Monday, December 28, 2009

Why is it her choice?

No word from MOM today. She would not return Safe Families calls. I know many of you are wondering after seven months why it is MOM's choice reason is because that is the way the law works. But there are reasons I have that I will try to explain. Again, this is the way I process and you just get a peek at the insanity:)

Being a mom is the single hardest thing I will ever do and I was raised by the most loving parents that encouraged and supported me and even loved each other. I have a college education. I have a support system and friendships that the world envies. I have a husband that helps give baths and financially cares for our family and does the laundry and gives me a break when I need it. I am in my late 30's and have had many life experiences that have enriched my life. I am a firm believer and follower of Jesus. AND I cannot imagine doing any of this with anything less.

I can't imagine having two children by the time I was 20 and living on the streets because their father beat me to a pulp over and over again. I can't imagine trying to parent when the only example I had of parents was the dozens of foster parents who kept me for a few months at a time and a biological mother that drugged me so I wouldn't bother her. I cannot imagine having not a single healthy relationship in my lifetime and no one to call friend. I cannot imagine being a mom with little education or resources. I cannot imagine being a mom without a house over my head or the money for food on the table. I cannot imagine being a mom with all that stacked against me.

I don't say this out of pity. I say this because there are women all over this world that are mothers not like I would mother. It is about the quality of life that I don't think I can make a judgement on. I don't have the right to tell her she can't be their mom because she is unreliable and unstable. I don't have the right to tell her she can't be their mom because she is too poor or has made bad choices or is too young or too ignorant or has been too uninvolved.

She chose to give birth to them. She has loved them as best she could until 7 months ago against some pretty unspeakable odds and she broke. And she has done things I wish she wouldn't have and she makes me angry and frustrated but she is their mother.

My baby sister gave birth to her first child as a senior in high school. She had to drop out and get her GED and lived with my parents. There were times when I would watch her early on and think this is no way to parent a child, this is not the kind of life this baby deserves, this is not the way to parent.....and then one day it hit me, that despite her choices or her parenting style, she is her mom and not my mom or my sisters or I can take that away from her. As long as the child is not at an inherent risk of injury or neglect or abuse, we can't take that from her. We can encourage her and mentor her and show her Godly examples but we cannot take that place for her. I saw it with some of the teen moms I used to work with. They have to find their own way.

And my sister turned out to be a pretty good little mama. Sometimes we have to pray and love from a distance even though it seems impossible. My sister still doesn't parent like I would and she probably thinks I'm crazy but she loves my goddaughter with all her heart and she does what she thinks is best for her and she does the best she can and I am so proud of her for that. Many moms don't do what I think they should do or what I would do in any given situation....

I don't think MOM will have a happily ever after but there are many many parents that if I were to look into their lives would think they have no right to lead the little lives they do, but they do. I don't decide who gets to parent and who doesn't. Where would I draw the line.....

There is another reason. The biggest reason of all. I have fallen hopelessly in love with these children. I look in their sparkly eyes and I see a future that is uncertain and a pain that goes deeper than I can reach. I feel a sense of longing to be with their MOM and have her love them like she should and want them like she should and protect and provide for them like she should and it simply breaks my heart to it's core to not be able to give them that. I love them so very much that I want their MOM to be whole for them. I want her to heal and grow UP and let God lead her and I want the happily ever after for them. I want to see them run into the arms of a MOM that I know will be exactly what they need for this life. I want them to be loved more than they can imagine. I don't want the themes of abandonment and loss and grieving to be a part of their story. I don't want them to be sad and hurt and struggle with the feelings that must bring. It makes me angry and sad and frustrated and I grieve about it more than I ever could have imagined. I grieve for these children I love. I grieve for the loss I know they must feel and the fact that I can only do so much to fill that space.

I think it is very easy with adoption to see the wonderful side of it, which there is... a hugely wonderful side that brings a child into a family that loves and wants them and is great for them and can give them a wonderful life and values and all of that....but I think it is so easy for everyone but the children to forget the loss that always accompanies it.

I would be so happy to be their momma. I don't mean by any of this that I do not want to be. I want them to be my forever family so much. I just don't want that for myself through a loss for them.....does any of this even make sense?

This may seem a bit naive or silly but I'm new at this. The emotions that I have gone through in the past seven months and sometimes all in one day have plumb worn me out. Maybe this is completely unrealistic but it is how my thoughts look now. They change from minute to minute it seems so it's good to get it out and be able to go back and look at and pray about the choices we make. So this post is an attempt at clearing my mind so I can sleep. The past few nights have not been kind. Maybe that's why this has been such a ramble......but if it buys me sleep, I'll take it:)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I exalt Thee

This morning at church, Pastor Keith gave a great sermon on how to be a student of the word. He challenged us to set for ourselves the priority of not only reading the Bible, but allowing it to change your heart and in turn your actions. He asked what distractions we needed to get rid of to be able to focus on HIM. He wrapped up by referring to the song we had just sung, I exalt Thee. He asked what we exalted, what we put before God. And in my heart I believe I put God first but as I look back on 2009, I realize that by many of my actions, I put my family first. That may not seem all that wrong to some of you or it may even sound a bit noble at first thought.....she puts her family first....but this is what the problem with that is.

1.) My God wants me to put HIM first
2.) If I'm not dialed in to the word of God, I get burned out easily
3.)Eventually I feel unappreciated for all I do
4.)My attitude gets stinky
5.)I get tired and emotionally drained

I think many Moms try to do it all and be all for their family. I most certainly have. I love them, I want what's best for them, yadda yadda yadda. Somewhere in the midst of that though I have lost myself at times. The days I don't take the time to read my Bible because I just want 15 more minutes of sleep or one of the little ones wants on my lap to cuddle or another mess has been created or I just want to escape on Facebook....those days aren't good days. I am just off. The kids are off. It changes everything. I know my days are best when I start with some time alone with my God. It just works better. I handle the spill at breakfast better, the constant reminders it takes to get children out the door to school don't seem as annoying, and when the husband calls from work to check in, I can focus on him for a minute instead of feeling so flustered by life I don't have time. And then their is my little battle with eating....if I would only turn to the word everytime I felt anxious or worried I'd be a Bible scholar, a thin, hot Bible scholar;) I pray all day long. I am in constant conversation with my God but the days have been sparser lately of when I devote time to His word, I am ashamed to say.

This morning as I sang I exalt Thee, I felt it to the tips of my toes but when I reflect back on where I spent my time, hands down my family wins. and I love them. but I need them to be 2nd. I am a better me and a better mom and a better wife when I put our Savior first. In January I am starting a bible study with some friends on Balance in life and it couldn't be a better topic for me. This past year of adding two new lives to our family and having the most amazing God-filled experience of my life have taken a toll. I am ready for new perspective and new focus and renewal with my God. I am ready to truly exalt Thee.

It is my prayer that 2010 brings me closer to my God than ever before and that my heart and my actions will show the place I've given him as Lord over all. It is my prayer that He will chisel away all the distractions and that He give me a hunger for His word. That is my prayer for you as well.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not the miracle I was hoping for...

I don't want to say there will be no Christmas miracle this year because I know how huge my God is and I know families that are being touched by His miracles right now but evidently my plan is once again not HIS.

Safe Families was able to track down MOM. She was very rational and clear and they had a nice visit. They were able to give her the necklace we had made for her and she was very touched by it and appreciative. She loved being with us for Thanksgiving and could not believe how loving our family was to her. She appreciated all of it so much.
She is still very much on the fence. She stated that she would like to think about transitioning them back into her home and asked what that would look like and what she would have to do. They set out a timeline and tasks for her to complete. Right after Christmas they will meet again and she will either terminate her rights or we will start visitations and the children will be back in her care by Feb 1st. I do not know if this is my mind protecting itself or not but I just don't feel good about the prospects of this adoption going through. I hesitate to even say that outloud but why hold back now! I am trying not to be completely heartbroken and a total basket case for the holidays so I am going to attempt to smile and laugh and soak each moment in with them and remember for this year, for this Christmas, that we are, by all means a family. I don't need a legal document to tell me who my family is. I have been one of those people blessed by my legal family and we have enjoyed adding in honorary members throughout the years so I am not going to let definitions scare me and make me sad and send me into the fetal position crying.

I know MOM loves them. She does not parent like I would. She does not know what I know. She does not have the same values I have but she is their mother. I don't want a parent to not be able to parent because they lack the resources. She does love them and they love her. I have to pray with all my might that if she takes them back that she will love them and care for them and do her best for them....even if it is not what I would do. I have to trust that God will protect them and cover them in HIS magnificent grace.

I have to trust that our family, the originals and the rest of my extended family and friends will be better for loving these two little lives. I have to trust that we will be better for loving MOM. I have to trust that I will survive this.

And if by chance, I end up being their mom....then I will have total and complete peace knowing we gave MOM every opportunity to keep her babies and that someday I can explain to these beautiful faces how much she loved them and how hard she tried and how heartwrenching of a choice she made and how we had a multitude of people praying for her and them and us and that God's will be done in a very difficult situation.

When I think of MOM and the choice she is faced with, when I think of the possibility of losing them, at this time of year it makes me think of Mary and how as teenage girl when an angel appeared to her and told her she would bare a son and she would call HIM Jesus, she didn't argue or complain, she said yes. And from that moment on, our lives were changed. Jesus didn't call her mother. He called us all His family and that is what I pray we have done for P and L.
I pray we have shown them the greater meaning of family and this year as we blow out the candles on baby Jesus' cake, I'm sure the tears will flow. I will be remembering the choice that Mary made and hoping I can say yes with half as much grace. I will be remembering the choice MOM is trying to make and I will be remembering the day we said yes to this opportunity and I will be soaking it all in.

I am going to allow myself one creep into the fetal position cry, one all out ugly feel sorry for myself can't believe this is happening to me moment of pity and then I am going to soak each moment of this Christmas in with a smile on my face and laughter in my soul so if they are ever remembering what this Christmas was like with our family, they will remember a celebration of our Savior's birth!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Praying for a Christmas miracle

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Safe families is making their third attempt to track down MOM and ask her for the last time to sign to terminate her parental rights to each child. If she doesn't do it, which is a huge long shot, we will be enduring a court battle which I'm sure has a pretty price tag and an emotional one I hate to think of. Please pray with me for our Christmas miracle....that they will find her and she will follow through with her adoption plan for her children. That's what I want for family to be complete.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jesus boring? what?

From Ava: "Mom at pre-school today we learned about Jesus being boring."
me: "Boring?"
Ava: "I think that's what she said."
me: "Maybe you mean BORN"
Ave: (uncontrolled giggling) "yeh, that was it."

Look at His life, sweet Ava, Jesus is anything but boring. There's the time He healed the blind man, the brother can change water into wine and there's that whole dying on a cross thing. Add to that the healing of lepers and the fact that mankind may have walked on the moon but Jesus walked on water and you are a far way from boring.

Look at what our life has been like this year trying so hard to follow HIM. Look at the struggles and the victories and the fun. This Jesus thing is not for those that want to be bored.

Even the way He was born wasn't boring. How cool is it that our King was BORN in a stable? How cool is it that He didn't have to be in a palace or wear a diamond studded crown on His head? Instead He worn a crown of thorns for our failures and for that I am so thankful that He was BORN!!!

Merry Christmas, Friends. As things kick in to high gear this week with last minute preparations for the holidays, let's remember whose party this is. It most certainly wasn't someone boring!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The plan is set...

Thank you for all the prayers. It was a great lunch. I love working with an organization that helps families that starts all their meetings out with a prayer!! Trevor and I met with Safe families, Krista the head of the program and our new caseworker, Vivian. Krista has worked closely with MOM since the beginning and is agreement with us that MOM doesn't want the kids to ever think she didn't want them and because of that has not been able to sign them over to us. It is our belief that she fully loves them and knows she does not have the skills or ability to care for them and this has just been much harder to do than she had thought. She needs someone to blame or for someone else to make the decision. We also don't want the kids to be lost into the system so with all of those things in mind......we came up with a plan. We are going to file a legal petition for adoption for both children. At the same time, Safe families is going to try and locate MOM and tell her that they have asked us to move ahead with the adoption and that she has three options. First, she can quietly sign for P now and this will all be done. Secondly, if she wants them back they have a series of qualifications she must meet within three weeks time to prove her fitness as their mother. They include parenting classes, getting a bigger place for them all to live, securing childcare, etc. We will help her with any of that and begin preparing the children for a transition back to her. Her final option is to do nothing and we will see her at our court hearing for their adoption where I assume she will be able to contest it or not.

We feel those options allow her control, give her an out, or make her step up. It is the plan. So we have a call into our attorney and our waiting to hear how much this will cost and what it entails for us. We will hopefully be able to meet with her this week and understand the whole process more fully. It is our hope that MOM will just sign quietly but we are prepared to go to court and are hoping the expenses don't have to hold the process up.

We decided to offer MOM the oppportunity to visit with our family once a year at Thanksgiving time to celebrate the kids birthdays and how thankful we are for her bringing them into this world and for loving them so well until they could be with us. I think that will be easier as roles are more defined and it will just become our life. I want them to always be aware that she loves them and just wanted what's best for them. Safe families graciously offered us all the case notes so they can someday see how much she was struggling with this choice and that she was literally on the streets and could not do it.

It feels strange. I did not ever want to have to file without her consent because I didn't ever want to feel like I was taking them away from her but I see clearly now that she just can't do it. It is a step we feel we need to take for the security of these children.

It is my prayer that MOM would realize how fully we appreciate her and how much we want the kids to know about her and be comfortable talking about her and loving her and that she will not just be pushed aside. It is hard to convey that kind of love to someone who has never seen it. It is my prayer that MOM would realize that knowing her and being with her and having this information available to us is a treasure for adoptive parents. These exact kinds of experiences and information is what is missing for so many people that we feel like it is a huge blessing. It is my prayer that God's will be done and that MOM grow from this experience like we all have. It is my prayer that no matter what shape this plan takes, that P and L feel the love of Jesus and the love of our family wrapped around them. It is my prayer that our family fully realize the hand our Lord has had in hand picking our family and that through each challenge and struggle and each victory and celebration He is shaping us. Allow us to be like clay, Lord.

The past few weeks have been hard for me and it hit me this morning that I was trying to do it on my own again. Back in June I wrote an entry about needing an attitude adjustment...I know that may come as a shock to some of you...HA! When will I get it?! I realized this morning that I have been so tired that my sleep has become more important than my fifteen minutes alone with God each morning and my time has become everyone elses and I've forgotten that I NEED TO REFUEL MYSELF DAILY IN HIS PRESENCE!!!! If not, I am a crazy person. A total nutcase. I have been walking around sulking that I don't get help with such and such or no one listens to me or I am picking up after so and so again and I have been ugly and miserable and less than God needs of me, less than my family needs of me. I know there are things that have been stressful and I know there is alot on my plate but as I tell my children, just because we are tired or don't feel well, doesn't mean we can act ugly. So, I am getting back on track and really going to focus on seeking His plan for my day and remembering that it's not about me. He has entrusted so much to me and I need to step up. Any of ya see me acting up, smack me will ya?!

So for now, I wait for the call from the attorney. I wait to see if Safe Families can find MOM and what her reaction to 'the plan' will be. and as I wait, I will be in HIS presence and I will seek HIS face and be at peace in HIS love for my family.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tonight we finally got to deck the halls. The kids were so excited and we were putting the tree together, listening to some Christmas tunes and the entire time my little preacher man, Noah, is telling L all about the real meaning of Christmas and how it's not about Santa but about the baby Jesus and how much God loves us that He sent His Son. He is the sweetest. boy. ever.

The originals were making sure P and L had just as many ornaments to hang and teaching them how to do it. This was their first Christmas tree. I was taking pictures and rearranging ornaments that were three to a branch and it just hit me. Somewhere between Jingle Bells and White Christmas, this wave of sadness hit. I was looking at my familiy and it occured to me that it may not look like this next year. These two precious children may not be with us. I had to excuse myself to go cry in the bathroom and then it was hard to stop -- so the tears would just fall throughout the evening.

I was so proud of Grace, Noah and Ava and how they shared their special ornaments and how excited they were for L and P. In our home, it is a big deal each year whose turn it is to put the angel on the top of the tree. It is a guaranteed kodak moment and gets lots of applause. As we were approaching that coveted time, the kids started asking whose turn it was and they said that it should be P or L's turn since they've never done it before. I couldn't believe how willing they were to share that with them.... and I couldn't believe how sad it made me feel. I know this will sound completely irrational and it may very well be but I just couldn't do it. There was something inside of me that thought if I have a picture of these two putting the angel on this tree and then I lose them....I could never survive it. There was a part of me that wants to wait until it's official to celebrate their first topping of the tree. It was such a profound and strange reaction that I'm still not sure what to make of it. I of course didn't say any of that outloud and instead just said I thought it was Ava's turn and nobody thought a thing about it. Gracie just said that next year it will be L and P's turn then and I said that would be great. That would be great. Next year....

So I've pretty much been a weepy mess since then. I cried on the way to the grocery store. Tried to tell my sister about it on the phone and cried some more. Cried on the way home from the grocery store and sit here now crying. I would not change a single moment of the last six months but I would give so much to know what the next six will hold.

I asked L if he ever had a tree before and he said no. He said he didn't have any ornaments and I told him that we all share all the ones in the box and they are his now too. He looked so proud. I told hiim how blessed we were to have them with us this year and how special it is going to be, our fist Christmas together....our first. I am not going to worry if it is the last. We showed them their stockings and put up the nativity and I could still here my little Noah's words. This is what Christmas is all about....the baby Jesus. If God can love us enough to send us His son than surely I can do this. I can do this. I am trying with all my might to enjoy every moment I have with my family of 7. I am trying not to worry about what the future holds for us. I am just trying to trust that we are right where God needs us right now and He will take care of the rest. I am trying to see the beauty of it through the tears.

Hoping with all hope that next year P and L will be putting the angel on the top of the tree but being at peace knowing that this year they will certainly know the real meaning of Christmas and remember it was preached to them by a 6 year old boy they called brother, remembering it was shown to them by a community of believers. I will be at peace knowing that this year they are loved and safe and wanted. I will be at peace knowing that I have given everything in this situation that I know to give. I will be at peace knowing that all the children that call me mom will forever remember this Christmas and the true gift we were able to be a part of... and I pray it forever shapes their lives.

The tears will still come I'm sure. But it's not about me. It's about the baby Jesus. Thank you, my sweet Noah