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.

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

A Mother’s Worst Fear

As a mom I worry. I worry about my kids all the time.  I worry about if they are eating enough fruits and vegetables.  I worry about if they are getting enough sleep.  I worry if they are making friends at school or if they are struggling with math.  I worry about everything, it’s kind of my job. Most of these worries however I turn over to God. I ask Him to help guide me along the way. I seek His presence in situations and I trust that He is with them when I can’t be. Take tonight for example.

We had just finished up dinner. My two three year olds were running around as diva and I cleaned up the table.  My husband had went outside to move the car into the garage, there was a storm moving in. I told the boys to stop running before someone got hurt, of course they were in a big game of chase and either did not hear me or chose not to listen. Baby girl decided to join in on the fun and took off after Big Al as he rounded the corner. Diva finished picking up the plates just as the crash happened.   All I heard was the loud thud and then the screams from Big Al and Baby girl. When I turned my head there was a pile of kids in my floor. Elmo on top, baby girl in the middle and Big Al on the bottom with blood coming from his mouth. I jumped up and ran over, quickly grappling a towel to stop the bleeding and tried to calm down the two that were crying.  About the same time my husband walked in and saw the situation as it was unfolding. He took baby girl, she was fine just scared from the fall I imagine, as I worked with Big Al.   Thankfully it was just a busted lip that took just a few minutes to stop bleeding.  As he realized he was in fact not dying he quickly gathered his things back up and headed back to the living room.  That’s when we realized Elmo was missing. It had only been a few minutes since the incident but still we could not find him and that was not like him. My husband and I both called out his name….no reply. He took the downstairs, I ran through the rooms upstairs….nothing.  I came back downstairs and found Todd searching. My hear started to beat faster. Where was he? I started searching again. First the kitchen, then the piano room, nothing. Todd met me back in the living room and our eyes met. We yelled again this time a little louder. I went downstairs and tore throw the closets and opened the bedroom doors….nothing. Panic sat in. I ran up the stairs and could hear Todd yelling “come on out buddy your ok”  Fear was taking over as I flew up the second flight of stairs. This time I went in every bedroom, checked every closet, and under every bed…..nothing.  Back down the stairs I went.  We made another sweep through the main floor before it hit me.  The garage door had been opened. I grabbed my keys and we went out the door.   Todd checked the car as I ran outside and looked in the van.  Todd ran around the front of the house as I looked up and down the street.  My heart was beating out of my chest and it was becoming hard to breathe. We ran back in the house frantic not knowing what to do or where to look, when we hear diva say “I win I win I found him” We both ran towards her voice and there in between the chair and the wall curled in a ball was our little guy.  Frightened and alone. 

I was never so glad to see him. I picked him up and held him tight as the tears ran down my face. My heart was beating so hard my chest was physically jumping.  In a small voice we heard “is they ok? ME’s sorry me hurted them. I don’t like blood. Blood gross” He had been hiding the whole time because he was scared he had hurt his brother. He was never in any danger. He had been in the house the whole time.  It’s crazy how fast your mind can take you to the darkest fears if you allow it.  Why had I allowed fear to take over? 

My worst fear is not that something bad will happen to me. No my worst fear is that something bad will happen to one of my children. For those that say “One can’t not love an adopted child like one would love their own” I have this to say.  You are dead wrong.  They are my children in every way possible. I laugh when they laugh, I cry when they cry and I hurt when they are sick or are in pain. I love them as my own for they ARE MY OWN.  In those 20 minutes this evening my whole world was turned upside down. I could not breathe. I don’t even want to consider things if he had not just been hiding by the chair. As I was running from room to room and looking outside all I could do was pray dear Lord help me find my son.  

After I held him for several minutes he climbed down and went off to see if his brother really was ok. I walked to the kitchen and lost it. I started crying and thanking God we had found him. Thirty minutes prior I was ready to place him in time out for running and now I was just thankful he was safe.    

After everyone had calmed down and all eyes were dry and heart rates were back to normal we sat down and had a talk about when it’s ok to play hide and seek and when it’s not.  

I held him a little longer tonight after he fell asleep in my arms. I just needed that extra bit of time with him. He will never know just how much I love him.  Thank you Jesus for keeping him safe tonight and every night. 
From our beautiful chaos to yours fear is cripl stand strong and trust in God. 

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

The Unexpected Connection

via Daily Prompt: Catapult

 

As a mom my number one job is to love and protect my children.  Part of that includes making tough decisions.

Back at Christmas my husband and I decided to do DNA tests on the kids.  As their adoptive parents we know that one day they will ask those hard questions: “Where am I from” “What were my birth parents like” “Do I have other brothers and sisters out there” All questions that I simply don’t have the answers for.  So in order to help my children when the time comes I ordered the test kits.

The kits came in and we made a game of it.  After all how do you explain to kids under six you are sending off their DNA?   So they all gathered around and we had a spitting contest.  The first one to fill their tube to the black line won.  Our wild man loves to spit so he filled his tube quickly.  Diva came in with a close second.  Big Al is our germaphobe so he took his time spitting into the unknown tube, while Elmo had more spit in the floor that in the tube. Our baby girl was to little to spit in the tube for the test, maybe next year she can play the spit game.  We will see.  We sent them back to the lab and waited patiently for our allotted 6 to 8 weeks.  Our results came back and my husband and I looked over the results and were amazed by what we saw.

There in the mass colors of yellows, blues, reds, and greens highlighted the different countries of our children’s backgrounds.  Three of them had similarities, stemming from their birth mom I assume, but even though they were similar their were still very distinctive differences.  We spent the next few days looking over the pages and then I placed them in their baby books where they could be found later if or when my children need them.  002

So imagine my surprise when a few days ago I received an email telling me one of my children had a match.   I must have read that email twenty times.  This was not what I was expecting.  I was not ready to meet anyone from their families.  I finally clicked the link and read the message.  Again I read the message over and over.  The lady was very sweet and honestly just looking for family.  I don’t think she had any idea that she had stumbled upon a half sibling.  I didn’t know what to say so I stated that we had only done the test so that our kids would have a starting place when they were ready to look for their birth families.  img_1665

 

What I discovered is that she too is doing the same thing.

 

So I made the decision to talk with her.  Was I nervous? Yes.  This whole experience has been overwhelming. I never thought I would hear back from anyone, let alone a whole group of someones.  I want to stay open minded and I like the idea of having some contact with his half siblings so if the time does come and he wants to meet them it will be easier.   But part of me feels that I have catapulted us into the unknown and it is terrifying.  He and his sister are mine now.  I know that might sound mean to some of you, and maybe it is. I am the one they call mom.  I am the one who has rocked them to sleep, stayed up with them when they are sick, and cuddled with them on the couch.  I have loved them from the moment I held them in my arms, from the moment the call came in to tell me they were on their way to my house. I am the only mom they have ever known.

Fear can be crippling.  I want to do what I feel is right and what I feel is best for my kids. So for now I will cautiously proceed with our new findings. So from a distance their new found siblings can check in from time to time.  We will see where this goes.  Not all foster care stories have to end badly.  Our story ended with five little loves in our forever family. They have a mom and dad that love them, an older sister and older brother that adore them and thanks to adoption they are able to be raised together in one home….our home. How beautiful is that?  And now with these new results who knows what lays ahead ten, twenty or thirty years down the road. After all a child can never have too may people to love them.

 

 

 

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

The Grocery store experience 

We all eat so therefore we must go to the grocery store. As a mother of five little ones I try my best to go when most of my little loves are at school. It’s both easier and cheaper on me.  However some days things don’t workout like I plan and I end up taking a few with me.  I’m sure we are entertaining for our fellow shoppers to watch. Which leads me to this blog.

A few days ago my youngest and I made a quick run to the local Food City before picking up the boys from preschool (I had ran out of coffee, I don’t function without coffee) Naturally she had been fighting sleep all morning so as soon as I placed her in the car she was out.  At this point I had a decision to make: go to the store anyway and hope she did not wake up or go get in the preschool pickup line early let and let her sleep and then take my three youngest to the store.  I did not feel like spending twenty extra dollars on cheap matchbox cars or whatever toy happened to catch my boys’ eyes so I opted to take my sleeping beauty to the store.  

I know we would not be long so I carried her. She did look sweet with her little head rested on my shoulder as I made my way up and down the aisles.  People stopped and let me cross in front of them or just stopped to smile at her.  The words “she precious” and “look how sweet she is” came out of more than a few mouths.  When I got to the register to checkout there were only two lanes opened. As I waited patiently a young clerk, early twenties max, came over and asked if I was ready to checkout. I told him I was, after all I was standing in line, and he took my little shopping chart and walked it over to lane 3.  He offered to carry my things out, but I told him I could manage and smiled. I grabbed my three bags in my right hand(I always buy more than what I go in for)  and out the door we went.  As we were walking out the door two more people stopped me and asked if they could help me to my car.

Why can’t people’s response be this way when I have my son with me?  

This question has made me both mad and hurt me over the last couple of days.


JR loves to spend time with me. The problem if we are anywhere other than our home his system goes into overdrive.  When I found out the grocery store had special needs shopping charts I was ecstatic.  The normal charts he can no longer get his legs in and if I place him in the chart there is no room for the groceries.  Does not sound like a big problem, but to an autistic six year old trust me it is. So about a month ago I decided to take him shopping with me.  Just me and him while my husband stayed home with our other kids.   He was so excited.  When he saw the chart his arms started flying. He giggled and said ” hey momma look at me” all through the store.  He is loud, he can’t help it.  He covered and uncovered his eyes a thousand times for the fluorescent lights hurt them. He covered his ears as we passed the cooler because the humming rolling off of them was loud.  He screamed when he saw the lobsters in the water tank. He didn’t notice the people starring at him. But I did. Some shook their heads while others whispered.  Times like these I am thankful for his autism for he does not see that they are judging him.  I even passed a store employee and I watched as her eyes traced my son as to say, ” why are you using that chart he looks perfectly normal”  I tried to let it go but I could not. I went up to the employee and told them to thank the store manager for getting the charts in. I made it a point to tell her he was excited to be able to go to the store with his mom and that I wished every store, not just grocery stores, had these charts.   She facial expression changed a little and she said she would be sure to tell the store owner. I thanked her and proceeded to go check out.  We waited our turn in the long line and not one person offered to help me and me wailing six year old to the car they were just happy to see us go.

I get it, babies are cute and sweet and everyone makes over them.  And for the record my daughter is adorable, however so is my son.  I’m so tired of the stares. And he is only six.  What will it be like when he turns 10, 16, or 21?  Why could they not see that he was just enjoying the day with his momma? Why would you ask a mom if she needed help with a sleeping baby and not ask to help a mom who’s child is having a meltdown?  I get so tired of the If you took him out more he would learn to behave comments.  It does not work that way, he does not work that way.  Why can people see what I see in him? 
From our beautiful chaos to yours look past the differences of others we are all beautifully made. 

Posted in adoption, autism, Autism life, Being a mom, Children, family, life, love, Mom life

Parenting is hard 

Yesterday was the worst. Plain and simple. Since we moved our children have been somewhat isolated from visitors.  Don’t get me wrong, we have had grandpa’s and grandma’s come down and a couple of family members have stopped by.  We have even had a few really close friends make the trip down to see us.  But the constant traffic of caseworkers and in home therapist have since came to a stop. 

And for the record, I am not great at making friends. Add on five kiddos and it becomes almost impossible.  I know I can hear some people shaking their heads right this moment while they say “she asked for it when she took in so many kids” and yes I know what I got myself into thank you.  I’m not trying to blame the kids in anyway, all I am saying is it’s easier to stay at home most of the time rather than tackle the chaos that is my little loves.  Trying to find time to make new friends is just not high on my priority list. But it’s been almost a year and I was thinking I needed to step out of my comfort zone and invite someone over.  After all what could possibly go wrong?   

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I had this brilliant idea.  It started off fine.  The kids and I were outside playing when our guest arrived.  They were running and playing and being normal fun loving children.  She and I sat in my living room and talked for a few minutes before things started going downhill. Diva and Big Al had gotten into an argument that somehow resulted in Elmo getting smacked in the face. So he was crying and the other two were screaming.  I excused myself to defuse the situation and quickly returned to my visit.  Within minutes Diva was slamming the door asking if she could play on a tablet because she “just hated her life and wished she lived somewhere else”. Thats now two crying.   I gave in and gave her the tablet (she normally does not get to just play on one but I really wanted some adult conversation) Biggest mistake ever!!!

As soon as she got it the fight was on.  And things only got worse. By the time my husband got home wild man was running around in his underwear (normal autism behavior but we have been trying to keep him clothed) Both of our three year olds were screaming, one had decided he was only eating candy and pop (soda) for dinner while the other one was just tired.  As for the baby she had graciously covered my soon to not be new friend in cheese puff dust. Diva was still screaming because life as a six year old is apparently the worst thing ever.  Oh and how did I forget to tell you that when my husband asked the kids to come inside so he could get them ready for dinner my wild man called him a Mother F@&$@r.  Yep the whole word. And repeated it three times (again one of his autism ticks) Plain as day, of course it was why wouldn’t it be.  The look on her face told me it was as pronounced prefectly. Lucky me. Apparently he unlocked the parent lock on his tablet and…..well he found Caillou. A very inappropriate version of Caillou. I assumed he was watching the PBS version. Lesson learned the hard way.

I was never so ready for someone to leave my house in my life.  And I’m pretty sure that possible friendship was over before it started.  Why oh why could they not behave for just a few hours for me? I mean seriously was it to much to ask? After a quick dinner, not the candy and pop the kids wanted, but cereal and juice. I’m sure it had just as much sugar in it as the candy would have(I know mom of the year but I just could not at that moment)

By 7:30, wild man, diva and Elmo were asleep(part of the problem I am sure) By 8:30 baby peanut was out. My husband and I had not said a word to each other since our friend left, I looked and him and said “I’m taking her to bed, you got him?” Pointing at Big Al who was tired but still going strong. He nodded his head yes, kissed me and off I went. I was embarrassed. I was angry . I was emotionally drained and I was at a loss for words. I know my kids are no angels but man, that was rough. 

I woke up this morning still in a funk. Still doubting my parenting skills and wondering why in the world God picked me to be their mom. Yesterday was a perfect example that I am not cut out for the job.  I went through our morning routine. Diva was still in a mood as well so she was running late.  My husband had to leave for work and could not wait any longer so I had to take her when I took the boys to preschool, which made her even more angry.  After dropping them off to their schools I headed over to the doctors office to get peanuts 18 month well child check up and shots.

I was still kind of upset with how my kids had behaved as I sat and waited for her to be seen. In the waiting room were two other families. One, a young mother and two kids. Her daughter about four years old and a newborn boy. The other, also a young mother, her mom, her newborn daughter and her son who was 15 months old.  The little boy quickly made his rounds over to my daughter and the four year old. The young moms started chatting about being moms and how it was now even harder with two.  As I held peanut on my lap I smiled a little at the conversation. The one young ladies mother quickly jumped in and said  “Well at least you waited a few years these two are barely 15 months apart” to the other young mom.  The conversation continued about how the little boy was so full of energy and how grandma was to tired to chase after him all the time.  The little girl spun around and around begging for juice while her mom dealt with her very fussy baby brother.  I could see the stress on both families faces.   The one mom was called back and grandma was suppose to watch the rambunctiousness little boy and his sleeping sister while mom went up and filled out paperwork. He was fast on his feet and before the grandmother knew it he was headed for the door.  She was able to grab him before he made his daring escape but she was winded.  She came back over to the waiting area and said ” I’m to old for this. I raised my two girls. All he wants to do is run run run. I’m 43 I’m to old to chase him down”.    43 is to old to chase a toddler?   I just turn 41. I sat in the waiting room with my daughter who is just a few months older than her grandson and let her words sink in.  She continued to complain about raising kids and talked about everything that could go wrong. When the other young mom committed that it was just her and her two kids (no dad in the picture I’m guessing) the grandmother quickly started down the “how are you going to do this by yourself? Parenting is hard” lecture. The young mom was fidgety in her seat and I guess that’s when grandma realized I was looking at her. In a very rough voice she looked at me and said “You’re lucky you just got the one” That’s when I opened my mouth.

I smiled and said that I actually had seven children. And I rattled off their ages “22, 18,6,6,3,3& this one is 18 months”. The room got quiet.  I went on to say that yes parenting is hard but it is by far the best thing I have ever done and that some of my kids were close in age and even though we had bad days the good days far out weighed them. I rambled on for a few minutes until she got my point. Both her daughter and the other young mom were smiling by the time I finished my little soap box talk. 

Peanut was called back, vaccination was given and out the door we went.  I had started off the day angry that my kids had misbehaved so badly the night before but by the time I was finished with the appointment I realized even they are entitled to a bad day every now and then my kids just picked the same day to have their bad day. I get in bad moods and don’t want to do anything. Aren’t kids just little humans? They have the same feelings and emotions the only difference is they don’t know how to express it. 

I did make a few rule changes and tonight was rough but we managed. The tablets and phones are gone, for now no more games or video watching on them. My husband threw out what was left of the Easter candy so that the kids (or us) would be tempted to eat it. Instead of them playing video games while I cooked they played with play dough and drew pictures, daddy worked late so we had to make due with what we could.  It was a long night but we made it through. 

That grandma was right, parenting is hard. There is no right way or wrong way. No matter what we do some will say we are to hard on our kids while others say we are to easy on them. Our kids are going to be good one day and not so good the next. And it does not matter if you have one child or if you have 20 children they are going to act up at some point when you really don’t want them to.  Their kids it’s what they do and how the learn. 

I’m thankful God placed that lady in my path today. By hearing her negative view on kids and live in general it reminded me just how blessed I truly am. And for that I am thankful. 

From our beautiful chaos to yours here’s to more peaceful tomorrow’s.

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

Big sis, Middle sis, & Little sis

In less than three weeks my oldest daughter graduates college.  I am not sure how that’s possible.  I’ve spent the last few days in full sappy mom mode. I had flipped through photo albums and cried my eyes out. I have looked through her box of baby clothes and found myself just sitting in her room gazing at her books and old dolls. With my 18 month old daughter in my arms I took a walk (or two) down memory lane. Was it not just yesterday I held Sie in my arms this way?

Last Friday my husband and I made the trip up to her college to watch her present her Capstone presentation (It was on Jane Eyer) and see her receive an award from the English department. We could not be more proud of her if we tried.  As I watched her walk across the stage and interact with her professors my eyes saw the beautiful young woman she has become. My heart however could only think about the first time I saw my 8 pound 13oz blue eyed princess.

I was not prepared to be a mom. I was a week away from turning 19 when she made her grand entrance.  I was scared out of my mind. I felt like I had disappointed my parents and that left me feeling ashamed and isolated. How in the world was I going to be a mom? But then the nurse placed this perfect little person in my arms and all fear was gone. I did not know how things would work out but I knee they would. My world was now all about her.  She was not planned, but she was perfect for our God does not make mistakes. She was beautiful and for the first time in my life I was completely in love. 

Jump forward a few years, ok 16 years, and I find myself with two teenagers. In just a few years they would be out of the house and my husband and I would be free to travel or do whatever we pleased. Ah my husband . He is a terrific man and wonderful dad to my kids. He is such an amazing step dad, all though my kids never call him that. To them he is just dad. So glad God gives us second chances at happiness.  I prayed he could somehow experience all the wonders of parenting not just the teen years.  Be careful what you wish for lol

One of the many joys as foster parents is that every now and then you get to experience the beautiful miracle of adoption. And we have been blessed to experience the joy of adding five little loves through three adoptions. 

Sie has been “sissy” since she was three. Once diva became part of our family sissy became “big sis”. I never thought I would get to experience raising a daughter again, and then diva arrived.    She has brought so much to our family. She is so smart and sassy.  She loves her big sissy.  She wants to be just like her when she grows up.  She loves to dance and plans on being a professional dancer when she grows “big”.  If we had given up of foster care after the first failed adoption attempt she would not be part of our lives. 

And just when we thought we were done, God blessed us with Divas half sister.  So the names changed again. Sie stayed big sis, diva became middle sis and peanut became little sis.  Peanut is such a joy.  Just when I thought I could not possibly love “one more child” she became a piece of my heart. She is learning so much, how to walk and how to talk, I look at her and my heart just melts.

As I flip through the old photos I can’t help but think “If I would have done this would things turned out better for her?”  Did I do my best to teach her right from wrong?  Did my decisions effect her in a positive or negative way?  Did I pray enough for her? Did I worry enough? Did I worry to much? Now that she’s all grown up will she need me anymore? Will she make time to call just to say hello? 

And just as I’m in the middle of a very ugly mom cry, my phone rings. It’s a video message. It’s my girl. She was calling me to let me know she was taking her final draft of her thesis to turn in. She called me.  Out of all the people she could have shared that moment with she called me.  We talked for just a few minutes but it was just what I needed.  I took a few more minutes to finish my ugly mom cry and then went to check on peanut.  She was playing with her toys singing a song as only 18 month olds can do. And I smiled.

God has been so good to me. I have three beautiful daughters. Each uniquely different and brilliant in their own way. I am thankful God has allowed me to be momma a little while longer. My parenting style may have changed some but I am grateful to have this chance again. 

If having a daughter graduating college has taught me anything it’s that life goes by so quickly.  It is important to be in the moment.  Yes I have dishes that need washed, and I always have laundry that needs to be folded, but when my kids are off on their own and think of me I want them to remember I was there for them. I was there pushing the swing just a little bit higher, I was there making silly dinosaurs noises, I was there snuggled on the couch reading their favorite book for a sixth time in one night.  I want them to remember I loved them and enjoyed being their mom.    I hope my oldest two remember that mom too. 

From our beautiful chaos to yours time goes by so fast, make sure those you love know exactly what they mean to you. 

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

Simple trip to the Zoo

Tuesday was an exciting day for my five year old son. It was the big field trip to the zoo. For the last few weeks he had talked about “zoo day.”  We had spent hours looking at pictures of the different animals he would see there and learning the different sounds they made. He was excited and I was excited for him.

The permission slip was signed and his lunch was packed and the school had agreed to let his aid go with him. So on Tuesday he got up and got ready and out the door he went.  I dressed our other little ones and dropped them off to preschool and headed to the zoo. 

It was raining some but not enough to ruin the day. Wild man loves to play on the rain anyways so it did not even phase him.  He was all smiles.  He walked in between me and his aid “Ms T” and pointed out to everyone that his momma and baby sister was there.   He engaged well with the questions his aid asked him about the animals and he was eager to share his knowledge of his favorite ones.   My heart could not have been more full. 

He loved the giraffes
 

His class was given tickets to feed the giraffes.  I was not allowed (safety measures for the animals) to take the stroller passed a certain point, so he and Ms T went with the class so he could take his turn feeding the giraffe.  Pure joy came across his face as the giraffe took the carrot from his hand.  He clapped and jumped and smiled from ear to ear.  Life was good. 
When it was time for lunch we made our way over to the picnic tables so that the class could eat together.  The teacher and other staff passed out the brown bagged lunches the school sent and passed out the lunches the parents had sent.   My son sat patiently ( well as patiently as he can) waiting on his lunch.  The teacher asked me several times what I had sent his lunch in.  I replied, “I sent his green camouflage lunch box. The same lunch box he has used all year.”  They looked and looked and then sent someone to the bus to see if it was with another classes lunch.  The teacher then came over and looked at my son and asked him(and me) if he had taken it out of his backpack that morning.  My son’s reply “backpack backpack backpack” while clapping his hands in shear delight.  She then looks at me and says, “Well if he didn’t take it out of his backpack then it’s not here. We are working on teaching him to do things like that on his own.”  “We have an extra school lunch he can have if he wants.”  
Mad is an understatement.  First off, my son is still new to the “regular kindergarten room”. He goes to the regular room half a day and then to his autism classroom the other half and he has only been doing this about two months. He is still getting use to the idea and still learning the day in and day out routine of how things are done in a regular classroom. Second, he takes his lunch to school EVERYDAY because he has sensory issues that prevent him from eating “normal foods”.  Third, I get that they are trying to teach him to be independent however if you know he brings his lunch everyday would it have hurt to check his backpack that morning to make sure he took it out especially if you know he is still forgetting to take it out of his backpack?  I understand that the morning was most likely filled with chaos as the children were excited about the trip, but he is the only autistic child in the class one extra step would have changed the whole outcome of the day.   

We declined the lunch from school.  I am sure that the ham and cheese sandwich was delicious but my son does not eat meat. I do appreciate the teacher giving him her chips from her Subway meal she brought, I do really but I could tell she was not happy about it.   As I looked at him and then looked at all the other children eating their lunch I became aggravated.  This is Exactly why I was worried about him being placed in a regular classroom.  He looks normal and people overlook his abilities and lack of abilities.  But the truth is he is not like all kids his age.  What if I had not been there? Would anyone even noticed that he did not have a lunch?  

I seen the meltdown coming so I walked over to the little consession stand and paid $12 for two orders of nachos and cheese and two juices, one for him to eat and one for me to eat so he would understand it was safe to eat.  As I walked back over to the table I received the “we were told  to pack a lunch” head shakes and glares from some of the other parents while a few of the other kids wanted to know why my son got special treatment and got to eat from the consession stand when they were told they were not allowed.  At the end of the thirty minute lunch I was ready to scream.     

His aid was overly apologetic. She felt terrible that his lunch and been left at school.   She was sorry and I believed her. She went as far as to text my sons other teacher (the one in his autism classroom) to let her know he would need a snack when he got back to class. She could tell I was upset because my son was upset with the events that had taken place.  
As I left the zoo to pick up my preschoolers from class, my son was walking around with Ms T looking at the monkeys.  He was back to his happy go lucky self and I was thankful, still mad but thankful. 

As a mom I worry about things like this all the time. Is he being well cared for while at school? Is he making friends? Are other kids picking on him? Is he really adjusting to the new class or are they just overlooking him?  

And while I want to be mad(I am still pretty ticked) I am going to remember this day as a day my son played with the giraffes and talked to the zebras.  Yes we had a meltdown and people stared but at this point on our autism journey I don’t care.  It’s part of our life.  The smiles and laughs that day far outweigh the forgotten lunch. 
From our beautiful chaos to yours it’s not the situations that make us it’s how we react to them that shape us.