The Rainbow after the Storm

Hey Readers,

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Tonight, I was reflecting back on the year and realized how happy, joyful, peaceful, and fulfilling it has been compared to the two that came before it. 2018 truly has been my rainbow after the storm.

Now, to be fair, not every storm produces a rainbow. Most storms just result in another cold, dark, and cloudy day. That was 2017 for me. The whole. friggin’. year. I got tired, I got burned out, I lost hope.

I was so disheartened. I really felt lost. What was the point, honestly? Related image Would life ever get better? And if things were to improve, would that mean my past and present would become meaningless pain that I suffered for naught?

When 2018 arrived I was still suffering through the horror that was 2017. My heart wasn’t ready to heal yet. There’s a song that I discovered in Dec. 2017 by Jason Gray called “Not Right Now.” I’m going to share the lyrics here because I have never found a song that fit my situation and emotions so perfectly:

Not Right Now – Jason Gray

You could see the smoke from a mile away; and trouble always draws a crowd. They wanna tell me that it’ll be okay; but that’s not what I need right now. Not while my house is burning down. I know someday, I know somehow, I’ll be okay; but not right now. Not right now. Tell me if the hope that you know is true; ever feels like a lie even from a friend. When their words are salt in an open wound; and they just can’t seem to understand; that you haven’t even stopped the bleeding yet. I know someday, I know somehow, I’ll be okay; but not right now. No, not right now. Don’t tell me when I’m grieving; that this happened for a reason. Maybe one day we’ll talk about the dreams that  had to die; for new ones to come alive; but not right now. I know someday, I know somehow, I’ll be okay; but not right now. Not right now. While I wait for the smoke to clear; you don’t even have to speak. Just sit with me in the ashes here; and together we can pray for peace; to the One acquainted with our grief. I know someday, I know somehow, I’ll be okay; but not right now. No, not right now.

Image result for finding healingCall me a bleeding heart. I know I’m not usually outward with my beliefs on this blog, but I can’t tell the next part of the story without sharing my faith. At the beginning of 2018, my metaphorical woulds were still bleeding. I didn’t have faith that 2018 was going to be any better than 2017; it was still too new. Simply put, I did not believe the verse you see next to this paragraph. He hadn’t helped me when I needed Him most, so why would He bother now? I was the man in the ditch, robbed and beaten, watching the Pharisees walk on by.

In 2018, my house was quiet again. The first time our foster kids left (early 2016), the quiet was unnerving. Brett and I couldn’t stand to be in or around the house for at least two weeks. We missed the noise, the chaos. We missed the pitter patter of little feet stomping over our bedroom ceiling. We missed the laughter and even the screaming. It was too quiet. But we got through it and eventually learned to love our home again. There was hope in knowing that the boys were back with their family; it was a happy ending of sorts.

When we no longer had kids in our house at the end of 2017, the quiet was welcome. Well, at least it was welcomed by me; Brett was too busy with work to probably notice. I don’t know if I could call it genuine peace, but the quiet brought a certain clarity with it and a calm that allowed me to sift through my hurt.

Eventually the quiet allowed me to begin sifting through my dreams again too. I started writing again, I started enjoying music again, I started enjoying people again. Don’t get me wrong, the pain was still very clear and evident, but the quiet was beginning to transform into unadulterated peace. And then we moved.

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This was our view as we first came into Washington. We both found it incredibly beautiful. Incredibly peaceful. My hope began to return. If this was my new beginning, my fresh start in a new state, maybe 2018 really was going to be a good year.

 

God is lavish.

 

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We didn’t even know what goodness was in store for us. How could we, really? We couldn’t know, for instance, that the sale of our first home would bring us some much needed financial relief, and the ability to pursue IVF.

IVF is expensive, y’all! It wouldn’t have been possible for us had it not been for the market favoring sellers at the time.

I need to back up just a bit for a moment. See, we’ve been on a very tight budget our entire marriage (of almost a decade) before we sold our home. We’re Xennials (aka older Millennials), so that’s kind of a given, unfortunately. When I had to call the bank to increase our daily spending limit in order to pay for things like the new (to us) car we desperately needed, or the IVF bills, etc., I found myself apologetic with the representative every time. Ridiculous, I know. They all acted like I was being silly, by the way. Apparently being apologetic with your own money is a bit odd, but I digress.

Having the ability to pay for IVF without any help from anyone was a rainbow after the storm. The process for me, though uncomfortable, went smoothly. We couldn’t have known it would all go so well.

But God is lavish.

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IVF yielded seven healthy blastocysts. Suddenly we started wondering if we should actually try for all seven! I was 32 at the time, the clock is ticking, you know?

But God is lavish. One round of IVF and our first Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) resulted in a viable pregnancy. So easy. Expensive, but for the first time in our marriage, there was no struggle whatsoever.

Sadly, rainbows don’t last forever. I lost the baby five weeks later. Ironically, my doctor officially called it a miscarriage on October 15th, which some of you may know is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Also ironically, I was supposed to have my seven week scan that day too, where I’d get to see my baby and hear his heartbeat for the very first time.

If you had told me at the beginning of 2016 that I would get pregnant after trying, unsuccessfully, for seven years just to lose it five weeks later, I would have told you that sort of thing would make me lose my mind. I would have told you that I couldn’t recover from such heartache. But then I endured 2017. It brought a kind of strife, and heartache, and annoyance, and frustration, and anger (oh, the rage I felt…most of it righteous but not all), and sadness, and hopelessness, and anxiety, like I had never experienced before. In 2016, I believed that people who suffer from anxiety just don’t have enough faith. Well, that’s a load of crap and I’m sorry to everyone I didn’t know I was judging. Now, in December of 2018, I can confidently tell all of you out there who are suffering from anxiety or depression that there is help for you and that there is hope for you. Just ask. You are worth it. You have purpose. Your life is a gift.

Because God is lavish.

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(Me, enjoying my first Washington ocean sunset…my heart will always belong near the sea)

Throughout the summer months God was bringing me continual healing. I even found healing in places I didn’t know I needed it! Like with our church community. Church is supposed to be the place where one can make the best of friends. In Colorado, I had the hardest time making friends. I had a lot of acquaintances, but not real friends. I did make one very true friend in Colorado toward the end of my tenure there (she knows who she is) and I was connected with another woman who was very much the mentor I needed as I was struggling through our failing/ failed placement, but other than that, I was really missing the female connection I needed. I was lonely. My close girlfriends from college have since all scattered across the country (and world), so keeping in touch with them has been difficult.

We weren’t in Washington for a month before I met the most wonderful person. And then I met another truly wonderful person, and then another! Three friends in the space of two months is a world record for me. I’m not talking about superficial relationships, either. I’m talking about the real deal, hit it out of the ball park, don’t have a problem calling or being called at 3am kind of a deal.

Because God is lavish.

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That picture above with all the crazy rainbows? Yeah, that’s been my 2018. After the hardest year of my life, God gave me the crazy rainbows. I’m smiling as I write this.

What about pregnancy, you ask? Well, that’s another rainbow in and of itself. See, after IVF and the FET, we really didn’t have the extra funds to try again right away. Somehow I found hope somewhere buried deep inside because I decided to apply for a fertility grant a few weeks after my miscarriage. The chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy birth are higher within three to six months of a miscarriage, which is why I acted so quickly. I found one grant (there are a fair few) that perfectly fit my needs. They would be choosing the recipients in November and would be able to distribute the funds immediately thereafter, which is exactly what I needed. They also had a very reasonable application fee compared to the other organizations I found (as if fertility treatment isn’t expensive enough).

Thanksgiving week 2017 was a nightmare I wish I could forget. It was the week our adoptive placement ended officially and also somewhat unexpectedly.

Thanksgiving week 2018 was an absolute dream come true because I was chosen as one of six grant recipients out of 287 applicants in the entire country. Thank you AGC Foundation! I’m now at the beginning of a new FET cycle and I just know that it’s all gonna work out.

Because God is so lavish!

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I believe that 2019 is going to be a great year. Do I think there won’t be any struggles or sadness? Of course not. Do I think that my cup is continually being filled to overflowing, despite all of its cracks and leaks? Yes. Yes I do. There might not be a rainbow after every storm, but when there is, its beauty is more enjoyed, more appreciated, and much more fulfilling. That is what I call pure joy.

Because God is lavish. And He doesn’t forget about us when we mourn.

After all, He created the rainbows.

 

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Product Review: Lassig Glam Goldie Diaper Backpack

Hi Readers!

So, I was recently gifted the Lassig Glam Goldie Diaper Backpack (thanks, Mom!), and this thing is amazing. I might just be in love.

A note: I do not get paid to advertise this or any other product on my blog, so you can rest assured my opinions are unbiased.

If you know me at all, you know I’m pretty picky when it comes to products. That’s partially by design, and partially because, If I’m honest, I have good taste so I set the bar high. I also do strive continually to live a minimalist, eco-conscious lifestyle, and while I definitely cannot claim the minimalist title just yet, when I do add things to my life, I want them to be useful, high quality, beautiful things.

Enter the Lassig Glam Goldie Diaper Backpack. When I first saw it on a website, I skimmed right over it, because at first glance, it doesn’t look all that exciting or interesting. That being said, fortunately, I was in full-scale research mode when I was looking for a diaper bag I could really love, so I decided to give this lovely piece of art a second look.

And then my mind was blown.

Peeps! This bag is recyclable! And it’s made from recycled materials! And it’s free of all those nasty chemicals that can be found in almost all of our products! And it’s fair trade/ sustainable! And it’s beautiful! And I could go on.

Okay so I will go on. Function over form when it comes to diaper bags, although I do give it top marks for form. The hardware is good quality, the fabric feels like it will hold up well against everyday use, and I haven’t even gotten to the good part yet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The inside is huge. This one has all sorts of goodies. Before you even open the main compartment, you find the top front zippered pocket. In that pocket, you will find a wondrous little piece of magic. It’s a keychain that easily clips on and off with the press of a button and voila! Your keys will never go missing again. What sorcery is this?!

In that same pocket, you will also find a nifty little place to hold your smartphone. It held my iPhone 7 just fine, but it was a tad too small for my husband’s 7+ with his Defender case. I imagine the plus would fit without the case, but ain’t nobody got time for that. At any rate, that teensy detail doesn’t bother me a bit, because if I did have the plus with a bulky case, I still would put the phone in the top pocket, just not in the little phone pocket.

The bottom front pocket is just a pocket, but it cleverly doesn’t open all the way so things won’t spill out of it when you do open it. It also seems pretty roomy. It’s a great place for stashing those extra things that you don’t know where else to put, like a board book, pacifier, or small toy.

Finally we come to the main compartment. In it you will find a detachable pocket sleeve that can hold diapers, bottles, applesauce/ yogurt packets, or pretty much anything your momma-heart desires (okay, no, it probably won’t hold a lifetime supply of your favorite coffee, but you get the point, right?).

You will also find a separate insulated bottle holder, which I think is pretty neat. It attaches to a clip inside the bag, but it also has a piece of fabric sewn onto it that allows you to attach it to other things, like your belt, your stroller, your keys, another bag (like a purse) or anything similar.

But that’s not all! You’ll find a pretty nice diaper pad, a messenger bag strap in case that’s your thing, stroller straps, and another little pouch you can put things in, say loose cheerios or kid snacks, feminine hygiene products, spare cash/ coins, etc. Besides all the extras, the compartment itself is large. I could potentially fit enough clothes for myself and Baby to last me a week (that is, if I pack like a minimalist…maybe I’ll test it out and write another post about that). If you plan on taking it to work with you (like I do), it will probably also fit a breast pump and accessories pretty well, especially if you don’t have to pack it with baby stuff.

I need to mention that there are metal rods in the top of the main compartment that help the bag stay open and makes it a bit sturdier, kind of like a hiking bag.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back of the bag has some sweet features too. First, it has a tech pocket that will easily fit an iPad Pro or a 13″ laptop. You can also tuck the backpack straps into that pocket when you want to wear it as a messenger bag or carry it by the top handles. As a side note, when I refer to something as a “tech pocket” I’m not just referring to a large narrow pocket that can fit tech. I’m referring to a pocket that is padded specifically to help protect your tech.

Hidden nicely behind the tech pocket is another zippered pocket that has a waterproof lining, so if you cloth diaper or if you need a pocket to stash soiled clothes, you don’t have to mix the dirty stuff with all the clean stuff in the other parts of the bag! How cool is that?! It’s also padded, so I think it would help lock in some odor, but I can’t speak to that definitively because I haven’t had the chance to test that theory.

Finally, I can’t leave out the two large side pockets. They are big enough to hold a 32 oz camelback water bottle.

Yes, this bag is the piece de resistance of diaper bags. Best part, it’s cheaper than some other high-end brands, like Jujube. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jujube does a lot of things right and they have gorgeous bags, but I recently had the opportunity to try one on and I hated it! That was mainly because the straps dug into my armpits the second I put it on. Before trying it on, I thought Jujube bags were the end-all-be-all of diaper bags, so that was a total letdown, but one I’m glad happened before the money was spent. Plus, I think the Lassig bag offers way more for parents and professionals alike.

Anyway, back to the Lassig. Pictured above is the mint color, which is the color my bag is. It’s a beautiful shade of mint. The bag also comes in a gray and a rose color, pictured below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve included a link to Baby Cubby’s Review of the bag since I feel they give a good idea of what this bag can offer. Plus, it’s a video review, so you can see all the neat features for yourself!

As a final thought, while the mint color definitely has a feminine vibe to it, my husband felt it wasn’t so feminine that he would be uncomfortable using it without me there. He’ll probably get his own bag anyway, but at least I know that even the mint color is gender neutral enough for both of us. If that’s a concern for you, I’d definitely recommend getting the gray color, especially if you are embracing minimalism and only want to deal with one diaper bag.

Until next time….

Cheers!

To the Child I Never Got to Meet

Dear beautiful child of mine,

I didn’t know you for very long. You made your home in my womb for a very short five weeks and five days. 

I held you in the palm of my hand the day you left my body. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if it was you, or really, I didn’t want to admit it to myself, but my heart knew, deep down. 

My precious child, I could not have fathomed what you would come to mean to me. There really aren’t the words to describe how I’ve come to understand your loss, and your life’s purpose – yes, you had a purpose. 

Your father and I were going to name you Zion Isaiah Daniel. Zion means “promised land,” Isaiah means “Salvation is from the Lord,” and Daniel means “God is my judge” and is also your father’s middle name. Yeah, it was a big name to live up to, but you did, sweet little boy. You really did. 

Before I had you, I was a foster mom. I’ve had six children call my home theirs before you came into existence, four of which were long term. The government likes to call them “placements” but they are human beings, not objects placed in my home. I hate that term, to be honest. They were my children, and someone else’s children all at the same time. It’s really quite simple. Children can belong to more than one set of people. Really, they belong to everyone as much as they belong to themselves because they are the world’s future, but I digress. 

Before I had you, I always considered myself a sort of fraud. I didn’t believe I was a mother, even though those kids put me through a lot of hard things I don’t ever want to repeat — things that would unequivocally qualify me as a mother — I merely deigned myself a mother, but deep down I didn’t believe it. I did believe a lot of lies though. 

I believed the lie that others looked down on me for “pretending” to be a mother. I believed the lie that because I hadn’t been able to have biological children up to that point and that all my foster children eventually left me for another home, that I wasn’t supposed to be a mother. I believed the lie that I would never be good enough. I believed the lie that my body couldn’t handle pregnancy. I believed the lie that I would never be physically healthy enough to carry a child. I believed the lie that my foster children didn’t get adopted because of some fundamental flaw within me. 

But I’m done believing lies because this is my year of victory.

You sweet child, are my victory. 

You are my victory because my God works all things for the good of those who believe in Him. I didn’t understand why I lost you at first, and I still really don’t but there’s hope now. God gave me a new identity because of you. He calls me “mother.” Your mother. Their mother. He has also made me worthy of this, because he chose to give up His only son for our sakes. I now know the pain of His loss, but amazingly, I know the joy of it too. A joy I couldn’t have understood until I knew the loss. 

I am a mother. I am both a foster mother and a biological mother. Though I haven’t carried them yet, I’m a biological mother to six other children. They’re currently frozen, but that doesn’t matter. They are alive and I believe I will meet most or, if I am so blessed, all of them one day. They are your brothers and sisters and they will know your name. Why? Because, dearest Zion, you made me a mother. Or rather, you helped me stop believing the lies that I wasn’t a mother. 

When I gave birth to you, even though you were far too small to survive that birth, you gave birth to my motherhood. God used you to remind me of His faithfulness, of His promises, of His goodness. Yes, HIs goodness.

My God was so near to me in the process of your death. Things happened that can only be explained by divine providence. Things that prove to me that He is not only real, but He is incredibly good and merciful and true. I won’t go into those things because they won’t mean much to others, but they were truthful and real, and couldn’t have possibly been planned by any person here on earth.  

In the weeks since you’ve gone to be with Him, I’ve gained this solid confidence in my motherhood. I’m ready for the unexpected, the heartache, the moments of self doubt and fear. I’m ready for the tears and the bruised knees (and egos), the ripped jeans and the arguments. I’m ready for the broken hearts of first love lost, and teenage tempers tantamount to toddler tantrums. I’m ready for their victories and achievements, I’m ready for their failures as well as my own. I’m ready for the mistakes I undoubtedly will make as their mother, and I’m ready for their successes becoming my own. I am so ready for this. 

I wish I didn’t have to lose you in order to learn this, but your loss has already made me a better person and a better mother to the children I will have in the future. There’s this peace that surpasses all understanding in that — a peace I simply cannot explain.

So, Zion Isaiah Daniel, that is why you’ve lived up to your name. You are my victory. You are my promised land. You reminded me that my Salvation comes only from the Lord, and that He is my judge. And my Judge has called me “mother.” 

I love you baby boy, and I will never stop loving you, just as I will never stop loving my foster children, or any other children that I get the honor and privilege of being a mother to. 

Always,

Your Mother

No, I Won’t Stop Talking About the “Crib-less” Nursery

*I do not own these images*

Hello Readers!

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Fair warning, this is a pretty long post.

So here’s the thing: I’ve never been one to follow mainstream norms. Being the only girl in my third grade class to choose drums as my band instrument (and the first girl ever in my elementary school), I’ve been breaking social norms from an early age. Sure, when I first began planning for Baby, I assumed that a crib was a necessity for any and all babies. When I really started digging into my baby product research, however, I discovered something amazing: there really aren’t any rules for nurseries! There isn’t a single piece of furniture that is absolutely 100% necessary.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t recommend certain pieces of furniture over others, or even assume that what works for me will work for everyone. No; that’s not the point here. I do believe, however, with the proper research and preparation, the crib can and should become a thing of the past. At least for minimalist families who don’t need to put Baby to sleep in a conveniently located position for the sake of their backs.

So, why will I not shut up about crib-less nurseries? First, it helps to look at the original Image result for dance to the beat of your own drum notebookpurpose of the crib. Before cribs, most families co-slept and older babies slept on the floor on some sort of soft mat or mattress (if they weren’t in the bed with their parents), and in some cases, on a bed that hid away under the parent’s bed or what we now refer to as a trundle bed. Our modern-day version of a crib first came about in the 19th century (Victorian era to be more precise). The crib was designed because 19th century parents believed that toxic fumes existed below the knee and explosive gases existed near the ceiling (phew! Good thing that’s been disproved!), so having the baby in a crib was considered the safest place. More reliably, keeping a baby elevated during sleep time kept them better insulated from drafts, since most homes weren’t insulated and floors were not carpeted. Iron cribs later came about  to help prevent bedbugs and lice. That’s definitely a more logical reason to put Baby in a crib, but is it really necessary today?

Enter Maria Montessori: a pioneer in early child development and, more specifically, Image result for maria montessoriearly education. Dr. Montessori believed that children need to be able to independently and creatively explore the world that exists around them, so she developed what is now known as the Montessori Method. Part of that method involves creating a nursery or kid’s space that allows for independent learning and exploration. When one walks into a Montessori nursery today, there is one piece of furniture that is blatantly missing. You guessed it: the crib.

Cribs restrict a child’s movement. Even mobile babies are helpless when placed in the crib and become completely dependent on their caregiver to take them out or put them in. That means that when a small child is feeling sleepy, instead of being encouraged to find his bed and lay down on his own, he’ll use the only means of communication he has to let his caregivers know that he’s tired: crying or acting out. While crying is a crucial survival tool that all tiny humans have and need, crying (aka stress and anxiety in your baby) can be minimized and sleep time increased if parents know enough about their child’s developmental needs. Part of the solution is eliminating the crib.

While cribs do have some benefits, they don’t come without their fair share of safety hazards. How many of your friends have told you stories about their children (or themselves as children) climbing out of their cribs? It’s a pretty common occurrence, and it’s also really scary to think about. While babies and kids are resilient, falling out of a crib can cause serious injury, or they might gain access to something they shouldn’t (like electrical outlets) all whilst the parents are blissfully unaware of the danger because they think Baby is safe in the crib. How about Baby getting her arms or legs in between the crib bars? If she’s particularly chubby (like most babies are), getting those limbs safely uncaught can be a terrifying experience for any caregiver as the risk of injury also can occur. Finally, despite continually being sold at every big box baby store, crib bumpers, baby pillows, and blankets (not to be confused with swaddles) are extremely hazardous to an infant’s health, as they are known to cause both suffocation and entanglement.

So, with that knowledge, why are cribs still widely regarded as a nursery staple? The answer is mainly because humans are creatures of habit and comfort. We don’t naturally stop to ask questions about practices that are widely accepted. It’s like the age-old story about the daughter-in-law on Thanksgiving. Her mother had taught her to always cut the turkey in half before putting it in the oven, and she watched her mother do just that as she grew up. When she went to cut the turkey in half at her new family’s house, her mother-in-law immediately questioned the practice. Of course, the well-meaning daughter-in-law had no idea why her mother always cut the turkey in half, so she called her mom to ask. Her mom explained that she did it because her mother always did it. Fortunately, Grandma was still alive at the time, so she was the next to be called. Come to find out, Grandma always cut the turkey in half because it didn’t fit in the oven she had while her children were growing up. She laughed at the thought that her daughter and granddaughter had made that habit into a Thanksgiving tradition. The granddaughter obviously felt very foolish about cutting the turkey in half after that. Moral of the story is, we don’t always have to do something just because our parents and grandparents did it.

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With that in mind, is going “crib-less” any better? Yes it is, and I’ll explain why. Floor beds allow a child to go to sleep and wake up on his own. Of course, parents will still need to put their baby to bed, and it’s very healthy for children to have a nighttime (and daytime) routine for this, but children will have an easier time falling asleep if they know their movement won’t be restricted when they wake up. Think of it this way, if you were with a loved one and fell asleep near them, and then woke up in the middle of the night all alone in a dark room and found that you could not leave your bed because it was like a cage, how would that make you feel? Now imagine a child waking up to find himself in a crib after falling asleep on his mother’s chest, all alone and scared? Not very pleasant is it? Yet, this is what we do to our more vulnerable children. Why?

***I feel it’s important to note here my appreciation for bassinets and bedside sleepers: Bassinets are specifically designed for newborns (that is, babies who should be sleeping on their backs only and who are not strong enough to roll over onto their bellies). I plan on using a bassinet which will be placed right next to my bed for easy feeding and changing in the middle of the night until my baby is six months old or about 25lbs, whichever comes first. The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) also recommends that babies sleep in their parent’s room until they are at least six months old, and it’s preferable if they room-share until 12 months. While the floor bed will be used with a DockATot for daytime naps before then, it won’t be used as my baby’s primary sleep area until I feel he/ she is ready for that transition. While some parents, particularly minimalist parents, believe that it’s okay to put Baby directly into the crib (or floor bed) upon birth, I don’t personally advocate it. Here’s the thing, what works for me might not work for you, and that’s totally acceptable. What I reiterate constantly on this blog is that you know best what your baby needs. If you’e a foster parent, give it a little time (maybe about two weeks to a month) and you also will know best what your baby needs, though you should try to respect the wishes of your kid’s bio parents because biologically speaking, they know best as well, even if they’re having a hard time managing their own lives. The important point to note here is to trust your instincts.***

A crib-less nursery might not have a crib, but it still has some sort of mattress. This can be a standard crib-sized mattress or a twin. Most people don’t like going bigger because they feel their baby will get lost in a bed so large, but it’s really up to you what you choose. This crib-sized mattress is placed on the floor and is known as the Montessori floor bed. There are lots of options to choose from at this point.

Many people like the look of wooden “houses” to frame the bed. Others prefer a simpleRelated image floor bed frame as they find the “house beds” distracting. Others still prefer to make a simple frame out of wooden bed slats to place under the mattress. The reason I don’t suggest simply putting a mattress directly on the floor (though that is an option), is because humans sweat during the night which can soak into the mattress. If there’s no air flow between
the mattress and the floor, the mattress can become mildewy. Personally, I think the house frames are whimsical and creative alternatives to the crib. You can find reasonably priced frames, like the one pictured, on Etsy.

For slightly older children, some people like to place Image result for floor bed for toddlerlong narrow pillows around the edges of the mattress to help keep children from rolling off. I am a bit skeptical of this practice, however, because it really is no better than having a baby accidentally roll their face (and airways) into a crib bumper. The nice thing about a floor bed, however, is that if an older baby falls off of it, preferably onto a nice soft mat that’s been strategically placed in front of their bed, she won’t get hurt in the process. Considering she’s moving around that much during her sleep, she’s probably able to get herself back onto the bed anyway.

I now need to address baby proofing your child’s nursery should you choose the floor bed over a crib. One nice thing about cribs is that parents don’t have to worry about completely baby proofing their home or even their child’s nursery right away because Baby’s access to those things is restricted by the crib. That being said, a child’s access to plugs and electrical outlets will not be restricted with the use of a floor bed. It’s important to meticulously baby proof the spaces your child will spend most of his time in should you decide to bring the Montessori approach into your home. Besides covering outlets, this also includes making sure there aren’t wires plugged in for Baby to play with or get choked by (sorry, no twinkle lights unless they are battery-operated and out of Baby’s reach), blind cords are up and out of reach, and any sharp edged furniture is covered by bumpers of some sort.

The Montessori Method encourages independent learning, so the floor bed is not the only aspect of the well-rounded nursery. To go into the details of all that would be to make this post waaay too long (ain’t nobody got time for dat!). Be on the lookout for future posts about how to include the Montessori Method in your daily early education routines (it’s easier than you think, especially those of you who are working parents)!

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Choosing furniture and a design layout can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. The best practice is to keep to the bare minimums of stuff because a) that’s less stuff for you to trip over and b) Baby will have an easier time learning to become independent by exploring her environment. I’ll talk more about a minimalistic approach to toys and nursery design in future posts!

For now, I hope you found this post helpful and informative. Remember, above all, if the item in question doesn’t bring you joy, it probably will just cause you (and Baby) stress that you don’t need in your life.

Cheers!

SC

Some Upcoming Changes

Hello Faithful Readers,

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I know it’s been a while since I last wrote. After my last post, I’ve since moved to a new state, unpacked a new home, purged a ton of stuff and…underwent an IVF cycle.

You, readers, are the first “public” entities to find that out (the IVF cycle, that is). My family knows as well as some close friends, but you are the first of everyone else. I’m currently waiting for my Frozen Embryo Transfer, which will take place later this week. Then I’m officially known as what’s called, “PUPO” or “Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise.”

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So, exciting changes for me personally, but I’m sure you’re all wondering what that has to do with this blog.

For starters, I won’t be talking about fostering again for a while. Don’t worry, there will still be the occasional post directly related to foster parenting or how to support foster parents and kids, but it’s time for this blog to make a shift.

This blog, titled “The Fostered Child” will still be following themes related to parenting, so it is staying true to its original purpose and name. That being said, there are a lot of topics that, while I originally posed as fostering topics, also relate directly to everyday parenting.

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I also have a bit of a passion for interior design, particularly related to kids’ spaces and nurseries. In the upcoming weeks, you’ll see posts about my advice for creating a minimalist baby registry, how to design a beautiful, peaceful, and budget-friendly nursery/ kids’ room, and how to not let kid stuff take over your house and life.

You’ll see plenty of topics related to peaceful and calm parenting, self-care for the busy mom (and dad), posts about family products that have made my life so much better, and general parenting info. I will also take some time to talk about my infertility journey in the hopes that it will help couples through that difficult process.

My voice will remain the same as all previous posts. I am still the primary writer for this blog, so the vocabulary, tone, and cadence of each post will stay true to previous posts. I still care about the original topic, but as my life has changed so drastically in the last several months, it didn’t seem right to completely abandon this blog (and all my faithful readers), but it also didn’t seem right to only talk about fostering and adoption any longer.

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I hope you’ll stick with me as this blog takes on all these exciting changes! I look forward to sharing my knowledge and experiences with you and as always, thank you so much for participating! My blog would have no meaning or significance if it weren’t for my readers, so I appreciate your time and interest in my ramblings.

Cheers!

SC

 

 

Lost Battles that Were Worth Fighting For

*I do not own the images below. Images were found via Google search.*

Ever hear the expression, “something worth fighting for” before? For me, the phrase conjures up images of victorious heroes of hard battles fought and won. Until I went through this last “Year of Hell” as I now not-so-fondly refer to it, I never realized that just because a battle was lost doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the fight to begin with.

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When I think about this past year, the battles, the hardships, the endless drama, I tend to wonder why I tried so hard. While I’m still recovering from all the ugly, I’m struck today by how “worth it” the battle really was. Maybe I’ll never know the positive impacts I had on those kids, their biological family, or even their social workers. Maybe I actually don’t want to know. The truth of the matter is, however, that I had an impact: I showed those kids what a healthy, normal family is supposed to look like. Whether they realized that is irrelevant.

Were we the “perfect” family? Hell no. We all are a little bit messed up. Every human being is. Every human being caImage result for simba and the monkeyrries around with him/ her a certain amount of baggage from the past. Depending on how hard things hit, the past can continue to hurt for a very, very long time. Hopefully, we learn to let go of some of the emotional hoarding and stop carrying around all that weight with us; it really can destroy our quality of life. Like Simba learned from Rafiki in The Lion King, “we can’t change the past, but we can learn from it.”

The problem that we were facing was that both kids were looking for the perfect family. Despite being told that no such family exists in the entirety of the universe, they still wanted their perfect Stepford Wives version of a family. The TV show/ movie are creepy for a reason; perfection really isn’t what it’s all cracked up to be. In fact, I think a negative response to hardship, especially child abuse, is the endless search for perfection.

We want that happy family we see in home magazines and on TV – you know which one I’m talking about – the smiling, happy family of four (one boy, one girl, two happy and supermodel-worthy parents), sitting in front of their absolutely gorgeous *owned* home, complete with their beautifully groomed, well-behaved dog.Related image

Who doesn’t want that? That being said, emotionally healthy and stable adults are able to recognize that a magazine only shows a glimpse of the truth and not the full picture. A picture only shows one tiny moment in time, and one tiny part of that tiny moment in time. Perhaps that smiling moment was good, but what about the few moments before and after? What about the parts outside the picture frame?

There was no way we could be the picture of what the kids wanted their parents to be. There was no way I could be the mom they wanted; no woman ever could be and that truth is heartbreaking. Returning to the question of whether or not those kids were worth the battle they waged against my imperfections…yes: they were unequivocally and irrevocably worth the fight. They were worth my sleepless nights, tear-stained pillow, headaches, and all the governmental nonsense I had to put up with for their sakes.

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People tend to ask if we would consider fostering again after we’ve been through a placement. I don’t know if that’s just our situation or if every foster parent is asked the same question. For a while after the Year of Hell, my answer was a non-answer: I’ll tell you when I know myself. Looking back at it now, with a few months worth and several thousand miles of separation on my side, I’d say I would foster again, with reservations. There’s a lot of lessons I’ll take with me into that new chapter of life, and there are expectations that I will now not carry into it that ended up being extra baggage I didn’t need in this last placement.

A lost battle is not easily recovered from. There are a lot of emotions I’ve had to face, a lot of anger, fear, anxiety, stress, sadness, that I had to look head on, recognize as real, and move beyond. It hasn’t been easy. When we moved to a new state, I also recognized that I can’t run from my problems. The new state, the new chapter in our lives presented itself as a fresh start which has been very good for my soul, but I also didn’t want to believe in a fairytale ending. I didn’t want to have the expectation that I would suddenly be happy again, so I came into this new phase of my life with an open mind, hopeful for a positive future and a fresh start.

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I was surprised to find that the peace of starting something new has been like medicine to my heart. Even though I didn’t expect to be happy right away, I have felt happier in my new home than I have in a very long time. Sure, we still have some mundane problems, like making sure we have the funds to pay our bills (moving is super expensive), that we both have jobs, and so forth, but that was expected.

We moved to Washington particularly because of its geographical features: I love oceans and Brett loves mountains. I am now a firm believer that we should live somewhere because we love it, not because our job is there, not because we’ve lived there our whole life and don’t know anything else, and not even because our family is there. Related imageWe should live somewhere because we love it. Life is too short for anything else. We took a risk moving to WA because we don’t have any close family here and only one close friend, neither of us has ever lived here, and we were basing our decision on what we’ve read about the state and heard from friends and family members who are more familiar with it. We truly are starting fresh. It definitely feels like a scarier-than-average risk for us, but so far, it’s been worth it.

For instance, last Sunday was Mother’s Day. I had been dreading it, mostly wanting to forget about it (except to forget it entirely would also be to forget about my own mom, who wouldn’t have been very happy with that outcome). We decided to spend the day in Seattle exploring this exciting part of our new home and it was such a wonderful day. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had a day as peaceful or happy like this past Sunday was in a very long time. Perhaps it was easier for me to be happy because I didn’t expect myself to be. Perhaps this is just where I belong.

The moral of this story post is that just because a battle was lost, doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth the fight. Yes, the victors of war get to write the history, but sometimes losing a battle isn’t shameful and doesn’t always mean the losing side can’t recover or won’t be back to fight another day. For now, I’ve put my sword down and picked up my beach bag umbrella and am off to breathe some fresh pacific coast, sea-level oxygenated air.

Until later…cheers.

SC Robinson

 

 

Off-Topic: A Eulogy for My Dog

“Riley – The Best Damn Dog a Person Could Hope For”

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When we met you, we had about $500 extra cash in our pockets and an apartment we were about to move into. On a whim we stopped at the humane society to look at dogs. We really weren’t there to adopt; it was just a fun, “cheap,” impromptu date.

When we met you, I have to admit, you didn’t interest me much. You were big and kind of ugly, so I walked right by you, but my newlywed husband of one month saw you immediately for your unusual black and gold brindled coat. I had my eyes on a puppy whose tail was in a cast because she wagged it too often. I knew nothing about her breed, but she was such a happy little thing.

I looked at the puppy by myself for a minute because my husband was transfixed with you. I got him to come over and look at the puppy, but then he got me to come over and look at you. He put his hand up to your kennel when he saw your big, ridiculously convincing sad puppy eyes, and you came up to him and licked his hand. It was over and I knew we weren’t going home empty handed – but it wasn’t with a puppy. It was with you.

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When we met you, your name was Ryan. We really didn’t feel Ryan was a good name for a dog, especially you, so we played around with lots of different names. I wanted to name you Igor, after Stravinsky, but it really didn’t fit, and you were such a dumb dog that you just didn’t respond to it. My husband tried Riley and the rest is history. He would joke and call you marbled rye. Sometimes we called you rye-face, sometimes we called you bonehead, because your head was nothing but bone (and you really were quite dumb for a dog your size), but you were such a loving, gentle guy.

The first night, I admit, you were a bit scary to me. You freaked out my sister-in-law — who we were living with until our own apartment contract was finalized — and you growled in your sleep so I was worried what might happen if I accidentally woke you up. They warned us that you were considered an aggressive breed, and because you were so big, I worried that you had some pent up aggression. I couldn’t have been more wrong about you.

 

After we got to know each other a bit, I realized that you were a really sweet dog. We also realized that if you were given human food of any sort, you’d get sick and had the worst gas imaginable. Even though you were a year old when we adopted you, you were still very puppyish. Your head was bigger than your body could really handle, so watching you attempt to go down stairs was one of the most hilariously sad things I’ve ever seen. You eventually grew into your head, and stairs became no problem for you; something I’m sure you were really proud of. We quickly learned that you were terrified of dogs smaller than yourself, particularly chihuahuas. I once took you on a walk when a little old lady with her fluffy shitzu approached us from the opposite direction. The closer we got to each other, the more you tried to hide behind me. The little old lady and I got a really good kick out of that. It’s a story I’ve laughed about and told more than once.

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Eventually we started taking you on outings to places like the local dog parks. The first time we took you to the dog park, you were playful and the ringleader of all the other dogs, but that wore off and you just started going to all the humans, flashing those crazy good sad puppy eyes of yours and getting them to pet you. You decided then and there that dog parks weren’t for playing with dogs, but for getting all the human love you could possibly get. We always thought that was a funny quirk of yours. People would always comment on how handsome you were. For as ugly as your face was, your general stature definitely made up for it, and your personality could win over anyone you met.

Of course, the excitement of getting a new dog did eventually wear off, and taking care of you sometimes was a burden, especially with your sensitive stomach. We learned about three months in that we couldn’t have a self-feeder for you because you would gorge yourself. You were a good listener, but you didn’t always move fast enough for our impatient selves, and now we’ve come to the part that I’m quite ashamed of: when you were young, I wasn’t very nice to you.

It wasn’t your fault. The excitement of being a newlywed was also wearing off. My husband took a job in the oil fields in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, and I rarely got to see him. Since we were in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, there were also virtually no jobs for recent college grads who had majored in music. Certainly there were no jobs for recent college grads who didn’t have any clue how to market their skills, so I was stuck alone with nothing to do but watch geeky sci-fi shows, eat bonbons, and begrudgingly take care of a dog I didn’t really want in the first place. I became depressed and apparently I had some pent up aggression of my own. I wasn’t very nice to you.

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It wasn’t your fault. When I’d cry because my life looked like a complete failure at the naive age of 25, you’d come and put your head in my lap, trying to comfort me. Even though I’d yell at you for farting, or getting sick because you ate something you shouldn’t have so I had to run outside in the cold in the middle of the night to avoid having to clean up dog mess, or because you got into the trash and made a huge mess, you’d still come and comfort me when I cried. You were the sweetest, gentlest dog. When I’d smack you hard on the nose for having an accident, or smack you hard on your hips when you didn’t do what you were told, you always treated me, and everyone you met, with such astounding gentleness.

Life moved on and I stopped being mean to you. We moved again. You always got so sad and nervous when we moved. You acted like we were going to leave you behind. Of course we’d always try to console you and eventually you’d realize that you didn’t get left behind. Sometimes you were a burden to bring along, but we never wanted to leave you behind. Sometimes we had to leave for short trips and we actually did leave you behind, but of course you were as happy and playful as a puppy when we returned.

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Eventually, we added a second dog to the family. This one I picked out. She was also about a year old when we found her and absolutely wild. She couldn’t have been more opposite to you. In fact, we called you the Yin and Yang because you were such opposites. She has long white hair with a small black patch on her tail, you had short black hair with a small white patch on your chest. She’s athletic and independent, you were lazy and always wanted to be with your “pack.” We would joke that she came from the “hood” so it’s best to not mess with her. She’s calmed down a lot and gotten a bit lazy herself over the years, but this isn’t about her. This is about you.

I remember when we were deciding on adopting her. The humane society requested that we do a “meet and greet” between you and her to make sure she would fit well into our already established dynamic. You were so joyfully playful when you met her. In fact, we’d never quite seen you so happy before that point. It’s like you knew she was going to become your “sister.” Indeed, you were so happy, that after a little bit of playing, you actually got on her nerves and she snapped at you to back off. It wasn’t anything we were concerned about though, because you really were being a bit overbearing. The staff at the humane society were happy with that, so we came home with two dogs that day. She pooped in the backseat first thing because she was nervous and scared, and you just sat there — although acting a bit disgusted — and behaved like the good dog you were.

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More time passed. We began learning how to take care of you with a gentler hand. You still made me really angry at some points, something I’m not proud of, but you always responded with gentleness. I really do wonder if you were teaching us how to be gentle the whole time. There’s something to be said for wanting to become the person your dog thinks you are.

As we were learning how to be better dog owners, we also were learning how to be foster parents. What my readers should understand here is that foster parenting requires the utmost gentleness and patience. We realized through our training that, even though we would never, ever consider treating a child the way we had treated our dog at times, we could and would start being gentler with him. There were better ways of training and correcting you, even at your age (you were middle-aged in doggy years by then). No matter what we did, you always acted like you wanted to please us. We realized that sometimes your disobedience stemmed more from your inability to understand us. We had “intellectual” struggles with you that we never faced with our other dog because she is as smart as a whip. When we had finally learned how to understand you better, we became much softer with you. After all, it was only fair; you always responded with your affection, no matter what you got.

One day we introduced you to our first foster children. You were so gentle with them, even though you were taller than the little one. They learned really quickly that they didn’t need to be scared of big dogs because you were so incredibly gentle. Despite being gentle, you were also extremely protective. Our other dog is territorial, so many-a-time she’d hear something and start barking, and you’d bark right along with her, though your bark definitely was not backed up with any sort of bite. In fact, when you’d bark, most of the time you didn’t have any clue what you were barking at; you barked because she did. That’s not why I talk about your protectiveness though. You often slept in the room with our foster kids until they fell asleep themselves. Sometimes you’d lay outside their door, reassuring them that no bad guys would ever get to them. When they cried, you’d comfort them. When they were scared, you were by their side. After they left our home and returned to their own, you would sleep outside their room because you missed them. Our other dog definitely missed them too. And when I cried because I missed them so much it hurt, you both were right there ready to share your love.

We eventually got a second placement. I don’t like talking about this placement because the pain I’ve endured from it is so great that I haven’t healed much yet. With this placement, we were supposed to adopt a pair of siblings. They were quite a bit older than our first foster children and they had been through much, much more. As always, you were gentle, and they learned how to take advantage. I saw my own past meanness toward you in them and it reminded me once again how I could have been so much kinder to you when you were younger. Watching them with you taught me how to teach them to be kinder humans, but it still hurts me in knowing what it all did to you. It still wasn’t your fault. Hurting people hurt people (and pets).

By this point, you had entered your senior years. Some of the fur on your chin and paws had turned gray. You had to be on thyroid pills because you couldn’t stop putting on weight, regardless of how much/ little we fed you, and you acted depressed. The pills worked a small miracle for you, and I find peace in knowing your last few years were more comfortable for you. The drama that the kids brought with them, however, was so incredibly hard on all of us (including the kids themselves), but it was particularly hard on you. Even though we told them not to feed you anything other than your own food, they didn’t listen, so you began getting aggressive about getting into food in places you never would have gotten into before.

One unfortunate Christmas, this new behavior around food led you to find my stocking, which happened to be full of chocolate. Because you were you, you also ate part of my stocking, and not just what was inside. You became severely sick with a distended stomach, and we had to put you through emergency surgery. Somehow, you made it through that alive, but it was certainly a close call. After that, you got really shaky and nervous anytime I had to take you to the vet. It amazes me that you could even remember where you were when you were that sick. My husband said that you were so sick it was actually making you blind, so you barked at him when he and the kids came home that night, which was totally uncharacteristic of you.

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The surgery bought you some time. The drama around the kids’ case got worse. The stress in our home rose. For reasons I refuse to go into right now, you suddenly got sick a few months later. We had no idea what was wrong with you, and it looked like you had been poisoned. We took you to the vet again and they gave you hundreds of dollars worth of medicine to make you better again. They confirmed that somehow you got ahold of an
Advil liquigel pill and that you were honestly lucky to be alive. Those meds bought you a little less than a year, and we’re still paying off that bill.

Yet I’m glad we had that year together. Eventually, the placement of the kids we should have been able to adopt completely fell apart and it was just us four again. I had been through Hell and back for those kids, and the damage that year did to both of our dogs was visible. The events of the year had been traumatic, and somewhere in that timeframe, I had started researching cats as therapeutic support animals. Apparently purring helps to regulate breathing (I’ve since confirmed this). After the kids left, we decided to go ahead and adopt a kitten with the hope that he would help me be able to sleep better. It worked, and because of you, we approached training and caring for him much differently than how we approached it with you. Because of you, we had learned how to be gentle.

When we brought home the kitten, you were curious but cautious. You quickly realized that cats have five pointy ends and you really didn’t want much to do with him. He would cuddle right up to you on your bed and you’d look at me with the sort of desperation that said “please rescue me” but you’d let him be as long as he wasn’t attacking your tail. We thought it was amazing that he always wanted to cuddle with you, and much like you, he too likes laying in the sunshine. As always, despite everything you had been through, you treated the tiny little kitten that you could swallow whole with the same tender gentleness you always had with everyone else you met.

And then it happened. About four months after we brought home the cat, you suddenly got really, really sick. This time, we couldn’t do anything about it. You were so sick, so frequently, that we had to have you sleep in the garage. I felt so horrible for you. You had never slept alone in the cold garage before; you had always known the warmth of your bed next to our own. We moved your bed to the garage, and put your winter coat on. We set up heat lamps so you wouldn’t be cold and covered you with old towels.

Unlike the rocky past, we didn’t get mad at you when you messed so often that we had to clean up blood almost every hour. I am sad to say that when you first got sick and messed in the house the first two times, I did get angry and yelled at you. Again, my anger wasn’t your fault; I had actually just received some bad news of my own that had absolutely nothing to do with you, so your sickness caught me off guard and made my day that much worse. The anger is something I struggle with now and then, after going through the Hell I went through this last year. Over time you’ve helped me get better though, and the anger wore off quickly. After I realized that you were no longer in control of yourself, I stopped being angry about the messes and started focusing on making you comfortable, on making sure you had what you needed. At one point, you almost threw up on me because I was sitting next to you inside trying to warm you up (you had been shivering for a while) and by that point, it didn’t even bother me. I just felt really sorry for you and the pain I’m sure you were going through.

It was really difficult for me to leave you alone in the garage that night so I could go to bed. I wasn’t sure in what state I’d find you when I woke up, but you somehow miraculously made it through until the morning. You wagged your tail when you saw me and I thought maybe you’d bounce back from whatever it was that was killing you.

The next morning we had to leave you alone for a while and I’m really sorry I did, although I know we made the right choice and I’ve been told that dogs prefer to die alone. I don’t know if I believe that about you though, because you never liked being alone; you always wanted to be near us. Before we left, we tried to make you as comfortable as possible outside in the dog run. You sort of fell down in a soft spot our other dog had dug and we moved the heat lamps in that area so you’d stay warm. Fortunately, it was turning out to be a sunny, warm day, and when we left you, the sun was shining on you, just like you always enjoyed. When we returned, you had left us for good.

So now I’m writing this eulogy for you, Riley, because you were the best damn dog I could have ever hoped for, and I’m not even the one who picked you out. I’m struggling more with your death than I expected. You taught me what the true definition of gentleness is. Your death made me realize that I had been taking my pets for granted, something that I’ve already begun to remedy. You were incredibly sweet, astoundingly forgiving, protective, sensitive, and most of all, gentle.

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I already miss your enthusiastic tail-wagging (tail of mass destruction, we liked to call it), to welcome me home. I miss being able to feed you popcorn (the only human food that didn’t make you sick and therefore your favorite treat), I miss having your heavy self sit on my foot to let me know that we’re buddies, I miss your perfect sad puppy eyes when you’re wanting my attention. I miss how you’d lay your head on the back seat so you could look out the rearview window and still be as lazy as possible when we took you for car rides. I miss having your heavy head on my lap.

I doubt I will ever find a dog like you again. You left an impression on me, Riley, and I have been forever changed. I do believe that we’ll be reunited one day, so until then, rest in peace sweet puppy, in the sunny spot we buried you. Your light has forever warmed my soul.

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Dear Adoption

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Dear Adoption,

They never believed that we loved them, and therefore they could never really trust us. The promise you gave them was the one hope that always failed them, and continues to fail them.

When the decision-makers made choices that hurt them and us as a family, tensions and cortisol levels rose. Fear set in. Real, unadulterated fear. Fear of losing kids that were never really ours to begin with, or so everyone said. We fought that fear but everyone and everything told us to stop fighting; it was always a losing battle.

They never believed that we loved them, and therefore they could never really accept us as their parents. The promise you gave them was the one hope that always failed them, and continues to fail them.

We followed the guidance of someone who was supposed to be an “expert” and a “professional,” but his guidance led us down dark paths full of traps. We are bruised, battered, and scarred from walking those paths. And so are they.

They never believed that we loved them, and therefore they could never really feel safe. The promise you gave them was the one hope that always failed them, and continues to fail them.

Everyone gave them labels: traumatized, undesirable, unwanted, mentally unstable, hurting, stupid, troubled, broken, orphans, statistics, grim potential, unloved. We didn’t give them those labels; they came with those labels. We called them other things: cherished, treasured, intelligent, bright, full of potential, healing, our children, wanted, desirable, wished for, hoped for, longed for, prayed for, fought for, loved.

They never believed that we loved them, and therefore they never believed that they were accepted. The promise you gave them was the one hope that always failed them, and continues to fail them.

When our cries for help for them were met with lies, deceit, misinformation, confusion, anger, fear, grudges, slander, hatred, we knew that we had lost them, we knew that the fight was over. We also knew that the war had just begun. The war for change, the war for hope, the war for justice and reconciliation. War is on the horizon. Dawn is breaking. The darkness cannot hide from the light. We’re sorry they were the first casualties. The pain of that knowledge is immeasurable.

They never believed that we loved them, and therefore they could never really love us in return. The promise you gave them was the one hope that always failed them, and continues to fail them.

But love them we did. Love them we do. Love them we always will.

Sincerely,

The Adoptive Parents Who Never Were

P.S. They may not be our children on paper, but they will always be our children in our hearts.

On Failed or Disrupted Placements

Image result for grieving motherHello Readers,

This post has been long in coming, but I honestly wasn’t ready to write about it until today.

My husband and I have spent the last year trying to adopt older kids. These older kids came with a hard past and a lot of mental health issues. That didn’t scare us. It’s also not what destroyed this placement.

What destroyed this placement and this adoption was the lack of accountability for the professionals involved in the case. Guardian ad Litem’s, for instance (that’s the kids’ lawyer), hardly have any oversight at all. Sure, one can file a complaint with the local Office of Child Representation, but more often than not those complaints are unfounded.

And it’s appalling.

In our case, the GAL had a personal vendetta against me. She’s been on this case for over five years now – WAY over the legal limits for children to have attained permanency. Why she had a personal vendetta against me, I don’t know nor will I ever know, but nevertheless she persisted. Her attacks on my character, and the department’s unwillingness to do anything about it, destroyed our placement, and as a consequence, disrupted our kids’ third adoptive placement. Third. Adoptive. Placement.

At one point we sat down and had a meeting with our department of human services’ attorney and the kids’ caseworker’s supervisor. A question was put to the department about who was keeping the department accountable. The county attorney gave a longwinded answer about how the department keeps the department accountable.

That’s NOT okay.

Because at the end of the day the children lose. Due to the lack of accountability for human services professionals, GALS, and any and all other decision makers on foster-adoptive cases, the children ALWAYS lose.

The adoptive parents lose too. We lost the last 14 months of our lives to this case and these children. We still love them and always will, but we are also currently grieving their loss. The last 14 months of my life have been the hardest I have ever endured, period.

Yet I still have my foster license and I still have a voice. I want to do something about this lack of accountability. So I’m starting a grassroots movement to increase accountability for GALs, caseworkers, and any other professionals who get to dictate what’s best for kids because kids, especially older kids like the ones we tried to adopt, are getting lost in the system and left behind.

I want to go to policy makers to change laws around the foster system. I want to advocate for positive changes for children. This lack of accountability has been going on for years and it needs to stop.

Some things we’ll be advocating for include, but are not limited to:

  1. Greater accountability for Guardian ad Litem’s and incremental reviews on cases open longer than twelve months. This can and should include appointing a second GAL or special official to cases that have had one or more placement disruptions, have been opened longer than two years, or have reached adoptive status.
  2. Court appointed counsel for foster parents from day one of a placement. Everyone on foster/ adoptive cases gets their own lawyer EXCEPT for foster parents, who are easily targeted scapegoats on cases, and can easily get lost in court documents, hearings, and department meetings without legal counsel.
  3. Greater accountability for county social services departments. This accountability should come from both the state and federal level. Currently, county departments’ only level of accountability comes from annual audits by the state. If “bad” cases don’t get pulled in that audit, there is absolutely nothing left to make sure the kids or families in those cases are protected.

Will you consider joining us in this fight to help children achieve permanency more effectively and efficiently? Will you help us fight for those who can’t fight for themselves? If you want to join this movement, please follow this blog and fill out the contact form on the “Contact Us” page.