Forgiveness and Life Goes On

I started this post over a month ago, but couldn’t seem to finish it.  I suppose I’m not always sure where to draw the line between sharing enough and not sharing too much.    Sometimes, or in my case many times, it’s difficult to share something so personal.  We’ll see how it goes.


I was a young wife and mother.  Married (5 days prior to my 18th birthday), pregnant three months later, miscarried a couple of months later and pregnant again a couple of months after that.  By age 19 I was a first time mother of a beautiful baby boy and 17 months after baby #1 was born, I became a mother once again to another beautiful baby boy.  From the time I was a very young girl, my only real goal in life was to become a wife and mother.  I accomplished both of those things before I turned 20.

Life was good and it was a struggle at the same time.  Learning how to be a good wife and mother is difficult at any age, but at such a young age, it was especially challenging at times.  Having a partner who is there to learn alongside you and being able to support each other thru all the ups and downs is vital in making a marriage work.  I thought I had found such a partner, but when we discovered that our oldest son was not developing as most kids normally do, the struggle became very real.  Eventually a diagnosis that included the word ‘autism’ was more than my husband could bear.  He began to throw himself into his work even more.  He would take on extra shifts saying we needed the money, which wasn’t a lie, but it also wasn’t the truth.  Those extra shifts meant a lot of time sleeping when home and very little time interacting with his wife and two young sons.

During year 4 of our marriage I discovered there was a 3rd person in the relationship and that was the end.  We were divorced shortly after year 5 and I officially became a single mother.

After being a stay-at-home mom, I was thrown back into the workforce and got a small apartment.  The boys and I moved out of our 3-bedroom home with the big backyard, to a two-bedroom, 2nd floor apartment with a small balcony.  They spent their days with a grandparent, great-grandparent or an aunt while I worked.  It was exhausting, but I discovered that I was so much stronger than I knew.  I began to change and grow as a person.  For the first time in my life, I was learning who I was as an individual.  I wasn’t being taken care of by a parent or a husband.  I was now the one fully responsible for myself and my two little boys.

I was so very lucky to find love again after being so deeply hurt the first time around.  I really wasn’t convinced I could ever fully trust a man again, so I didn’t see it coming.  Yet, we have been happily married for 33 years now.  This time I found a true partner who I am able to lean on and support thru all our ups and downs.  Considering how major some of those ups and downs have been, I think it’s going to last.

Along the way though, I learned that sharing children with someone means that you are always connected to them and one of the things I had to be able to do was forgive.  Not just the man who had hurt me so terribly, but I had to forgive myself as well.  Marriage is two people and there are always mistakes made by each person.  While it might have been easier to just place blame on him for having an affair and tearing up our family, I had to be honest and look at all sides.  We both played roles in the demise of the relationship.  As he dove more deeply into his work, I dove more deeply into my work as a mother.  I also didn’t invest the time and attention necessary to make the relationship work.  I had to take responsibility for my role, place part of the blame on me and forgive myself so I could truly forgive him.  It wasn’t an over-night process and I worked very hard to blame him for everything first.  After all, while I was home taking care of our children, he was out having an affair, so why not?  He was an easy target and self-reflection can be a very difficult.

Eventually, forgiveness came and my relationship with my ex was okay.  There were still many struggles along the way when it came to the kids and I could give many different scenarios on the differences in how we dealt with situations along the way, but that would be another book post for another time.

Our boys are grown so for the last several years I have rarely spoken to my ex-husband.  There really hasn’t been a need to, so when he called me one day late in January, I was a little surprised.  That surprise turned to deep emotion when I learned the reason for his call.  After 35 years, he called to ask for my forgiveness.  He was making amends and I was able to honestly tell him that I had forgiven him a very long time ago and it was in that moment I realized just how important forgiveness truly is.

Ten days later, my ex-husband died.  He had battled cancer for 11 years and it was a hard-fought battle.

Forgiveness brought about thankfulness in me.  Thankful for the good years we spent together.  Thankful for our boys.  Thankful for what I learned along the way.   Thankful that the divorce that lead me to my husband who gave me another son and our two (soon to be three) beautiful daughters.  Thankful for the opportunity to become a foster parent.  Thankful for all the things in my life, both good and bad.  All these things have helped shape me into the person I am today, both the good and the bad.

Good-byes are hard and this particular good-bye closed the chapter to that part of my life while another chapter is being written.  The new chapter will include a grandchild.  The first grandchild my ex and I would share.

And life goes on . . .

 

 

Moving Forward

A few days ago, we had a visit from ANW’s case worker.  As all case workers are required to do in the State of Texas, she came for her monthly visit to make sure ANW is doing well and to give us an update.

She confirmed that the 90-day hearing was last week.  This is the required hearing after termination of parental rights.  There was nothing unexpected that happened at the hearing and she has now turned everything over to the adoption unit.  Hopefully before the end of the month, we’ll be contacted by the new adoption case worker to begin the adoption process.

I’m feeling a great sense of relief while also feeling some sadness that this chapter of her life will be coming to an end in the next few months.  Hubby and I are over the moon in love with this baby girl and can’t wait to legally become her parents.  At the same time, she has biological parents.  Unlike some other adoptive parents, I don’t feel that she was meant to be ours all along.  No child is born to be removed from their parents and placed with complete strangers, yet circumstances cause this to happen far too often.  Our choice to open our home to children coming into the foster care system allowed us to be the recipients of this beautiful and remarkable baby girl and now we will be raising her to adulthood.

Words can never fully express the millions of thoughts and feelings I have about adoption.  I feel great happiness for myself because I love her beyond words and don’t have to say good-bye.  I will continue to raise her, watching her grow, teaching her how to talk, walk, read, write, and all the other things parents get to do.  Equally, I feel great sadness for her biological family.  Not only do they miss out on knowing this marvelous little girl, but this miss out on all those milestones along the way.  For ANW, I have the mixture of emotions.  Without a doubt, she loves having me as her mommy, hubby as her daddy, and her sisters.  She would experience great trauma leaving us now, but at the same time, there will come a day when she will begin wondering why she isn’t being raised by her biological parents.  She will ask questions.  She will likely feel sadness and confusion.  You see adoption is never the first best option.  It’s never the second best option.  At best, it comes in third place and that’s a difficult place to be in for anyone.

The nice thing is that I do have the contact information for the caregivers of her siblings.  My hope is that we can establish a relationship so she continues to have a relationship with them throughout her life.

So we are moving forward by soon saying good-bye to this chapter in our lives and moving on to the next.

 

 

Little Miss Independent

ANW is fiercely independent, specifically about mealtime.

We began the switch from baby food to table food a couple of months prior to her 1st birthday and noticed that she wasn’t a fan.  When it came time to make the switch permanently, on more than one occasion she would scream, cry and refuse to eat.

Believe it or not, after having raised 3 kids and having done foster care for over 3 years now, I had never experienced a child who refused to eat, at least not to the extreme level ANW was refusing to eat.

After several days of only being able to get her to drink milk and having her refuse to eat about 90% of what I offered her, I decided it was time to get to the bottom of this problem.  Thanks to the wonderful world of the internet, I began to read article after article about this very problem and how most littles who refuse to eat do so because they want to feed themselves.

Seriously?!!!  A 1-yr-old would be so independent that they would refuse to eat unless they could feed themselves?  I didn’t believe it.

Yet, this is what a fiercely independent 1-yr-old looks like post breakfast.

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Handing me her bowl after her 3rd helping.
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All done!

This wasn’t too bad of a mess or at least not compared to other mealtimes.

Honestly, allowing her to feed herself has helped, but she continues to be a picky eater.  It is a battle anytime we offer her a new food.  She simply refuses to try it if she doesn’t like the way it looks or feels.  If I try to feed her, OMG!!!  We just can’t go there.

We’re hoping she will just outgrow this, but with her tough beginnings, we need to keep a close eye on it and won’t hesitate to get her some professional assistance if necessary.

There is always something new to learn and experience and that is why it’s never boring in our home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come Sail Away

Anyone who has followed my blog over the years knows my family enjoys cruising.  There is something for everyone in our family and it just makes us happy.

This past year we had made reservations for a cruise to Bermuda, but realized it wasn’t going to work out.  We had been told that the two foster sisters we have would be leaving to go live with an out-of-state family member and as it approached the time to pay our final cruise payment, they were still with us and we feared they would be moved while we were gone.  We also wanted to take ANW with us, however, the stateroom we had booked wasn’t large enough to accommodate a family of 5 and they had no other room combinations in our price range that would work.  So we decided to cancel the cruise.

We have reservations to go back to the condo we rented on Indian Rocks Beach in Florida this summer, but next summer we have booked a 7-night cruise to the Western Caribbean.  It’s on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, which is a ship we enjoy.  We’ll be taking some friends with us and it will be their first time ever on a cruise ship and their first time out of the U.S.  It will be so much fun!

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A few weeks after making our reservations, hubby found another cruise that seemed to good to pass up.  So we booked it.

Sometime the end of October, 2020 we will fly to Italy and spend a few days seeing the sights and trying some authentic Italian cuisine.  We haven’t worked out all the details of our Italy trip yet, but after our visit to Italy, we will fly to Barcelona, Spain and on November 1st  we will board Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas (which happens to be our favorite ship so far)

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and sail from Barcelona, to Palma de Mallorca , to Valencia and then on to the Canary Islands.  From the Canary Islands we head to Royal Caribbean’s island in the Bahamas, Coco Cay.  After spending a day there, we head to Miami, FL and then home.  In all, a 14-night cruise!!!

With every cruise, we’ve said the same thing, “It wasn’t long enough.”  Hopefully 14-nights will do the trick!

Both cruises are a long way off . . .  464 days and 604 days to be exact . . . but we are so excited about planning these trips in the meantime.

 

I’ve Got to Get Better

I spend way to much time thinking about blog posts and not posting.  That has got to change!!!!!!

So I’ll try better by starting today.

I suppose one of the reasons I don’t post often is due to waiting for major news to share.  However, there really isn’t any major news at this point, although I’m sure that’s even a matter of opinion.

So let’s start with the kids, specifically baby girl who I’ll refer to as ANW.

Back in December, the judge terminated ANW’s parents’ rights.  Neither of them had worked the services they had to complete to have her returned.  Mom was very consistent about coming to visits, but back in July that changed.  She missed a visit which turned into missing multiple visits, eventually not showing up at all.  It made me very sad to know that this beautiful, smart, and happy baby girl would be yet another child missing out on being raised by her birth parents.  On the flip side, knowing that we could potentially be her forever family made me very happy.

That is one of the interesting dichotomies in foster care.  We do this to provide children a safe haven while their parent(s) worked out their difficulties and learn how to lovingly and effectively parent.  We love these kiddos.  We nurture these kiddos.  We become their parents and in most cases, our time with them is limited and then we say good-bye, because that is our primary responsibility as foster parents.  Yet, at the same time, we find ourselves not wanting to say good-bye.  We privately hope they will stay with us forever because we love them and don’t want to say good-bye.   There are many challenges in foster care, but that is the emotional challenge.

It would be a lie to say that we want to keep every child that enters our home.  For so many different reasons, there have been some who we’ve lovingly and happily said good-bye to.

For example, the sisters who were moving on to live with their older sister and her dad.  That was a happy moment.

Or the little boy who so lovingly talked about his grandparents and eventually went to live with them.  We were very happy for him.

Then we’ve had some that had such tough life experiences, it was more challenging than we imagined it would be.

When we say yes to a child, we never know if we’ll tearfully or joyfully say good-bye, but we keep saying yes none-the less, because no matter how hard it is for us, things have been so much harder for them.  They deserve to have some happier and simpler moments in their lives.

Now back to baby girl . . . .

In the State of Texas, once rights are terminated, the parents have 30 days to appeal and family members have 90 days to come forward and request that the child(ren) be given to them.  Then there is a 90 days hearing to determine the next step.  The 90 days hearing was a couple of days ago and unless something unexpected happened, the next step would be turning the case over to the adoption unit so we can begin the process to adopt ANW.

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I guess that is semi-major news.  🙂

So what else is happening in our lives?

A couple of months ago, hubby was invited to be part of a Senior Technical Leadership team.  He works for a very large company here in the U.S. and with only 300-350 employees invited to be part of this team, it is quite a big deal.

He attended the week-long kick-off for the team.  He learned a lot and returned home with a lot of excitement about his future with the company.  In a nutshell, the company wants to invest in the members of this team and help them take on more substantial leadership roles in the company.

We had to have some discussion about what this meant for his career and for our family.  The end result was acknowledging that we had to be open to the possibility of leaving Texas if that is where the next job took him.

Fast forward to last week when he had an interview for a new position that would move us back to the Pacific Northwest.  The interview went very well and he hopes to hear something very soon.

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Again, maybe not major news at this point, but definitely news and enough that even the possibility of another cross-country move is putting us into high gear when it comes to decluttering our house.

And how is it that a family can accumulate so much in such a short period of time?

But that’s a post for another time.

So those are the two things that most closely align with major news.  Our girls are doing well and we still have our other two foster kiddos, who we’ve now had close to 16 months total.  They are supposed to be leaving us to live with a family member out-of-state and when they leave, there will most certainly be major tears.  After all, when it’s all said and done, we’ll probably have had them 18+ months and that is a long time to be mommy and daddy, then say good-bye.  Our girls will most certainly have a difficult time saying good-bye as well.  They have been sisters to these girls in ever sense of the word and we will feel the impact of their presence and their absence deeply.

 

 

 

 

 

One Year Ago

It seems like a lifetime ago we were shedding tears over the Baby Girl that left our care to go live with her aunt and uncle.  In such a short time, she had stolen our hearts and we had to have a family meeting to decide if we wanted to continue doing foster care.

Since that time, two more foster kiddos left our care and we added four more.

One of the kiddos we added was another Baby Girl who happened to be born the day our first Baby Girl left us.

Another tiny little girl weighing about 6 lbs, with beautiful light brown skin and dark curly hair entered our lives.20180312_201017

Each week she would head off with a transporter to go visit her parents and siblings.  I would leave a couple of hours later to pick her up, having a little time to chat with her parents, sometimes getting to see her siblings before taking her back home.

The months went on and we wondered if it would be our last month with her.  After all, bio family first is the goal in the Texas foster care system and her case worker would come to visit some months telling us they were considering a family member who could take her.  The next month she would tell us it didn’t work out for one reason or another and then they would move on to another and another and another.  

But today we are celebrating this beautiful baby girl who is becoming more beautiful as she gets older.

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She is no longer that tiny baby that entered our home and our hearts almost one year ago.

Today she turns 1!

She is standing and cruising the furniture.

She is beginning to talk.

She loves her daddy, mommy,  and sisters, but is a mommy’s girl most of all.

She is not a crawler, but gets around quickly by scooting on her bottom all over the house.

She likes playing with her toys and getting into things she shouldn’t, like the dog’s water bowl.

She loves being on the go and is happiest when she is with us.

She has one of the worst cases of stranger danger I’ve ever seen in a baby, crying when anyone she doesn’t know or doesn’t see often even talks to her.  Heaven forbid they should touch her.  Fortunately, she is getting a little better as she gets older.

In December, the judge terminated her parent’s rights.  CPS changed the goal to non-relative adoption and if all continues as planned, in the next 4-5 months, she will legally become part of the World of Weeks and I can then share photos of her beautiful little face.

Until then, Happy Birthday A.N.!  Our beautiful little girl!!!!

 

 

 

Twenty-Three Years Later

I made it back to the Seattle area.

Lili, Naomi, Baby Girl and I flew to Seattle, via Missoula, for a girl’s weekend.  Hubby held down the fort with our other three and it was a much-needed and wonderful trip.

I can’t believe it took me so long to get back to the Pacific NW.  I suppose it was due to  the fact that we were taking trips elsewhere, doing foster care, making a move to Texas, doing foster care again, and living life.  I’m just glad I managed to get back up there for a visit and my girls LOVED it!!  At different times, they both said they wanted to live there.  Considering the fact that hubby works for a company based in that area, I suppose it’s possible that could happen one day.

Here are a few pictures from our quick trip.

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Waiting on our connecting flight at the Missoula airport.
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Day 1 – Space Needle You should all know that I’m very much afraid of heights.
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I was fine standing back and taking pictures. After all, the view was beautiful!
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Another beautiful view!!!
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Naptime at the top of the Space Needle.
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Before our trip, hubby was describing the hills in Seattle. When we crossed the street and they saw how steep our walk was going to be, both of them gasped. It was in that moment they understood what he was trying to tell them. Of course I reminded them that we had to walk back up this hill on our way back.

We didn’t have time to much, but the girls both loved the Market.  We went on Day 1 and Day 2.  I’m quite sure we would have gone again if we had more time.

Their favorite part of the market may have been the crepes, although Naomi wouldn’t leave the fish area until she got to see them throw a fish.  She was not disappointed.

Before we knew it, we were on our way back to Dallas, but not before the girls suggested we come back and bring daddy with us.

Good-bye Seattle, until next time!!!