What A Year

Inspired by a question from a friend, (Thanks, E!) I thought I would try to step back into blogging with a list of my top ten moments from 2013.

1. The decision to have Zucchini leave our house. It was painful, I wanted to be sure.

I have no regrets. I know we weren’t the right house for her, and we couldn’t keep her and Carrot and Pumpkin safe. I don’t regret for a second the time she was here. It was a crazy, intense, expensive year, and Zucchini isn’t ready to talk to us yet. But, I hope we laid good foundations for a future relationship.

2. The day, months after Zucchini had moved out, that Carrot tried to cover for Zucchini–telling me she did something that only Zucchini could have done.

Any lingering doubt I had that maybe we made the wrong decision vanished. I knew if Zucchini stayed, we would have messed Carrot up so much.

She told me later, she was “the only one who was brave when Z was here.”

3. TPR. The end of one chapter.

How I hoped to write adoption in the year 2013, but that remains in limbo.

4. Our family trip to Madeline Island. This summer was a time of healing and regrouping for our family, and the trip was classic childhood for our little family of four.

5. Carrot’s kindergarten graduation.

6. The birth of my nephew. I think it brought our whole family closer together.

7. Croi’s new job. I am so thankful for her more flexible hours and reduced stress. We are better as a family when she is here and we have more time to focus on this growing time in our lives right now.

8. Our visit with the kid’s biomom after Christmas. Peaceful, calm, and gave me so much insight.

9. Meeting the Boxer’s biomom.  I sent Croi a text right away, “She is nice.” I like her. We started fostering to build our family (that’s code for adopt), and meeting her made me think maybe we have it in us to do long-term fostering.

10. The million and one snuggles between Carrot and Pumpkin. The adoring way he looks at his big sister. Warms my heart every time.

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The Boxer Arrived

I have six more posts in my draft folder that I may or may not ever get to publish. You’ll forgive me if I don’t. You’ll understand when I am posting about Carrot’s August birthday in January, right?

But, I must tell you we are snuggling a new squishy baby at our house!

We are calling him, “The Boxer” for the way he punches at his bottle as we are feeding him, and I figure he is going to need to be tough.

Six weeks old, still squishy, and already been through so much. Big brown eyes we love staring into and chubby yummy cheeks.

boxing gloves red

Technically, he is here “on respite” from another provider who there were some safety concerns about, but I won’t be surprised if he is here longer.

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Loves me more

Carrot and I were talking about her birthmom, and things she remembers from her house.

And, she told me her biomom loves her more than I do.

“Oh, what makes you say that?”

“She knew me first. So she loves me more.”

You can read all the adoption books you want. Somehow you think it won’t happen to you, or it wont’ hurt when your kid says it.

 

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Surprising Gifts

I had pictured a big family. But, the lack of sleep and physical toll of toddlers was exhausting me. I questioned what sort of mom I would be to Carrot and Pumpkin with the further stress of more kids.

I really worried about messing them up. Would they feel my love, or just my crabby exhaustion?

Two things have made me feel a little better. First, in one tearful, breakdown conversation with Croi, she said, “you will mess them up. We both will. It’s what parents do. Your parents were great & messed me up. My parents were great & messed me up.” Somehow, that made me feel better. A lowered bar.

I am not going to be anywhere close to a perfect parent. And that will have to be okay.

And, then we had a sweet, caring, tough little girl come stay with us for a week. I really like the feeling of a fuller house. Kids running back and forth. Shrieking and giggling.

Our floors certainly aren’t clean. If you come over–we are calling the weeds “wildflowers.”

But, the stress was NOTHING like when Zucchini was here. My brain knew it. Now my body does, too.

My to-do list is still a mile long, but I am looking forward to having another one come join our bunch.

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When Matters

I know the adoption is a matter of “when” not “if.”  I am not worried about the appeal being granted, or TPR being reversed.

One day, we will adopt them.

But, when we do it actually matters.

A few times, Carrot has asked, “So, you say y’all are going to adopt me. When?”

We are going to a foster family picnic tonight. And was really excited that a boy she knows from her school might be there.  Until I told her that he probably wouldn’t be there, because he is adopted.  “Oh.”  Then named off six other friends.  No, sweetie, they are adopted.

Every time someone asks her last name, or her middle name, the pause becomes longer and longer. I am not sure if she picked up that I rarely say her last name, or if she started doing it on her own, but I almost never hear her claim it.

Poor thing doesn’t understand why this hasn’t happened. All we can explain is “there are more court steps that need to happen.” We don’t want to put Carrot in the middle and haven’t told her that the reason for the hold up is that her mom is appealing the decision. I think it would make her feel like there is still a chance she could leave.

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Deeper Wisdom

We aren’t even on the respite/emergency care list, but have gotten three phone calls in the past six weeks for crisis situations. There is a huge need. If you want to help, and don’t feel that long-term foster care is for you, please consider providing a short term safe space for kids.

Friday, we got a call asking if we could take care of a 4 year old girl for the week. Croi and I talked for a bit, then we asked Carrot who didn’t bat an eye before saying yes. We talked about the parts that would be fun. Having a roommate (or a second roommate, as she said, because the ladybug that has taken up residence in her room is her first roommate). Playing dress-up & Barbies. We talked about the parts that would be hard. Sharing toys. Less attention from mommy & mama.

Scoot came to us on Friday night. Named for her love and persistence of our little scooter.

scooterWe went to a friend’s house on Saturday morning, and the mile walk took nearly an hour. Girl walked faster than she could scoot, but didn’t complain once. Not once.

Before Scoot arrived, Carrot remembered how scary it was to go to a new house, and said, “when my bed was ready for me, I felt more welcome. She can have the cow blanket.” I nearly started crying when she put her beloved Cinderella doll on the new girl’s pillow.

The few adults I have talked to about Scoot are curious about specifics. Wait, why was there no notice? Couldn’t they plan ahead for their vacation?

Scoot was removed from a very violent home about two months ago. Lived with a foster family. Foster mom went on a vacation that she couldn’t bring Scoot. The respite home was unsafe, so Scoot had to be removed, and brought here. Can’t keep track of all that? Me neither. That’s at least three homes in two months. At least two nights when a four year old thought she was sleeping in one house, and ended up with complete strangers. Imagine how much her head is spinning.

But, Carrot didn’t ask too many questions. I have 28 more years on this planet, but she has lived in different worlds, and has an understanding that I never will.

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We almost didn’t have her

I was crying walking INTO Carrot’s kindergarten graduation.  Kindergarten graduation?  Do you believe it?

Her one year anniversary of living with us was the same week as her graduation.  All I could think of was how stiff and scared she was when she came, and how relaxed, kind, and confident she is now.

To think, we almost said, “no” to her. We almost didn’t have this sweet girl in our house.  For all the people who say she is lucky, it truly would have been our loss.

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