Friday, November 7, 2014

701 Days...

It has been 701 days since KC left our house.  (I missed out on the even 700 yesterday....such a slacker!!) 

The days have been long.  701 days as a family apart.  701 days of no good night hugs.  701 days of no good morning smiles.  701 days of separation.  

This journey has been much needed, yet a bitter pill to swallow.  We have all grown and matured and learned so much.  Things we would not have learned otherwise.  

AJ is healing.  Her attachment and PTSD issues are still present, but she's made some HUGE gains in being able to process through it all.  I thank God for bringing people into our lives that are willing to 'go there' with her, with us.  My prayer moving forward is that she can continue to progress even with the chaos of the upcoming transition.

The BIG T...This is what KC calls it!  The big transition.  In 14 days, KC will be moving home full-time.  FOURTEEN DAYS!  The changes in her have been amazing and beautiful.  I am quite hopeful that this reunification will be a success!  

So as we're moving forward, I am trying to compile a list of Things We Need to have available for when people ask... So far, I know we need: 

  • Prayer Warriors!!  This one is self-explanatory.
  • To keep busy - I have seen that when we have got stuff to do on the weekends, the girls do so much better behaviorally.  So don't hesitate to join us!
  • Accountability - When things start to slip for me emotionally or mentally I will isolate myself.  Hey, don't let me!  Call me on it.  Make me be social.  I need it far more than I care to admit.  
Can you think of anything else?  I am thinking there must be more!  

Let's see the progress, shall we?  Take a moment to look at these pictures... The first was from 2010.  The second from 2 weeks ago.  Can you see the change?  Is it as visible to you as it is to me?  

October 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Grief and Beauty

Through the prism of Autism everyday events morph into larger-than-life escapades; life changing events have a way of shifting into smaller, more digestible bits.  At least this is true at our house.  

Today was not a scheduled, structured day.  It was not what I had planned, surely. It was a day like no other ever will be.  It was painfully raw and beautiful.  

Grandpa holding Grandma's hand. * 
Please know that my definition of beautiful is uniquely mine and you are free to use it any way you see fit.  For me pretty and beautiful are vastly different.  Pretty is superficial and comes with ease. While true beauty can not be possible without pain.  They go hand-in-hand and are inseparable. Together they are what makes this life worth living.  

 Today I had the incredible honor of holding my grandmother's hand as she left her earthly body and met the Lord.  I've never been present at the birth of a child, but I imagine this to be just as powerful. 

Grandpa holding Grandma's hand.*
Through the perspective of my girls, I found some really amazing insights.  KC was with me at the house when it happened while AJ was playing a friend's house.  KC sat there taking all of the emotion and didn't flinch until I asked a while later if she was okay.  She needed that permission to cry.  She didn't know why she was crying but she knew everyone else was sad.  Once the situation was explained to her, she did her very best to comfort and encourage everyone around her.  I was so proud.  Yes, it was all scripted and was presented with a flat affect and it was awkward, but I tell you, it WAS beautiful.  Her "I hope you feel better soon" and "don't worry, I'm on your side" and "I wish I could make you feel better, but I can't" were more honest and true than anything else anyone could come up with.  

Me and Grandma.*
I chose to tell AJ later, after we were alone.  AJ is definitely more emotional than KC and I knew it was going to be rough.  Her heart broke.  Her life changed forever.  She quickly ran through a list of people and asked if they were still alive.  She had to call my mom to hear her voice and share her sadness.  She reached the end of herself and decided she needed to find a new great grandma, one that wouldn't ever die.  That is her answer for the big hard stuff.  It worked for her before...her birth parents were not okay so she got a new mom.  Therefore, this must be how it works.  

Our grief has just begun.  I know that we all will be processing this so much more in the coming days, weeks and months.  But today, it comes down to this...Grandma is with Jesus RIGHT NOW.  I know I'm not the only one that's just a little bit jealous.  

* These pictures were taken a short while before Grandma passed.  So very precious.  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Dear Friend,

I have a friend. (yeah, shocker, isn't it?!) My friend and her husband are in the very final stages of adopting two kiddos with special needs from another country.  She been on my mind incessantly and I want to tell her some things.  So I thought I'd tell her and others just like her -  loudly and boldly on my blog.  

Dear Friend, 

I am so freaking excited and happy for you!  I cannot even begin to convey my level of enthusiasm. You are a wonderful mama to the kids you have already and that wonder will grow with the new additions to your family.  I am so proud of you. You have persevered through many adversarial trials to answer the call God has sent.  

I want you to know some things.  I need you to remember these things on the bad days, months, years.  

  • God's ways are not our ways.  He has called you to parent these beautiful children.  He knows the strife and the beauty that lie ahead.  Never ever question His calling.  You were created to be the mama to these kids.  There will be times when that feels too big and you feel too small. Get over it.  He's got your back.  ;-)  
  • Live in the present.  Don't let your mind reside in the past where your kids were, where you were.  Now is so precious.  Yesterday will steal today's joy. 
  • Never be afraid to ask for help.  You WILL need help.  We all need help.  Help is good!
  • Stay connected.  This life is so isolating.  You are going to be attachment parenting the first months and in order to give all for your kids, you will need to stay filled up yourself.  Call. Write.  Send carrier pigeons or smoke signals.  Please, stay connected to those that fill you.
  • It's okay to avoid the nay-sayers.  You know, those people that think you are insane.  They may be close or far away, and you may love them dearly, but right now you need supportive and helpful people surrounding you.  It's okay to back away from Negative Nancys for a while.
  • Feelings are good things, even when they aren't good feelings.  Your emotions do not control you. You are allowed to feel any emotion that happens along. Don't ever feel guilty for feeling. Feeling is good.  Not feeling is bad.  
Oh my dear friend, your journey is just beginning and it's such an honor to have a front row seat.  I will never fully comprehend your journey and how you got here as our paths have been a bit different.  However, please always know that I will stand with you.  I will pray with you. I will cry with you.  I will fight along side you.  I will just be...

With love and grace, 

If anyone out there in cyber-world would like to read more about my friend's journey and help them reach their fully-funded status please visit them at  They leave in just a few weeks to get their fabulous children!!  

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What Has Been Happening...

Hi there.  It’s been a while.  Things are much the same and totally different.  You know - the usual.

This summer brought med changes for AJ.  We are still, four months later, trying to find the right medication at the right dose to help her control her anxiety, mood swings and aggression.  Oh, the aggression…it’s been brutal. 

For KC, the summer brought more home visits!  We now get to spend every weekend together at home.  It was a slow transition, and everyone is handling it quite well.  Our county CPS worker says that we should be able to have her home full-time at the end of November!!  This is huge - bigger than big.  It’s going to be hard and difficult and frustrating and wonderful and glorious! 

Through this crazy transition and for a long time after, we will have lots of support both formal and informal.  We have already begun having formal support each morning before school for AJ.  Someone comes in and works on her daily living skills and gets her ready for school.  When KC’s transition home happens we will have after school support with a supportive home care worker. 

We also have the amazing informal supports that we’ve met along our journey over the last two years.  Our new(ish) church family we’ve found is absolutely fabulous.  Many have family members or are people with special needs and many have adopted.  It’s a unique comradery.  And it’s kinda perfectly imperfect. 

School has been underway for whole month.  Over the summer I was able to take a new position at the school I work with… I moved from working in the special education – learning disabilities department to the special education – cognitive disabilities department.  It’s wonderful.  It’s an honor to be part of such an amazing team. 

The last few months have shown some pretty interesting growth for me.  Throughout this journey, I have found myself. (Sounds super cliché, I know!)  I have uncovered things that make me uniquely me AND I am at a place where I can embrace those things and no longer be ashamed of them.   The places I have been emotionally have been really dark.  That darkness had enveloped me for many years…decades even.  Through the struggles of the last two years, I have broken down those dark walls and found life.  It sounds so simple.  HA!  Not simple, but oh so very much worth the work.  The struggles remain, and always will.  However, the hope and the light are so much bigger.   

As I look to the future, I can see brightness and joy mingled with the struggles and the pain.  There is a lot we are looking forward to!  We are moving ahead with KC’s transition home and we will be welcoming workers into our home to essentially be an integral part of our family.  I also sincerely hope to be able to deepen the friendships forged over the last two years. I know a bunch of fabulous people and look forward to working through the valleys and mountain tops of life with them! 

My prayer is that through it all…the struggles, the joy, the sorrow, the hope, the pain and the beauty – that people will see Jesus.  Have you looked for Him today?  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


So, yesterday we had KC's permanency plan hearing to ensure we are all making strides toward the 'goal'.  The goal is and always has been reunification.  It's been 17 months and 26 days.  We are still hopeful.  

The hearing always brings up some emotional crud for me.  Partially, because of the all the mandated stuff the judge must say at each hearing (the termination of parental rights warning), and partially because of the self-imposed guilt of having to ask for help with my kid in the first place.  When you add in the ridiculousness of treating parents like criminals and the insane idea that this case is like all the other CPS cases....well, it's rough. 
Fun at the zoo!  

Yesterday was not an exception.  There was 
good that came out of the discussions I had with our social worker.  Mainly, that if AJ's medication changes go well, we may possibly be able to transition KC home within 3-4 months.  There was also bad that came out of that discussion.  The  social worker asked if I was prepared to have AJ transferred to out of home care if she continues to become more aggressive.  (Ummmm, nope.)  

Mostly, though, in light of the possible transition of KC back into our daily lives I feel...perplexed.  After all this time, I know that I am not what she needs.  Surely, I can meet her needs, but I will never be the thing she needs.  That is so different than my relationship with AJ.  How do I be such a different kind of parent to each of my kids and not leave anyone wondering why I love the other more?  Will parenting KC differently be more divisive and further instill her RAD thinking?  

It feels like fighting.  Constantly battling with everyone else to prove my love and devotion of my children.  No, CPS will not remove AJ.  Yes, KC will come home.  I will try harder.  I will love them more....Ugh!  

The system to get mental health help for kids is broken; and not broken in a good and healing way.  Broken in an amazingly bad way that serves to cause further damage and destruction to everyone that is forced into it.  If it is not changed, our children will not heal; our families will not heal; and bad things will continue to happen.  Anyone want to take on the system for me?   ...Anyone?  Yeah, me neither.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

From a Spoiled Brat...

"So, God, if You really loved me you would do this..."

I think of one of my children saying such silly things to me and I laugh.  It's not so funny when you're on the other end.  I hope God finds some humor in it when I bring such silliness to Him.  I am so thankful for His unending grace and forgiveness. 

Why do I think that He needs to PROVE His love for me?  He already did that on the cross.  Prayer is not a fast-food window to God.  Our prayer requests and concerns are not orders to be filled. Alas, I am a broken crazy person, just like all of you broken crazy people.  

I am grateful to God for His patience as I continue to be refined in His image.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What IS 'Safe'?

Safe.  What in the world does it mean?  What EXACTLY is it?  How does it feel?  My friend, Merriam-Webster, says "not able or likely to be hurt or harmed in any way : not in danger".  

Over the last week or so, through a number of circumstances, conversations, and a Pastor that seems to spy on my therapy sessions, I have come to the realization that I have never known or felt what safe really is.  I grew up refusing to acknowledge emotion.  I learned to hide and ignore my feelings at a very young age, and I am a master at it!  

It turns out that I seem to have similar attachment and trust issues as my kids.  Gee, it's like God knew what He was doing, or something!  All along there is clearly a tapestry that has been woven together piece by piece, and it is far from being done.  What I am learning right now is all in preparation for what's to come.  Which, I admit, scares me terribly but it is also exciting!  

So back to my friend's definition, I have pondered this at length.  And for now, I have determined that absolutely no one can be considered 'safe'.  Everyone is able and even very likely to hurt at sometime.  I mean, that's just life, right?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

400 Days...

It has been 400 days since KC left our home.  The 400th day is just as painful as the first, except the shock has worn off.  We've had many ups and downs.  Certainly, we have all learned more than we ever knew possible about this path we have taken!  

AJ has learned that life's uncertainties are challenging and painful.  She still asks weekly when she will have to leave.  She has also begun to delve more deeply into her own history and has a lot of repetitive questions about her birth family and foster family.  Hearing the truth over and over and over seems to be calming.  Anxiety has taken over her little body in an ugly way.  We are so thankful for our wonderful child Psychiatrist, and his willingness to think outside of the box.  She is doing so much better than just a few short months ago!  

KC has learned lots of new "cope-a-nation" skills.  She has matured emotionally and socially.  Living with 10 other girls has been very good for her in that manner.  KC will be taking the next opening to a specific group home.  This group home is one that many of the girls she has met in the unit move to when they are ready for the next step.  We are both hopeful that this group home would be the final step down before returning home.  Still, we have no general timeline as to when that may be.   

Me?  Well, I feel like I am exactly where I was 400 days ago, but I am not.  I am healthier physically and emotionally.  I am probably less healthy spiritually.  Certainly a year of wandering the wilderness, refusing to trust and believe in His promises.  Blinded by my anger and hurt, I've been throwing a 400-day-long temper tantrum.  Aside from be exhausted by this, I am also feeling a tad bit ridiculous!  Moving forward, this will be changing.  

As we try to put the last 400 days behind us and look forward to the next  400, I am hopeful.  2014 is going to be difficult.  Many challenges await and need to be dealt with accordingly.  I am hopeful that there will be more blessings than challenges; more laughter than tears; and more rest than chaos.