Did we really just send that email?

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?

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If only….

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.

If only….

That is the thing with if only…we have no control.

Limbo

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.

 

Trust? Huh, what is that?

I am trying to put into words the emotions of the past two days.

Heartbreaking

Heavy heart

Tears

Dread

Disbelief

Prayer

God

Confusion

Miracles?

Holding my breath

Could it be?

Really?

Huh?

He said, she said.

These words float within and out of my head as I think of the past two days. Can I really elaborate more about what is going on in our lives? Nope. Does that stink? Yep.

Foster care, case plans, case managers, and justice system make my head spin. My head spins because we woke up yesterday thinking one thing and that afternoon our hearts were instantly broken. We went to bed with determination and on our knees in prayer. We woke up this morning trying to find a way to cope through this hot mess. This afternoon we received a phone call and now another 180 degree turn.

I am so confused.

I am hurt.

I am hopeful.

At the end of the day, I have to learn trust God on this one. Trusting God can be difficult on something so big that we want control over. Control, a funny word. We so desperately crave it but it brings just more stress.

I have to learn how to let go and trust God. I have to take a deep breath and turn it over. A struggle in my life.

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
29 He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
30 Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
31 Yet those who [a]wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will [b]mount up with [c]wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. -Isaiah 40:28-31

I am working on this verse.

Please continue to pray our family.

Gift giving

As a parent there is a brand new level of excitement over Christmas time when you have toddlers in the house. Last year was A’s first Christmas and it was wonderful don’t get me wrong. This year is a whole new world.

Little man, H bug, and A are precocious toddlers who are wandering around and get excited over the littlest things. This year Christmas morning is bringing such excitement that I can barely wait until it comes.

The hubs and I decided last year after going a bit over board on Christmas that we wanted to become very purposeful in our gift giving at Christmas.

The hubs bought A a Dr. Seuss book last year and wrote a beautiful inscription inside the cover of the book. He has decided that he would buy her a Dr. Seuss book each year and write inside the cover for her a little note. It is a beginning of a tradition.

I had a slightly harder time coming up with my special gift to A, I just bought her an ornament. As I spent the past year thinking what could my gift each year be, it  hit me. I have decided to make a photo book documenting each year of A’s life. Her first photo book is from birth to her first birthday.

We are doing the same sentimental presents for the twins as well for however long we have them. I made H bug and little man a book documenting the moment they came in our lives at 6 months until their 2nd birthday. The hubs bought the twins their own Dr. Seuss book and wrote beautiful inscriptions to them.

We decided those are our sentimental gifts to the kids.

We decided last year that we would buy the kids one big gift (or three smaller gifts that would cost the same as a big gift). The twins are only 13 months older than A and we decided if we did purchase a big gift all 3 would have great use out of it. We ended up getting 3 smaller gifts for the kids–toddler quads.

We also have stockings that just have some randomness inside them. That is it.

Boy, oh boy, has it been hard. I want to buy more. It has been very difficult to restrain ourselves but so far so good.

Really? The twins are 2?!?!?!

I clearly remember March 23, 2012 like it was yesterday…

It was a Friday and I just got a really sweet gift from my husband…chocolate covered strawberries from Edible Arrangements. It was the end of the school day and I just taken my students out for dismissal and I saw a voicemail from my husband. We were asked to take on our first placement as foster parents to twins–a boy and a girl 6 months old. We eagerly accepted the placement.

At the time I was almost two months pregnant and I don’t think we had any clue what we just got ourselves into or what was in store for our future. I raced home and my husband had stopped at church to get an extra crib (we only had one), a car seat from a friend, and the store to buy diapers, formula, and clothes. It was a rush of excitement as we awaited the arrival of these two precious lives.

I remember meeting the transporters outside of our home and eagerly taking little man into my arms. He truly was a little man and he looked up at me with his world just changed upside down. H bug was in the husband’s arm. After the transporters left, we both looked at each other not knowing what to do now. Those first few days with the twins are a blur. I barely remember how we did it.

Fast forward almost 18 months and today is the twins 2nd birthday. They have brought so much joy into our household. We are entering a new phase with the twins, an exciting and exhausting period. Temper tantrums are on high alert but at the same time their communication skills are exploding. It is an amazing experience watching their personalities come out even more so and watch the learning that is taking place. I cannot believe how fast these 18 months have flown by, I look back at pictures from those first days and I barely recognize the twins. They have flourished and blossomed (as any toddler does) but it still takes my breath away.

Kids grow so fast–too fast. At this age there is sheer joy for figuring it out and many times applauding takes place. Everything that is figured out can bring new challenges (cue pulling every wipe out or climbing on things or wrestling or pulling all the clothes out of a dresser or dumping all the toys on the floor or emptying the fridge or …). These “challenges” make for great memories and test our parenting skills. We work on showing compassion, apologies, forgiveness, cleaning up, helping each out. This is when we are making critical progression in their character as people.

As we sat down as a family tonight at dinner it felt like the twins grew up over night. Little man instead of just wanting sauce to dip his food in, he actually pointed to where he wanted it on his plate. H bug sat and ate with us instead of trying to get down the entire time. They are these amazing little people and I cannot wait to find out what they become.

Adalynn is now 11 months old (only 1 month until she is 1, tear) and as I looked at her monthly picture shoot, I was amazed at the difference the past year has made. Gosh, they really are growing up?!?!

Meltdowns, meltdowns

Some days I feel like I’m a super mom or at least am doing fine at this whole motherhood thing. Tonight definitely wasn’t one of them…..

Little man came into the house from daycare already in a mood. He cried, whined, threw himself on the ground in an attempt to show how pathetic he was. He went from one temper tantrum to the next. Most of the time Adalynn could calm him down–that boy loves his baby sister.

H bug was actually in a good mood–usually she is the drama queen. She barely whined and was just overall great.

Adalynn up until dinner was overall in a great mood. She played and laughed–she is usually a happy baby!

After dinner the major meltdowns started but I saw some amazing sibling love. Little man did not want to go to the bedroom–meltdown one.

The major meltdown was one that I didn’t see coming at all. Our routine is to take the twins to the bedroom and Adalynn sits in the bumbo chair. She is usually a content child and if she gets fussy she gets a toy. Wow, did she have a meltdown–nothing calmed her. Her favorite book, pacifier, or toy–they were all useless to her. She screamed bloody murder. I tried talking to her while I changed the twins diapers–screaming continued.

After I got the twins dressed for bed, I pulled her out and she slightly calmed down. I realized she had a dirty diaper, so I layed her on her tummy so she wouldn’t being sitting it. The screaming and screeching continued. Then as I became frustrated and felt like I was failing, I saw a beautiful and thoughtful side of the twins.

I was talking to them and told them how Adalynn was sad. H bug goes up and pats her on her back. She tries to shown Adalynn her favorite toy–she was actually going to let her play with it. Little man tries to hug and give kisses to her. My hearted swelled with pride at this–they knew their baby sister was sad and tried to comfort her.

I may not be a super mom but I know I am teaching my children compassion. As a parent I want my children to know and have a relationship with God. Tonight they showed me they are learning compassion–a quality that I hope that they continue to show.