Sunny’s Grandpa

I have to confess something…I’m tired of sharing Sunny.

Sunny’s biological grandfather is dying and her brothers’ foster parents are taking them to visit him.  They think I should take Sunny too.  Unfortunately her teenaged brother told her all about it on the phone and now she’s “excited” to go and see him.  She says she remembers all about Grandpa and can rattle off a bunch of stuff about him but I don’t see how she has many memories of him since she was taken into care at the age of 4 even though she spent one year at the ages of 7/8 with kinship placements where she would have been able to see him.

It doesn’t feel right to me.

This is on her father’s side and although he is currently in prison, he comes from a family with a lot of siblings and a lot of drama.  I’m pretty sure if I take Sunny to see this dying man, there will be aunts, uncles and who knows who else there crying and telling her they miss her and wish she could come back. I’m sure all of that is true…..

I just don’t think it’s in her best interest to be back in the middle of that right now.  The older brothers have been at their placement longer and can more easily understand the difference between their old life and the new.

Am I being cowardly and not wanting to deal with this awkward situation myself or just not wanting to deal with the emotional blow back this will surely cause for Sunny.  If the other foster parents think it’s a good idea for the boys and Sunny, shouldn’t I consider it for her?   If I don’t take her, will I be depriving her of saying good bye to Grandpa?

I’m tired of making these hard decisions and respecting the birth family.  At the same time, we talk about her life before she knew me all the time and I’m working hard on a life book for Sunny which honors her original family and all her memories of them.

I am selfish.  I wish she was just mine.

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Triangle Friendship

This weekend my two best friends and I celebrated 15 years of friendship by getting tattoos. After the yayas effectively broke up, these two became my strength and my refuge. They stood by me infallibly when Greyson died and were there when Jack and Aaron were born.  Their kindness, compassion and strength helped me survive the cruel hell my “life” became after the twins died.  Givers of good advice, listeners to every problem and joy whether big or small, celebrators of my achievements, commiseraters of my failures, bolsterers of my esteem, my fellow schemers, dreamers and comedians.  Persevering through some weeks would me far more difficult if I didn’t have our support sessions to look forward to.  We can go from the repartee of 14 year old boys to the seriousness of life’s heartaches to throwing around wisecracks about getting older several times during the interval of drinking a latte.  When together and even apart, we are so much more than the sum of our parts.  I rarely feel as free or laugh as hard as when with these ladies.  They are more than friends, they are sisters whom I love and cherish.  Here’s to many more adventures, Triangle Tribe!

Booey  Triangle Tattoos

Conversations with Lea

So Lea the doll has quickly become ensconced in our family with all of Sunny’s other doll “children”.  The morning after bringing her home, Sunny was “sick” and didn’t want to go to school.  She finally admitted that she didn’t want to leave Lea at home alone all day. When we finally did get out the door, I was admonished with, “You didn’t say good bye to Lea!”.

On the way to her theater class on Tuesday, Sunny kept telling Lea over and over again that she would never ever have to go back to the Am. G.irl store.  Never, ever.  She was with us forever and didn’t have to be scared that she was going to move.  Then Lea must have tried to hug Sunny very tight because Sunny said to her, “Oh, oh, easy, hugs shouldn’t hurt!”   This is an issue she and I have been working on too.

Wednesday, I got a note from Sunny’s teacher telling me that Sunny had attempted to cheat on a “mad minute” math test.  I admit I was contemplating taking Lea away for one night as part of the punishment but then in the back seat I could hear Sunny making Lea talk.

Lea:  I don’t love you anymore, Mommy.

Sunny:  Why not?  I love you.

Lea:  You did something bad and you are a bad person so I don’t love you.

Sunny:  I’m sorry I cheated!  I won’t do any more bad things.

Lea:  I want to sleep with Nana.  She’s good and you’re bad.

So I didn’t take the doll away but instead “spoke” to Sunny through the doll telling her I loved her no matter what she did and that she wasn’t bad and that making a bad choice didn’t mean I didn’t love her or that Lea didn’t love her.  It was just one bad choice and something to learn from and on and on…..

I have to day that L.ea has become quite the “therapy doll”.  She might just put Sunny’s actual therapist out of a job by opening a dolly counseling center.

Am Girl

I told Sunny a long time ago, that if she saved half the cost of an Am. G.irl doll, I would pay for the other half.  Over Christmas, the secretary at our agency and Sunny’s special birthday friend, donated 50 dollars so she could get her doll.  Sunday was finally the day.

I have to admit, I am not really into this sort of extravagance.  I believe just as much fun can be had with a 10 dollar doll as with one of these expensive ones, that being said, this turned out to be such a special experience for us.  I was glad to have driven all that way and to have spent all that money.

It was quite overwhelming when we walked in.  The store was crowded and there was so much to look at, it was hard to know where to start.  We found a “personal shopper” and the adventure began.  The clerk wore lots of blue eye shadow and her eye lashes were glittery.  I could just read Sunny’s thoughts, “I would follow you anywhere, glamorous mentor” Caramel and S

She took us around the store and showed us all the historical dolls first.  She told a bit of their story and explained about their clothes and accessories.  For example, why the Native American doll is not showing any teeth and why this or that doll has a certain accessory.  Seems like a lot of them got their special items from their grandmas. This woman talked about these dolls as though they were her best friends!  Sunny  just ate up every moment.

The shopper was patient in helping Sunny pare down the dolls to those which she really liked, checking in every so often to ask if she still liked “L.ea” the best or was “Mary Ellen” now the favorite.  There was so much to look at…Sunny was nearly vibrating with excitement the whole time.

At one point, Sunny was really admiring a doll that had a pair of skates as one of her accessories and Carmen smoothly asked her if she liked to skate and went on to explain that the skates could be bought for any of the dolls and to not let that influence the choice of the doll itself.  Carmen somehow got Sunny to chose her four favorites of the historical dolls.  L.ea, the “girl of the year” and Mary Ellen, from the 1950s were front runners.

Over to the T.ruly M.e section of the store, where rows of dolls in many different skin and hair tones.  It was a little freaky, all of them lined up like that in an ombre rainbow of skin tones.  Carmen guided Sunny in picking out 4 of these as well.  I was surprised that Sunny did not pick a doll that looked like her but rather was drawn to the dark blondes and red heads.  Carmen said that a lot of little girls pick out dolls that look like their mothers or grandmothers without realizing.  I’m not reading too much into that as I sit here with dark blonde hair thinking of my red headed mother.

Next was the hardest part.  Carmen asked us to sit in a corner and wait while she gathered all 8 of these dolls.  Folks, this is not a world I’m a part of.  I’m not used to having multiple choices of products brought to me, what I’m used to is fighting my way through the clearance bin and settling for the one that’s ok.

She brought the dolls and lined them up in their boxes but without lids.  Sunny carefully inspected each one.  It was so sweet to see her studying each one, looking into their faces and paying close attention to details. Mary Ellen is a Front Runner

When she had it down to four choices, Carmen brought out samples of each of these outside of their boxes and let Sunny play with each one for a short time.

The T.ruly M.e dolls were the first to be culled and two of the very first dolls we looked at ended up being the final round.  Finally, she chose the G.irl of the Y.ear, L.ea.  Just when I thought the choice was made, Carmen brought out 3 versions of Lea in their boxes and took off the lids, explaining to Sunny that each one looked just a tiny bit different and that the fabric of their dresses was cut so that the pattern looked different.  She asked Sunny to look at each one carefully and choose just the right one for her.  She kept saying, “Your doll”.  The Lea with the most blue stripes on her dress ended up being the one we took home.

Carmen offered to take “our” L.ea to be kept at the register so that we could continue shopping but Sunny just couldn’t and wouldn’t let the doll out of her sight and insisted on lugging the big box around while we finished shopping.  We looked around the store and my mother did a fine grandmotherly job in picking out a few things Sunny just had to have.

Am. G. has quite the hook….L.ea’s own special earring set are only available this year so you better get ’em now along with so many other “must haves”.  You can spend a young fortune and surprisingly I wanted to.  I wanted to give my daughter anything and everything there was in that store for her doll.  I’m usually not like that so I’m not sure what came over me.  Maybe a little bit of “Take that, Biomom and your gift of a phone.”  I actually had to hold back tears a few times because I was so overcome to see Sunny so very, very happy and excited. I can say that I was happy and excited too.

Mom and I chuckled when Sunny zonked out on the way home.  No one can sustain that level of excitement for too long.  I hope this will be a day that Sunny treasures the memory of forever, I know I will.

Aftermath and Snow Day

I just couldn’t let it drop.  Although I know the best thing for her would have been to let the whole thing drop, the thought that someone might snatch her away was so terrifying that I couldn’t.  We had several conversations about what to do if her brother or mother or anyone showed up in an unexpected place and tried to take her away.  I feel terrible about having to scare her but the thought of something like that happening is unbearable.  I also couldn’t help but gently prod about if she wished she could live with her mother or brothers.  I believe the true heart of her wants them all to live together and happily ever after but she was adamant about not going back to “that life” with an addict mother and father who is periodically in prison.

I’m dealing with my own anger too.  I had been gathering pictures of biomom in case Sunny wanted them later on but now I just don’t want to do that.  I don’t care if she has pictures of her mom.  I want Sunny to forget her completely and see me as her only mother, however, I know that’s not the way of things in foster/adoption.  My own mother gently admonished me and encouraged me to tuck those things away for Sunny and I know that is what I have to do.

Tuesday she came home draggy and tired.  She hid homework from me and didn’t show an interest in going to her theater class.  After class and when she’d done the hidden homework, I sent her to bed only a bit early and she had a huge crying tantrum about it, hiding in her closet “quiet place” and falling asleep there.

Wednesday was a Snow Day.  Yay! and Sunny did seem much more like herself after sleeping in.  When she woke up, I told her to hurry and get ready because we were very late and she’d have to catch the bus from home instead of the babysitter’s.  A little joke.  I thought she would check back in with me or ask if it was time to go but she got dressed and went right outside to wait for the bus.  We had a good laugh over the prank and she seemed like my girl again.

I had forgotten how frozen you get when playing in the snow and how kids don’t seem to feel it.  I left her with E and Dollface to play some more.   The country activity of hooking the sled up to a four wheeler was in full effect until Dollface went flying off and hit a fence post.  She had broken her collar bone but we didn’t know it for a while.  E had to do the typical man thing of telling her to dust herself off and get back on the horse.  Finally after 45 minutes of crying C took her to emergency care.  Poor kid.  On the mend now.

Mama Drama

Sunny’s been doing incredibly well lately.  We did so many fun things over Christmas break and although I was worried about too much time together we only had one quarrel and that was because Pretty Pretty Princess thought she never had to do a chore again after the big holiday (“I do SO MUCH around here!  I fold all YOUR towels….”) We made the adjustment back to the school routine after Christmas break if not easily, then tiredly but smoothly.  She’s started theater classes and her last report card was good.  We’ve been bonding more than ever and just last week she asked if she could call me “Mom” and call her “other mom” by her first name.

Friday she had a sibling visit.  I took advantage of the time and had a massage.  Afterward, I had a message on my phone, it was Sunny calling from her new phone every excited to tell me she had received Christmas gifts from her parents and that one was the phone.  She sounded very excited and happy.  Meanwhile, a hard, dark knot was forming inside me and good bye good vibes from the massage.

Social Worker had told me there were gifts from the parents which were at the brothers’ foster home and that she would bring them next visit.  Even at this stage, I didn’t have a good feeling about it but I thought I had a week to think over what to do and how to approach it with SW.  I stupidly never made the connection between the brother’s having the gifts at their house and Sunny seeing them for the sibling visit.

She was so, so exhilarated when she got home.  So hyper and happy and saying all the things I had dreaded while driving home from the massage.  “I can’t believe I was ever so angry at my parents.”, “My parents really do love me.”, “I wish I could live with my mom.”, “I can’t believe my parents gave me these beautiful things.”, “Mom knows how I love leather jackets!” and she wasn’t talking about me.  Suddenly, I was Paige the foster parent again and not “Mom”.   I had to work so hard say some positive things or at least to be neutral and not to scream at the top of my lungs that a few gifts are MEANINGLESS.  I could see all our hard work on behavior and acceptance and bonding slipping backwards.  At one point, she even said something like, “You know, you and my mom are sort of in competition now.”  At which point, I firmly (and lovingly, I hope) explained that in no way was I in competition with her mother and that I understood that she loved her mother and it was ok to love her and to love her “more” than me, but that nothing had changed in our home.  I was still the parent and the one doing the job of keeping her happy, healthy and safe.  I also told her that her mother might have the best part of her heart but I was in this for the long haul and that I was lucky to have the most of her heart.

I would have seen this as a minor bump..something that would pass ecxept for the phone.  I thought SW must have known that all three kids got phones from the parents and that it was ok with her.  The 15 year old brother had already entered and saved his number, the 11 year old brother’s number and their mother’s number into her phone.  “But don’t worry, Paige, I tried to call her at the visit, but she didn’t pick up.”   My insides were twisting at this point, but what could I do?  I couldn’t snatch the thing out of her hand and have at it with a hammer as I wanted to.  I had to tread very lightly.  I knew I couldn’t say anything bad about the mother or brother because she had them so high on a pedestal and I was quickly slipping into the “bad guy” character.  So I let her play with the damn thing.  It’s a t.rac phone so I figured she would burn up whatever minutes were on there and by then the mother would be back into her selfish life and that would be that.  In the next 24 hours she must have called me 20 times, “I’m in the bathroom, can you get me a towel?”

Today, the mother called her.  She didn’t recognize the number but before I could get the words “Don’t answer.” out of my mouth, she answered.  I’m so ashamed that I didn’t have the balls to snatch it away from her, tell this person to leave us alone and then throw the phone away.  Earlier, I’d gone into the phone and changed the mother’s number so Sunny couldn’t call her and I thought was pretty much the end of it, wait for the minutes to run out and the novelty to wear off.  I never dreamed she would call Sunny.  I thought she wasn’t allowed to have contact since she signed away parental rights. Somehow I got the impression it was against the law or something.  I feel so stupid.

I watched my daughter’s eyes light up as she spoke to the woman who gave birth to her and who gave her away.  The hard knot inside me became jealousy and I allowed myself a few moments of self pity.  No one will ever feel like that about me.  God, there is just nothing like that relationship in the world.  I will never be the most important person to any one like a mother is to her child.  I want my baby boys back and my little Mavis!  I want them, not this difficult “other mother” situation!

Most of the conversation sounded like I miss yous and I love yous but there was a lot of “uh huhs” in between.  Meanwhile, I was frantically texting SW to find out what to do.  Afterwards, Sunny did admit that the mother said she “didn’t like” me because she’d called me and I didn’t pick up (I showed Sunny my “recent calls” so she could see that the mother never called) and that as soon as the 15 year old brother got a car he would come and get Sunny and take her to her mother.  So that is terrifying…. and I don’t know what to do.  Yes, I will talk to SW,  who did text me back and said to take away the phone and that since the parent’s signed away their rights, I have total say in who she can talk to and see (except the sibling visits).  Also, that she “wouldn’t put it past them” to be planning for the brother to come get Sunny.

After the call was over, Sunny tried to take a picture of herself before I took the phone away.  “I promised my mom I would send her a picture!”  I reminded Sunny that her mother had gotten into trouble before for posting pictures of the kids online which had caused the older brother to be taken completely out of even the extended family and I told her I thought it was against the rules for her to contact Sunny and I reminded her that she’d given up her rights and that if her brother “came to get her” it would be against the law and I’d have to call the police because her safety is my number one job and if he ever said anything to her about coming to get her, she needed to tell me right away.  So, frightened for her mother and brother she gave up the phone and then cried and cried promising that if I would let her keep the phone she wouldn’t pick up when her mom called and she would only use it to call and text me.

 

 

 

 

2016 Pledges

For the first time in many years, I am looking forward to the New Year and seeing the many possibilities of life ahead.  My family are mostly in good health and we are close and mostly happy.  Sunny and I seem to be settling into mother/daughterhood and we are both looking forward to her baptism in February and eventually her adoption.  I am considering taking in another foster child.  I am in the beginning stages of adding onto my home.  So my mind is full of choices and wondering what may happen in the 12 months ahead.  Friends, there were so many New Years in the past that I didn’t care what happened or I was sure there was just emptiness and pain ahead.  I never thought I would ever again think, “What great thing is going to happen this year?” or “this week?” or “today?”  While I will never, ever stop grieving my children or be able to repair the devastation in my heart that having them taken from me left behind, words cannot describe how good and hopeful it feels inside to be looking forward and feeling curious about the future.

2015 Pledges

1.  Be as committed as I can to Weight Watchers which I joined last Saturday with Em.  It is time to begin rebuilding my health and self worth.  I would love to lose 50-80 pounds this year.  (Failed – did it for three months and lost 30 pounds which I have gained back)

2.  Give the church a raise – $60 from every paycheck. (SUCCEEDED)

3.  Give $50 a month to a charity of my choice. (Did it a few times, just like last year)

4.  Stop buying junk! (See 3 and 4 above)  Stop all the little “junky” projects and let #2 and 3 pledges become the contributions this year. (SUCCEEDED – Sunny and I each packed a box for Operation Christmas Child but that’s it)

5.  Pay off my car loan. (SUCCEEDED)

6.  Begin an Emergency Fund.  I’ve always been a good saver but infertility wiped that out and the past year’s disposable income was spent on paying funeral, hospital, credit card bills, buying frivolous crap for myself and supporting my “packing habit”  see 4 above)  I believe saving $200-300 a month would be a good goal. (Semi-succeeded:  Started a small fund but no where near the 200 a month I had planned)

7.  Volunteer with Faith In Action at least 12 times this year.  This is an organization that helps elderly people stay independent by offering them rides to the doctor, treatments, shopping or other errands. (Failed – even though I got the background check and application approval, I didn’t even do it one time.)

8.  Random Acts of Kindness.  My pledge is to do at least one in honor of each of my children this year and it would be great if I could more than one for each of them.  I have printed little cards and want to open it up to all my friends and family who would like to honor Greyson, Mavis, Jack and Aaron OR their own loved one this year. (SUCCEEDED – Yes, I did this many times this year, not sure of the number but I’m sure it averaged at least one per month.)

2016 Pledges:

  1.  Take better care of myself.  Both my therapist and Sunny’s agree that this needs to come first.  I’m pledging to schedule at least one “pamper” a month.  I already have “floats” scheduled for January and February and I will begin exercising again.
  2.  Give the church a raise – $70 from every paycheck.
  3.  Continue to build an emergency fund – save $200 or more each month.
  4. Volunteer with Faith in Action at least 6 times this year.  I think this would be good for Sunny as well.
  5. Random Acts of Kindness.  At the beginning of the school year, I started a project of trying to do one anonymously for each of my co-workers.  I always said that if I could afford it I would give a flower to everyone every day because the few times I received flowers at work it was so uplifting.  Obviously, I cannot do that but I started getting the three dollar potted flowers they have at the grocery store and sneaking them onto someone’s desk each week with an anonymous “You’ve been RAKed” card. Sometimes I’d leave chocolate or other small gift instead.  I’ve done about 5 so far and I’d like to finish this before the end of the school year.

That’s about it.  I have other things I’d like to accomplish, like document Sunny’s first year with me in a photo book and many other projects.  I hope to be blogging about all of these along the way.

I don’t receive too many comments any more but I’m sure there are still a few of you out there.  If you’ve stuck with me, thank you for reading this year.

Christmas Letters 2015

Dear Sweet Greyson,

You are a big brother this year.  Although, if you’d lived you’d be about 4 years younger than Sunny, I still consider you the oldest of my children.  I’m sure I always will.   You were the first to teach me what a mother’s heart feels like when she loves her first born.  She’s very curious about you, Sweet Pea, and is always asking questions.   I know Sunny would love you and be close with you.

You’d be about 5 years old this year, my big boy.    I wish I could see what you would have looked like and known your personality.  I always envision you as my quiet, shy, light haired boy.  I wonder how you would have handled pre-k and would you have met a best friend.    I think you would have been our dog’s favorite buddy and she would have followed you everywhere.  I like to picture you tromping everywhere over the farm in little work boots following Paw Paw and your uncle around and getting dirty as only farm kids can.  I imagine I would have bandaided many scrapes and kissed many bruises by now.

I know by now you’d be into L.egos and other building toys.  Maybe race cars too.  Certainly John Deere tractors. Your Aunts MC and MB would be spoiling you like crazy, this I know for sure, because they are spoiling your sister as I wish they’d had a chance to spoiled you.  Maybe you’d write to Santa this year and pick out a favorite part of the Christmas story. Perhaps your big gift from Santa would be a bike or a scooter or a hamster.

Christmas at our house has been very different this year, my sweet son. There’s a nine year old here who is absolutely bursting with the Spirit of the Season and she has pulled me along with her.  I hope I have made it magical for her as I would have for you.  I still think of you and miss you every day.  Sometimes my grief is still so raw I’m crabby with your sister but some days are good.  Some are wonderful.  Some are filled with traditions and simple joys that I dreamed of having with you and your brothers but that I never thought I’d get a chance to do in real life.

So much of having Sunny here with me makes me think of you and while I cherish my time with her, I miss you so much.  It takes my breath away sometimes.  My family will never feel complete without you.  My heart will never be complete without you.

I will love you always and forever, my oldest son.

Mama

75/365 - Missing Them All at Christmastime

To My Sweet Boys, Jack and Aaron,

You would have been about 2 this year.  Two year old twin boys…what would that have been like?  I wonder all the time.  Now that I have your sister living with me, and I can barely keep up with the housework, I know it would have been crazy and messy, and fun and noisy.

I miss you both more than you could ever know.  I think about the day you were born often and relive holding you and feeling your warmth in my arms.  I would trade everything if you could have lived.  I hope you are running around Heaven with your brother and sister and your dog, Clara and having a rip-roaring time.

You would have been into everything this Christmas and I don’t know how I would have gotten done all I needed to and kept my sanity.  Would you have been potty training in the middle of it all?  Would one of you be into singing Christmas songs while the other more into baking treats?  I think about you all the time and wonder about your personalities.  Jack, I envision you to be rambunctious and loud and a little ornery.  Aaron, I imagine you to be a bit quieter but funny, my loving little boy.

I wonder what Santa would have brought you this year.  Maybe matching tricycles or a red wagon to share.  Tractors and trucks.  You would have lacked for nothing, my sweet ones.  I wish I could have seen your aunties and grandparents spoiling you and your uncle rough housing with you. You would have been so very loved, my twin Sparks.

My heart aches for you both.  I can never be complete without you, Jack and Aaron.  I will always love you more than words can express.

Mama

 

 

Christmastime

Know what I did tonight?  I taught my daughter how to cut out snowflakes while Christmas music played in the background.

Know what we did last night?  Sang Christmas carols and baked cookies.

Know what we did last week?  We candy cane bombed the parking lot of our local little store with Dollface and her friend by putting them on the windshield of each car with a note telling the person that we hoped their evening was sweet.

I am so cherishing each and every Christmas activity with Sunny.  These are things I never thought I’d get a chance to do with a son or daughter.  Some moments I feel as though I’ve been dropped into a Norman Rockwell painting.

Movies and Elves and…

Movie Night:   One thing I am cherishing is sharing things with Sunny that are my own favorites or favorite memories.  Tonight it was The P.rincess B.ride.  She loves fairy tales and fantasy so I knew it would be a hit. Thanks to her therapist I had to have this conversation:

While watching Humperdink’s attempts to force Buttercup into marriage:

Sunny:  She does not like him!  I bet she will NEVER have children with him and if he forces her… it’s called RAPE!

Me:  Yes, that is true.  A man should never, never force a woman to have sex or to do anything she doesn’t want to do.  Hurting or forcing does not ever mean love.

Thank you, Therapist.  Yes, it was necessary knowledge, blah, blah, blah.

Kindness Elves:  I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on the whole Elf business whether it be the shelf kind or the kindness kind.  She is  a bit old for it.  I also wanted to do an advent calendar and both just seemed like too much.  I did want to make the season magical for her so I buckled into the Kindness Elf camp.  I have to say it was worth it just to hear that first gasp of amazement when she found them.  Pictures coming soon.

5 years:  Today marked 5 years since my sweet, perfect boy, Greyson was born beautiful and silent.  Although there were distractions, it was a difficult day with constant thoughts of him and what could have been.  I cried hard with my mother for a few minutes.  The empty spot he left will never go away, it will always be painful.  Sunny has made me a parent but Greyson was the first to make me a Mother.  I will never, never forget the absolute joy of knowing I was pregnant or the giddiness of feeling my baby move inside me or the many hours of happy dreaming I did while I had him with me.  I love you, my Sweet Pea.  You are always in my heart and thoughts.  xo