Anxiety. Reality.

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.

Advertisements

What the state of Florida does not prepare you for…

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.

Our journey

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 prayed.

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 cried.

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.

 

Life changing dates

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.

2012…

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.

Pregnant..finally.

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.

Seriously?

It took us 4 years to finally conceive Adalynn and you want to know if we want more?

Seriously?

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.

Foster Care Guarantees

As we have been spending the past couple weeks preparing to renew our license for foster care. So many thoughts and emotions press on my soul. Foster care is not for the faint heart.

Foster care is heartbreaking.

Foster care is rewarding.

Foster care is my calling.

Foster care makes me want to scream at the top of the lungs.

Foster care brings immense joy to my soul.

We are discussing changing our license to 3. We want to touch more lives. We also have to face a harsh reality that this current placement may not last to adoption. Any future placement may not turn into adoption.

People ask all the time, “How do you do this? How can you stand the thought of giving them back?”

Seriously? Is this easy? N-O!

The idea of handing back children who were taken from their homes for a reason is terrifying. I am suppose to have faith in the court system. Well, boy oh boy, I do not.

I have to have faith in God. I have faith that God will somehow mend my heart for those goodbyes. I have faith that God will see me through the ending of a placement and/or a new placement.

There are absolutely no guarantees the twins will stay with us or that any foster child will stay with. I don’t think I am okay with, well I am definitely not okay with it. Regardless it is what I signed up for.

The one guarantee that I can count on is God. Jeremy and I pray constantly for the twins and their future–regardless of what that future will be.

 

 

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?!?!

Jake and the Neverland Birthday Party

I love planning great memories–I am that mom. I want their childhoods to be rememberable. I want them to remember the fun and love we have. I love getting on the floor with my kids as we scream. I want to make life fun, I want my kids to appreciate life.

I really enjoyed planning the twins 2nd birthday. I enjoyed picking out their outfits and searching the internet for party ideas. I love planning the party. The hubby and I chose Jake and the Neverland Pirates as their birthday theme this year. As soon as theme was set a plethora of ideas soared into my brain.

Their shirts minus their names. I had H-bug wear a purple tutu for her bottoms and little man wore blue shorts.

IMG_5833

It was also important for me to make this party as close to Paleo as I could. Their birthday party was completely grain free with only a few items including dairy. I had a blast. We finished this party exhausted but my mind is already thinking about next year….

Pictures including the twins faces will not be included to protect them and I cannot find a picture of the scarf, eye patch, and pirate hat section. When guests entered the house they had a red strip of cloth they could wear (like Jake’s), eye patch, and a pirate hat. Another photo that will not be included is the gift table aka the treasure table. Above the treasure table I made each twin a sign to say happy birthday and I made a photo collage for each twin in the shape of the number 2. I went through the photos that have been taken in the past year and chose some for the sign. Underneath the treasure table was a treasure chest that included goody bags for all the children.

Each section/game had its very own sign that I created with either wood or cardboard.

Balloons mark the spot..

IMG_1580

The sign welcoming guests to our house..

IMG_1581

The sign outside the door…

IMG_1579

The kids table to eat food and enjoy cake!

IMG_1567

This sign did include their name but I cleared that up to protect them.

IMG_1569

A little photo booth area…

IMG_1570

I I found this great little Buckey Ship play tent…I think all the kids at the party really enjoyed it…

IMG_1571

The color table

IMG_1574

A picture of the goody bags that went under the treasure table..

DSC_0680

Walk the plank…

IMG_1577

Dig for treasure (kids use a hook to hunt for gold and jewels)

IMG_1576

Mermaid Lagoon (a ship pirate water table). The table we got was missing the center piece but we didn’t pull the table together until last night so that will have to wait.

IMG_1575

Up next the food (who doesn’t love some great themed food)…I am missing the photo of the drink station. I make a shark punch (2 2 liters of sprite and 2 ice cube trays of frozen cranberry juice with 6 of the cubes having candy sharks). Also I had a blow up treasure chest which I put frozen mini water bottles (I set the water out about 30 minutes before guests came over and this way I didn’t need ice) and some organic juice boxes.

The menu for the food was: sweet potato chips and fruit snacks (I was going to make fish and chips but forgot to bake grain free goldfish crackers), Octopus Dipgrain free chicken nuggetssilly squid, build your own scurvey sandwiches platter, watermelon pirate ship, and swords (rosemary grain free breadsticks from the cookbook Against All Grain). I also wood burned pictures of Jake and Izzy as well a happy birthday sign to the kids.

DSC_0588

DSC_0591 DSC_0592 DSC_0593 DSC_0594 DSC_0595  DSC_0597DSC_0596DSC_0595DSC_0594DSC_0593DSC_0592DSC_0591

Now its cake time. I did edit out their names with a blemish remover.

This cake is little man’s cake it is a chocolate cake with a dairy and grain free vanilla frosting. Both recipes are from the Against All Grain Cookbook. I was pretty disappointed with how this cake turned out. The frosting wasn’t quite white so I tried dying it blue for the border of the hat but it didn’t turn out well. I probably should of layed it flat and iced it instead of standing it up…

DSC_0684

I think cake turned out pretty well for H bug. On the bottom is where I wrote her name. The cake is a snickerdoodle cake (from Against All Grain cookbook) and a cream cheese frosting from Betty Crocker.

DSC_0685