My oh my…my story is coming full circle in so many ways. It is a story that I choose to hold so tightly to my heart because the pain is almost unbearable. It isn’t almost unbearable it is all the way unbearable.
Almost 10 years ago, Big Daddy and I decided to expand our family through the blessing of adoption. We had had 3 biological children and we decided when our youngest was 2, that he would “get fixed” and that would be that. We later regretted that decision and our conviction was to step out of our comfort zone and embark on an adventure.
Adventure it has been.
We quickly realized that international adoption was out of the question because the cost was astronomical. We also decided that we had already done the baby thing, so we focused on older children through our state foster care system. We took all the required steps. We did 10 weeks of PS-MAPP classes, we filled out paperwork, worked on our home, got our homestudy, background checks, criminal checks, so much paperwork. We were finally approved after what seemed like forever. I believe it was over the summer when we were approved.
We were approved in June. I was ecstatic. We did not want to foster because I just couldn’t. My heart couldn’t take that uncertainty. We were going to adopt. That was our grand plan. The next month, my sweet granny decided it was time for her to see Jesus. My heart….I can’t even begin to describe what her loss did to me. I knew she was better off. I knew she would never want to come back here for anything. I know I will see her again, but she was my person. She was my source of strength. That hole is still very much in my heart. I began to sink into a depression.
Depression is nothing new to me. I’ve struggled with it my entire life. It was a black time filled with many tears. In October of that year, we got the call. My goodness….I thought we had won the lottery. We wanted just one more child and we were getting two! A girl (2) and a boy (10 mths). I immediately began gathering things, preparing my heart, my other children, my family. I was on cloud nine. My babies …I remember when they walked in…so frightened. So tiny. My daughter couldn’t speak. My son looked like Don King LOL. His hair LOL…still makes me chuckle. The social worker came in and stayed while we all met. My kids had a carseat, a coat, a sippy cup, a bottle and the clothes on their backs. That was it. We were set to adopt because they had already been in the system, returned and now back in the system. We were preparing for these precious babies to be a forever part of our family.
We lived in a 1000 sq ft home with 5 kids and us and one bathroom. It was crowded but doable. I remember taking my son out of that 6 mth onesie he was wearing and when I did….he looked like an octopus unfolding…he had LOTS of rolls, lots of leg, lots of arms and he had been shoved in that onesie that was entirely too small for him. He was wearing, comfortably 18 mth clothes. He had never eat food. All he did was drink out of a bottle. When we introduced food to him…..he ate and ate and ate. I’ve never in my life seen such a phenom. His laughter. Oh my, it would light up a room. He laughed from the top of his head all the way down and his eyes would dance all over the room. He was contagious.
My daughter was a bit more reserved. She was a bit pickier of an eater. She like to eat shoes and struggled with sleep. Her teeth….I used to laugh and say she could eat a corn cob through a picket fence…those babies stuck straight out of her head. She was shy but loved to be held and loved to look around. She was mesmerized by the kids and all of the new surroundings. She loved cats and flowers. So precious.
My kids were VERY sick when they came to us. Our son had asthma and our daughter had a bit of it, so I would sit them in their high chairs and do breathing treatments for them, together. My daughter had ringworm which spread to all of us. It seemed like whatever was going around we ended up with. It was hard. It was also joyous.
Our social worker (or the kids worker) was a deceitful woman. Her intentions (as stated to us) was that SHE wanted to adopt them but couldn’t because it was an ethical issue. I sent pictures, gave updates, she came for visits…I did everything I was taught to do and then some. After Thanksgiving…we ALL got the flu. I was in bed, the babies were in bed with me (all 5 babies)…we were all so sick. I called the worker to see if she could possibly take the babies to their doctors appointment. She had previously told me that she would be there to help in any way. I stupidly took her up on that offer. When she got there, my babies were needing to be admitted for dehydration. I immediately pulled my vomiting self out of the bed, got childcare for my other children and I hauled off to the hospital. I stayed day and night for a couple of days. I thought everything was okay.
It was not okay.
When the SW went back to her office, she called for a court date. She told me that I did not need to be there, it was just a review. I needed to stay home with the babies and she would call if any changes with visitation were changing or if TPR (termination of parental rights) date was set. I did that. The babies and I were home. I was deep cleaning the house, but first I had to set the babies in their chairs for their breathing treatments. I got the call. The call was not from the SW, it was from her supervisor. All I remember hearing was “you have been deemed unfit as a parent and we are coming to get the babies. Have them ready in an hour.” I sat in silence. The supervisor had to repeat herself several times because I was not comprehending what she said to me. I was unfit because my kids had had the flu. Because I had the flu. I was unfit. My babies were leaving.
I called Big Daddy, who was at work….I don’t remember all I said to him. I do remember screaming and saying “she is coming to get my babies. She is coming. Please come home. The babies are leaving.” He got home and I was in the floor with all my kids surrounding me and the sound of me wailing was heard in the driveway. Everyone was crying but my cry was from the pits of my soul…animalistic almost. She pulled up and we all stood at the door. The kids were screaming. They were holding onto us and screaming MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY. My daughter was screaming, my son was screaming, I was screaming. That worker looked like evil had just taken hold of her. I asked her why she lied to me…why was I unfit…why was she doing this? Her goal was for her to adopt or get them close to her so she could have constant access.
I finally ran to the bathroom because I was trying to muffle out their screams. Those screams still haunt me. I told my husband that I was going to bed. When I woke up…I wanted to sign that they EVER lived in my house. I wanted to erase all the memories….as short lived as they were….they were still my kids. They stole my heart. I told him I would not get up until I knew it was all gone. He took care of everything. Losing children in that manner is like my kids died and I didn’t even get a visitation to say goodbye. I didn’t know where they were, if they were safe, if they were back with an unsafe mom, were they hurt…I knew nothing. I still don’t.
My depression escalated quickly…to the point where the doctor thought I was going to kill myself (which I wasn’t). He put me on antidepressants and some other meds to help even me out and get me out of bed. That was in January of the next year. I don’t really remember much of the rest of that time. My next good memory was when Gigi and Catfish moved in with us in March. That is a whole new chapter.
In December of that next year, was the annual foster child Christmas party. It was huge..Santa was there, food, gifts, lots of people. I came in and sat down. I knew my kids were 3 and 2 and my prayer was that they were not there. We all came in and sat down and I looked across the room and there sat my babies. I just stared. Bart wanted to go and speak to them and I told him that I simply couldn’t do it. I told him my two fears. 1) That they would not remember me. Let’s face it. They weren’t with us for long, they were 2 and almost 12 mths…they were babies. That would break my heart. 2) That they would remember me and wonder where I’ve been.
I did walk up to that table. They were with another foster family. Their birthmom couldn’t do it. I squatted down and I simply whispered “hello babies.” They both looked across the way and saw me squatted between tables. I was prepared for them to not know me. What happened in those following moments is what I hold in my heart so tightly….they both jumped off their foster mother’s lap and came running screaming MOMMY! MOMMY! I cried as they jumped in my arms. We all hugged so tight. I kissed every part of their faces. I thanked their foster mother for letting me hold them and love them and for her loving them so well. My heart was full of joy…for a moment…until that evil social worker saw what was happening and she walked over and ripped them out of my arms again. Again, the were screaming and crying while she physically removed them from me.
I left. I couldn’t be that close to my kids and not be allowed to love them. I couldn’t be safe around that evil woman whom I still have not forgiven. I simply couldn’t. Bart did go the next year and he did take a couple of pictures for me but they didn’t remember him. That is the last pic I have of them.
So when we are again, embarking down a similar road…a road where I’m forced to relive this pain and hurt…my sister said that someone told her this “when you are a foster parent…..it is my job for my heart to be broken so the hearts of the baby’s (regardless of age) do not have to be broken.” I step in..my heart is shattered….their heart is whole. I take the blows, I take the beatings. I take the pain to prevent it from falling and permanently damaging these children.
Grayce and Daniel came to live with us in March of that following year. It has been difficult with moments of glory. Our adoption was about 2 years after they moved in with us. We had to do LOTS of therapy, lots of counsel, lots of trials (you know, where there is a judge) and lots of red tape to get through, but we did it.
Would I change it? No, I wouldn’t. Even though satan tried to use the difficulties of our children’s past (reactive attachment disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, learning disabilities, behavioral issues, trust issues, food issues, adhd, odd, ptsd, blah blah blah), he did not steal our joy. Jesus is constantly refining us, through our trials to be more like Him. It hurts to be stretched and pulled and refined…..but through His grace, mercy, love and forgiveness…we are plugging along.
They are all my blessings. Every single one of them are worth it.