Tuesday, May 31, 2016

So We Adopted Our Kids Last Week...Now What?

This past Wednesday was ADOPTION DAY!  Or as we are going to call it on every May 25th from here on out, Forever Day.  It was a wonderful day, easy, memorable, special.   Families and might-as-well-be family joined us at the hearing and lots of other loved ones stormed our house afterward for a BBQ lunch celebration.

We're a forever family, so...now what?

We're a regular ole family
We are now afforded all the legalities, perks and challenges of any regular family out there.  I can be actual mom at the doctor instead of "just foster mom".   We all have the same last name.  We know that these are our kids forever and always.

I'm still going to keep our kids' photos and names private
Prior to the adoption, we were not allowed to post our kids faces or names on the internet.  Now that they are legally our children, we can do as we please in that arena, but my gut would like me to please still refrain from posting their pictures or information publicly.   I have posted their faces and names on my locked down facebook profile, but as for this blog and my public Instagram, sorry folks. I don't really have an explanation but I'm going with my gut on this one, at least for a while.

We have an open adoption
This means the kids' first mom is not gone from their lives completely.  Much more to come very soon regarding this topic via a guest post from my husband.

We are no longer a licensed foster family
For two and a half years, a Texas Department of Family & Protective Services foster care license has hung in a frame by our front door, as required.  Today I took it down.  It was with expected joy and unexpected sadness that I did so.  You see, we have our hands quite full at the moment with three toddlers so wouldn't be able to take more placements for a while.  Meanwhile, our CPS agency won't keep a home open and licensed for that long if you aren't taking kids, since it uses up their resources and time for no gain.  So, closing our license was the only option at this point.  

On one hand, we are excited to just be parents.  To give Tylenol without writing it down on a medicine log.  To go to the doctor without toting paperwork with us.  To go out of town without telling CPS where we are headed and for how long and with whom.  To no longer have a revolving door at home of the kids' caseworker, our social worker, the kids' attorney, ECI therapists, fire, health and RCCL inspectors.  To grab our people in a pinch when we need babysitting even though they don't have CPR, fingerprinting and a background check.   It will be SO NICE to just settle in to be a family without a government agency basically living with us too.

But...I am actually surprised at how sad and bereft I feel.  For years, this has been our thing, our identity, our jam.  For years we have been marching to this crazy drum and suddenly it is silent.   It took us a year and a half to figure everything out and actually get licensed in the first place and yet it took one single phone call to shut it all down.  I am sad because there are so, so many children out there who need a safe home and we are not currently on the list to help them.  But we are not being useless.  Don't you even think I'm hinting at that.  We never expected our first placement to end in adoption, much less with three whole children at once.  I believe in the bottom of my soul that this placement, these children, are the exact situation God intended for us when we embarked on this journey.  But I also believe that God intends more for us and expects more from us.

So, this is not the end.  This is a new beginning.  The beginning of our legal family of five.  We intend to be a family of more in the future still, whether temporarily or legally.  We have committed to seriously re-evaluate our family situation on every Gotcha Day (the day our kids first came to our home) and really pray, talk and stew about getting licensed again.  We are giving ourselves probably at least two years before we would, when our kids would be ages 4, 5 and 6, potty trained, more self sufficient.  Neither of us wants to fall into thinking it's never good timing and we know we'll never not have our hands full with these hooligans who already live here.    We are realistic, but we are committed.

I'll sign off now, for the first time ever, not as a foster mom but as...just mom.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Letter To My Kids On Adoption Day

Dear Kids,

In a few hours we will be in our county courthouse, before a judge, becoming a legal and forever family.  The judge herself told me a few weeks ago that "this is your day".  Your day to run around the courtroom if you wish, to be happy, to show joy, to be kids.  I was somewhat relieved to hear her say that, given that it is near impossible to get all three of your little bodies sitting still.

This is a big day.  This is your day.  This is our family's day.   The gravity and weight of this occasion have settled solidly into my soul and I am over the moon with joy.  But...this day is not everything.

This is the day the state of Texas will acknowledge us as a legal family.  But it is not the day our family began.

This is the day I will legally become your mother.  But it is not the day my motherly love began.

This is the day your last name will match ours.  But it is not the day that your humanity began.

Your story is unique.  Your story is challenging.  Your story is precious. 

Our family's story is unique.  Our family's story is challenging.  Our family's story is precious.

We honor your past, celebrate your present and eagerly anticipate your future.  We will have good times. We will laugh so, so often. We will work through life's plain ole challenges as a plain ole family.  We will face the confusion and questions about your tricky start in life when they rise up and we will block out the rest of the world, plop down on the rug, hash through it all, say as many words and cry as many tears as we need to until we are as much at peace as we can be in that moment.

This won't always be easy.  Turmoil may pop up.  Trauma may surface.  Strangers may make ignorant comments about our family. People may assume things about your story that are entirely false.  But we are prepared to rally as your parents, to circle around you.  At times we will take the blows on your behalf and shield you entirely.  Other times we will jump down into the trench with you and fight alongside you.  Still other times we will sit back and cheer you on from afar as you live out your unique, challenging, precious story with strength, confidence and love.

You are a joy, a delight, a blessing.  We are honored to get to call you ours.

Happy Forever Day sweet babies of mine.

With all my love, for all my days,