her mom felt the same way and that they were so thankful for all that we had given to her.

So, now that he had been real, now it was my turn.

I started off by saying that first we would a million percent love for her to stay with us forever. And that as a foster mom I am kind of put in a hard place sometimes. That really the only relationship that we have with each other is through court. I see him, he sees me, I hear a little bit about him, he hears a little bit about me and boom that's it. I said there has been no time to start a relationship with each other or build any type of trust with each other. I also said that I was in no place to judge him or her mom. That we all make mistakes and we can all make a choice to learn from those mistakes and change. I shared with him how we had an open adoption with Josiah's birthmom, and that things were a little bit different with his situation, but that I wanted that same thing for N if we were allowed to adopt her. I told him that I wanted her to always know that she was adopted, and that she had two mommy's and daddy's that loved her. I wanted to know as much as I could share with her. I told him that I wasn't sure what type of level that openness would be ... that as a momma I still had to protect my babies and that I need to make sure that the people that came in and out of her life were making good choices that were safe for her to be around. But that I was willing ....

It was a moment that I don't think that I will ever forget. A moment of honesty. A moment of sacrifice and discomfort. A moment of love and willingness to do whatever it was for the best interest of this little love. It was filled with pain and tears and heartbreak. But friends ... I really think it was the beginning of redemption.

He hugged me and thanked me and we went our seperate ways. I don't know what will happen next ... but I do know that those 15 minutes we shared is the potential picture of brokenness being restored. Please keep praying for our girl.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Court Again: Is this on Repeat?

How can I convey to him how deeply she is loved?

How do I prove to him that her home is with us?

How can I be vulnerable and honest, yet at the same time guarded and protected?

How do I know how much of my heart to share and how much should be kept sacred?

I'm such an open book. You can usually read my face before I even open my mouth. I lay it all out there, well ... because that's who I am. Take me or leave me, but you have all of me. It's a gift and explosive bomb all at the same time.

1. Here is all I am and all I have .... let's become friends and have a deep and meaningful friendship.

2. Here is all i am and all I have .... take advantage of me, stab me in the back, take my heart and break it into a million pieces.

Get the point?

I was sent a text yesterday from N's caseworker saying that dad had given some more names of family members that live in Pennsylvania.

My first response ... and literal text back: "Are you shitting me??"

I told you, you get all of me ... haha

I was angry (can you tell?) I felt defeated all over again for the millionth time it seemed on this journey of foster parenting. Imagine confetti flying in the air as an announcer loudly proclaims "Congratulations the system has screwed you over again! And you have won a brand new BROKEN HEART!"

Yeah ... I might be a little dramatic too ;)

But if you are a foster momma ... you get me, I know you do.

But then after I had a couple of minutes to process the information through anger a new feeling came over me ... and I really can't put a name to it. I don't know if it was understanding or sympathy or a longing to have a relationship with the birth parents of my daughter or what.

We have an open adoption with Josiah's birthmom. I love that we can share with each other the joys of watching him grow up. But what I love the most is that Josiah will always know who she is and have access to her if he ever has any questions. With N ... it's a little different. I want to have that for her too ... but N's parents are choosing a path in life that is destructive them themselves as well as her. So I can't promise them that it would be open or the level of openness. But I want to be real with them. I want to be vulnerable .... why?? I don't know? Maybe because God thought it would be really funny to give me a compassionate heart to make decisions that might not make sense to anyone else in the world. That he would give me a heart that I constantly am at battle with. A heart and mind that don't always communicate in the same way.

To be honest, the last two court hearings I have avoided her dad like the plague. He really is a nice guy ... or comes across that way anyway. But I felt sooooooo emotional about everything that was going on that I didn't feel like I could put on a fake smile and have small talk with him. But maybe God is asking more than that from me. I'm not saying that he and Alya and I are going to become best buddies ... but maybe he just needs to know that she won't be gone forever. Does that make sense? I don't know ... all I know is that I can't sleep because I can't stop thinking about it. I just want it to be done ... I'm tired of holding my breath ... I'm tired of being fearful of her leaving us again. I know that those are all things that I shouldn't be feeling ... that the "Christian thing" to say would be God's got this, his will be done. Well no kidding ... but the HONEST thing and hey that's what I am remember, is that this sucks. Adoption and fostering is haaaarrrrrddddd. We have fostered 8 littles in the past 6 years. Losing those kids has been like 8 of my children that have died. Died. Died. Seriously ... they are gone ... we have put everything we had into loving those kids, and now they are gone from our home forever. But N came back to us ... and friends I just can't bear to let her go again.

So tomorrow is the pre-trial at 9. Please pray with me that there will be an opportunity to be real. To just be me. And that I will take advantage of that opportunity and not chicken out.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Goodbye August!


The month of August was like a whirl wind full of on the go craziness, new obstacles, and roller coaster rides of emotions. I.Am.So.Glad.August.Is.Over!!

Now to recap because I literally haven't had time to pee let alone sit down and blog. *so serious*

The last time I blogged was on a Tuesday with the pre-trial for "N's" parents coming on Thursday. Keep in mind the whole time that we were preparing for court to come we were thinking that the trial would be at the end of the month, parents would lose their rights, we would petition to adopt, and then she would be ours forever .... all in that order. Fast forward to the very next day, Wednesday ... I had just picked up all four littles from daycare when I got a call from "N's" GAL letting me know that her supervisor had just informed her that they were going to have to back track during court and give her dad more time for his case plan because there had been some serious miscommunication about all that he had actually completed so far. I don't even know how I answered her ... I almost started laughing thinking surely this was a joke. The adoption specialist had just been out to our house for goodness sake! And why in the world hadn't the caseworker called me!!?!?! I was so thankful for her GAL because it was totally not her job to contact me, she just cared and knew that we would be heartbroken.

The next day was the first day of school for the teachers. I had to leave in the morning for court at 10. I got in the car, turned it on and the very first song that was playing was Mandesa's "Overcomer". Oh my word, let the tears flow now .... so perfect. I walked into the courthouse chanting "You're an overcomer, You're an overcomer" over and over, willing my heart to believe those words. Praying that I could keep my emotions in check and say what I needed to say. Praying that I didn't have to sit and make small talk with dad ... because my heart just wasn't up for it on this day. Thankfully it was a packed courtroom ... I hid in the last row until her case was called. Sure enough, once we got through all the introductions her lawyer asked for the trial for TPR to be removed and that they were going to give him more time. That was the biggest SLAP in the face! To say I was devastated was an understatement. The judge apologized for my grief and that was that ... new court date with the magistrate on September 9th to review the case again. Talk about 10 steps backwards ... I flew out of that court room. I didn't want to talk to or look at anyone ... chanting "you're an overcomer, you're an overcomer" over and over again until I reached my car. I got inside and l.o.s.t.i.t. God why is this happening? Why are our hearts being jerked around? I don't want to be an overcomer God, I just want to love our baby girl and never have to be scared of losing her again. You've got this right???

I drove back to school feeling defeated. Feeling like I couldn't breathe, and that the tears would never stop flowing. Feeling misled and crushed that even though we are "just" foster parents we weren't important enough to be informed of the change. Later that day the lawyer actually called me (this has never happened in the last 5 years of fostering for us) and apologized for us not being informed of the changes. She explained all the reasons why she did what she did and what to expect to occur in the next couple of months. Did the conversation change what had happened? No, but it did make me feel so much better to be let in on the game plan, to know what to expect and why it was all being done. It allowed me to take a deep breath, acknowledge that yes, I am an overcomer, and know that God has always "had this". The next day I was called by a new supervisor for her case and informed of a new (4th) caseworker as well. I am very happy with this decision and am confident that it is a good change.

So as of today, we are waiting for court again on Monday. It's another advisory hearing ... some things have happened so we are pursuing the goal of adoption again. We should get more court dates then ... stay tuned, and keep praying!

Now onto the boys.... We have had a 1 1/2 year old and a 9 mo. old since April Fools Day. Five months ... and now they are gone. They were reunited with their grandmother this past weekend. We have been doing a slow transition back home for the last two weeks. It is ridiculous how quiet our home is now. Having four littles 2 years old and under is a crazy fun time .... crazy, did I say crazy? I really didn't realize how much work it took to care for all of them. We made it happen every day. They were all taken care of, they were all loved ... we made the circus work. And we loved it. My heart is not okay with the decision to have them leave .... I'm scared, but I'm praying with all my might for protection for those sweet boys. It's out of our hands, we did all we could while they were with us. So now we just pray, and spend all this extra time we have now loving Josiah and "N" and each other until the next "call" comes. We packed up all of their clothes and all the baby things .... settling into a new normal again *whatever that is*.

A note my hubby wrote to me on our bathroom mirror the last week of having the boys. "No matter what happens at the end of this week we did make life change. I believe we help even if it's just a little. We may lose them, I just hope they never forget us. I love you for your courage and ambition to love the unloved and give your heart and motherly arms to embrace them. You're my mommy hero. Love you 8"

I just have to say that I am so very thankful for that sweet hubby of mine. He is a man of very little spoken words ... but he has always stood by my side through all of the ups and downs fostering and adoption have thrown at us. Together we make one hell of a team, one that will always and forever fight and love our littles with everything within us.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Battlefield

"Be vigilant on the battlefield of your mind, for that is where most of our battles are lost or won!"
-Tammy Nolan
Ever have one of those experiences where you read something and you know that you know that you know that it was meant for you to read that very second???
I was meant to read that quote today. I neeeeeeded to read it today.
The adoption specialist came by to bring a ton of paperwork for me to sign for "N's" adoption. The meeting was fine ... no big deal. She was in and out in about 10 minutes. She doesn't even have to complete a homestudy for us because we already had a foster one done through FSS so all she will have to do is some minor updates. You know like change the word "foster" to "ADOPT!".
I'm going to get Alya to sign the papers tonight and then drop them back off at her office tomorrow. We have to get fingerprinted *AGAIN* and then the ball can get rolling with all the paperwork. We have to also get 5 references completed and turned in. Once TPR occurs on the 22nd we will schedule for her to come back out to our home to share all the non-disclosed paperwork with us and then petition to adopt. We will have to wait at least 30 days after TPR occurs before we can officially adopt "N".
She seemed like this was an open and shut case. I mentioned the other family members who the mom was trying to get homestudies done for ... she had no clue about them. She shared some information with me of possible things that could happen .... non that set my worried mommy heart at ease.
I'm so ready for the month of August to be over already! I feel like I have a ton of bricks on my shoulders and that I won't be able to breathe until all of this mess is done and over with. My brain keeps going a million miles a minute with all of these possible scenarios and to be honest I just need a good cry. (Glass I mean pitcher of "mommy juice" anyone??) I happened to stumble over that quote above on a friend's FB page ... WAM! It totally smacked me across the face *in a good way*. I really need to get a hold of my thoughts ... All these scenarios that I have on instant replay in my mind are all things that could happen. But there is nothing that I can do about a single one of them at this point in time. The choice I have right now is to allow myself to get beat down by all the "what-ifs" or I can choose to push all that negativity out of my mind ... my heart, and love my littles in this moment. The fact is I'm still nervous, I'm still scared that we might have to say goodbye to our little girl for a second time .... but I'm going to choose to trust that God's got this taken care of. And that if that moment comes He will carry me through it.
Court for pre-trial is Thursday ....
Keep praying friends.