Archive for December, 2011

December 30, 2011

A Year in Review – Part 2

So where did we leave off? Oh right, Sprout turned 5, graduated from pre-school and was having a tough go of things.  Rosebud was sassy yet smiley and Daisy was my happy-go-lucky little blob of baby cuteness.

July came and Sprout was first introduced to the term ‘adopted’.  That TPR they had been talking about back in May had still not been filed and I had a meltdown in an Old N.avy changing room.  On the parenting front, we kicked Daisy out of our room and picked up a few new tricks to fight the whineys.

August was a quiet month as I focused on family issues, but I did manage to answer some of your questions.  I also wrote about how important it is to talk to your kids about race.  I’m really happy to see that as one of my most popular posts. We also enjoyed our annual vacation to the beach, but it looks like I neglected to blog about it!

September, September – where do I begin? Well, Sprout started Kindergarten (rocked it out, more like!) and gracefully answered some tough questions.  We also focused on getting healthy and one night Sprout melted my heart.  I talked some more about race and what I would like to teach my children.  But perhaps the biggest thing of all, was the first time we met mom.  What a day that was!

In October, I celebrated my 29th bday. It could have been a bad day, but I didn’t let it.  It was also the month of Yom Kippur which triggered some big feelings in Sprout.  Not surprisingly, the crazy came back.  We got through it, though, and went on to celebrate babywearing and my big girl!

November did not start well.  And while we continued to build our relationship with mom, there were some awkward moments.  I even confessed to not loving my kids the same.  But we also had 2 wonderful highlights this month.  First was Daisy baby’s birthday!  And my most popular post of all time recounted our trip to meet Santa – love that man.

In December Rosebud potty trained herself.  Merry Christmas to the mommies! Then things really picked up with the kids’ case when TPR was finally filed, mom agreed to make a lifebook for the kids, and we made an open adoption proposal.  Understandably, the whirlwind sparked a few questions.  Meanwhile, we really enjoyed getting into the holiday spirit.  We close out the year still being on hold but that’s okay, because I have a feeling 2012 just might be the most incredible yet.  We believe in miracles.

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you so much for following along and offering so much support for the crazy twists and turns of our journey. I hope 2012 finds you (or at least leaves you!) filled to the brim with happiness and love.

December 29, 2011

A Year in Review – Part 1

Wow.  I mean, seriously – wow.  Looking over the past year I’m stunned by the roller coaster.  Where we’ve been, where we are now, where we are heading…what a year!

In January I wrestled with many mixed emotions.  Sprout did too.  But, I still think about that amazing breakthrough we had and the good progress that we made with mom.  We also got a ridiculous amount of snow, but it gave us the chance to make use of the new playroom.

In February we got some sad commentary on the state of other foster homes.  Then I shared my secret to sleeping in (btw, this still works like a dream…no pun intended) and to cloth diapering.

In March Sprout and I had a wonderful time on our Yes Day!  I was also really struggling with the pain of infertility – so I got myself some help.  Meanwhile, the case was transferred to a new worker and we were shocked with the news of a potential family resource.  Let’s also not forget that, uh, interesting phone call from daycare.

April brought us a lovely trip to meet some friends.  We discovered on that trip that Rosebud had a bit of a stealing issue.  Thankfully that’s been resolved.  April was also the month that they first started throwing around the “A” word! Which led to a daydream (or 10,000).  I also shared with you the prayer that I still constantly whisper to myself.  Please God let them be three less.

In May we spent a lot of time at the playscape in town where Sprout simultaneously embarrassed me and made me proud.  Rosebud turned 18 months old and there were days I didn’t think we were going to make it to 19 – but that remains one of my favorite posts ever.  Then came Mother’s Day when we were informed of the state’s plans to file TPR that month (ha!), but it wasn’t all good news.  And the month ended with a hospital stay that involved more than just physical healing.

June came and we got creative to find Sprout some peace.  Though there were highlights, the struggles were still great.  Thankfully, Sprout’s therapist knew just what to say.  This is also the month we got our first contact from mom – I’ll never forget it.  We also celebrated a special birthday and the first of many graduations!

whew, and that’s just half of it! Part 2 to come…

December 27, 2011

On Hold

Last week we had the first hearing on the motion to terminate parental rights.  The hearing is intended to a) make sure bio parents were/are appropriately served, b) explain more fully the situation and charges against them and c) allow them the opportunity to enter their plea (ie. contest the motion or submit and “voluntarily” relinquish rights).  At this hearing the judge will also often, depending on the circumstances, put all the parties in a room for a while and see if they can work things out on their own.  This is when an open adoption agreement would be discussed.  This is why A attended the hearing.

Well, none of that happened because mom didn’t show.  And rather than taking the typical course and schedule another hearing date, the Judge decided that she would simply go ahead and hear the arguments of each side and issue a ruling.  So each side presented their case and now its in the Judge’s hands.  Technically she has 120 days to enter her decision, but she stated in court that she hoped to get everything “wrapped up quickly”.  She was thinking as soon as that afternoon, but that has come and gone with no word…

so now we wait…

and wait….

and wait…

can’t say that’s an unfamiliar spot to be in.  But just remind me to breathe every once in a while okay?

December 24, 2011

Protected: Happy Holidays!

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December 22, 2011

Christmas is Contagious

Lots of people complain that Christmas is getting too commercial and has become all about the gifts.  I may agree – to an extent – but lets not forget that we are the ones in charge of exactly how commercial or gift-grabby our holiday gets.  The truth is, in my house, the gifts are very important. We spend a lot of time talking about gifts. What it means to receive them and to give them…but mostly to give, because that’s my favorite. 

Like a couple of weeks ago when I bundled up the kids for a secret gift-giving mission.  We tucked a little gift card and some of the kids’ artwork into an enveloped and signed it, “A little holiday cheer! Love, your neighbor.”  Then we went for a walk and dropped it into a random mailbox we passed. The kids had a blast on their secret santa mission!  They were more excited about giving that one gift than they were opening most of their presents last year.  Giggling and tiptoeing and telling each other to “shhh!!” with huge grins on their faces.

(sidenote: apparently we weren’t too slick since the next day we were graced with a surprise banana bread with a note attached: “a little holiday sweet. love, your neighbor”)

Coming off the high of that little mission, Sprout went to his school’s annual holiday shop where the kids can use their own money to pick out gifts for the important people in their lives.  Sprout loved it and proudly showed us his gifts when he got home.  What I was really blown away by was the thoughtfulness of his gifts.  He explained to us exactly why he chose each item: Dora book for RB because she loves Dora and reading.  A new pin for grandma because she wears a pin every day (I hadn’t even noticed, but since he mentioned it I’ve been keeping an eye out, and you know what? she does!).  A bear figurine for his uncle because he has so much fun going on bear hunts (imaginative!) in the woods with him.

The sweetest gift of all was for Mommy T.  He got her a ring with the explanation:  “since she’s not married she didn’t have a husband or a wife to buy her a ring, so she can have a ring from her son instead.”  Instant tears in my eyes.  Blown away!  And Mommy T was too; she absolutely loved it, filling Sprout with such pride he was talking about it for days. 

And then there was last night. The kids had visit.  RB was throwing a fit over it and refusing to go all day (::sigh::).  But when they arrived, they found the most wonderful surprise.  Mommy T had turned the typical visit into a holiday party. Nothing big or crazy, but some very sweet and thoughtful touches like the children’s favorite treats and some music since the girls love it so much. She also picked out some gifts for the kids that really showed how much she pays attention to them and the things they are into.  They had a blast with this uncharacteristic move from mom – an especially wonderful gift for RB as she’s been struggling so much with visits.

The note home from mom read:

“I hope you don’t mind the gifts.  The holidays are usually hard for me but seeing the kids excitement got me into it.  Thank you for the [photo] book. It’s very nice and I will cherish it. Thank you guys for everything.” 

I’m pretty sure that note is the gift I will remember most this holiday season.  So when people complain that Christmas is getting to be too much about the gifts, I have to wonder…what’s so bad about that?

December 19, 2011

P.S.

We celebrated our 2 year mom-iversary this weekend!  Wow, so much has changed since that first night.

Like that baby-doctor-to-be? It wasnt that long ago that she looked like this…

December 19, 2011

Conversations with Rosebud

This girl’s got it all figured out…

Rosebud loves baby dolls.  She loves to feed them, push them in their stroller, change their diapers, wear them (stuffed down her shirt kangaroo care style – there is absolutely not anything cuter), and sing them to sleep.  It’s so very sweet and amazing to see her love on her babies the way I was loving on her two blinks ago.

So I asked her, “Bird [that’s her irl nickname], are you going to be a mommy when you grow up?”

“No, sissy do that.” 

Oh, well then what do you want to do?”

“I be baby doctor.”

And you know what? With her decisive determination, she just might.

December 13, 2011

Q&A

1. Is Sprout being kept up to date on these developments, or how/when will you share with him?

No, we have never shared the background details of the case with him and we won’t start now.  At this point nothing has actually changed, it just may and there is no need to string him along on the emotional roller-coaster.  Not to mention, he simply won’t be able to understand the details of it all (I barely do!).  He knows, as he always has, that one day a judge will make a decision regarding his permanency.  He knows (and frankly hopes) that he may not live with his mom again.  We’ve also started introducing the term ‘adopted’ to him in a general sense so it won’t be a foreign concept to him if it happens. 

2. I am wondering how/if Rosebud understands this whole process. Does she call bio mom Mommy T (same as Sprout?) or something else? Has she been able to verbalize anything about this whole process yet?

Rosebud knows nothing about the ‘process’ per se.  She’s too young to understand what it means to be a foster child or even realize that every kid doesn’t live a life exactly like hers.  She does call mom ‘Mommy T__’ but not because she feels any motherly bond towards her, it’s just because that’s what we call her.  The sad truth is that she really doesn’t enjoy visits.  She never has and now that she can talk, we realize how much she thinks about it (ie: every day, multiple times a day, she will tell us, “no visit. no want visit Mommy T”).  

It has nothing to do with mom, but the fact that Rosebud has always been adverse to separating from her caregivers and has had strong stranger anxiety – so, being picked up at daycare and taken from teachers she loves by a social worker she barely knows to visit with a woman she sees 3-4 hours a month? Not exactly her cup of tea.  

Of course her reaction to the ordeal (crying, lots of crying) is difficult on mom and has further impacted the creation of a bond between the two of them.   Its getting better, but it’s certainly not close to the relationship Sprout and mom share. 

3.  How can you feel good about trying to take advantage of their mom during a vulnerable time and asking her to sign away her rights before she’s been given a fair trial?

Okay, well that wasn’t exactly the email I got, but I think that was essentially the boiled down question in it. And though it could have come from a more respectful place, I understand the question.  I’m not blind to the injustices and misuse of power that has happened in departments like DSS/DCF and though I love these children to death and do wish to adopt them, I also have a love and respect for their mother and would never knowingly participate in such a situation.

Here’s the thing…

  • Mom is an intelligent person who is able to be in a clear state of mind and capable of not only understanding the proposal, but also making an informed decision.  If she wasn’t, we would never take such a step.
  • If she isn’t comfortable with the process (doesn’t like talking to lawyers, reading contracts, ect) we’ve made it clear that we are happy to sit down and talk it out.  Getting real, face to face.
  • She isn’t being force-fed an arrangement.  It’s entirely negotiable and if you’ve read this blog any amount of time you’d know that we’d be open to pretty much any reasonable request.  We want her to continue contact with the kids just as much as she does. Maybe more.
  • As to the ‘before she’s had a fair trial’ point – oh man, where do I even begin??  Well, I guess it’s as simple as this: she has had the opportunity to parent.  14 years of an open case with the department and this is the first time they’ve sought a TPR. The chance was most definitely there.
  • But most importantly, this is her chance to regain control.  To be the one making the decision instead of having it decided for her.  This is not something we had to do – rather, an opportunity we want her to have because of the respect we have for her.
December 12, 2011

Cross your fingers for us…

Just back from the attorney’s office where we drafted an open adoption proposal* for mom.   I have no idea if she’ll accept it, but our attorney was hopeful.  As if I wasn’t already holding my breath…

 

*The proposal basically states that in exchange for mom voluntarily consenting to the termination of rights, we would offer her a certain amount of post-adoption contact.  As her attorney will explain to her, it may be worth it for her to accept the deal (or a further negotiated one) because in the event that she goes through with the TPR trial and it is awarded, we/the state will have no obligation to continue contact.

December 8, 2011

Yesterday’s note from mom…

Indicated that she was going to start working on a lifebook for the kids so they could always have pictures of their biological family.

That’s got to be a “good” sign, right?

And also, really amazing.  What a gift that will be.