Posted in domestic violence survivor, life

Domestic Violence a Survivor’s Story….My Story

This is not my normal kid friendly post. So if your looking for a funny story about what the Littles have done today that will have to wait for a later time. Please feel free to stop reading now if you wish. If you do choose to continue I only ask that you keep all negative comments to yourself. It is not intended to bash or lay blame. That time has long gone.  This post is for personal healing in the hopes of continuing to move on from the past and moving forward in the direction God has laid out for me. 

 Fact:

*Domestic Violence happens to 1 out of 3 women.

*Every 9 minutes a call is made to 911 to report a domestic violence act

*1/3 of all homicides in WV are domestic violence related

*only 15% of all domestic violence acts are reported and out of those 15% not all are followed up with charges

*Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury in women.

*Domestic Violence can happen to anyone of any race at any age but largely affects women ages 18 to 28.

* Most female victim’s are assaulted by their husband’s or their partners (boyfriends)/someone they know
Today marks what would have been my 20th wedding anniversary to my first husband. Which is why I choose today to share my story. I have thought about this day alot lately for many different reasons. And if I am being completely honest with myself, and you, I know I would not be celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary today if I had stayed in that marriage. I know I would be dead by now. There’s no question in my mind.  This post is for celebrating life and continued healing even after all these years. This post is for me personally.  If no one reads it I’m ok with that. And if you do read it and are still friends with my ex that’s OK too, I am sure you have heard his version of what happened. This is not meant to down him or judge him. I am past all of that, have been for a while now. This is about me and how I survived some of the darkest years of my life. This is my side of our story. And if my story can help one person see she is worth it to get out of an abusive relationship then it was worth writing it down. 

My story starts out as so many do. I fell in love with a boy in high school and at 15 I knew we would be together forever. Puppy love they call it. He was charming and so handsome with his long black hair. I felt like the luckiest girl in town. He knew all the right words to say to make me feel like I was his one and only girl for him. He quickly became my everything. We shared a locker, we rode to school together, we had most of our classes together, he would wait for me outside my class to walk with me to the next class if he wasn’t in that class. We did everything together. Everything. My friends that had been with me since kindergarten stopped calling. They grew tired of the “I can’t tonight “he” wants me to come over”. I could not make him mad by going out with my friends, I mean what kind of girlfriend would I be if I did that? One part of domestic violence is the control the other person has over you. You don’t realize what’s going on until it’s to late and by the time you figure out what’s going on the physical abuse has started. I wish I had understood the red flags earlier. I wish I had seen the signs. But I was young. We were young.  I graduated high school and found out I was pregnant. College was placed on the back burner while I prepared for motherhood. Not the path I thought I would be taking straight out of high school but the path I was on.

I will say our first year as parents went fine. He graduated high school started going to college and got a job.  He spent as much time as possible with our daughter and I. Everything seemed perfect.  We were married in 1996. We had the full church wedding experience with our daughter as the flower girl, our parents,grandparents, extended family, church members and friends all in attendance to witness our special day.  I have looked back at those pictures and asked myself time and time again “What did I do wrong?” “Where did it fall apart?” The answer to those questions still allude me.

After our wedding we moved into our own place. And things start going down hill. We argued all the time over little things and not so little things and the occasional slap across the face would happen. It was quickly followed by “Baby I’m so sorry I will never do it again” I would say something like “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you” We would make up and things would be fine. But there was always a next time. 

In 1998 we welcomed our son into the world. That year was overwhelming. Our son was born with hirschsprung disease. He spent 9 out of his first 12 months in and out of the hospital.  He had several surgeries and many long hospital stays but he made it. Thank God he made it. Our daughter spent most of her time with my parents while we took shifts staying at the hospital. Stress and worry can cause things to go from bad to worse quickly. Add on not knowing if your son is going to live or die and your asking for a disaster to happen.

Skip forward a for years and we are still together but we are not happy. The fighting has escalated. By this time I had learned to hide things well. We were involved in a car accident in 2001 and if I told people I could not go out because my back was hurting no one questioned me. Yes my back did hurt alot, still does, but it was easier than admitting we had had another fight ending with me shoved into the wall or on the ground.  I was growing tired of the fighting and the emotional abuse was just as bad.  “You are worthless” “You would be nothing without me” “You think you can do better,try it I dare you” “You leave and you will never see the kids again” “No one would want you”  I was convinced all of these things were true. If you hear something long enough your mind starts to believe it, so does your heart. But I stayed. I stayed because I didn’t want my kids to grow up without a dad like he did. I remember how he hated that and how he didn’t want that for them. I stayed because we took our vows before our family and before God for better or worse till death do us part. I stayed because I loved his family they were my family now I didn’t want to lose them. I stayed because I knew that deep down in him somewhere the boy I fell in love with had to still be there.  I stayed because I didn’t know I had any other choice.

I remember the moment I knew things would never get better. The night everything changed.  In the last few years of our marriage he was not home much do to his “job”.  In fact there were time spans of weeks he would be gone. He would then show up out of nowhere for me to wash his clothes, eat, sleep,argue about bills or money and back out the door he would go. He was in control of it all even though he was not home. This particular night he came in and surprised me while I was in the kitchen. He immediately started in about dinner not being ready. I had no idea he was coming home and the kids and I had already eaten. We argued back and forth for a few minutes and then he took off down the stairs. I assumed he went back out the road so I continued cleaning up the kitchen.  I did not hear him come up behind me, but I did hear the sound of the gun trigger being pulled back. When I turned around my face met the barrel and his smile. That evil chilling smile. I pleaded with him begging him not to shoot me. I remember telling him our kids where just down the hall in their rooms. I remember trying to get my point across while trying to keep my voice down so the kids would not walk out of their rooms and see what was taking place. He just smiled. Tears ran down my face as I tried to reason with him, but it did not seem to matter. It was as if he was not there. Then out of nowhere he turned the gun towards himself and I again start pleading don’t do this. He argues “what does it matter?”  “What do you care?” My mind was racing and all I could think about was my two kids. Then I hear the click. And I scream. I scream and he laughs. The gun was empty. He smiles and calmly walks off. He gets in the truck and drives off.  I know right then the next time I might not be so lucky. I had to get out. 

It did take me a few more months to move out.  I had to find a place I could afford for the kids and I to stay and come up with the money for the deposit. Plus His grandmother was really sick.  She had been my grandmother and one of my best friend for years at this point, I literally talked to her two to three times a day. If I left and something happened to her I could not live with myself and I knew I would be blamed so I stayed. I was blamed anyway. He played mind games with me he knew I was unhappy and thinking about leaving. I don’t think he ever really thought I would do it though. He handed me divorce papers on several occasions telling me to go file but I refused, I couldn’t afford to. He told me if I wanted a divorce then I was going to be the one to file so the kids knew I was the bad guy breaking up the family, not him. Everytime I handed the divorce papers back to him he would just laugh. He knew he was still in control. But after his grandmother passed away in early February I moved out by the months end and filed for divorce. I could not put myself or my kids in danger any longer.  

The kids and I were settling in well in our new place by the time my birthday rolled around.  And for my birthday  he “gave me permission” to go out and have fun. He was taking our kids to an amusement park for the weekend.  Looking back I don’t know why I thought I needed his permission to go out but I did. Even though I was on my own he still had control over my every move. I went out had a great time with my friend her husband and a new guy friend.  Even though I had “permission” to go out and have a good time and we were already in the process of a divorce it did not go over well.  The next 24 hours changed both our lives forever.  An evening that I thought he was bringing our kids over to wish me happy birthday turned violent very violent. Opening the door was the worst mistake I have ever made. I thought he was sincerely apologizing for his behavior earlier on the phone that day. He used the kids to get to me again. He knew me weakness. As soon as he came through the door the fight of my life was on. At one point I was hanging over the banister and I remember him saying “I could drop you now and people would think you just fell going down the stairs””I could tell them I found you and I would be the hero” I am here today only by the grace of God. I heard God’s voice that night telling me He was with me and that I would make it. God stayed with me and kept me alive. 

The next morning my friend called and discovered what happened and drove me to the police department. I filed charges against him for the first time. Time it was said and done the total time he could have faced was 75 years. He of course did not do that,not even close. He took a plea deal. Because I had never filed charges against him until that point and he had no prior complaints he plead the charges down and only faced up to 5 years (he served only 2 and a half). But he served time for what he did. Maybe not as much as I would have liked but he was held accountable for his actions. 

The thing with domestic violence is you lose so much more than you realize. I lost myself worth, my family (on his moms side) my church family  (his family still goes to that church today), friends, my identity,my sense of safety,the way I feel about myself, ect. Yes counseling helps, sharing your story with others in the same situation helps, but there will always a part of me that will never be the same. You can’t be the same after something like this.  When something like this happens in a small town your going to hear both sides and the friendship lines are quickly drawn and sides are taken. It happens. God knows what really happened that night and all throughout our marriage.  People you thought would be supportive of you don’t even talk to you anymore while those you never thought cared are helping out daily. The emotional side of domestic violence is enough to bring the strongest to our knees.  It’s hard on you, your kids, and your family. It’s the worst thing I have ever gone through. Days, weeks,months and even years later I find myself walking in fear if I am out by myself. What if he comes up behind me? What would he do? What would he say?What if he comes up to the kids? What will they do or say? Certain songs or sounds make me nervous. I avoid certain foods because they were his favorites. The nightmares still wake me out of a sound sleep. The amount of control that it still has over me is scary sometimes. But I am making it day by day. 

Which brings me to this: Many people think I hate him. And truth be told I have tried,really tried, to hate him. And I did for awhile. But that’s not who I am. I forgave him a long time ago, not for him but for me. The amount of emotion it takes to hate someone and to fear someone can consume your life.  I didn’t want to live life like that. If I hate him then I hate part of who my older kids are. Without him I would not have them. And  if for nothing more than my kids I am grateful for the few times are marriage was not a complete mess. Maybe we married to young. Maybe we married because that’s what everyone expected us to do. I was not perfect ,he was not perfect which made our marriage not perfect. Maybe his job was to stressful, maybe we were forced to grow up to fast. Who knows. There are many unknowns as to why things turned out the way they did. But they did and we must learn from them and move on. And that’s exactly what I have done.  I have moved on and have a wonderful new husband and 7 amazing kids now.I have been given a second chance at happiness. I have my laugh back, my smile back, I have love back and I have my life back. He too has moved on and I wish him well with his new life. Everyone deserves to be happy. I do not wish what happened to me upon anyone but I choose not to be a victim. I AM A SURVIVOR.  I am a stronger person because of what I went though. I am proof that you are worth it. You can be happy. You can smile again. You can laugh again. You can love again. You just have to take that first step. 

Thank you to those that helped me get out you know who you are. I owe my happy ever after to you.

And if you are a victim of domestic violence get help. Call your local hot line or a family friend. There are several agencies out there that can help you make it out. Do it for you. You are worth it!

Posted in foster parent life

Two Horses~ By The Tired mama project. This is a must read for all my mom friends out there

All through the rest of that fun-filled fair day, I couldn’t stop thinking about his carousel ride, and how I fight that very same battle. I completely understood his dilemma. Life often leaves us wanting to ride two horses at once, but once we choose, we often wish (mid-ride of course) that we were on the other one!

via Two Horses — The Tired Mama Project

Posted in foster parent life

Momma said there would be days like this…

Have you ever had one of those days were nothing seems to be going your way? Maybe it’s not even a day,maybe  you’ve had a week or a month maybe even a year where everything just seems to be going in a different direction than you expected. Days like this drain the life out of me. And if momma is down the whole house falls apart. That’s not a good thing for a family the size of ours. And lately I have had more of these type of days than I care to admit. 

Maybe it’s just the move. Or maybe it’s missing my big Kids and all my family back home.. well back in WV. Or the whole situation with our six year old but I have been so drained. So tired. I have never felt so alone in my life. I am exhausted. Momma said there would be days like this.

One thing I remember most about my childhood is that my mother and both grandmother’s always sang old church hymns while doing dishes. They are some of my favorite memories. And on one particular evening, I was about 12 or 13, while my mom stood there washing our supper dishes she said to herself “Momma said there would be days like this” as she wiped a tear away from her cheek. She never saw me as I grabbed the chips of the container. But I saw her and the pain in her eyes. The next morning she woke my brother and I up for school as normal and went to work. Nothing was ever said. I still to this day have no idea what was going on that night. We were not a wealthy family and my brother and I may not have had everything we wanted but my parents made sure we had everything we needed.They always made sure of that. I am forever grateful for that. That night through whatever pain she was going through whatever trouble she was dealing with whatever life was throwing at her my mom kept going. That night she showed me what it takes to me not just a good mom but a great mom. That’s the life lesson.

On those days I feel I can’t do it anymore, I just keep going because I am mom now. I am the caregiver, I am the protector, the one for fights for my kids, the one who loves my kids when they have done great things and the not so great things. I am the one who is up at 1 a.m. to feed the crying baby and again at 2 a.m. to take the toddler to the potty. I am the one that calls just to say hi because I worry about them being so far away at college. I am a helicopter as my older kids playfully call me because it’s my job to make sure they become responsible and respectable young adults. There are days I run on less than an hour of sleep and that’s OK. Far to soon this house will be empty and sleep will be all I have left to do. Yes I complain about the loads of laundry that seem endless and the toys all over the floor, but I know I will miss it all once it’s gone.  I keep going because I love my kids more than life it’s self. And on those days I feel I can’t go on I find myself in an old familiar spot. My safe haven.  I stand in front of my kitchen sink. The TV and radio turned off. The kids can be heard playing in the background. I close my eyes as the old hymns start running through my mind. “What a Day That Will Be” ,”I’ll Fly Alway”,”How Great Though Art”, “Just a Closer Walk with Thee”, “I’ve got a Mansion”,”Precious Memories”, “Sweet Sweet Spirit” the list goes on and on. I step back in time to where things were simpler and life was not as crazy. So thankful I have such Godly women in my life that gave me a love for hymns and set such a good example of what a mom is suppose to be like. They also showed me that when life gets to overwhelming it’s ok to cry out to God through prayer and through song and hand our worries over to Him. Momma said there would be days like this and that’s OK. We have a God who knows our situation and He is ready to help. All we have to do is hand it over to Him. 

For our beautiful chaos to yours Momma said there would be days like this….what you do with them is up to you 

Posted in foster parent life

Second Chances…new beginnings

There was a time in my life when I did not believe in second chances much less believe I was entitled to one. Thankful God saw my situation differently. 

I was in my early thirties when I found myself divorced and suddenly a single mother of two. The last few years of my marriage where anything but pleasant and there came a point that I knew it was time to go, not just for my safety but the safety of my kids. Even after finding the inner strength to leave the one I had been with since I was 15, the nightmare continued. I was living a terrible dream and saw no end in sight.  The situation played out in court, a divorce was granted and my ex plead guilty and was sent to jail for domestic abuse. The plea gave him a five year sentence for years of physical and emotional abuse  (he only served two and a half).  Our marriage was not perfect, I was not perfect, he was not perfect by any means but we did bring two wonderful kids into this world. And they became even more my whole world, if that was even possible. 

I had been told for years I was not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, ect that I believed it. I did not think God or anyone could love me. I was adjusting to being a single mom and I had no intention of looking for love.  That’s when God intervened and gave me a second chance, he sent Todd. (That’s a story for another time)

Todd and I married in late 2009. Life was going great and we became foster parents in November 2010.  On one of our adoption photos on facebook an old friend made the comment that God had given my older kids and myself this second chance at love and happiness when He crossed our paths with Todd. She also said that through foster care and our adoption we had given our new little ones a second chance not only at having a normal loving family but a second chance at life.  Her comment has stuck with me over the years. I find myself reading it when things are going not so great with the little ones.  So thankful for her wise words and her friendship.

Foster to adopt is God’s second chance  for many children when the first plan does not go the direction it should have. Many of the kids that come into care feel unloved, neglected, beat down and alone. It’s a dark and scary place feeling that way. I have been in that same dark place and can’t imagine what a child must feel like. Maybe that’s why I am so drawn to help them? Maybe that’s why we were called to be foster parents?  They need to know someone is willing to go that extra mile for them, to be there to help them, to encourage them, to build them back up because they are worth it.  They are so worth it.  They need a second chance. I am blessed God allowed us to be a second chance to so many. I am thankful we were able to be there for them on their journey. Whether they were with us for a day or a year we tried to make sure they knew they were worth it, that they were loved by us, and that they were loved by God.

I am thankful God saw fit to give me a second chance. I fail Him daily but He loves me anyway.  I am thankful He uses us to pass His second chance on to those in foster care. I am grateful He is a God of third,fourth, and fifth chances. He loves us so much that he gives us chance after chance to better our lives even when we dont believe we deserve it.  When you are given a second chance make the most of it. Do something positive, change someone’s life in a good way, love deeper, laugh more often.  You are worth it, embrace the gift of your second chance.
From our beautiful chaos to yours make the most of your second chance.

Posted in foster parent life

Learning to take time for myself….a moms most challenging task

I never imagined that at the age of 40 I would be mom to seven kids. Just the sound of that scares most people I run into. Throughout this foster to adopt journey I have lost myself more than once. It is so easy to get worked up in helping and saving the children that many times we forget to take time for ourselves, at least I know I do.  But I am learning to take better care of me one day at a time.

When you have seven kids personal space and alone time are merely myths. You can’t take a shower much less go to the bathroom without the sounds of little footsteps following you down the hall.  And if you do get a free minute to yourself try sitting down or calling a friend, the kids will come from nowhere needed their shoes tied or a pull up changed. It’s an endless cycle. Beautiful but endless. This makes me time almost nonexistent.

But there comes a time when you have to learn to just let go and take care you.  I’m not talking just the physical you but also the emotional you. Yes as a mom we must take time to fit in our own doctor appointments, cancelling them for the third time does not set well with your PCP. Make the appointment while the kids are in school or get a babysitter, heck have the hubby take time off to watch the kiddos, whatever it takes get there. Once you are there be honest with your doctor. He can’t treat you if he does not know what’s going on. Next listen  to what he tells you to do. I know that’s hard but sometimes we just need to do what we are told. No arguing just do it. I have problems following through with this myself,  but I have been thinking what if something were to happen to me who would take care of my kids? My husband and I have talked about this and jokingly he said “I would find a young someone to help me raise them we will be alright” Then I said “Jokes on you sweetie, no one in her right mind would agree to help you raise 7 kids lol” But in all seriousness it’s up to me to be well enough to care for my kids. So I am learning to make time to get to the doctor, take my medication, and exercise even if it’s just a few minutes a day. 

Then there’s the emotional side. There are days, like yesterday, I feel completely drained, defeated, and questioning myself if I am even cut out to be a mom. You know those days. The boys fight all day, the baby is cutting a tooth so she cries all day, then your 1st grader misbehaved something awful at school that the teacher sends home the third note for the week. Those days where you just want to find a small closet,grab yourself a Dr Pepper and a doughnut and hide. These days are when we need to focus on our emotional self.  I have found that even just a few minutes of “me time” can make a world of difference on the not so great days.  The kids will be ok for a few minutes while you go to your room. Try grabbing your Bible and read a few of your favorite verses, or read a few pages out of the book laying on your nightstand. Go outside and just sit on the ground and look around at Gods masterpiece. It’s all around us from the trees to the sky to the river and grass. Breathe it in. Take it in. Clear your mind. Take a few minutes just for you. I personally started writing this blog as part of my me time. Its not about how many people read it, its about me clearing my mind and writing our story for our children to look back on later. 

I am also a wife and it is important for me to remember that as well. My husband and I try to do something every month just the two of us.  It can be as simple as going out to dinner or going shopping without the kids.  We also do bigger things from time to time such as going to watch a NASCAR race, riding on the Harley, or going to watch the Green Bay Packers play. It does not have to be big just as long as its just us. The important thing to remember is that it’s our time together as husband and wife not as dad and mom.  

Learning to make time for myself has been one of the hardest lessons in my adult life. I have always been the care giver not the receiver.  I am many things to many people. I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a foster mom,an neice, a granddaughter, I am Momma C, but most of all I am Crystal. In order to be all of the things listed I have to take care of Crystal first. By God’s grace I am doing so one day at a time.

From our beautiful chaos to yours take time to learn who you are today. 

Posted in foster parent life

I am M.O.M.

I am M.O.M. but what does that mean? It means that I am, I do, I protect, fight against, fight for and provide for my seven children in (but not limited to) the following ways:

I am M.O.M 

Mover of Mountains

Master of Messes

Monitor of (the) Madness

Mascara out Macaroons (in)

Memos overtake (family) Meetings
I am M.O.M 

Mustard oMattress (yes really)

Make-over Master

Monday  O.M.G.(it’s) Monday

Marathon oMovies

Motivator of the Marvelous  

I am M.O.M 

Mounts oMismatched socks 

Math oMadagascar  (which do you think will win?)
Memories overtake  Moments  

Maker of said Memories 

Monsters over  Mermaids (most days)

I am M.O.M 

Markers oMarble (floors)

Maker oMenu’s

(Timothy) McGee or (Doc) McStuffin (My one hour of tv)
Mickey  oMortimer(mouse)

Makes occasional Mistakes
I am M.O.M 

Master over Misery (give them a shoulder to cry on)

Mystery of Mildew (don’t ask just clean it)

Mac-n-cheese oldstyle Meatloaf
Misunderstood often  Mocked 

Mom or Myth 

I am all of these things and more. Some days I feel like I can take on the world with a baby on one hip and a toddler on the other while making dinner and washing dishes. Other days it’s all I can do to get through my 1st graders homework without clawing my eyes out.  But it’s ok. Moms don’t have to be perfect. Our kids will not remember if our house was spotless or if we had pizza two nights in a row. Our kids will remember us being there for them when they had a problem, when they needed advice, when we spent the afternoon chasing monsters instead of cooking a big dinner. They will remember the moments we make with them.  Don’t let your moment slip away. Make time to be a M.O.M.

From our beautiful chaos to yours go be the best MOM you can be 

Posted in foster parent life

If I could be the fun parent for just one day….

Being a mom is the most rewarding job there is….We have all heard this and on most days I am sure we all would agree. But here lately I am not going to lie being a mom has been hard, real hard.  

I was hoping the move would help stop some of the behaviors my 6 year old has developed. I thought having us all back under one roof would mean that she would not be so defiant all the time and actually listen to me(or anyone for that matter). For over a year now we have dealt with more than our share of attitude and lies from our oldest little love.  I noticed things were “not right” before my husband transferred down to his new job.  Her lies started becoming more elaborate. Not only elaborate but they also seemed to be more about getting someone else in trouble.  For example “Alex hit me”, “The boy on the bus stole my glasses”, “JR stole my babydoll”. The endless screaming because she was not getting her way, the full blown tantrums she throws if you tell her no. The complete lack of respect for those older or in charge.  And countless other things that I will not discuss on here. My close personal friends and family know what I’m talking about. And YES, by the way, there is a difference between her throwing a fit and one of JR’s autistic meltdowns just in case you think I am showing favoritism to one child over the other rest assured I am not.  I felt like I was at my breaking point and no one understood what I was going through.  I heard things like “I am sure she’s acting up because she misses her daddy”,”Maybe she’s not getting enough sleep”, “Maybe she’s getting to much sleep” Some even blame it on where she was a foster child, “They (foster kids) all have issues you know” The only thing I did know was that I was tired of fighting with her…..I am still tired of the fight with her. 

I talked to her dr and we agreed that her behavior is not the normal six year old “just being a kid” behavior and agreed to go to therapy. I will not go into that here but I will say I think she needed more than a “sharing is caring” speech from her therapist. It’s bigger than that.  I know there is something going with her I just don’t know what it is. Now we have moved which means no therapy in over 3 months.  With the move I was hoping seeing her dad everyday things would calm down. They haven’t.  She is still not listening, still screaming,still not doing her school work, and still not listening to her teachers or me. I am so tired of being the “bad” parent all the time. And through no fault of my husband (just his work schedule) I am with the children 95%of the time by myself. This means I am the one who has to make her do her homework, the one who makes her eat her dinner, the one who tells her nothing to drink after 7, the one who says no you can’t push your brother because he looked at you funny.  It all seems so negative. 

I spend most of our evenings breaking up fights, not between the boys but between her and the boys. I have come to the conclusion she just needs attention whether it’s good or bad she does not care. And please don’t say, ” If she were an only child this would not be a problem” or “Well if you didn’t have 5 little ones at home this would not be happening” Neither one of those statements are helpful. This is the hand God had given us. Embrace it or move on. I am just asking for your prayers if you felt lead to do so.  I spend so much of my time telling her no or placing her in time out I don’t get to spend the fun time with her like painting her nails or doing up her hair. I just wish I know what to do to help her. Praying the new doctor can give us answers. 

I long for a day when she is excited to see me just like she gets excited to see her dad after a long day at work. I would love to hear “You’re the best mom ever ” instead of “You’re the meanest mommy ever” Or for the school to call and tell me she’s doing great instead of saying she lost her recess for the third time this week and if she keeps up at this rate she will not go on to second grade.  I would love for us to be able to have girls days and fun days. I just want to be the fun parent for one day. One day in her eyes. Is that really to much to ask? I’m just tired of arguing. So so tired.  Something has to give. Praying we find answers for I know she is a bright, beautiful, intelligent, and funny girl. I know this for she is a child of the one true King. She is shaped in His image. She just has a hard time positively expressing herself. Let her find her way Lord, let her find her way.

From our beautiful chaos to yours through all storms He holds our hands. God will not bring you to it if He can not bring you through it!

Posted in foster parent life

Letting go

I am an emotional wreck this morning. I have tried to keep busy, and with three Littles still here its not been hard, but my tears are still falling freely as the have all the last few hours.  

This morning was a huge step in independence for our 5 year old. For the first time since we moved he was able to ride the bus to school. Seeing that he still requires a car seat the bus needed to arrange an aid. Back home in WV our special needs bus automatically had an aid (we miss bus driver Richard so much) but they had to hire one here. We had to drive him back and forth to school  while we waited for the job to be listed,filled, and back ground check done before he was able to ride. Today was the day.  I walked him down the driveway, his purple Popsicle in one hand my hand in the other.  He looked so big. He asked why we were not in the car and I told him he would see.  As the bus pulled in he smiled great big and let out a loud giggle. He started jumping up and down saying “my bus my bus it pick me up” I smiled while trying to hold back the tears.  The bus door opened and his driver, a sweet little older lady, smiled and welcomed him on. She had me come on as well so that I could met the aid. We talked briefly while JR found his seat. She assured me he was in good hands and not to worry. With that it was time to let him go. He waved and giggled as he told me bye. The door closed and they were off. As I walked back up the driveway tears began to fall. I started thinking back to the fist days he was in our care. All the hospital visits all the reports saying “He may not make it” “He may never walk or talk we just don’t know” all the emotion hit me hard. I look back over my shoulder and think how far he has come. He is walking. He is talking. He is thriving.  I dry off my face and go in the house.

My husband gets our middle daughter ready to head out the door to her bus. He hugs our oldest daughter goodbye and tells her if she needs him just to call. He then tells Elissa to give her sissy a hug, she does and says “see you later sissy” Out the door they go. She will be so upset when she realizes sissy will not be here this evening. We tried explaining it to her but she is six, things seem to go in one ear and out the other with her this days. We will just pray for the best this evening.

Bags and suitcases line the hallway. We loaded up the last of her things and she tells the boys and baby girl goodbye, I stand in the kitchen waiting so the little ones don’t see me cry.  We hug and I kiss her check.  I go over her checklist and reiterate the importance of her calling me along the way when she stops and again when she gets there. The five hours drive worries me.  We walk to her car and I snap a few pictures, hard to believe she’s leaving. Even harder to beleive this is her last year at college.  I swear it was just yesterday I waited outside with her to catch the bus to go to kindergarten. Time moves so fast.  She looks out her window and says “I got to go” She blows me a kiss and I blow her one back. She pulls out of the garage and down the driveway she goes.

Letting go is not something I am good at. My kids (and my husband) are my life. I feel incomplete when they are away. I know that it’s part of life and they must spread their wings and learn to fly on their own but the worry is still there.  I pray that I as their mom have taught them enough and prepared them enough for the harsh world we live in. I have prayed for Jesus to cover them with His protection and for Him to give them wisdom when facing hard choices and for Him to remind them they are never alone that He is always with them. But as a mom you still worry have I done enough?  Letting go and letting them discover life on their own is hard but it must be done.  One day, just not today, I will look back and think of this day and a smile will come across my face because my babies were able to move on to the next part of their journey and that I was there to see it and be part of it. One day they will thank me for letting go and letting them move on and move forward. One day, they too, will have little ones that they will have to let go and on that day if tears fall down their face I hope they know its ok to do so. It’s hard on us moms but when we see just how much they accomplish on their own we will smile, our hearts will grow with pride, and we will be even more pleased with the wonderful children we have raised. Until then it’s ok to cry it’s ok to miss them it’s ok to worry about them. After all whether they are 5 ,21 or 100 they will always be our babies.

From our beautiful chaos to yours take time to make memories today for far to soon it will be time to let them go 

Posted in foster parent life

Our dinner table

Some of my best memories come from the dinner table.  At my grandparents (on my dad’s side) my brother and I would spend countless hours sitting around the dinning table, that sat in the kitchen, playing cards with papaw and mamaw. Back then we did not have common core math we had something better grandparents with imagination. My brother and I were taught how to add, subtract, multiply and divide by playing card games such as Rummy, Poker, and our favorite Canasta. We could spend hours playing with our grandparents on cold rainy days or even on days it was just to hot to play outside. Man I miss those days. 

I also think back to my other grandparents(on my mom’s side) The table was placed in the dinning room between the kitchen and the bedroom.  Saturday nights my grandfather, dad, and all my uncles on that side would gather around the table to play cards while the ladies cooked up something yummy to eat. All of us grandkids would be out chasing fireflies, swimming in the creek, or playing the “Dukes of Hazzard.” Sundays we gathered to eat meals fit for kings. Completely homemade, completely wonderful. We did not have assigned seats at the table, but everyone knew who sat where without saying. At both tables you would find my grandfathers at the head of the table where they could over see everything. And the chain of command went down from there. My dads mom could be found to my grandfathers right. Close to the sink where she could avoid the early afternoon sun coming in the far window.  On my moms side the men always ate first, childern second and the ladies last. Its how her mom had done before her so that tradition carried on to her house. Nowdays I am sure someone would be offended but back then it was just how we did things no one questioned it no one fussed. These were the good ol’ days when kids could play till the sun went down, we drank Kool Aid, ate homemade breads, parents just yelled out the door to say time to come in, yes times were simpler  then. 

I have tried to keep the dinning room tradition alive at our house. We all sit at the table together now. With six little ones you need all hands on deck. And you can tell you sits where by looking at the chairs. 

There is the obvious chair baby girl claims. It’s the only one with a booster strapped to it.  There’s the one Alex sits in. It has very little stains on the cushion, he is the cleanest three year old eater I have ever met.  Which brings us to Eli, his seat is covered with stains from meals past. He is not the cleanest three year old to eat. I think he gets more food on him than in him. Elissa sits at the top left seat, so she can watch for dad to come through the door if he has to work late. JR’s place is at the end of the table. He likes to stand while he eats so no chair is needed. (He does have one just on case he would ever change his mind) Next to him is where my husband eats. Right by the door so on those long days at work he can slide right in as soon as he comes in. When our older kids are home for a visit they pull up the stools and determine their place by which younger sibling wants them beside them the most. It’s always a different spot seeing the young ones can never agree on anything.  That leaves my seat. To the right of my husband, just as my grandmother’s seat was to the right of my grandfather’s. This places me beside my husband and beside baby girl. That takes us full circle or in this case a rectangle, you can’t fit nine people at a normal table. 

We share stories about our days. We laugh, we do homework,we eat, we live around that table.  My husband refinished our table shortly after we moved. The table belonged to my great grandfather on my dad’s side. I am sure if it could talk the stories it would have to share of a simpler time and stories we have created.  I pray that as my children grow some of thier best memories come from the time we spend around our dinner table.  

From our beautiful chaos to yours take this day God has given and make some beautiful memories. 

Posted in foster parent life

And Sadie makes 7

all7

Foster care is full of unexpected twists and turns.  Just when you think your journey is over God laughs and says “You’re not finished yet”

It was mid September last year. My husband’s job was talking about transferring him to Tennessee. It would be awhile before the kids and I move down because we agreed it was best they finish out the school year where they were at. Our oldest son was a senior and there was no way I was making him switch schools, he would graduate with his friends even if it meant I would be a quote “single parent” for most of the year. We looked at places to rent, hotels, townhomes, ect for my husband to stay in but finally decided we needed a camper. He could live in it while we were still in WV and then we could use it to stay in when we travel back to visit family. Perfect solution. We had a plan now to find what we were looking for.  Todd’s parents aka papaw and mamaw picked up JR and Elissa early one Saturday morning so that they could go enjoy the day at a fundraiser for a local children’s therapy group.  Todd and I thought this would be the perfect time to go look for campers seeing we would only have two little ones instead of four.  We loaded up the car and headed towards the camper dealership. Our oldest son Devin was in the back with Alex and Eli watching a video while Todd and I figured out what we really needed, not wanted, and how much we needed to spend.   Life was about to change but not in the way we expected.

My phone rings. If you noticed it always starts with my phone ringing lol. The number was not one I recognize. I look over and showed it to Todd. He shrugs his shoulders and says “just answer it, probably a telemarketer”   I said hello and on the other end in a hurried voice I hear ” Are you the parents of, insert Eli’s birth name,? I am trying to find his adoptive parents” I slowly answer yes, not knowing why she was looking for us. With a sigh of relief she says “Wonderful I found the right ones.” She starts talking about a mile a minute spitting out information and asking questions.  I look over at Todd and he asks “What’s going on?”  I shrug my shoulders because I still have no idea, shes talking so fast I can’t get a word in.  She finally pulses and I quickly jump in and say “Whats going on? How did you get my number? Why are you asking about our son?”  She apologies and slows down. She informs me that birth mom has had  “ANOTHER BABY” and that as soon as the police show up to escort birth mom and dad out we can come see our newest addition.  I almost drop the phone. I look at my husband and he is shaking his head no, repeatedly. I look at my oldest son and he also is shaking his head no. I find my voice and mustard out “I thought she moved out of state? Let me talk to my husband I will call you back in a few minutes”

I hang up the phone. Todd starts in “We said we were done after we adopted the boys. We agreed not to take anymore kids in” The whole time our oldest son is agreeing with him.  Once he finished his speech I look at him and say, “Its not a new placement. It’s thier mom. She had another baby”  He comes to a stop in the middle of the  interstate. Then he looks at me and smiles while shaking his head and says “Can we at least go look at the campers first?”  One of the many reasons I love him.  As I pick up the phone he says, “Maybe she’s the dark haired girl”    

A few months before this I was having dreams of a little dark haired girl. It made no sense to me because Elissa’s hair is blonde but I could not get it out of my head. My oldest daughter and I had went to a Womens conference where you could sign up to sponsor a child. We walked over to the table and there was a little dark haired girl on one of the pamphlets. I thought to myself she must be the one I keep dreaming about. So I signed up as her sponsor. But the dreams kept coming never seeing her face just her hair.

I call the worker back and tell her we will come by the hospital after we finished looking at campers. I explained we were a couple hours out our and she said not to worry we could take our time. She thanked me and said she would notify the hospital so we could get in. 

I can honestly say we have never looked at campers so fast. I could not tell you anything about any we did go in.  Our minds were on the new little princess at the hospital.  We make the trip back to the house were we are met by my parents. I had called them to watch the boys while we went to the hospital.

We drive to the hospital and are quickly greeted by the nurses and given all of baby’s  information. We had been told she did not have a name,but ny the time we got there they had found it. Birth mom had scribbled it on a napkin right before she stormed out. We had decided to name her after both our grandmother’s. So that is what the nurses started calling her.  She was so tiny,less than 5 pounds, and we were told she would be in NICU for a few days while she went through withdrawals.  She shook and trembled but she was beautiful. When I placed her in my husband’s arms he smiled and said “Welcome to the family” When I went to change her diaper I took off her cap. There we saw her hair, her beautiful dark hair and we knew she was ours.  

She spent a week in the hospital and came home weighing in at 5 whole pounds. The nursing staff gave her a blanket and a few outfits to help her start her new life off right. She still uses that blanket. Truly an amazing group of nurses. I will never be able to thank them enough. 

Her parents had been terminated less than a year before on Eli so they were only granted one visit to say goodbye. One hour when she was two months old she went into a little room at the local DHHR with two workers and her birth parents where she screamed the whole time, according to the worker. After that the process went fairly smooth. We did not have to do visitions or improvement periods so we only seen the birth parents at court hearings. I would give them an update on how she was if they asked and shared some small talk to pass the time. Their termination came quickly because of their history in front of the judge. At the last hearing birth dad asked me “if we are terminated today will you keep her and our son together? If so we will not fight this.” I told him that was my plan and that I would do everything in my power to keep all of her children together (we have 4 of her 5 the oldest was adopted out before we got involved) The hearing was short and as the birth mom left you could hear her say “I will keep having these fucking kids till they let me keep one” the dad said nothing just hung his head low.  Sad so so sad.

Normally an adoption from foster care takes between 2 years to 3 years.  Elissa and JR’s took us 2 1/2 years from the time he was placed with us and the boys took right at 2 years.  Sadie became forever ours when she was only 9 months old. God is good.   

She will now get to grow up with her siblings as God intended. She is a beautiful happy baby girl that brings us joy we didn’t even know we were missing. She keeps us on our toes now that she is crawling and trying to walk. She is truly a gift from God.

We never bought our camper. Todd did take the transfer and we bought a house instead. He moved down and started his new job in October while I stayed back and let the kids finish out the school year. After her adoption we were able to move and finally all be under one roof again. Life is good.  We are not sure what the future holds for us here as far as fostering is considered. For now we will enjoy our 7 amazing kids. If God calls us to be the parents of another child then so be it. We answer to Him not to those that criticize us for our decisions. When God says we are done then we will be done. I am truly thankful for the plan He laid out for our family. There are times I want to pull my hair out, there are times I question myself why did we take so much on, but I would not change a thing. I love my beautiful chaos and all that goes with it. So if my phone rings again, I am sure we will answer the way God intends. Until then,

From our beautiful chaos to yours enjoy the day God has blessed us with.