Monday, June 4, 2018

C is 6 months!


Today was a big day.

You’re 6 months old today! You’re such a happy baby. You love to sing and talk to anyone who will listen and smile at everyone. You’re sleeping (for about 6 hours) well and eating like a champ. You can hardly tell you were 6 weeks early. There was an accident in April at daycare that injured your arm but that has barely slowed you down! We spent some time in the hospital and make sure your arm healed and while it hasn’t healed as straight as we would like…it doesn’t seem to bother you at all! We’re working with a physical therapist to make sure you’re back to using your arm as soon as possible!

Today a panel heard your case. The panel is made up of folks from the community who care about foster kids and have special training in understanding the system. I talked to your first mom (Gigi) last night and she said she wanted to make sure to be there so we gave her a ride. While we were there we talked about how much she loves you and how happy she is that you’re healthy and happy. She’s so happy that you’re growing up with Sam. She is so happy that you’re heathy and happy.

While we were at the meeting she let them know she was ready to sign the papers that will make it faster for us to be your parents forever. We left the meeting and went to the office where she could sign the papers. This was a really big deal and a really big decision. Never ever doubt that this was a hard thing for her to do. These papers mean she knows she won’t ever be your mama and be the one to take care of you.

We had to wait a long long time for the papers to be ready and for the right people to be there for her to sign. She held you and fed you and sang you to sleep while we waited. She and I also talked a lot and learned more about each other. After she signed she was very sad and talked about how she knew she made the right decision but it was still very hard. We talked about how her signing those papers doesn’t mean she will never see you again. We still very much want her to know you and for you to grow up knowing who she is. We went and had lunch together so she could have a little longer visit today.

She’s an important part of your story. She’s an important part of our story together.

The more your first mom talked today, the more I realized that you are a miracle. I know, I know…all babies are miracles. Some babies just have beginnings that involve lots of doctors visits, vitamins, scans, buying cribs, choosing car seats, and very planned arrivals. Your first months when Gigi found out about you weren’t like that. It was about this time last year that she told us she was expecting a baby, but it didn’t seem like you would be healthy when you arrived.  There were lots of questions even up until your arrival about how healthy you would be. And here you are! Sound asleep in my lap as I type. Happy and healthy. My prayer is that we remember what a gift you are to our family, our village, and our world. You’ve made our lives crazier, that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t trade a minute!

Speaking of crazy, I’ve got to go unload the dishwasher and clean off the dining room table. We heard today from the lady who is coming back to our house this week to follow-up about your accident and we need to get ready! I'm sure when we think of your first six months we'll remember that these have been some of our craziest days - but also some of our best days!

We love you, C!

Mama and Bubbie

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A middle of the night letter to K

Dear K,
Tonight the weight of you was almost more than I could bear.
We’re visiting Poppy and as soon as the jammies came out you announced you wanted to go home to go to bed. You’re not one for traveling.
So hours after your normal bedtime I climbed in the bed with you and Sam and rocked you and sang. Jesus loves the little children. Jesus loves me. Jesus loves Kingston. Jesus loves the little spiders. I’ve got confidence. Joy to the world. All your favorites.
Sam fell asleep by the second song.
As you finally start to give in to sleep your body twitches and your breathing changes. I recognize this from when you were a baby. I laid back.
Your arms and legs draped over me.
I didn’t carry you in my belly so this is as close as our hearts have ever beenn but our hearts have spent lots of nights like this.
The first nine months of your life we went to sleep most nights like this. Usually on the couch watching Gilmore Girls as you wailed from reflux pains.

It was easier then.

The weight of you was less. I mean obviously you weighed less but also we didn’t think you needed us to be your parents forever then. It wasn’t so much. The temporary nature of it made it lighter. Not easier. Just not so heavy.
Your two year and eleven month body is heavy.
We’ve haven’t thought of this as a temporary placement for almost two years.
The last 5 months have been heaviest.
I haven’t been able to take a deep breath. You sleeping on my chest tonight helped me realize that that has been my feeling.

Things in your case took a turn no one saw coming and we’re trying to keep up.

There’s a big meeting this coming Tuesday. A big one. A big decision will be made about whether or not the decision makers want us to adopt you or not. We can’t go to the meeting but we will know the outcome Tuesday. We’re praying hard that those folks who make the decisions think about what’s best for you and for your sister and your first family as they make decisions. We’ve asked everyone who knows you to pray for this too. This makes it a little easier to breathe - to almost be able to take a deep breath.
Your Bubbie and I feel deeply that your best permanent home is with us. This is something we have thought a lot about and prayed a lot about and sought wise council about. We will do everything we can to make this happen. Even if the decision makers don’t agree this week, we’re ready with our response.

One day maybe you’ll read this letter and love traveling so much you'll be surprised you didn’t want to sleep at Poppy’s house. Maybe you will love trucks then and you won’t remember how you want to sing that Jesus loves the little spiders every night. Maybe you’ll be a cool kid and you'll be embarrassed when I tell you how much you drool and toot in your sleep (don’t worry Sam does too)! Or maybe you’ll read it and remember a hint of something about how it felt to be held and rocked to sleep. I hope you read it and realize how deeply we love you and how hard we’ve worked to be able to make you our son. I hope then I’m breathing a little more deeply.

For now, I'm going to finish these words I'm typing in my phone, try to take a picture of you asleep on my chest, and then I’m going to figure out how to lay you down without waking you up and sneak out of this bed because I know how much water you had to drink tonight and not even those nighttime diapers can handle it.

Oh and just know you’re worth it. Whatever weight it means we carry. Don’t ever doubt you are worth it. That’s what parents do.

Love you,

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!