We Waited 701 Days For Today

13 04 2018

That day we thought would never come, came today.

We officially, legally, forever-ly (yeah, I probably made up a word) adopted our son.

He’ll be two next month. The hospital placed him in our arms when he was three days old. It’s still very surreal. But what was once a dream is now our miraculous reality.

WE ARE LIVING A MIRACLE.

We waited 701 days for this day and it was worth every second.

To commemorate and celebrate the day, I made T-shirts.

Nine of them.

6 of the 7 children had a shirt like this (Front)

For the back, I used a line from the song This is Me, from the movie The Greatest Showman. I feel like this line sums up what it means to be in the foster community. You can’t be a useful part of this life if you’re not willing to fight for something or someone. When you become a foster family, you open your doors to battles raging you never knew existed.

Like systems that don’t work well, sometimes, but they’re all we have. We learn to fight by learning to navigate the system we’re now working in. We learn that sometimes, the best fight, is to be quiet and let things run their course. Other times, we learn we have to speak out.

We learn to fight by becoming a force for change in the system. Looking at areas we can help with then getting involved.

We learn to fight by encouraging others who are on this rocky path with us. Encouraging parents who try their best to love and help their traumatized children.

We learn to fight our children, to keep them safe from themselves, sometimes. We learn to fight FOR our children when we pour over article after article looking for ways to help them. When we call doctor after doctor asking for help, only to be turned away because they don’t see what we do – AND WE KNOW WE’RE RIGHT.

We fight for the relationships we had before we entered the foster world, because those are hard to hold on to when your whole world is taken over by one of the hardest good things you will ever try.

We fight for the relationships within our own homes because change is not easy. Bringing foster children into your family IS NOT like having the children next door sleep over one night and just never go home. Foster children are in the system, they walk through the doors of our home, because THEY HAVE BEEN TRAUMATIZED. Often – OFTEN – many times. The day the state goes in and removes them (for their safety) is a traumatic event all on its own. But there are circumstances that lead up to that removal. And when these children walk through our doors, they often do NOT want to be here. It’s nothing personal, but there are other places they’d rather be, than with more strangers. For our established children, that can be a hard transition, too. So we fight to maintain balance (that still feels like an unattainable dream most days) within our homes while fighting forces from without, too.

YOU CANNOT BE IN THE FOSTER WORLD UNLESS YOU ARE WILLING TO FIGHT. That’s why this line got my attention. We’ve been refined and molded into warriors.

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My husband and I had slightly different shirts.

Here’s a picture of all of us. You can see mine says His, and His says Hers πŸ™‚

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And while we’re at it, a back view of all of us.

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But little man, the whole reason for the celebration, his was a little different. His reflected the feelings of our family, extended family, and friends.

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Thanks for stopping by!

xoxo

So you can enjoy the song, too πŸ™‚

 

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The Lord and I need to have a frank discussion on how awesome He thinks I am…

8 04 2018

Because I’m just not seeing it.

The world didn’t stop with our ASD diagnosis, but it would have been nice.

I’m a *tad* overwhelmed, and this post is me dealing with that. It would be nice if things could be put on hold while we figured this thing out. But they’re not.

Twelve days into our autism diagnosis and it’s hitting me that our lives may be dramatically different than what we were planning.

Or not.

We just don’t know, and that’s part of the stress. Just not knowing… Not knowing anything…

I like to learn about the things I’m facing (there’s a lot to learn right now and it’s going slower than I wanted). Then I like to plan and put those plans into action. After that, that’s when I start to relax because I’ve done all the things I can to make the situation better.

After that, I can “play”. That’s what I call doing necessary things, but in a fun way.

We’re not there yet.

But I have chosen a therapy program. It’s a hybrid of home and center based therapy. I’m not ready to let my baby go completely, but right now, I can’t give him the help he needs because I’m not trained to do it. But I’ll learn πŸ™‚

The center based therapy can provide the break everyone tells me I need to take. I don’t disagree with them, but at the same time, I feel like I’m abdicating my role as his mom, and that’s hard for me to come to terms with. But I remind myself about that self care thing. Still not sure when and how I’m supposed to fit that in when there are a handful of other children with their own diagnoses. But we’ll see.

I feel like knowledge is power. That it arms us to face our challenges. This is a BIG challenge and I feel like instead of meeting it head on clad in armor, I’m dressed in a slinky nightie. I feel like there’s all these choices that need to be made and I don’t have all the information – but I *think* (and hope) – I have enough to make the very first decisions I need to to help my son. “I may not know it all, but I know enough,” is the mantra scrolling through my head at this moment.

Now we have to wait on the insurance company to do their jobs and hope they do them well and quickly. I think this may be one of those miracles I pray for. Quick access to therapy for my boy.

In the meantime, I’m hoping to augment our early intervention team’s awesomeness with another therapist that brings her own strengths to the floor to help my son in a very easy going and fun way for him.

I’m hoping that once these therapies get started, we’ll see some good improvement and that will take away some of the stress of the unknown. Because I’ll see we’re on the right road.

I really am surrounded by amazing people and I’m grateful for them.

The Lord knows what He’s doing. He’s just waiting for me to catch up.

*laces up running shoes to get going*





Coping Through Crafting

6 04 2018

My blog is fluid.

It changes with my life.

But one thing stays pretty consistent; crafting. It feels like it can make any tough situation just a little better. I needed a little bit of that therapy this week πŸ™‚

We’re 10 days into our ASD diagnosis for my 22 month old. And let me tell you, there is a lot of information out there! It flies at you nonstop and it’s so easy to get overwhelmed.

So I organized and crafted.

Here’s what I’ve been working on.

Mamma Bear’s Big Blue Book of Autism Help

I used a digital scrapbook program I have to create the cover. It was nice to sit down and just rest and create something cute AND helpful.

Now, for the organizational part πŸ™‚ I love tabs and colors πŸ™‚ Now I have all my info in one place with an easy way to find what I’m looking for.

 

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Here are some of the things in my notebook:

http://nationalautismassociation.org/docs/BigRedSafetyToolkit.pdf
SAFETY INFO! Ways to keep our spectrum kiddos safe AND what seem to be very popular safety issues. For instance – 49% of our spectrum kids wander off for a variety of reasons. But did you know, that 91% of accidental deaths in those who wander off are water related? Our babies seem to be drawn to water. Now I know and I can keep them safe.
And THIS

https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/tool-kits/100-day-kit
It’s an information ORGANIZER for families with newly diagnosed children to help us hit the ground running. This thing is seriously amazing.
I also included his diagnosis and evaluation information so I have that at my fingertips, as well as the therapy information packets I received at his evaluation.

Life is hard enough. Being organized can make a hard situation easier.

And now, I’m ready to take notes and learn πŸ™‚

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Psst – even though the sharpies say they don’t smear…they did.

 





Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis

27 03 2018

Our foster son (soon to be adopted- yippee!) just met with the Developmental and Behavioral clinic today. I’m sure you can guess from the title, we received an autism spectrum diagnosis. To be more specific, Autism Spectrum Disorder with Global Delays with Speech Impairment.

We knew we had some delays. He’s been in physical therapy since he was three months old.

We knew he had speech delays. He’s been in therapy for that for the last seven months or so.

He’s pretty caught up in PT, but still lagging behind in speech. Although, I believe his receptive speech isn’t too far off target. But his expressive is still significantly behind.

They gave us a severity level of 2 – or moderate…

We figured something was up. Knew this was a possibility. But I kind of expected a mild case (a 1) if we received any diagnosis. So this 2 is kind of throwing me a little. I wasn’t as prepared as I thought I was to hear the words.

I’m pouring over the stacks of papers they sent home with me and have barely scratched the surface.

I’ve called and texted numerous people to give them updates since they’re involved in the case. I think I remembered everyone…

And with that done,Β  I’m now dealing with hearing the words and what it means for our family. What it means for my son. And what I keep coming back to is the fact a whole world of resources and help just opened up for us.

Obviously no one WANTS a diagnosis that complicates things. But we don’t get to choose. My daughter didn’t want a epilepsy. My sons didn’t want ADHD. Depression and anxiety? Nope. My kids didn’t want those either. Migraines? Scoliosis? Please. But you know what? We have them. We live with them. We manage and thrive with them whenever possible. Sometimes we win, other times we take a small break before getting up and trying again.

This diagnosis is no different. And there’s help to learn and manage our stumbling blocks.

I didn’t have access to that support before today.

My brain thrives on information and I have access to it. How wonderful is that? We’re so blessed to live in this time of medicine. I’m grateful to be in this moment when there is more help for my son than ever before.

We’re hoping that with time, the early interventions already in place, and adding more services specifically for this leg of the journey, we’ll be able to help him move from a moderate level to a mild level. There are no guarantees, but we’re going to do our best.

WE ARE SO BLESSED.





Social Worker Appreciation Month – Have You Thanked One?

7 03 2018

Social work is a hard and often thankless job. The hours are long and the pay is low, but it’s some of the most important work out there. It takes someone special to do this kind of job.

We have been SO BLESSED to have THE SAME caseworker for the baby’s case the ENTIRE time. If you haven’t been in this world, let me tell you, this is HIGHLY unusual. Our case is almost 2 years old and our worker has been a stabilizing part of it. She made a tough, scary situation easier.

To thank her and show her our appreciation, I made a few things.

Here’s everything together. I made the boxes and bags, too, using my WRMK Template Studio πŸ™‚

Up close of the shirt. I found the saying on Pinterest and designed something in Silhouette Studio to fit my needs. I use Siser glitter HTV in mint and now I think I’m in love with the sparkly htv πŸ™‚

I used the same htv on the mug. Also a saying I found on Pinterest that I put into Silhouette Studio and played around with. I even got to use the conical warp tool!

I used my mug press attachment for the first time and I’m kind of in love with that, too! I do wish I’d made it a little smaller, but it’s a live and learn thing I guess πŸ™‚

The mug says: You can’t fix crazy. All you can do is document it.

This card though.

It should have been easier.

I inked the flower stamp in different colors using a stamp positioning tool. But the effect was a little washed out. I did pick lightish colors though. So I grabbed my markers and inked up select areas of the stamp and stamped again.

I still wasn’t happy, so I got out my prismacolor pencils and added details and colors by hand until I was happy. And I LOVED how it turned out BUT I felt like there was too much white space. Hence the bricks.

I used my Cameo’s pixscan feature to cut out a mask for the stamped image. Then I ran some paper and a metal die through my Evolution Advanced die cutter to make a brick stencil. I masked off the flower and inked up the background. But it was a little, eh. So I got out my pencils and enhanced the bricks. Then I felt it competed too much with the flower. That’s the image you see right below.

So I did some fussy cutting (one of my least favorite things to do) to rescue the flower. Then used some other metal dies and an embossing folder to come up with what you see below. I was finally happy with it and called it a night. You can see the finished version below the bricked version πŸ™‚

Thanks for stopping by!

Oh, the flowers on the are mine because my husband’s awesome πŸ˜‰

Xoxo





Signs That Adoption is Close

9 02 2018

During the last 21 months or so, the baby has been visiting his bio mom twice a week.

In the beginning, there’s always a parent aid involved. When parents make enough progress toward reunification, the parent aid role diminishes until parents finally get unsupervised visits which lead to over nights and even whole weekends with their child.

Our parent aid was involved until the very last visit. This woman, who was a stranger in the beginning, now feels kind of like family. She’s a woman who has been part of my son’s life since the beginning. A woman who made a tough, scary situation for me so much easier. A woman who likes hummingbirds.

So when I decided I wanted to make her a thank you gift for our last visit, I knew I wanted it to have hummingbirds πŸ™‚

Because I still want to vinyl all the things, I knew vinyl would be part of it.

Here’s what I came up with.

I liked the tile, but it’s big and bulky. Also, I wanted to color. So I took the image I put together for the tile and made it work for a card, too. My Silhouette cut out the vinyl for the tile then I tried really hard not to cuss (I was successful) while I tried to get the transfer tape to work for me. It finally did- mostly.

For the card, I printed the images and card design. I then had my Silhouette cut all the pieces out. I love dimension and knew I wanted it in this card. I used my markers and pencils to color bird and flowers then affixed the images on to the card.

Thanks for stopping by!

Xoxo





And She Loved A Little Boy Very, Very Much…

3 02 2018

Tomorrow is our foster son’s last visit with his bio mom.

Last week we had court. A judge sat behind his bench waiting to decide the fate of three families, two sets of parents, and one little boy.

What had been anticipated to be a 1-2 day trial turned into a court session that ran over an hour behind then only lasted 30 minutes.

We lived miracles last week.

The day before court we had mediation with bio mom. She came into the meeting contesting the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR). But after speaking with us and I’m sure many sleepless nights considering her options, in the end, she decided to consent to the termination of her rights and agree to the adoption of her precious little boy.

I’m still unsure how to process that scene. We sat across the table and watched as the court document was signed. I still have trouble wrapping my head around the concept that a SIGNATURE is all it takes to sever those ties. It looks so simple, but was oh so amazingly swift and final.

I hugged her and thanked her. I acknowledged her sacrifice. I’ve learned that love comes in so many ways. She showed an act of love I’m not capable of.

We got word earlier that morning that bio dad’s attorney was asking for a continuance. Someone else hadn’t done their job correctly. So we expected the next morning to bring consent and TPR for bio mom and a continuance for bio dad.

While we waited. I sat with my son’s bio mom. She sat alone on one of the hardest days of her life and I couldn’t ignore that. Maybe I was the last person she wanted to see or talk to. I don’t know. But I asked questions about the children we share. How they got their names. Who they take after. What kinds of things she was going to do with the baby on his last few visits. Our parent aide has agreed to record her playing with the baby and sending me the videos so I can hold on to them for my children.

That hour they ran behind? Bio dad’s guardian ad litem and the court worked some things out and the GAL consented on bio dad’s behalf. I was surprised, too, when bio dad’s sister told me they were happy with how things were working out. She hugged me after court was done. I couldn’t believe we had the support from both sides of the family.

In the end, I couldn’t comprehend – I still can’t – the enormity of her loss. To gain my son, another mother LOST hers. But going through this journey with her for almost two years, the Lord has provided many opportunities for me to understand, to a small degree, the heart crushing cost to one mother so another could raise the child they both loved.

I wanted something special for this last visit. I used his footprints for this card andΒ  included the actual footprints with it so she has those too.

It’s so incredibly inadequate, but it’s all I have.