Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Hearing with clear eyes

I ate the saddest banana on Sunday. Saturated by summer heat, lounging by the pool and the whistling trees. We had just dropped our foster son off for the last time. He's all packed up and ready to go live with his Dad. It's been three years of this little kid and my heart is just breaking.

We've had two foster kids, one girl, one boy. The differences have been amazing. The girl came from a home where mom was largely disconnected from her daughter. Either through mental defect, selfishness or drugs, she wasn't always there. And if she was, it wouldn't last. Long term stability is not possible for the mom.  Which is why our foster daughter is now with an auntie.

I know this pattern of scattered connection affected our foster daughter. She never learned how to attach properly. As such, even after two and half years, I don't think she really bonded with us. In our heart of hearts, we believe she had Reactive Attachment Disorder. She bonded to those literally right next to her, in a superficial way. It was a good first few months with her. Attachment by reaction.

After a few months, she fought pretty much every attempt we made to love her. Kids with RAD don't understand that love is caring and nurturing. She saw us as people that gave her stuff and got in the way of her being in charge. Sometimes she'd settle and we'd see glimmers of true connection. But we don't know if that's true. Kids with RAD are great manipulators. It's how they survive.

Two and half years and we still don't know if we made a dent. I don't want to shame this child, here, in this blog. I'm merely working through what I was seeing and understanding. It's so sad for me and sad for her. Following the RAD paradigm, she bonded very well with her auntie when it came time  to move on.

There's a chance for our foster daughter, now that she's with her people. She felt it. "I'm finally leaving foster care!", she said. If Auntie proves to be solid and consistent, our foster child will have a chance of learning how to love and be loved. Not just to be cute and scam those around her. My heart is breaking and hopeful for her.

Bonding is huge. I think about my kids, how I birthed them. How they were glued to us for the first year. OH the months I spent on the couch...nursing and cuddling, nursing and cuddling... Then they start to walk and the cuddles become less. We're still attached though. We hover and helicopter with pride. We make sure their world is a good one, managing their needs from the time they wake up until well after bed time. Even when they're sleeping I'm aware of coughs, snorts and whimpers.

I'm attached to them and they're attached to us. They take us for granted. They run around carefree, knowing we're right here, bugging them to do chores.

For foster kids it's different. They showed up four years into their life. We have a big, friendly family and a pool. It's like a sleep away camp. But no matter how much we offer, after a while, they want to go home. So we hold them, rock them after nightmares and deal with behaviors. This is where attachment comes in.

For our foster son, he had a grandma who was always there. He understood love. Sadly, his grandma was not always stable. And managing a little boy is tough, especially if you can't right yourself. His mom would fade in and out depending on her drug addiction.  It was a lot for us to learn when we started helping out. Especially when it came to managing behaviors.

I'll never forget being 8 months pregnant in target, testing the waters of bringing him places by myself. This was a rookie mistake! He had a gigantic tantrum. I steeled myself, thought of all the frontier women who had gone before me. I commenced picking this writhing,  four year old child off the floor. Gingerly placing him in the cart and wheeling him out. All the while he was screaming..."I want...I want.." Then, in the car, "I want my mom."

It was a good 6 months before I brought him anywhere by myself after that.

We did behavior charts. We did bonding things like just being there all the time. Being there all the time and being super boring. Loving him to whatever degree he would tolerate. He got it. He bonded with us. Towards the end, I could take him anywhere and do anything. The bonding made all the difference. If you bond and love someone, you'll listen and behave for them. He fit in our family.

All of this was a stupid banana on Sunday. These kids came into our lives and made a complete mess of it. Then it straightened out. Eventually their extraordinary needs became routine, like every day kid needs. Signing up for soccer? Done! Hours long screaming fits? Done!  Checking off homework sheets? Done! Court hearings? Done! Pack lunches? Done!

Across from my banana sat Mr. Hall. Watching my eyes well up with tears. He knew I prayed to adopt our foster son. I prayed so hard. Of the two foster kids he fit the best. But he has a Daddy. A Daddy who loves him and is ready to take care of him. So off he goes and my heart is hopeful and breaking.

Then I just lost it. Sobbing and shaking shoulders, eating bananas by the pool. I told Mr. Hall I want to adopt. He knows this. And he said, like he has a 1,000 times... "We will when it's the right time."

And I think I heard him for the first time, with very clear eyes.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Nubs. And things.

Well, that's it for now, foster parent wise. The little girl is with family.

We will still see our little guy next month, but after that he'll move in with his Daddy.

It's so weird. I'm so tired. How am I so tired? I mean, we're DOWN TO JUST THREE KIDS.

I don't think I'm aware of how much work 5 kids really was. Or being pregnant when the first foster kid came. And not sleeping through the night for the first year of foster kids love because our baby wasn't sleeping through the night. As babies do.

And these kids were work. SO MUCH WORK. With the behaviors and the destruction and the breaking and ripping. And the lying and the stealing. And the yelling and the behaviors. And the attitude.

I feel like I'm floating. I am so tired. Everything is so quiet.

I can say this-

It's been a crazy since we starting taking in other kids. I think we adjusted well and stepped up. Having a big family of five takes a lot of effort, planning and above all, love.

I'm proud we did this and proud we opened our hearts to these kids. It may not have been perfect at times, but we did it.

We learned so much! These experiences have drawn us closer to each other.

I know we want to do it again.

But first. Let me take a nap. Regrow some tissues that have been worn down to nubs.

<3 nbsp="" p="">

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Waiting on the porch

Our foster kids will be officially out of our lives in the next few weeks. Our foster daughter goes tomorrow. After two years, it's only a matter of days.

It's a struggle not talking about this to everyone and keeping things short when I do.

It is unbelievably complex and I can't even. So if you see me. Just hug. Don't ask. Just hug.


Let's explore the rainbow of emotions shall we?

It's my blog,  so I guess we shall.


Last week, I picked the little girl up from her relative's house. It was her weekly hair appointment/excuse for a visit. They give me breathing room. I am a white woman and I cannot do her hair in dreadlocks, corn rows or extensions. I've given it my best shot. From now on, whatever black child comes through my home--her hair will be done by relatives or professionals. I am maintenance only. And even then, lower your expectations!

I arrived to pick her up. I stood awkwardly on the porch while she hugged and kissed 40 relatives in the living room. She came out with pieces of paper that had phone numbers. So she can keep in touch with relatives.

I was angry. Angry that they never EVER have her ready on time and I'm always standing there. Angry that whatever the frick phone numbers she gets --won't be in service a week from now. Angry that not ONE OF THOSE 40 RELATIVES can take her. NOT ONE. No one was deemed stable enough. They all have criminal records, evictions and active drug addictions. Well, maybe not all, but enough to deem them unfit parents for my foster daughter. Also, I'm not sure they all raised their hand to take her either.

So go ahead, make me wait on the porch. 

And lastly, angry because I feel their pain. It's only a screen door, the pain flows right through. So I have to deal with that pain and mine. They love her. They want her to be with them. They are not appropriate. They can't.

So go ahead, make me wait on the porch.

She's moving two hours away to dad's side of the family. Visits will stop. Plus, they are black. Dad's family can do her hair just fine.


It's sad because she's been our daughter for two years and now she's not. It's sad because even though she has reactive attachment disorder, she's attached to us through sheer force of being here for so long. Sad because her behaviors have escalated and are out of control. Sad because this is common for kids who transition to other homes. Sad because I wanted to adopt, but she not the right child for us. We are not the right family for her.

Sad because she's going. Sad because this is effecting her. Sad because she knows mom isn't doing well and she's still not going to be with mom. Sad because she still believes Mom will come get her. And go to Disney land. And move into a big house. Sad because I can't be there when she realizes mom is never go to do that. Sad because she'll never stop believing this. Even when she's grown, she'll still have a need her mom can never meet. 


I am moving so slow. Both mind and body. I have three calendars to keep me on track the next few days. Running plays like a quarter back. Without the plays I cannot keep my own name straight.

Here's the play for the next few days:


1. Go home. Change out of work clothes. Rest a bit. Pick up toddler from day care and get sushi from grocery store. Go home, make dinner. Kids to bed. Make photo CD of the hundreds of photos for her family that's she moving to. Go to sleep.


1. Crossfit 5 am, come home, shower. Make breakfast and wake up kids. Drop them off at various activities. Come back home. Scour every room, nook and cranny for anything we haven't packed. Leave no stone unturned. Pack everything that is hers. Make sure I pack CD, state insurance card and tube of skin cream. Bring packed bags to car.

Get kids from activities and bring them home. Hug and kiss her for the last time.

Go to work.

While I'm at work Mr. Hall will drive her down for the final drive.

Day after tomorrow:

1. Crossfit 5 am, shower, breakfast, weight watchers at 7 am. Go to work..... and wait to see what comes next. And deal with it.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to heal a broken back and broken heart

I can't seem to get the photos to load right so imagine what you want.

A sunset?

That's nice.


Two things.


My back is a bit broken from pregnancy. No, I'm not pregnant but when I was--I had back issues. They've now flared up to the point where I can't crossfit properly. THAT SUCKS ASS.

So I went to physical therapy. It helped but didn't fix it.

I went to a chiropractor. That's some awesome right there! Dude is ON IT! Adjusting like a mofo! Laying hands and healing!

It was tough because he said, "Slow down while we fix things. Let it heal before you jump back into box jumps, burpees, clean and jerks and stop doing everything you love." Ok, he didn't say the last part, but it felt like it.

Slow is like crawling buck naked on the side walk. All low crawl, trying not to catch my butt cheeks on the barbed wire.

I feel my back healing. Each week I earn tokens for my penance of rest. This week I can start rowing, doing pull ups, and sit ups. Weight lifting is next and LAWD ALMIGHTY! I cannot wait!!


My heart is broken from foster care life. We're transitioning the little girl back to family. Transition is the point of foster care. To hand them back to family. I've met them. They are nice. They are stable. They are loving and they are family. And. They are willing.

It has been the longest three years of my life. Just when I think I can't enter a new level of hell a whole fresh new door opens up. Or I walk over a square hole in the floor and fall clean through.

I wonder if foster parents ever get use to this. I ask because I know we aren't done.

Which has sparked tears and many a discussion with Mr. Hall. I ask what he wants, what he can do. I tell him what I want, that my heart absolute aches to adopt. There is no two ways about it. I trust him that we were not to adopt the little girl, this was not the plan. He isn't ready.

"It needs to be right. But when it's right, we'll know." He says and I listen. Blinking. (this was last night).

He didn't need to add, "And you can't force things because of your needs." 

Right now my needs are to see the little girl off. Transition to her family. This is going well. It meets her needs as well. Which really, is the most important needs.


I know I said two things. I lied.

What comes next is rest while I heal.  We will stop taking on more kids for six months.

Just be us. Two kids that I pooped out of my vagina and one out of my C-section scar. Just being a family of five.

Slowing. Resting. Letting my heart heal while it rehabs.

Is there a chiropractor for that?

Monday, April 20, 2015

Silver Linings Playbook just about destroyed me

Whiskey and sadness is no good. It makes the ground ripe for tear spillage. Such was the case when my whiskey soaked self watched Silver Lining Playbook.

It's a story of a crazy man who moves from an asylum to his parent's house. His brand of crazy is  bipolar. He vibrates with obsessive energies. He learned to control them to a certain degree. Running helps. Not acting crazy helps. On a run,  he picks up a girl. Not entirely welcomed though (see illustration above).

This is where the movie starts to destroy me. The girl is a lot like what I use to be. I did not expect that.

She chases him in search of comfort and companionship. She's nuts and people treat her that way. All arms length. Her nuts is a bit more balanced than his. Hers is a bit more cohesive and didn't require inpatient stays. But, we all have needs and hers is to be loved.

He finally starts to hang out with her because she can do him a favor. He's obsessed with contacting his wife. With restraining orders in place,  he's disparate. She knows his wife. This creates a need for him to know her. Without this piece, he would probably tell her to eff off completely and the book would be done.

It's about leverage. Girl has been leveraging what she has to get what she wants because when folks keep their distance, you need a way to bring them closer. When it comes to men, this girl puts out. Pretty much to everyone because that is a way of getting love. Losers come out in droves for this.

With my ground thoroughly watered by whiskey, I started to sob. I remember phone calls and letters of men wanting to meet me...all because they thought they could get lucky. They were mostly right. I was less than 16 at the time.

It's so sad thinking about this. Even a week later and stone cold sober.

Mr. Hall asked me how? Why? What can we do so this doesn't happen to our daughter?

I can say I had no center and was lonely. I was scared and introverted. I had a lot of unsupervised MTV time which, looking back, had a lot of soft coreness about it. Never underestimate the influence of what you surround yourself with. I didn't have a mom or dad who were particularly plugged into my life. They didn't read my poetry or understand why I shaved my head. But I don't blame them. We all did the best we could at the time.

A hundred partners and many years later I stopped reaching out by putting out. But all of this caused some damage A few years into my marriage I started to unravel things through therapy, yoga and weightwatchers. Yoga was especially helpful.

I think about what healed me. I can say love very much healed me. Love from God, love from forgiveness. Love from Mr. Hall.

It's a crazy world ya'll. Love pretty much heals every wound I've ever had.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Blinded by the big deal

There is a section of this blog that deals with my two miscarriages. Those times were motivating our foster parenthood.

I don't admit this outloud but Mr. Hall has- so there we are.

It was a good Easter weekend this weekend. Traveling, family and sometimes some cold hard truth. Mr. Hall had enough libation to let me know he's tired. Worn through. Tired of foster baby mama drama and wanting our little foster daughter to transition to help her heal. She needs to move on and heal because here she is in limbo. Mr. Hall said it outloud...we aren't the right or for real family for her. Our foster daughter has been with us for a long time. Two years.  It's been a looooooooooong two years.

Foster kids stay with foster families for 17 months on average. The bioparents have a long time to get their act together. Sometimes they can't. And for this, I try to extent mercy. I feel bad they're trapped in their addictions, mental illness and plain old selfishness. I get angry too. Two years later and we're still getting angry phone calls about not doing her baby's hair right. Because hair ya'll.

During the miscarriages, Mr. Hall and I leaned on each other. We cried and held each other. I was going nuts inside and so was he. We took a break from trying for more babies. Stop for six months he said. So six months it was. I went on birth control and we went about our life. Six months later he got me rip roaring drunk and asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to try again. He did too. So we had our baby.

A few times a week I marvel at our now toddler. His perfect symmetry. I think about his DNA being knitted together in my womb. How it all went right and he was born so perfect. I think about the babies I lost and how the DNA didn't mesh together right and they were lost to this world. They were still alive though. They are still my babies and I'll see them in Heaven.

I think about this and my craziness with the foster kids. It is a tough gig ya'll. It is a strain. It affects all my family. These kids and their bioparents are work!

Mr. Hall wrote our social worker and gave 5 paragraphs of feelings about all of this.  Mr. Hall has reached his limit and he wants a break. But, unlike going back on birth control to stop the madness, transitioning a foster child is not so easy.

There are options and we'll take it slow. We can't hurry any of this. Hopefully her family will step up. Hopefully it'll be done in a few months. Hopefully. For her and for us. If not, we'll just keep on keeping on.

Then, we'll break.  I'll crossfit and weight watchers just like I am now. Then six months will go by. Then Mr. Hall will get me drunk and we'll discuss the next step. It won't be trying for another baby. Mr. Hall had the surgery which shall not be named when I was pregnant last.

I want no mistaking my intention though. I am not done growing this family. I have a need for more than three. I am selfish and demanding with this. I want to adopt and it's ok if it's a sibling group. I am blinded by this. I am crazy howling at the moon crazy about this.

I want to adopt so I can be done. So I can feel complete. So I can take these kids and make them our own. So I can be done with the bioparents if I want to. Adopting from the foster system is not easy. I'm sure it's not easier than caring for a child for two years and then sending them on. But it's in me this need. The call is unrelenting.

Like I said, crazy howling at the moon about this.


Monday, March 23, 2015

We have a genius on our hands...it's my son, Mac

School Conferences....

These are times where you sit in front of the teacher and they have 15 min. to rattle off how your child is doing. It's not a conversation, it's a mini speech. I learned my oldest daughter, Pancake, now 12-- is being recommended for advanced math. As I looked over the 'AP' classes of algebra, trig, and calculus...I was flooded with wonderful memories. I loved math. I am a nerd and still am. MATH RULES!

I can't wait for my daughter to excell in everything she does. I can't wait to read over her math homework and wax nostalgic. My head will explode with rapturous joy when she starts reading Shakespeare!

My foster daughter is getting better with reading. And behaviors. Yay!

Then there is Mac, now age 8. I left his conference in tears. Not happy tears but sad ones. WHICH IS WHY I SHOULDN'T GO TO THESE THINGS.

Mac is smart. Like Mensa smart. I know, we've had him tested. We tested him because he struggles with behaviors. Sitting still, paying attention, keeping his emotions from flying all over the place...all of these things are not his strong suit. It was of no surprise he has attention deficit disorder. His mommy has it. His daddy has it too.

We knew he was smart, but genius level was a bit of a shock. It makes sense though. Yesterday, in the car, my eight year old was asking about cloned sheep. And radiation. And what ibuprofen means.

At the conference, his lovely blond teacher was telling me how Mac doesn't participate. He sits at his desk and reads. Reading at super high level, much higher than his peers. He doesn't want to sit on the carpet with the rest of the kids. "He wants to be alone", the teacher said. So, they let him read and do the 1/2 hour assignments in 2 min flat. They let him not participate because he's not disrupting the class.

That's an improvement. He used to be a huge disruption. Pounding, kicking, angry. Letters and calls from school. Now it seems instead of going outward, he's going inward. That's my trigger to start crying. I'm INWARD AND IT SUCKS. I'm an introvert who struggles with making small talk. Who struggles with fitting in, social gatherings and acting nonchalant. I'm 39 for land's sake. I've gotten very good at faking it but it's still a struggle. I want to tell Pancake and Mac to fight their inward leanings. You can be smart and outward.

Here's the thing, as the kids get older, the less they need to listen to me. Like Pancake. She's entering adolescence which is, by definition, the most awkward and struggle filled time of anyone's life. Meanwhile her life is unfolding before her. She needs to start figuring this out. It is up to her to pass the AP math classes. She'll figure it out if she wants to. I'll be there but I'm not going to hover or push.

Mac is eight. He's outgrowing time outs and becoming more scattered with things. Regulating his behavior is different. Less difficult and harder at the same time. He has long moments of emotional calm and his charming genius fills the room. I pray and imagine this will be him as he grows into a man.

The bright spot in all of this is that he's been recommended for a special school for gifted kids. It's a school where kids learn twice as fast and learn twice as much. They cater to the kind of learner Mac is. I hope upon hope this is where he'll flourish.

But, I always remember I was a genius who almost flunked out of high school. They didn't test me until 9th grade. And I have a master's degree.

It'll be ok.

I promise.

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