Friday, December 29, 2017

Broken Hearts

We bustled into Target out of the cold, half way through the store in the paper towel aisle I looked down and noticed. He was abnormally quiet for a trip to his favorite store, I said his name and as he looked up I saw the tears streaming down his face. I crouched down to see what was the matter. Looking up his bright blue eyes spilled over, rolling down his cheeks. “Today was Mommy day and she didn’t come.” The last word pushed out by the momentum of his tears, three years old and the ache of foster care and reality of addiction were no stranger.

My Mama heart ached, hating this place, my vision was blurred as my own tears filled my eyes. These are the places I can not kiss away the owies, I can not fix it nor change it. I can not take away the faulty wiring, the meth exposure, the scary memories or the bitter parts of this reality.

I pulled him in close and he began to weep, letting go of the weight of a million pounds he had carried that day all the way through his visit, the car ride home and through the first half of the store. That day the presents from family, the kids meal and the adventure was not what this little boy wanted. What he wanted was simple, for his family to not be broken anymore. At three he and his three siblings carry the burden of their parent’s addiction.

We sat for a moment in the aisle as the rest of the crew pulled in close, they all know that ache, they have been there before. They are not strangers to the ache of loss, disappointment and the sadness of letting go. We all held him there for a moment, standing in the gap where addiction has stolen, declaring for him the reality that he is loved.

I pulled back and looked him in the eyes where his outpouring of a heavy heart flowed unable to stop. Looking at him I told him that I was so sad for him and that if I was him I would be so sad too. I asked him what I could do to help, how I could make him feel better. With the clarity and wisdom of a much older soul he said, “a hug Mama, you make it better.”

(Cue shattered heart and tears) There in the Target aisle at 8:25pm we sat holding on and reminding each other that this road is hard and the price tag is great but it is here in the depths of broken hearts we find hope. Hope to believe in love again. Hope for our parents. Hope for our healing. Hope to open our hearts. Hope to keep going, despising addiction, hurt and loss, knowing that in the midst of it all, we have found each other.

I have learned I can’t take it away, rewrite history or change a lot of things as a mom, but I can hold on tight making the ache a little less. I can stand in the gap where bio parents are unable to in their brokenness, reminding these little souls that they are desperately loved, known and seen. Reminding us all that their is hope and to never lose sight of that. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Puke, Dances and Fancy Bathrooms

The flu tore through our house the week of Thanksgiving, claiming many victims. I was one of the victims, it knocked me out for two days as I parented from the beanbag in our playroom. Cheering on my three year old as he dressed himself. Praising my 10 year old for making PB&J sandwiches for dinner. In between vomiting episodes, I made lunches, brushed hair and changed diapers.

For months Charlotte has been learning ballroom dancing through an incredible program at our school. She worked and practiced hard and earned a spot in the finals, I am so proud of her hard work and loved watching her passion for dance show. The day of the performance I awoke with the plague, held captive by my nausea. My only goal that day was to stop puking long enough to be able to attend her performance.

We all got dressed up fancy and loaded up in the bus which my dad so kindly agreed to drive. We headed to the performance. My parents and friends helped wrangle kiddos, blessings to them! Half way through the performance sweet Baby Boy blew out his diaper all over my mom and himself. In one motion I scooped him and the diaper bag up and rushed to the bathroom.

Being at the local fancy playhouse meant no changing table in the bathroom. I looked around for a surface to lay him on so I could begin to clean up, thankful I had remembered to grab an extra outfit. The entrance of the bathroom was fancy, a little area before walking into the main area with the stalls, there was a cute table with a bowl of decorative balls on it, there was my surface.

You know the saying, how do you eat an elephant...one bite at a time, that was the approach I took while trying to clean up my wiggly and very messy baby boy. I was about 25 wipes into the situation when to make the mess worse he starts projectile vomiting while I am changing him.

My first thought not enough wipes, second thought was we’ve got this. At this point I stand him up and above the table where I was changing him was a mirror. He caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and with a squeal of delight he began slapping his vomit covered hands all over the mirror, decorating the mirror with tiny vomit hand prints.

At this point the only option was losing all of the clothing, I peeled them off and left the crime scene for the sink, we needed more than wipes. Let’s pause for a minute to talk about how auto sinks are not a parent’s friend. Making a bottle, cleaning little hands or bathing your baby is impossible when you are constantly having to trigger the sensor.

A little soap, splashes of water and piles of paper towels, a clean outfit and we were good to go. Parenthood has taught me so many things, like a boy scout I am learning 3 ½ years in, to always be prepared. I am also learning to be flexible, early in my parenting journey a situation like this would have brought on the tears. Today, I am thankful that we don’t have to remain in one place. That there is grace for all the poop, the forgotten necessities and for the clean up.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Freedom

When people find out I have built my entire family through foster care and adoption they typically state something along the lines of how “lucky” my children must be that I rescued them. I have learned these past 3 ½ years that though my children’s lives have drastically changed, it is I that is the lucky one. You see my children helped set me free.

If I could sum up these last several years I would equate it to those little figures, when placed in water they grow. The promise is you can have an insta-whatever you need, friend, boyfriend, Jesus. I was an instant-mom, overnight drowning, growing rapidly at times leaving me slightly disproportionate. Occasionally I would come up for air and realize I was changing.

Their history of trauma, abuse, neglect, malnourishment and silencing has left behind it the scorch marks and ashes of destruction. It is there that we have seen the beauty come, slowly as we restore, rebuild and reclaim their story.

June 2014 was a hot month and the 27th day of that month began like any other, looking back on it I realize what a pivotal day it was. Little did I know that by 4pm I would become a mom. Being a foster parent requires waiting and flexibility. In the early days you begin each day wondering if your life will radically change. Over these last several years, I have started my day as a family of 4 and ended with at least one more kiddo on several occasions. One year ago at this time I was a mom to 3, my family has grown by 4 these past 11 months.

That hot summer day changed the course my life was on, overnight I became a mom to three little strangers. They were 7,5, and 3, I walked up the steps of the house they called home just 30 days. With a knock on the door I was greeted with trash bags of their things. The family was not bad they were just done, they practically pushed these three little souls into my arms. My crew crying and clinging to these strangers that over the last month had become the only security they knew.

My Crew was good at leaving, after five homes in one year they perfected the art. My daughter who was 7 at the time comforted everyone as any good Mama Hen would. She soothed them reminding them it was going to be okay as tears filled up her eyes.

In hindsight that day so pivotal and life changing for us all was when our first bell of freedom rang. Freedom from fear. Freedom from being alone. Freedom from moving on. Freedom from not belonging. Freedom from the unknown. It was in those first hours together that we discovered we were beginning a journey together that none of us could possibly have guessed.

Two years later after a hard, long fight of loss, court hearings, visits, trauma and addiction we would find ourselves a forever family. May 2016 I was able to forever home my crew, that day the 12th of May we found freedom in security and permanency. That security granted them the freedom to step from the bondage of foster care into the marvelous light of adoption.

With adoption came new identities and more freedom as they stepped from the chains of foster care into the freedom of adoption. The physical act of adoption is the act of me covering them, that they may receive my heritage. The act of trading their lineage with mine, giving them a new bloodline. This blood does not course through their veins but has the power to rewrite their story.

My crew and I have settled in and together as a family we are blossoming. Rewiring our brains and finding freedom as we heal. Our road of healing is long and winding. Some days we get lost, some days we conquer new hills and some days it seems we just sit weary of our hurt and ache. Living a life of freedom is hard, it takes time and stability. It requires new coping skills, as we learn we have a voice and we must choose to trust people again. Freedom is first a gift but then it becomes a choice. They have been given the gift of stability and a new heritage but now they have to continue of their quest of healing.

This journey these past three years has taught me that there is a lot I don’t understand. Times I am consumed by the chaos of tangled strings and twisted messes. Times when I realized the uncomfortable reality that building a family through adoption and foster care can bring.

My journey has been much more than me becoming a mom. It is a hard journey of me learning to love and finding freedom in the midst of that. I have seen the world through a different lens since becoming a mom. I have struggled as I learn to let go and love well. Loving with an open heart and hand is risky and painful, I have grieved often the realities of this calling. Then I look upon their faces and see the joy, I see the freedom and the price tag of my own comfort is worth it.

Freedom in grace. Freedom in seeds well sown. Shared freedom for our birth parents, freedom in addiction. Freedom in adoption and love. Becoming a mom set such freedom in my soul. Freedom to be brave. Freedom to be strong. Freedom to be me. Freedom to dance ridiculously at weddings. Freedom to love well and love big.