Sunday, January 28, 2018

More than...

I have more baby Mamas/Daddys than I know what to do with at times. 4 women, 2 men who have given life to the little souls that call me, Mama. What a complex thing that is.

I feed them, bathe them, snuggle them, rock them, say good morning and goodnight. I kiss their owies, read them stories and soothe their nightmares. As foster parents we stand in the gap, filling the space that protects these little souls from being orphaned. We walk the tightrope of balance between loving these little souls fully, leaving our hands flat allowing them to leave our homes at just a moment notice. Some days this feels nearly impossible, my head and heart don’t always align and I ache for this reality to go away.

As foster parents we must fight to accomplish that task, we are taught and told to do that. The reality is that in order to love my babies well, I must love their parents too. Loving well means loving where they have come from, the very wombs they were formed, beginning life.

The balance for me is firm boundaries and mutual respect, little expectations and good communication. I don’t expect anything of my bio parents, I focus my energy on healing, raising and loving my littles ones so my bio parents are not a priority of my time or attention. Yet, I am their encourager, sending positive affirmations of parenting decisions and days of sobriety. I treat my parents as humans, engaging with them at drop offs and pick ups, throughout the week via texting, sending pictures and greetings.

My first bio mom and I struggled for the first year and half to get on the same page. I feel that one day we realized that we both desperately love the same four kids, three are with me and one is with her. Now, we talk often, we share questions and fears as we navigate open adoption and life changes.

She hated me, I was that bitch that had her kids. I was the bitch who dressed them in clothes she hated. I was the bitch who was a vegan, corrupting her kids. She was scared of me, scared of losing them and the insecurity consumed her thoughts and actions.

This balance for me was not overnight, It took me a while. The first several months of fostering, every interaction was judgement and fear. I hated them, for what they did to my babies. I despised them for their existence. I feared them in their sobriety.

One snowy night, I uttered a prayer that I would see her as God sees her. Offering a ride to her, she climbed into my front seat and I saw her as the little girl she once was, scared and hurting. A victim of foster care herself she never got that break, she was no different than the little souls I was raising, her little ones. I was intersecting their story to break the cycle of brokenness and in a way I broke hers as well.

It was in the months that followed I became her cheerleader. My prayers changed from prayers of failure to prayers of success. Asking for healing, for growth, for change. That that statistics that flow through my mine would not apply in her case. That she would be the 10% that makes it.

There is not a day that goes by when I am not concerned for my bio parents. Wondering if today is the day that the statistics cash themselves in. The conversations that trickle in, the outpouring of broken, scared hearts. I love my bio parents, showing them respect, love and care, instead of judgement, harsh words and disgust has brought forth fruit like this...

One text from a mom that shares her greatest fears. 
A text asking me to adopt her child.
A text apologizing for disappointing with another relapse. (Truth: I don’t let them get to a place where they disappoint me)
A text telling me she is pregnant again.
A conversation where she reminds herself how far she has come.
A text asking me to send on his love.
A text telling me they are trying to get it together.
A text saying they never wanted to be this kind of father.
A text telling me about a stupid choice.
A text of gratitude, knowing I am so good to their kid.
A promise that this time it will be different. 
A text with the number of another day sober.

I am thankful for the bittersweet gift of my bio parents, but having all these extras parents in our family is hard. I have heart to hearts with my bio parents, I cheer them on and support them. They are never placed before my kiddos, in the name of loving well, I support my bio parents but I fight and advocate for my babies.

Their choices steal away their ability to feed them, bathe them, snuggle them, rock them, say good morning and kiss goodnight. To kiss their owies, read them stories and soothe their nightmares. They have a large price tag to pay, their choices have cost them time and that is the one thing we can never get back. So in the meantime I stand in the gap, looking and loving both, praying for health and healing.

So we love and we love well. We love THEM because we love them. May we remember that bio parents are not the enemies, addiction and crappy coping skills are. These little souls are who we are advocating for and to do that well we must learn to know exactly where they came from.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Daniel Joel #9

It has happened in what feels like a moment, merely a blink and he has grown.

The day I became his mom 3 1/2 years ago he was so tiny, a mouth full of baby teeth, unable to read or even tie his shoes. He has healed, grown and changed so much.

He is now a boy who can read chapter books and wash dishes. A boy who continues to bring such a joy to my heart with his imagination and quirk yet drives me crazy with his hands and obnoxious noises. He makes me smile and yell...a lot. I love so much when he asks to sleep with me or wants to curl up on my lap, his body almost as tall as mine.

His heart is compassionate, empathetic and kind. He is an awesome big brother, who is constantly doing something for someone smaller than he. His charm is contagious, his wit leaves me speechless and his smile flashes and his eyes shimmer. 

He is so smart, so kind and brave. Each day he shows up, choosing to silence lies, choosing to let love in, he is a warrior. He wants to be a police officer when he grows up, that is a win for the first two years he was with me he was terrified of them.

He is a creator, imaginarian and explorer of all things. Every item becomes alive and everywhere is a new world to explore.

Happy Birthday to my sweet, little boy. You are a joy and a challenge to raise, being your mom is one of the best things I have ever done. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018


What my three year old is teaching me...

To grieve well to let it all out. Cry loudly. Speak out the aches. To yell and scream at the unfairness of life. To let it out and then to get up and go play, squealing with joy just moments later.

To speak interrupting every conversations, convinced that each contribution is necessary for all to hear. Demanding the attention by repeating loudly and clearly what he is in need of.

To let love in there is room for a new family, right alongside the family he has only known. The whispered, “I love you, Mama” spoken with the simplicity that love brings. There is always room for more, more love, more hearts, the more you share love the more there is.

To create the house, the people, the car, to delight in creating. The sky can be purple, the jumbled swirl is a cat if you just look closely, the world is what we choose to let it be and there is such beauty all around.

To question why we do things, where we are going, what I am doing? To look at the world around us with such wonder and question. Not settling for a half-hearted answer, pressing in and asking loudly.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy 1st Birthday Sweet Baby Boy!

The sun was long gone, as I opened my door the bitter air struck. The silence of winter was broken by the crunching of snow underfoot. The call came just three hours before, the voice on the other line said it was a boy, just 4 days old. Upon hanging up the phone I was in full preparation mode, creating space for the newest, tiniest member of our family.
His birth mother, just a child herself would not take him home from the hospital. Days after his arrival to the outside world, he would have his first experience with the harsh reality of loss. All that was familiar to him would be taken away in a moment and he would be placed into the arms of a stranger. The ding of the elevator jolted me from my mental wanderings and I stepped out into the hallway.

His timely arrival, two weeks before Christmas 2016, intersected my life in a season of grief. A year later I am overwhelmed by the gift that yes was, this little boy has radically changed me. We spent this last year, growing in love as a family, growing in number as family and finding joy in it all.
My borrowed baby of last year was the gift my family needed. Here are some of my thoughts on him, last year when he came. In November the court report read termination and this borrowed baby that changed our lives is now our forever baby. The paperwork is being filed and the name change will be final in February sometime.
Early December we celebrated him as he completed his first year of life. What a gift it has been raising him, he is strong, smart, joyful and loving. He wakes up each day with a smile, ready to be a kindness warrior. Bringing a smile to us all and the strangers behind us in line and at the grocery store. He is a beacon of joy and his little light shines so brightly.
We celebrated him over brunch with woodland creatures, beards and plaid. I am so thankful for our community, they all love my kiddos well. This was no exception, the guest list hit over 40 and we loved on this little boy in the red buffalo plaid shirt.

He smashed his whip cream covered pancake stack and enjoyed the sweet new vice of sugar. We sang happy birthday, which I have been singing to him everyday since he was born for just this moment. The goal was that he would not experiment worked and not a tear was shed as he listened with a smile to his favorite song!
Children are such a gift showing up in unexpected seasons, times and ways, radically changing our lives. As a foster parent we do not get months of preparation but moments, we do not share similarities but stories. We did not give them life but we are teaching them to live, to love, to heal and this little guy is going to be fierce.