…because there just isn’t enough stress

Our current adoption agency may be losing their license, but we won’t know until mid-May.  If we wait that long and they do lose it, we will have to start all over with EVERYTHING, delaying the adoption another 6 months-ish.  We have a back up safety net of still being licensed through our county, so the kids are not at risk for having to be temporarily placed elsewhere (over my dead body) despite what we originally thought.  A 3rd safety net is that the county where the kids are from said they will issue us an emergency license if needed.  Our plan D is to run away with the kids to Mexico.  Jax asked me this morning why we don’t live where the “coconut trees” live, so that should work out okay.  

I cancelled a session today to make phone calls to other agencies to talk about the process of getting licensed through them.  Essentially, even if we start today the adoption is likely going to be delayed as a result of this.  I am about to owe our “no fair jar” .25 cents, but this is NOT FAIR!   The kids don’t need that, we don’t need 800 more stacks of paperwork to fill out with no time, and I don’t need the stress of orchestrating all of this.   Please send some good vibes and/or prayers that this can quickly and efficiently get sorted out so we can get on with being a family…

My Favorite Circus

Our social worker and GAL were over tonight for a visit.  One commented that she mentioned having a late visit to a coworker, and the coworker groaned for her.  She said she replied that she didn’t mind because she loves going to the “Kent Circus.”  “My cheeks always hurt afterwards from laughing so hard,” she said!  My favorite kind of circus is home.

circus

They told us that they were talking in the car about how different the kids look.  Charlie and I talk about this frequently as well, especially for J.  When we met him, he was a very angry looking child.  It was difficult to experience that “love at first sight” with the empty look in his eyes.  Those that know the J we now know and love probably can’t imagine this – he has a sparkle in his eyes unmatched to anyone else I know!  I truly think he is one of the cutest kids ever now. (I might be slightly biased). Regardless, It’s amazing what love and attachment can do to a persons physical appearance.  He has grown 3 clothing sizes in 7 months…it’s like our love was equivalent to sun and water to plant.  It was interesting to hear someone objective mention this, as Charlie and I talk about it frequently.  Over the last four years I have witnessed Charlie’s eyes well up with tears/love while staring at Jax many times.  To see this occur with J the other day was so wonderful!

Hearing Jax tell J he loved him over breakfast and hearing him get a response of “I love you too” this morning  + hearing “A” bound in the door after school with a casual “Hey Mama” made me stop and count my blessings after a rough week.  How on earth did we get so lucky to get the circus we did!?

Bonding Trip

So much for low expectations… Best. Trip. Ever. The reactions to the suitcases really made us question the decision last minute.   When we got to the airport, one of the TSA agents told us about the expedited family line at the other side of the airport.  J’s eyes just LIT up, he got a huge grin on his face, and he excitedly announced, “HEY!  WE are a family!”  That we are, little buddy.  The TSA agent looked super confused and my eyes welled up with tears.  It was incredibly cute and warmed my heart…but also broke my heart that a young child would be so excited about having a family.  Something most of us have taken for granted our whole lives.  Once again thankful for the perspective my wise kiddos give me. 

“A” was really nervous on the airplane, but it was amazing to watch her nurture the teddy bear she brought with as a means for coping.  Even more amazing, she used her words…”Mom, I’m nervous” and reached out to take my hand.  Huge. 

Image

The kids’ behavior was absolutely amazing.  Not even our new definition of amazing, either! Our old one.  Literally five or six random strangers approached us while out and about to comment on how well behaved our kids were.  I kept looking around for Ashton Kutcher.  Is this happening?!  I laughed to myself – if these people only knew!  We had planned on hunkering down at the resort if/when it all hit the fan, but we were able to experience all kinds of amazing things.  We visited a sea turtle hospital, swam in beautiful pools, went snorkeling, went sailing at sunset (dolphins swam right up to our boat), went jet skiing on the ocean, ate out at fancy restaurants (if you only knew how far we have come with eating out!), and went air boating through the Everglades.  Every single day was perfect and fun.

Image

Image

Image

Image

On the second or third day of the trip, J all of the sudden flipped a switch and started calling Charlie “Dad.”  Something about this “family vacation” was just vital for the health of our family.  None of us told anyone our story.  Usually the kids blurt things out and Charlie and I feel the urge to explain ourselves.  There were no services, no explanations, no drama.  Just us.  Just our family.  Several times people commented on how much the kids looked like us.  We all just exchanged knowing glances, smiled, and said “we know.” 

On the way home, a flight attendant caught my eye.  He approached me, got down on my level, and reminded me that I needed to put my oxygen mask on first.  Then he touched Charlie’s arm and slowly and gently told him the same thing.  I have no idea if this is a policy or not…I have heard that message repeatedly but have never seen them individually tell people.  Policy or not, I don’t believe in coincidences and it was a powerful metaphorical reminder for us to take care of ourselves so we can effectively show up for our kids. 

Our last day of traveling was really stressful and hard…the kids were disregulated and anxious and exhausted.  We were also exhausted as well as stressed about the very busy airport and delayed flights/missed connections.  J and A were playing a fun game of “let’s try to get lost and see if Mom and Dad care enough to notice.”  A stranger sitting next to us approached us and out of the blue said, “You are wonderful parents.  You are so calm.  You’re doing great, and your kids respond well to you.”  I wonder if she knows how much that meant to us in the midst of chaos and stress and self-consciousness, and I will likely draw from that in future rough times.  I am resolving to say those things out loud to people in the future, as I often think them. 

Almost as fantastic as how smooth things went (aside from that last day of traveling) was hearing J and A make comments about being excited to go “home” and sleep in “their own beds.”  I think they are finally accepting the fact that this is home, and those will ALWAYS be their own beds. 

Image

 

Vacation Bound

We are headed to the Keys bright and early tomorrow morning!   We are really trying to keep our expectations low.  Change in routine is hard on our kids, and their association of traveling/flying is disrupted adoption.  I know many people think this is a bad idea, but we have to have this first travel experience someday…and we figure now is a good time to try.  We are going to focus on family bonding all week!  I told my coworkers and clients I am completely disconnecting in order to be more present with the fam.  We are also looking forward to a break from the many services!  Excited to have a week of “normalcy” and JUST US!

My severe procrastination turns out to be kind of a blessing. (I just started packing…and now I am blogging…and we need to go.  Soon.)  We got the suit cases out last night, and this triggered the kids pretty badly, borderline PTSD episodes.  It’s so hard to think of everything – and this wasn’t something on our radar.  It sure makes sense, though, when they have had so very many moves and homes and families.  Suit cases = leaving everything they know and uncharted territory.  Last night was rough, and the whole house was up by 6am this morning very disregulated!  We keep repeating, over and over, “We are packing to go on a family vacation.  It’s going to be fun.  We are all five going to fly to Florida, and all five going to fly back home.”

Wish us luck at the airport – we are 3/3 on major impulsivity!  Actually 5/5, if we want to be honest!!  We bought these bracelets just in case…they say “If I’m lost, look inside.”  I sincerely hope that was overkill.  Slightly nervous about juggling the luggage and keeping track of our wanderers!  I should probably slap one on Charlie, too.

Image

Looking forward to giving an update when we get home.  Assuming we do come home!

Bittersweet Decisions

We were in court  again today. We are never sure going if we will have to speak or not.  We also don’t know if a life-altering decision will be made or if the judge will ask to review the case again in 90 days.  My body wakes up feeling tense/anxious/like something terrible is going to happen on court days before my mind remembers what’s going on.  Today was no different!

We knew that the county/county attorney/Guardian ad Litem were getting tired of fighting.  More than tired, like us, they were in a very difficult position of not knowing what was right anymore.  To continue to fight T meant pushing off the adoption of J and A for a significant amount of time, risking losing much of their progress if he came now that they have been apart for 7 months, and continuing to put immense stress on T and us with this ongoing court drama we would likely never “win.”  To quit fighting meant leaving T on his own and adding one more loss to J and A’s ridiculously long list.  It was not a decision we could make, and I do know that their decision came from a place of wonderful intentions.  Yet, to hear them give up and see them lose their fight was tough.

Essentially, it is over.  T will remain where he is, and likely age out of the system.  We will be back in court after we get home from Florida for a hearing to get the siblings legally separated.  Once that occurs, we will get our APA (adoptive placement agreement) signed that day and will finalize in approximately 3-6 months.  I am ashamed to admit that my very first emotion upon hearing this was sheer relief.  I am running out of steam, and Charlie has pretty much lost his.  Tonight, I am feeling quite literally sick to my stomach.  My logical brain knows this is absolutely the right thing, the easiest thing, etc.  But…my heart just breaks over the situation.  This should have never happened.

For the past year, when people ask me how many kids I have, I kind of stumble around.  I don’t know…3? 4? Initially I felt this need to explain that we “just got” two more kids. Eventually, I stopped needing to explain that…but felt the need to explain that we might “get” one more. In general, I feel the need to explain why I can’t answer that question very well.  I’m not sure that will stop, because a part of me will always have that 4th kid.  Ironically, T was the first one of the three I bonded with.  I know I will never be his Mom, but I hope he hears us when we say we will always be his family.

gravel

A poem

We are responsible for children
who put chocolate finger’s everywhere,
who like to be tickled,
who stomp in puddles and ruin their new pants,
who sneak popsicles before dinner,
who erase holes in their math workbooks,
who can never find their shoes.

But we are also responsible for those
who stare at photographers from behind broken windows,
who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
who never “counted potatoes”,
who were born in places we wouldn’t be caught dead,
who live in an X-rated world.

We are responsible for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who sleep with the dog and bury the goldfish,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
who cover themselves with band-aids and sing off key,
who slurp their soup.

But we are also responsible for those
who never get desert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them suffer,
who can’t find any bread to steal,
who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
whose monsters are real.

We are responsible for children
who spend their allowance before Tuesday,
who throw tantrums in the grocery store and who pick at their food,
who like ghost stories,
who shove dirty clothes under the bed and never rinse out the tub,
who get visits from the tooth fairy,
who don’t like to be kissed in front of the car pool,
who squirm in church and scream on the phone,
whose tears sometimes make us laugh and whose smile sometimes make us cry.

And we are responsible for those
whose nightmares come in the daytime,
who will eat anything,
who have never seen a dentist,
who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
who live and move, but have no being.

We are responsible for children
who want to be carried and for those who must,
for those we will never give up on and
for those who don’t get a second chance,
and for those we smother and
for those who will grab the hand of anybody kind enough to offer it.

-Ina Hughes

Image