Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Holidays - An Unexpected Tradition

Holidays with kids is something truly special. Seeing the world through their eyes no matter what you have chosen as your traditions brings back the magic feeling you had as a child yourself. It's a time to reflect, be generous, celebrate with family, and have hope for what you may accomplish in the new year. As someone who dealt with infertility, this time of year was the hardest next to Mothers Day. Kids are everywhere...commercials, TV specials, sales at the store, Facebook posts with Santa, and even if you avoid all of that you have the cheerful smiles of families arriving to your mailbox reminding you another year has gone by.

You'd think now that we have children these worries and stress would have gone away. It has for the most part but it's morphed into something similar to guilt. It's the only time of the year the kids birth Mom contacts us and her words spell out the anguish she's in over not having them with her. It makes me wonder what she's doing constantly since I know she's thinking about the kids. It has me wishing we had contact with her to help ease that pain somewhat but also has me scared to do so because I know that longing for the kids is the strongest right now and I'm too worried about what contact like that could result in.

Last year and this year we're lucky in the fact this is a burden on only us the adults. Next year I might have questions from my sweet little girl about what her other Mom is doing and why she can't be there with us. It has sparked an inner competition in me to make the Holidays so incredible for the kids they couldn't possibly want for more. In a way that feeling is always there because it's the only way you feel you can control sparing your child pain over wondering about their birth parents. I know it's not possible or even healthy to think that way but it's the honest raw reality of what I think a lot of adoptive parents feel.

One of the things that weighs on my mind is a conversation I had with their birth Mom the only time I spent alone with her. It was last year in early December so Christmas was on my mind. I asked her if there were any traditions that were important to her so we could help give that to the kids. She told me no, she had no traditions and that she didn't have much of a family. That broke my heart and now I know why she must have the hardest time now because perhaps she hoped these kids would finally be a family of her own. I didn't have the thought at the time to push her a little more and ask if there were any traditions she hoped to have with kids but it's something I wonder about all the time.

I felt much of the same last year as I do this year...almost stolen moments of joy since I know someone else is longing to be doing this with the kids right now. Last year I had the added worry of it being our only Christmas with the kids because things were up in the air about if we'd finalize. I hope each year I'll feel less and less conflicted. I wanted to document this so I can look back and hopefully see how this tradition of guilt has faded to only joy and peace for us all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Family of Our Own

This morning a friend gave me the gift of a poem he wrote about our adoption story. It's so beautiful I just had to share. Thank you Jamie!

A Family of Our Own

Seems distant now-
That it would be just us.
Yet we settled into that mind.

There were flashes of hope.
Just flashes.
And wanting-

Then a moment.

A moment of Grandeur,
One call-
One gift-
Four souls transcended.

A welcoming of growing,
The extension of a home.
A love we never thought we’d know…

And a family of our own.

                                                                                                                          Jamie Burgasser

Monday, December 10, 2012

Adoption Day

I sit here with a cup of coffee in the quiet house before kids are awake. It's a big day at our house but in another sense it's not. The kids are too young to understand the importance of today. They won't understand why we're at a court house and will probably just be squirmy and cranky. Today marks the end of our time in "the system". It means we no longer have to fill out incident reports and send them out in triplicate every time the kids get a mark on them. We don't have to attend all the various social worker meetings every month. And finally what I'm most excited about is we can share photos of our kids online.

One might think this is the happiest day of our lives but it really doesn't hold a lot of meaning to me. The day I'll remember and celebrate is the day we met and were given the awesome responsibility of being parents to these incredible children. Walking in the door to the previous Foster Mom's house and seeing this sweet little girl with a head full of glossy dark curls and a binky in her mouth is what is etched into my mind as my happiest day. I recall studying her while trying not to scare her, drinking in every detail. I remember the tears of joy I cried in this woman's living room as she placed a tiny bundle into my arms. The gravity of responsibility that started to settle in as I realized we'd be leaving this house with these two little beings and we were now responsible. Driving away with them both tucked into their car seats was surreal. That my friends was the best day of my life.

The fear of loosing the kids is not entirely gone. There's no legal risk of them being taken away and I haven't worried over that since August. Now it's my fears of their birth parents finding them that comes into play. Before their rights were terminated we had the state to hide behind with no contact. Now the contact is our choice. They have no vested interest in trying to play by the rules because there's no chance for them to get their kids back. I do want them to have contact with the kids but I don't know what that looks like or when we'll be ready. There is no instruction book on this so we have to go with what we feel is best. I think we'll take a little time off on thinking about that for now.

It's been a year and a half since that wonderful day we were united as a family. It's going to be strange to hear us pronounced as their parents because we feel as if we always have been. Hearing Zoe proudly and possessively announce to people "My Mommy" and "My Daddy" is one of the best things in the world. I hope she tells the Judge that today because there's nothing he could say that we all haven't known in our hearts for quite some time. There is no finish line in parenting, we're just moving on to the next phase with open arms and thankfulness in our hearts.

Updated: today held more meaning than I knew. It caught us both off guard and we nearly started crying in court. It was emotional in the best kind of way...all in all a perfect day.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The home stretch

Today we completed one of the final steps of the process for adoption, the negotiation of adoption support. I've included a link for those curious in details on the program for my state. You start by filling out an application detailing your income, expenses, and the special needs of your children. Special needs means a lot of things. For instance if you are adopting and your financial situation prohibits you from providing for the child they would help you out as it's in the best interest of the child and much cheaper in the long run for the state to have them in a stable home instead of a perpetual foster child.

I awaited the call from the state to negotiate with some nerves because negotiation is usually work. We started off the conversation with the woman telling me a story about how her husband was a infant model for the company I work for. She was friendly and upbeat. She then gave me two options which were both more than we expected. She explained the only reason my kids were eligible was due to their ethnicity. It was unexpected but a nice surprise and will allow us to better provide for our kids.

It was so easy...which is shocking. Nothing thus far in this process could really be considered easy. And then we're told we'll be placed in the very next court hearing we can. In fact we'd be finalizing in less than a week if we were not taking a vacation.

This whole process has been high hoop after hoop. It's pretty shocking for something to come easy and even better, that soon there will only be the normal hoops of parenting. These are by no means "easy" but the relief of being out from under the microscope is HUGE!

Our next post will be a photo of us at court all sporting some big faces covered!

Thank you each and everyone of you who have prayed and supported us to get us this far. Your love and support even if we don't know you has been felt!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Final Steps

Today at our monthly social worker meeting we were presented with the kids full file. This happens when they are legally free (so we've been waiting for it since July). It gives us all the information the department has on the kids. This includes the social workers notes from each monthly visit, supervisors reports of visitation, and all the info they have on the birth parents. The stack of paper work is no less than 8" thick. I can't even imagine where we're going to store all this along with all the paperwork we already have.

I of course can't and don't wish to share any of the information it contains but I want to hurry and finish this post to get back to reading it. The process is such that we have to sign a release stating we have read all available information on the case before we proceed with negotiations for Adoption Support from the state. The information in the files could give us insight into something we might need support with. Once the support is negotiated, which we think will be done in the next two weeks, we submit all the paper work with our lawyer and get a court date to finalize.

November is National Adoption Month and there is a HUGE mass adoption that will be happening in our county the week we'll be in Hawaii. Our lawyer is really busy getting everything in order for other families to make that date so we're holding off since we can't be part of it anyway. It's looking like we'll be going to court in December if we get a court date then.

We're a bit of a unique situation when it comes to the paperwork. Many kids have been bounced around to several homes or have several reports from CPS before the kids were removed from their home that remain classified. For us, we've had the kids since my son was released from the hospital so we know just about everything in the paper work. It is pretty interesting reading Social Worker notes about us and detailed reports of what happened at the few visits the kids had.

Part of the plan for their birth Mom to get the kids back was her requirement to have a full evaluation with a psychologist. It is a comprehensive 16 page report of her responses and observations by the person who conducted it. I devoured each page, eager to learn anything I could about her and her thoughts on the whole situation. I'm sure I'll read it many times over. It struck me that the feelings of devouring each word and mental images of physical appearance and body language it caused me to be thinking about would only be heightened for both kids. In a sense it's the closest they may ever get to their birth mother. It's incredibly sad thinking about that. I can't imagine my only connection to my birth parents being though words on paper and the one photo we have.

All of this is sinking in and I want to do all I can to ease the emotional battle my kids are sure to face. It's yet another thing I wish I could spare them. I plan to talk about their Birth Mom often so she will not be a mystery. Answer any question I can. Most importantly, honor her in the role she plays in all of our lives. No matter what reports say and the negative picture some of them may portray, She is part of them and they are part of her. Therefore we all love their Birth Mom, just in a very different way than most.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

So many reasons to celebrate

I've said it many times before but I feel so blessed to have the experience we've been given. Yes our road to being parents was hard, damn hard, but that makes the rewards all the sweeter. We have been given so many more milestones to celebrate because of how we have become parents. There was a huge out pouring of congrats and love when we were placed with the kids and that was reason for all the normal celebration that comes with most new babies.

Over a year ago we experienced the baby showers, the dinners people lovingly provided, and visitors from near and far to meet the new members of our family. All of this was wonderful and to be honest a blur. We were so overwhelmed with having just become parents we didn't relish in all the cute little gifts and organization of all their goodies like most parents I imagine do. It was wonderful none the less.

Becoming a parent through Foster to Adopt some unique milestones that may or may not happen with an adoption where the child has been relinquished by their birth parents. There's the day you find out you have been matched, which may or may not be the day you meet the child(ren). Then there is the day they come to live with you which could also be the day you were chosen and met. Finalization is the last step in the Foster to Adopt process and worth the biggest celebration of them all.

I'm a person who LOVES traditions so I've taken full advantage of being able to celebrate things that have been unique to our experience in addition to birthdays, holidays, and family events. We will always celebrate June 30th as Family Day. It's special because it was the day we met and started this journey together. It will entail a photo of us all together, doing something everyone in the family will enjoy doing together which will of course change as we all age, and Jay and I writing a message to the kids in their journal from us to them.

This weekend we threw a HUGE party inviting both sides of our large families and friends who have helped us along the way in celebration of being so very close to finalizing our adoption. I envisioned the party happening and then finally being able to show photos of the kids at it but that will have to wait. We wanted so many people to be part of the celebration because so many have helped us tremendously. We decided to take advantage of the last bit of decent weather and invite everyone to our house. We did a theme of family and had a photographer available for people to take family photos (ironically I'm not sure if we got a decent one of the four of us) and a family tree with finger print leaves as our guest book.

We're just weeks away from knowing what the Finalization date will be. I'm sure we'll do a much smaller scale celebration on that day, such as dinner out, but the joy in our hearts we felt in celebrating this weekend will be alive and well. We'll feel the cheers and hugs we've received from everyone all along with us there in the court room as we're pronounced a legal family.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Bring on the evidence of my life

This is kind of a heavy topic for a Friday night but it's something that's been rattling around my brain all week. Not long before my Dad passed away I discovered Greg Laswell and listened to him a lot. One song I loved but haven't been able to bring myself to listen to until just a few weeks ago is What a Day. If you've never heard it, give it a listen.

There's a line from that song that brings up so much emotion "bring on the evidence of my life". I am the evidence of my Dad's life in a physical sense. As I struggled to have a family of my own, this line captured the essence of one of my deepest fears - having no evidence of my life. It depressed me to create scrapbooks because I would think to myself no one is going to care about this crap when I die if I don't have kids. Of course that's not entirely true but if it's in your head it can make a pretty convincing argument when there's no one to bring reason to it.

Listening to this song again made me think about this fear and how my thoughts on it have changed since I've become a mother. It's taken actually becoming a mother, especially through adoption to realize how entirely irrational that thought process is. I'll never have physical proof of my existence unless I'm somehow mummified. It really doesn't matter if you have kids or not. Your life is about the connections you make and the impact you have on peoples lives in whatever form that may take.

When you want something so bad it's all consuming, it can be hard to be rational. I doubt coming to this realization sooner would have changed our decision on becoming parents but wow how I wish I'd figured this out to save myself some depression. It makes me realize seeing a physical version of me is entirely something that would be pleasing to me but how I parent that child is what matters. To both them and the world they live in. This is pretty basic stuff but maybe someone else is struggling with that fear and all they need to hear is there was another irrational person thinking about it. It's important to recognize your progress as you grow wiser and I'm proud to say I've accomplished a big "a ha" that will help me be better in every sense.

Monday, August 27, 2012

And so we wait

After weeks of worry about an appeal for termination of rights for the kids father, we learned today it didn't happen. What we did learn is a new twist. After countless "twists" in our case recently I just want to throw out there that we're actually asking for all possible scenarios up front...every time and more than once. We're told the same answer by everyone and then when we get these little unexpected outcomes we hear that they've never had to deal with it before...we're that "special case". Yea us!

There's plenty I wish I could vent about but I can't share any details. We've finally gotten to the point where the State wants us to consult legal counsel and it's not for the reasons we hoped.  The news means we are potentially looking at being Foster Parents for the next year plus.

Focusing on the positive it means that we have potentially that long where we won't be paying for daycare and we can keep setting aside the monthly payments which are growing into quite a sizable nest egg for each of the kids. We also get free camping and discounts to some kids centric things like the Children's Museum.

The reason I'm discouraged other than the constant worry of losing the kids is the burdens of the system which don't seem too bad until the first of the month rolls around and they all start again. We have to meet with a team of people supporting the kids which includes their assigned social worker, our social worker, the Guardian ad litem, a team of nurses, and physical therapists. We try to combine appointments when possible but it's never less than at least 3. That means leaving work early, getting the house ready for inspection, and preparing ourselves for being questioned on how we're parenting the kids and hoping they are making the expected progress. Everyone tries to be unobtrusive but there's no way around it, it just is.

In addition to all the visits there's the limitations our kids experience by being "in the system". We have to take them every 6 months to one of the few dentists that accepts State medical. It's pretty dismal and the kids are traumatized, hysterically crying every time. We're limited on doctors as well but thankfully like our current one. We also have the heavy restrictions on who can watch the kids which makes for exhausted parents with very rare breaks.

I find myself once again extremely thankful for the kids current age. We got the joy of experiencing a new born straight from the hospital as well as countless firsts for them both. They are oblivious to their situation as they don't have visits with birth parents or even a memory of them so there's no questions for us. I have the hardest time understanding how what the state is doing is in the best interest of the kids, keeping their outcome of a permanent home in question for years on end. If they had been older when they were placed with us, it would be a VERY different struggle and I feel for the kids and Foster Parents who have to battle with that question everyday. Parents often wish they could take the pain of something for their kids and in this case we can. They are just going to grow up thinking every toddler has to meet with all these random adults every month and talk about all the things they are learning.

The bottom line is we are still confident we'll have the kids in the end barring any random family member that decides to play hero and is successful in jumping through all the hoops (which are significant at this point).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Life as a Foster Parent

In my year + experience as a Foster Parent thus far I’ve decided for me personally the hardest part is being reliant on other people to give you information. If you go into this with the mindset of wanting to adopt as we did your biggest concern is will the child(ren) be going back to their family of origin. That is a question that has more outcomes than a Choose Your Own Adventure book. There are countless curveballs with no black and white answers. There’s seemingly always a judge or social worker that can make an exception or give someone one more chance. Through all those decisions and actions as a Foster Parent you are 100% reliant on someone giving you the score. It often feels like you’re waiting on baited breath for the surgery status of someone you love but you’re not considered family and just have to pray a doctor or nurse takes pity on you to come back and report.

Your role as a Foster Parent is to take care of the kids, first and foremost. That is why your personal needs as the parent are not really met because in the end it’s not about you, it’s about the kids. All the people with the information on how things are going come to meet with you once a month and that visit is to see how the kids are doing, not talk about the case. They have an overwhelming workload of kids to watch out for so the details of actions that may effect the Foster parent are not high priority.

Until parental rights were terminated we wonder constantly about what they were doing to get their kids back. Court dates were the only time we were allowed to hear about progress. We’re back in the phase of waiting anxiously to hear news. The kids father has until tomorrow 8/17 to file an appeal for the termination of his rights. Everyone expected this to be submitted within a week of his last trial date but nothing so far. I say that not knowing if it was submitted and I just don’t know.

It’s maddening for a control freak such as myself to have someone I don’t even know hold so much power over the fate of my life. It’s a test of faith to say the least. I do have faith in the end the kids will be with us, really no doubt about that actually. It’s just the question of when and how ugly this fight is going to get before it’s all said and done.

Until then I’ll keep playing detective and reading every piece of material I can get my hands on. It’s pretty amazing what little nuggets I can pick up from paperwork. For example I was looking at our approval to travel to Hawaii and it came with a 22 page attachment of the case paper work which I guess they need to provide for the person approving. In that paperwork buried deep and just listed as a single line was the date the state would have an adoption hearing – 12/10/12. That is the latest if there was no appeal. If the state moves forward our lawyer would petition for the soonest date possible.

As I wait for more information my days are consumed with the little stuff like “did I cover them with enough sunscreen before sending them off to daycare?” and “how should we keep the kids cool this evening?”. Through the states eyes and our own, our first priority is being a parent and making sure the kids have all they need. That’s what is really important and thankfully it’s what consumes our time day in and out. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The wait continues

I've often been told people think you worry for just a period of time as your kids grow out of a phase but in reality you worry the rest of your life once you become a parent. I get that and expected it but I didn't expect the same with our adoption roller coaster. We learned late last week the answer to my question of "I wonder what their alleged father was doing while such important decisions were being made."...He was on his way to the court house. We missed each other by 30 minutes and he was granted another hearing which happened today.

We knew it would be one of two outcomes. The termination judgement made last week would be overturned or he would be advised on how to appeal. Thankfully the later was the outcome however he has 30 days to do so which means more potential delays and concern for us. Do I or our social workers think he'll be successful in an But after the burden of worry about loosing the kids was lifted last week it feels twice as heavy to take it back on. I'm in tears now just thinking about it. It was doubly hard as we didn't even know there was an appeal process because it never came up when their mother's rights were terminated.

Of course as I google about the appeal process in WA I find worst case scenario articles about how birth parents come back years after an adoption is finalized to contest it. This was the last thing I needed to read. I'm trying to keep a positive outlook and I still feel like everything will work out in the end but I feel as if we're getting ready to face one last battle which is the biggest yet and my energy reserves for pulling through are near empty.

When I'm with the kids I don't have time to even think about it and one look at their faces makes me confident. When I've just put them to bed like now and I actually have a moment to stop and think...I feel defeated and just wonder how much longer I can take it.

It's just too much so I'm going to have to focus on the positive. I'm thankful the decision was not overturned today, that might have been enough to do me in. I'm thankful I was not in court today and didn't have to have an awkward and potentially disturbing run in with the birth mom and alleged father. I'm thankful the end is very near. Please just continue to think of us and pray for us to have the strength to continue this fight all while doing our best for the kids.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Free at Last!

Today we got the best news we could have hoped for, the kids are legally free and now it's just a matter of time until we're able to adopt. This was my first time going to court, I usually prefer Jay goes because I'm too nervous and emotional. He had some commitments at work so I went today. Let me tell you about what it's like.

They tell you court starts at 9:00 but that's really just them trying to get everyone there on time. You walk through the metal detectors and then wait in the lobby for the court room to open up. Everyone sits there nervously looking around, many who are clearly out of their element dressed to impress. It's actually some prime people watching and eavesdropping. I sat there facing the entrance to the building and next to the door to the court room so I could keep my eyes peeled for the kids alleged father who I've never met. I was also within ear shot of the info desk so I could listen for his lawyer.

At about 9:15 you can start going into the court room and by the time I walked in it was already crowded. I grabbed the last two seats for myself and our social worker. There were just two rows of seating and about 20-30 people waiting for their case. beyond the little wall divider was a long curved table facing the bench where there were about 10 lawyers sitting and sorting their papers. There were about 10-15 more lawyers and state social workers walking around and sitting behind them.

Everyone is talking in hushed conversations which really just makes the whole room loud. Even after the judge came in people never shut up. They then just have a lawyer at the table start talking which is barely audible on the microphone because you guessed it, everyone is STILL talking. It's a long list of questions directed to the social worker sitting at the same table as the lawyer..."Was X served on X date?" "Yes". And on and on. It's pretty much all yes or no questions and then the defendants lawyer if they have one makes a quick statement of if they support whatever motion is being discussed. Finally the judge makes his quick ruling never looking up from the papers. Done. In a matter of minutes the course of peoples lives are changed and mean while everyone in the court room is still talking.

We got lucky and were the second case to be heard. It lasted all of 3-4 minutes since there was no one but the state there. The judge said the motion was granted and he found the alleged father in default. A few words from him but words that mean the world to us. This is a momentous day for our family and it seems so weird it all just happened in a noisy room filled with people dressed in ill fitting suits and huge black briefcases to carry around files. No I didn't expect the sky to part but I guess I did expect it to be semi somber and at least hear all that was said. No matter, it's done and went better than we hoped.

This means we'll be assigned a state adoption case worker and there's no risk of us losing the kids any longer. We get first dibs to file for an adoption motion. Yes we still have about a month or two left of the kids being in the system but it's nothing. Just the monthly visits from all the people that see the kids but no threat of birth parent visits. We no longer have to worry about what the birth parents are doing to get the kids back because they can't. It's a sad day for them and I can't help but wonder what they were doing today while those decisions were being made. Did they wish they were there but for what ever reasons they couldn't be or did they even realize the significance of today at all? It's done and after we finalize I will reach out to their birth mom through the only method I have, email. I'll explain my hopes and dreams for the kids and a little about us as parents. I feel she should know this just the same as if she had chosen us. I want her to know they are in good hands and are loved beyond words.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ball of Nerves

We're just two sleeps away from a day I've been anxious about (although trying my BEST not to be). Two months ago I was looking forward to my birthday which also happened to be what we expected to be the final court date before the kids were legally free. The State expected the same and had us meet with an adoption specialist and told us not to even bother going to the court date because it would be uneventful. All that changed the Friday before Father's Day when there was renewed interest from the kids alleged father. I know first hand the kids are worth fighting for so I can't blame him but at the same time it's so hard on us. Us is of course just Jay and I because the kids are oblivious (thank God!), it's business as usual for them.

So now we wait to see what happens at court and how serious this interest is. The kids social worker expects things to get delayed but still remains firm in her belief the kids will be with us for the long run. In my gut I feel that as well but I'm not looking forward to this next spiral in the adoption roller coaster.

One thing is certain which is we're quickly approaching the way or the other. Kids in our state stay in care about a max of 15 months (ideally). This means the state will be looking to find a permanent situation for them sooner rather than later.  Of course we hope with all that we are their forever home is with us. It just puts new perspective on each day. We're close to 13 months so every day we get with the kids is savored wondering if we'll remember back on this time without them here to reminisce with or it will just be a memory of when we were a younger family like most other families have.

I'm amazed at how the kids have grown. We're thinking about potty training Little Miss when this time last year we were working on getting her not to eat everything in sight. She's now pointing out the window and saying "meow" meaning she thinks the squirrels are actually cats. She lovingly puts her babies to bed several times a day including her babies stroller. She's such a little mother to her toys and her brother. She also proudly says her name (the one we'll be giving her should we be able to adopt) and her current first name. It's just about the sweetest sounding thing ever.

Little Dude isn't a baby anymore and I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that. Today he showed me he knows how to hug, blow his nose, and repeat a lot of words. I don't give him credit for this stuff or even try to have him do it because I keep thinking of him as my baby. He's not, he is without a doubt a toddler now.

Last summer I wondered if we'd have the kids at this moment and of course we still do. I wasn't sure if Jay and I would be able to go to bed at the same time again or when we'd ever sleep through the night. It took about 6 months before we went to bed at the same time and 8 months until we consistently all slept through the night. I matched my shirts to the moby wrap that was clean and now those shirts feel like I have a big accessory of my little guy missing. I couldn't wait to get out of the house for a trip to Target to get some needed essential and now I just want to stay home and play with the kids.

The list goes on and on. We've all come so far in a year and my friend Steph was right, it got better...a lot faster than I could have imagined. I love who we've become and who we are when we're together. I've been taking a lot of mental snapshots these days because things seem about perfect. I hope we're quickly approaching the next big thing to celebrate. It's time to sit back and see God's plan unfold and keep on doing the best I can each day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jake Says...

Jake Says

Yes I'm adopted
My folks were not blessed
With me in the usual way.
But they picked me.
They chose me
From all the rest,
Which is lots more than
Most kids can say.

Shel Silverstein

I just had this poem created into a graphic I will hang in the kids rooms and had the proof sent to me today. In the version I'll print the "they picked me" and "from all the rest" is in bold and wow did that ring true.

I met a coworker for coffee today who I heard had foster kids. About 15 minutes into our conversation I learned that she and her husband played a MAJOR role in us ending up with the kids we did. See we had submitted our home study (along with hundreds of others I'm sure) to be selected as Foster Parents for the kids. It was a rare a chance at a sibling set which are so young come along with a case that looks like it will end in adoption. We heard a few days later than someone else had been selected. Bummer, but I guess it wasn't meant to be. There was a family meeting that took place between the couple who was selected and everyone else who was already involved in the case. When they had that meeting it was discovered there were some things incorrect in the paperwork and that couple decided this was not the match they hoped it would be. After a difficult decision and some tears for them they decided to withdraw from the case.

Just after that meeting at 3:30 I got a call and was asked "Are you still interested? Great, they need to be picked up by 6:00 PM.". The woman I met today was that other family who had been selected. Essentially her choice is what granted us the family we have. The kids were considered "high in demand" because of age and other things in their case, it made them prime candidates for hopeful adoptive families.

When I learned her role in this I couldn't hold back tears. My heart was jumping out of my chest. I wanted to jump up and hug her and at the same time ask "do you know what you missed out on?!". As she said, everything ended up as it should have. She is currently close to adoption with two boys who are out of the age range we wanted. She was just as eager to ask how the kids are doing. She had told me she thought of them often and wondered what happened to them.

I know exactly what she was feeling since I often wonder about kids profiles we saw come through as well. You hope the best for all of them but the chances of ever knowing what happened to them are slim to none. It's incredible our paths crossed. Had I not recently changed jobs, I doubt they ever would.

I'm notorious for having these types of small world moments. It's amazing and scary because now we have some people in our lives who we're hesitant to randomly reconnect with. I'm just looking forward to see who else God brings into my life and why. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This is getting real...

This afternoon Jay and I went to a meeting with a state adoption social worker. He walked us through some paperwork, explained the benefits available to us post finalization, the negotiation process to determine the benefits, and what happens next. He said all told he thinks we could be finalized in about two months.

We just need to wait for the final termination of rights for the unknown father(s) for the kids to be legally free and ready to adopt. That court date hasn't been set yet but it's expected to be at the end of May or early June. Once that happens and if rights are terminated (as they expect to happen) we'll be given all information they have on the kids. For the most part we already know everything since they've lived with us almost their whole lives. But I am curious to read what the reports say about us and what happened at visits!

Then our lawyer will file for a petition for adoption and we'll be assigned a court date. This usually has a 2-5 week wait time and they happen every Monday. While we wait for that we'll work on the mountain of paperwork (no biggie really) and just wait for the dates to roll around.

In talking with them tonight the reality of the situation sunk in. From the start of thinking about this type of adoption, or any for that matter, the concept of open adoption has been on our mind. Each one is unique so there's no telling what it will look like for you in the end. Our hope was an exchange of letters and photos and possibly a visit once or twice a year. Today we learned it will be nothing at all. To many I'm sure that sounds like a relief and in some ways it is but it also complicates things. We want our kids to know where they came from and who their birth mom is as long as that's a safe relationship. Now it's completely up to us what kind of contact there will be if the opportunity ever presents itself. We'll see what time brings and always keep what is best for the kids in the forefront of our minds. I'm sure we will face some hard decisions down the road. But that's Future Jay & Sarah's problem so I won't dwell on it now.

It's starting to get so close we can taste it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Getting Close

We are close to the end of our days as Foster Parents. The reality of that hit home today when I realized there would be no more visits for the kids and their Birth Mom. That is until a Judge determines what visitation will look like if at all post adoption.

I'm not going to miss the stress of getting the kids extra cute, packed, and transported each week. Waiting on pins and needles to see if the visit is confirmed to happen and then if it actually does so we know where to pick the kids up that evening. Even though there was a lot of stress involved, I'll actually miss the interactions I have with their Birth Mom.

The worst part of the visits for me was the fear of losing the kids in that it was a show of interest on their birth Mom's part. This meant the case could turn and we could loose them. Now that she's no longer a risk I really just feel sorry for all that she's missing out on. She's only spent about 18 hours total with Little Dude his whole life and nearly all of that was while he was sleeping. Now that he's cruising around and charming us with his babble and dimples I can't help but think about how sad it is that she doesn't know him and him her.

I of course want that safety net that they are coming home with me if we have the visits. True all the things I mentioned might just cause her more pain if she does know what she's missing. It's just so bitter sweet I can't even explain how I feel. People have said this is because I'm compassionate. While I strive to be I would challenge anyone to not feel the same way when they see their birth Mom in obvious pain at missing her kids. It's easy to ignore what she has lost when she remains just a name. I am forever grateful to her for giving us the greatest gift and the family we have dreamed about.

I know without a doubt we are able to give the kids a life they never could have had with her but the very same thing can be said for what they give us. We didn't decide to adopt through Foster Care because we wanted to help the thousands of kids in the system but because above all we wanted a family and this was a way to do that. The perks of helping the kids out are a bonus but it's kind of like really wanting to go to an exclusive event hosted by charity. Yes you're giving money, time, whatever to be there but you can't get the same experience any other way. We just feel like we've been given so much more than we're giving the kids we'll be forever grateful.

What next? There will be another trial in about 1-2 months where their Father(s) could step forward and establish rights. That would mean an extended process but the chances of us not being able to adopt would still be slim. There could also be the random family member that steps forward and wants to adopt. We're praying there will be no curve balls or delays to the process. We can't wait to share their beautiful faces and names with everyone! Thanks again for your support.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Making Stides

Tomorrow will mark 8 months since we were united as a family. Looking back I'm reminded of how far we've come in the short amount of time. I clearly remember even back to just September wondering if Jay and I would ever get to go to bed at the same time again. I really missed the time we had to just lay there and talk about our day and unwind. Now we're not only going to bed together but we're both sleeping through the night without interruption on a pretty regular basis (knock on wood).

I also remember we'd make nearly daily trips to Target for baby items we needed. Slowly building our collection to the overflowing proportions it has reached today. We were completely at the mercy of donations from others because we couldn't manage getting out of the house with the two new kids and we just plain didn't know what we needed. At times we had to get creative but it all came together just as it was needed, we were provided for in without a doubt divine ways. My goal is to now pass that on to others.

The last 8 months have been some of the most wonderful and challenging in our lives. We're currently in the most turbulent phase of the adoption process and that weighs on our minds daily. The possibility of the kids leaving us is always in the back of my mind yet at the same time I have a feeling of peace that we'll be together forever. I try to focus on the later of the feelings and honestly the kids keep us so busy it doesn't leave much time for thinking. The joy and challenges kids bring almost forces us to live in the moment and sometime just wishing the moment or phase will pass. Either way all of us will be forever changed because of our time together.

Today we're obsessed with trying to get Little Miss to use words and working with Little Dude to take those first movements of crawling. We are looking forward to the outright refusal of eating any dinner and the crying as she  goes to bed each night passing with Little Miss. We're nervously experimenting with finger food for Little Dude, worried he'll choke. These are the things that fill our day now. I know I'll look back at this in just a few more months and think "I remember that phase, I thought it would never end!".

We're focusing on the today, right now, this moment as the next court date lies just around the corner on 4/10/12. That date will show us if things will quickly move towards finalizing adoption, if the process will be drawn out, or if we're thrown the dreaded curve ball. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we're needing (and feeling) them more than ever.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just a quick post tonight about the kids and some random thoughts. I felt and barely saw D's first little tooth on the bottom make an appearance tonight. I've been waiting for this day and now that it's here  I have to admit I'm sad we'll be loosing those gums gnawing on our fingers and that sweet toothless grin. We've chosen names for each of the kids if we're able to adopt. For him it starts with a D and her's starts with Z. We won't share until it's official since 1) it's not appropriate to call them  the new names unless we adopt 2) I feel like it jinx's us in a way.

The other random thought is something I was reminded of today from someone dear to me. I heard about the frustration of not being able to plan when you are trying for children. I remember this being a constant issue. Should we make this major purchase if we're planning to have kids, should we plan this trip if I could end up pregnant, do we buy a small car or a family car? It came up constantly and when we made the decision in favor of a future family it was often a constant reminder of how that was lacking.

This went on for 6 years and one of the most painful things that happened was the reminder of time from the kids around us. For instance we first started trying just before we found out my sister in law was pregnant with her first child. At first it was a race to see if we could do this together, then we thought we'll be just behind, then we hoped we'd time it right to be close to their second child. This of course went on and on and it would remind us of the passing of time. It was also hard with the pregnancy's of friends who were due close to when I would have been due with the child we lost.

Remembering this today made me realize the stress and thought process hasn't gone away. I still think daily about if we'll have the kids at X milestone and should we invest  in something as simple as 6 months of classes at Little Gym because we don't know that they will be with us then. I don't have advice on how to over come this but I would say it helps to just do what you want, don't put your life on hold. The worst that can happen is you're proven wrong and that's what you want to happen anyway right? Postponing that big trip because you did end up expecting or the joy of actually being able to go as the constellation prize.

The thing I'm looking forward to this year is by the end of it we'll know for sure if the kids will be with us always or not. 7 is my lucky number and I guess that's how long it's going to take for us to answer the question of what our family will look like. I can't wait to see the answer.