Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In other news....

We have some other exciting news....we adopted! Obviously we did not adopt J or R, although we would have loved to. Let me start near the beginning....

We live in Upstate NY. Since our 9 year old daughter was just a year old, we have hosted "Fresh Air" kids. The Fresh Air Fund originates out of NY city. They take kids from NY city, especially high rise apartment buildings, and send them to neighboring states for a "fresh air" break. Its usually a 2 week trip, but the kids can stay longer if you invite them back the following summer. For a couple of years we had just one girl coming up, then about 7 years ago we started having 2 girls come up.

Maria first came to us as a spur of the moment thing...basically, we got a call on a Monday AM to tell us our regular Fresh Air child had failed to show up to catch the bus, and would we be willing to take a replacement child that was ready and waiting to come. How could we say no? Maria was such a sweet and polite 10 year old. We fell in love and have invited her back year after year, lengthening her stays until she was with us almost the whole summer. The last 2 years she even spent Christmas with us. In January she moved in and started school a week later. In April we finalized a formal adoption, and a week later she turned 16! Wow.

Maria's story is her own to tell. Without going in to detail I will tell you that she has wonderful and loving biological parents who are still involved in her life.

While I have always envisioned us adopting, I thought it would be through the foster care system, not someone we already knew! I couldn't be happier to have her join our family. So, in case you are keeping count, we are now up to 3 biological kids, 1 adopted, and 2 foster children....grand total of 6 kids. Yes, you should see the looks we get when we go out in public. I have now come to a place in my life that I truly don't care! I'm happy as can be, doing what we were made to do (that's not to say that there are not bumps in the road), and I'm not going to allow someone's opinion of me matter more than my Heavenly Father's!

17 months and counting...

A very kind anonymous comment was left asking for an update. How sad that it has been so very long!! I honestly didn't think anyone read this thing, so why update, LOL?! (By the way, I'd love to know who commented, if you feel like revealing yourself!)

Where to begin? Little "J" and big sister "R" are still with us! I'm sad to say that last Friday we received notification that they are going home in 6 weeks, towards the end of August. So much has happened. The kids have had 2 birthdays while living with us (including their first birthday party). They are now 4 and 6 years old. R started Kindergarten at the local public school (I homeschool 2 of our biological children that are school aged). She loved school and caught up so much to where she should be. She's almost there! Little J started speech and OT and has made lots of progress.

For almost a year we facilitated visits ourselves, and even acted as visit supervisors...something that I have since learned is not very typical. I think we were asked to do this for 2 reasons.
1) We were asked to mentor the family. Both parents came from not very great home lives, so we were asked to model good parenting.
2) We had a good relationship with the parents and were able to communicate as well as can be expected.
While handling visits took a lot of time, I was glad for the chance to get to know the kids parents more. I learned a lot...sometimes learning things that were not so great and being required to pass that info on to the kids caseworker. Unfortunately, the more we learned, the more obvious it was that the parents, although extremely nice and loving, were very mentally ill.

Fast forward a bit and the parents have taken parenting classes and are seeing their therapists. Fast forward even more to recently, where the judge feels like the parents are stable enough to get the children back.

Hubby and I have so many doubts about the ability of the parents to successfully parent and raise their children, but we don't really get much say. We truly desire to remain in contact with the kids once they go home, but that will largely depend on their parents.

Would I do this again? In a heartbeat. Does it hurt to know that a child you have loved and parented for a year and a half will no longer be here? Absolutely. Right now, knowing that they are leaving in 6 weeks feels like a band aid is being ripped off in slow motion. The selfish part of me wishes to get it done and over with even though I don't truly even want to say goodbye.

What was the hardest part of this? Several things pop in my mind, but I would have to say that it was frustrating to not be able to do things the way WE felt they should be done, but rather what the parents, the county, the state, etc deem right. Everything from how to discipline a child who is misbehaving to having to ask permission to have a child's hair cut. A few times recently (I believe out of frustration), the kids Dad has mentioned a few things he doesn't like about us or our family, or something he thinks isn't being handled correctly (nothing major, all very minor, even silly things), and having to feel like you have to explain yourself. Really, in the grand scheme of things, the "bad" parts are so minor. If I'm being completely honest here, I will tell you that the temper tantrums that came from little "J" were unlike anything I had ever seen. They would sometimes last 90 minutes and involve screaming, kicking, hitting, etc. I have been punched, kicked, hit, scratched and spit on more than I would like to say. Its infuriating at times, but I would remind myself over and over that this is what we are called to...serving God even when its hard. Very hard.

The best times? Hearing over and over "I love you", hearing the kiddo's say, "I've never done that before...that is so cool!" Seeing all the children interact lovingly together. Feeling the hugs and the love pouring from these little ones, and knowing that in some way we are making a difference to them.

There is even more to share, but I'll have to update later. I have a living room full of little ones waiting to go swimming : )

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