With a little downtime today I can talk about why we aren't going to adopt our foster daughter.
When Mr. Hall told the social worker he didn't want to adopt, he was teary eyed. She was there to start the paperwork and I thought maybe we'd just discuss things. I know he had reservations but I was in denial. Turns out, he really doesn't want to adopt and feels shitty even saying that. The social worker was very kind and saw us, Mr. & Mrs. Hall, divided. On the couch.
"You guys are in a tough spot.", she said.
Oh my heart that day! I was sinking, sinking, sinking.
The number one thing people ask us as foster parents--is "Isn't it hard to give them back?" And I always said, "No, they have parents that love them and if they can get better, the child wants to go back and that's were they belong. We're just temporary."
So, with that pressure in mind, the pressure of what people expect from him, what I wanted from him, he had the courage to say, "No. It's not right. I don't feel connected to her. She needs to be with another family when the time comes."
Oh my heart that day! Sink.........sink ....sink....
I felt for my husband. It makes him sound like a bad guy. He's actively hurting me, with my big let's adopt ALL THE CHILDREN puppy dog eyes.
It was a rough week after that. My heart was just aching and I couldn't go to Mr. Hall, the one I go to. It was the first time we've ever had uglies and sad. Foster care challenges us in ways unbelievable.
So we prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. And I cried and trusted God and trusted God and prayed.
And his heart didn't open and mine opened other ways.
Mr. Hall wants to help ALL THE CHILDREN. He sees many foster kids coming and going through The house of Hall. We'll work on their stealing, lying, scratching, temper tantrum fitting for two hours and ugly. Helping them and sending them on their way. And, he says, "When the time is right, when I feel it's right, we'll adopt. This is what we talked about three years ago when we started this." I guess I didn't remember having that conversation. Hearing what I want and ignoring what I don't is a habit of mine.
A few weeks have gone by and we revisited how we felt last night.
I feel better. It's better to be honest. So we talked about the future of our little girl. Nothing BUT NOTHING will change for a good long year. Even though bio mom's rights will be terminated and she'll be available for adoption, that wouldn't happen for a year. A year for the termination and another year for someone to finalize an adoption.
In other words, she's not going anywhere. She's hear for the duration. And whatever dream I have of children, our permanent children, is still fuzzy. The dream is not clear yet....so I dream on.....
This is me in all my badassery. I love this photo for the following reasons:
1. I look super badass.
2. I am photo'd at a 3/4 angle. DUDES--never photograph a woman from the side, always 3/4!!
3. The dude behind me is at least 6'4". I am a foot smaller. I like the dude behind me. He's a swell guy. Super nice.
4. The exposed particle board shows how unfancy crossfit is.
5. I supered the color so my tank top pops.
6. This was during a partner workout and Mr. Hall was struggling. So I took over for him doing my part and his. Love being strong enough to help him.
7. Feel kind of proud I was tougher than him that day. That doesn't ever happen and while it's petty, I'm proud.
8. This is a praise position. Like at church, when people raise their hands up in praise. Only my hands are holding 55lbs. SUPER PRAISE!!
1 Timothy 2:8 New International Version (NIV) 8 Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.
Mr. Hall and I have had many tearful conversations about our foster daughter. Tears on my part and his. At the end of many prayerful nights we have decided not to adopt her. Our intention is to love on her and then transition her to an adoptive family when the time comes.
My head is absolutely swimming. There's not much to say so I'll talk that photo up there. That's me. Running. Running during a recent crossfit workout. Before crossfit, I never ran at all.
The work out was run 800 m, do a bunch of weights and push ups, run 800 mg, do a bunch of SERIOUSLY? more weights and push ups, and then run 800 m. This is the last 800 m. I was soaked through. The tank top came off for the first time ever.
This photo was the last 800 m. I didn't want Mr. Hall to run beside me. I didn't want his constant stream of encouragement. I didn't want this photo taken.
I'm glad Mr. Hall didn't listen. That photo is BADASS!
Running is hard. It's long and plodding. There's nothing you can do but plow through it, one step after another. Burning lungs and all.
We got an email about our foster daughter. They'll be terminating the birth mother's rights and they want to meet with us to talk about 'adoption'. And now I'm losing my mind.
It's not a big surprise, this development. The birth mother has had a lot of time to get it together and she hasn't. The foster daughter needs permanence. I want to be her permanent. Mr. Hall is not so sure. It's killing me all of this.
Mr. Hall doesn't want to stop being foster parents. He wants to take kids in, work on their issues and send them back to their mom. He has energy for these kids that we don't even know yet. If we adopt this shuts things down. The other option is helping her transfer to another adoptive family.
I want to be honest and look through my last few years. I had two miscarriages. This plays a role here, I know it does. My healing has moved forward in leaps and bounds but it'll never be fully healed. Not until I'm in heaven with John and Chloe in my arms.
But oh my God this girl we call foster daughter. I can't even breathe if we're offered the chance to be her real mommy and daddy.
So now, I pray, on the knees and pray.....no matter what happens this race is a long one....with Mr. Hall beside me... taking pictures of my badassery.......
My love of Mad Men knows no bounds. Like everything else I like, I don't just like--I obsess. The season is over for now and nothing will appear until next year. I like how the final season is going. Don is starting become a human being.
The writer of this show, Matt Wiener, enjoys exploring the sequelae of ugly childhoods. Don is a child from a neglectful and abusive childhood. He was born a bastard and unwanted. He was molested in his early teens by a prostitute that lived in the same house. That house up there is a house of ill repute, his childhood home. He is showing the house to his children. Meta!
Neglectful and abusive childhoods cause a child to be centerless. They don't form a center from which we trust, seek out and reciprocate love. Don is not able to do this. He is a self centered and manipulative man. Good looking as he is, his suit is quite empty.
In the words of Queen Ellen, "He is all sizzle and no steak."
The steak that makes us who we are suppose to be. We are to exchange and be intimate. We are to love and get crazy together. It's a stupid, hard world out there and we need each other.
I place all of this in context of my foster daughter's life. She's been with us for 17 months now. Parenting her is somewhat like parenting my own kids. The evil one fights to come out, the kids give lip, be disrespectful and display general childhood grumpery.
Then there is this:
"I don't want to be a child in your family.", my foster daughter said to my husband last night. I had sent her downstairs to brush her teeth. The signal for bedtime. She said, "Other families watch movies and stay up late. Other families don't have bedtimes.You guys are boring!"
In her 6 year old mind, she wishes we were like her mom and her other family. They stay up until 10 pm and watch movies. They have no rules or structure. I can't say I blame her, I'd want to live in Neverland too. Except Neverland is a nightmare. They do all sorts of things we don't do. Like smoke weed, stab each other, kill family dogs and do lengthy jail stays.
Her mom is currently in jail, in segregation no less. Segregation means she can't even keep calm and behave so she's in a cell by herself. The more I know about this woman, the more I want to throw up. She's chaotic and violent. She has no center. She can't attach with others on any sort of healthy or sustainable level. My heart aches for this woman. I can't help but love and care for her because I love and care for her child. I pray for her.
It makes me mad because she's not going anywhere. If we adopt our foster daughter, she's not going to just die. She won't stay in seg for ever. She'll be there in the background. The Lord has a plan for this woman and we're becoming part of it.
I know what would fix this woman. I know what will fix my foster's daughter's yearnings to be free from rules and constraint. I know what will fix my anger and my husband's sadness about all of this.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
So I pray. I pray and pray and pray . . .
I pray that His love will come through us and form the center she needs not become like her mom. That'll be my start.
As a foster mom there is a lot of waiting, phone calls and endless nothing. I want to obsess. I want to reread the social worker's email and search for clues about things. I want to quiz my husband about every conversation he has with the guardian ad litem. I want to know what is going on besides nothing. Nothing but waiting and nothing decided and it's been over a year and it's going to be longer. Unless it isn't.
Obsessing over nothing is a large waste of my precious energy. And makes me neglect Mr. Hall.
So, this is what I'll do instead:
1. focus on calming the hell down. Breathing. Accepting. Moving on. Be still and know that I am.
2. Fill my obsessive needs with what I have going on right now. Right here. This includes the many kids I have and their various needs.
3. Play more youtube videos and dance all crazy like with the kids.
4. Focus on my crossfit training and marvel and my excellent clean and jerk skills. Every time I go to crossfit my heart explodes with awesome uplifting awesomeness. It helps me channel my crazy in ways I never knew possible.
5. Focus on competition training because holy crap! I'm going to be competing! I hope to add something to my team. I'm working extra hard to be an asset!!
6. Give Mr. Hall extra wifey love because he is worn down.
7. Go to church and try not to cry and cry anyway because I'm so overwhelmed with love.
8. Deeply and madly enjoy each dress I wear. I have so many dresses for summer!
9. Chase my toddler around.
10. Make a lot of food with shrimp. And that tasty pink sauce that is on the sushi. That's good stuff, what is that anyway?
Let's pretend that I get exactly what I want when it comes to my foster daughter. Since her birth family is not stepping up and/or nowhere near appropriate to care for her, she can be our daughter. For realises.
I can stop getting emails about her hair and how it's not done properly. I can stop looking up her mom's inmate status and future court activity. I can stop having her mom in our life, like some ghost haunting us. Crazy ghost with buckets of crazy she crazily pours on everything. I can set limits with visitations and start making rules of my own.
This is the hard part of foster care. We are in limbo. Nothing is moving forward or backwards. Nothing is set in place or outlined. Things change month from month. Laws, relatives, personal actions and non actions determine what happens next. Not me or Mr. Hall. So we wait, give the best mommy daddy care we can.
And then I start to dream.
I see a courtroom. I see my husband and I with her in hand. The judge goes through the paperwork and asks us if we want to be her mom and dad and we say yes. I facebook it. Her last name becomes ours. The following week we have an adoption party.
Until then. Or whatever else happens. I'll just be thankful for the strength I'm gaining. Thankful for the minutes, hours and days with her. Children are a gift from God. They are not hers,mine or ours.
I'm very thankful we've found each other. And really, very thankful I'm not in charge after all.
My foster daughter loves the movie Coraline. I find it creepy and unsettling. I'm sure you can wikipedia the plot but it goes something like this:
Coraline, the little girl pictured above, moves to a new city with her family. In her new house, she finds a door that leads to another family's house. The other mom makes cakes and cookies. She's odd and wildly permissive. Coraline shuttles between the two families. Eventually, things get super creepy. The other mom becomes possessive and morphs into spider. She traps Coraline and tries to sew buttons on her eyes. It's creepy and I can't watch it.
My foster daughter can't get enough of this movie. A thousand times I've asked her why, but no clear answer is found. I'm sure it has to do with her, living with us. I'm sure she can relate to this kid on the screen, going back and forth between two vastly different worlds. Two moms and what not.
She does a lot of things I don't understand. She is a lot of things I don't understand. Everything from her hair to her way of tearing up napkins while she eats. I'm learning about her hair and we finally found a decent hair shop (read: black people salon). It's a struggle since I didn't birth her. I'm still learning how to operate her without triggering meltdowns and tantrums. It's a process and it's coming along.
One thing that she does really bugs me. It's the bragging. She constantly brags about her mom. Whenever she spies something she likes, she claims her mom has it or has given it to her. For example she'll say, "My mom has that shirt" "My mom has that car" "My mom takes me to this park" "My mom buys that shampoo" "My mom has these socks".
The thing of it is, it's all lies. Her mom is in jail, facing some significant jail time. She'll be sentenced next month and it looks like her parental rights will be terminated. Termination of Parental Rights is the legal term. Her mom given over a year to get her act together and be a mom. She can't though. For a lot of reasons she can't.
So, when I hear my foster daughter brag about her mom, I get irritated. I am not proud of this. I realize she brags because she's scared and wants it to be true, this super mom in her head. I pray for the Lord to protect my heart. Anger is not helpful with any of this.
I'm mad at her mom. I want her mom to be a full grown human being. One that behaves without irrational actions. One that doesn't smoke weed or spend tons of money on crap. One that has a decent credit rating and doesn't depend on sugar daddies. One that doesn't strike out with violence. But--that's not going to happen.
So, I'm let my foster daughter brag till the cows come home. I'll be with her until she can't brag anymore. I let her talk, wax poetic and be whatever she needs to be. Because I'm her foster mom and I want to be something to brag about.