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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thunder

We've had some pretty bad storms here in Chicagoland. Sarah's PTSD kicks in during thunderstorms and tonight she knocked on my door and said she couldn't fall asleep and didn't know what to do.

This was huge! Huge. Bedtime was already going to be tricky as the town next to us had fireworks tonight and they were so close to us, the finale shook the house. She was already triggered heading to bed.

In the past, she's shared memories of being with her biological family and being made to walk outside during evening storms to another building to use the bathroom. We have no idea if this was once or frequent but we do know that she was under the age of 5. This coupled with her witnessing of domestic violence means that loud noises and darkness are triggers to her PTSD.

Most kids are afraid of thunderstorms. But as I Kaye's in her bed with her, I could feel her entire body shake. But we reached a point where she could trust me enough to 1) tell me there was a problem 2)tolerate my safe touch, 3) allow me to lay with her and calm down. I told her sometimes people say the thunder is the Angels bowling. We talked about how to ask our angels for help. I reminded her why she is afraid of storms. We focused on listening to the rain on the roof and we counted the time between lightning bolts and thunder claps. She said the last trick helped and when I felt her body calm, I left her to sleep. Which she did.

It's so hard to see my kiddo at a total loss of how to self soothe but I am so proud that she was able to tap in and use her tools to get help to get there. But man, 5 years later and the trauma and danger are still real for her. It's moments like this where the Mama Bear in me wants to hunt down the idiots who were supposed to be taking care of her and give them a taste of their own medicine.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

She is His Daughter

Solana started in-home visits with her Bio Dad this month.  She'll be in the car longer than she is actually at the visit.  Bio Dad is going to ride with the driver both ways so that she isn't alone in the back seat and he can get more time with her.

This is all very hard to wrap my brain around.  We said no to her placement with us because it seemed too much to handle.  We changed our minds to keep her safe and because we thought the possibility of her eventually leaving us was pretty slim. We didn't really factor in a Bio Dad.  None of the others ever showed up to work their case plan. I'm glad that she does have someone showing up for her. She deserves that. All kids deserve that.  And that's why these conflicting feelings knock me on my ass.

One minute I'm fine. Readily working to co-parent. Gathering pictures for him and sending update emails. And the next thing I know I'm making her bottle and the tears just start to fall across my cheeks. Its like I'm grieving her even though she is still here.  Its like maybe if I do the grieving now, when it comes time for everyone else in the family to grieve, I'll be strong enough to shoulder all of that and keep us moving forward.

And then these thousands of little moments that I get to experience with her and am trying to memorize forever hit my heart and make me realize that I missed out on so much of my kids' life. And it just kind of exhausts me.

And its different from when the Fab Four left.  I'm not concerned for her safety. I know that we will always have a connection to her. She seems to have a loving supporting family that she will be living with. Which is all we can ask for as foster parents.

But there is this hope, that is in the heart of our family, that her Bio Dad will see how much she is the missing piece to our family and the bond she has with her siblings and that he will decide that this is more important than his own love for her. And it breaks my heart that this is a hope of ours. That we want this guy to go through the pain of not having her everyday, so that we don't have to. And it makes me feel yucky.

So many people have said, she belongs with her siblings. How could a judge not see that is in her best interest? 

How do any of us determine what is in her best interest? 

Really it's up to a 22 year old individual who's only experience with parenthood is a few hours a week at the library. Now that's not necessarily his fault, but it certainly isn't a realistic picture of what parenting an infant entails. I can't assume he's not up to the task, but I do know that I've spent more hours awake with her in the middle of the night than he has spent with her in total. He doesn't know her best. None of the people making decisions about her life do and none of them will take into consideration the best interests of my kids. There is no "greater good" provision. It's just another way that the kids loose out in the system of foster care. 

When she wakes up she toddles into her sisters' room and yells for them to wake up. Then she teeters across the hall to her brother's room. She steals his stuffed puppy dog and then claps when he grins at her. 

But if she stays with us she looses her culture and her roots and family that loves her. Would she forgive him for taking her away from her siblings? Would she forgive him for placing her for adoption? No one wins in this scenario. Not fully. There are legal rights but nothing to guide the emotions. 

If he lived closer, it might not seem so bleak. We could help. We could be around all the time. But he lives 1 1/2 hours away. Keeping connected is going to take a huge effort. His support system is there. Ours is here. 

Tomorrow's birthday party will be our first attempt to create a relationship out of these circumstances. He is very excited to spend extra time with her. This makes me feel that adoption really isn't an option or on his mind. And why should it be? She's his daughter. 

I can only hope that the system won't drag this out and the steps we take now will lay the groundwork for some sort of relationship in the future.






Saturday, July 2, 2016

Mr. Mohawk's Birthday Party

We spent the evening at Mr. Mohawk's birthday party. It was so great to see the Fab Four and Maria. The house they moved into  has a huge backyard and a garden. So much space! 

It was pretty clear that LM and Gabby were avoiding us. I specifically asked Gabby to sit and visit because I knew she couldn't help herself. She let on that LM is angry with us. She feels we have overstepped our bounds at times and feels replaced by our adopted kids. For these reasons she doesn't want us around.

We invited them to spend the 4th with us and spend the night. It seemed that it was up to LM and that she wouldn't want to come over. Maria said she would let us know but my gut tells me we won't see them.

I am so, so, grateful that three years later we are still included in any event. But I miss them and wish we could see them more often. I wish I could fix the awkwardness with LM and have a conversation about her feelings. I understand her reaction and imagine that's how a lot of kids would feel in her situation. I also know her heart and I'm sure she also feels guilty for feeling that way.

I have to admit I cried when we got in the car. I know they are safe and doing great but I still fear they will disappear and it hurts that it seems LM is actively wishing for that. I long for those kids that I knew so well and it's hard that I don't know them like I used too.

The emotions are so complex. I don't yearn for them to be "mine" anymore because they are exactly where they should be. But I love them so much. 

It triggered a bunch of fears about Solana returning home and while that is still a while off, I'm really sad and upset about it. Trying to work through the fears because I can't change them. 

Those of you who regularly take babies- I don't know how you do this.