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 ..

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"

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Multiplied... Our Birth Story

I sit here tonight typing this with 5 pounds of the most adorableness I have ever seen strapped to my chest. I still can't fully believe that he is really here, that he is mine. I honestly could not have asked for his birth to be more perfect. For weeks, I kept talking to our birth mom about her birth plan. Throughout each conversation she was adament that she did not want to see the baby. This made my heart sad. But, I understood and I wanted to protect her from hurt. I have truly grown to love our birth mom and I really worried about her well being during the birth and after.

So 6 months after we decided to adopt again we walked into the hospital at 5:45 in the morning with our birth mom and her husband for our scheduled c-section. We had our birth plan, but I have heard so many times to expect that to be thrown out the window. But it wasn't. Immediately, bio mom signed forms listing us as power of attorney for the baby.  We checked her in and the team of nurses quickly got her ready for the procedure. While they did this, I spoke with the anesthesiologist about giving her Versed after the baby was removed to help her and for her to not remember that part of the procedure. He agreed.  They gave me a gown, shoe covers and hair cover. While I put them on they whisked her away to start her epidural. There was a window to the or so I could see them do this. They laid her back and started to wipe her abdomen down and then I could here her asking for me. I was already at the door by the time the nurse could get there. I went to our birth mom's head. She was so scared about the procedure, tears were running down her face. The nurse gave me a stool so I could be face to face with her. she grabbed my left hand and with my right I rubbed her head and softly repeated over and over again "it's ok, you are not alone and you are so loved". I was so worried about her that I was not paying attention to what was happening on the other side of the blue drape. She suddenly looked up at me and said "Stand up, you need to watch!" It didn't click so she said it again. I stood up just in time to watch them put the suction cup device on his head and slide him out. He started crying immediately and the nurses took him to the heating unit to clean him up. I looked at the anesthesiologist and said can you give her the meds now! He started pushing the Versed. I stayed with her until I could tell the medication kicked in, which was the same time that it was to take the baby to the nursery. I was met there by my husband and our best friends were outside the nursery window. There were no other babies in the nursery, so it felt as if we were the  only people in the whole hospital. The nurses were wonderful. We were there for him to get weighed and measured, he was 5 pounds, 15 ounces and only 18 inches long. He was so tiny. He got his Vit K shot, some ointment in his eyes and Hepatitis vaccine. Once his body temperature was good, I was able to take him into a room for some skin to skin contact and then to feed him. After that I got to give him a bath and then get him dressed. After that we went to our room.
I checked in on our birth mom several times. Her husband and a few family members came down to see the baby and I let each of them hold him and took pictures. Everyone was so happy that he was able to be our son. We fell into a routine quickly in the hospital... he ate, slept, pooped. The first 24 hours his blood sugar had to be checked every 3 hours because of his low birth weight, but everything came back great. All of his test came back great and his drug test came back negative. This was the happiest I think I have been in my life, yet there was still a piece of my heart that was sad for our birth mom. I just knew in my heart that she had to see Spartacus. But I did not push, I respected her doing what she needed to do to protect her heart. The next afternoon, she was discharged. She called me to ask if she could see me to say good bye. When she knocked on the door, I went to the door without the baby and I asked her one last time Are you sure you don't want to see him?" and she admitted she wanted to. I invited her in and we spent the sweetest 20 minutes or so with her holding the baby. She looked so happy and talked about the features that were similar to his brother. I was so happy that she came to see him. I was able to capture that moment in a photo, that I will frame and put in his room. At the end of that time she handed him to me and told me how happy she was that she could do this for us. We hugged and she left.

Earlier that day she had signed the relinquishment papers. From that time she has 7 days to change her mind. But I know she will not. We still text each other daily . She still thanks us for being his parents and tells me how glad she is that he is in such a great home. So, in 2 more days the 7 days will be up.

As all of this winds down we have been trying to locate the birth father. His family has not been cooperating, so we were thinking we would have to do a publication in the newspaper for 3 months trying to get him to respond. We didn't have to because he got himself into some pretty big legal troubles and made it into the news himself. So we are now able to have him served on Monday with papers to relinquish his parental rights. There are 3 scenarios with this. 1. He just signs and all is great. 2. He just ignores the papers. In that case after 30 days his rights are terminated for abandonment. 3. He contest. This is highly unlikely because he won't be able to afford a lawyer to  fight this in court with his current legal issues. even if he did try, he would lose because he has not financially supported our birth mom while pregnant. No matter the scenario, he can't  get Spartacus. it will just make a difference on when we can finalize our adoption and how much more it will cost.. I am not worried, I know God's plan is being worked out and I am trusting in that.

Now we settle into our new rhythm of life. Sweetie has been excited to do Skype sessions where she can see her little brother and ends each call now with "tell my brother I love him".

My heart is overflowing with love and with hope.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

I Lived

This past week I turned 40.... I remember a time when that seemed old. Every big milestone birthday you can't help but sit back and reflect on your life. Lord knows my life has been a roller coaster but I can definitely say that I have no regrets. Every step, every "mistake" and every loss led me right here to this point in my life. And honestly I can not imagine not being here. I can not imagine a life where Sweetie was not my daughter and I was not about to be the parent to a new baby boy.
I am really happy that last weekend we were able to move our expectant mom, husband and 5 year old son into their permanent home and they were able to get a car. This is a life changer. Having a car means the ability to get a job. I am really hoping this is the beginning of a better life for them.

 It's about time we come up with a nickname for him. My husband loves gladiator movies and shows, so for this blog I will refer to our son as Spartacus. This is a joke in our house and I will get a good chuckle every time I write it, but it works. So we are just 5 more days away from Spartacus joining our family. I will be running around like a crazy woman the next few days. Doing all the laundry and making a months worth of freezer meals. Thursday is our final doctors appointment before delivery day and Friday there is Pre-op testing. So lots of driving around. I spoke to the hospital today to check if I could bring pumped breast milk. They were very accommodating. They are hoping to have a separate room for us. If they can't because of being full, they do have a separate room with a couch and TV off the nursery we can use. I am really excited be able to be in the room when Spartacus is born! I wish I knew the best way to support our expectant mom. I know how incredibly difficult this day and time will be. I know that there will be many times through out her life that she is struck with grief from the effects of this day. In all of the excitement for adoptive parents, most often forget the other parties involved. Adoption has beautiful aspects, but it is also painful. I have been wrestling with this a lot lately. I have grown to love our expectant mother. She is a sweet soul who has had to deal with a lot of loss herself already. I wish there was something I could do to lessen the pain I know she will feel. I wish she did not have to suffer for us to have a dream fulfilled.

Sweetie is ready to be transitioned down from PRTF to the Intensive Alternative Family Treatment. They have been having difficulty locating one. This has been our problem in the past as well. Sweetie's disorder allows her to thrive in an institutional environment, but she falls apart in the home setting. We continue looking and I am hoping something comes through. The insurance company has agreed to continue her approval for PRTF until we can find something. But realistically they can only keep her so long. I am trying to stay hopeful that everything will work out how it should.

A couple of weeks ago I had a beautiful baby shower. I am blessed with so many amazing friends who support us with both of our children. We had a lot of fun, the food was delicious and there were so many little details that made the day very special!


So, here I am...40 a mom of a teenager and soon to be mom of a newborn. I can honestly say that I have truly lived my life. I have lived it being lead by my heart and it has lead me to a pretty awesome place. And I feel that I have been incredibly blessed!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Love Never Fails

Love is patient, love is kind. A popular reading at weddings. I even used it at my own wedding. The words are sweet and are a wonderful guide for any marriage. But these words are even more important when parenting a child from tough places. Some aspects are easier than others for me to live out with my relationship with Sweetie. But what I am really struggling with is keeping record of wrongs. The trauma that has occurred to us as a family over the last 3 years has really built up and created a stress response in me. The minute Sweetie begins to raise her voice or get oppositional, I go into defense mode. As much as I know in my mind that this does not help anything to react, but it is a subconscious reaction. I pray that I can overcome this response, so that I can be the parent that Sweetie needs. And even though her healing has many seasons of growth and setbacks, I believe that Love Never Fails and that some day she will find healing. It may not be immediate but I do believe that it will be.

I am looking forward to the new phase of our life. Bringing a baby into our home will bring so much hope and love. I know there will be challenges. But we are up to the challenges. Things are going as good as possibly can with the adoption. The Indian Tribe has given official word that they will not be contesting the adoption. Our baby's birth mom married her high school sweetheart and he has already signed consent for the adoption. At this point the only unknown is the birth father. He is still MIA and that is fine. Most likely he won't show and an ad will have to be run in the news paper to try to locate him. But even if he does show and contest the adoption, he won't be able to get custody because he has not been there during the pregnancy to support the birth mother. We have proof that he is aware of the pregnancy, so our bases are covered there. I have been seeing the birth mom at least once a week. It has been really nice to get to know her and her son.
This past week, she also did preliminary paperwork for the adoption and worked on her birth plan.
She listed the baby's name to be exactly as we are going to name him, including our last name.
Her birth plan includes me being in the OR with her during her C-section and then the baby will be handed to me. The baby will be in a room with Cris and I, while she will be in another room down the hall. At this time she does not want to see the baby at all for a couple months. After that we plan to have communication. I know this will be hard on her, but I believe she has comfort with us as parents.

I am still blown away that our dream of having a baby is becoming a reality. After we had given up all hope of being able to adopt again, God has given us this amazing gift. This has been an amazing whirlwind of events that have brought us to this place and has provided the means for this adoption to happen. We are so grateful for all who have supported us and showered us with love and support. Showing us that Love Never Fails.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Getting There

This time last year we had reached the lowest point in our family. We were completely broken. Sweetie was refusing to see us. As I blogged about earlier this year I had picked a word for the year, and that word was Wholeness. Wholeness for our girl, that she could heal enough to accept our love and accept being part of our family. Little did I know what wholeness would look like for our family. Sweetie's journey to wholeness is still in progress. She has had such amazing growth this year. It has been full of ups and downs. And we still do not know if she will ever be able to come home permanently. But we love her and will continue to get her what ever help we can to continue to put the pieces of her heart back together. The last week has been a whirlwind. Sweetie came home for a few days for Christmas. Christmas day was tough but the rest of her visit was pretty good. Better than I thought it would go. She is doing well in her program and is on track for stepping down to a specialized therapeutic home. This home will simulate our family dynamic. It will be interesting to see how she does there.
This week we helped set our expecting mother (EM) and her 5 year old son up with a place of their own, allowing them a fresh start. It has been awesome getting to know her. She is super sweet. I am really hoping that she will keep communication with us after the baby is born. Cris and I are getting rather attached to her and her son. The generosity that we have experienced by so many has been amazing. We received enough items to furnish a small home for her. It blows me away how God continues to bless our journey. Just 3 1/2 months ago we thought it would be impossible to expand our family and now in 10 weeks we will be adding a baby. And yesterday, New Years Ever I was able to go with EM to her ultrasound yesterday and I was able to see that baby that will be our in just a  few weeks.
and then I got to see that it is a ....
Our family will become whole. It is amazing how God has taken my word "Wholeness" further than anything I could have dreamed of! We are not completely whole yet, but we are getting there! And we could not have gotten to where we are without all of the love and support of so many.
We have been incredibly blessed with amazing friendship this year.
 For 2015 my word will be Joy. I can not wait to see what this year has in store for us!