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Sunday, July 9, 2017

July!

Welcome July! We've been busy over here at Foster Mom R's house. Mainly because everyone's favorite 2 year old has been with us for the past 4 weeks. Solana's Dad has been working 2 jobs and we've been helping with child care. He'd rather her stay with us and spend time with her siblings instead of at a babysitter while he works a crazy schedule.  He has come to visit her at our house and we went on vacation with him over Father's Day weekend. He also spent 4th of July with us, staying at our house for a few nights. (It's a 90 minute drive home from our house.)

We have been grateful for this time. Solana is learning and growing each day and she is just hilarious!  She's also fairly stubborn so that makes for some interesting battle of the wills. I have more than a decade of negotiating contracts under my belt but I have zero ability to negotiate with her. There was one day that she just absolutely lost her mind because I took the empty banana peel from her after she ate the banana.  I mean the tears were rolling down her face, inconsolable. Thank goodness we had another banana.

She is also on this Frozen kick where we are only allowed to watch and or listen to the movie Frozen. It reached a new level last week when she demanded that only Anna and Hans songs were acceptable to listen to. And all day long shes knocking on doors yelling "Do you want to build a snowman" except all you can make out is "man". "O-loss" and "Pen" are her new friends. Some of what we are saying is sinking in though because Pen "bit" O-loss the other day and she put Pen in time out with a firm "NO BITE!"

She's back at her Dads and we will go back to the weekend schedule.  Hubby took it really hard.  But her Dad has been great about sending pictures and letting us video chat. The day he picked her up he took all the kids to the park and then to Starbucks for a treat. So of course now we have a two year old running around yelling "Barbucks?!"

Everyone else is doing fine.  Smiley lost her two front teeth so now she looks like a vampire.  Stella is off at Band Camp this week so I went from 5 kids to just 3 and its unbelievably quiet. Simon is reading up a storm in order to win all of the prizes for the summer reading incentive at the library and Sarah has been a great big sister to Solana and tolerating Smiley. There was some worry about Solana going back to the weekends only schedule but since her Dad has also made an effort to include the kids in stuff, they feel better about her being gone and that she will be coming back.

So far the summer has been fairly quiet in terms of trauma related issues, and foster care.  We got a new licensing worker who came to re-certify us.  Our old worker apparently left nothing in our file so of course the new one and I got off to a rocky start.  Having Solana with us so frequently means she counts against our "total". So I had to open up our number of beds to 6 in order for us to be able to take 1. Per the rules we can have 6 beds without becoming a "group home". With 4 permanent and 1 bonus we have only 1 truly open. The worker also gave me a hard time about pausing our fostering for a while but in the same conversation made mention of always being able to say "no". They were like we can't just have open foster homes with no placements...and I was like, um I haven't received a call in months. I've gotten emails about siblings but at this point we can really only take 1 kiddo. I offered that we could maybe do respite but since we work full time that gets tricky. So as off-putting as this visit was, I'm glad to be rid of our last worker.  They spent entirely too much time preaching their own personal religious beliefs and not enough time listening to me as the foster parent. (So much so they forgot to have me sign the paperwork at their last visit.)

How is your summer going?


Friday, June 2, 2017

Case Closed

Solona's last court Date was the first time I had ever walked into court and not felt anxiety. I used to have to take anti-anxiety mess to drive to court for The Fab Four and my Forever kids. I'd literally be on the verge of a panic attack the entire drive ( 1 1/2). I haven't had that happen for Solana's court days except for maybe the 1st one.

The case was called as I was parking. I walked I to the court room to find Sheila and Dad sitting in the gallery and Solana running laps around the benches, barefoot. The Judge and attorneys busy shuffling papers. Then the Judge made a comment that we should let her keep running around the courtroom because then she would nap later.

After about 10 minutes Caseworker #4 and the attorneys came back and said an agreement had been reached, the order was entered and the case was closed. The Judge had the court reporter record everyone present, asked that the record reflect Solana was running laps, and that she never had to come back.

Just like that it was over.

We went in the hallway and I told Dad how proud I was. I took a picture of them holding the order.

I had no sadness. No dissapointment. No tears. I was happy, excited, relieved that Solana was safe and that her Dad had gotten sole legal and physical custody with control over visits.

I tried to facilitate a goodbye between Solana and Sheila but when I told her to say Goodbye to Mommy while holding her, she looked at me like I was crazy and patted me while saying "Mama no goodbye. Mama here." It was probably the most awkward part of the day.

Dad and I made plans for pick up and drop off the rest of the week and then walked out together. He told Solana to say "goodbye to Mom" and handed her over to me for kisses.

About a year and a half ago he sat across from me and told me she was my baby too. He meant it this whole time and I cannot express how special that is. And he is part of the family too! This past weekend we spent a full 24 hours together with him staying the night at our place. Such an amazing gift for us to give our kids.

At the beginning I was certain we would adopt her. This is better. So much better.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Semaj Crosby

Illinois has been in the news recently for the death of a child who was seen by an investigator just hours before she was reported missing and then found dead underneath a couch in the home where she was living.  Semaj Crosby was just 17 months old. The house was condemned by the county the next day and a few days later is was burned to the ground. Investigative reports have shown severe failings by the agency and some pretty horrific details are emerging about how DCFS is operating. That includes this gem about a contest for investigators who closed the most cases in a month. There were also at least 10 abuse/neglect cases against the family and they were allegedly receiving what is referred to as "in-tact" services.  That is where DCFS is supposed to be supporting the family with services such as parenting classes, counseling, and social services without removing the children.

While I'm glad there is a spotlight on this major tragedy, I'm worried about the inevitable knee jerk that tends to come from these types of investigations.  In this situation it seems clear that a lot of people failed to take action.  The flip side is that there are kids taken into custody that maybe shouldn't be, and then they are kept there because the court system moves so slowly. After a tragedy like this the agency tends to be over-cautious and then we have this pendulum going.  This happened a few years ago when several toddlers died that had been in care.  And then the budget got severely cut and the agency had a revolving door of directors and it seems we have ended up back here again.

I don't want children to die but I also don't want them to linger in foster care unnecessarily.

I'm simply stunned by what happened.  Its very hard to reconcile this type of case in my area with the three I've actually been the foster parent in.  My forever kids had in-tact services.  When Sheila broke the safety plan, they entered care. Which kept them safe from the immediate danger but then exposed them to the trauma of foster care and multiple placements. Even their adoption lingered on.

The Fab Four had one physical abuse incident that brought them into care.  And while they needed the help, they probably could have benefited from in-tact services and not removal (remember those budget cuts?). Perhaps Jelly Bean could have been safe from the molestation of the foster parent and the other kids could have skipped all of their foster-care related trauma?

And in Solana's case, she probably could have been out of foster care a year ago.  Her Dad had been out of jail.  His "crime" was not against her. He was working his case plan and never missed a visit.  And yes, he was a young, new, single father and perhaps benefited from a gradual introduction to parenthood, she was not at risk of being harmed with him as her caretaker.  Sure she was with her siblings, and being with us helped her avoid a lot of foster care related trauma, but she still wasn't with her Dad as much as she should have or could have been.

And then we see the opposite where kids aren't taken into care when there is call after call. How can there be such inconsistency? I just can't wrap my head around it.

Monday, May 29, 2017

I Apologize for Disappearing

I'm sorry everyone for disappearing. It's been a long time since I've posted.  I'm still here. I've posted a few things on Facebook but that isn't really blogging.

I started posts (I have 3 drafts in my saved files) but "The Universe" has been busy reminding me that I am not actually superwoman and so said posts did not get finished or published. And to be honest, (that's why you read my blog, right? For the honesty?), I just didn't feel like sharing all the crappy things I was feeling.

I often use this blog to process and work through my feelings but my feelings were SO BIG and I was SO STUCK that I just couldn't write. Or think. And I really, really didn't have time to do either. And I REALLY didn't want to think about foster care. Or trauma. It was all I could do to keep it together so that my kids did not freak out, and so that my marriage did not implode on me.

Do you have those days? Weeks? Months? Where you feel like you are barely going to make it and really don't have time for the nervous breakdown you deserve? Of course you do! We all do. I just didn't feel like putting it all on display in real time.

About three weeks before my final grad school thesis paper was due, during an uptick at my full time day job, and a week before we left on a week long road trip, Hubby felt he needed to quit his job. Leaving me as the sole income for a family of 7 about to go on a vacation with hours and hours of writing and research to finish. Oh and I had started my side gig selling fabulous bags in order to get the discount but ended up with actual customers and a team member. The timing was awful. The decision was stunning. The words between us angry and mean and then, not many at all.

The fear and the worry and the triggers about money were overwhelming to me. The man I had shared my life with for the past 15 years seemed like a total stranger. And the deadline for my degree program and the to do list for the trip weighed on me like an elephant. But that's my side.

Hubby would tell you he just couldn't walk into the office and feel the anger, disrespect, frustration, and stress any longer. He would tell you I wasn't listening. He would tell you he gave it his all and that our savings would mean we were okay financially.

We were both right. And none of it had to do with foster care or trauma. Except how we reacted because if I've learned anything in these past 6 years, its that how we react is how the kids react.  And this whole situation filled with worry, anger, and unknowns was, of course, the perfect recipe to send my children spiraling down into a pit of trauma-related behavior. I like to avoid that when I can so here was Foster Mom R with what felt like all Hell breaking loose around her and I had to remain calm enough not to set my kids off.

So that is where I was. Sad. Lonely. Scared.

It's been a few months and we have managed to come out relatively unscathed. Sarah had a few bumps as did Smiley. We had a case of sticky fingers that brought the police to our front door. We've had some emails about meltdowns at school. I had some less than stellar moments where I've forgotten all of my therapeutic parenting skills and had to do some major repairs.  There were a few events that were glaring examples of how much trauma still affects our lives and of course those weren't much fun. But somehow we managed to keep it together and keep moving forward which is always my goal.

The trip was a success, Hubby found a new job and I finished school. I took a few weeks to re-focus on me.  I made it a point to do some hands on projects to help me connect to the parts of myself that I miss.

Then Hubby and I took a vacation just the two of us.  It had been long planned, prepaid, and much looked forward to.  I was literally out of the country and able to unplug and decompress fully.  It's probably the most relaxed I've ever been in my adult life. I am so grateful that my Mom can watch our children while we take a trip like that because if we hadn't gone, I don't know that I would have gotten back to "normal". Its easy to forget that my sanity matters just as much as the healing that my kids need.

I'm hoping to take some time this summer to blog about some of the things we've been up to.  With Solana's foster case closing we've officially entered into a new season of our foster care journey.  We are taking a break from any placements for a while.  Solana is still spending weekends with us so we still have a very active toddler on our hands.







Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Letter to Gabby, On Your Birthday

Dear Gabby,

This week marks your 16th birthday.  The enthusiasm and zeal for life that you have is just as strong as it was when I met you six years ago. The 9 year old that came into my life demanding to know if I knew the song "I Will Survive" is still there and it warms my heart.

I appreciate that you make the effort to continue to include me in your life.  You've always been special that way.  I'm enjoying watching you become an independent young woman and I can't wait to see what you accomplish as you become an adult.  A few weeks ago you included me in your choir concert where you sang the first part of "Tears in Heaven" as a solo. I cried in the audience. We've always bonded over music and I remember hearing this song shortly after you moved home to your Mom and feeling a new connection to the pain of the song.  I feel blessed that I didn't loose you, but I do understand the pain of wondering what it would be like to come across your child after they have left you.

You made sure I didn't loose you. I knew that was one of the things I could count on, that you would find me even if I couldn't find you. Its a privileged to be in your life. I know you have wondered if I miss you or think of you. And I do. I miss you so, so much. There are days I wish you could still be a permanent part of our family. I long for when you are an adult and can choose to spend as much time as you wanted with us. I know watching my children live the life you had with us, is sometimes very hard and hurtful.  But I so love you for accepting it and not rejecting us because of it.

I hope you have a very happy birthday. I will be thinking of you.

Love,

Mom

"Tears In Heaven" by Eric Clapton


Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?

I'll find my way
Through night and day
'Cause I know I just can't stay
Here in heaven

Time can bring you down
Time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart
Have you begging please, begging please

Beyond the door
There's peace I'm sure
And I know there'll be no more
Tears in heaven

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you be the same
If I saw you in heaven?

I must be strong
And carry on
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven

Friday, March 10, 2017

Success

I ordered my cap and gown last week.  I can't even begin to tell you how amazing it felt.  I got a little teary about it. I am almost done. The late nights and weekends writing, reading, and watching lectures are almost done. I have 1 more month of real work and then a month later, my graduation ceremony.

Pretty often in my life people have told me aim lower in my goals. They were afraid that missing the mark, would mean heartbreak for me.  And I have. I have missed the mark a few times. I've failed spectacularly! But I like to think those failures have allowed me to accomplish so many other things.

15 years ago I failed at being able to apply for medical school. Then I failed at applying to law school.  The two failures were related, my GPA was so low from the Organic Chemistry, and Math I bombed that even though I did decent on the LSAT I was rejected from all 7 law schools I applied to. 

In a few months, I will graduate with a masters degree from one of those law schools. With a 3.967 GPA. While working full time AND mothering 5 children.

So what does that tell us?

The measurements others use to gauge the ability to succeed might be way, way off.

Sounds familiar doesn't it?

On paper my kids seem to be in really rough shape. Reactive Attachment Disorder. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Multiple placements. Exposure to Domestic Violence. Neglected. History of anxiety and depression.  We have IEPs and 504 Plans.

None of that measures our ability to succeed as a family.

It has been (and will be) hard, hard work to keep them stabilized and healing. We've had to learn an new way of parenting. We've had to be vulnerable on a daily basis. We have made mistakes. At times we fail, spectacularly.

But my kids are doing phenomenal and unless I pointed out the signs of their trauma history, you would likely have no idea. (Well maybe you would as fellow parents of kids with trauma...)

Don't be afraid to aim high. When I walk across the stage to receive my diploma in two months, the family I aimed for will be in the stands cheering. Its just as much their success as it is mine.




Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Guardianship

It was 11:45pm. All the kids were asleep. Hubby was out with friends. My phone rang and showed it was Solana's Dad calling. I thought maybe he accidentally dialed. I answered yellow and on the other end was shouting, crying, panic. I thought he was being raided by immigration. I've been really fearful of that lately.

"Foster Mom R! Something is really wrong with me. I feel like I'm dying. Please! You have to take care of Solana. Please. Please promise me you will always take care of her and tell her how much I love her and that I'm sorry I couldn't always be there. I need to know she will be okay."

So of course I'm trying to figure out what the Hell is happening while also trying to get him to take breath and calm down. I managed to determine he had called a friend who was on the way and he wasn't having a seizure. It was 3 minutes of fear and promising I would take care of her and tell her that he loved her. A woman picked up the phone and told me she called an ambulance and then the phone disconnected.

An hour and a half later the phone range again and it was Solana's Dad talking about how he needed to see his daughter and the friend got on the line again. He was at the hospital and the doctor was examining him. I waited up until about 3 AM but didn't hear anything. Finally, at 1 Pm he messaged me to thank me again and apologize for worrying us. He said was so worried about Solana and was talking with God before the paramedic revived him.

He was discharged today but has no explanation of what happened. Solana was here for the weeekend and he asked that we keep her a few extra days to make sure nothing else happens to him.

This person trusts me so much, in his final breaths on Earth he called me to beg me to take care of his daughter. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. (And like they could stop me from fighting for her....) But I'm not sure how many other people in my life would use their last phone call on me. It's both an awesome and sad statement. Some strangers who adopted his ex-girlfriend's kids are now the people he trusts the most with his daughter.

The court granted him custody last week and reserved decision on whether Sheila made progress or not as they were waiting on the parental capacity report and because the outcome of Dad being granted custody would have been the same.

The preliminary information is that Results of the parental capacity were not in Sheila's favor. 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Returned Home

Monday was hard. Probably the hardest Monday I've ever had. Like ever. In my life.  I was trying to remember the last time I felt so emotionally drained and I can only come up with the night my Grandmother passed away and I spent all night awake, sobbing.  Which was pretty much what I did after Solana left with Caseworker #4. 

We played and snuggled in the 30 minutes we had between the Licensing Worker and CW#4 showing up. I wrapped her in her blanket whispered I love you and I'll see you Friday and handed her over.  I sobbed behind the window as I watched the car pull away. 

I sent Hubby a text that she was gone and then I called my Mom.  She offered to bring me lunch and said she'd be over in a few hours.  I tried to get some work done and when I couldn't see through the tears decided a cat nap was necessary. I ended up asleep by 9PM, after video chatting with the dancing queen.

Here we are almost at Friday and I have to say I'm fine. Re-charged even.  I woke up Tuesday to a really sweet message from my BFF and decided that my next role as advocate was equally important. I went to a meeting with a local Child Advocacy Center to see how my company could partner to volunteer and spoke about our situation with, dare I say, poise, and enthusiasm. Because you know what? I can't come up with a single reason not to share our situation with EVERYONE involved in the system.  I want to point and shout and say see, SEE what happens when adults act like adults and the kids come first? From Bio Dad to Foster Parents, to Caseworker, to the Judge. This is what a team approach is. And it CAN work.  It doesn't have to be broken. 

I told CW#4 that this, their 1st case, will be the best case they ever have. After all, I have been a foster parent for 6 years and have watched a lot of horrific stuff.

The kids are doing good.  They have all commented that they like talking to her each night and agree that it doesn't feel any different being "official".  They like having her here on weekends and while at first they were angry, its now okay.  We've not seen too much acting out behavior and I think what we are seeing isn't related to Solana going home.  We do have some family bonding time scheduled this weekend for our family tradition of watching the Superbowl and a few family trips scheduled in March. Hubby and I also have a trip planned just the two of us in May and I'm counting down the days to that one!

I am still planning on going to the next court date. They don't have to let me in, but given my support of Bio Dad its not likely anyone will kick me out. Sheila is back in town and has requested visitation so we will see how that shakes out.

Thank you all for your kind words, prayers, and positive energy these past few months. Our family appreciates them.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Last Night

I didn't hurry home. I had gone to a wake with my Mom and Grandpa and we met my Dad for dinner afterwards. It was a local place from my childhood and I was safely ensconced in the people on this planet who have loved me the longest. We sat and talked about a lot of nothing. My Mom's new obsession with LuLaRoe, bowling with Simon, what we will do for the Super Bowl next weekend. My Dad drove me back to their house to get my car and we talked about vacation plans for this summer. It was mundane. It was normal. It was avoidance.

I arrived home to find that Solana was asleep already. Even though I was avoiding it, I was instantly sad. Hubby said she had just gone down and was probably still up but when I knelt beside her crib, she was sound asleep. I missed rocking her to sleep on the last night she was "ours". 

I spent a few minutes there on the floor, next to her crib, silently crying. I can't explain why this seems so incredibly sad. She'll be back this weekend and the ones after that and she's going back to Disney World with us and her Dad has already said I'm still her Mom. All signs point to nothing changing except the paperwork of where she resides. 

It's just a piece of paper. Oh how many times have I said a piece of paper doesn't matter? Oh but it does...

 I don't understand the reaction I am having. I know it's going to be fine. I'm not worried she is unsafe. I'm not worried she'll disappear. This is the best possible solution. But I'm so, so sad.

Maybe this is the feeling you get when the last bits of hope leave your heart?

The baby we never wanted, the one we didn't know we needed. The one who won't stay but will. My Sunshine. My Solana. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

When the Doorbell Rings

Just when I think I'm going to run out of stuff to Blog about, the Universe comes in and goes "NOPE".

I'm sorry to bum everyone out with my grief posts. It's the way I process all of the feelings so that I can go back to my every day responsibilities of mothering my family.  I purge it here and then I can muster up the composure for my kids.... who seem to be doing okay by the way.  When I mentioned the new schedule will be pretty close to how it will be after Solana officially leaves Sarah responded "oh, well then I don't care that she is moving because this is fine." She clarified that she does care, but it's not this big thing that they were worried about and that she would disappear from our lives like her other family. Solana left for her visit earlier this week and for the 3rd time when the doorbell rang she immediately started to cry, and we weren't even one the 1st floor of the house with our coat on waiting. It was heartbreaking.

If you've been following along on Facebook you know that Sheila has left our state and gone back to where the kids' other 2 siblings are. She's not been back there for 4+ years.  She believes she can go help her youngest child there because they are "sick in the head" like Simon was and "since [Simon] has been with you he is fine...he just needs attention".  I responded with his actual diagnosis of PTSD, extreme anxiety, a suspected physical abuse history, and a rule out for RAD but that of course didn't mean anything to her.

What I thought in my head: Simon is healing, but he is not fine. He will probably struggle with these things his whole life. And its because of intense therapy and a ridiculous amount of structure and consistency that he is doing so well.  

She tried to explain to me why she left the other kids behind and I think she believes being there now somehow makes up for that abandonment.  Of course we know that isn't going to fix anything and I worry that she will decide to bring them back here and it will become another decision for us to make. I'm hoping she went out of state to give birth (if she is pregnant) and that she will stay there*.

She did send amazing pictures of the kids that we will treasure and cherish. We also got videos of some family members and she decided to have a call with the kids.  These were appreciated and I told her so. It almost made up for her popping into our lives with this other drama. Almost.

I'm not sure how long she will stay there but she did not acknowledge or ask about Solana in any way while she was on the phone, even though Solana was screaming in the background. After she spoke to the kids she thanked me for taking care of "her" kids and said that she knows "four is a lot" and "thank you for doing my job basically" and that I'm a strong woman she looks up to. It felt very much like the things she would say to me when we had just become the foster parents.  And I wanted to scream: FIVE. I HAVE FIVE OF YOUR KIDS. AND THEY ARE NOW MINE AND I AM DOING YOUR JOB BECAUSE I AM THEIR MOTHER.

I don't know how much her family knows about the adoption but maybe someone was having a heart to heart with her?  Regardless, I'm over here watching her walk away from her baby and I just can't even wrap my head around it. I only arrive at the answer that she must be in some major denial. I'm sure this has to do with the timing of Solana's case and return home and maybe she will get some support but a cross country trek and then a side trip the other direction for a day or two just seems like she must be in some sort of episode.

So we have birth sister leaving, birth family coming out of the woodwork, and Stella has a family tree project that she misses for school.

Special instructions: If you are adopted you are special. You may choose either family.
Yeah...I re-read the sentence a few times so I could make sure I wasn't reading into it the wrong way. It really is as offensive as it seems to those of us in fostercareland. But people don't understand that. ::sigh:: Okay, I guess I'll educate everyone.

We are not choosing. ALL of these people are family. They make up the whole child.  Would you tell a bi-racial child they needed to pick either their white family or black family to include? No? Okay, well same goes for adoption. And while yes my kid is special, she isn't special because she is adopted. Just like she isn't special because she has black hair. The implication there is "different". Now perhaps my kid doesn't want to explain to everyone she is adopted, but certainly the traditional family tree model doesn't work for the majority of families anymore either?  What about divorced or deceased parents? (Or your biological sibling who has a different father and isn't related to either your mom or your dad!?!) Its crazy making. We can't be the ONLY adoptive family in the district .And the saddest thing is I love the ancestry and family make-up projects. Stella missing the deadline for it meant we didn't get to sit down and really go over and share about the people she was naming on her tree.

Oh well, I guess we do it with Sarah in two years. Hopefully, by then, the alternative format will be available.

*Sheila in the other state means that we are not put in another impossible position. If she is pregnant and she has a baby, then we don't have to make a choice. I don't want her to be pregnant and I don't want the baby to be in harms way if she is, but I don't want to have to follow her down the rabbit hole of poor choices.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

January 1, 2017 - A Letter to Solana

Dear Solana,

Today you and I had time just by ourselves.  Just you and I.  Its such a rare occurrence given that I'm the Mom in a house with 5 kids, a Dad and a dog. This was more than our 15 minutes alone in the car together where you either fall asleep or scream your head off.  We played. We ate lunch together. We snuggled. And I got to whisper to you "I love you" over and over again. I told you how smart you are. I told you that I was proud to be your "Mama" and you pointed to me and repeated "Mama" and then I said "Solana" and you pointed to yourself. And then you gave me a kiss and squealed in delight. And inhaled your sent, the baby detergent and the fine curls on your neck and I tried to burn the memory of how you felt in my arms deep into my brain.

This New Years Day marks time for us.  Time that will fly by. A blip in your life, really, but likely a turning point in mine. In 30 days you will officially cease to be my responsibility and Caseworker #4 will come for their last visit with us and take you to live with your Daddy.  I know your Daddy loves you and that you will be safe.  I know that he will continue to let us see you and that you won't know anything has happened because you will live at his house and at ours.  But that visit means you won't be our daughter and you will become the baby that we had to let go. The baby we never thought we wanted and had no idea that we needed. You completed our family in ways that I never could have imagined and its hard not to fear what a big gaping hole we might be left with.

But you were worth every moment. They will ask me how we could say goodbye? And I will say because she was worth it. Knowing that you will always know what a loving family felt like, what comforting touch and kisses were, that you flourished in a safe home, will be worth any amount of pain I feel about you leaving. They will ask "Didn't you get attached." And I will say, "Yes, that's what she needed. And I would do it again. I would crawl through glass to make sure she had the proper attachment." And they will say things like "I don't know how you do it" or "I could never do it" and I will simply shrug because you gave us such a gift, I can't imagine not doing it.

I didn't know we needed a baby. I had no idea how quickly love could come into my heart. I didn't know it was possible to love Daddy more until I heard him singing about turkeys while changing your diaper on that first day. I had no idea how helpful seeing a baby crying and parents caring for that baby would be to your siblings piece together unconditional love or at the very least, trust in parents who signed up for forever.  I didn't know I could find joy in something as simple as watching you experience music. Even as you leave us, you are still teaching us to be better versions of ourselves, freer in our emotions and feelings, and generous in our compassion.  It's been a privileged to be your Mama and its a privilege to be a part of your Daddy's support network. Only a special girl like you could make such a difference in so many people's lives.

You are destined for great things my little one. Great things.

All my love sweet pea,

Mommy R