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!

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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!

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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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!

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.

Hurry Up and Wait

I wrote this after last month’s court date, so here it is, better late than never.

We all filed into the court room with nervous anticipation of what the day could bring. Would we be celebrating the end of Buddy’s 18 months in foster care or disappointed when we’re strung out until another court date?

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When the judge asked the court appointed lawyer about bio-mom’s intentions, he commented that despite having sent her a letter at the jail, he received no response from her and had only met with his client moments before court. He was however, able to find out that she wants Buddy back when she gets out of jail in June.

I know bio-mom will not get Buddy back. It’s too late for that. I’ve been told numerous times that this is a really solid case. I also see her side of things and realize that the closer we get to her release date, the more she thinks she can get him back. Gone are the days of sentimentality surrounding the Christmas holiday and any hints to the possibility of surrender. The lawyer for DSS said that they would offer her a picture and a letter on the condition of a surrender, but had no incentives for her. The judge set up a pretrial date for April to give her one last chance to surrender. She also set aside two full days for the TPR hearing in May.

So, not surprisingly, we were strung out for more court dates. Yes, I’m desperately hoping for a surrender, but I will try not to keep my hopes up. The part that bothered me was actually before court even started. I like Buddy’s caseworker and lawyer. They’re probably among the best, however they are not without their faults. While waiting for court to start in the little waiting room, my husband and I are on pins and needles in anticipation of what the future holds with our little man. Buddy’s lawyer was more concerned with a criminal trial he had to get to and pick a jury for. The caseworker was shooting the breeze with the court police officer. I know it’s just another day for these guys. I’m sure that they have to distance themselves in order to keep sane. However, I couldn’t help but feel that it was all really unprofessional to do in front of us. We felt like nobody cared about Buddy. It was just another day for them.

My husband decided to call an adoption attorney. There are only two in our city that specifically deal with adoptions. I met the woman attorney twice before and wasn’t impressed. She fostered teenagers and basically just let them run the streets. She wasn’t in it to be a “mom.” The other attorney came highly recommended. However, I’m still not working, and the thought of having thousands of dollars in attorney fees just didn’t appeal to me. However, Hubby said he’d work all the overtime he had to, to make sure we had a voice. As it turns out, there is actually a grant available and the costs will be minimal if anything at all! This was good news.

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today we opened our home and our hearts to a little man who has forever changed our world. Our Buddy came in with his bright blue eyes, long eye lashes and a head full of blonde curls. He immediately got out some toys and quietly began to play. We were smitten immediately.

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I didn’t think that I could ever foster again after the pain of losing a previous foster baby. Yet my heart longed for a child so badly that I was willing to risk the pain one last time. I’m so glad that we did. Buddy had already spent six months in the system with another family in another county, so he was half way through his year. We have had some rough moments, but there have been plenty of good and I know that it’s a combination of his past and just being three years old. Now, in 10 days we go back to court and hopefully bio-mom will sign the surrender and he will forever be ours.

I love you Buddy, and even though I think of you as my son already, I can’t wait for the day when it’s official and we can celebrate your adoption! Happy One Year Buddy!

Baby (Grand-)Mama Drama

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We have been keeping in contact with Buddy’s former foster parents. It’s been nice to know some background and gain some insight into what he’s done before, what works and doesn’t work. I send her a pic now and then and tell her he’s doing well. Just some background… Buddy was born in a different county and then bio-mom moved to our county. Bio-mom said she would plead guilty to neglect if they moved Buddy to her county and the judge agreed. That was devastating news for the former foster parents who also loved Buddy, but luckily he went to another caring home… ours! Well, the former foster mom told me a little snippet of information recently that there is a bio-grandma that she had to keep in contact with that wanted to adopt him!

Bio-mom is originally from a different state and bio-Grandma still lives there. She adopted bio-mom’s first child, a girl, who is now eight years old. The former foster mom would have to give bio-grandma monthly updates on Buddy. I didn’t know bio-grandma existed, so I contacted Buddy’s caseworker.

The caseworker said she had no information like that on bio-grandma, but she was doing her “due diligence” by sending her monthly letters that Buddy is in foster care. Supposed bio-dad is also getting the letters. Well, bio-grandma called the caseworker and gave her hell and was really rude to her on the phone. She wanted nothing to do with Buddy. Okay, that’s fine with us! Then, as of our Service Plan Review meeting, bio-grandma called back to say that she would come get Buddy! Hello! That’s not how it works!

Bio-grandma thought that she could just drive to NY from her state and bring him there! Maybe that’s how it works elsewhere, but in NY there is a lot of interstate paperwork to go through and she has to Skype or call Buddy to show she’s making a connection. Then they have to do background checks, make sure it’s a proper placement, go to court, etc. Well, bio-grandma didn’t want to go through all that! She said she’s having enough trouble with the eight year old granddaughter as it is! OMG!!

She said that she wants nothing to do with her grandchildren’s mother. Apparently she put bio-mom into foster care when she was 16 because she would run away, steal, went around with many boys, was into drugs, etc. She claims that Buddy’s mom went the 650+ miles to her home recently and kicked her door in. Well, I don’t doubt the anger part of the equation, but bio-mom doesn’t have her own car and it’s at least a 10 hour drive and she’s been making Buddy’s visits. She also says that bio-mom has outstanding warrants in that state and there was some drama over Facebook about $10,000 being missing! Ummm… none of this makes any sense. If there was an ounce of truth to it, I’d think that the county or state of NY would turn bio-mom over to the police.

Bio-grandma decided that she would settle for monthly updates again, like what the former foster mom gave her. However, I could only call during certain times because Buddy’s half sister (there are different bio-dad’s) doesn’t even know that he exists! Bio-grandma claims that she is trying to protect her by not telling her about him. As it was, bio-grandma was talking to the caseworker quietly on the phone and standing outside so that the girl wouldn’t hear her talking! Well, if she wanted to just come get Buddy, the child would find out then, so what’s the difference? I said that it all sounds a little fishy to me. I would give my updates through the caseworker for now. Hopefully bio-grandma doesn’t pursue this any further. Family drama is not my bag baby!

Photo credit: capn madd matt / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Adoption on the Horizon?

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We went to Buddy’s Service Plan Review on Friday. It’s basically a check by a neutral party to make sure that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do as far as Buddy is concerned: Mom is being offered services, Buddy is in a safe environment and getting the services he needs and the foster parents are on board with what’s going on. Bio-mom did not attend.

My big question was, “when would we be able to adopt Buddy?”

This is what I was told:

Buddy went into care in September. At his 53 week mark, next September, if mom has made no progress, my caseworker will file a TPR (Termination of Parental Rights).

Around October a petition will be prepared for family court. At this initial appearance, or pretrial, we can see if our lawyer can make a deal with bio-mom’s lawyer for her to relinquish her parental rights. For instance, we will send her a letter and a photo once a year giving her an update as to how he’s doing. If she agrees to this, then we can file paperwork to adopt him.

If she decides that she will not terminate her rights and she feels that she has done what she needed to do to get him back, then they would hold a trial in about February.

The trial would be a “fact finding” day to see what information we have to support why he should be freed for adoption or returned to mom.

Next we would go to a dispositional hearing to see if bio-mom is found neglectful or not based on the information from the “fact finding” day. If the judge says she was, then he’ll be freed for adoption. However, mom can appeal.

It takes 12-16 months for the appeals process to take place.

Best case scenario, we’ll be adopting Buddy in about a year. Worst case scenario, it could take up to THREE long years!

To mom’s credit, she has been attending weekly visits with him. He’s a mess afterward, but she goes. She did not go into rehab like she was supposed to. She has not attended the anger management, parenting or counseling classes or assessments that have been offered to her over the past eight months. So, she has 4 more months to either get her act together or continue down her path of destruction.

Photo credit: rumolay / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Not My First Rodeo

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I got a phone call yesterday morning from the fertility clinic telling me I missed my appointment. I apologized to the nurse, saying that I meant to call, but was distracted by my new foster baby.

I informed her that I got my period on Saturday and I knew that I wasn’t pregnant, so I did not need to come in. She said that I did still need to come in. I asked why. She said to verify for their records! I said, “I’m telling you for your records, I’m not pregnant!” She said, “many women have bleeding and are still pregnant.” I said, “This is not my first rodeo! This is my fourth IUI. I think I’d know if I was pregnant or not. The nurse replied, “well, I’m going to mark in your file that you refused!” I said okay.

The nurse made me feel like I was in trouble in school and the principal was going to put it in my “permanent file?” Am I going to get detention? Are people going to whisper about me behind my back when I go to the office? “THAT’S the woman who didn’t want to get her blood work done!” Give me a break!

I understand that it was this nurse’s job to check on me and make sure I am following the procedures. However, it was bad enough to find out on Saturday that I wasn’t pregnant. I didn’t need that phone call from the nurse, while I’m at school with my students, telling me that I need to stop all medication because the results were negative.”

This was my fourth and last IUI attempt. While I’m sad that it didn’t work for me, it’s kind of a relief in a way to know that I don’t have to worry about the injections, the doctor’s appointments and the copays. Luckily I have a new little guy in my life that will keep me plenty busy! I would be perfectly happy adopting him and moving on with my life. We’ll have to see what happens.

Photo credit: Vince Alongi / Foter.com / CC BY