Posted in adoption, autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Beauty, Being a mom, Children, Children with disabilities, Elementary, Faith, family, Helpless, Hope, life, love, Mom life, Scared, School, Special education, Special needs

The X Factor: School Life for Our Autistic Son 


I attended my first IEP meeting for this school year for wild man a few weeks ago.  As a mom I want the best for my kids. I want them to have a great education and be able to succeed. As a mom of an autistic child I want these things and so much more.

 The meeting went well. His new teacher, OT, speech director, principal and his teacher from last year all love him.  Which makes me feel like we made the right decision on the School.  We went over his daily schedule and how we could make it better for him.  This year he will have his major subjects in a regular classroom while his afternoons will be spent in the classroom equipment for special needs (this is the classroom which make us choose the school in the first place). Change is hard for him but I want what’s best for him.  

The meeting was filled with comments like “he is doing so great” “he is working so hard” and “he has come a long way”. All of which made me smile because he is doing great and working hard. And he has come a long way, a very long way.  It’s in these moments that I get lost and almost forgot he is autistic.  Everyone bragging on him and telling funny stories about things he has done.  I love seeing other people’s faces when they talk about him.  They just light up he has that effect on people once they take time to get to know him. 

But then there comes the reality.  Take this work page for example.  He scored a 3 out of 10.  I know placing him in the regular classroom is supposed to help him build social skills and help him become more independent.  But he is so lost when it comes to the actual school work.  I don’t want him to be overlooked or just passed through because of his disabilities. I want him to have a chance to learn and to grow just like any mother would.  I know many of you are thinking “it’s just one paper or he is just in 1st grade” but that’s my point. This is just the beginning. What happens now and how he is treated will affect the way things go from here on out. He does not bring many graded papers home but when he does most notes are “he tried hard” At what point will he become completely lost and what nothing to do with School? Will he always be this happy go lucky boy or will the struggles become to much for him the bear?  I worry because it’s my job to make sure he receives the best possible education he can receive. I worry that the other kids will start calling him names or talking about him because he does not get the answers right.  I worry constantly about how his peers receive him.  

But then my son does the most wonderful thing.  As I look at all the X’s on his papers and the comments my son, my beautiful intelligent son points at the papers and says “look momma I got this one right” and smiles great big.  Even in a world full of negativity and large red and green X’s my son only sees the good, he only sees the beauty. As his mom I worry about him in this crazy world we live in.  People are so cruel to each other and I am scared that the things that make him unique in Gods eyes will get him teased or even hurt in this world.  But God has given my son a unique way of looking at things. He only sees the good in people and in things.  He does not notice those that stare at him or say hurtful things about him. I am truly thankful for that.  As his mom I need to try and see the world the way he sees it.  I need to find the good.

So yes we celebrate the three right answers, because a year or two ago none of this would have even been possible. We celebrate that he can now write his name and that his teacher said he is now sitting at his desk up to three minutes at a time. (This is huge for him) We celebrate that he has even sat at the dinner table with us a few times this month and we were able to have dinner as a family(and this is huge for him). We celebrate the red and green X’s because they show us progress. He is moving forward in all areas of his life.  We celebrate because God has made this prefect little guy ours and we are the ones that get to watch him grow and succeed at life.   

We celebrate because we are blessed.  

Thank you wild man for opening my eyes to more than just the negative.  Thank you for helping me see there is beauty in everything, even in X’s. 

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Faith, family, foster parent life, Hope, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Two years already? 

Two years ago I did not know of you but now I can’t imagine my life without you. Two years ago tomorrow I would receive a phone call in the middle of the afternoon telling me you had made your way into this world.  Two years ago I was trying to convince myself there was no way we could take in a new foster placement with our move to Tennessee coming up. But as soon as the sweet worker on the other end of the phone told me you were Elmo’s sister I knew you were part of Gods plan for us. I told the worker I would call her back in a few minutes (I needed to explain things to your daddy) He was shaking his head no the whole time I was talking to the worker but just like me when he heard you were Elmo’s sister he knew you were meant to be ours.

The day you were born 9/17/15
I may not have carried you for nine months in my belly, I may not have felt you kick or had morning sickness but as soon as I heard about you….you were mine.  I fell in love the moment I held you. When the nurses asked, Are you ready to meet your daughter? I felt tears running down my face. I may not have been there those nine months but I can promise you I will be here for you the rest of the days of my life.  You hold a piece of my heart. 

Mommy and her baby girl
A quick nap before the game

People tell us all the time “she (and your siblings) is so lucky to have you” or  ” you have changed her life” or “your such a blessing to those babies”.  The truth is they have it all wrong.  I’m not a super mom. I don’t have it all together.  I’m the lucky one. I look at you and still can’t believe God placed you in my life. You are such a sweet, funny, sassy, and smart little girl. I am thrilled I get to be your mom.  I have not changed your life, you changed mine.  You make my days brighter with your smile and your big bear hugs. Your sweet “loves you’s mommy” melt my heart.  I fail you daily but you and your siblings are my greatest blessings.  Been mom to seven if by far the greatest blessing God could have given to me. I am the one blessed by having you. 


So today I look back and thank God for bringing you into my life. I thank the worker who went above and beyond to locate us so you could be placed with your brother. I thank the nursing staff that cared for you before I could get to you. And I thank your birth mom, she could have chosen not to have you knowing she would not be able to keep you but she chose life for you.  I am so grateful for her choice. 

Last picture as a one year old
Your first birthday

Tomorrow you turn two. I look forward to seen where God takes you. I look forward to watching you grow and learn new things. I look forward to loving you more and more each day.   Happy birthday baby girl!!!!! You are so loved. May tomorrow bring you happiness and be full of birthday blessings.  

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Sorry Daddy but Only mommy can….

My husband has been working a lot of overtime recently, partly do the crazy weather and to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, so my kids are use to it being just me at the house to cater to their daily needs.  So when he was actually home all weekend I thought I would get a to relax a little bit and he could take over.  My little ones had other plans.

Here are a few things that over the weekend the kids said “No Daddy Only mommy can do…..

Only mommy can build my Lego house just right.

Only mommy can make my waffles, and make his toast,and her breakfast muffins because it’s Sunday morning why would we  all want to eat the same for breakfast 

No daddy only mommy can go to the bathroom and sit in the floor while I poop in the potty so I’m not alone (with two boys potty training I spent hours in the bathroom floor this weekend) 

Only mommy can fix my hair, I won’t like it but only she can fix it

Only mommy can watch the YouTube video that sings Zombie Arms because I have to watch it and dance at least 100 times a day

Only mommy lets my finish off her coffee (after I’ve stuck my fingers in it)

Only mommy slips me a piece of chocolate if I promise to eat all of my lunch

Only mommy can sing my  Jesus songs with me at night cause her voice is sometimes kind of pretty

Only mommy can take me to bed cause  if she sings with diva she needs to sing the ABC song “frontwards and backwards” with me

Only mommy can yell at the Packers while they play ball daddy 

Only mommy can read me my book with holding my baby sister and making dinner because I have to hear the story right then

Only mommy can rock me to sleep 

Only mommy can kiss my boo boo better you can try daddy but it’s not the same

Only mommy can get up with Elmo at 430, big Al at 530 and manage not to need a nap

Only mommy can stay calm while we run crazy playing cowboys and dinosaur hunters with inside the house because it’s to wet to play outside 

Only mommy can push me in the swing cause she does silly rhymes while she pushes me up up up

Only mommy can build the bestest living room forts

Only mommy can help me with homework I forgot about until 20 minutes before bed on Sunday night

Only mommy can cover our faces in kisses cause she says she will miss this chaos when we grow up 

There are so many things that go on throughout our days here, it’s nice to know there are a few things that the kids seem to think no one else can do.  My husband is a terrific dad and he spends his fair share of time doing things with the kids, but on weekends like this one it’s nice to know they still love their momma and still think only mommy can on a few things.  

Taking a nothing special weekend and making beautiful memories.  I call that success. 

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, foster parent life, life, love, RAD

When Reality Slaps You in the Face

I’ve started this post more than a dozen times.  Each time I get a few short paragraphs in and lose my cool.  So after taking a few weeks to calm down I will try again.  

One of my biggest pet peeves is being lied to especially if I ask a direct question.  As foster parents we are accustom to getting what I call half truths from the birth parents. These are just as nerve racking.  But when you come face to face with your foster child’s parents and they know their rights are being terminated and you ask them questions so you can help their child in the future why oh why do they feel the need to lie?  

My problem:

Two weeks ago we went back to the geneticists for our daughters test results. We know she has RAD, reactive attachment disorder, and ADHD and ADD but we also felt there was more going on.  I remember talking to her (birth) mom in the hallway of the courthouse after a few of the hearings.  She assured me that she never used drugs or alcohol while pregnant with her.  But in my heart I knew she was not being honest with me.  Even after her adoption was final and we were in the process of adopting her younger siblings the mother continued to swear to me she would have never used anything that would have caused injury to her second oldest child.   Her three children born after diva all had some type of substance in their system so naturally I questioned the truth in her statement. 

After we moved and she started seeing her therapist, the therapist pointed out that diva had many signs of a child with FASD, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and suggested we make an appointment with the geneticist.  It took a few months but we finally got in and he spent over two hours with our little girl. After all the questions, the blood work, the measuring and re measuring he asked us to come back in a few weeks for the results.  

I was a little nervous going back in for the results.  But there in black ink we had it. Along with some other minor things our daughter did in fact have FASD.  What we had suspected for a while was confirmed. I was heartbroken, angry, relieved and sad. I was heartbroken for my little girl. For the life she would have to face. Her struggles were already so hard to add this on top of it seemed so unfair.  I was angry. Why had her mom done this to her? Why had she lied over and over when I had questioned her about it? I was relieved to have yet another piece to our daughters puzzle filled with an answer. So many times in foster care we don’t receive the whole story about the child coming into our care. Many times even after adoption through foster care there are still many missing pieces to their story.   I was sad for her.  Sad for the unknown of how this would affect her later on in life.  Sad that I could not undue the damage that had been caused by someone else.    

Why did her mom think it necessary to lie about what she had done? Did it make her feel better about herself? Does it help her sleep at night?  Does she even care what she has done to her children by making the poor choices she made?  

My daughter, now seven, as made the song Even If by Mercy Me her anthem.  She sings it everyday multiple times a day.  You can read about it in my blog called Even If.  She is wise beyond her years. ​
​The odds are stacked against her, yet she finds comfort in the fact Jesus is always by her side.  Her faith is strong when mine seems weak. Yes we will have bad days, yes the struggle with school work and behaviors will be real and difficult at times but we will get through it all day by day with Gods help.  

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism awareness, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Don’t let their perfect posts fool you, You are a great mom too

Well I did it again, well almost. I let myself get caught up in the fake world of social media parenting.  You may know what I’m talking about. Thankfully I was able to snap out of it before I started questioning my parenting skills.

We all have people on our sites that seem to have it all together.  Their kids take the perfect family photos, they make the honor roll every semester, they go to the store and their kids are perfect little angels, their homes always spotless and clutter free, they go on lavish trips for vacations or take cruises multiple times a year. Their kids are perfect in every way. They are the perfect parents.  When I use to see post like this I could not help but question my own mom skills.  I would look around at my beautiful chaos and think were did I go wrong? What are they doing that I’m not? I would beat myself up about not being the perfect mom.  But you know what, I don’t do that anymore. Here’s why

I am the best mom I can be. My kids are the best kids they can be. And news flash no one is perfect.  I gave up on having the perfect family photo a long time ago. Trying to get five little ones to sit still and face the camera is hard enough let alone trying to get them all to show me their adorable smiles at the same time.  Our family photos have them being kids. Someone is always looking off in the wrong direction or someone has dirt or candy on their face.  And you know what, I love my family photos. To me they are perfect.


My kids play hard from the time they wake up till the time they go to bed. So we have toys everywhere. My house is never “spotless.”  If that’s what you are expecting when you come to visit please don’t come over.

The truth is we are all doing our best at this parenting thing.  We should not feel guilty or upset with ourselves when someone else seems to have it all together. We all have bad days but we also all have great days. Don’t compare yourself to the mom down the road or to the mom at football practice. You, YES YOU, are doing a great job.

So if you’re the mom who makes a five star breakfast every morning or you’re the mom who serves Cheerios and pop tarts. You are amazing.

If you’re the mom that makes it to every PTA/PTO meeting at school and serve as the homeroom mom or if you’re the mom that just sends in the snacks or cash when asked. You are wonderful.

If you’re the mom who takes your kids to Disney or the beach for vacation or if you’re the mom who blows up the kiddy pool for the backyard oasis for the stay at home vacation. You rock.

If you’re the mom who makes sure your child is spotless or if you’re the mom who let’s your kids play in the mud. You are fantastic.

If you’re the mom who homeschools or the mom who pays for private school or the mom who uses public schools. You are changing the world.

If you’re the mom the works outside the home or if you’re the stay at home mom. You are beautiful.

If you’re the mom that does crafts everyday or if you’re the mom that slips the kids an IPad. You are doing great.

If you’re the biological mom,or the step mom, or the foster mom, or the kinship mom.  If you have one child or ten or if you have a newborn, toddler, teenager, or an adult “child”. You are loved and so needed.

If you’re a mom that ever questions her worth just look at your children.  They are beautiful, they are loved, and they are happy.  They might not always see eye to eye with you and that’s okay.  (On those days I keep a Dr Pepper and chocolate on hand) It’s okay to have bad days every now and then.  Truth be told there are days I feel I fail my kids miserably. But God placed these little loves with me for a reason. He saw something in me that I do not see. He in trusted me with their lives and I will do my best to be the best I can be.

We are all in this together. Parenting is hard. Be happy for each other. Don’t let yourself get pulled into the world of “how I should be a better mom look at her”  that social media beats in our heads.  You are a good mom.  So post those pics of your kid covered in mud, or the ones were they have  turned the playroom upside down, or the family photo were little Johnny is picking his nose.  Those photos make your family perfect.  Those photos make you are terrific mom.

From our beautiful chaos to yours we moms have to stick together.  We should Build each other up not tear others down


Posted in adoption, autism, Autism life, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, Lesson learned, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Sam’s Club Pickup Service: Is it really that convenient? 

“Taking five kids to the store will be fun” are words that have never came out of my mouth….ever. Three I can do no problem. Four can be done but when I get all five together it does not seem to go so well. Grocery shopping is a must and with summer in full swing it seems to be the only thing I manage to get done weekly(sometimes twice a week)  The challenge is trying to push two buggies around the store with five children in tow.  To make things easier my husband and I have been taking turns running to the store.  But there are times taking all five just can’t be avoided.  We recently started exploring ways to make our shopping experience easier, or at least we thought it would be easier. 

I admit, I do my fair share of ordering off of Amazon. I like the convenience of my order showing up at my doorstep within a few days. But never really thought about ordering our groceries online. But when my husband said, Hey let’s try Sam’s Club pickup, I was willing to give it a try.  We sat down with a modified list and clicked away on the products we needed. Being our first pick up we keep things simple: paper towels, juice boxes for the kids, some snack foods for the kids and a few cleaning supplies.  We placed the order and even picked the time we wanted it ready for pickup. We selected between 11 and noon so I could pick the kids up some lunch while we were out. 

The next morning I received an email and text saying our order was ready for pickup. I loaded the kids in our van and headed down the road.  When I arrived at Sam’s I pulled in the drive-thru area marked Pickup orders. I quickly realized that there was no window, nor door, nor employee anywhere in sight.  I was the only vehicle in line so I waited a few minutes to see if maybe someone would come out. When I realized no one was going to come I pulled the van forward so I could see inside the store.  

By this time the kiddos have seen Walmart, its right beside Sam’s , and McDonald’s is now straight in front of us.   The three boys start chanting Walmart Walmart Walmart because they all want new Cars 3 toys.  Diva is screaming she wants a milkshake and the baby is now crying because she has been rudely awakened from her nap by all the commotion taking place in the van.  So much for an easy pick up.

I see a Sam’s employee walking into the store and start waving my arms like a crazy lady to get his attention (as if the screaming and crying from my van was not enough) I explained to him I had an order to pick up but was not sure what I needed to do.  He told me I would have to go in the store and report to the service center area. They would then check my ID and confirm my order before sending me back out to move my van to the loading area.

Say what??

Maybe we should have looked at the store prior to placing our order.  But there was nothing said anywhere about us having to go inside the store before we could pick up the order.  That was not my idea of convenience.   The whole point of me placing a pickup order was so I would not have to take all the kids in the store by myself.  I looked back through my van at what was taking place and I knew we would not be picking up the order. I think the guy knew that too. I thanked him and drove off. I called my husband and told him what was going on and he agreed to pick it up after work. 

The ride home was not enjoyable. The boys were upset we did not get new Cars 3 toys, but did calm down when I handed them the toys the happy meals provided.  Diva was mad and did not drink her milkshake because, even though I asked them not to put whipped cream on her shake they did.  And baby girl, well she was fussy because she needed more sleep. 

That evening my husband went back over to pick up our order. He went inside and went to the service counter. He waited over an hour and a half to pick up our things.  He could have shopped faster than that.  We won’t be doing that again.

We love Sam’s and I know we will shop in the store again but I feel the pick up service just was not for us. Maybe I was expecting to much. I love the idea just wish there would have been a button to push or a window that I could have showed my membership ID too and pulled up to get our stuff. I’m all about making it easier. We have heard some of the local grocery stores are doing their own versions of this type of service so I will be checking into them and seeing how they actually work.  Walmart also has a two delivery so I’m hoping to put that service to good use.  We will see. For now we will just take turns going to the store.  

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful, West Virginia, Where I come from

Our Last Day as WV Foster Parents, Oh What a Day it Was

A year ago today our journey as West Virginia foster parents came to an end. A year ago today we stood in front of the judge one last time surrounded by family, friends, caseworkers both old and new, Birth to Three workers, and lawyers as we welcomed our youngest daughter into our forever family.  As we slowly crawled our way towards adoption day I started posting a countdown on my Facebook page. These posts would eventually lead me to start my blog.  This blog contains those posts. As they popped up in my news feed this past week I could not help but remember the excitement that filled the air the days leading up to her adoption day.  We were excited about her becoming forever ours and we were excited about our big move. Our car was packed and ready for the move as soon as the adoption was complete.  I hope you enjoy a look back to our Countdown to Sadie’s Adoption Day.
A mother carries a child for 9 months. In that time she discovers things about herself as she falls in love with this tiny blessing from God. 9 is now the number that makes up my beautiful chaos. We have 9 more days till baby peanut is officially forever ours. Yesterday she turned 9 months old and she has been with us the whole time. And while I did not carry her in my womb I have carried her in my heart always. She was our daughter even before we knew each other for she was part of Gods bigger plan. As we close our journey in foster care through WV with her adoption I find my heart sad in some ways. I have grown through this experience for the better and will miss all those who have been there cheering us on. I will miss all the friends we have made along this crazy and sometimes frustrating ride. Thanks for the laughs, the words of encouragement and shoulders to cry on. I can only hope and pray that we were able to make a positive difference in a few lives as we move on to our next chapter. I am grateful for all the kiddos that now call me mom, momma C, or aunt Crissy. And if its Gods will who knows maybe down the road we will foster in Tennessee but for now 9 is a beautiful number.
8 days to go

There are now 8 photos that line our staircase. One from our wedding day and one of each of our seven children. Before our foster care days were over in WV we worked with 8 different caseworkers, a few we have had the privilege to work with multiple times over our foster care journey. The turnover rate for a social worker is high so having only 8 over the years is a miracle, I know a few families who have had three or four different workers on just one placement so we are thankful. Some of the workers have moved on to different jobs, some have since retired but I am grateful for the work they did at those moments in our children’s lives. Without them we would not be the family we are today. I heard horror stories about caseworkers not caring about the kids on their caseloads and while I am sure that happens, I am thankful we got to work with some of the best and I am honored to now call a few of these ladies my friend. I will never to able to thank them for everything they have done for our family.


7 days to go

We have 7 days until this beautiful blessing from God is forever ours. The number that in the Bible is identified with completion. Next Monday we will forever be the parents of 7 beautiful children. The number 7 has very biblical means. There were 7 pairs of clean animals on the Ark, 7 churches represent completeness of the body of Christ, Jesus told Peter (us) to forgive a wrongdoer 70 times 7. I could go on and on. 7 is a powerful number. The number that will complete our family and complete our journey in foster care. God has blessed us more than we deserve and more than we ever imagined. Our lives changed forever when we stepped out in faith and decided to follow Gods plan for us. We have lost friends and gained new ones. We get strange looks and hear nasty comments when we are out with our crew but none of that matters. We are blessed. God placed these precious children in our hands to raise as our own and there are not enough words to ever tell Him how thankful we are. To God be the glory.


6 days to go

After my divorce I went back to college and took courses in human services/social work. I dreamed of changing the world saving young lives daily as a social worker. I finished my associates shortly after marrying my now husband Todd. I started looking at going farther on with my dream when something hit me. One night as clear as day God spoke to me and said “My child I have shown you what my children go through so you now know, but you are to be on the other side of this. Protect those that come to you. Love them as I love you.” I got up and told Todd what had happened. We talked about it and without hesitation we decided to look into becoming foster parents. In August 2010 we started are PRIDE TRAINING CLASS. In November we were an approved foster home. We had our first placement before we received our certificates in the mail. 6 years ago my life was on a different path to help area kids. So thankful for a husband and older children who knew we had to step out in faith and follow Gods plan for our family.
5 days to go

5 the number of children we will have adopted through foster care come Monday. And while we have been blessed to add these precious little loves to our family many overlook the heartache and loss we have also experienced. We have fostered close to 20 long term placements in our 6 yrs. That means we have said goodbye to 15 children that at some point in time called us mom and dad. That means our kids have said goodbye to brothers and sisters. My heart still hurts for the ones that did not end up part of our forever family. But thanks to social media I can still see most of them through photos or read stories about them that their forever families share. We will all forever be connected because of the children that have past through our home. I am thankful for that. The downside (if there is such a thing) with being blessed with our adoption of 5 is the judgmental looks and negative reaction we get. Instead of people being happy for us and the kids we hear things such as “Must be nice you get to adopt as many as you want”, “They must pay you a lot of money for you to take in THAT many”, “If you can pick which ones you want why get one with special needs” Some of my personal favorites “It must be nice being the DHHR favorite” and “Surly they could find other homes for those kids your house is already full” , or “You don’t have to hog all the kids share some with the rest of us” and of course the “I could never foster I would love them to much and not want to give them back” yes these are all things we have heard on more than one occasion. Seriously!?!? Do we look like a cold hearted, baby hogging, money hungry people who have no feeling for the kids after they are removed? If you think so then you don’t know us at all. The fact of the matter is there are thousands and thousands of kids in foster care right now and not enough homes to place them. My heart breaks every time a child is removed and placed back with their family or placed with their forever home. They all hold a piece of my heart. Yes the system is awful at best sometimes and the kids are the ones that get jerked around and overlooked but don’t think for a minute that they are just a pay check or pawn to those who open their hearts and homes to give them, even if for a moment, the feeling of what it’s like to be part of a family. If God has placed it on your heart to become a foster family do not give up. Your forever child(ren) are out there. They may not be your 1st placement, 2 placement or even your 10th placement but if He called you to do it He has a plan for you. Don’t get discouraged by what is happening in other families, like I’ve said the system is not always far, but what you are doing for these kids is life changing. If your not a foster parent don’t judge those that are, you have know idea how hard it is to bring in a scared child in the middle of the night, deal with the court system, the visits, the birth parents, and the looks. Instead be supportive, pray for them, love them, and love the kids. Don’t judge them.


4 days to go

4 the number of my babies that were born with drugs in their systems. You watch as they go through withdrawals just as an adult would. The shaking, the screaming, the sleepless nights, and the delays in development.Then there are the unknown side effects that can happen down the road. How will the drugs affect them later in life? Countless drugs in their tiny systems that they did not ask for but must face the challenges handed to them anyway. Day by day we take them head on our kids are amazing.

4 is also the number of siblings that will get to grow up together. 4 of our children come from the same birth mom. She also has an older daughter that was adopted out before we came into the picture. Out of the 4 there are multiple birth father’s who all have additional children with other women. If you add up all the half siblings from all the different dad’s and add in the 4 we have the total number of siblings/half siblings is 18, or so we have been told. Let that sink in. My children have 14 half siblings they will never know, never get to love, never talk to, never see. So of course when the caseworker on call called us out of nowhere nine months ago to take baby peanut in we said yes. It was not about needing another baby fix it was about keeping a sibling group together. We feel siblings belong together if it is possible. Is it hard having five kids under the age of six, yes, yes it is sometimes. There are days all I want to do is find a quite spot in my room drink a cold Dr Pepper and eat a snickers bar that I’ve hid so no one would find. (Hey moms need snacks too lol) But I would not change a thing. We would did it all over again. Our Family is everything to us.

3 day to go

When I was in my early 30’s I found myself divorced and a single mom of two. After years of being told I was not good enough, pretty enough or smart enough to do anything with my life I found myself believing these things to be true. How was I suppose to take care of my kids when I was nothing? I prayed and looked for answers. That’s when my momma senses kicked in to overdrive. It was the 3 of us. I had to be good enough I had no choice. Sie, Dev and I survived the darkest time in my life. I was perfectly fine with just the 3 of us I didn’t want a man/husband, my focus was my children. But you see God has a way of giving us just what we need when we don’t realize we need it. That’s when God (with Sierras help) reintroduced me to Todd. Our happy little family of 3 became our happy 3 plus 1. Looking back I never pictured my life would turn out so full of love and laughter, and never dreamed I would be the mom of seven precious kids. After living in darkness and a loveless place for so long, I never thought I would be so loved or wanted but God knew. I am thankful for that. Come Monday I will officially be momma to my 3rd beautiful daughter and that is a wonderful feeling. We all go through storms in life. We have the choice to let the storm take over and make us feel worthless or miserable or we can ride out the storm and chase the rainbow on the other side. Life is to beautiful not to enjoy it.
2 days to go

2 the number of adoptions we have went through up till this point. Our first adoption was Sept 21, 2013. Todd and I were on our way to Walmart in early July 2013 when our lawyer called to give us the news about our adoption date. We were so excited. From the time JR was placed with us (5 yrs ago yesterday)( Elissa came 4 months later) the whole process took over 2 and a half years. There were many ups and downs. JR was extremely sick, the visits with the birth parents, Dr appts, court hearings, improvement periods, trips to Pittsburgh for JR’s surgeries, the list goes on and on. So when we heard we finally had a date we were thrilled. We talked and decided not to foster anymore. 2 kids plus our 2 older kids gave us 4 and four was a nice round number. Then God steps in, got to love how He works. Todd was at Wednesday night church and we got a call for a baby boy. My heart wanted to say yes but I told the worker no because Todd and i had just had the “no more kids” talk less than a week before. When I got off the phone I had an overwhelmingly sad feeling come over me. I prayed for the baby to be placed in a safe home and tried to go on with my evening. By the time Todd made it home I was a mess. He asked me what was wrong am I told him. Then he does the unthinkable he told me to call the worker back and tell her we would take the baby in. It was 1030 at night so I said I would call in the morning, after all it was a baby I was sure someone was loving him by then. I made it till 8 the next morning before calling. I had never called back, in fact this was the one and only time I did. I left a message on the workers phone saying something like ” Hey if by some small chance you didn’t find baby boy a home bring him to us we will take him”. That was Thursday. My phone rang Friday afternoon it was the worker she asked if we were serious about taking him and I said yes. I was expecting a 6 to 9 month old baby what we got was a 2 day old newborn straight from the hospital. We start getting use to having a baby in the house and three weeks later my phone rings again. This time they ask if I have JR but use is birth giving name. When I said yes they said great we have his little brother with us now. We will see you around 430. When the workers showed up they handed me a 3 week old little guy. Giving us what many people nicknamed “the twins” because they are only 8 days apart. The new additions joined us in the courtroom for the adoption of Elissa and JR . And then last year we adopted the boys together on June 21st. Making their adoption process 2 years long. At their adoption we knew we were done 6 kids is a great round number. But by now you all know that when they called us in September with yet another sibling to our crew we opened our hearts one more time and said yes. God’s plans for us are so much greater and better than what we could ever imagine. If we would have stuck to what we planned we would not have our 2 youngest boys and baby girl would not be here. Life is full of surprises and beautiful blessings. Many have judged us and flat out told us not to take in only more kids. The truth be told Todd and I are the ones who make that decision and when God says we are done we will be. For now we will love our beautiful 7. We all know 7 is a nice round number

1 more day.

Todd came up with a saying early on in our foster care journey. “What’s one more” We have run into several people that have asked us, why did you take in so many kids why not stop at one or two. Our answer, what’s one more. Our hearts have plenty of love to go around. When we started we had a three bedroom home that had an office over the master bedroom. After a few years we realized we needed not only a bigger house but also a bigger yard. God blessed us and we bought a bigger house that had a huge yard. We were there less than 1 month before it was full with little ones. That year we had calls for over 152 placements (children) but simply did not have room. How sad is that? So many kids in need but all we could do is pray for them and hope they were placed in a good foster home or group home. At some point you realize that it is possible to love more that just 1 or 2 kids at the same time. Our kids are our everything. Todd’s job has now landed him in Tennessee which is were we will be moving after baby girls adoption is complete tomorrow. This will bring our journey in foster care in WV to a close. We are not sure what Tennessee holds for us, but we are looking forward to the new adventure. And who knows maybe just maybe somewhere down the road God will look at us and say, “Whats one more” one more time. Guess we will have to wait and see.

It’s still hard to believe its been a year already.  We spent over six years as foster parents in WV.  We had 20 children in and out of our home, five of those little loves now forever call me mom.  There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care today, with more coming in daily. Many are waiting to be adopted by a loving family.  Our little loves spent a total of 104 months or 462 weeks or 3,237 days in the foster care system.  We were blessed to be their only homes.  We have had children come in our homes and we were their sixth or seventh home that year.  How sad is that?   If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent now is the time. Pray about it and if God still places the desire on your heart call you local DHHR or DCS or a local foster care agency or simply ask a foster parent how they got started.  Become someone’s chance at a brighter tomorrow.

From our beautiful chaos to yours allow God to open the doors He wants you to walk through and when He wants to close that door He will open another one for you to go through

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, Children with disabilities, college, family, foster parent life, Home, life, love, Mom life, thankful

A Visit from Big Sis

I knew this summer would be hard on the kids. I have tried to make it as fun as possible but I am not the one they expect when it comes to summer time. See for the last four years every summer their big sissy loaded up her car and came home. (The importance in that being three of my kiddos aren’t even four yet so it’s been like this their whole life) For three full months they had her all to themselves and they loved it.  

I knew last summer would be her last full summer with us, but I didn’t tell the kids nor did I want to think about it much. So when she was here last summer worrying about not finding a summer job, her dad and I told her not to worry just relax and enjoy her summer.  Truth be told I didn’t want to share her with a summer job anyway, I knew our carefree summer days were limited.  She would graduate this past May. 


After her graduation she and her boyfriend took a vacation and then headed towards D.C., the area she will now call home.  I was excited when she called last week and asked if she could make a quick trip down to see us before getting completely settled into her new life up there. 

She takes her “job” as Big Sis very serious. She calls, FaceTimes, and checks in on the kids several times each week.  Wild man will tell you “Sissy is my most favoritest thing ever” She spends one on one time with them when she’s here and try’s her best to make sure to do something with them as a group. This visit was no exception. A few months ago when the Cars 3 trailer started playing she was talking to the boys and they asked if she would go with them to see it. She said she would love to go.  She was no more in our front door when the boys asked if she was ready to go see the movie.  They never forget a sissy promise.  After quickly freshening up from the seven hour car ride she help me load the excited little ones into the van and off we went. It was wonderful. It was the first movie experience with all five little loves so I was thankful to have the theater to ourselves, but to my surprise the kids did great. There were laughs, giggles, some tears (Sis and I cry at all movies) and of course popcorn. The kids had a ball. 

Next up we headed to the zoo.  It was drizzling the rain so the zoo was pretty empty.   I don’t mind going out with the kids in the rain. The rain normally keeps people in so we have don’t have to deal with the judgements stares that come from others when you have a child with autism or when they are judging you for having some many little ones. They can just be kids. Besides a little rain never hurt anyone anyways. I think the animals like that we ventured out as well. Many came up and playfully interacted with the kids. 

What could be better than the zoo with sissy?  How about seeing dinosaurs with sissy.   

On Friday we loaded up the van and headed out in search of dinosaurs. We were in luck when we stumbled across a dinosaur park not to far from us.  The boys loved seeing the big T-Rex and the longnecks. Elmo made sure we knew all the names of the dinosaurs as we followed the trails.  The kids dug for fossils and we took pictures of every dinosaur I knew and then some.  Another fun filled day had by all.


On Saturday morning Sis and I took Wild man to pick up McDonald’s. He always has to take a ride in her jeep. She said her goodbyes to the boys, dad, and baby girl before we headed out to watch diva at her dance recital. The recital date and time had changed from its original schedule making it possible for Sis to keep her promise to diva to see her preform.  Diva wanted Big Sis to do her hair so she did. We were both excited to see her perform.  She was able to dance in two numbers for her very first recital and she did a fabulous job .


After the recital it was time to say our goodbyes. She did not come back in the house for fear of upsetting the boys.  They realized what was going on as soon as I closed the door behind me. 

This summer will be different for all of us, but I am so thankful that I have a daughter to loves being a big sissy to all the little ones. I know things will be different, there suppose to be different. But I know in my heart she will always be their big sissy. No amount of miles will change that.  She may be all grown up and on her own now but she will always be my girl. So thankful she took a few days to come down and spend with them.  They loved having her here. The time may have been short but oh the wonderful memories that were made.  Thank you Sie, thanks for everything 

Posted in adoption, Being a mom, blessed, Children, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, thankful

Celebrating Our Second Forever Family Day

Two years ago today my husband and I sat in a courtroom filled with family and friends as we prepared to welcome two little boys to our family. This is dedicated to them. 

Their story starts almost four years ago.  Like many children who find themselves in foster care, their stories start with a phone call.   My husband and I had just received word that we finally had an adoption date for our wild man and diva. From the time the caseworker placed wild man in my arms it would take two and a half years to get our happy ever after adoption day.   We received the news on a Friday and over the weekend we talked about all the ups and downs that we had experienced and made the decision to stop being foster parents after their adoption was complete.  The system was broken at best and we didn’t feel we could go through the pain of it all again. Seeing kids come in and out of our home was hard, every time a child left part of our heart went with them.  If you don’t fall in love with the kids that come in your home you’re not doing it for the right reasons.  The pain is real, the loss is real, the love is real.  It was a different decision but we had our minds made up.

Wild man and Diva’s adoption day. The boys were only two months old

So when our phone rang the following Wednesday evening I was at a loss for words.  My husband was at church and I had stayed home to visit with our oldest daughter who was in from college. I did not recognize the number but answered anyway.  The lady on the other end spoke quickly and I caught the words ” baby, boy, temporarily, can you take him?”  I asked her to repeat herself and she apologized and said she had a baby boy that needed a home for a few days and she knew we had a free bed.  As bad as I hated to I told her no. We had just discussed us not being fosters anymore over the weekend. There was no way my husband would agree no matter how temporary. She thanked me and hung up. Moving on to the next possible home for him I was sure.  I started crying immediately after the call, my daughter ran in to see what was going on. I told her what had happened and she told me she was sure they would find a place for him, after all he was a baby and babies are not hard to place. I knew she was right but my heart still ached.  After my husband came home I told him what had happened. He could tell I had been crying. He let me explain all that I knew and then in his soothing voice he said ” Call her back we will take him”. By this time it was 1030 so I knew it was to late to call.   The next morning I called the number back and had to leave a message. I figured she had already found him a place to stay but I had to check.  Thursday came and went with no call back.  Friday morning however the phone rang and it was the caseworker. She asked if we were still interested in taking him in and if so she would explain everything after she brought him to us.  By Friday afternoon he was in my arms. Not the six or eight month old I expected when she had said baby boy, but a sweet two day old baby boy.  He was beautiful with dark eye and dark eyes.  

One of Big Al’s first photos

Three weeks later we were getting ready for our family reunion when the phone rang. Again a number I did not recognize but I answered. It was another caseworker. She asked if I was the foster mom to wild man and diva. I told her yes and asked what was going on. My heart was beating fast, I just knew it was something about their upcoming adoption. She must of heard the panic in my voice and told me that nothing was wrong.  In fact, she said, we have a surprise for you. Their birth mom had recently had another baby. A boy this time. He had went home with his father but things were not going well and he had to be taken into state custody.  The dad was told, among other things, to stay away from the mom but he could not or would not. When it came time to choose between the baby and the mom the dad picked the mom. She was letting me know they would be at our house before 5 that afternoon.  I was in shock. All I could get out was that we already had a new placement, a baby, and we could not take another without a waiver.  She told me that our waiver had already been approved and we would see them shortly.  I called my husband and told him what was going on to which he replied “What’s one more”. When the worker showed up she handed me a small little fellow with big blue eyes.  Within three weeks we had went from a family of six to a family of eight.  

One of Elmo’s first photos

For the next two years we would go through the countless court hearings, visitations with the birth parents, MDT meetings, doctors appointments, therapy appointments, and Birth to Three visits. We had some type of specialist in our home three to four days a week between the two of them.  But after 698 days in foster care for Big Al and 669 days in foster care for Elmo we arrived at our second forever family (adoption) day.   

We thought we were finished with foster care but God looked down and said I am not finished with you yet. I look back and think about how different our lives would be if we had decided not to call that worker back.  Where would our Big Al be? Would we even have our Elmo?  Our lives are pure chaos most days but I would not trade it for the world.  These two precious little guys bring us so much joy and laughter it far outweighs the not so great moments.  I know foster care is not about adoption. I know that the main goal is reunification. But sometimes, sometimes no matter how many chances are given or how many improvement periods are awarded the parents just can’t seem to get their priorities in order. The judge and lawyers then have to make the call for what’s best for the child. And if your lucky…..not lucky if your blessed to be that foster parent for that child you get the opportunity to adopt the child(ren) that you have protected , nurtured, smiled with, cried with, laughed with and fell in love with. God blesses you for being His hands and feet. He blesses you for doing His work here on earth.  Foster care is not for everyone. It’s hard. It’s painful. It’s sacrifice. It’s dealing with lawyers and courts. It’s being the one person who cares for the child daily but has little say in what happens to the child. It makes no sense to many.  You will lose friends and family members that just don’t understand why you do what you do. You will be criticized and accused of things you never that possible. Your priorities will change and your carefree life as you knew it will be but a blur. But it’s so worth it all.  It’s one of the greatest joys one can do. Giving everything to a child that feels as if they have nothing is worth every tear and every heartache. Without foster care we would not be the family we are today.
Happy second Forever Family Day Anniversary to my boys.  Momma loves you more than you will ever know. 
There is a major need for good foster homes nationwide. If you have ever thought about it I encourage you to pray about it and look into it. Call your local agencies or your local DHHR or DCS office see what classes need to be taken.  Don’t let the “I could never do that I would get to attached” or the “I just don’t think I could love a child and then have to give him or her back” statements fill your head. These children need someone that will fall in love with them and that will become attached to them.  They need to know they are worth loving.  I promise you it will not only make a positive change in their lives but it will also change yours.  Have faith take that leap.

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism life, Being a mom, Children, Children with disabilities, family, foster parent life, life, love, Mom life, RAD

Summer Vacation

via Daily Prompt: Survive

 

The school year has come to an end.  We survived our first year in our new state and in our new schools.  While most parents get excited that the longer days of summer are quickly approaching I for one almost dread it.  Summer means all the children will be home 24/7 and this year, this summer will be the first summer I will be without the help of my older two kids.  Lord give me guidance for I am in uncharted territory.

Let me start off by saying, my kids are my world, anyone that knows me knows this to be true.  However I have one child with RAD and ADHD and one with autism and three under the age of four.  Sometimes, most of the time, their is no peace in the house if they are all together.

We have reached the point where our almost seven year old (RAD) notices that our six year old (autistic) does not have to do the same things she does and does not have the same consequences she does.  This has become a daily problem for her.  And to be honest how do you explain to a seven year old that her brother is treated different because of his disability?  All she shes is that he does not get in trouble for things like she does.  We try our best to be fair but we are human so I am sure we have messed up from time to time.  We have been out of school for four days now and the time out chair is already getting its workout in.  And don’t get me started on her thoughts about the other three little ones.  I know its not her, I know its all the pain from her birth parents, I know she takes it out on me because in her eyes I replaced her mom so therefore I am as bad as she is, but man some days are hard.

Last summer, I was fortunate to have our oldest daughter with us.  She came down after her junior semester was over and helped us get settled in to the new house.  It was nice having an extra set of hands during the day.  She does so well with all of them, especially with our wild man.  The two of them can spend hours together lining up his cars or playing with his Lego’s.  She is his favorite thing in the whole wide world.  He feels safe to just be himself around her.   With her here I was able to take care of our other little ones. Of course there were days that meltdowns happened, but having someone else here to help buffer was a blessing.  I already miss her this summer.

My husband helps when he can, however he is the one that provides for us.  He works a 40 hour a week job that normally turns into closer to 50 or 60 a week.  By the time he gets in he is exhausted.  He comes home most nights around 7pm sometimes later but rarely at the 5 o’clock hour.  He helps with baths and helps get them to bed. He is looking forward to our family vacation to the beach in a few weeks.  I wish I could say the same.

Vacation to most means relaxation, fun, sleeping in, dinning out at new places, and taking a moment for yourself.  Vacationing for me makes me anxious. The packing and repacking.  The food list.  The activities to take for the car ride, the 7 hour car ride. I know wild man’s sleep pattern will be off because he will not be in his own bed.  It will be days before he gets a good night sleep if it happens at all.  I will spend the first few hours at the house we rented child proofing and making sure he can’t hurt himself and making sure our three little ones can’t get into anything either.  I will check and recheck the locks on the doors to makes sure he can’t get out.  I will make sure the fence around the yard does not have any holes he can dig under.  I will stock up on stage two Gerber peas, because those are his comfort food and we will need his comfort food when he realizes we are spending the night in the strange house.  I will end up in the same room with him and baby girl I’m sure because when they wake up in the middle of the night they will not know where they are and instead of them trying to find me in the strange to them house it will just be easier for me to sleep in the extra twin bed.  Correction I will not sleep that week, for I am sure he will not sleep.  If he does mange sleep we will be up at his normal 4AM, autism does not sleep in even on vacation. We will not go out to new restaurants for dinner or lunch because the noise will be much to loud for him to handle.  And as for a moment to myself, well I have five little ones I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself.  I am thankful our oldest son is going with us.  The kids(and I) miss him not living here so it will be nice to have him with us for a week.

As for Diva she will be in heaven for her daddy and grandparents will be with us.  I know that the first day or so will be fine for she will be on her best behavior, like she always does around them.  I know though her behaviors will surface.  They always do.  Unless you live with RAD everyday you can’t understand the struggle’s we face daily.  The mood swings, the screaming, the always fighting are real and painful.  What if I’m not enough for them by myself this summer?  What if they need more of me than I can be? I really miss home in times like this.  My parents, friends, and in-laws.  Here its just me.  I hope we can survive  summer vacation.  GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

My prayer is that God will show me the way to make the most of this summer.  That He will show me how to be the best mom to each of my kids.  They all have pasts, they all of troubles and yet God chose me to be their momma.  Maybe He sees something in me that I don’t see.  Most days I think I’m an okay mom.  Some days however I know I’m not so great.  I don’t want to be perfect just better.

Earlier today I read a blog “Eighteen summers: It’s all we get, so this is my promise to you” over at simpleasthatblog.com  And it got me thinking.  With my oldest daughter I had 21 full summers, with my oldest son 17.  Time does go by so quickly.  I’m not going to lie and say that I am excited now to go on vacation since I read this blog, but I will say it opened my eyes.  I do want to see baby girl’s eyes when she sees the ocean for the first time.  I want to watch the boys run freely on the beach with the sand between their toes.  I want to hear the giggles and laughter coming from their rooms as my husband tucks them into bed each night.  I want to steal a moment under the stars with my head on his shoulder and breathe in all that God as blessed us with.  We will survive we always do, sometimes it just takes a little more work and patience to get to the end.

From our beautiful chaos to yours.  Summer can be hot, long and hard.  Not everyday will be sunshine.  God washes us with the rain from the storms.