Motherhood is something I craved and wanted desperately. It took us 5 years to have a successful fertility treatment to have A. She was prayed for and longed for beyond belief. Our fertility struggles made me question my faith and trust in God. It would sting beyond words what people would say. Let me be clear motherhood is something I wanted beyond measure. 5 years and 5 kids later it is something I question my value on a daily basis. I have extreme post partum anxiety well I guess at this point it is just severe anxiety that manifests itself as anger. Motherhood of 5 young children with two who have extreme levels of neglect that still surfaces on a daily basis basically is exhausting. Some days I question what I am doing. Some days I question my sanity. Some days my anger is extreme. Everyday I know I am not this supermom that people or Facebook/Instagram make me out to be. I fail, daily. Anxiety is crippling. Motherhood is crippling. I fail daily. The tightness in my chest doesn’t leave. I am not the type of woman that can stay at home–I envy those who want it. I am the woman who craved going back to work yet will want to hold my kids once they are fast asleep. I am the woman that questions every factor of my life and I know I fail every second of the day. I am riddled with self doubt and hatred of my current mental stability. I want more of myself. I want more for my children. Somehow despite this my kids love me and I love them. Somehow my husband stands by me–trust me he should have ran a long time ago. Somedays it takes every single ounce of my energy to breathe. I fail daily. Yet somehow I move on. Actually there isn’t a yet. I just do it. I do what is necessary.
3 years ago I could never have imagined where we would be tonight. The thought seemed unfathomable to me.
We had spent the better part of our 4 1/2 year marriage struggling with unexplained infertility. 4 years of a constant no when we would take monthly pregnancy tests, 4 years of people telling us it would happen in God’s time. 4 years of bitterness and anger growing inside my soul while I sought God’s wisdom. 4 years of tears. 4 years of feeling like I was failing at life. January 2012 we did two things that would forever change our lives: we began the process to obtain our foster license as well as we had an IUI performed. Both of these things that would forever change our lives.
We received our very first positive pregnant test on Valentine’s Day of 2012 and March 2012 our fostering license was approved and we were placed with two six month old twins. The years of bitterness and questioning finally all started to make sense. My heart was healing and my bitterness was a distant memory.
After I had my c-section with A in 2012 I felt this overwhelming feeling of grief. In my simple way of not seeing the big picture I never thought I would ever be able to conceive again. A was and is my miracle baby. I felt grief that I had to have a c-section and sad that I would never experience birth the way I wanted to experience birth.
A and the twins grew over the next year and our hearts began longing for another child. A longing that we assumed would mean another foster child OR more fertility treatments. When A was barely 3 months old, we decided the following summer, June of 2014, would be the moment that we would accept another child into our home and we would begin the process for having more fertility treatments.
Very few people know that we began trying for another child when A was six months old (April 2013) and we took a pregnancy test(s) every month. Every month that pregnancy test was a negative. I ignored the questioning from people asking if we would have another child–even from people who know our story. I was disturbed people would have the audacity to ask a question when they knew how long it took for us to have A. I knew we would have another child, I just didn’t know how that child would come into our home.
On Valentine’s Day 2014 we took another pregnancy test and it was positive, it turned out no fertility treatment was necessary. I was terrified and beyond excited.
September 2014 we went to court where the parental rights of the twin’s biological parents were terminated. It would only be a matter of time before they would officially be a part of our family.
J was born in October of 2014 and it was that birth that we both had always wanted and dreamed of with him being born at home. It was an amazing experience to know what my body was capable of doing.
December 2014 is when we officially adopted the twins. We had officially added 3 new members to our family in a matter of seven weeks. Our family felt complete.
My family still feels complete. I have 4 kids under 4, my house is a nutty place. I am an overwhelmed and exhausted mother of 4 children.
So what does all that have to do with the email we sent today? Everything.
I knew since I was a little girl that I would adopt. It was something I dreamed of doing and am so blessed to have had the opportunity. Fostering became something we were called to do with our lives.
Tonight after much consideration and heartache we have decided not to renew our fostering license. We need a break, probably for a few years. My life is so chaotic and I honestly don’t believe we would be able to focus on the demanding needs of a foster child.
H bug is a difficult child with many issues that we are working through nearly 3 years later. I have 4 children that need my attention and my love. I have 4 children who deserve for me to focus on them right now. My heart aches that tonight a child may not be placed in a foster home and may be sent to a children’s home because we are deciding not to foster anymore. My heart aches and prays for these children. I also know that it wouldn’t be fair to that child to come into our home where I would be unable to give them the full attention needed.
I know my family isn’t done with fostering forever. We are done right now and my heart aches for that decision. I know it is the right choice yet tears run down my cheeks.
Did we really just send that email?
If only I could express to you with a realization that would hit you smack in the heart and mind to make you aware of the reprucssions of your choices.
If only I could express the heartache for 5 people you are causing.
If only I could express how much your choice could destroy everything we have built up.
If only I could express how much I pray for you daily.
If only I could express how much I wish I could hug you and shake you at the same time.
If only I could express the words to your face.
If only I could demonstrate the love we have.
If only I could demonstrate the bond we have forged.
If only I could demonstrate the bond between 3 innocent souls.
If only I could make you understand we don’t back down from our word.
If only I could make you understand what you are about to do.
If only I could find a way to manage to convince you to change your mind.
If only I could change the laws in the state of Florida.
If only I could convince you to not be selfish.
If only I could find a way to be able to convince 3 innocent souls (and myself) that God has this under control.
If only I could find an articulate way to express how I actually feel.
If only I could find a way to not feel like I have failed them.
If only I could find a way to make this up to A.
If only I could find a way to take this heartache away.
If only could find a way to not cry myself to sleep.
If only I could make Wednesday come faster.
If only I could make this pain you have felt go away.
If only I could talk to you mother to mother.
If only I could find a way to function.
That is the thing with if only…we have no control.
As a foster parent when you take a child into your house you know two scenarios will take place in that child’s life. The child will be reunited with their family or there will be a termination of parental rights. Many times the child is reunited or placed with family. After a termination of parental rights take place a child is eligible for adoption, the foster family has “dibs” on the foster child. Which honestly makes sense, the child has been in the household and has formed a bond. If the foster parent doesn’t have interest in adopting then the children are able to be adopted with no to little cost for the “general public”.
These are the things you are prepared for when you take a MAPP class (mandatory parenting class in order to foster or adopt in the state of Florida). This is a reality that I have always known and prepared my heart for to take place.
This is where I was fooled.
In the state of Florida, apparently for the past year and half, a parent who has a child in the foster care system can choose private adoption until the day their rights are terminated. This means the parent can have a child in the foster care system for YEARS and then choose to sign over their rights to a private adoption agency and pick their child(ten)’s new parents. This means a foster child can be taken from a foster home that would adopt the said child and be placed elsewhere by the mother’s choosing.
Why in the world does this happen? Apparently it boils down to money and private adoption agencies not having enough children.
This is what I was not prepared for.
This is a brand new level of potential heartache.
This is what makes me want to walk away from foster care forever.
This is what makes me question what in the world were we thinking.
This is what makes me want to cling to A and beg for her forgiveness that I did this to her.
This is what makes me cry at night.
This changes my prayer for all foster children and foster parents.
This makes my heart want to cry out and ask why.
One of the most common questions when people find out the twins are in foster care is: “so are you going to adopt them?”
The goal of foster care is not for adoption, the goal of foster care is reunification. Adoption happens when parental rights are terminated. It is not an easy process, bio parents deserve a chance to complete their case plan and be reunified with their child(ren). We went into foster care knowing this and trying to find some way to prepare our hearts for this–we made the choice. We also went into foster care knowing if we could adopt that we would adopt. Adoption has always been something I knew God called me to do for as long as I can remember.
Florida law calls for some time of permanency within a year of a case being open. Lets be honest folks, there are so many loop holes that this rarely happens. I know many foster care parents that have foster children that have been in this limbo for well over 2 years. It is an oddity but it definitely happens.
The twins case is over 2 years old. They have dual goals (reunification and adoption) and these goals have been in place ever since there was a case plan. Generally in foster care (well at least I have been told) 2 goals are usually the norm to prepare for the worst and best case scenario.
So are we going to adopt them?
Well if parental rights are terminated, we desperately want to do just that. I am also just trying to desperately seek God and ask Him to prepare my heart if that is not His plan.
I really cannot talk about their case, I cannot tell you where in the process we are or what is really going on with aspects to that.
I can tell you that my heart worries about how Adalynn will handle if the twins go back.
I wonder if the twins will meet baby boy.
I wonder and worry if Adalynn will have a brother and sister in the twins in that permanent sense.
I worry about the bond that exists between those three children (and will exist once baby boy gets here and if they are still here).
I worry did we make the right choice to expose our biological children to heartache and heartbreak.
My heart is full of worry.
I do know, right now, we are in limbo with the case. I do know, June 2nd is a pretty big deal in our house. I do know we need prayer over this date.
Strangers think it’s so great that we foster but I don’t think that it makes us special. This is my life and I cannot imagine it any different.
Two years ago today, Jeremy received a phone call in the middle of a shift at work. It was the call we had been waiting for–a placement. We were asked to take a placement of six month old twins. We were suppose to only be licensed for one (hadn’t even received the license yet) but we were told they would file a waiver and rush the final step of our approval process for the license.
My husband eagerly said yes.
I was two months pregnant.
He called me after he accepted the placement. We were beyond excited. After all, this is what were waiting for.
We were foolish, oh so foolish.
I rushed home to help Jeremy suddenly prepare for two babies with the reality of what we were doing not sunk in. Jeremy was running around like his head had been chopped off borrowing an extra car seat, crib, and going to the store to buy bottles and formula.
What else did babies need? Oh right, diapers.
We called placement because we didn’t know the size diapers that were going to be needed and placement had no idea. Jeremy was also on the phone with a local organization to help foster parents (4 Kids of Tampa). They were going to bring clothes for a six month old girl and boy as well as bring a variety of size of diapers.
The panic had still not set in yet.
We both made it home and began setting up the extra crib and washed bottles. A representative from 4 Kids showed up at house with clothes and diapers. Then the waiting game began…
We received the phone call about placement around 2:30 and the twins showed up around 5:30. We saw CPS and the transporter pull up in front of our household and we both went out to meet our newest members.
I remember them pulling little man out of the van and placing him in my arms. Tears came to my eyes because I had no idea what had causes this precious little human to be needed to be in my house. I hugged him and he just stared at me with wonder. Jeremy grabbed H-bug and she just smiled. She has always been that smiling child.
We made our way into the house and signed our custody letters and looked through the yellow jacket. The yellow jacket is a folder that has all their information in it–their social, a picture of them for identifying purposes, results from their trip to the doctor (foster children are always seen by a doctor when they are taken into custody), and the custody letter. We were handed 2 backpacks that had a tiny can of formula in each of it (the twins were on different brands), one diaper, and one outfit. Little man’s backpack also had a nebulizer inside and medicine.
I asked about the nebulizer and they told us how often it needed to be administered and then they left. Jeremy and I looked at each other and said, “Now what?”
We laughed because we had no idea what to do with 2 six month old twins.
We took the twins outside and began documenting how the twins looked. I googled how to use a nebulizer in order to ensure I was going to do it correctly.
Thank goodness for google.
We came back inside and began looking through clothes that 4 Kids brought us and picked out pajamas. By this time it was nearly 7 and we began getting the twins ready for bed.
I gave little man a nebulizer treatment, he wasn’t a fan.
H bug just stared at us and smiled.
They were unable to sit up on their own so we just sort of held them.
By this time Jeremy began holding little man and I took over h bug. We changed them and fed them their bottles and laid them in their cribs.
We were so naive.
We were lucky–they went right to bed. I am sure they were exhausted. Their entire world had been changed and they couldn’t even communicate.
After they went to sleep, Jeremy and I began talking with each other and the overwhelming responsibility began to set in our brains.
At this time ,we had no idea how long they would be with us. We had no idea what our future would hold with them.
I clearly remember discussing with Jeremy how heartbroken this mother had to be. I cried thinking about what she had to be going through on this night without her children.
I got on my knees and prayed for this woman I had never met. I prayed for Jeremy and I being able to raise her children forever how long it was to be.
I worshiped God.
Fast forward two years….
The twins are still in foster care. I have no idea how long they will be in foster care. I have no idea if we will be able to adopt them this year. Trust me, if I knew I would be shouting from the rooftops.
I do know this…
This is a calling.
The case is 2 years old.
We are on our 3rd FDS (family development specialist).
We are on our 4th case manager (yep just got a brand new one last week).
We love the twins.
My daughter loves the twins.
My life has been irrevocably changed. Forever.
January 31st is a day that I don’t think I can ever forget. It was a day that was a last ditch effort before truly just resigning myself to never being able to have a biological child.
The prior 4 years of trying to conceive a child were filled with heartache, questioning, and worthlessness. It was painful.
I remember a couple of weeks before while I was on Winter Break at my friend’s house where she told me she was pregnant with her second child and my heart dropping just a little more. I was beyond thrilled for her but at that same moment I was trying to swallow the idea of never having a biological child.
The prior week I had been to see the doctor to monitor my ovulation and to see if I would finally be able to an IUI. January 30th I woke up and tested and it was positive. I called the doctor and they wanted me to come in on the morning of the 31st for my IUI.
I clearly remember waiting in the waiting room and I was wrecked with nervousness. My bitterness started to seep to the surface and the begging/pleading for this to work. I went home after receiving the IUI and thinking this has to work.
The next two weeks were beyond slow moving. I had random signs that made both Jer and me hopeful but at the same time I didn’t want to become too hopeful.
I remember going to my friend’s daughter 1st birthday party and I was actually starting to believe I was pregnant (hopeful) on February 12.
On February 14th I woke up and tested. I remember screaming to Jer that there were two lines. Two lines..two lines. Beyond excitement as I called that same friend at 6am and practically shouted the news on her voicemail.
January 31st and February 14th have amazing meaning to me. Those dates came so long after so much heartache and pain. Those dates are joyous to me.
So here I sit two years later and the question that pains my heart in new ways is the question if we will have anymore biological children.
It took us 4 years to finally conceive Adalynn and you want to know if we want more?
Well the answer is YES.
Is it possible?
Anything is possible with God. At the same time I am trying to prepare my heart that may not be my story. It may not be my story to ever have another biological child. I don’t think I am okay with that yet, and honestly I am not sure I will ever be.
I loved being pregnant–loved it.
I didn’t have my ideal birth with the need for an emergency c-section. I would love the opportunity to have VBAC.
However, I also am realistic that these things may never happen.
Jeremy and I both want more biological children, it is still a painful subject. It still hurts.
So I beg of you to never ask if we want another biological child when we accept more foster children into our home. Honestly, you will just be breaking another piece of my heart away. I cannot have children at the drop of the hat and I am heartbroken over it.
I don’t think I am resentful anymore. I don’t think I am angry anymore. I just know this is my story.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for my precious Adalynn and the twins. I love them and wouldn’t want it any other way. I know I will love whatever future foster children come into our house. I will and I am not sorry for my story. My story is my story and it has made me the way I am.
I am lucky because I do have a biological child. I have foster children. I have a full life.