Tuesday, January 10, 2017

She's Gone, But You're Here

The day I left the hospital with Spartacus 9 months ago I was contacted by a mom I know in the adoption community asking me to provide respite care for a couple weeks for their adoptive daughter while they waited for a bed to open in a group home.
After spending almost a month in the hospital with lil man, it was the last thing I wanted to do. But I know from Sweetie how hard it is to have an unsafe child in the home while you wait for an opening in a higher level of placement so I agreed. So per the mother's request I drove over an hour away to pick her up and brought her into my home. For privacy sake I will call this child Sparkle. Because that is what she has done. Sparkle came from a hard beginning of life, but in much different ways than kids in our system. Sparkle was born in Africa and lost both of her parents at a young age and was then adopted into the US by one family, who then rehomed her to another family. In my opinion Re-homing is a form of human trafficking. This is a short video about that.

The family she was rehomed into a very large family made up primarily of "adopted" kids, most from rehoming situations. That is a big part of her story and why the next 9 months became so complicated.
Assuming what Sparkle's family had told we was the truth, I was expecting a manipulative, lying and abusive child. My husband and I, as well as our home are prepared for children like this. We have camera's and alarms on doors. We have lived a therapeutic parents for so long now, it is part of who we are as people. I expected Sparkle to honeymoon for a while and thought we might get lucky and it would last the couple weeks until she got into a group home. I assumed her family had already taken necessary steps like a psych eval and that the group home was recommended by a licensed professional. When Sparkle first came to me, she wanted to emancipate from her family. She didn't want to tell me why. I talked to her about how difficult the process was and was able to talk her out of trying to emancipate.
So, I did what I should do, I worked with Sparkle on accepting that going to the group home was in her best interest. I talked to her about the homes I have seen and been to. I talked about how their programs worked and how she would be in a safe place to work through all the things she went through in her childhood. After some discussion she agreed that it would be a good thing to do.
She was still a bit nervous so I suggested we visit the place and meet the team who worked there. The day we went to visit this "group home" was awful, the place had so many reflags that I immediately begged her family not to send her. I did some research and found the home wasn't even a licensed home and practiced very non therapeutic practices. I begged and pleaded with the family. I prayed for God to open their eyes. But they wanted her locked away in this place until she was 18. They told me many times that they didn't want her. I even offered to take guardianship instead of sending her to this place. They did not listen to my pleads. Everything in my being screamed that we needed to help this girl. I consulted with some mentors and prayed about it quite a bit and then my husband and decided we would try to help her emancipate. At this point they had not communicated with their child at all and sent minimal support. Once the emancipation was filed they stopped any support. Over time more and more information came to light that just proved she needed help desperately and I promised I would do all I could to help her. About 4 weeks before her emancipation hearing, her family picked her up to take her to the "group home". At the first hearing the judge removed her from the group home and we became her legal placement. We went back and forth to court multiple times. Unfortunately, she could not be emancipated because she couldn't get a job. She was unable to get a job because her parents would not release her social security card. In the 9 months she was here, they would not support her schooling. So she was left without an education. One of her friend's mother homeschooled, so she put together a curriculum for her so that she could work on her schooling. Her education had been previously serious lacking. Months passed and I never saw any of the behaviors the parents reported.
A psych eval was scheduled and that found that she is a normal teenage girl. In order to keep her from having to return home, they turned the case into a DJJ case for running away. In which she never did, but it was the only thing that would keep her from going back and being sent right back to the "group home". It has been a horrible mess of legal issues and torment on this poor girl. Too much to even begin to write about. Meanwhile her family never contacted her. Instead of attempting to work on relationship with her, they put their efforts into trying to destroy the reputation of anyone who tried to support her. It has been so incredibly on the 3 families who have been supporting Sparkle during this. One even being chased out of her church. As part of the DJJ case she is now under the care of DSS and their model is reunification, even if that is not what the plan of the judge is. The family has spread so many lies and manipulated so much that Sparkle was ordered to go to a bordering school for 2 weeks and we are to have absolutely no communication with her. The family has convinced DSS that the I have manipulated Sparkle into doing all of this to rip their family apart. That she is doing all of this because I want her to. Her plan was not even to end up here. I have always been the one who would sit down with her and do pros and cons bout any decisions. I even told her as an adult I would pick the boarding school because it really is a good program and that she will get free college after that. But I understood that she wanted to be with her friends and close to her siblings. I trust God has a special plan for this child. She is strong and smart. She has represented herself against a lawyer and her family in several court appearances. I am so proud of her. She goes back to court in 2 weeks and the judge will talk to her about how she feels the school is and at that point make a final decision on her placement there. I am not upset about the school, it truly is a wonderful opportunity. But my heart hurts as I got to be a part of her being torn away from us today sobbing. For 9 months she has been part of our family. She has been listened to, she has seen how I live out living like Jesus. She has come to know God in her own terms, not in an adults. My heart truly grieves for her tonight because the last thing she said to me is "There can not be a God, he wouldn't let this happen".  I am working on a Beth Moore Study called " A Woman's Heart" and something she said in it sticks with me... This is God's plan A for us. He already knows our path. He has already been there and  he is there in it with her now as he is here with me know. Anytime you open your home and your heart to a child that is not yours, there is a very high chance you will have your heart broken. But as Ann Voskamp states in her book The Broken Way it takes breaking of anything for anything to grow... that even the mightiest of oaks was once a cracked tiny seed. Even our beings are made of broke cells that divide over and over again, creating us. My paraphrasing may be slightly off there, but you get the point. God does break us to make room for him. He breaks our hearts so that it can be capable of expanding to hold more love. He lends me these children for a bit of time so that I may water broken seeds and fertilize. And they often get repotted to thrive. They are ultimately his children and that brings me peace. So tonight I sit here staring at a beautiful painting Sparkle bought me for Christmas with her own earned money. I am grateful for my time with her. She has helped me grow in Christ and made me more accountable as a Christian. There is nothing like a teenager to make sure you are practicing what you preach. I am not the biggest on the preaching part, but she made me better at the practicing part anyways. I really care that she sees Christ love in me. I know I may not get to talk to her for 15 months until she turns 18. If that is God's plan, I will be ok with it. I can't wait to see what this little seedling grows into with the proper care in this boarding school. I imagine she will be a mighty oak, strong, able to withstand the most fierce of storms. For now I sit here, she is gone, but God, well my friends he is here.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Changes Come

Changes come, turn my word around.

After a year sabbatical, I am returning to blogging. I should begin with sharing why I stopped.
Sweetie has always known about my blog. She has read it at times. Last December she used it as a form of triangulation between her therapist and myself. Even though there is no identifying information she tried saying the reason she can't trust me is my blog. I knew it was a manipulation so she didn't have to work on her issues during her session but I still decided to take it out of the equation and just stopped. I originally planned on taking a few month break and then life hit warp speed. I will do my best to wrap it all up in as few words as possible while still giving proper attention to key events of the year. I want to put a disclaimer. 2016 was awful, really agonizingly awful. But in the complete mess that was 2016, God was ever present.
The first 3 months were pretty status quo. Driving often to Winston Salem for meetings and visits with Sweetie while she was in her IAFT placement. She did fairly well while there. But visits home were always a challenge. Spartacus had his first birthday and we celebrated with a Hungry Caterpillar  birthday party. It was a lot of fun with many people packed into our small home.
Then April happened... My husband headed to his hometown of Portoviejo Ecuador for a 2 week visit. Spartacus started with a high fever of 102.9. I took him to the doctor but they couldn't find anything and ruled it viral. During the week the fever persisted and I called multiple times but there were no other symptoms, so they said just keep him comfortable with Motrin and Tylenol. Then Spartacus' jaw swelled up on one side, we headed back to the pediatrician and she thought it could be the mumps or an infection of the parotid gland. She put him on antibiotics.
Within a day, his jaw swelled up even larger and he spiked a fever that was over 104, so I headed to the emergency room. After bloodwork and an ultrasound, he was admitted and they found he had a growth in his neck that might be infected. They started him on steroids and antibiotics.
The next day when I ran home to check on my pups and shower quickly, I walked in to find my schnauzer Boobah collapsed lying in his own urine. He had a stroke sometime during the night. A couple of friends immediately came over to help me get him to the emergency vet and I had to say goodbye to my most beloved dog. I lost a piece of my heart that day. As challenging as my life had been to that point, that was the worst moment of my life. I immediately had to head back to the hospital. We were in the tiniest little room that didn't even have a real window. The nurses were so sweet and managed to arrange to get me a hospital bed instead of the crib. That way I could sleep in the bed with Spartacus. I brought in my oil diffuser, my favorite quilt and music. That night I laid in that hospital bed in the little room with lights out with only the glow from the diffuser. The air smelled of lavender, roman chamomile and blue tansy. Soft music played, I had a playlist I had made for a friend whose daughter had brain surgery still stored, so it was the perfect music for the moment. In that little closet of a room, it felt like there was only Spartacus, myself and God in the whole world and I was truly at peace. I am so grateful for that little room and those hours of being held by God.
Meanwhile, my husband was still working on trying to get back home. It was a several hour drive to the nearest airport and then he was on standby for a flight home. Once he arrived he was in such a complete state of depression and anger that I had to kick him out of the hospital because he was yelling at people. And then 2 days later on April 16th a 7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador and his home city of Portoviejo was devastated. The building Cris was staying in and should have still been staying in was destroyed. If he was there he would have died. Immediately, I connected the fact that had Spartacus not been hospitalized, I would have lost Cris. Over the next 3 weeks we were in and out of the hospital 2 more times with Spartacus and this growth that became infected with MRSA. We sent 26 days total in the local children's hospital and Spartacus underwent 1 minor surgery to try and drain the infection and then a major one. A pediatric neck specialist was brought in to remove the growth that was now the sized of a baseball, his lymph nodes in his neck, part of his parotid gland and clean out the MRSA infection. Spartacus was a trooper through all of it. Every single day we were surrounded by people who loved us. We were brought meals, toys and coloring books for me. Friends who worked in the hospital came at all hours to check on us and or pray for us. I can not tell you of another time in my life, that I ever felt so well loved. While we were in the hospital with Spartacus, Cris lost his job for taking too much time off. He was told if he didn't come in for work the day of Spartacus' surgery that he didn't have a job. A few days later the truck team he normally drove with flipped on the highway and seriously injured the man who was in the seat where Cris would have been sitting. Again, God used something really horrible to save Cris. Sweetie's reaction to everything we had gone through was extremely hurtful. She stated that we deserved all of it. And then she went back to non-communication with us. Pulling further and further away from us.
The day we were getting discharged from the hospital I received an email asking if I would provide respite care for a teen for 2 weeks. Being me, I said yes. This has turned into a long term placement and a crazy legal battle for this teen, which has resulted in her being placed with us as her court appointed placement. Cris losing his job lead to Cris and I started our own business and it has been doing well. Normal ebbs and flows, but doing well for a new business.
In the middle of all this we moved to be closer to our support system and I was hospitalized twice with MRSA on my face. And then a couple weeks later our church community lost one of it's most beloved members in a motorcycle accident. He was the father of two of the young men I have worked with in our church youth for years. This rocked our church community. Again, I watched as our community surround his family and love them the same way that their family and the rest of the community surrounded us in the hospital. We are just so blessed to receive and share love like this.
Sweetie happened to be scheduled for a home visit during the funeral of my friend. And like every other visit we ad issues. The week after the visit in a therapy appointment she requested that we relinquish her to DSS custody. She shared that she had been in contact with he biological family and wanted to go back to them. We tried to explain that this was not a possibility because their rights were terminated for abuse/neglect and we would be charged with abandonment if we relinquished.
She did not care and threatened to start making false accusations against my husband again. Thankfully she did this in front of her therapist, because we did not relinquish and she stuck to her word. She reported us both for abuse of all kinds. At one point she was freaking out that there was gonorrhea all over her (perfectly clear) face. Stating that my husband raped her and gave it to her.  This went on for days.. She went and was test 3 times for VD and all time came back negative. AT the same time her bio family was on their way up from Florida to get her because she told them we were all abusing her and that she was being raped. Due to all this and explosive behaviors in the home, Sweetie was taken back to the local mental hospital again. I was called to be a part of admitting her. While we were there and I was being interviewed by a nurse in an office, Sweetie called DSS and reported that I abandoned her at the hospital.(While I was in the room across the hall from her). Multiple calls and reports were made to DSS by her that week and luckily, none were investigated. Last time we were investigated for false allegations that we almost divorced. This time was scarier becasue we feared that they could remove Spartacus from our home. Sweetie was than moved to a new foster home. This one seems to be good for her and she seems semi-stable. The most stable she has been in the last 4 1/2 years she came to live with us. Her plan is now to reunify with her family when she turns 18 next year and I finally reached the point where I accept that I really can not fix her, I am not The Christ. I had said that so many times before, but now my heart believed it. I have moved my relationship with her to that of an advocate. With all that is going on,I started battle symptoms of what was narrowed down by doctors to be Fibromyalgia. The constant stress from the last several years were taking a toll on my body, I started working with a therapist for treatment of secondary PTSD and deep tissue work a couple times a month on effected joints. Life began to fall into a rhythm. My cousin moved down here from NY and comes to spend time with Spartacus 3 times a week. He is a normal rambunctious toddler, getting into everything and has the sweetest personality, He absolutely loves the young lady living with us and harassing our 3 pups.
We took him on a Disney cruise with his best buddy and their family. It was a sweet break before the storm that was to come. On October 24th one of my best friends has twins at 26 weeks gestation after being in the hospital in labor for 7 days. Both girls were born under 2 pounds. Despite all odds the girls are doing well today and are almost ready to be discharged home. After spending a lot of time in the hospital, I started back to my normal busy life. I spent a good portion of the fall knitting, sewing and painting to make items for a fundraiser for a good friend's adoption from China. There seemed to always be someone having a baby or being in the hospital, so I do what I do to love on people...I cooked. I joined a team going on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. I have always wanted to go on a mission trip and the last 2 years I couldn't because of the timing. Myself and 2 other young ladies became the fundraising team leaders. We were so excited about our bake sales and other events we had planned. On November 3rd One of these young ladies passed away at the age of 29. A young woman so full of life and love for God that just poured out of her onto everyone she came in contact with. Another huge blow to my church community. And again we did what we do, we began loving on that family. The Sunday before she posted this on Facebook. It hit me, She really got it! This is how life should be lived. On a single sheet of paper she summed up what it meant to live for Jesus. And I wanted this. So this picture is saved on my phone and I look at it every day. I am committed to living this.
2 weeks to the day later was an absolutely horrendous day. That is the day that one of my sweet boys from my youth group committed suicide. A young man so full of joy, from one of the sweetest families you could ever meet. Nothing could have prepared our community for this loss that has left us all still in a fog. I can still feel the pound of my heart as I walk down the street to tell our closest friends who were very close to the teen. Being the person to break the news was excruciating. I did not want to be the one to do it, but I didn't want them to get it through a phone tree. My heart hurts everyday with the loss of this young man and the loss that our community has experienced as a whole. I miss my young friend and the carefree relationship I had with his sisters. I miss the innocence of our young adults in the youth and that they are all now not so shiny and bright. That has been replaced with deep connections and real hard conversations. There is guilt and doubt. It has drastically changed the landscape of our community forever.
As if there was not enough pain, a few weeks later another friend and member of our church lost her mother. 3 deaths in less than 7 weeks. In the 15 years prior there had been very few deaths. All 4 deaths in the last 6 months involved major lovers of Jesus and I know they are rejoicing in heaven. But those of us who are left behind are now completely changed. We were a hip, fun church and now we are weary and worn. I imagine the feeling being like that of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness  for 40 years thinking "Where are you God??? How can we have to face so much pain, layered on top of more pain?". The holidays were quiet this year. Concentrating on reflection and being in the moment with Spartacus. Finding joy in the little moments. That is really all I could bring myself to do.
Oh and I forgot, as if life wasn't crazy enough, we got another puppy. When I took our court appointed teen up to see a friend, I got to spend time with her friend's mom and the puppies that she breeds. She had a puppy that looked just like Boobah! I had to bring him home! And he is just like Boobah... I forgot how much of a chewer he was. Ugh! 

So, that was the Cliff Note's version of the last year. In 2016 changes did come and turned our world around....But while my year has been flipped upside down, I have never been more sure that God is here among us making beauty out of the mess.

Monday, December 28, 2015

When It Don't Come Easy

It's been another 2 months since I updated. Time keeps moving from a crawl to a run. There are times it seems like a complete blur. Sweetie was doing really well in the IAFT and it appeared she was ready to come home. Her treatment team talked to me about the potential of it being in February.
We had 3 good weekend visits over the span of 2 months, which I don't think has ever happened. She was doing great in her therapeutic home and school. Communication with us has been limited by her choice. We talked maybe once or twice a week. This is what she seems to need to stay in a good place. For Christmas we had a 5 day visit scheduled. This is the longest span of time she has been home in over a year. And sadly it was too much. No matter how I try to keep myself removed and in the "coach" and "case manager" roll, I still love her and I still want her to do well. I find myself wrapped back into the hope that she is healing and can love us. Then I get snapped back to our reality. The hard reality that loving her "don't come easy", it probably never will be easy and it will never look like what we ever expected. I still wrestle with that loss, especially at the holidays.  Dreams of decorating together while drinking cocoa, wrapping gifts together and singing carols with my daughter are dreams I have to let go of. I have to accept these are things that are beyond what she can handle with me. The same with most anything a mother and daughter would do together.
I know this all in my head, but my heart really struggles with these things. And I Still try, oh how I try. I keep asking God to show me what she needs. I guess her behaviors are getting her what she needs. It takes the decision out of my hands. I am hit again with the reality that she may never come back home permanently. So, now we have gone backwards again 6 months in treatment and she is refusing to talk to me again. I have no idea what to do for her to truly get that she is loved. I don't know if there is anything. I am really having to give this to God, because I have truly exhausted every ounce of what I have.

Even though I am so very tired, I am still trying to relish in the Joy of Spartacus. He truly is God's gift of respite for my weary soul. His head has healed up well and we a just watching the bills roll in. That is what it is and we will figure it out. That is why hospitals do payment plans. So, I am not worrying about that. He is growing in leaps. He is super active, he loves to crawl and climb. I mean LOVES to climb!!! He scoots along furniture and has a tooth that has come through. He is babbling like crazy. It is a fun and exhausting time. Like most moms of toddlers I walk around in a fog and I normally have some dried fluid on my clothes. No matter how tired or emotionally spent I am, it just takes one of his smiles and everything is ok, even if for just that moment.

Monday, October 26, 2015

In My Arms

Today was a really rough day for Spartacus. On Thursday he fell out of his stroller while at a friend's house. He just had a couple minor scrapes. He had no signs of any other issues. He was fine Friday. Then yesterday he started to develop some swelling. I called the Dr and they said to hot compress it and keep an eye on it. This am when we woke up the swelling covered his entire forehead and went all the way up to where his curls start under his hair. It was the kind of swelling you can push on and leave an indent.
I immediately called back to the Dr. They had us come in to see him. As soon as the doctor walked in and looked at him for a few seconds she told me she was going to call over to the ER. She left and came back and sent us directly to a local children's emergency room, she was worried that there was a fracture in his skull. They were waiting for us when we got there and took us right back. They had to take him in for a CT Scan or his skull. They did not let us go with him for this because they have to strap him down and said it is very rough on the parents to see. Once results were read they found that there was not a fracture! However there was a bleeding between his skull and the next layer of tissue.

The bleeding will continue until enough pressure builds up in the space to stop the bleeding. 
The ER pediatrician consulted with the neurosurgeon and came back to talk with us.
Because of the large amount of blood loss they needed to test his blood levels. That was another awful procedure for him. They said is his hemoglobin was down we would have to stay and he would need a blood transfusion, but if it levels were ok we could go home and follow up tomorrow with our doctor. The neurosurgeon did not feel that this was a neurological issue at all. So, we will follow up tomorrow.  I am so grateful for the many prayers and text today. I am grateful for my friend Melissa who came to the hospital to be with us. Thanking God tonight for protecting my little man and for the sense of peace that I have had through out the day. 

I took a couple months off from blogging. Part because it was just more of the same thing. I get tired about writing about being rejected all the time and I am sure people don't really want to read about it any more. I have been trying to concentrate on living in the moment with Spartacus and working on improving myself. I am getting to a point in my journey with Sweetie that I am finally accepting it is not my responsibility to fix her and there is a good chance that she will never love me as her mom. I am coming to believe that at best she may view me as a coach, She has to want to heal herself, no one can do it for her. There is a sadness and a freedom in accepting this. I am sad because I feel I have failed as her mom. I feel I have let her down, I wasn't enough. The freedom is that it is ok that I was not enough, I was never meant to be enough. As much as we want to wrap our children up in our arms and protect them from every hurt, we can't always. Sometimes, things just happen. Both physically and emotionally. 

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Broken Places

Kintsukuroi  “to repair with gold”; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.
For years I have admired pottery that has been repaired by this technique. Little did I know that this would be a way of life for my family.
Reactive Attachment Disorder is destructive beyond anything you can imagine. In an attempt to protect itself from further hurt, the mind of a child from tough beginnings would rather break everything to pieces than to allow itself to be vulnerable again. Transitions create great amounts of vulnerability for someone living with R.A.D.
I should have seen this coming, but sadly I didn't. Sweetie had been doing so well. The last couple of visits had been extremely successful. Enough to renew my hope that she can really heal from the trauma of her early childhood. We have just one week until she transitions to her IAFT home and she has continued to do well in her program and on the phone with us. And then we heard the words that no parent of a 15 year old wants to hear, "I'm late, like I think I am pregnant".  All I could say was how? She has been in the PRTF or in our home only. And our house has alarms on all the doors as well as cameras. She said she snuck out and met some random guy on the street and they had sex. But it just didn't make sense. There had to be more to it.
Like most RAD kids, Sweetie can cry on command and be so convincing. For a brief moment I actually thought it could have happened. But I still did not respond in haste. I Just responded that we love her and we would get through anything as a family. Meanwhile, I am screaming inside that I can't be a mom of a newborn at 40 and a grandparent at 41.
We received this news on Wednesday evening during one of our 10 minute calls that we have only 3 times a week. We would not get a chance to talk again until today when we picked her up for a weekend pass. So again, like so many times before a bomb was dropped and we were left to try to pull the broken pieces back together. I immediately spoke to my mentor who immediately knew what this was. Sweetie was beginning to feel anxious about her transition and she was also angry because I went to NY with the baby and not her. Unfortunately, I did not get another chance to talk to Sweetie until I saw her this evening. As soon as she saw me she began to sob and apologize for lying.
She went on for a long time asking how we could ever love her when all that she does is hurt us. She talked a lot about not feeling worthy of our love or the things we buy her. Tomorrow we have her scheduled to get her hair done and have plans to take her school shopping. She deep down does not feel she deserves good things. All I could do was grab her face and repeatedly tell her that she is loved, that she is worth it and that we already forgave her. I just poured loved into her. By the time she was all cried out she was melted into my arms. Just like she would after I would hold her through a rage back when she was smaller and I could physically do so. These moments after we get through all the fear and anger is when I can see the real girl inside. This is when our repairs happen. This is when I get to work fill those cracks with love. This is how our daughter becomes a beautiful work of art.
When this all happened, she was expecting an immediate consequence. She thought we would cancel our weekend plans to take her school shopping. But instead, I just said I would pray about it.
Before she told us the truth her consequence was going to be she had to call the boy she has been trying to date for 2 years and tell him that she snuck out, had sex and might be pregnant. But once she told us the truth and we could process with her I felt that she needed to have an opportunity to gain our trust again. We ultimately decided that one day a month for 6 months, Sweetie and I will volunteer with a nonprofit. I have to get it all worked out but I am leaning towards Habitat for Humanity or with Florencd Crittenton volunteering with unwed young mothers and at risk youth.

In the middle of all the emotions of the last few days, we received Spartacus' Adoption Decree. As of August 4th, 2015 we are now officially a family of 4. We also made  trip up to New York to see my family. It was a great, but tiring trip. Everyone loved Spartacus. He handled the travelling fairly well. Better than I expected. He is such a good natured child. For this I am thankful. I am also grateful for all of the family and friends who have and continue to support us on our journey. We love you all.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Love Me

It has been a little over 3 years since Sweetie moved in with us. In that time we have been through more trauma than I could have ever imagined. Many times it seemed like we were not going to make it through to the other side of everything. But we have and boy it is pretty amazing. Sweetie's relationship with Spartacus really seems to be the key to her healing. I have watched her bloom over the last month or so. She just adores Her little brother. She is incredibly sweet with him. We were prepared to deal with intense jealousy with the potential for her to lash out at him. But it has been the complete opposite. She is happy around him. And I get to see more moments of pure joy when she is playing with him than I have seen in the last 3 years combined.  It is miraculous the difference we see in her. Where there was once constant rage there is now peace. A kid who was kicking and punching is now hugging and helping around the house without being asked. Instead of being cussed at we are now having conversations. It has become a pleasure to have Sweetie around.

Sweetie has recently taken ownership of her Reactive Attachment Disorder diagnosis. She is learning about how it developed. She is also learning how to cope and  how live with it. She has begun to wholeheartedly work on her trauma history. She recently wrote her biological father a letter and in it she told him how he hurt her and how she feels sorry for him, but right now she cannot forgive him. That she wants to, but he scares her. She also wrote about us in this letter telling him that we are the only people that ever showed her real love. That we have given her anything she could ever want and more than she needs. That we protect her no matter what. Another thing she did was write a rap song.
One of the lyrics went something like" Oh no not another one, I want it to stay just me. But then I looked into his eyes and I could no longer disguise that I love him". Spartacus has been her reason for working through the hard stuff and for really trying to get better. She list him as her motivation when she is working on her goals. She wants him to be proud of her and also doesn't want him to do the behaviors that she had previously done. My heart is so happy to watch this bond grow between them.

Sweetie will be stepping down to an IAFT in less than 3 weeks. If her behaviors continue to improve like they have been, we would like to have her back home for good by the holidays. We will see how it goes. I do not want to pressure her too much or push her too fast. Her progress has been remarkable and I do not want to risk everything because I am pushing. In the IAFT home she will be able to practice the skills she learned in the last year in the PRTF. I am currently praying  that she keeps working and that the healing will continue. She has become so insightful. She is able to express her emotional needs better than most adults I know. She is able to tell me that even though she likes to hear that she is doing a good job and that we are proud of her. But that it also makes her feel scared because she doesn't want to disappoint us. When she told me this I was doing a happy dance in my head. I wanted to shout with joy " She really cares!!! We are finally getting through! We finally matter!!" Over the weekend she has apologized for many of the individual events that have happened over the last 3 years. She apologized for being a giant "B" for most of the time and she thanked me for sticking with her. For loving her through all of it. I am sure we will have more challenging times. She is still a teenager and even children who grew up in happy homes have moments where they make poor choices.

I sit here tonight content. My house is peaceful and quiet. What has stuck with me the most is the fact that all she needed was for me to love her. Truly love her. Love her like God loves us. Unconditional and unwavering love. Even in the darkest of hours. I think we all want that and many of us don't  receive that kind of love. We surely don't love ourselves like that. I can only imagine how all of our lives could  look if we did understand that we are love like this. I mean really believed it in our heart of hearts. Can you imagine the transformation it would create? I know how inspiring it is to watch as it happens to my girl. I feel honored to be chosen to witness it and be part of this kind of love. I am grateful what loving someone like this has helped me grow to being more like Christ.

I know so many who are in the trenches with their kids form hard places. It is a war zone most of the time. It is hard, it is dirty and it is exhausting. But sweet friends there is hope. We are getting through to our kids. Even when we feel we are defeated and want to throw in that towel. They see us there, fighting for them, sacrificing for them. Don't give up! The healing may not be today, tomorrow, next week or even next month. But it will come. Love always wins.

Why, why are You still here with me
Didn't You see what I've done?
In my shame I want to run and hide myself
But it's here I see the truth
I don't deserve You
But I need You to love me, and I
I won't keep my heart from You this time
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have
I need You to love me
I, I have wasted so much time
Pushing You away from me
I just never saw how You could cherish me
'Cause You're a God who has all things
And still You want me
And I need You to love me, and I
I won't keep my heart from You this time
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have
yeah, yeah
Your love makes me forget what I have been
Your love makes me see who I really am
And Your love makes me forget what I have been
And I need You to love me, yeah
I need You to love me, yeah
And I'll stop this pretending that I can
Somehow deserve what I already have (2x)
I need You to love me, yeah ..

Sunday, July 05, 2015


A year ago we had just admitted Sweetie into a Psychiatric hospital where she would spend 10 days before going onto the PRTF. In a town an hour away a young single mom found out that she was pregnant. Both this mom and I were smack dab in the middle of a long season of suffering. Both of us not knowing what lay ahead. And then we found each other. In me,she found a family for her unborn son and in her I found someone who truly understands my daughter. We have developed a bond that few people will ever experience.

What a difference a year has made. I am not going to say that it has been an easy year. There were more hard times than easy times. But the good moments have been so sweet. This weekend was full of those sweet moments. It started Friday when we finally got the order from the court stating the birth father did not have to give consent. So there are no more obstacles in our adoption!!! We won't hear anything until we receive a copy of the adoption decree.

Sweetie arrived Friday evening as well. We had a wonderful weekend. She was is a really good place. She really adores Spartacus. He has been so good for her. I sit back and watch as she responds with such joy to his smiles. With him, she has a clean slate. There is no judgement, there are no hurt feelings, there is only love. I see how protective she is of him already and how responsive she is to him. He is such a happy baby and barely cries. When he did cry, she quickly rushed to get him his pacifier or would start make sushing sounds that she has heard me make when I try to soothe him. 
I am excited to see how their relationship grows over the years. In her life 18
sets of parents have failed her, neglected and abused her. In her eyes her sister has hurt her and abandoned her. The only relationship she has never experienced seems to be the one that will help bring her heart healing. God knew she needed a Brother. 

Brother let me be your shelter
I'll never leave you alone
I can be the one you call
When your low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way 
Bring you home

Saturday, June 20, 2015

It is Well

Deep Breath... the last month has been full. We had Sweetie's home visit. Which sadly did not go well at all. It was so frustrating, that we put a lot of effort into creating a fun weekend for her and she spent the entire weekend trying to sabotage it. That is probably the saddest part of her disorder, she doesn't feel worthy of good things or good times. She doesn't allow herself to have fun or enjoy herself. I hate that for her. And while it is frustrating, it breaks my heart. However, ever since she has been doing much better both at her PRTF and in communication with us.
We have been having really positive phone calls with Sweetie and she is really looking forward to coming home for the 4th of July. She has even been requesting more calls with us. It has been 3 weeks without being cussed at or having a phone slammed. Now calls end with I love yous.
I also received an email last week that they may have found a step down placement for Sweetie. I am hoping to hear something soon. It has been 6 months of trying to find a spot for her. Then during her Monthly CFT Meeting we discovered there may be an opening in a home just 45 minutes from here.
We are praying for that one. If this doesn't work we have what they call a Care Review Meeting set up this Friday. This meeting will have the insurance company and a representative of all the major providers to try to come up with a plan.

Things at home with Spartacus are going great. He is sleeping through most of the night. Which is great. He is getting so interactive. He is a pure joy. He truly has a special spirit of Peace and Calm.
We have so much fun with him already, as he learns to giggle and coo. The pups are just in love with him and he is just the cutest thing ever!  I took him up to see his tummy mommy, her husband and Spartacus' brother. We went out to dinner together and it was a really nice visit. I am so grateful that we can have this open relationship. His brother was so excited to see him. I am looking forward to continuing to see them and continuing to work on growing our relationship.

So, Wednesday was suppose to be the big day. This was the court hearing that determines whether the biological father has a right to consent. Since this is such a rare situation the judge did not make a decision and told my lawyer she would get back to her sometime this coming week. My lawyer feels the judge is just taking time to make sure everything is done correctly. Which is good. I will feel confident that there is no way the biological father can try to come back after the fact and try to over turn the adoption because we missed some small detail.

I am still at peace with everything. We are surrounded by a phenomenal group of friends and family that have been supporting us in this journey. We are beyond grateful for this support. The Lord is doing some big work on my husband's heart through this and is healing old wounds. It is beautiful to watch him open himself to accept love and friendship from others. My husband is a grown up RAD kid and until me, never let anyone in. Now, I see him allowing others in and I am seeing how he is beginning to believe that God has this all covered. When we lost Leah 3 years ago, my husband was done with God. Then this Wednesday, when we didn't get the answer we were waiting for from the judge, he didn't get angry and seclude himself like he has done so many times before. But instead he came to me and asked to pray together. And instead of being demolished by yet another set back, we have found peace. I have always been high strung and as I have grown older that manifested into some pretty intense anxiety. I am happy to say the anxiety has been so much better than I would have expected. Maybe it is because I have finally handed it all over to God. There is simply too much for me to handle on my own. I have finally accepted that I have no control at all over the biggest aspects of my life. That was a pretty big pill to swallow from this grade A control freak. But there has been such freedom in that. It is allowing me to just be present in each moment, instead of worrying about what will or won't happen. I know my God is Bigger than mental illness that attacks my daughter. I know He is Bigger than the legal delays. Ultimately, I know he has a plan for my entire family. And It Is Well In My Soul.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Rise Again

When I last wrote we were only 7 days from being in the clear to adopt Spartacus. The 7 days came and went and we thought we were in the clear. For the first time in months I could breathe. And then we got notice that the biological father had contested the adoption. The worst thing is in his letter "contesting" the adoption he demands repeatedly a paternity test and than states if "it" is his, he wants to give "it" to his mother. It infuriates me that he refers to our son as "it". Now that he has contested, he has to go to court to prove he has the right to contest. This is the statute that he has to meet in order for his contesting to effect the adoption.
In summary, he has to acknowledge he is the father of the child and financially support the bio mom during and after the pregnancy, or he attempted to marry the mother. Since he sent the letter to the court demanding a paternity test, he is not acknowledging Spartacus as even being his biological child. In addition he never attempted to financially support her. As far as his mother getting Spartacus, that isn't even an option legally. The court hearing will be in a few weeks and he won't even be able to go, because he is in jail with bond set at $50500. I doubt he will make bond to be able to attend the hearing and an immediate decision will be made that his consent is not required. If he manages to make bond (which he hasn't been able to do since February when arrested) and goes to court he will have to be able to prove that he met the statute in order to have a right to officially contest. Since he hasn't met the criteria, his consent will not be required and we can move forward with the adoption. So, ultimately all his letter has done is cost us more money. But God will provide. I found a grant to apply for and the cut off date was May 15th. So we just made it. I am praying we get it and that should help cover a big chunk of the expense.  I am hoping that this hearing doesn't push off our adoption too far. It would be great if they could just finalize it right after the hearing as Spartacus will be with us over the 90 days by the time this happens.

Outside of all this legal crap we are dealing with lots of issues with Sweetie's treatment. Things have been rough. Behaviors are the same, just now she is adding statements constantly that she doesn't have to do what we say because we aren't her parents. Yes, I know all adopted kids say that and I know all kids say I wish you weren't my parents. The difference is Sweetie follows it up with actions. She refuses to follow anything we say. In our CFT meeting last week she was yelling at me because I always side with my husband. I agreed that yes I do and I always will, we are one. She looked at him and said I don't know why you kiss his ass all the time, he won't be here long". I asked her what she meant by that and she started yelling that I was accusing her of threatening to murder him. We are going month by month on authorization at the PRTF because they have been unsuccessful finding a placement that will accept her at a step down home anywhere in the state. They are trying to force us to bring her home. I am refusing to do this for the 3rd time. The attachment therapist that we have continued working with while Sweetie has been in treatment has recommended having Sweetie tested by a forensic psychologist. There are 2 top ranked ones right here in Charlotte. With their recommendations we can have the courts force the insurance to pay for longer care and possibly help us get her into a long term facility. Which I don't know of any, but I do know they exist. I have requested in writing to both the PRTF and Sweetie's Insurance that she be tested before we will even consider her coming home. After this I will contact the Council for Children's Rights to represent us.

Sweetie is coming home this weekend and for the first time we are letting her have a friend come stay for the weekend. One of my good friend's daughter is Sweetie's only friend. She has been writing to her at the PRTF and she get's what Sweetie has been through. I am glad she has her. Maybe that will be a friendship that will make a difference in her life long term. I am glad to have the distraction of a friend here for the weekend, as mother's day is normally a trigger holiday for her. I am praying that all goes smoothly and there are no major issues.

So, lots going on here. Amazing I have not been spazing out. We keep getting knocked down, but we are survivors and we continue to rise again. With all that is going on we are still completely blessed and happier than we have ever been.Spartacus brings so much joy to each day. He will be 2 months old tomorrow. He is such a happy baby. It is so easy to be present in each moment with him. He truly is a miracle. And I know without a doubt that everything will work out and he will be legally our son.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

If You Fall

The last few weeks have been amazing with baby Spartacus. He has the sweetest soul. And such an easy baby. He rarely cries. Only when he is hungry or naked. He is changing so much every day. Becoming more alert and interactive with us. He is just amazing. We only have 7 more days for his biological father to contest. It has already been 3 weeks and he has not responded to being served, so he most likely won't! That is our last hurdle. The rest is just waiting the remainder 60 of 90 days before our adoption can be filed for finalization. We should finalize in June sometime. It still blows my mind that just 7 months ago, we decided to adopt again. And now we hold this perfect little life in our hands. When I hold him, I feel as if he was always mine. I want to protect him from everything. I know I won't be able to. He will fall...many times. But I will be there for him, to pick him up, brush him off and set him on his way again. I have kept touch with his birth mom. We are trying to plan a get together for her family to meet lil Spartacus. Things have been going well for her, her husband and 5 year old. I am so happy about this. God has really made something beautiful by bringing Spartacus and them into our lives.
I continue to hope for our Sweetie's healing. There are many days that it seems hopeless and I want to run as far as I can away. But, something keeps me here. She is my daughter I can not abandon her, like everyone else has. I wish more than anything that she could truly know that I am here with her. She continues to push us away more and more. And now we are back here AGAIN, for the 3rd time... It's time for discharge for Sweetie from PRTF. And again they are unable to find a placement for her to step down into. Everyone on her treatment team knows if they can't find a placement and she comes home prematurely again, she will be set up for failure and will quickly end up needing to be hospitalized. There is a huge gap in treatment, between the higher level of treatment and lower. They really need a long term place for kids like Sweetie, who can't live in a home with family, but have family that is there for them, loving them, not giving upon them. Not a place where kids would be abandoned, but a place for kids with Severe RAD to live, while they work on feeling safe with their families. Who knows, maybe someday I will be able to do something like this. For now, I continue to pour love into our girl. No matter how much my heart is beaten I am still here. It is really all I can do.

So, our life is full of complete joy and such pain all at the same time. I don't know what God has planned for our little family. I only know our journey is that of redemption and unconditional love.

"If you fall, I fall with you
If you hurt I feel it too
Even if my heart turns black and blue
I will love you"