Monday, March 12, 2018

Happy Birthday, R!

Sweet R,

You are one year old! Happy Birthday!

We had a great time celebrating you recently with friends and family. Lots of people came to wish you well and celebrate you. They brought presents and wishes and love. You had a whole cake just to yourself for the celebration and you ate almost of it!

You’re such a good baby. (We know there is no such thing as a bad baby!) You fit into this family perfectly. You eat well and sleep well. You have a lovey you like to put over your face when you’re going to sleep that seems to be your favorite. You are flexible and easygoing. You love to rock yourself in your car seat and jump in the bouncy exerciser. You scoot yourself around while doing the splits and are trying to figure out crawling. You’re pulling up on some things but aren’t quite sure about that. You’re babbling and trying to make words and love to clap for attention and smiles. You love the bath and playing with the boat toys.

You’re the fifth child we’ve had on their first birthday. There is a bittersweetness to this. I think that first birthdays are more for parents than children. They’re a time when we celebrate parents making it through a year of keeping a little human alive. There are so many “firsts” in that first year. So many questions and so many times you wonder if you’re making the right choices. First birthdays are totally more for adults than they are for babies. They’re a time when adults gather with their friends and family and get a pat-on-the-back and get to take a breath and look at how far they’ve come and celebrate making it. And then that moment is gone and you head straight into the second year. Another year full of “firsts” and questions and wondering but with a little more confidence that it is going to be ok because we made it through the first one.

I am sorry that your mama and daddy didn’t get to celebrate this with you on your first birthday. That’s not the way it is supposed to work. I’m sorry you weren’t with all of your siblings and your grandparents and your great grandparents. I do think that on your birthday they probably all did stop and remember you and wish good things for you – some of them all the way from Mexico! I hope that you felt that love coupled with the love from us. We did get to celebrate with your older sisters on Saturday (your actual birthday) and they were thrilled to see you and give you gifts they chose. We’re making plans for you to see the rest of your mom’s family soon.

We have loved getting to be your mamas for 243 days of your first 365. You’ve done so much growing and learning. You’re healthy now and working hard to catch up on milestones.

A judge will hear your case this week. We don’t expect any big changes to happen anytime soon but we are going to start asking and pushing for them to find a place where you can be with more of your siblings. Your sisters miss you. They are happy when they know you’re happy and being taken care of. It would be good if they could see that every day. You deserve to be in a home where all of the rest of your birthdays can be celebrated with your siblings. 

We’re not sure how much longer you’ll be with us but we will love you and take care of you as long as we need to. Happy birthday, R. I’m glad you were born!

Mama and Bubbie

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Happy Birthday F!

Dear F,
You’re three years old! Happy Birthday! I am glad we got to celebrate with you on your birthday and am excited about celebrating you with family and friends this weekend.

You’ve been with our family for seven months. You’ve grown and changed so much since we met you. You’ve been working hard to learn new words and how to use them. You’ve been learning more about how to have and play with toys. You’re getting used to having some things that are just yours and some things we share. You love getting dressed every day and still exclaim “SOCKS!!!” with the biggest grin every morning when we put them on. You still have a little trouble sleeping all night without waking up upset – but we’re trying lots of things to figure out what you need to be able to rest. We’re also working on speech at special appointments each week and soon you’re going to be able to go on a big school bus to a special class at a big kids school. There you’re going to get more help with communication and catch up on some other skills  and make new friends – but I have a feeling you’re going to be most excited about riding on the bus!

We see your big sisters pretty regularly. They’re doing well in their foster home and are learning and growing too. We’ve had a couple of visits with your older brothers. They’re happy where they are with your great-grandmother. When you’re with them they want to carry you around and make sure you have enough to eat. They love you and care about you. We’ve seen your mom two times since July. She loves you and cares about you too.

We’re not sure how much longer you’ll be with us. We still would like for you and R to be able to permanently be with more of your siblings. You all have lots going on so we’re working to get some of those things settled before we make big changes.

We’re happy you’re a part of our family, F. You’ve taught us so much about resilience and love. You’ve challenged us to in many ways, but you’ve also loved us in many ways. We hope the year that's ahead of you is your best year yet!

Happy Birthday, buddy!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

First Letter to Baby C

Dear Baby C,
Welcome to our family! Your arrival was quite a surprise and definitely beyond what we could have hoped or imagined. Your first mother and aunt messaged me a couple of days after you were born to let me know you had arrived. Although you were born about 6 weeks too soon and came in an emergency sort of way, you’re healthy and beautiful in every way. You came home weighing 5.5 pounds and yesterday the doctor said you are already up to 6 pounds 11 ounces! Your Bubbie and I were able to bring you home from the hospital 10 days after you were born. We had to spend some extra time with you in the NICU to make sure we were ready for you and you were ready for us. You’ve been home for 11 days now and have fit right in.

One of the first things I whispered in your ears was that we have a crazy beautiful family and I was happy to welcome you to it. We’ve heard from your first mom that she’s hoping you can stay with us and be a forever part of our family. She wants you to be in a stable family and grow up with your sister. We want that too. We have court January 5 and will know more about what is going on after that date.

Speaking of your sister…Sam is so excited you’re here. She had a little cold when you first came home so she had to wait a few days to be able to hold you. She was patient and was SO excited when she finally got to hold you and kiss your hands. She knows you have the same Gigi. She doesn’t quite understand all that that means but she knows you are her sister and she loves you. Most every night when I ask her her three special questions she says what she’s most looking forward to about tomorrow is holding and seeing you. When I ask her what she wants to teach you to do she says “clap and jump on the jump-o-line.” Santa brought us a trampoline for Christmas. We’ll try to take good care of it so she can teach you to jump on it when you’re ready.

You’ve also met your other siblings in our home. K loves you too. He recognizes when you’re in the room and wonders where you are when he can’t see you. He loves to kiss you. He wants to give you toys to play with but we’re helping him know you’re not quite ready for toys. He has been with us since he was a tiny baby. We hope to adopt him soon and make him a forever part of our family. We’ve hit a roadblock with that process and there are a lot of uncertain things about that. We’re still working and praying and waiting to see what happens.

F is less concerned about you than K is. He recognizes you’re a baby but that’s about it. F has some major challenges and difficulties with some things so you shouldn’t take this personally! R is F’s baby sister and she definitely knows you’re here. You’re her (and our) roommate. She’s still not sure how she feels about having to go all night without a bottle when you get two during the night. She’s been pretty chill about sharing our attention though. We think you’re going to get along well. We’re not sure how much longer R&F will be in our home. They have lots of other siblings (and one on the way) and we’re hoping that soon they can move to a place where they can grow up with more of their biological siblings.

C, we have a very strong village that has worked hard to welcome you! We’ve had extra hands around to help and several friends to come stay with you as we had to run errands or work. Friends have brought meals and stayed for baby cuddles. Others have sent gift cards for meals or groceries. Other have dropped off boxes of diapers and wipes and have made sure we have clothes that fit you. Our family helped make Christmas happen even in the chaos of five kids.

One thing that we know for sure is that babies rarely come to us when it is easy and convenient. We weren’t entirely sure we would be able to bring you home. You came to us in a season of waiting that is all about one particular baby. That baby had an especially strong mother who wasn’t expecting him at first either. Now, I’m fully aware you’re not baby Jesus (I’m pretty sure the Son of God wouldn’t create so many dirty diapers) but you’re just as much a sign of new life and hope for us. I’m sure one day I’ll tell you more about it, but we were hoping for a new baby soon in our lives and you just might have been the answer to that hope. We love you baby girl and are delighted to be the ones that brought you home and get to introduce you to the world. We do indeed have a crazy beautiful family and are so glad you’re a part of it.

Love you,

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Letter to R and F

It has been nearly 6 weeks since you two came to live with us. Bubbie and I had been waiting for months to get another call about kids who might need to stay with us. We said no to several situations that felt like they weren’t great fits for us and then the call came for ya’ll. We were at a graduation night at my work at Circles. We were told there were two kids – 4 months and 2 years that needed a place to go. We said yes and began to make arrangements for ya’ll.

We learned that the place you’d been living wasn’t safe or clean. We were ready to help you be clean and safe and give you the things you need to grow. It makes us very sad when we know kids aren’t getting the things they need and aren’t being taken care of. We could tell that neither of you had had all you needed to be safe and to grow.

Since you’ve been with us we’ve been working on these things. You’re both growing in your bodies and your brains and your spirits. We’re watching you develop and mature and hit milestones you were missing.

Sam loves having you around – especially having a baby girl around! K is learning to love a playmate who is only a couple of months older than he is.

You’re learning what it is like to have appropriate food on a regular basis and to take baths. You’re getting used to sleeping in beds and having toys. It is a joy to be able to be your family right now.

This past weekend you had a visit with your 5 other siblings, your grandma, 3 great-grandparents, and an uncle. Everyone was so excited to be able to have you all together. You were happy to be there. We hope that those visits happen more often.

We have court for you soon and hope to have a better idea of what might be coming for you. We hope that soon there can be a place you could be with more of your siblings. We know they miss you. No matter how long you are with us, we promise to take care of you and make sure you have what you need. We love you both and want the very very very best for you.

Welcome to our crazy family!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Big Day for K

Dear K,
Today is a big day for you. You started swimming lessons…and didn’t cry at all. That was a really big deal – but not really why I’m writing this letterJ

The judge was scheduled to hear your story today. When we were there last month they decided we needed to come back and let them change the goal of your case. They were going to change it and start the process of filing some paperwork that meant you weren’t ever going to go back and live with your First Mama.

We’ve been talking to your First Mama a lot lately. She made a really important and big and hard decision. She made the decision to sign some papers that said it was ok for you not to live with her. This was a really hard decision for her to make because she loves you so much. Since you were born she’s been working on getting some things worked out so you can come live with her. She’s decided that the best thing for you is to let you stay with us. She recognizes that me and Bubbie are your mamas now and that we’ve been taking good care of you. She knows you’re happy and settled with us and wants it to stay that way. We’ve talked to her about making sure you always know who she is and that she knows how you are doing and she gets to see you sometimes. She’s going to have another baby next month and she wants you to know your little sister. She wants this to happen and we do too. Before she signed the papers today she made sure that we agreed to let her see you and she made sure this was going to be ok with the judge.

K, she loves you and your sister very much. She told me that today several times. She is sorry you haven’t ever been able to live with her, but she told me and Bubbie that she thinks we’re doing a good job being your Mamas. She wants you to stay happy and healthy and have the chance to grow up in our family.

We want you to grow up in our family too. You’ve already done 2 years and 2 months worth of growing in our family. We want you to be able to be here forever. We hope more than anything that this will happen. The next step is to find the man who is your biological father and give him the chance to sign some papers. If he doesn’t, then they will take away his rights to be your father. We’ve never met him and you’ve never met him.

After that happens a group of people in the state office will have to make a decision saying its ok for you to be adopted separately from your big sister, A. This hurts our hearts because we love it when siblings are kept together but you and your sister have never lived together and do not have a strong bond. We are committed to you continuing a relationship with your sister and always knowing that she is your biological family. We see her as much as we can with her foster mom. Our prayer is that this decision can be made and we can adopt you and Ms. S. can adopt A. and we can continue to redefine what family means.

K, we have loved being your mamas for all of your days so far. We are thrilled that today means we’re one step closer to being your mamas for all the rest of your days. Two years ago when I left the hospital with you as a tiny baby I had no idea we would ever be at this place. There are parts of this story that have been hard and parts that have been sad and parts that have been more delightful that I could have imagined. I am so glad we’re still in this together. We love you, K.


PS - Your First Mama wore a shirt today with anchors all over it. Anchors for us represent the hope we have in Jesus in this whole fostering journey. I smiled at this coincidence! 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bye Bye J!

Baby J,
You left our house yesterday for the second time. You're in Atlanta with your brother in another foster home and we're so glad! We heard from your new foster mom and she said you and your brother are getting a long and already have enjoyed being together.

Your last night with us we had my family over for a cookout and enjoyed a simple night at home. You spent your last morning here at daycare with folks who love you and have cared for you for months. They were sad to see you go.

S and K have missed you already. K misses his roommate and S is worried we forgot you somewhere! We're working together as a family to get used to you not being with us.

Rev. Grace offered a special blessing for you at the end of worship on Sunday. We prayed for you and for all the places your life will take you. We're praying you'll always be loved and know how much you're treasured and valued. We're hoping to stay in touch with your new foster mom and hope she will keep us posted on how you're growing and changing.

We're happy to have known you, J. We're better for it and we hope you're better too.



Friday, May 12, 2017

A Letter to J

Last week your case was heard in court again. It had been 6 months since the Judge heard your story so it was time for him to listen again. Some big changes are happening. Your mom is still working on some things to be able to get you and your brother back. She's not quite ready yet. People who have been paying attention to your case think its best if you go to live with your older brother in the foster home where he has been since he was a little bitty baby.

This will be a bittersweet move for us.

We will be sad you'll be leaving our family again. You're the tiniest baby (4lbs when we brought you home!) we've cared for and it has been a joy to be able to watch you grow into a healthy and happy and chubby 16 month old. You're the most easy-going baby we've had. You fit right back into our family and its been a joy for you to be back. We will miss you when you leave.

But we're also happy for you and for your older brother. We know the foster family who has been caring for him has been hoping to be able to care for you for months. We're glad you'll be able to live together and really get to know each other as brothers. Moving you to live when them now will be much easier than waiting and moving you when you're older. We're trusting that this is really the best thing for you.

We believe that children should be in families. We've been so happy you've been a part of ours but are happy you'll get to be with your biological brother.

You have a special place in our heart and have made your mark on our home. We hope we're able to stay in touch with your new family and follow your growth and development. Your brother here (K) and your sister here (Sam) will miss you for sure. Our dog will miss your messy eating habits. We will miss the compliments we get on how beautiful you are. We'll miss your deep belly laugh and the way you make tears faster than any other human ever.

We have loved being your Meggie and Bubbie for 11 of the months of your life. You are special. You are loved by us and by our village. They say you're leaving in the next three weeks. We'll spend those weeks doing life as a family - living and loving together.

Love you,