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Saturday, November 24, 2012

For Good

This evening took place a few weeks ago. I delayed posting so that I could link some things but also because I felt it was too sad for the week leading up to Thanksgiving.

So clearly, I'm in a sad place. I was also PMSing in the last week so I was probably more weepy than I am the rest of the month... Maybe.... I cried at Gabby's musical this week so that probably counts as weepy. Both my Mom and Dad teared up too, so I blame my genetics.

The kids performed several Broadway songs. Singing in the Rain, You Can't Stop the Beat, 76 Trombones. Then they got to a song from Wicked. The intro to the song talked about performing in a Broadway show and it being life changing. I performed in show on Chicago's Broadway when I was a freshman in high school and it did, indeed, change my life.  I had no idea how much the song coming at me was going to hit my heart, or I may have tuned out some of the lyrics.

They performed For Good.



I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you...

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?

But because I knew you

Because I knew you

I have been changed for good

And just to clear the air
I ask forgiveness
For the things I've done you blame me for

But then, I guess we know
There's blame to share

And none of it seems to matter anymore

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a bird in the wood

Who can say if I've been
Changed for the better?
I do believe I have been
Changed for the better

Because I knew you...

Because I knew you...
I have been changed for good...
( From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/w/wicked-lyrics/for-good-lyrics.html )

I tried so hard to keep it together. I thought I was going to bite through my lip. But as I was sitting across the gym from my sweet Gabby, watching as she sang her little heart out, I just couldn't keep the tears in.

And when this verse came up I was sobbing. I mean full on, fat tears, rolling down my cheeks.

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Yeah. Pretty much sums up where we are right now.  The fear of never seeing them again. Knowing how much we've changed each other. Feeling so much love for them. They are my story....

My Mom reached over to grab my hand. Jelly Bean and Little Mama were asking my Dad why I was crying. Then he listened to the words and began to cry. (Let me say that my Dad can get emotional and he used to do it in public quite often.) So the kids thought it was pretty funny. Gabby saw me from across the room.

I stewed for a bit. Stung by how unfair it seemed that the other parents in the room were not wondering if they would ever see their kids again. I only briefly wondered if anyone I knew could see me and then I decided that if they did, I didn't care.  This is hard. Really, really hard. And if someone wants to think less of me - they can go right ahead. Five minutes of our story and I guarantee I'd be getting the "I don't know how you do it, you must be a saint speech". (And these days my response to that is "I'm not sure either, guess we'll find out if I can do it".)

Then they sang Seasons of Love which I wrote a post on here and I thought I was going to need someone to carry me out of there.

 I'm really trying to get out of this funk. To focus on the good. Because there is so much of it. And so much happiness in our home (when the trauma decides to give me a break). And this may well be our last Christmas with the kids and I want it to be special. Full of laughter and wonder. I want the kids to learn from me that you can deal with the bad, turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone, and find the good. Even if the situation appears to suck. Those are the moments that change us for the better. I have to remember that if I'm not there as they journey through life that the lessons I have taught them are there.....for good

My Own Trigger

I have a few posts on pause because I deemed them simply too sad for the week of Thanksgiving. Wednesday morning as I dropped the kids off and still couldn't shake the urge to cry I realized that perhaps, I was experiencing my own trauma anniversary. Which makes sense. My Grandma passed the day before Thanksgiving two years ago and I miss her terribly.

Today is the actual anniversary date and I'm handling it fairly well. I think for me the day before Thanksgiving is my trigger. I was a mess. I volunteered to make the turkey at her house and spend the night to keep my grandfather company. And as I was opening every drawer in her kitchen, trying to familiarize myself with the location of everything, I prayed that I could recall the lessons she taught me about her secret to amazing stuffing. Then I had to laugh because at 31 it was really the first time I was allowed in the kitchen while cooking was going on and no one was telling me to move.

It did a little introspection. I checked in with my emotions and feelings and I think the one I'm feeling the most is anger.  I'm angry that I'm still grieving. I'm angry that I'm preparing myself to grieve more when the kids go home. I was even angry at mass on Thanksgiving. A couple got up to talk about what they were grateful for and the spoke about adoption. The thanked God for giving them the means to adopt internationally, then have biological children, and now are bring another child home through adoption. Then I was angry at myself for being angry that God was seemingly providing for them and not me.

And I'm letting the little things make me angry. Like the fact that the kids Mom wasn't home on Wednesday when they kids showed up for the visit. And that after 30 minutes of driving around her town they brought the kids back to daycare ( 45 minutes each way) and then picked them up ten minutes later when they finally got a hold of her and drove them back to her house. I'm angry about her new iPhone 5 (because I'm sorry if the court changes your permanency goal just so you can qualify for a housing grant I don't think that means you should be out buying the latest technology in smart phones). I'm angry that she bought Little Mama very expensive fashion sneakers when Mr. Mohawk and Jelly Bean actually need every day shoes. I'm angry that I'm being judgemental and petty. I'm angry that the kids are still having nightmares and wetting the bed and throwing up on days they see her and I'm angry that it doesn't matter.

So I did what I do best when I get angry -  I cleaned. I organized. I shampooed my carpets. Then I got a little creative and painted the kids' Christmas ornaments. Because sometimes I just need to get crafty.

If I'm working through the stages of grief, I believe bargaining is next.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Grateful

I just wanted to take a moment and thank you guys, my readers. Seeing the page views and the comments has helped me get through the last few months.

I realize that my posts seem sad and frustrated and I thank you for putting up with my pain. Like many of you, we don't have a real support system that gets what it's like to live month to month. To live and have your future be hinged on someone else's choices. I'm so thankful there are so many of you who get it. You give me hope.

And let's face it, you allow me to get a grip! So in this month of thanksgiving I am thankful for all of you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

November is Adoption Awareness Month

I knew it before today but the 3 emails I got today told me so. It also said 1700 kids were adopted through foster care in our state last year.

I had a rough day with foster care today. Long story short the caseworker still can't seem to remember to inform us ahead of or nearly after major changes and doesn't seem to think its a big deal because "I observed the were happy. I was pleased with their reaction."

Fan flipping tastic for you. Unfortunately, trauma behaviors came at me and I had no idea why. But as long as you think it went well then I guess no need to let the foster parents know until 5 days later. But a kid fell at family therapy and bruised her knee and that warrants an urgent text message? Seriously? We are so far off the mark in what constitutes important I can't even discuss it anymore.

So Hubby fired off a response basically stating that if the common courtesy of a heads up letting us know something changed cant be extended, neither can we. So you will need to take notes during our monthly meeting. We will no longer be summarizing for ease of reference. It was somewhat out of character for him but I'll take it.

I also told the case workers boss that they only thing that has stopped me from disrupting is my commitment to my kids and the only reason I have not filed a complaint is that I do not want to give more credence to the complaint Bio mom filed as its a totally separate issue.

Thank you and God bless those of you who made it through this process to adopt treasures of your own. I have a sincere respect for you. I pray that you have found joy and that those of you struggling or trying to help you kids heal have an easier time doing so.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

It's Like Giving Up On a Dream

That's what it feels like to start to let go. To realize, that perhaps, you were wrong. That this isn't really the life you are meant to have. That despite how right it feels, it isn't really yours and because you love it so much you have to let it go.

And man it is hard. So very hard, to put on the brave face and cheer on the things that should have been happening all along. That should have been completed before you ever became a part of it. For the sake of those that you cherish, you must be the better person. And twice in the last week I've not been able to do that.

I know that it means I'm human. It means that I'm sad. It means that I felt love in a way I never thought I would- as a Mom. And I know deep down I will get through this because I have to. Because life is not going to stop for me to grieve. I know that because it never did in the past.

I have given up on dreams. A few of them in fact. Because I couldn't hack the schooling to become a doctor. Because I decide too late that law school was something I was interested in. And now I work in the medical field as a paralegal which as it happens is a fine conciliation prize.

But this time I don't want a conciliation prize. The blow of having an illness that isn't curable and doesn't respond to treatment should surely come with a grand prize? An amazing family? Seemingly hand picked by fate. I don't want to be just the former foster Mom. I want to BE the Mom. And it really sucks to watch everyone around you tell you that isn't meant to be and that you have to stick a smile on your face and pretend to be happy about it.

Hubby asked me how I was doing yesterday as the kids were going off to their visit. Through my tears I whispered "it's like giving up on a dream".

The difference with this is that when I was done with those dreams, I was done. My dream is still living in my house until someone else tells me they should go. Someone who hasn't wiped their tears. Someone who never got woken up by scary monsters. Someone who has never rubbed their back when they were sick. Or fed them breakfast or had to leave them at the hospital or accompany them to court to testify against abusers.

The Mom they are returning to doesn't know their favorite colors. She doesn't know that one of her children doesn't like chocolate milk or red grapes. She still doesn't know their clothing sizes despite seeing them 3 days a week. She can't tell when her children are dissociating or scared. And they continue to act out nearly each time they see her.

I just want it to be over. For them. For me. For her. This is no way to live. And really we aren't living. We are waiting. For what? We aren't sure.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Soap Box

I'm standing in a line of more than 100 people. I have been in line 20 minutes. I have another 45 minutes to go and only 29% battery left on my phone.

I have opinions. But I don't feel well versed enough about any of the hot bottom political issues for any candidate to spout off about them their campaigns, or the consequences of them being elected.

The issues I do care about though don't make the news. I didn't hear any of the candidates, national or local, make a plea to the overworked foster Mom. I didn't hear anyone talk about the issues my kids and my family face. I'm in a state full of budget cuts. Heard nothing about how DCFS is supposed to do more with less. Heard nothing about how congress and county representatives are going to work for the children in their districts. And I'm not in the same county as my kids case so I can't vote out those who didn't prosecute their Mom.

There is lots I'm sure I should care about. I work in the medical field I'm not sure that either candidate is good for me. I believe the government shouldn't be able to weigh in on my choices with regard to healthcare. I also don't believe them staying out of it makes me pro-anything. But I have respect for those that do.

The mudslinging pisses me off and it got so bad last night that my husband watched DVR and I went to bed. He doesn't vote. It's something we don't discuss much. My parents instilled in me a sense of civic responsibility. And it drives them crazy that I identify most with the other party. But they also taught me to be a free thinker so I'm not sure how they don't understand.

My only hope tonight is that SOMETHING gets accomplished in our state and federal government in the next 4 years. I know programs drag and legislation takes time but should it take so much time?

Us foster and adoptive moms would have everything organized in a year. Seriously with the amount of negotiating, navigating and analyzing we do in a day we could teach congress a thing or two. Some of us are averting crisis every 10 minutes across party lines.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

6 Years

6 years ago today I married Hubby. We were 25 and 26 and had already spent 5 years of our lives together. The weather was very much like it was today. We spent the day surrounded by friends and family soaking in the support and love.

It was one of the best weddings we'd ever been to. The dance floor was packed. The food was delicious and our guests had a blast.

We stood in my childhood church and promised God and our family that we would be true to each other in sickness and health, in good times and bad. I had no idea that day how soon we would test our vows. Less than 6 months later I lost my job.

We also promised to accept children lovingly from God. I had no idea that those children would not come from my womb. Or that there would be 4. Or that they wouldn't necessarily be permanent. But we accepted them lovingly. They have brought us much closer. We have solidified ourselves as a team. A family.

Which is why today we spent the day together. We went to a family birthday party. We went ice skating. There are years ahead we'll celebrate this day just the two of us but while we are this unit of six, I'm happy to spend November 4th, our 6th anniversary, a family of six.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Wish You Could See

How calm and content my family is at this very moment. We settled in for our family night of pizza and a movie.

When the kids first came an that first day they weren't enrolled in school yet Hubby ran a Disney movie marathon. This is something we have continued. We hang out together while laughing and cuddling.

When they first moved in we could never had done this. We were too busy handling the fall out from visits and the behavior that went with it. Tantrums would last hours. Kids couldn't sit still. Kids couldn't be in the same room. Tears would be falling and everyone would be too wiped out. But over time we've settled.

And tonight I'm listening to kids giggle and talk. And discuss our family trips. Which is beautiful and hard all at the same time. But I'll take it. For however long we have it...I'll take it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Why do they always pick THE worst day?

So after running around for 10 days straight I of course got sick. Like really sick. Like I had to actually go to the doctor today. I avoid the doctor. I spent so much time in their offices when I was first diagnosed with sarcoid and neurosarcoid that unless I'm sure there is something wrong I don't go. (I am the woman who dealt with nerve pain in my head for a year before mentioning it.)

I called in sick to work. And then everyone needed me. Umm hello people! Mom is sick. Didn't matter. Gabby left her flute. So I run to the school and drop it off but not before she called a second time to make sure I was coming. No sooner do I get home but the phone rings from the school for a third time.

Hi Mrs. R. It's the principal Mr. L. My automatic response? What did he do today?

Because my Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday phone calls weren't enough.

"He bit another student during gym class...on the butt. I know you work but I need to send him home for the day. I have to suspend him."

Honestly, I'm at a loss as to what to do. I mean he's 5. He can tell you that he should keep he's hands to himself. He can tell you it's not ok to bite people. And everyone seems to say he's not malicious in this. That it is impulsive. That he almost can't help himself. Today I was asked if he was ever evaluated for ADHD.

And here is the thing. I suspected that. But 5? It's so young. And then you review- 1 who has extreme PTSD who dissociates, 1 who has extreme anxiety, 1 with PTSD and ADHD who I suspect will be diagnosed with bipolar later on in life, and another with ADHD.

And here is the thing. These kids were so much younger and had less trauma before coming into care. How is bio Mom going to handle this? Has she learned enough tools to manage all these behaviors?

So I go pick up the Kindergartener. And my yelling is ineffective, largely because I have no voice. And I feel like death and I'm brought back to Jelly Bean's rage during the worst headache of my life and I'm like- why do they always knock you over when you're down. Do they have some 6th sense that Mom's not at her best and therefore will not be effective?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gems from the "Team Meeting"

- Mom needed to be told that she needs to monitor TV watching. Apparently letting her child with sexual abuse history watch a show that depicted rape and dismemberment of a young girl didn't register that it might not be ok because after all "Well she turned on the tv and chose the program." We'll just overlook the fact that the kid had nightmares and wouldn't pee at school. Mom's been told now she needs to monitor television.

- The bio dad with no legal standing and a history of violence against Mom popping up at visits is "a situation being monitored". Yes let's monitor that.

- Selling food out of your home and customers showing up during visits and inviting them in is totally ok. We'll just ignore the fear the kids have and pretend to be shocked when something goes wrong.

- Unsupervised Wednesdays can't begin because the visit supervisor helps LM with her homework while Mom takes the other 3 elsewhere in the library. Wednesdays are going fantastic though. No problems reported. Really? Because I would think the fact that one child isn't anywhere near her Mother during these visits is an issue.

I kept my lips zipped for the most part. I let the therapist raise her concerns. No one listened to her of course because they just want to get the kids home and heeding the advice of the therapist or concerning themselves with the stress the foster parents have to handle will just slow them down.

Visits will be moved to Mom's new apartment in the coming weeks with unsupervised 5 hours with pop ins.

Also we will begin prepping Jelly Bean to testify against the foster parent who abused her.

Good times....