Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Wow. I'm in shock.

This morning I discovered that my girls' mother was released from prison and I have yet to be informed by DHS. I'm not sure what happened here. In February, I was told that she had at least two more years before she would even be eligible for release. How does one go from not eligible for a couple years to being released in a month? I have no idea.

To my knowledge, a petition to terminate her parental rights to Lil Sis has not been filed. Now that the system has played around and waited so long, it will probably be extended even longer to give her a chance to work her plan.

Don't get me wrong, I want her to be successful. I want her to learn to lead a healthy, productive life. However, not at the expense of a child. Lil Sis has not seen her since she was an infant. She is 6 now & has no bond with her and no memories of her. Given everything she's been through already, I can't even imagine...

Nope...I'm not going there.

One step at a time. That's all I can do.

Lord protect my babies & give me strength to give them whatever they need.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflections

For the last couple hours, I've been reading the journal in which I recorded our first round of foster care. From the first visit in the fall of 2007, through the time we were granted guardianship in 2010.

The grief she went through. The tears. The nightmares. So much for such a young child.

And then I think about who she is today. She has grown so much. She went from a toddler who they thought may never be able to attach to anyone, to a happy, loving 8 year old.

There are other things in the words written in those pages. So many emotions, mostly anger & frustration, at the system. But the one thing that I didn't remember is how soon Lil Sis came into the picture. Beautiful had only been with us for a few weeks when we were asked if we'd be willing to take her little sister at birth. In that entry I wrote "if the two of them can't have their family, they should definitely have each other."

So, I guess in some ways, the girls were always a package deal. The placement paperwork wasn't even filed yet before they asked us to commit to the new baby, as well (literally, as they moved her in without the proper paperwork & just back dated a week or so later). Perhaps that why it seemed so inconceivable to allow the girls to lose each other, once it came down to it.

Now, I'll be honest, I don't think I'll be able to just keep taking siblings, should their mother ever have any more. But it was always the goal to keep these two together & I still think that maintaining that is best for them, despite what my critics say.

In any event, I'm very glad that I kept the journal & I recommend it to all fost/adopt parents. There are details and observations that I had forgotten about my interactions with their bio family. Since most of them are pretty negative, the girls will probably be grown before I share them all, but it's part of their story & they are entitled to it, if they wish.

All in all, even though many of the entries were difficult to read, it reminded me of how far we've come...& it gave me hope that this round on the whole crazy foster care rollercoaster may have an end, at some point.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Finding things I didn't know were lost...

Sorting through stuff that has spent the last few years in storage & came across an envelope from 2005. I don't know why I noticed the postmark but paid no attention to the return address before opening it. It kind of took my breathe when the family tree full of hand written entries, some of which I can't read, & photos from mom's bio father fell out.

I don't even remember receiving this stuff, but I do recall the circumstances surrounding it. My mother had been in the hospital & they weren't sure what was wrong with her. She wasn't getting any better, and they had looked for everything that we knew was part of her family history. However, because Mom was adopted by her maternal grandparents & we had not had contact with her bio father for years, we really only had one side's information. So, I called her bio father to get his medical history. Although it upset her to find this out, I am glad that I did so. Getting that medical history led to the diagnosis of her medical conditions and she has been better able to manage her health ever since.

However, doing so opened a door that I had closed years before.

I remember meeting him when I was around 3. I'm not sure why Mom chose to not have a relationship after that, as I've never asked. Perhaps she did try & he flaked out, as was his habit. But, for years we received sporadic birthday or Christmas cards.

As a child, I didn't mind getting cards from him. I knew who he was, but I also had a good relationship with my Gramma & Grampa. I thought getting to know him would be interesting, because it would give me a fuller picture of where we came from & such. However, he expected to be instantly taken in as "grandpa" & for me to treat him, a stranger, as such. I expressed quite clearly that I was not going to do that several times but my boundaries were ignored. The relationship that I had with him was my choice & I didn't appreciate his attempts to force me into how he wished for it to be defined. So, when I was around 8, I told him that I didn't wish to hear from him anymore. After that, I think I received a couple cards "from him" (really sent by his girlfriend, so I'm not even sure if he was aware they were sent).

Needless to say, it was a rather awkward conversation when I had to call him and tell him that I tracked him down through the internet & wanted to know about all his medical issues so that, hopefully, his daughter would not die. Thankfully, he provided the information we needed, but he also told me that he had searched for me online & wanted a relationship, etc.

Even though a relationship wasn't something that I needed, I did allow cautious contact with him. He sent me this packet & I took his calls on the few occasions he reached out. He died a few years later.

Sitting here looking at these photos I'm struck by how much my mother looks like him. Also, I'm flooded by thoughts of how this is why, as much as some people would like me to, I can't say definitively that I will never allow my girls to have contact with their bio family.

They may have questions. The may need information. They may just be curious. They may never care to know. What matters is that it is their lives, their family, and their choice. I will support them & try to help them safely navigate whatever choice they make...but it is their choice to make.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

This Mother's Day, I am grateful to be able to spend time with my mom & my father's mother. She's the only grandmother I have left & I'm so thankful that Memaw is still with us. 

It's been 14 years, this month, since my maternal grandmother died. I didn't realize, until I drove through her small town, how much I've been missing her & Grampa lately. I've even been dreaming about their house. It was a place that I always felt safe, as a child. 

Memaw had a sister, Lovely, who died about a decade ago. When I hear people talk about mothers, I often think of her; which is interesting, since she never had children. She was so nurturing to everyone around her, though. 

Looking back, I think she's as responsible for who I've become, as any other influence in my life. She taught me to be true to who I am & to be flexible & willing to change direction as life changes the circumstances. 

Being a Christian minister, who had been raised with a heavily fundamentalist background, many people would likely be shocked at some of the ideas about scripture, that she & I discussed. But she was an incredible apologist & she wasn't afraid to seperate the text from various levels of superstition that surround it. She taught me to always "study to prove yourself wrong". If you go looking for a point, you'll find it, even if it means unintentionally creating it. However, if you search the original text & intention (well, as close as we have to such) & can't find anything that says your idea is wrong, only then can start to say that you may be right. It's actually quite an amazing strategy, because it frees you from the twisting & taking scripture out of context that happen so often.

Lovely taught me to live without concern for what others think. To live without shame & without allowing others to define me or my relaxation ships. To value myself & those around me, without giving credence to judgement or criticism. To live in a way that makes me happy, so long as it harms no one else. 

She also set an incredible example of generosity. I don't know that I'll ever be able to give as fully & freely to others, without expecting return, as she did, but I certainly try. Perhaps it's seeing how often people took advantage & mistreated her that makes me hesitant. But, then, I remember how much she impacted the lives of so many. What she did was so worth it. 

Lovely only got to meet two of my children. I know she would be amazed & delighted if she could see what my family has become. I really wish my girls could've met such a strong woman, but they will know her through my stories.

My oldest son took his first steps in her home. As I recall, she was as happy & amazed as I was. I remember, even when she was dying, she would ask to see them. In the end, her pain was difficult to manage but, when she'd hold my tiny baby (my second son) she's look truly happy &, for a few moments, seem pain free. 

I will always truly treasure the moments with these people, and others, who have loved & nurtured me throughout my life. On this Mother's Day, remember all the people who have played that role in your life or the lives of your children. And don't forget to be grateful & treasure every moment you have with those who are still with you. They leave this world too quickly. Today, I will be thankful for every moment with them. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

Refocus

I've been out of sorts & anti-social lately. 
And, when I say anti-social, I mean on a serious level...as in, I passed up a date last weekend without even considering it, even though I haven't been on a real date in AGES & I knew it would be amazing. Partly, I'm not ready to see anyone new, even casually, right now. Mostly, though, I just didn't want to leave my house or be around people. 

Stress is at a high level, right now, so I'm tired & moody. Plus my hormones are crazy out of whack. Seriously. Last night I cried uncontrollably over absolutely nothing, repeatedly. It was stupid & frustrating...& completely out of my control. I don't do that. Ever.

I need to go to the doctor. It's time to get my labs redone, after the last abnormal screening. But I really don't want to. The lack of an answer last time was irritating. Plus I've been fighting a UTI for a couple weeks &, if I see the dr., they will insist I take antibiotics...which I can't do unless I'm dying, because of chronic systemic candida. Last time I took antibiotics, it took months of diflucan to finally not be chronically ill. But...yeah...it's really more about not wanting to do the Pap smear again. It's a horrible experience to begin with...& it's even worse with the unanswered questions from last time. I suppose I will have to act like a grown up & get it done before too long but, for now, I procrastinate.

I really don't feel like doing much of anything anyhow. Working, job hunting, recertifying for foster care & trying to figure out how I prepare for the Bar is exhausting. 

The person I used to let off steam to no longer answers my calls, for some reason unknown to me. So, I find I usually just sit in the dark & try to figure out how to work all this stuff out on my own, since it feels like I can't really, consistently count on anyone but myself. I realize that probably seems overly dramatic, but when someone who's been there for years just sorta disappears, that's how it feels. 

I hate admitting that I feel abandoned lately, because it means I have to admit that I need someone. Also, it forces me to own up to the fact that I get tired of feeling like I am expendable & temporary, but I suppose I do, even though I try to pretend that it doesn't bother me. In the end, I can't change what others do, so I try to focus on what is within my control. I'd be lying if I said that I don't miss my friend, though. 

So...I think, tomorrow, the kids & I will drive somewhere and find some woods. Sit on the grass, amongst the trees...near a stream, if I can find one. I will find my center & stop feelin sorry for myself. Regain my focus. I must. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

My garden keeps me sane

Spider on strawberry blossom

Iris


assorted greens

blackberry blooms

Friday, May 2, 2014

If there's one thing Americans have figured out by now, it's how to kill people...

 I've been following the insanity that is the botched execution in my state.

I know there are many views about whether or not we should be concerned about humane executions. Mostly, I approach it from a constitutional ideal in that, if we allow our government to violate it's foundational laws, we put ourselves & our own families at risk.

More personally, though...my daughter's grandfather was executed at that same prison. When I see his photo, I see her face. She actually looks more like him than she does any other member of her bio family that I met. When I finally have to tell her about his story, I can only imagine how much harder it would be for her to know that he went through something like this.

So, while I understand that this man did horrible things...almost every person, no matter how awful, has someone out there who cares about them. Someone that wasn't responsible for the evil acts done by a monster, but who does time along with them, suffers from the knowledge that their loved one did something unthinkable & who goes through another loss when they are put to death...even the family members who agree with the death sentence. In interviews, many family members of the victims are often quoted as having very little satisfaction following the execution.

So, yeah, I may not have much sympathy for the murderer...but I have tons of empathy for all the other human beings involved in all sides of all this. And I think allowing ourselves to willfully torture people, make us no better than the monsters we are trying to get rid of. I'm not opposed to capital punishment, but we do need to find a better solution than this.