A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. --Forest E. Witcraft
The phone rang this evening, and it was the mom of two foster daughters from years back. She wished me and the kids Happy Thanksgiving, as her children were all yelling "Happy Thanksgiving, Aunt Diane" in the background. She said they were thinking of us and wanted us to know. We talked a while and she brought up the past. She said she is so thankful today for how her life has changed, for God, and for her family. She included me in the family part, saying I will always be Aunt Diane to the kids, even though we don't see each other as much anymore. I told her she was a major success story and that I was so glad things worked out as they did. She said thank you and that I really helped her.
You see, nine years ago I received her two youngest children (ages 1 1/2 and 8 months) as foster placements. Her five children were in foster care for two years. She fought a very difficult, uphill battle to overcome drugs and domestic violence, and she won! She found the Lord and made him the focus of her life. She also learned how to take care of herself and her children. Although it looked like I might adopt those two girls, this mom got it together in time. It was hard on me when I was told that mom had progressed enough to begin reunification, but after just a couple of overnight visits, I saw how much she loved her children and I started to soften toward them going home. Reunification took over three months, during which time she and I built a relationship that continues today.
I am thankful today as well. I thank God that I have been able to watch these two girls grow up along with their siblings, that their mom succeeded in bringing them back home and has become a very good parent, and that I didn't adopt them, because I wouldn't have Sweets, Buddy, and BB today if I had. God's plan is always bigger and better than ours!
Sunday night, before I took Sweets home, I got a call from her dad. Directions: don't bring her back to the same house; he has moved to a friend's house. Luckily it is in the same neighborhood and walking distance from the same school. Sweets recognized the new house and knew who lived there.
Turns out the state was coming to visit him Monday to check out his living conditions related to Lil Sis. I am SO irritated.... For over a year and a half, they have lived in a despicable place with family, with no hot water since last November, cockroaches, broken windows, disgusting bathroom, mosquitoes, and sharing a mattress in the corner of the living room with no privacy. He has been saying he is going to get his own apartment every month since May but has not made any progress. NOW he moves! The two of them are sharing an empty bedroom at the new house. I sure hope the case manager can see right through this.
Good news, though. Sweets called tonight and was excited to be able to take a shower there! For months, she has skipped showering during the week until she returns to my house on the weekend.
A week ago I purchased some squeaky shoes for BB from Connie's blog. She is raising funds to adopt a little darling from China; I needed some black shoes for BB. So, I picked a pair, coordinated with her on size, and wah-lah, the squeaky shoes arrived mid week.
Now, when I ordered these shoes, I thought they looked cute, but I had no idea why they were called squeaky shoes. I guess I'm really out of touch. When I looked them over, I saw a little button on the inside edge of the sole. Yes, the shoes actually SQUEAK when you step down in them!
BB loves them! I hold him and let him bounce, and he immediately looks down to see where the sound comes from. It will be so fun if he starts walking before he outgrows these shoes! If not, I will probably have to get another pair!!!
Check out Connie's blog to see part of the selection of squeaky shoes. You can always contact her via email on her profile page for more info and pictures as well.
BB is truly the happiest baby around! Tonight we went to church for the annual Thanksgiving dinner prior to the Wednesday night programs for all ages (next Wednesday is a worship service). There were probably 150 people or more attending. Several of the retired ladies came over to dote on BB:
He is always so happy!
He is so good in church!
He smiles at us behind you on Sunday morning!
(and many more...)
It was nice to sit down individually with a couple of ladies and share about my children. I am often told that I do amazing things, so much good, etc. Well the truth is that my children provide so much joy, even when the going gets touch; I feel so privileged that God has chosen me to be their mom! The benefits I receive completely dwarf the struggles! Just don't ask me to repeat this statement when I'm in the middle of a battle with one of them! :-)
After my class this afternoon, I drove the rest of the way over to Sweets' house to return her glasses. I think she may have not-so-accidentally forgotten them when it was time to go home last night. At least law school is already halfway to her house, so I didn't have to make a separate 80 mile round trip!
Sweets was in a good mood and thrilled that I came over. She was still in the same clothes she wore beginning yesterday after church. She said she wore her school uniform over them. I asked her to change while I was there, so at least I know she has clean clothes for tomorrow. No such luck on a shower - the water heater is still broken (since December). She waits until she comes to my house to take a shower on the weekend. The front door was finally fixed though, so it no longer has a hole in it. Progress!
This evening we went to a birthday party for Lil Sis who turned 5. Sad thing is, this is the first time a big deal has ever been made about her birthday. She was thrilled to jump in the Princess bouncer. Sweets enjoyed being a part of the celebration and took charge when it was time to open gifts, giving Lil Sis play by play directions on what to do next. Very cute!
Tonight we enjoyed dinner out with cousins, two from out of state and a couple that is local. We enjoyed the best fajitas in town and had a great time visiting. They met BB for the first time and oooed and aaahed over him. BB was delightful and willing to go to anyone. But when he came back to me, he snuggled into my shoulder. It was so precious and sweet! It was wonderful telling them the story of how BB came to be with us (and now will likely stay with us) and how he is truly a blessing from God!
Last night I received a text message from a pilot of the Goodyear Blimp Spirit of America which was in town. He asked if I could fill up a few seats on the blimp today. I had met this pilot by chance about four years ago when my parents took a ride after my sister won that prize at a charity auction. I hadn't heard from him in three years. So I gathered up eleven others from work to ride this morning. What an awesome experience!
My licensing worker came today with the wonderful news that the request has been received to license me for adoption of BB. This request has been three months in coming due to some terminology confusion between CPS and the licensing agency. It escalated up both chains of command because one side was asking for an Adoption Conversion Request but it turns out the other side actually files an Adoption Home Study Request (which magically turns into an Adoption Conversion Request within the bowels of CPS). What this means is that the adoption home study should be filed with the court prior to the severence of parental rights, allowing the adoption to take the fast track. I'll be happy if the adoption is final by June, anything sooner is a bonus!
When I took Sweets home tonight, I talked with her dad for a while. He initiated that, should anything happen to him (like getting arrested or deported), Sweets should stay with me temporarily until he returned. This is huge, because he has previously always indicated that he wanted Sweets to stay with his sister (and her five kids plus usually three grandkids at home). I am so happy that the trust is truly building. He said that he will have a notarized paper with his wishes to give me when I pick up Sweets next weekend. Any wager on whether he follows through?
I also told him when and where to go for the paternity test for Lil Sis. Unfortunately it is probably 45 miles away from his house. Ridiculous really, since I am positive there are tens of labs closer that could do it, but that is what you get from a gov't agency for scheduling! When I got the info from the case manager last week, she said she personally had nothing to do with the scheduling and couldn't change the location. I don't know if he will go or not. I really hope he does, because the next court date is before Thanksgiving!
This afternoon was an all church BBQ and square dance. Food was great and square dancing was even more fun! I had the privilege of being partners with all three of my older children for at least a little while. Buddy was much more interested in the bounce houses though. May participated under duress but seemed to have fun anyway. Sweets impressed everyone by coming in from the bounce houses toward the end and jumping right into the square. BB sat and watched the motion from his stroller. I think we all enjoyed the afternoon!
I took Sweets to the funeral this morning. Her family was very glad to have her there. She sat with her two younger sisters during the service. Her dad was 1 hour 15 minutes late; luckily for him the service lasted 1 hour 45 minutes, followed by a graveside service. Sweets and I left when everyone went outside. She was tired of being still and quiet, and we had prior plans which were more interesting to her.
We met Miss M and my other kids and went to a party for Foster and Adoptive Families at a local park. The weather was awesome. They had inflatable jumpers and other fun. I saw a couple of moms that I met a few years back. One has adopted 10 kids, ages 3-13, and is now fostering a sibling group of 3 that are children of a former foster child. Wow!
Afterwards, we went to Sweets' uncle's house where the family was meeting. Sweets and Buddy had fun playing with all the other kids. May hung out with me and BB passing time in the background. It was good for Sweets to be there.
Tonight was the visitation for an older member of Sweets' maternal family. Tomorrow is the funeral. Her dad was also a good friend of this family member. I talked to Sweets' dad the last two nights about the arrangements. I was going to be at his house at 4pm today to pick her up and he was going to follow us to the visitation. When I got there, he was not home and Sweets' aunt was waiting in her car to leave as soon as I showed up. His phone went straight to voice mail.
So, I picked up Sweets and we went to the funeral home where I cleaned her up the best I could in the bathroom and helped her put on the dress and shoes I brought. She hadn't had a shower since being at my house last weekend, because there is no hot water at their house (since before the first of the year). Sweets got to be with her maternal family, including both younger sisters. She also got to see her birth mom.
Finally after 6pm her dad answered his phone. He said he was coming, could I please wait about an hour because he wanted to talk with me. He couldn't come tomorrow because he had to work. So, I called Miss M, cancelled going out to dinner, and asked her to feed the other kids at home. At 7:20pm I called Sweets' dad again. He said he was getting in the shower and would be coming soon. I reminded him visitation ended at 8pm. At 7:50pm he called to say he couldn't make it before 8pm. He would come tomorrow and wanted to talk with me then. Sweets had been saying all night, he isn't coming. She knows him all too well.
Tonight was a Patriotic Concert at my children's Christian school. The kids all wore red, white, and blue, and each grade K-6 sang a patriotic song. It was so nice to be so blatantly reminded of the Christian foundation of our country. There is such a stark contrast with May's first five years in public school. I am so blessed that May and Buddy have the opportunity to attend this wonderful school!
Last Thursday, I looked for my little pumpkin costume for BB to wear for Halloween. It wasn't in either of the places where the costumes are stored. I determined that I must have given it aways quite a while ago; it's been years since I used it. So Friday morning, getting another costume for BB was on the to-do list.
I decided to go to a local upscale children's resale shop to try to save money over Wal*mart. I found an adorable pumpkin outfit for $5. But when I went to pay, I was told costumes were 60% off and all infant clothing 24 mo and smaller was 50% off. Since BB has no size 12 mo clothes and I'm sure he will outgrow his new 9 mo clothes by Christmas, I looked at the boys 12 mo rack. When I left the store, in addition to the costume, I had 4 sleeper pjs, 1 jacket, a 3 piece Christmas outfit, another 3 piece church outfit, a sweater, 3 l/s shirts that snap, 4 pair of pants, and a one piece outfit. Total bill: $39.60