Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's Been 2 Years

I haven't been on my blog for 2 years. But we're still alive and kicking. In the last 2 years I've completed my MA and continue to work at the college, but also after work, for a local company, using my education to tutor struggling readers. The kids have grown quite a bit. Everyone is in school now, and doing well. Annie, who now uses her first name, Dia, began playing competitive soccer a few years ago and is doing great! Will started football this he really that big? And can you believe Tiffany is a sophomore and wanting to take driver's ed? They are growing up so fast!

We've settled into life together, still have ups and downs, good days and bad days, but are overall happy in our little - big - family.

My mom, by the grace of God, is still with us and doing fairly well. She's as ornery as ever! Unfortunately, I haven't been well. Not too long after my last post, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, and have been struggling to stay healthy. Most recently I've begun to have a problem with my hip and am walking with a cane. It's pretty disheartening.

But we're gearing up for Christmas again, and that always elevates every one's spirits. We just got the tags out for the Giving Tree yesterday. The Giving Tree is the project that myself and three other foster families have been working on every year for the past nine years. We elicit help from churches and businesses in our region to gather Christmas gifts for foster children. We've been quite successful most years. The last 2 years have been a struggle. I blame George W. The economy is so bad, the people who used to give are needing help too now. I just hope we're starting to see recovery for every one's sake! Wish us good tidings this year in gathering help to give hundreds of kids a great holiday!

Thank you for reading,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Q-Tip Revisited

I've written before about Q-Tip - quite taking it personally. It's SO hard!! I'm human with feelings and emotions, and my skin is not as thick as leathery elephant skin! Every morning I endure being called the B word by my 6 year old son if I don't give in to him on something, anything. My 10 year old talks like a bitter nasty old hag to me and has no regard for anything I say to her. My 13 year old thinks she should run our house and if I won't let her she "gets back at me" in very passive aggressive ways - not flushing the toilet after going number 2, pointing the shower head at the shower curtain so the next person to turn on the shower gets sprayed, along with the entire bathroom, putting dirty dishes back in the cupboards etc. My 4-almost-5 year old will pull down his pants and pee on the kitchen floor. My 7 and 8 year olds go in the closet and pull all the clothes off the hangers and brake said hangers, then pull all the clothes out of the drawers and leave the drawers hanging out...all clothes left in piles all over the floor. Food keeps disappearing from our pantry and refrigerator. I've had to screw 3-inch industrial screws in the hinges on the boys' bedroom door to keep the door on because they've torn it off 3 different times, and now even those 3-inch screws are losing the battle. Someone keeps digging bigger holes in the bathroom wall where the TP holder used to be before they tore it off. Anybody wonder why I lost the battle to quit smoking? I know some of this is normal behavior, but in my house this behavior is constant as long as their eyes are open during the day and night. The ONLY time someone isn't doing something to raise my blood pressure is when everyone is asleep. And I can't even enjoy that so much because by then I'm exhausted and asleep too.
I chose this life and these kids, and I love them. But today my nerves are worn thin and I'm taking everything personally. My doctor called, there was something wrong with my blood work and I'm being referred to an internal med doc. I needed to vent a little, so thanks for listening.

Friday, July 17, 2009

No Regrets

Wow, twice in one month! There was once a time when I posted almost daily.

I'm having a real problem with Annie lately. She's becoming so violent, and it's mostly aimed at Kassidy, though sometimes also at Will. I wonder why she hits on those two. Does she dislike them? She and Will always had such a strong bond before, what changed? Maybe they are the ones she loves most? You always hurt the ones you love, right?

Most of the time she "accidentally" kicks or hits/punches, or trips, or pushes one of them. Lately, every morning she has either kicked, punched, or thrown shoes at Kassidy. Always in the morning when we're trying to get ready to leave, always causing a scene and making us late. And she has absolutely NO emotion about it. I mean that literally. This morning she beat Kassidy, and Kass was crying hysterically, and Annie just walked out like she didn't have a care in the world, ready to go, no guilt, no remorse, no nothing. That kind of behavior is scary to me.

Of course, when she's given consequences, then she gets emotional. She throws a tantrum because she gets privileges taken away, but still has no guilt or remorse over what she did to Kass. She'll say I'm SO mean because I won't let her go on her field trip today, but she can't connect that to what she did to her sister. What will she be like when she's older? Will she EVER learn that her actions have consequences? I've always been very consistent with her. There are no surprises that she will be in trouble for this kind of behavior. However, she is consistently surprised that she gets consequences for her actions. It makes me wonder what is going through her head through this entire process, from the moment she takes violent action to the moment she stops throwing her tantrum over the consequences. It's amazing to me!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My New Family

It's been a while since I last posted. My family dynamic has changed quite a bit now. All my kids are legally and spiritually mine now. All the adoptions are final, they now all bear my last name. How strange it has been to be severed from the state. For the first time in nine years, I am free to be the parent in every aspect of my children's lives. I get to decide when they get their hair cut! I don't have to clear overnights and camping trips with anybody but my own conscience. The Department of Health and Welfare has always been my co-parent, and now I am suddenly a single parent. How do I feel about this?

My kids don't really know how to act either. The state has always had ultimate say in everything in their lives. They don't know how to feel about having nobody else to go to if they don't like my decisions. Even though they were all very excited to have the permanence of adoption, they are missing that other "parent" in their lives.

It hasn't been an easy seperation for any of us, but it was a needed seperation. Rules in foster care don't always make sense, they are centered more around avoiding lawsuits for the state than around children's needs for healthy well-rounded lives. While this on the one hand is understandable, on the other hand, it's no way to have to grow up. Can you imagine if you had grown up not being allowed to spend the night with your friends, not being able to ride in your friends cars until you were an adult, not even being able to get a driver's license until you turned 18. You couldn't go on overnight school trips, you couldn't go out of state with clubs from school or church, my kids couldn't go to our church's teen shut-ins because it meant being in the church all night with people who weren't licensed by the state to do foster care. What kind of life is this? If you were 16 and had a new boyfriend who wanted to take you to dinner and a movie, your foster parent had to drive you and be there with you. Talk about scaring off the boys! You might as were be in detention!

Now my kids have the freedom of other kids they associate with. "Mom, can I spend the night with Alex?" Do you know how good it feels to say, without hesitation, "Yes" to that request? I never knew the freedom I would feel!

We have a tough life, the disorders have not vanished with our severed tie to the state. In fact, we've had even more problems. Kassidy was abandoned over and over in her short life before she came to me at age 6. In fact, she came to me from a family she'd been with for 2 1/2 years, a family who had promised to be her forever family, a family who had allowed her to use their last name as her own, who had her calling them mom and dad and planning the rest of her life with her. Then one day they decided not to adopt her afterall, and that was that. With no honest explaination, they moved her into my home and said goodbye. By no honest explaination, I mean, they lied to her. They told her that I'd liked her so much when I babysat her that I was going to keep her. So essentially they made her believe that I stole her from them. Wow, talk about a difficult way to start a relationship with someone. She hated me because I kidnapped her. So that's how we started out together. I spent the better part of two years undoing this damage, all the while working on finalizing MY adoption of her. She was so excited that someone was still going to adopt her, but until it happened, she didn't truly believe I would keep my promise to make her a permanent part of my family.

Now the adoption is final, she is my child for all of eternity. How wonderful she felt knowing she would never be abandoned again. Then, about two weeks later, she began to doubt the permanence. She'd been promised a permanent family so many times only to have it yanked away from her, even now she couldn't believe in the concept of permanent. She began to show her distrust in this new dynamic of our relationship in very harmful ways. She started stealing without prejudice, meaning, she steals from everybody everywhere. She's made it impossible for anyone to trust her. We have had to buy padlocks and lock down our kitchen at night so she won't take all our food while the rest of us are sleeping. Her sisters have to have a padlocked trunk to keep their most valuable or dear possessions in so she won't take them. She has to have constant adult supervision at school, church, and day camp to make sure she doesn't either take or destroy other peoples' property. She's trying to prove that this is not a permanent family. She's trying to get me to go back on my word that I will love her forever and always be her mom. And I just keep telling her I'm not going to go anywhere, no matter how much she tries to hurt me.

I mean it too, I'm not going anywhere. I'm exhausted, I'm frazzled, I'm often at my wits end, but I'm still here and have never had a thought of giving up on her. I just sometimes wish I had someone to help hold me up. Someone I could lean on at my most exhausted moments, someone who would cry with me and celebrate my victories with me. Wow, I sound pitiful! Somewhere along the line, even though I have maintained friendships, I have lost the closeness I once had with my friends and I often feel very alone. I love my kids, but I also need companionship that my busy schedule and that of my closest friends doesn't allow. My mother's health has not improved much and she needs to lean on me, she doesn't have the strength to hold me up. I'm no marter, I have no problem accepting help. I just don't know how to ask for it without feeling weak and foolish. I didn't love and adopt my kids so that people would admire me, and I didn't do all this with the intention of putting myself in an impossible situation. In fact, I don't feel like I am in an impossible situation. I love my kids more than I've ever loved anything in my life, and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I also have no desire to get back the so called "support" from the state that we had before finalizing the adoptions. I just desire companionship. I'm freely admit that I don't know how to obtain that. I don't know how to ask people to be part of my life knowing the complications involved in being my friend.

Wow, I sound pathetic. I think, though, this is one of the few times I've written a post that wasn't contrived. I just needed to write, haven't done it in a long time. If there is anyone out there who still reads this blog, this is all I plan to do with it journaling. My hands are too riddled with arthritis to write with a pen or pencil anymore. This hurts less.

Quit explaining yourself, Kelly, just write!

Talk to you soon I hope.
Kelly :-)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Secret Garden

So lately, a new tradition has emerged at the Angel Retreat, and it’s a rather nice one. On Sundays, my daughter, Kneesaa, and her boyfriend and her two little boys have been coming over to help move stuff to storage and pack. We’re trying to sell the house, but we have so much junk, it looks cluttered all the time. It’s been nice having them over once a week, and in the evening, we sit down to a big family dinner.

A few weeks ago, they showed up with a friend. Joe was in foster care too, but he had never lived in my home. I’d actually had his little brother, Rafa, for a very short time during my first summer as a foster parent, but we made a connection that will last a lifetime, and some time during the time I’ve known Rafa, his brother Joe came to be part of our family too. When Kneesaa and Allee were seniors in high school, they double dated with Joe and Rafa for the prom, and they still talk about how much fun they had, today.

So now Kneesaa, Mark (her boyfriend), the two boys, and Joe come over every Sunday. We’re trying to get Cami to join us. She moved back to Boise a few weeks ago, and is doing well, but doesn’t have a car so has to bum rides out to Nampa to see us. We spend a few hours working on the house, and then we sit down to a big dinner and talk and enjoy each other. It’s great, and we’ve all decided we want to continue this even after everything is moved out. I look around my table and see my first wave of kids all grown up, talking about they’re kids, and my heart fills with joy. Intermixed with them are all my young ones who are growing up with this big diverse loving family and you can see how much they are getting out of it. It’s so much like one of those big family dinners you see in movies and I love it!

Last week Joe got to our house before anyone else. The girls had just put in a movie, “The Secret Garden,” a movie they had never watched before. It was funny because they always watch the Olsen Twins, or Barbie, or any other Disney or Pixar movie that has come out in the last ten years. But for whatever reason they picked this one on Sunday, and they really got into it. The house was as quiet as it’s ever been at midday when all the kids are home. Then I looked at Joe, and HE was into it. What a picture. See, Joe comes from a gang family, like third generation gang, and he’s a tough guy. If you saw him on the street and didn’t know him, you might avoid eye contact. He’s not a horrible person, just a product of his environment. He has a big heart, and he loves the kids and the family, and is actually pretty gentle. Anyway, to see this big tough guy surrounded by all these little girls and all watching this movie together…it was awe-inspiring.

By the way, it is a great movie!
Thanks for reading!