Tuesday, December 5, 2017

manning the asylum

I sometimes wonder about my capacity for sanity. And staying productive given my work load of four kids, one of them soon be officially adopted from foster care. It's not like my original kids are without special needs.

Mac is my genius 11 year old, in a school for gifted kids. He's not really connected to the earth at this point. My heart breaks for him at times. Other times I just plotz in my thoughts. I think he is most like me. Genius but unable to factor in reality. Because reality is an abstract concept. Even now, for me, with my graduate degree and excellent paying job--- I don't know how to change my windshield wipers.

His struggles are greater because he's smarter than I will ever be. I think it amplifies his emotional and social difficulties. He's kicked off the bus on the reg. We have behavioral sheets to help him regulate during the day. He's on 3 sleeping meds because without it, he won't sleep for days. Underneath he is this amazingly loving and soft bird. He has so much love.

He talked about his doubts with adopting Melody. I welcomed this. He doesn't know how to be her brother yet. We don't know how to be a family yet. It's all confusing and very hard. But we talked and we'll get through this together. He wants to step up, Melody is kid no one is stepping up for. Except us.

Then there is Melody. Each kid I've had, I've been able to tell a pregnancy story, a birth story and a life story. For her,  there are years missing from what I know of her life. I have crappy baby pictures from her mom's old myspace page. Her family gives us nothing else. It makes me mad. But what should I expect from folks that can't a keep consistent cell phone number? Or have an apartment for more than six months. Or repeated jail stays. These are not stable scrapbooking folks.


As we get closer to the adoption, the harder it all gets. Her behaviors and manipulations are in high gear. I can't imagine what that's like for her. How automatic it all is to be in survival mode at all times. It's taking a toll.

So we slow down. I slow down.  And onward we go.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Big ass cats, size 5 snow pants and determing worth

I've become a bit obsessed with Maine Coon Cats. They are big ass cats. F.U. size cats. It's absurd.. This is my life though, big and absurd. Maybe this is why I'm obsessed. I would love to have one of these. But the grooming would drive me insane. There is a whole underground world of big cat people. A lot of Russians and Ukraine breeders. It's a crazy underworld I'm watching from the sidelines. A welcome distraction to say the least.

We had three bonus kids for one week a bit ago. Emergency respite. So that made me a mom of seven. After a week,  we said no more because we were breaking. Their mom gets better than worse than better. So we respite often for the kids. She's super worse now. We said we'd take one longer term. ONE-- because I need to stay sane.  All of which is now turning into discussions of may be adoption. Because mom is not getting better. We're still not done with adopting Melody. And the one may not even come to live with us. So for now-- I save the snow pants that will fit Azure and look up 'how to help kids with swearing'. Cause man. The kid can string profane insults with the skill of an Italian mobster. He's seven.

I've been working on my self worth in therapy. Stepping up and claiming my needs. Which has led me to feel more self worth lately. And more powerful. I've taken charge of Melody's hair. I've stare downed my  self doubt and gotten all up in it's grill. I feel taller. Walk stronger. Amazing how picking out the spaghetti sauce I want  has turned into strength. Strength to sink in and enjoy my very crazy life.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Removing all doubt

I turned in the last bit of paperwork for our adoption application. I think when we started fostering this was easier. The 75 pages of paperwork, the four home study interviews, producing out taxes, house insurance papers... pet vaccinations. It's a big pile of hey, we are really good parents and are welcoming more kids. Much like spare change, I am spent.

Last weekend our foster daughter, Melody, decided to comb out her dreadlocks. I literally didn't know what to do. So we headed over to her friends' mom and well, they took me in a bit. We sat on uncomfortable chairs while we gently picked out the lint and tangles in her gnarled up dreads. After seven hours and little progress- I was done. I literally couldn't see straight and my back was aching.

I think I had the vision of finally being proficient with her African American hair. It was a way for me to start to claim some power in all of this. Power that reflects my value as a mom to Melody. If there is doubt, I want to remove it. Beyond the hours of mind numbing paperwork, those 7 hours was pure love.

Her real mom doesn't care. She doesn't live on the same planet as us and or our pile of proven goodness. She thinks showing up 3 days a week, taking Melody shopping and out to Panda express proves she's ready to be a full time mom again. She wonders when Melody will come home. Meanwhile, she has yet to find a job or pass regular drug tests. She does not live in reality.

They'll be filing termination of parental rights. I'm not sure it'll go forward though. Being an idiot doesn't mean you're a bad mom. She's just selfish and why should she get a job and pass drug tests? She has us taking care of her kid full time and gets to spoil her 3 days a week. She has a sugar daddy paying all her bills including the state. Meanwhile, I don't register for her. When I see her she looks right through me. I try not to dig too deep into the crazy of it all. If I do, I'll never get out.

This woman. When she drops off Melody, she'll stare at her mom's car as she drives away. Blowing kisses and leaning against the window.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

And the bears still suck

I went to my counselor's appt an hour early by mistake. Which gave me 45 min to walk around down town. I ran into a bar that served lovingly made microbrews. I would've loved to squat there, have a pint and be on my way. But smelling of hops before a counseling appt is well, gauche. 

Then there was the hipster barbershop. The workers resplendent with full sleeve tattoos. There was laughing and kitchy decor. I longed to get a good hair wash, deep conditioning treatment or maybe a new funkaliscious cut. Go a bit wild and embrace my own heavily tattooedness. But no. I go to the salon at walmart. Where my  roots are well cared for and the price is just right.

I walked in the sun and being popped by chilly autumn air.

Then I saw 4 gigantic black tour buses. Not the old people on tour buses but high end buses. The Chicago Bears were in town for the game. DAAAAAHHHH BEARS! There were folks with white binders milling about. At first I thought they were survey takers or political 'sign my petition' people. But no, just folks with baseball cards, except with football people on them. They were autograph seekers.

I live in a town where Da Bears are much maligned. When I told folks I had seen the tour buses I was asked, with no sense of irony and with the straightest of faces, "Did you slash their tires?"

Meanwhile my milling about continued because Da Bears were long since in their hotel and the crowd was dribbling away. There was a man, holding a specially made street sign, emblazoned with orange lettering. He donned a baseball cap with the teams logo. His boy and girl, both school aged, wore identical hats. I thought to myself, that's a lot of special ordering. And for what? Their team isn't that good. And their home field faces one of the great lakes, making games unrelenting with the beer freezing gusts of tear your lips off wind. Why would you take pride in this? 

Which leads me to my greater point. The Packers is a religion around here. I'm not kidding. At my old church, we had a guest speaker who was a humanitarian of the highest order, feeding starving children in Mexico, building schools and digging wells to sustain entire villages.He made an ice breaking about the Packers and us Christian folk, usually so friendly and welcoming with coffee and cookies, we booed him. Subtly and quietly, but his face went white and he made a quick apology.

So yeah, Go Pack Go!

and.... the bears still suck!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

bonus kid kung fu fighting

I think we are on month two of welcoming back Melody. With all bonus kids (aka foster kids) there is a honey moon period where love is everything.  Then the trauma based behavior rear up. Stuff like holes in walls, screaming, breaking remotes and arguing. We skipped the honeymoon I think.  She was with us from age 4-7. Now she's 9.

Tonight was rough but better. The screaming and fighting was minimal and defused. I worked really hard on holding my upset. Not taking the bait to argue and give more rules. I am not perfect. It started with me taking the remote because it's bed time. Her shrieking and crying began. Howls of it's not fair and you give me nothing.

I made warmed up oatmeal for Max and tried my hardest to ignore. To calmly repeat, I feel bad for you. I love you too much to argue with you. I know you hate me but I love you no mater what. Over and over. AND OVER AND OVER. Like the love and logic folks say.

But it's not fair. It's not fair Melody is here when she wants to be with mom. It's not fair that I need to help clean up and calm a mess her mama made.

It's not fair I am working up the nerve to make small talk with a  woman that scares the hell out of me. AKA Melody's mom. It's not fair that her daughter is becoming my daughter AGAIN.  I am becoming friendly with a woman I have ten thousand emotions about. But I want to create something between her and me. A bond.  Is there such a thing as sister moms?

I want to just scream at the mom. I want to say look, this isn't going end anytime soon. Melody has been in foster care since age 4. There are things that are going to make this better and things that make things worse. Help us.

Help us by not going on spending sprees and buying air Jordan's. Help us by not putting make up on your nine year old. Help us by getting a job that doesn't involve shaking your money maker because you are older now and dollar dollar bill ya'll ain't a life plan. Help us by not going to jail on probation holds, because you won't provide a urine drug screen.

But I can't scream because she's kind of deaf. Deaf to planning. Deaf to reality. Deaf to all of it because all of it is going her way. The county pays her rent and she has a benefactor that pays for the rest of it. And we are providing 24/7 child care and doing the hard work of being her baby's parents.

She did have a job interview and I guess it well.

Maybe she'll rise up. Work hard. Get the stuff she needs to be a mom that Melody can come back to.

If not. I'll ask she help us by stopping with this wild fantasy that eventually, she'll live with her mom.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Air Jordans

Melody is settling in, our boomerang bonus kid. She is a lot easier in some ways. Last go round she didn't have a lot of words to express her upsetness. So our drywall and car doors got carved into. She's a lot more aware now. She understands she's in foster care and says no thank you.

I work on my reactivity to her. Like her momma, getting everyone riled up is a skill she's mastering. My theory is that this allows her control in a world where she has very little. But she can't be in control, she's a kid. So we allow choices whenever we can and hug her as we say no.

Her mom is baseline from what I can tell. Working as an pole technician and buying her air jordans. WHAT is with the air jordans? Why must every foster kid have these expensive shoes? Honestly, I didn't know they existed before I was a foster mom.

We are in a pattern much like 2 years ago. Her mom doing 35% of what is needed to reunite. I am doing better with her mom. I'm not afraid or reactive to her like I use to be. She's not aggressive with us about doing her baby's hair right. Which is actually kind of sad. I hope this means she is not letting go.

So folks ask if we will adopt her and we have the same answer. Which is not at this point. In fact, I'm still hoping mom will pull it together and be able to take Melody back full time like for realsies. Mr. Hall believes she will continue to get better then crash.

Really, in reality, it doesn't change anything. Even if we do end up adopting her this will be the life. Having this relationship with her mom. Visits and whatnot.


Sunday, July 2, 2017

foster baby mama drama

So, Melody is coming back. She was a little girl that lived with us for 3 years, then went to live with auntie. Two years later she is coming back to us. I am feeling all the emotions.

The emotions I'm struggling with are not for her,  but for her mama. Foster baby mama drama.

I can only speak to my interactions with her and from my side. The first phone call was good. Melody was our first foster daughter. First foster kid. I was at Zumba and came home and there she was. I spoke with her mom a few days later, explaining we had a minivan and we were glad to help her out during that time. It went well, she was all, thank you thank you. That was the last time it went well.

Mostly, during the three years, she spoke through the social worker to complain about Melody's hair not being done right, her clothes being unkempt and us not lotioning her enough. This was the alpha omega for Melody's mom--her daughter's appearance.

Traditionally, the Tribe Called Hall is a motley one. She had a point. I grew angry and bitter. I would get up with her child in the middle of the night when she had nightmares. When she'd talk to her mom on the phone,  Melody begged her mom to come get her and be done with this. And her mom would say, just a little while longer. And I rocked and held Melody after those phone calls, while she wailed and sobbed. But yes, Melody was not gap model level prepared for visits, so she had a point.

Then there were phone calls of vitriol and the time she called the cops on us. Which is typical and common for foster parents to experience. I cried and shook as she ripped me a new one once. It was totally unexpected and like a hurricane full of pissed off bees. Part of this was my fault I think. I was so angry at her for hurting this girl. While Melody was never abused, her mom was hurting her by not doing what she had to do to get her back. Basically stuff, like sobriety, she wasn't even trying to do. At that point, Melody had started calling me mom too. I'm sure my anger triggered the mom's and she's better at controlling people with anger and fear. After the cops were called on us, Mr. Hall took over the communication.

For him, it went well. He could talk to her. She talked to him. It was soothing to listen too. She would be logical and approachable. Deal with able. Mr. Hall has the magic of dealing with the most difficult of women and making it ok.

Then Melody went down to an auntie. She was gone, I was spent. We spent almost a year recovering. We got a dog, that helped. I was happy never to deal with her mom again. I was done. I never expected Melody to come back. I thought her family would absorb her because we are the white village, dismissed and shameful. Sending her back to the foster care system means sending her here. But Melody is one of many and family didn't get in this business like we did. They are trying to help out family, we are growing one and inviting others as we go.

So now the mama is going to be back in my life and I am struggling. Fundamentally struggling. I say to Mr. Hall, 'how do you deal with it, the mom?' He says, "I don't focus my energy on that, we are here to support Melody. I pick my fights." Which means he has control over his emotions and can use a system of dams and bridges to direct the water accordingly.

I envy him.

I'll need to try, my hardest, to feel these things and deal with reality.

Reality number one, in order to adopt Melody, the state needs to do what's called TPR, or termination of parental rights on mom. This is very hard. Judges don't like doing it for a lot of reasons. The state has a current TPR filed and they'll try again. For this, I will go to the hearings. For now, she is our foster daughter. We'll treat her as our own and love her all the same.

Reality number two, mom isn't doing well. Visits with Melody are canceled as a result. The aftermath of visits or missed visits are hard on Melody. This is when she cries and sobs. This is when she carves holes in our drywall. This is when I need to stop the anger and bitterness from growing and soaking in.  Because I can't. It will kill part of me. The very part I use to help. I will be sad with Melody. I will love on her and seek out love too. Mr. Hall and the rest of the tribe are great at being her for each other. This is what we do.

Reality number three. When Melody comes we will have a party. To celebrate her and to let her know she is cherished and super loved. She is a child of God. For this. I have to start thinking of her mom in the same way. She is also a child of God. I need to practice forgiveness, mercy, love. Mr. Hall says she doesn't know any better and that is why she can't be the mom Melody needs. And he's right. So I will consciously pray and practice what I've been given.

Reality number four. No matter what, Melody comes with her mama. Even if she stays with us forever, the mom will be part of this. God gave me all sorts of love to give. This is why I'm in the foster parent business. I'll leave the practicalities of communication, visit arrangement and phone calls to Mr. Hall but for me, I need to start with love, mercy and forgiveness.

And in this way, I can feel much better. I can start to grow love for the foster baby mama drama too.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

finding the limits

So we received an email asking us if we can take 3 bonus kids for another day. The same bonus kids we had had for a week. Another respite stay, which again, if you remember from my last post, is a fancy foster care word for 'babysitting.' Mr. Hall wrote back, 'my wife is emotionally drained and I'm behind on work'. We officially found our limit of giving.

Which was ok. Because it was the truth. Doubling my kid population for an extended period of time is not healthy for me. This is what I'm discovering. The whole thing is really sad because there is a reason they are here but wow. I just can't. With those kids.

It was our second time saying no. We are saying that a lot more lately. I dreamed of being a foster mom for 20 years, a lifer. Seems my life span is about 5. Maybe.

I tend to dive down so deep with my thoughts. Getting to the silt level of even basic things. Making Himalayas out of molehills. I'm working on it though. For the three kids I am doing enough and I am enough. And we are done.

My thoughts about the foster care  system are more difficult to manage.  I'm trying not to be bitter. The goal is the help out, take the kids until birth mom heals up and then they go back. These birth moms (she says as she's stereotyping a whole group of women) are catered to. I think it's the highly educated, white thinking that says, "If we just get mom to counseling, it'll stop intergenerational patterns of ugly behavioral patterns towards one another. And then they get jobs and be real providing type parents. "

I'm not finding that to be true. I'm finding the birth moms are minimally functional and even then it requires a lot of taxpayer support with housing, food and childcare which includes the foster parent side of things. They will never be independent and at that same time, never stop producing more kids in the process. Those three kids we helped out with? They are from a group of seven.

Which brings us to Melody. The foster daughter we had for three years, then she went to live with an auntie and now she's coming back to us. Mom is still in the picture and screwing up predictably. The system is still dumb. And at the center of it is her, Melody. One of twenty five by the way. Lots of baby mamas from the same dad. Her mom only had her. Which is a nice change.

It seems when she comes back she'll bring a system I don't entirely agree with. Court hearings, giving mom more time to get her act together despite it being almost five years she's been in foster care. So my job will be to love her. Hug her and just deal with the rest. And so it shall be.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Can you take the child back?

When I was dating Mr. Hall we decided to have 3 babies then start fostering. When I was pregnant with baby #3 I started filling out the paperwork. When River was 2 months old and nursing up a storm, a girl arrived. I called her Melody because I didn't get her real name. I was at Zumba when she came. She was 4.

She stayed for 3 years. Her mama never really got better. A combination of mental health problems, drug use, ghettotude and selfish choices do not make stability sustainable. Melody had like 500 family members but only a small percentage stepped up and offered to take care of her. Only a small percentage of that percentage could pass a drug test and a background check. Finally an auntie showed up that cleared all the hurdles. Two inches of the ground hurtles, but she passed them.

We were called the white village by the auntie. Our village  was a shameful secret in the family so when Melody left they didn't talk to us.  I sent that auntie like 500 photos of her time with us. Making sure it was mostly just Melody, not the white folks with her. Two years go by, we hear nothing.

Which brings us to two months ago when we learn the auntie has had enough. She's done. So, the social worker asks, can you take the child back? We pray. We hem. We haw. We decide no. Because the plan is to support a reunification with mom. Mom has not and cannot change.  I'm crying because hurting and ugly. But we said no. Melody is placed with another white village. We offer to be in the background, providing respite as needed. Which is a fancy foster care word for babysitting.

The new white folks ask us to baby sit for a week and we say yes. It was awkward when she came. It's all hey, sorry your plans of healing with your auntie didn't work out. Sorry your mom is still a huge mess. But hey, we missed you and remember our cat? She did remember our cat. Two years later she remembers the cat's name. I didn't really say the first part btw.

There were times where I had to leave the room because I would be so sad with her. She was my daughter for those three years. She was a mess and tore up drywall. She carved stuff into the side of my car. Destruction was her language. It was never more loud than during the 10 trips we took to visit her auntie as we moved her down there. Long ass 2 hour drives with her screaming and tantrumming. Then passing out cold. I drove her each time. Because I needed to be there for her because I loved her and wanted to help with her pain. Still do.

In the middle of the visit we learn the other white village is only temporary. And through the underground tunnels of commination we are asked, Can you take the child back? We don't answer this time.

Then we prepar her for a visit with mom. Still at the supervised visit level. Mom said she had a flat tire and the anger I felt was unbelievable. The plan is to reunite Melody with mom and mom can't even make a visit. What happens when she's in school and she get's a call that her daughter is sick. Who is going to pick her up? Then I get angrier. Why is she still in foster care,  five years later? Why is mom even being considered for reunification?

I leave all these questions up to Mr. Hall to ask. He is a sensei of foster care communication. He is logical, charming, good looking and very much a guy who can negotiate conversations between multiple females. Mad skills.

What I do is this. I say, sorry your mom couldn't make the visit. Let's go to Costco, it's a crazy store with lots of big huge items. I buy her a book and we get the dollar fifty hot dog on the way out. As she's grazing she starts to cry and I hold her. Because I can love her and comfort her. And I do as she cries and eats the hot dog. In Costco.

And that is why we are taking her back and whatever happens with this crazy process happens. 

Friday, June 9, 2017

out of body

We bought a pop up camper and have gone camping three times now. It.is.divine. I was so happy last weekend I cried when we packed up and went home. There is just an ultimate freedom with camping.

No cell phone service. All your stuff in three tubs, the car and a pop up. Kids play together because there is nowhere to go and nobody to do it with. So much dirt to dig, so many frogs to catch. It's perfect.

I take great joy in watching the sun bounce of the tree leaves. I could just stare for hours.

On the foster front we said no for the first time to a placement. The little guy was 3 and had autism. It's not the autism that we said no to, it's the 3 years old. I'm tired. I'm 41. I'm a older kid momma now. Chasing babies and getting up in the middle of the night is no good. Plus anxiety. I didn't realize I had anxiety until I went to see a therapist. Because my middle son is still super complicated with ADHD and genius factor. Genius meaning super smart but emotionally behind.  And it's still hard but I went to therapy to make it less hard. Therapy is going well, I'm getting things cleaned up a bit.

Which is another weird factor. I'm literally recreating my operating systems. Which are no longer working on fear, divide & conquer. I'm slowing down and it's just weird. It's calling up fundamental questions of who I am outside the people that need me. I think I lost myself a long time ago. But now that the kids are all potty trained and I don't have to hover so much, I'm emerging a bit. Also weird.

It's a slow process. We still have paperwork in to the foster to adopt folks. Our references told me they got their paperwork to fill out. So something is happening. It's all so different than a belly pregnancy. Belly pregnancy is just stopping birth control and getting it on. This is so out of body. Pregnant on paper they say.

I wonder when the bone crushing morning sickness will start... oh wait! That's only with belly pregnancy :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Like Jon Snow, we know nothing

I filled out no less than 56 pages for our adoption from foster care application. All manner of personal, medical, housing and financial questions were asked. The state wants to know all the things. So, I parked my butt in the minivan, drove to a wooded park on a sunny day and KNOCKED IT OUT IN 3 HOURS. BOOM!!

Mr.. Hall was less enthusiastic about the paperwork. Revealing your tax information to strangers on a wink and a prayer that there are kids out there, that we can adopt, was something he grumbled at. He's not convinced this will actually work. Most kids in foster care either go back home or are adopted by their foster families. Just adopting from foster care is a least likely scenario. So, all of this may be for nothing and I understand his groaning. I don't care though. I'm not doing anything else right now.

There's a lull in the House of Hall. Our middle son, the genius Mac, has come along nicely with his defiant tendencies, ADHD and giftedness. Very blessed times as of late. Medication and therapy are going super helpful. Him maturing to age 10 helped immensely. Still some struggles, but Rome wasn't molded in a day.

Our oldest, the wee 14 year old Pancake, she's coming along too. All righteous indignation and very much knowing she's correct. Not even a question. Here's a typical conversation.

Me: I don't even want to discuss things with you anymore, you don't listen, you just wait to jump in to...to school  me ...
Pancake: That's because you're wrong.


The crazy part is I totally remember this at her age. The fighting energies. The good fight fighting energies. I still have them. They continue to serve me well.

I think Mr. Hall and I are really into our kids. We love them and know them. It's a bit weird now. They are shaping who they are, based on their likes and wants. Which again, weird. Little kids are easy, it's all about nap times and snacks. Older kids like to discuss communism and the concept of infinity. All the while rolling their eyes at your aged wisdom when they struggle. Because parents are wrong. Like Jon Snow, we know nothing.

These are good problems to have. Watching our older kids outpace our intellect. Watching them grow and being tall people. Give us lip because we're morons.

We love though. They love too. We all still love each other and share a common, snuggly bond. We genuinely enjoy each other's company. I could not be more blessed.

So yeah, it's time to add more kids. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

At that point, I was missing a spoon

Just a head's up. This is a long and somewhat sad post. But man up. It's a good read and gets better at the end. Plus it took me a long time to write and I spent a lot of time on it. It does no good just sitting here unread. 
(here's my littlest son, the one that came after my miscarriages) 

Went to a continuing education conference. There was an ob-gyn speaker who had much experience with high risk pregnancies and treating women with infertility. My goal was to go and learn how he handled the women, so I can better help with the helping that I do do. It was near lunch time. 

It went wrong.  He talked a lot about miscarriage and the trauma of losing babies for these women he helps. I was not expecting this,  but what did I expect? His session was part of a whole truama informed care conference. He deals with ob gyn trauma, which is often about baby loss of all kinds. He recited women's narratives throughout his teaching. Stories and stories of loss. 

Like eighty percent of women everywhere on this planet,  I've had miscarriages, two of them. This was four years ago. Imagine my  surprise as I began to lose my shit while listening to these stories. I thought I was healed. Healed enough anyway.  I chomped aggressively on the inside of my lower lip. This held the tide for a while. 

Then came the story of a woman who had lost a baby she held her arms. Family comforted her. They said, "You can have another baby, it'll be ok." And the woman said, "I don't want another baby, I want the one I lost".

I began heaving and sobbing uncontrollably. Biting the lip no longer held it in. All of this at my professional conference. With my nice suit and fancy new laptop. All grown up nurse practitioner. I shot up then rushed to a bathroom stall. After letting the flushes and sink water gushes die down, I was alone. Grabbing the toilet paper for stability, I let some of the sobs out. It echoed loudly. This could not be helped. 

I kept thinking I have to go back and get my laptop. Once I could walk again, I did just that. My new work colleagues were at the table of this plus hotel conference room. All linen table cloth and glass ice water pitchers. I had only started this job a month ago. They didn't know what had happen to me. They weren't part of it four years ago. I hoped they thought I was having a migraine or something. 

Moving my body forward, my eyes were stuck to the floor.  This felt good. I noticed most of my stuff  was on the chair, under the table. That was a blessing as I half hid under the table, reaching up to grab my things. I liked the hiding. It was helpful.

Now that my goods were gathered,  I hightailed it to my car. Managing all five floors of the concrete parking garage on choppy legs. I flung myself into the car and started animal howling. Rocking and going out of my mind. There was a slight awareness of social protocol, of how I appeared,  but I did  not care. I let it all come because there was no choice.

It was a bitey cold and gray rainy day. I've never been so thankful for car heaters and heated leather seats. And soft music from the radio. These were gluing me back together as I wailed along. 

Somewhere in my mind,  I became aware of time and the need to go back to the conference. I knew that to get reimbursement, I'd have to return and actually attend it. Part of me didn't care. Screw the 200 dollars. I'd just be honest why I couldn't go back. I've had two miscarriages and this lecture was too much too bear. My arms and hands fond the itinerary folder to check. There was a full hour and half to decide what next. 

I decided on lunch. It was good fortune that I was in the city where Mr. Hall and I had lived together while dating. We were so young and all about each other. It was just us and I was in nursing school. It was perfect. It still is. The boho coffee house where slipped out one day and bought the ring--that was right down the street. 

I ordered the chicken tortilla soup, turkey and bacon on rye and a cafe au lait. It came with a bag of chips. The food was divine. I nom nommed and read the small town paper. The journalism was quaint and comforting. More nom nomms and my shoulders went down. The bacon was perfectly cooked which is no small feat. Perfectly flat, dry but not crumbly and just enough bite with the salty goodness. At that point, I was missing a spoon. I was too heavy to move. I didn't want to talk to anyone. At all.  I opened the chips and scooped my soup accordingly. They held the chicken tortilla deliciousness quite well. Very tasty lunch indeed. Better now.

I called Mr. Hall while ensconced in my heated leather seats and heater full blast. I told him what had happened. I told him that I won't ever be done with missing my babies we lost. He won't either. I know I'll hold them in Heaven and will call out their names, Jon and Chloe. They are safe and in an amazing place that I can't even fathom. And we comforted and loved through the mobile lines. I started to breathe and felt very much better. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The dream exchange, treeman, bucking the system and breaking down

Last night I had a dream where a young lady had become pregnant. She was older teenager and had a mom and dad. Everyone said get an abortion and rallied to arrange this. The daughter, her mom and dad went along with the community's assessment and planning of things. The community had done this in love. The family piled into the car with inky black skies covering them. This drive was known to be the drive to the clinic. Folks gathered round for a send off; to support the family, waving and cheering. The daughter, mom and dad all smiled and knowingly nodded at each other. They simply drove away, skipping town. Leaving it all behind.

They pulled up to a new house. There stood a huge, barren black tree in the yard. The man spoke, he was a tree man. He saw them and shook like a dog fresh from the bath. Twigs and dead branches broke off. Sort of like a hair cut.

That was it for my dream. Loved how the family bucked the system and rallied to create their own path. Love how they didn't fight the well doers and just did their own thing.

I'm sure this is very much my life, in this dream. We are less than a month from our meeting with the state. It's an informational meeting where in we begin the process of adopting from foster care. I'm not telling a lot of folks because a lot of folks give me the stink eye, in one form or another. Often well meaning stink eye but sometimes downright hostile. There is a lot of fear and myths about adopting from foster care. A lot of questions about why more kids since we have three. A lot of stuff I'm done answering.

I have no frame of reference for this life I've been blessed with. I grew up with just a brother. My husband grew up with a slightly unhinged mom, two sisters and no dad. He says he was a late bloomer. Thick coke bottle glasses. Flooded with hormones, poor social skills and no direction.  This is the common theme of him growing up.  I believe this is a blessing. He has loads of help he can offer our kids as they struggle. Because he struggled mightily and won. He's very charming and good looking now.

For me, growing up, my common theme was plowing ahead. Going for it even if I had no idea how.  Just doing it because it called to me. At the center of it all, has been a quality heart. The driving force has been love.  I care and want to help people. It's what God built me for. In a way, He also built me to buck the system. To go against what is comfortable and safe. Because His love cannot be denied.

So maybe this is a strength. I'm done fighting or explaining to the naysayers, no matter how they are trying to help. I'm done because it's already happening. God moved my heart when I was 19 years old, working as a 3rd shift waitress at a greasy spoon. I was a complete idiot and could barely take care of myself. I was not saved. I didn't know God then. But miracles were happening. I knew that I could be a mom, that I could adopt one day. Over 20 years later it's happening. It's just a matter of time.

And the tree part is true too. Got may hair did yesterday. It had been four months and man the dead ends and disheveledness. I got highlights and everything. Looking fantastic today.

Monday, March 13, 2017

so it's happening.. we are starting to adopt from foster care

I've had a federal job which involved 45 pages of paperwork, including listing all my addresses from age 16. We've been foster parents for 4 years which included about 100 pages of background checks, references etc. So we've contacted the agency that arranges adoptions from foster care, they're sending us a packet. Of paperwork.

It's just very weird. Why can't folks share these things? Why doesn't federal paperwork trump it all? Well I guess, that's not how it works.

So how does this work, I mean in the real life sense? I mean, I've been thinking about this for quite some time, since I was 19. I'm 41 now. With three bio kids. Married x 16 years. How do we add one or two more?

There are children out there free and clear to adopt from the foster care system. I know because when I signed up, to get the paperwork, I was 'matched' with 31 sets of kids. I reviewed most of them. Some of have issues we can't take on. It's the ones with incest and sexual abuse. It's not that we can't taken those kids in, it's that it places our kids at risk. Our level of supervision is not at that level. Saying no is sad and harshly pragmatic. My husband can't stomach the process of combing through files of kids we've been matched with. Imagine going to the humane society only it's real live kids staring at you.

I'm not sure how I'm ok with it. I am though. I take strength in knowing what we can do and who we are. I know what we have to offer as a family. There is something like 400,000 kids waiting to be adopted from foster care. Reading super sad back story after super sad back story doesn't get to me though. I know we can provide a home for two.

I have fears. Fears that it's so much work. Which Mr. Hall guffaws about. The work is really his. He works from home and takes the calls from school, the picking up in the middle of the day because of behaviors. He works the systems and behavior charts. He is seen as a leader to theses kids because they've often never had a dad and wow do they all love Mr. Hall. We've had 10 foster kids in the last 4 years and yeah, they love and listen to him first. Which is wonderful.

So where do I fit in all this? What can I do to help? How do I facilitate what I already see in my head and heart--a family with 5 kids? My cooking is subpar. But I've mastered making tasty meals no one the less. I'm taking better care of myself, eating better and working out. I've stepped up the massages for Mr. Hall which is his love language.

And the paperwork. "That 30 pages is all yours babe", says Mr. Hall.. and so it shall be ;)

Monday, February 27, 2017

the complicated goings on of having a teenage daughter

I've been a mom for 14 years now. At this point, I'm pretty good at it. CASE IN POINT.

I get a call from day care. My littlest, River, age 4, has puked. I get over there. He's sitting on a child size bench. Little tissues clutched in puffy hands, sniffing and looking sad. I'm wrapping up his puke stained clothes and hear it. The sound of more puke coming up. I grab a near by garbage bin and he explodes streams of reds and blues. I say, "Good job throwing up!" This encouragement is needed. He's scared because when you are four and berry vomit is coming out of your mouth--this is not a normal event. So I normalize and praise. NOT horking down berries until you puke is a lesson we'll  save for later. The puking stops. I GET NONE OF IT ON ME OR MY GIGANTIC, FLUFFY WHITE SCARF. Which is around my neck and touching the garbage bin. I'm just that good! 

Bodily fluids are easy. Short people are easy. You are bigger then them. You can often correct things with a time out or a taken toy. My daughter is not short anymore. Argues like her mother as well. You can't really give the 'mommy stink eye' when you are at eye level with your child. Houston, we have a problem here.

It's easy to see her as older than she is. When your child uses big words and talks big ideas you can forget how old they really are. It's amazing how she feels completely right about her own reality. There is so much true in such a life, but very little lived wisdom. And that's where it gets complicated.

I'm a believer in listening to kids and trusting them. Fourteen doesn't mean she's to be automatically discounted. Plus, she's older than her two brothers. It's nice having a deep discussions with another, almost woman, in the house. I can totally see us being friends when she is full grown. 

But for now, the world is largely abstract and she doesn't really care for rules. Which is why she was late for school 10 times last semester. This was not corrected by me cajoling, threatening, yelling or punishing. It took a 'truancy' hearing with the vice principle and the school cop to get her attention. Her age is the age of self centeredness I guess. Reality is like the landscape outside a moving car on the highway. Vague and sometimes pretty to notice if you happen to look that way.

We spoil our children. I know. We do. And I made the mistake of trying to reason and talk to her like a full grown up. All ten times before the truancy hearing.

So when homework was marked late for the 6th week in a row, I switched tactics. I took her phone and she cried and begged. So now, she has the power to earn the phone back with diligent doage of chores and on time homework. So far, much improvement has been noted.

Maybe it's not so complicated after all? 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

a tale of two lunches

1. Before I left my old job,  I had a chance to lunch with my possible replacement. We went to one of those sandwiches and soup type shops. A chain restaurant that is super overpriced. Organic carrot soup, gluten free buns, bags of chips on the side... blah blah. Five minutes in-- I was done with her. She was not right for the job. Call me judgey. Go ahead.

She was older. This is not why she was wrong for the job. She was older and well into her career which provides itself with certain creature comforts. I am now in the summer of my career. It's getting nicer. People cater to you a bit more. Bonuses happen. I had a special chair ordered for my new office without even asking for it. This is what she had grown accustomed to.

This was not happening with my old job. She had been a nurse practitioner for a long time but not in mental health. Which makes my old job entry level for her. If one is entry level, one must be humble. She wasn't.  One must be willing to suck it up because it was a government job.  No perks. Because government. She wasn't.

Her entitlement and attitude put my teeth on edge. All within the first 5 min. The food was actually very good. The soup was layered and lovely. They had some fresh crusty bread, perfect for dipping.

She turned down the job the next day. I hold myself responsible for the quick no. I told her she wouldn't like it  and wasn't a good fit. Honesty was the best policy I think. Plus, I was leaving so screw that, I'm not going to cater or wine and dine her. No one wants a practitioner that is bothered to even be there. Like I said, screw that!

2. Olive garden. Love the over cooked and heavily sauced pastas. The delish salad. The breadsticks disappoint though. Whattayagonna do eh?

I had my favorite nurse and my favorite doctor with me. The ones who had been my coworkers and friends for the last eight years. It was a private goodbye lunch and I was so sad. We were all sad. Then in the middle of it, my vision became blurry. Like someone was pouring liquid mecury in my visual fields. I could see maybe 50% above eye line. I knew this to be an ocular migraine. Painless but I couldn't see. I kept talking though. Kept laughing and soaking up the love. This was not going to stop the love fest that was my shrimp scampi lunch!

It was phenomenal that lunch. Top three in my life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

If there was a letter I could write it would be this... oh cuties my cuties

Hello Cuties!

We are the Halls. We've been looking for you. We are a wacky bunch. I'm Miss Stephanie. I steer the crazy ideas and untold expansion of our tribe. When I was 19, I had an idea of wanting to be a foster mom. Back then I was really, REALLY not capable of such things. But I chugged along, met your father, we had your sister and two brothers. Somewhere along the line your mom had you and a few others too. I'm sad that your mom and dad can't be what you need. So we want to be that for you, a mom and a dad.

It's probably too early to talk about this. We haven't even met yet. All we have is a photo of you two. Our social worker called your social worker and we're waiting to hear back.

But these are details darlings.. details....

If this works out it will be epic. We are a fantastic family. We like doing stuff. Going places. Eating tacos on Tuesdays. Any days really. We have a dog. She's fantastic too. We've been taking in kids for four years before we came across you and you.

If it all works out I can promise you this, I am a very loving mom. I have a lot of strong opinions about so many things big and small and can't wait to hear yours! Do you like tomatoes? Are you a fan of sharp cheddar? Do you sing in the shower? Can you do a cartwheel? Would you like to learn? Can you run faster than me? I'd like to see ya try!

But promises... I promise we're not perfect. That much will be clear. I get overwhelmed and cry sometimes. I get to hung up on things. I don't cook very well but what I can cook, I cook a lot of. I sometimes forget small people are just learning, so I pile too much on their plate. Sometimes I let things slide and need to ad just the right amount more!  I'm still learning how to be the best mom. I know you'll both be great teachers! 

I can promise I love Mr. Hall. He is really a great daddy. He's strong and patient. He's funny too. He's the best husband in the world and will show you how to love and be loved little girl. And he'll show you how to be a good husband and dad little guy! Our kids know you're coming, even the little 4 year old. He doesn't know what that means. I'm not sure we do either!

We do know our hearts are open and waiting. We are ready for you. And just like with our other kids, you both are very VERY wanted.

see you soon my cuties!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Revelation of new

Settling into the new job. Super fancy here in the private sector. They ordered me a chair, painted my office and sent my flowers. There is a whole marketing department. That is weird. It's all weird. The work is the same. I see patients for mental health reasons. I prescribe mental health medications. I do what we mental health nurse practitioners do.

Only it's bananas and super hard. At least it was. This organization is BIG. The patients are COMPLICATED. My coworkers are WICKED SMART. All of which forces my growth. Not growing is why (in part) I left my former job. I needed to grow. My brain isn't completely demolished from all the kids. It needs very science and caring things to do in the service of others. Which is what I do at my job.

For the first two weeks I felt very overwhelmed. Felt very exhausted and began to have nightmares. I took ambien for a week straight. I take ambien maybe once/twice a year. I started saying things out loud to Mr. Hall. My scary, sad, stressful emotional stuff. He laughed and hugged me. Because he's happy for me and my struggle.

This is the same Mr. Hall who happily cheered on my contractions during labor. All smiley and RAH RAH RAH!! That's right. He didn't comfort me during labor so much as cheered me on because it was happening and it's awesome. Because struggle is growth and happiness in the end.

So the nightmares and the constant rumination. I would never be without thoughts of what I said  or did at my new office. At night I would dream I was there too. It was no good.  It all broke loose when I went to church on Sunday.

I hadn't been to church in a long while. Holidays/lazy/what have you. But I woke up 5 minutes before the service and high tailed it there. During the singing I reached on up and asked God for help. It was then I had a revelation.

I had forgotten about that up there. God calls whom He calls because we are the ones to do what we are needed to do. I'm not here, at my fancy new job, because I'm the smartest and most capable. I'm here because He put me here. And it will come. The knowledge, the workings, the reasons I'm here will become apparent. All this rumination and second guessing it the evil one shooting me down, coloring my thoughts and he is wrong.

It was a great lift of ugly. Then there was this silence in my head. No more second guessing or reviewing everything I had said and done at work. No more feeling consumed by work thoughts. Just silence. It took some getting use to. It took a couple of nights but my sleep is 99% back to normal. My energy is returning. And all is well in the House of Hall.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...