Mother of Three in 10 Weeks!

Buddy turned four-years-old on Sunday! We took him and his two, much admired, cousins to the movies to see Paddington Bear, followed by a family party. He requested corn dogs for dinner, but being that he’s really the only one that likes them, I made them for him for lunch and ordered pizza and wings for dinner. Besides, pizza is the favorite food of his latest obsession- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! He had a ninja turtle cake, decorations and even got a ninja turtle scooter for his birthday! He had a great day!

Xander 4th birthday cake

Then, on Monday, we FINALLY signed Buddy’s adoption papers with the lawyer! All we have to do now is go to court to make it official, which should take 4-6 weeks. Then, Buddy will legally be our son and take our name! It’s been 26 days shy of two years that we’ve waited for this day to come. That beautiful, curly, blonde haired, blue-eyed angel with the long eye lashes melted our hearts from day one. It’s been amazing watching his little personality come through and blossom into an outgoing pre-schooler who has one active imagination and is surely destined for great things!

The real kicker is that in 10 weeks or less, I will be the mother of three! We will go from being foster parents with no kids of our own, to legally being the parents of three kiddos! It’s unreal that I just entered my 3rd trimester with twin girls! It’s weird because, even though my belly is growing, I feel the girls kick, I see my belly move, get to see them develop and grow on the sono and hear the amazing sound of their hearts beating, it still doesn’t seem real yet. We tried for these babies for so long, that I think it’s going to take me holding them in my arms to fully grasp that they’re mine.

My mom, sister and sister-in-law are incredible enough to put on a baby shower for me in two weeks. I’m excited for it since I’ve never had a shower before. It should be a really fun time celebrating these two little miracle babies with friends and family!

We had lunch with friend’s of ours who have a little girl who’s 10 months old and the huge smile on Buddy’s face as he played with her, just melted my heart! He’s going to be a wonderful big brother!

Mom of three! Oh my goodness! I can’t wait!

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Small Miracles

A few months back, we were all set to accept a newborn foster child into our home. I spent hours going through baby clothes, blankets, bottles and accessories to make sure we had all the gear in place for the little one’s arrival. However, the placement fell through for reasons unknown to us. I was devastated to say the least. However, all clouds have a silver lining because… I was “late.”

When I told my husband, he didn’t think much of it. We weren’t meant to have children of our own. We were given a 1% chance of conceiving and had already gone through fertility treatments with four rounds of IUIs that were unsuccessful. We had talked about IVF, but it was just too expensive, especi ally since I didn’t work for the past year. So, the possibility of pregnancy just wasn’t on our radar. The following week, I went and bought a pregnancy test and took it while Buddy was with his physical therapist. There was a very faint pink line! Could it be? Could I actually be pregnant? No. I didn’t want to believe it. We have tried for so long. It must have been a faulty test. I waited another week and tried again. Wouldn’t you know it really was positive!

I made an appointment with the doctor and went in to have a sonogram. The sonographer said, “how do you feel about two?” Two what? I still wasn’t convinced there could be a baby in there. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it. “Two babies! You’re having twins!” I immediately started to cry tears of joy. My husband, watching the monitor in disbelief, was crying in pain at the thought of raising three children.

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Suddenly I started to get all the symptoms. Unbelievable bloating, morning sickness (aka all day sickness) and fatigue unlike anything I had ever felt before. My friend said to me that the first trimester is literally like climbing a mountain. You are doing all the work of creating another human being (or in my case two) and it’s taxing on your body. Then one day I had spotting. I went to the doctor and I was reassured by two little heart beats on the monitor. More tears of joy! About two weeks later, while I was cooking dinner I felt something warm down below. It looked like I murdered someone. My husband rushed me to the emergency room. My mom came to comfort me and help with Buddy. I just cried on her shoulder. It was most certainly a miscarriage. Then I saw the ultrasound and there were those two little babies with good heart beats, arms waving and legs kicking away!

It turns out that I have something called placenta previa. Basically the placenta is sitting right on top of my cervix and most likely sitting on a blood vessel where blood is pooling. The placenta has slowly been moving away as Baby A continues to grow. Worst case scenario, I will have a C-section. Not a big deal. I was on two weeks of bed rest before returning to work.

So, it was a rough first trimester! My mom said to me, “I told you pregnancy was stressful!” The thing is, I never thought I’d ever get pregnant, but nobody was handing out babies to me either! So, I’ll take every little hiccup that comes with these two little miracles. I’m 18 weeks along and am feeling good! I’m getting a belly on me and have felt a couple little flutters from them kicking. I’m technically due April 17, but they won’t let me go past 38 weeks, so more likely end of March, beginning of April.

I’ve gotten all kinds of questions from people: “Are they natural?” Yes, they’re not artificial! “Do twins run in your family?” No, I’m just old and this was my body’s last ditch effort at passing on my genes. “Are you still going to keep Buddy?” Yes, he’s our son.

People are so nosy when you’re pregnant, but it’s okay. I doubt it will stop once I have two little bundles. “Are they identical?” Probably not, they have separate placentas and sacs, but you don’t know for sure until after they’re born. “Did you want twins?” Well, I always thought it would be fun to have twins, but I didn’t exactly plan it!

People keep relaying stories to me of how the same thing happened to a friend of theirs. As soon as they’ve adopted or were on their way to adopt (as in our case) their child, they were able to relax and get pregnant. Maybe my story isn’t unique or exciting, but it’s my story and I’m looking forward to my happy ending. Buddy is going to be a big brother to twin sisters and I couldn’t be happier!

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Adoption in Progress!

Our amazing foster care worker came over for her last home visit last week. It was bittersweet because she has been an awesome worker, but it means progress with Buddy’s adoption. We were assigned an adoption caseworker and besides a little hiccup with hubby’s physical, we have all the paperwork in order for her visit next week! I told her I wanted it to go as quickly and painlessly as possible to make our family complete!

The permanency hearing to change the plan from “return to parent” to “adoption” is at the end of the month which is great! Something not so great is that the lawyer for bio-mom can appeal the TPR and hold things up for up to 18 months! I asked the caseworker why he would appeal without a case, and being that he hasn’t seen his client in months. She said that it’s a paycheck. So if he is money hungry enough, he will appeal on her behalf. Fingers crossed and prayers that doesn’t happen!

In other crazy news I ran into bio-mom and her partner (yes, the same one she beat up) at the grocery store! I was talking to the pharmacist about a new prescription when she walked passed me! I said to the pharmacist, “I’m just going to keep talking to you because that’s my son’s bio-mom and there is a warrant out for her arrest and I’m freaking out a little right now!” He said he totally understood and he talked to me until they left in a loud huff: “I don’t want to walk by HER!” (Fine with me!) I immediately called my husband, who was luckily right down the street. He walked around the store with me to get my couple of groceries and then we left.

I called the caseworker from the store, but it was almost 5pm and I got voicemail. I was a mess all night long! I didn’t sleep a wink. She lives in the next town over; of course I was going to run into her eventually. But what if I had Buddy with me? What would she have done? Try to take him? Grab him and hug and kiss him? What could I do about it?

The next day the caseworker called and her only advice was not to go to that store anymore. If we do run into her somewhere else, allow one hug and immediately leave. I should also always carry around a copy of the court decision just in case she did try to grab him and say it was her son. Nerve wracking for sure!

So, fingers crossed that we’ll be planning an adoption party soon and Buddy can take on our name. Foster care has definitely been an adventure and I’m looking to complete that chapter and move on with our lives.

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Life is Amazing

At the time of my last post, I was pretty down in the dumps. I felt like I was just not good enough. I couldn’t land a job. I didn’t get the new foster baby. I didn’t know how things would go with Buddy. I was pretty depressed and feeling lower than low. Well… it’s amazing what a week does!

Buddy got to pet a peacock at the NYS Fair.

We took Buddy to the NYS Fair for opening day and he had a ball going on rides and seeing and petting animals like this peacock, and even got to walk a llama!

We had Buddy’s disposition hearing. I didn’t even have to testify. The judge terminated bio-mom’s rights! The reason why I had a little more confidence in how things would go, was that I knew bio-mom wouldn’t show up to court. She has a warrant out for her arrest for assaulting her partner and there was evidence of her actively using. However, you just never know what the judge is going to do, especially since this is a new judge and this is her first TPR case. Well, she brought up the supposed dad again. We all thought that was done and over with and they did their due diligence. Well, his rights still need to be terminated and that paperwork was never filed. Someone dropped the ball on that one. On a whim, the caseworker decided to give the “dad” a call while we were out on a break. While the caseworker was testifying on the stand, he actually called her back! This is the first contact he has made in the two years of Buddy being in foster care! He said that he was definitely not the dad and bio-mom was actually pregnant when they met! He agreed to sign off on any paperwork! So, we do have to go back to court again, but at least all loose ends will be tied up and then we can go on with the adoption! Well, as long as bio-mom’s lawyer doesn’t appeal and hold things up, but at least we know it’s going to happen!

Then I got offered a job! How awesome is that?! My last workplace was so abusive. So, it’s incredible to work with a nice group of people who truly care and have a passion for what they’re doing. It’s not a farce. Nobody has yelled and screamed at me and I don’t anticipate that they will. It was difficult leaving Buddy, but I got him into a daycare/preschool that I absolutely love. I know that he just craves interacting with other children and he will have the opportunity to do that every day and continue to learn and grow. I know it is the right decision for my family.

I have even more good news, but am going to keep it a secret for a few more weeks!

I’m just really counting my blessings right now. I feel very fortunate to have a loving husband, a beautiful little boy, great family and friends, a good job and more! Things are surely looking up for us and I’m really excited to continue on in this journey.

What is Good Enough?

We have had a wonderful summer! We’ve gone camping, to the beach, the pool, playground, story time and toddler dance parties at the library and have just enjoyed the beautiful weather as much as we possibly can. Of course, life is not perfect and the craziness always finds us!

Pete the cat I have been busting my rear trying to get a job and have had several interviews, but am still hoping for that phone call saying I’m their gal!

Buddy has been getting speech and PT services at the house twice a week and he is doing awesome! He is getting good at his “s”  and “sh” sounds and can now jump a little and is running better.

My friend and I got together for a delightful dinner sans kids and she asked me if we have gotten any calls for more children. When we were days away from our camping trip we got several calls all at once, but now nothing. Well the next day… I got a call for a 5-year-old! I felt bad for the little guy. A relative took the three other siblings into their home, but not this one. I guess he has severe ADHD and a mood disorder and needs a lot of 1 on 1 attention. I thought to myself, our little guy doesn’t have all those issues and still requires a lot of my attention! There is no way I could handle two needy children. So, hopefully they can find a home that doesn’t have any children yet. A few days later we got a call for a newborn baby! Was the call I had been waiting for?

Ever since we had the three-month old baby, I have really longed to have another baby in the house. My husband and I discussed it and decided that we would take him. He was one of 10 children ranging in age from 1 week to 21 years old, who live with various relatives or are in foster care or have been TPR’d. While the baby’s tox screen was clear, he did show signs of mom abusing drugs. He was a preemie and had a few other issues of concern. I waited all day for the caseworker to call me. Then I decided to leave a message for her, but got no call back. Buddy and I spent the afternoon bringing down baby gear and going through baby clothes to prepared for his arrival. The next day I called the caseworker again and left another message. Not until a good 24+ hours after our initial call, did she finally call me. She was very abrasive and harsh and basically made me feel like crap. I won’t get too into it, but I just wanted to get all my bases covered so I felt prepared for what to expect and she went up one side of me and down the other. Then, she told me that she wants me to meet the baby and we would go from there.

So, Buddy, Hubby and I went to the family support center and met the tiny little bundle. I changed his diaper and fed him and we talked to the caseworker. She said we should visit him every day until Tuesday (it was Thursday at this point) and then we could make our final decision. She apologized for her brash approach and said she is just an advocate for the child and tells it how it is. OK…. I understand that, but all of this was still kind of weird. Usually they call you up, tell you what time they’re dropping the kid off and you go from there. Friday we were out walking the dog and I saw I had a voicemail. It was the caseworker saying that they decided to go in a different direction. What? Did I lose my job? That what it felt/sound like. We called her back, but of course she never returned our call. We talked to Buddy’s caseworker and said that the caseworker asked about us and she told her we were great, she had no issues. Well, I broke down in tears. I felt like she didn’t think I was good enough to care for the baby. I just felt like an overall failure. I can’t get a job, I can’t have my own children and I can’t take care of foster babies apparently. I was just a wreck!

Luckily I have an amazing husband who helped me remember how lucky I am to have him and Buddy and we are getting by on his salary even if it is a struggle. I AM lucky and very blessed. I have a great family and great friends and everything will fall back into place eventually. We have Buddy and he is the biggest joy in my life. While he does drive me crazy, I can’t imagine it any other way!

Thursday we go to disposition to decide what is in the best interest of Buddy and I’m testifying. I’m a little nervous, but not as nervous as I was. Why you say? Well….

I have more interesting, exciting and crazy news to come, so stay tuned!!!

Facebook Torture

It always amazes me what people will post on Facebook: that they have a headache, that they went to the mall, that they have a booger hanging out of their nose. It doesn’t matter what it is, people do it all the time, like anyone gives a crap. Even more amazing to me is when people share all their dirty laundry: their husband cheated on them, their girlfriend got out of jail, they’re visiting their child who’s in foster care. Not only do they share this information with their “friends,” but have absolutely no privacy settings set, so the whole world can read it, or if we’re really lucky, see the color and texture of the booger as well.

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Well you know what? It means that I can check up on people even if they’re not my friend. For instance, when someone thinks it’s appropriate to post pictures of their girlfriend with her child in the waiting room for her visit at the DSS office with me, the foster mother, in the background. I mean, that’s a momentous occasion that should be shared with the world right?
“Here is my girlfriend who had her child taken away, at her twice monthly, one hour supervised visit at the DSS office!”

I’m so sick to my stomach about it right now. I even told the caseworker that she was taking the pictures and that they’d end up on Facebook. I was going to casually mention to the girlfriend that the pictures can’t be shared on Facebook, but I figured I should let the caseworker take care of it. Did she? Nope! Bio-mom does know better, but she posted pictures of the visit on her page too. Can I post pictures on Facebook when I want to share with my friends our camping trip, going to the park, or the zoo? Nope!

Maybe it was done on purpose. Maybe she wants me to see. Maybe she wants to upset me. She succeeded. Do I sound crazy? Well, after a year and a half fight, I feel it’s my right to be crazy right now. I keep trying to put things into perspective. She misses him. There is nothing inappropriate about the pictures. What is the harm? Well, it bothers me when people don’t follow the rules and get away with it. But, hopefully, in the end, it will be one of the last times she ever sees him.

One more gut wrenching, nerve wrecking, torturous visit before court, then hopefully this whole mess will be behind us. I know I’m only hurting myself by stalking checking Facebook all of the time. One month… no, twenty-nine days before they decide what’s in the best interest of Buddy. No twenty-eight days, 20 hours and 18 minutes until they decide the fate of our world.

One Step Closer

“We would have been done in May if we had judge P,” the caseworker said after we walked out of court. Hurry up and wait is the catch phrase for foster care. The judge DID find bio-mom permanently neglectful! I’d love to jump up and down and do a little dance, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We still have to go to disposition in August to decide what’s in the best interest of Buddy.

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The judge said, “it doesn’t necessarily mean that adoption is what is in the best interest of Buddy.” That was like a slap in the face. She continued to say how she knows bio-mom did a bunch of wonderful things while in jail (what else was she going to do while she was in there?) and she should continue to do them while she is out. The caseworker listed the whole slew of things for her to do that she didn’t do previously: psychological evaluation, anger management classes, rehab, parenting classes, etc.

The lawyer for DSS said that at the disposition, the judge can make one of three decisions: Buddy can go back to bio-mom, bio-mom gets more time and Buddy stays in foster care, or he can be adopted. Obviously, we want to adopt him. Since we have had Buddy for over a year, we are able to testify and our lawyer and the DSS lawyer will ask me questions about what we’ve been doing since he’s been in our care. Bio-mom can also get on the stand again and the caseworker will as well. The only part that I’m semi-nervous about is bio-mom’s lawyer cross-examining me. I’ve never testified in court before, and while I think the lawyer has no idea what he’s doing based on how he handled court the last time, it still makes me nervous. And of course there is the judge’s decision.

Then today, the day after finding her permanently neglectful, Buddy had a visit with bio-mom. It was truly reminiscent of a horrible doctor’s appointment Buddy had months ago. I walked into the waiting room and she snatched him away from me and he looked at me in horror as she swung him around, hugging and kissing him. When she put him down and he reached out for me, she wouldn’t let him come to me. Then, a girl who was waiting next to me in the waiting room asked how old he is. I said that he’s three and bio-mom answered at the same time, then sighed and remarked out loud, to no one in particular that the caseworker needed to get here because it was getting really awkward. I was glad I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. I think next time I will wait until just before visit time before coming into the building to avoid these difficult interactions in the future. Once the caseworker came and the three of them played in one of the rooms, I could hear Buddy’s infectious giggle and silly laugh. I was glad that they were able to have fun and interact well with each other. When the hour was up, I scheduled future visits with the caseworker and bio-mom remarked about how hot it was in the room. It was comfortable and air conditioned to me, but it made me wonder if she was hot from playing hard with Buddy or if she is using drugs again already. Time will tell I guess.

The lawyers all seem to think that it will go in our favor. I sure hope so. I don’t know how life could exist without our little man. Hurry up and get here August so that we can complete our little family!

My Brain is in There Somewhere… I Think

I know my heart is bigger than my brain, especially when it comes to kids. When that call comes from children’s services, it doesn’t matter what they say on the other end of the phone, I just want to say yes and bring them home. “You say you have a family of 10 complete with a pack of rabid dogs and a herd of llamas? Okay, send them over, we’ll make room!” Luckily I have enough brain to get their number to call them back, before making a decision… Oh and run it by Hubby.

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The call was for two medically fragile brothers, ages 3 and 1. The oldest had a seizure disorder and the youngest had fluid behind his ears and they had been neglected. I asked a bunch of questions, but information is always limited (and often wrong). I called back after talking to hubby (the voice of reason). I said I had more questions for her, but if we were to take them we would need until Monday. The homefinder stopped me right there; she needed them placed that day. The family support center was full and they needed to be placed immediately.

I had no time to get another bed, get a mattress for the crib (Buddy is using it in the toddler bed), get car seats, etc. Not to mention, our reservations are already paid for to go camping this weekend for the first time with Buddy. I sat and cried.

I know… If it was meant to be it would have happened. Not to mention all the pain and anguish we all go through in foster care and dealing with the very flawed system. Do I really want to go through that again? I just thought how perfect it would be for Buddy to have another boy his age, plus a baby. It seemed perfect, but was bad timing.

Children’s services called again today. They were looking to place a 6 year old girl. That, I knew we couldn’t do. We’re outgrowing our house and don’t have a room for her (our third bedroom is more nursery size and serves as an office currently). It would have been a tight squeeze for three boys in one room, and if one woke up, I ‘m sure all three would be up. Plus… camping.

The thing I know though, is that it means that we’ll be getting another call soon. More importantly, next week brings a big day for us. The judge said she would have a decision on the TPR! Plus we’re going camping… with a three-year-old? What was I thinking?? Lol, I’m sure it will be awesome!

Trials & Tribulations

This was my first time ever going through a court trial. It’s a lot like you see on TV I guess, only not as big or exciting. It won’t be on the news, but it’s pretty meaningful to us.

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The TPR trial started with bio-mom making a fuss because she supposedly hadn’t been able to get ahold of her lawyer. She talked to him before the trial started, so the judge was less than sympathetic. The judge explained the options to her again. She could surrender her rights and get 2 pictures and letters a year, plead guilty and go to disposition, or have a trial and risk no communication at all. She of course, chose a trial.

The caseworker gave her testimony first. She’s awesome and very thorough, so that part was great. Then they called the director of the place where Buddy used to go for visits. That part was horrible. The girl who did the initial evaluation for visits with bio-mom, and the girl who conducted the visits, no longer work there, so they subpoenaed this woman, whose testimony was not good and pretty inaccurate. I don’t know why they even had her testify.

Bio-mom’s lawyer never went to DSS to review the case file and was fumbly and awkward. It was painful to listen to him whenever he opened his mouth. He kept making mistakes & there would be an objection or the judge would have to keep him on track. I almost felt bad.

Bio-mom testified next and dug her own grave. She said several times that she knows she didn’t do any of the things she was required to do and missed many visits. She said that Buddy was taken out from under her unjustly and that caused her to turn to drugs and alcohol (not accurate, but trying to get sympathy I guess.) She said she couldn’t remember many of the details from the last year and a half because of her drug use. She just kept going on and on digging her hole deeper and deeper until the judge finally spoke up and said she really said enough and needed to stop talking.

Then it was over. Now we wait some more.

They also needed to hold a permanency hearing, so they just started it and it will resume in a couple of weeks. I guess that’s when the judge will give her decision. If she finds bio-mom guilty, then we go on to disposition in August to determine what is in the best interest of Buddy. Being adopted by us of course!

If bio-mom is smart, she will surrender her rights at the permanency hearing so she can at least get the pictures and letters. But I know she won’t. She’s stubborn and disillusioned. It’s too bad.

Well, we’re in the home stretch. I’ll keep you updated.

Is it Fate or Coincidence?

Several months ago I got a call from DSS about a soon to be three-year-old boy who came into care. The worker went on to tell me all the challenges this little boy has and I thought it’d be too much for me to handle right now. It’s always difficult to turn down a child.

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A month or two later I got a call saying the same boy needed a new placement. The foster mom fell ill and was unable to care for him. I felt horrible turning him down again! Buddy is a follower (monkey see, monkey do!) and I was so afraid that I would have 2 little boys exhibiting negative behaviors and it’d be too much! Not to mention, Buddy needs a lot of attention and it sounded like this boy would need even more. That wouldn’t be fair to Buddy.

Last week, we attended a foster care appreciation dinner. We’ve never attended one before. We don’t need to be thanked or told we’re appreciated, but thought it was a good opportunity to get out and have a free dinner! Well, who sits next to me but the woman who took the little boy they called us for twice! She said how she actually just wanted to foster children and had no intention of adopting, but DSS was already talking adoption! While he does have many challenges, he’s very resilient and doing really well.

Is this a coincidence or is fate telling us that this little boy is meant to be in our lives in one way or another? We set up a play date and I’m excited to have another foster mom to talk to and it’ll be nice for Buddy to have a boy his age to play with.