Monday, November 27, 2017

The Bond

Bond:
1.a thing used to tie something or to fasten things together.
2.an agreement with legal force, in particular (vow, oath)

It starts as the latter, as a foster parent you literally sign a foster care agreement form. You make an oath unsure of what you are getting yourself into. You have a list of behaviors you can expect to see, an idea of things to watch for but what you can’t plan on is the fact that in situations like this love comes softly in unexpected ways.

The bond can not be forced, you can start with the agreement to care for someone, to love them but it is in the road to healing that you really find yourself fastening together. It is in the conversations, the rockings, the kissed owies and fears conquered moments that you are bonding you in an inseparable kind of way. As I look at my growing family I have realized that the bond we fight for is the welded together kind. We choose each other, we choose to say yes to the call, to create space and to welcome in, committing to love well. It is in that commit that the love grows.

As foster/adoptive parents we do not get the 9 months of preparation and bonding as they grow in our womb. We are instead given a kiddo(s) already wired and conditioned by their trauma and experiences. We pick up a scared little stranger from shelter who has had their world destroyed by the realities of addiction. Or we pick up a newborn fresh from someone else’s womb, losing all things familiar in the first hours of life. It is in the moments that follow where bonding begins.

The array of tiny humans I have in my home is showing me just how true it is that the journey to bonding is as different as our fingerprints.

Trauma, hurts, abuse, neglect and personalities all are at play, affecting the process of bonding. My home is filled with Littles who have come to me at different ages, stages and in different seasons. My relationship with them all has blossomed and changed over a period of time, surprising me at times with the complexity of it all.

My child with an attachment disorder, it took time. Fighting with you as we looked for that connection. We fought hard and processed together, it took 9 months but we did it. I will never forget the day you looked at me and I knew by the look in your eye you had opened your heart to me. Our bond gets stronger each day as you learn to trust me. There are seasons the bond is fragile but the longer we are in this together the more stable the bond seems to become.

My child equipped with all sorts of trauma our bond happened as you learned to trust me, letting go of the secrets your heart carried. Bit by bit as you let go of the control, allowing me to have it, our hearts synced up. Our bond grew in each conversation and with every follow through. May our bond always remind you that allowing others in is worth it.

My child fresh from the hospital. You were not marked by abuse or neglect but your first 9 months shaped you in the womb, my voice and smell was new to you. Our bond grew over midnight feedings and kangaroo care. I fought hard to give you my heart to bond with, knowing that it sounded differently than the one you grew under. I remember the day you were two weeks old and I wept over you realizing that somewhere during those exhausting days I fell madly in love with you and it hurt. You have been hurting me ever since that day but in all the good ways.

My child who has come and gone. Each time you are here with us all feels right. The days you are gone a piece of my heart is with you. There are days I am lost in the grief of the goodbyes. Aching and longing for one more kiss, one more hug and to just laugh again together. When you are returned things are familiar to me but there is always a process of getting to know each other all over again. My bond for you is deep, because I have had the pleasure of knowing you and the sorrow of losing you.

My child who the bond just hasn’t come. My love for you is commitment, I am choosing to love you each and every day. The bond is coming slowly with each greeting and kiss goodnight. There is shame here at times that I am not a better Mama who can just fully love you with all her heart but for now I commit to love you well at the best of my capacity.

Regardless of the time I am confident that our family is the tie that brings us all together. In our case it is not the blood that bonds us but the love.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Trains.

There are two types of people in the world. The people who see the train coming and pull forward, putting their car in park shut it off and just sit as if they are watching a secret show. Then there are the people who see the red flashing arms lowering blocks away, flipping their car around they find another route. I am the latter, unashamedly I turn that big bus around.

I am always rushing, to get kids to out the door to school, preschool and daycare, then rushing to work and then rushing meeting to meeting. Only to rush back to daycare, preschool and school. I wish most days had a pause button, where for a moment I could pause time. In all reality, I wish I was the type of person who waited at trains.

Do they see the world through a different lens with intention and thought? The rhythmic clacking of the tracks, clicking by one at a time. The unique stories told on the side of each car that has become the canvas of someone’s graffiti. This slight interruption has the power to refocus and center us in the midst of a reality that not everything can be controlled by us.

I describe our mornings as the “seal,” the moment one foot hits the ground the seal is broken and our world comes alive. I linger in bed, snuggling whatever little one crept their way into my room in the middle of the night, desiring to keep our lives calm a bit longer. Once feet are down, the house is up and so begins the movement of our day.

In the chaos of our days and lives it seems I get so distracted by the things to do. I watch myself move from task to task, sometimes juggling 5 unfinished tasks. My brain feels full and my heart distracted. The to do list threatens to trump the little ones hanging on my legs, just wanting me.

These last several days illness has struck our home, I have been home all weekend, having to cancel plans and call into work. Having little ones hanging out with me as we all recover from a lingering stomach bug. Past the lingering nausea in the pit of my stomach is anxiety, the pressure of all the unfinished tasks and missed appointments.

I watched how our city was mapped out and realized in the name of efficiency we have built bridges that take people up and over train tracks to avoid the inconvenience. We have built a way around that interruption, giving us the ability to just keep going. What secret are we missing in the pause of the train tracks?

The moment we miss letting the rhythm sink in, allowing our mind the clear. The moment to just sit back for a moment and take a breath, counting the train cars as they go by. I am realizing that in my desire to do more and be more I often miss what is right in front of me.

Today my little, almost big boy baby stayed home with me. We played, we laughed and we snuggled for a brief moment while he drank his bottle. These days that is the only moment he will slow down and be held. Once the last drop is gone and he springs into action.

He stared up at me with his big gray blue eyes, a slight smile peeked from behind his bottle as we chatted. These are the moments we miss, when our eyes are the to dos and the reroute. When our days are filled with the bridges built to miss the inconveniences. I am learning that it is often in the interruptions that I find the beauty.

So today I will snuggle my growing Littles, cherishing the days I have with them and tomorrow will put my car in park and wait.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

One Fine Day

Some days just start like any other, with no real significance. The beauty of life is found in the days that start with such purpose flowing through, days rich with potential. Those days once lived, leave you changed.

For us that day was May 12th, 2016---Adoption Day!
We fought for two years, visits, therapy, and court hearings each bringing the waves of emotions tossing me to and fro. Days where I felt I was crashing against the shores, hopeless, scared and tired. About six months into the process of foster care I learned the practice of not paying attention to those waves. I took the reigns of life back as I stabilized in this new life, I began to focus my energy on today. All I knew each day waking up was that we had today, our motto became live well today, one day at a time we survived those two years.

Early 2016 the court order finally read termination, the season of foster care was over for my crew of three. We embraced the waves of emotion that reality brought. We had our goodbye visit, the final time they potentially would see their birth mom. At that point she hadn't filled the role of "mom" for over three years, the finality of this ruling was heavy. We walked to the car, quiet, they all held it together, keeping it all in until the safety of our car gave them the space to process. The tears started and the years of uncertainty took shape as they all began to process the bitter side of adoption.

Jody Landers beautifully sums up the journey with this quote, “A child born to another woman calls me mommy, the magnitude of that tragedy and depth of that privilege are not lost on me.” What a beautiful and broken privilege it is to be their parent.
We stood before the judge and a room full of our loved ones declaring forever to be a family. The security of permanency, allowed us to be able to work through deeper levels of hurt. Once we settled into our new names and the fact that we were forever a family new waves of behaviors started to show. People asked me on adoption day if it felt different, at first I said it didn’t. I loved them whole heartedly from day one. We were no doubt a family those two years, as I reflected I realized that I did in fact feel different. There was a freedom in my soul,  I no longer had to fear getting “the call” that they were leaving.

I adore our story, I love that we got to grow into a family, one day at a time. I love that my crew was so patient with me as I grew into a mom. I love that I got to know them, watch them heal and blossom. I love that together we picked their new names, breaking the bondage of their past and giving them a vision for their future.
Happy National Adoption Day! Today we celebrate that we are a family, our story is unfolding and it all began that one fine day...


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Finding a Place

“My picture day, Mama?” He looks up at me with those blue eyes, deep with hope. He has been waiting not for the day per say, not for the gelled hair, the nice button up or the smile he had been practicing. He has been waiting for the space on the wall, the space where his face is hung, right there among the rest of us. He has been waiting to belong.

Early on in my parenting journey I quickly decided that no matter how long someone is with me that their time with me would be documented. I think part of it is born out of the reality that many of my kiddos including my crew are missing large pieces of their history. My heart is heavy with the reality that there are no baby pictures, pictures of first steps or favorite toys. Missing large portions of their lives, years passed undocumented and unnoticed. In our home we take lots of pictures. Using our spaces to document our moments together as we all grow and change.

His pictures came back and the frame was bought. I hung it up on the wall and he just stared at it with a smile on his face. There he was on the wall in the midst of us all. He had such joy on his face in that moment, he took everyone by the hand and lead them to the wall where his picture hung. He seemed to pause and soak it in, it was as if his little body was letting out a sigh, realizing he finally belonged somewhere.

We do not share the same last name and maybe never will, my deepest desire as a mother is that no matter how short their stay that they all would feel that same way he did the moment I hung up that picture.
We all love to belong don’t we? That is why there are so many clubs, teams and communities out there, we love to be connected and crave a sense of togetherness.

I often look at My Littles and think what that uprooting must have been like for them. They don’t usually fully understand how unsafe or toxic their upbringings are, to them it’s normal and their family. As my sweet Little Guy, processes and continues to settle into our household he will continue to heal as he finds that he belongs. The atmosphere of our home is that one of belonging, come as you are, take a seat and if we have time we will hang your picture on our wall.