Several weeks ago when I was out of town, my mother decided to dump several boxes of books and other various things at my house.  I wasn’t the least bit thrilled about it.  They sat in our garage until yesterday when I finally decided to dig in and start going through them.

I stumbled upon and old scrapbook.  Knowing that my mother isn’t really into scrapbooking, I sat down and curiously began going through it.  This was my Grandma’s scrapbook!  (My dad’s mom)  Why did my mother have this!?  This book has been missing for a long time.  My Aunt has been searching high and low for it ever since my Dad died over 6 years ago.  My mom denied having it… I knew I didn’t believe her.

My Grandma Twyla was a beautiful soul.  She was my favorite relative.  She was hip, nothing like a typical grandma type.  As a child, I even had birthday party sleep over’s at her house instead of my own home!  It was wonderful to see all of these pictures of her youth, followed by my dad and aunt as small children.  Toward the back of the book there are pictures that I don’t recognize.  Entire families that I know nothing about…and no one is around to tell me.  My Great-Grandma and Great- Aunt died within the last 2 years.  They could have told me who all of these people were, but my mom chose to keep this scrapbook to herself and now I will never know.  The feeling that I have inside about this can be compared to a death.  These pictures will forever be a mystery to me.  They are my heritage and strangers at the same time.  It’s a sad reality.

Life Lesson:  If you scrapbook, this proves just how important it is to do the journaling!  Someday, it might be your pictures that are found and looked at like treasure.  Don’t make the same mistake she did.

 

After what seems like months of preparing, we will finally be moving the Princess to a big girl bed.  I searched high and low for the perfect bed.  We finally broke down and ordered the “Catalina” from Pottery Barn Kids.  Did I mention how much I love that store???  It’s right up there with Gymboree.  I have an obsession of sorts.  The boys all got Pottery Barn bedrooms when we moved into the new house.  It’s only fair the little princess get’s the same right?  J

Anyway, her sheets were purchased, along with a dark pink, gingham duvet.  I was set and ready to go.  Her bed will arrive early next week.  Suddenly the husband decided to make a last minute decision.  He insists that her room needed to be painted a different color.  I intentions of painting.  It’s a soft yellow color and coordinates with the bedding I picked out just fine.  He insists it needs to be a light lavender color.  ICK, I am not really hot on the idea.  After going back and forth I tell him, “Fine, you can pick any color you want so long as YOU paint it!”  I just knew he would never do it.  Well, guess who just picked up 2 cans of paint?  Yep, he agreed to paint it himself.  It’s crazy, he’s never been one to get into decorating but he really wants the Princess’s room to be perfect.  How cute is that?  She’s such a Daddy’s girl.

What a pain though.  I had to return the bedding I purchased and reselect.  Now we’re going with a light green chambray duvet.  I just can’t imagine purple walls and dark pink bedding.  That’s just too much for me.  When her adorable room is complete, I will post pictures.

 

 

 

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Today is a special day.  Exactly 2 years ago I brought you home from the Hospital.  I will never forget this day as long as I live.

It was a Sunday.  (We had been notified on Friday that a baby girl was born, that might be coming into care.  We had agreed to pick her up from the Hospital when she was ready to be released.)  Late morning, the nurses called and told us you were ready.  I jumped into the car and headed to Denver Health Medical Center.  A Hospital that I had never been to before.  I parked and began to walk into the building with the empty infant car seat.  I remember looking around anxiously, were your birthparents watching?  I’ll never understand the feeling of having your baby taken away.  I can’t even imagine the pain they must have felt. 

I got to the Labor and Delivery floor.  The nurses rushed me to a private room.  Apparently your birth father was visiting with you and saying goodbye.  While there, I signed the appropriate paperwork. They told me your feeding history and I finally learned your name.  Until then, I had only known you as “Baby Girl (last-name).  After what seemed like decades they led me to a back office.  There, surrounded by Doctors and Nurses doing paperwork, were 2 isolettes.  I couldn’t help but wonder why you and other baby were not in the regular nursery?

I reached down and pulled the blanket back.  There you were, dark peach fuzz on your head and delicate, soft pink skin.  You were so beautiful!  I began to unwrap you from the swaddled blankets.  When I finally got all the blankets off I saw how itty-bitty you were.  The Doctors tell me you were born at barely 5 pounds, and are now just 4 pounds something.  You were so tiny and fragile; I had never handled a baby so small.  I got you situated in your car seat and took you home to meet your new Foster Brothers.  Never, in a million years could I imagine that you would still be with us today.  You’re the light of our lives!  We love you sweet baby girl.

I don't have a best shot of the week, so I am posting an old favorite.





I am really tiring of the stress that this Adoption is causing in our lives. It can’t be over soon enough…and instead of getting closer, it seems we’re getting further away. We moved from Colorado to Oklahoma in late April 2006. They did what is called an ICPC so that we were allowed to bring our daughter with us, even though her Adoption was not finalized. The ICPC process took until September. (5 long months!)

Since September, NOTHING has been accomplished but empty promises…a LOT of empty promises. For a few months, we dealt with the 2 States pointing fingers at each other. It’s come down to Colorado. They’ve dropped the ball. They’ve continued to drop the ball, over and over. My husband I finally came to the end of our rope. After weeks of emails and phone calls that are never returned, we decided to go up the chain of command. Caseworker’s Supervisor….Supervisor’s Supervisor…and so on.

Wow! That got their attention. Phone calls were returned immediately, only this time to get us to shut up they just told us LIES. Lies that came around the following week and bit them in their ass. More calls are made to the Supervisor’s Supervisor. What’s this? Now you are going to complain to us that you have 150 cases on your caseload and can’t just deal with ours? Umm, well if you had been doing your job for the last 10 freaking months, we wouldn’t need to be all over your ass like white on rice. So, because you people can’t do your job without someone holding your hand, we’re going to be here to make sure things are done properly. On a timely basis. Expect us to call you every single day if necessary! (When we didn’t back down, the Supervisor actually began to cry!)

Do we feel bad for standing up and being pushy? Not one bit!! Our Daughter deserves to be adopted by now. On Feb. 20, 2007 (next week) she will have been in our home, labeled a Foster Child for 2 long years! Doesn’t she deserve better than that!? Apparently Denver doesn’t think so. I guess they feel she can just remain a Foster Child forever? Oh yeah, that’s right…. You’re not paying us to take care of her like a typical foster family…hmmm, so that means you’re collecting money from the State for her care, and pocketing it! You’re making MONEY by leaving this child in foster care and not moving forward with her Adoption. This is such BS!!

Anyway, after raising a big stink and making workers cry, meetings were set for the next step of her Adoption process. In the meantime, they tell me about another ICPC. Only this time an Adoption ICPC. WTF? IN COURT, BEFORE WE MOVED, WE WERE NAMED THE ADOPTIVE FAMILY. Why not do the Adoptive ICPC last April???

Yeah, I’m honestly not seeing this Adoption finalized before next year.

Apparently the honeymoon period is over.  It took 9 months, but the novelty of moving to another State has passed.

I’ve been fighting it off for weeks now.  It’s not that I don’t like Oklahoma.  I love the people.  Everyone here is so nice, much nicer than anywhere else I’ve ever been!  I like the scenery, the green.  Okay, so it’s not so green right now being its winter. (Perhaps that’s my problem?)  Though I do hear Spring comes much earlier around here and I’m looking forward to it!  I love all the trees in the area we live.  I LOVE my house and my neighborhood.

I don’t miss Colorado’s plains.  You know, all of Colorado except for the Mountains?  If you’ve ever flown in or out of Denver International Airport you know what I’m talking about.  The dry, brown, plains...  the dry air…the need to apply lotion every hour or else you’ll turn into an alligator because it’s so dry.  Yeah, I don’t miss the cost of housing either.  The average home price climbing towards $300,000- don’t miss that part at all.

In fact, I can’t really put my finger on exactly ~what~ about Colorado I miss??

I just know I miss it.

 

I love Photography. I am joining in with “Picture This” (see link to the right) and listing my best shot of the week, each Monday. This is my 2nd entry. You can look in the previous posts for my first.

This is my little Princess (with the appropriate pigtails) looking out the window. We live in a new neighborhood and there are houses being built across the street. She loves to sit and watch all of the construction.

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A group of friends and I took a road trip down to Frisco, Texas.  It’s about a 3 hour drive from Oklahoma City.  Our intention for going was to shop at Ikea.  A store most of us have never set foot into before.  I’ve wanted to go to Ikea for many years now.  They are well known for some of their “sensory” furniture and toys.  Since 2 of my children have sensory issues, I was really interested in taking a look around.  Not to mention I love Ikea’s European Modern Style.

I think the six of us we were overwhelmed after walking through the front doors.  The place is H-U-G-E.  We probably looked like a bunch of deer standing in the middle of the highway with our eyes wide as can be.  We all found lots of really cool stuff.  Their prices were amazing.  A pot rack for $19.99!?  Unheard of!  After spending several hours in Ikea, we ventured out to Pier 1 Kids.  Another store none of us has ever been to. Keep in mind, this is a group of woman from New Hampshire, Colorado, Indiana, Oklahoma and even Hungary!  I couldn’t help but notice soooo many more unique stores around Frisco.  Bombay Kids, Sam and Moon, Ashley Furniture, Rooms to Go…. It’s a shoppers dream come true!   I can’t wait to go again when we have more time. (and more money!)

Upon arriving home I announced to my husband the next time we move, we’re moving to Friso, Tx.  He laughed. 

……I guess he thought I was kidding?

 

 

So do you like my new look? WOW, what a headache...and don't even ask me to try to explain how I did it!!

I have an issue with control.  I’m not sure what to do about it.  I knew that I had a problem years ago when I discovered that a friend allowed her 2 small children to get up and eat breakfast by themselves each morning while she showered.  How did they pour the milk?  (I’m envisioning a gallon of milk all over the kitchen floor and 3 little boys splashing about.)  Okay, so I’ve graduated from the milk thing, and yes all 3 of my boys can pour their own milk- but I’m talking about other things now.  Let me give you an example.  I’m not a breakfast-cooking mom.  Never have been, never will.  Of all the meals, it’s the messiest to clean up and I hate starting my day with lots of dishes!  I grew up eating cold cereal and my kids are doing the same.  Now the boys have been expressing the need for something else.  They’re tired of cold cereal.  They want…oatmeal.  Okay, sounds easy enough.  I decided to “help” Boy #1 (11) learn to make instant oatmeal.  I figure he can make Oatmeal in the morning for his brothers.  Well, as you can imagine it goes fine.  He easily grasps the concept.  Yet- for the next 4 mornings, instead of allowing him to make the oatmeal, I find myself doing it!  Why??  I’m the cold-cereal mom, so why am I suddenly making oatmeal??  Is it control? 

This morning I crawled out of bed and wandered into the kitchen to find Boy #1 getting a bowl of hot water out of the microwave.  I quickly intervene and take the steaming bowl out for him and walk over to the table with it.  As I set it down on the table, it splashes out and burns my finger. SEE!  This is why I’ve been making the oatmeal!!  I don’t want them to get hurt.  It was only then that I saw that he’d already successfully brought over the other 2 bowls of oatmeal.  He did fine.  He did not get burned- I did in my effort to take over!  Ahhhh, I need to let go.

Envision this with me:

 

You’re about 2 feet tall… you think you’re ruler of the world…. things have suddenly not gone your way.  (That mommy lady wouldn’t let you stay outside with your brothers.  Something about not being big enough yet.) So you decide to let the World know you are NOT happy about it.  Arms stretched out high, fists clenched, face scrunched… you open your mouth and let out the loudest, ear piercing scream your little body can muster up. And it’s BIG!! 

Hmmmm?

So why isn’t it getting a reaction??  Perhaps if you scream again…  Your eyes wide, eyebrows raised and this time your little clenched fists shake as you belt out yet another shrill.

Still nothing. 

That mommy lady is just standing there grinning.  ARGH!  Not the reaction I was looking for.  Then she leans over and says I’ll have to do better than that.  Something about being her 4th child? 

Oh well, I guess I’ll go find something to play with.

Could you possibly get ANY cuter!?

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We’ve been buying “boy” toys for over 11 years now.  Years and years of Legos, Superheroes and Cars.  Now that we’ve got a little Princess, I am in Heaven!

We hope to get The Princess a play Kitchen for her birthday and have been researching them online.  It’s so hard to know which ones are good without seeing them first hand, so I drug my husband to Toys R Us.  What fun to see all the little pots and pans and play food.  There was even faux stainless steel cookware, imagine that.

 After oo’ing over the fun Kitchen stuff, we turned around and saw tutus and other various dance clothes on the shelves behind us.  I simply can’t wait for her to be old enough for dance class!!  The next isle was over-filled with dollhouses and accessories.

…Oh joy we’re going to have so much fun!

Long and sad, but a good read I wanted to share…

 

A Young Child's Point of View On Foster Care & Adoption

I want to talk to you about what it feels like getting ready to be adopted, when you are a little kid who has already had about a hundred mothers. When you can barely remember what your first mother smelled like.

When everyone spoke a different language in the place where you were born than in the place you are now.

When some of the people who took care of you were called "foster parents" and you didn't know what that meant except something about they weren't going to stick around.

When, in the process of being moved all over the place, you lost some of your brothers and your sisters and a particular pair of shoes that felt just right and your absolutely most favorite cuddly, and a certain place on the inside of your last crib where you used to scratch with your fingernail to help yourself go to sleep.

Kids like me, see, don't have families of our own. Because there's something wrong about us. (I guess) Or because there aren't enough to go around. Or something. And I probably won't get one, either. Or if I do, will it be too late for me to believe that they love me, and are going to stay with me?

So I want to talk to you, Big People, about these things, even though I am not sure you are real interested. Are you the same Big People who keep doing these things to me in the first place? (Please don't get offended if I talk to all of you at once: caseworkers, foster parents, judges, adoptive parents. I just need to say how it all feels to me, and sometimes I can't get the cast of characters straight.)

Some people say that my first parents shook me until my eyeballs got loosened up, or they left me alone, or they gave me away, or they just ran away. I guess you think, because of that, I am supposed to not miss them? (Because if I did it would sure make me lots more cooperative with all the plans you keep making for me.) Should I just say, "They did the best they could" so I am not so ticked off and lonely and worried all the time about what the Big People are going to do next? The truth is, I can't do any of these things: I can't forget. (Even when my brain does, my body won't.) I can't stop myself from yearning (even though later I will get quite good at playing games about this).

I'm not saying I was some cherished treasure or anything in my family. But what were you thinking when you sent big men in uniforms to grab me out of my screaming father's arms at eleven o'clock at night, scaring me to death? Or when you sent me to a foster home without telling them about the special ways I needed to be handled because I had never stayed anywhere long enough to get attached to anybody?

Or when you then took me from those people who were so disappointed in me after a few weeks that they said I would have to be "disrupted" (whatever that means). So you sent me to a family with an older foster child who was mean to little kids because they were weak and small. And so he punched me a lot in secret. And pulled real hard on my penis in the middle of the night. And when that family got rid of me, and the next, and the next, did you think I was going to take it all lying down? Did you think I was supposed to just be sweet and adorable and ready to connect to yet another family who were going to throw me away? (Could you have done that?)

After a while, I had just lost too many people that I might have cared about. I had been with too many "parents" who really weren't, because they couldn't hold me tightly in their hearts at all. None of you got how I was being changed by all these losses, (in my heart and in my behavior). After a while, I began to get some pretty bad ideas about how things work. And mostly those ideas said that I was, by that time, in deep doo-doo. I wasn't going to let anybody like me. Not even me.

And so, now, I won't let you imagine even for a minute that I like you. That I need you, desperately. That I might ever grow to trust you. I am not, after all, a complete moron.

Are you ready to have me not believe you? Are you ready for me to fight you for control? Are you ready to hold me, and then hold me some more (when all the time I act like I don't want you to at all?) Are you ready to really stay with me, through a battle that might last almost my whole growing up? Are you willing to feel as powerless as I do?

What will you think when I say I don't care a bit whether you go on vacation and leave me with Aunt Harriet, who I hardly know at all? Then, when you come back, are you ready to deal with me taking a dump in front of your bedroom door every single day for three whole weeks?

You see, it is like this, Big People: I'm not stupid. I was not blind. I do pay attention, because it matters lots to me. And so when my first parents knocked me around or acted like I was invisible, or gave me to someone else to raise, or stood there screaming while you took me away from them, I noticed.

And when no one came to take their place, I noticed that too. And when the orphanage didn't last, and the first half-dozen foster families didn't last, something started happening to me. A little bit of my spirit started to die.

For some reason, then, I started pulling out my eyebrows. (I'm not sure what that has to do with my spirit dying.) I agree that it doesn't make much sense for me to join in with all the other people that have hurt me, by hurting myself. But I do it anyway. So I bite on my hand, or dig at my face, or make a real bad sore on the top of my head from scratching myself. I pull out clumps of my hair, and so the kids at preschool laugh, and Big People have an odd look on their faces when they see me.

Sometimes I run into the arms of strangers, like I have known them forever, and like I don't actually care anymore who I am safe with or not. (Am I safe with anybody? Does it matter any more?)

Did I mention how much I am growing to hate smallness, and weakness and defenselessness? It's getting so the only thing I know how to do is to just be as tough as I can, and to try to rub out smallness and weakness wherever I see them: In the kittens that get hung by the clothesline in the backyard and squished with a tennis racquet. In the babies in my recent foster homes who turned up scratched. In my own Self, which I attack, particularly when I am feeling small or scared, and I need to beat myself into more toughness.

And as little parts of my spirit keep dying, will it surprise you that I'm not exactly going to be overjoyed when you finally say you have permanent parents for me? Do you honestly think I am going to say, "Oh, I get it. You were just kidding all those other times, but this time you really mean it"? And, so, do you want to hear something funny? Just about the time I am ready to get what everybody thought I needed (parents who are actually never going to leave me) I'm going to get just a tad weird. I'm going to start banging my head more than I did before. I might start acting like a baby again and, even if I had gotten a little bit comfortable with my latest "parents" I'm going to go back to stiffening my body, and screaming at night, and doing everything I can to tell you that I don't want you to love me.

I can't stand all this talk about "permanence" and "adoption". I will make you sorry you ever thought about trying to get close to me. I will make you feel almost as helpless and small as I have usually felt. So are you wondering what I need?

Are you wondering what I would do about all of this if I had the power? First of all, it would help a lot if you would start with one simple, clear commandment to yourself: Never forget that I am watching. Never forget that every single thing you do matters immensely to me (even when I work like crazy to make you think that it does not). And I will remember. You may be able to get away with treating me as if I am invisible for a while (perhaps long enough to "disrupt" me or move yourself to a different casework job). I was there, watching, I was having deep feelings about what was happening to me and I needed someone to act as if it mattered, hugely.

Second, don't imagine that I will ever stop yearning for my birthfamily (even though, as in other things, I will pretend otherwise). Help me find some way to keep a connection with them, even if I never see them again. Bring out pictures, or a Life Book and hold me while I rage or sob or stare, or all of these at once. And understand that none of this is a reflection on you. Don't be surprised when I come back from a visit with them peeing my pants or throwing tantrums in the bath that night. I told you: things matter to me. So I am going to have feelings about things that matter to me.

Third, it would help a lot if you would make the decisions that you need to make and stick with them. Some days I think my mind is going to explode because I know something is going on in my life but I can't tell what it is; later I'll learn that there was a court hearing that day and everybody in my life was wrought up and then it was "continued" (whatever that means - except mostly that nothing is getting decided, and I still don't have a family). I don't get to make the decisions. You do. So have the courage to make them. So that I can get a life.

Fourth, it would mean a lot to me if you would take good care of my foster family. They have their hands full. Sometimes they don't know what to do with me. So make sure someone is there to answer their questions, to encourage them, to help them understand me better. You won't like what will happen if I keep getting disrupted, and the only way I can think of to prevent that is to take extra good care of the people that are taking care of me. So have I told you anything that you wanted to know? Have I helped you to understand how we feel - all of us kids who fell into the world of foster care and adoption?

I know it is a burden for you to think so carefully about me, and I know you might get a little nervous to realize that I am watching, and affected by all that you do. But you won't be sorry if you take me seriously. Someday, see, I will be Big People.

© Michael Trout Director, The Infant-Parent Institute Reprinted by permission Mr. Trout is a trainer and course leader in infant mental health, a writer and video producer. Based on his more than 25 years' experience, he wrote and produced the video from which this text is reprinted. The video is available from The Infant-Parent Institute.


 

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