Monday, November 30, 2009

The gift of P....

So tomorrow it's P's turn. She turns 3. If you haven't met her in person let me share a little what it's like to first meet her. She will first hug your leg then either stretch out her arms or just plain ole tell you to pick her up. She will hold your face in her little hands and study your face and ask you all kinds of questions. She will kiss and hug on you and shower you with affection....and that's for those of you whom she just met.

She is a joyful kid. She always has her little grin on and the bigger the grin the bigger the trouble! It took me a few weeks to figure out that if I walked into a room and she said hi or smiled really really big she was probably up to no good. That smile has gotten her this far but we are slowly getting through to her that it takes alot more than that!

She is a hoot. The girl loves to sing and dance and it is a fairly common scene around here to see her thick little self busting a move in front of the mirror and hamming it up . She is smart as a whip and funny funny funny. She often has her hat on backwards or wearing a wig or anything to act silly and get a laugh. She loves to cuddle and if mom and dad are busy it is not unusual to see her curled up in her brother or sisters arms. When she first came to live with us she would demand everything and asking with a please has been an endless lesson but the best demand was at bedtime every night when she would look at me and say, "Give me a kiss!"

Her eyes dance when she laughs and her little spirit is contagious. She doesn't know a stranger and makes friends wherever we go. She is a joy and we will celebrate her short three years tomorrow. We will celebrate that she was in her other mommy's tummy and that when she could no longer take care of her, God found her for us. We will celebrate what a blessing she is to our family and the times she has us all rolling on the floor in laughter. We will celebrate that this beautiful girl is safe and loved and wanted. We will pray for her future and for her mom's heart to make the right choice. I will celebrate that for tomorrow I am her mom and I will celebrate that each day I get to be. Happy Birthday my beautiful ball of energy. I love love love you.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Parental Units

Parental units is the loving term that my brother and sisters and I gave our parents back in high school. It later became shortened like most of our nicknames do into just Units. My family of origin is known for their nicknames that have no relation to your actual name and by the time it morhps into it's 2nd or 3rd variation of that nickname really makes no sense. I'm just glad my sister doesn't call me Face anymore...which was shortened from Buttface when she was a lovely teenager. But I digress...

My parental units happen to be the best you will find. Go ahead, look high and low. The best are mine.

Our family has had and will continue to have it's fair share of dysfunction but that is what my parents have taught me best of all. Famly means sticking together through whatever comes your way. A good family doesn't mean that you won't ever have your problems or that you agree on everything or even live your life in similar ways. It means you love one another despite yourselves.

It means when your brother has green hair and plays songs in his punk rock band titled "Psycho Cabbage'' that you go to his gigs and cheer him on. It means that when your little sister comes home pregnant as a senior in high school that you cry with her and then walk her through the steps of what it's going to take to be a good mom. It means when that same sister is beaten by her husband you sit with her while she talks to the police. You don't preach or judge, you sit with her. You love her. It means when your sister calls from far away after her fifth miscarriage, you know it is okay to not have anything to say. It is okay to just cry on the phone with her in silence. It means when one of you want to be an emmy award winning news producer you believe they will do just that. It means when another of you want to just be at home with your kids, that you help them find bargains now and then. It means that when you are a senior in high school and you get arrested at a college for underage drinking, your parents love you anyway. It means that when a marriage is struggling you pray for them and love them and encourage them and you show up with pink capes on if necessary. It means that when you know you have screwed up and made a dumb choice that your family will be there anyway. They may rib you a bit for it. They may joke about it (in love, of course) for the rest of your life but they will be there when you are doing the victory dance in life or when you are sliding down the wall in grief.

Family was modeled to me from a very young age and that gift is priceless. I sit and think about my family. What we've been through and the journeys I'm sure are to come...and I feel a sense of pride that I've never felt about anything else. I feel a sense of gratitude like no other. I know how blessed I am to have this and the older I get, the more I realize how abnormal it really is. This year at Christmas my entire family will be together and I simply cannot wait. It is one of my greatest ways to spend a day...with my loud loving family eating and watching 14 cousins running around and playing games and dancing and singing and lauging so much someone just may pee a little. I love that my family looks like an old Benetton ad from the late 80's and that you can't tell whose kid is whose by just looking because we all take care of each others like they are our own. I love that if you have married into this family it really doesn't feel any different than if you were born into it. Like it or not. I love that God gave me my parental units example and for each one of my very different siblings. I love that my parents set the example for me of what a family looks like and that at the center of it all is the example Jesus set for us on how to love. I can only hope that someday my children look at their Units and feel the same sense of gratitude and pride.

Now if we can only get Mom to remember who she told what to, things would be perfect!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving with my baby mama!

I never thought I'd title an entry like that. God has quite a sense of humor! Thank you for all the prayers because I really wasn't that nervous. I called my friend Lia on the way there and was joking that I was going to drive thru Starbucks and see if they could add a shot of Kahlua to my hot chocolate:) I really felt shockinglly well though. Some may call it a curse but I think it is a blessing that I am a 'take it or leave it' , 'what ya see is what ya get' kinda girl. It helps in situations like these.

P, L and I went downtown to pick up their mom. Their wasn't room for all of us in our van so we met the others at my sisters. The kids were very excited waiting for her to come out and P could not get out of the van fast enough to hug her and she just burried her head in her neck. L got quiet and nervous and I had to ask him if he wanted to give her a hug and he started giggling and said no but I just teased him and he finally did. She was by far the nicest she's been to me. She hugged me and said I looked great and if a stranger were watching they would have assumed us old friends.

She looked good and the conversation in the van was easy. We talked about her work, school and her new apartment. We spoke about the kids a bit and her family and mine. It was a nice time. It felt good. When we turned into my sister's drive I could see her change. She said she was nervous and I could tell her 'flight or fight' survival skills were rearing their ugly head. I told her that we all were nervous and it was probably going to feel a bit awkward but that we were all glad she was here and we all loved her family. I thanked her for saying yes because I know it wasn't easy to do.

She was a bit quiet and would have kept to herself if we didn't engage her but when we did she was pleasant. She made several digs at my parenting that I just had to leave alone and breathe through:) She mainly played with P and L and the birthday presents she had brought for them. I made a frame for her that says "We are thankful for you" with the kids picture and they proudly gave that to her. P did not leave her side and did not act herself. She was almost solemn and did not run to everyone and hug them and act silly and sit on everyone's laps like usualy. L acted normal and could take her or leave her except for the fact that he cried easily if someone took a toy or he didn't get his way. They mainly called her by her name but as the day went on, P called her Mommy and L even did once. Safe Families had arranged for a cab to pick her up and drive her home and when it got there she was upset and told me it was too soon and the kids didn't understand why she had to leave. Of course they don't understand!!! They don't understand any of this. I explained to her that I did not arrange the cab or when it would come and she could talk to Safe Families if she was upset. So yes, I threw them under the bus and told them I did just that. Our social worker said that's what she's there for:)

L hugged her goodbye when we told him to and ran off and played. P held onto her sobbing and screaming "I want her." I had to pry her off of her a bit and was able to calm her in a few minutes but my heart and everyone else's was broken for this hurting little girl. It is obvious the bond that she feels to her mom and all I could say was I'm so sorry this hurts you. Mommy loves you and can't take care of you and she wants me to love you and I do so much. I will take care of you and love you and you will be safe. Not so easy to digest at 36 so I have no idea how you can at the age of 2.

The rest of the evening P played and acted fairly normal....not quite as giggly but good. L had major meltdowns over the tiniest thing. I could just see him hurting and struggling and angry and not sure why or how to handle it all. This is the exact reason why she cannot continue to pop into their life when the urge hits. Children cannot process that kind of pain.

After having a day to process our thanksgiving with Baby Mama, I realize a few things. One, she will never fully take responsibility for them. I believe she is incapable of it. Secondly, she will never fully let go. Third, loving someone like we do these babies, hurts but is completely worth it. I am not sure what will be the next step. We want to talk with our attorney this week and DCS to determine what our options are and the affect it would have on the children. We know that becoming their guardians and her showing up when she wants is not an option that we are willing to do. It is not healthy for her or them or us. We may have to quickly become licensed foster parents in case they would become a part of the system. We are working closely with Safe Families as to what the next step will be and ensuring it is best for the kids. We want to be their forever family but we have to do that in a healthy way for all of us.

We are praying for wisdom and guidance for a miracle to be worked in her heart. Trying to love her like Jesus and these children and the three we already have feels like a juggling act at times. Trying to wade the waters of the 'system' and the legal stuff and the emotions and the logistics is at times overwhelming but I rest in knowing that we are doing everything we do out of love. I have to be okay with the fact that I am limited in how I can help her. The problems she has are not ones I am equipped to handle and the offers I give are met with rejection. Our hands are tied as to what we can do for these babies by the legal system and the welfare system and the rights of their mother.

But I know my God. I have seen His miracles firsthand. I have seen him move mountains and clear obstacles and do the impossible. I believe in His mighty hand and I trust in HIS soveriegnty and love for these children and for their mom and for our family. I know He is in control and I surrender all to Him. This is greater than me or Trevor or our family. This is more than we can do. You have to take this one God. I also fully realize that this ending may not be what I think it should be. I realize this ending may take me to the ground. I realize this ending may make no earthly sense to us but I am determined, Lord, that you will be glorified. I am confident that Your Love will prevail and that in all of this, someone will know Your name and feel Your presence. In all of this, we will praise You. In all of this, we will soak in the lessons You have for us. In all of this, our children will see that we love like Jesus even when it's hard. In all of this, our children will see that we make ourselves one with people who seem nothing like us. In all of this, our children will see that we serve the least of these. In all of this, Lord, you will carry our burdens if we just leave them at Your feet. Here they are.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tomorrow we are celebrating the gift of L's life. On the 24th he is 4! I am so thankful for this little boy that came walking into my house with his arms folded and a grumpy face on that would not speak a word to us. I am even more thankful for this little boy that lives here now. This sweet boy that has the world's best giggle and is loving and affectionate and happy. I celebrate that he loves hugs now and we had to teach him how to even give one. I celebrate that he says I love you and asks for hugs. I celebrate that his birth mother did not take the easy way out and gave him life. I celebrate his desire to learn new things and how hard he works. I celebrate that he likes to act silly like the rest of us and that he could dance and sing and play his guitar all day long. I celebrate that he asks to pray at every meal and that in his evening prayers he actually things about his day and talks to Jesus about it. I celebrate how he has changed me and my family. I celebrate how being his mom stretches me and I am so thankful to God for this precious child of HIS. I am thankful for the things L has taught us, for the things I am still learning, for the challenges to come and the triumphs. I wonder about all of his birthdays before this one. What were they like for him. I wonder about all of the days I missed in his life and I rest in the peace of knowing that although I have not been with him from the beginning, our mighty God was. Happy Birthday my sweet L. It is truly a gift

Saturday, November 21, 2009

No news is good news....

No news is good news. That seems to be true for us lately. We'll go weeks without much contact with the kids mom and I almost forget to worry about it. She always calls to check in on them with Safe Families but doesn't ask anything of us or have questions or anything. I've been having lots of medical tests done to figure out why I am so tired all the time and in pain, and my blood pressure drops too low and sweating like a banchee. So we wait and if we don't hear anything, it's okay.

I spoke with the kids MOM yesterday by speaker phone with Safe Families. She wants to plan a party for our entire family for their birthdays and I think that is very sweet and thoughtful. She feels proud that she can do that. She is still working and has gotten an apartment and is not taking any assistance from the government right now. She knows that she was in a deep depression for the past few months and is not proud of the way she acted. I asked her to spend Thanksgiving with us. I'm not sure if she will yet or not but I could tell she was very thankful that I asked. I know that may make no sense to people but through all of this God has placed a huge burden on my heart for this girl and at times I'm not so sure that she isn't the one that needs us the most, that she isn't the one that we are called to. I hope she comes. No one should be alone on Thanksgiving.

I can tell she struggles very much with the question of if she will ever be in a place to be able to care for the kids and when that will be or letting them go....I can not imagine those circumstances. Safe Families spoke with her a little about why she signed for Logan and not Perri and basically she realized that Logan is probably going to need special classes and therapies and she does not feel like she would be able to handle that financially or otherwise. I think that reaction is one, a lack of knowledge of resources available to him and two, sad. We don't get to pick and choose to keep the easy ones or the ones that cause the least amount of stress and no one in the United States should be in a position that they feel they should give their children up because educating them would require finances they don't have. The entire situation breaks my heart.

The more I learn about her upbringing and the more she opens up about her life, the more I see how broken our world is and how easy it is for that brokeness to be passed from generation to generation. In the same manner, I see what a blessing it is to pass along the saving power of our mighty God and how THAT is what truly changes lives. It is in that spirit that I continue to reach out to her. No matter how much I love P and L and feel they are my children, I love my God even more and He instructs me to love all men, even the ones that seem unlovable, even the ones that hurt me and push me away. My God is so amazing because He doesn't want me just to worship Him but He wants to grow me and make me better and stretch me and although there are times it brings me to my knees weeping, there is always a season of harvest....of fruit...and it is that promise I rest my face in. It is with that promise that I love MOM too and I will trust in His mercies and grace to handle each call and each moment with her.

I try not to worry about if these children will be mine or hers. I know they are HIS. She is HIS. I am thankful for God's example of sacrifice and forgiveness and for Jesus' example of love and embracing the least of these....I am failing and trying and falling and reaching to be more like HIM.