Monday, September 24, 2012

Open Adoption Challenge in Foster Adoption

One of Ty's favorite books, right now, is a hallmark book that Rebekah recorded for him. I've been letting the boys read, quietly, in bed for a few minutes before we come in for hugs and kisses. A couple of weeks ago, I heard Rebekah's voice floating down the hall. I poked my head in and Ty caught my eye.

"I'm reading my special book, mama, from Miss Rebekah."

I see that, honey. How cool!

"Can I call her, mama?"

It was the first time Ty has initiated contact. I assured him that she would love to hear from him and ran to get my phone. He held the phone and answered with a sweet, "Hi, Miss Rebekah" when she answered. I could tell she was tickled to have Ty on the other end. She asked what he was doing and he responded, "Reading my very special book you made me!" I could tell she was surprised to hear that (she gave him the book more than two years ago!)

They talked for a few minutes before we said goodnight and Ty thanked her for "babysitting him" in her belly. It's one of the new phrases he uses in his adoption story. It's one that he came up with on his own.

As soon as we hung up, LJ crawled off his bed and said, "Mama, can I call someone?"

Yes, you may. Who would you like to call?

"My G-Mama."

I tucked Ty in and then snuggled with LJ on his bed as we called his last foster mom. She didn't answer, but I let LJ leave a message. He seemed okay with that.

Ty said, "Mom, we both have special mamas!"

I know, Ty, isn't that cool? You guys have so many people that love you!

I walked away with a troubled heart. Before LJ came to live with us, I wondered a lot about how our future children, adopted from foster care, would handle the openness between Ty and Rebekah. Open adoption is such a special part of Ty's story, that we don't want to downplay the significance. At the same time, I want to be sensitive to LJ's feelings regarding his own story. LJ's last foster mom, genuinely, cares about him, but I'm not sure what her commitment will be long term. Once the adoption is final (we were pushed out a couple more months - I'll explain in a later post), I plan on doing two things:

1) Contacting LJ's birth mom to let her know that we've adopted her son and that he is a growing, healthy, boy. For his security, I will do this, anonymously (through an attorney). My hope is that through letters, we'll be able to foster a relationship that will ultimately lead her to having some sort of connection/contact with LJ (even if only through pictures/letters). I have no idea how this will go and will prepare for disappointment.

2) Asking LJ's G-Mama if she would be willing to be LJ's "special person".

I realized that while, ultimately, having a relationship with their first moms is ideal, the real significance to these relationships is that it makes my boys feel special. It gives them a unique testimony that few other people have. It gives credence to the idea that they are surrounded by community and love and that there is another cheerleader in their corner jumping as high as me. If we can't make meaningful connections with LJ's first mom or foster mom, than I will call on a friend to take this place in his life. I have several friends that live a distance from us that could fill this role in a similar way that Rebekah does for Ty.

Maybe none of this will matter in ten years....but for the time being, I need every card in my pocket to help LJ reconcile his adoption and feel secure. I think having a special connection unique to him will help.

It's always an adventure over, here!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reassuring an Insecure Heart

We had a difficult weekend.

LJ is experiencing some processing challenges that can be frustrating on days when my patience is running thin. I feel good about the resources we have at hand and thank God for the support he's put in our life to help teach us how to address LJ's needs, best. I will talk about this more in coming blogs.

So, last night I sent LJ to his room for the second time over the same issue of disobedience. I asked him to sit in there for a few minutes to think about his behavior. Really, I needed a few moments to pray and gather my thoughts. I was out of answers and more than a little frustrated. The Holy Spirit came on me and breathed peace to my heart. I walked in and sat cross-legged on the floor and asked LJ to join me. His lower lip quivered as he looked at me with big, sad eyes.

Before I started talking, I had him take some big deep breaths with me. When he was relaxed, I, quietly, said, "Honey, do you know that I will always be your mommy...forever?

Little nod.

"And that daddy will by your daddy forever?"

Little nod.

"And that Ty will be your brother forever?"

More nodding.

"You are always going to be a part of this family and you will never have to move to a new home again." I went on to explain why his behavior was wrong and had him confirm his understanding by repeating what we went over.

As I stood up, I said, "Alright, let's go join daddy and Ty for dinner!" Before I could get to the door, LJ pulled on my arm and said, "Mama, I wanna do someth'n." I looked at him quizzically, not sure I heard what he said. He tugged on my hands and I saw that he wanted me to come back to the floor. As soon as I got to my knees, he wrapped his arms around my neck and crawled into my lap.

I forced a big lump in my throat and held him tight for a long time.

God is teaching me how to reach my son and his reassurance comes through pudgy hands and tight hugs. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit's guidance, here. After six months, it's easy to forget that our son still needs continued confirmation of his place and identity in our family. I hate that LJ has deep layers of insecurity and sometimes wakes up with nightmares. I wish I could give him a re-do on life and let him start over in our family. I wish we could tell him about the day he was born and explain away his scars...but we can't.

We are forced to put our words into action. We show him our love in a safe, consistent, healthy way. Eventually, our practices will override his past and he'll fall into complete assurance. I pray for that day and all the days in-between.

God has special plans for this little boy...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Remember!

I was challenged, yesterday, when I heard KLOVE (radio) ask what we were doing to remember our everyday heroes, in honor of those that lost lives on 9/11. A mom called in and said her family was taking fresh baked cookies to their local police station. The boys and I jumped to action and ran to the store for necessary items. We spent the night dipping oreos, pretzels, strawberries, and blueberries in both milk and dark chocolate. Because the boys are enamored by firemen, right now, we chose to make our goodies for our local station.

When I picked the boys up from preschool, they were ecstatic. We didn't talk about September 11th, but we did talk about what a tremendous sacrifice our local heroes make for us and the thanksgiving in our hearts for all they do.

I explained that today is Patriot day and that we made goodies to honor our firemen and to thank them for keeping us safe.

I think the boys expected the firefighters to greet them in full gear, but once the "trucks" were mentioned, the boys were all ears. We handed over our treats and on cue, Ty said, "We want to thank you for keeping us safe." It was crazy cute.

I could tell the men were tickled to have so much three year old attention. They spent an hour with us, touring the station and every vehicle (even though once you've seen one...). The boys asked dozens of questions and were completely enchanted by the experience.

It was a great way to spend the day remembering.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Preschool Pals

My babies grew up, today, and entered the world of preschool.

I was totally that mom. Walking the hall, sniffling, and remembering what the days leading up to today held.  I am so proud of my little men and the gentleman they are.

We have been talking about today a lot, trying to prepare LJ for a new environment. On the way to school, Ty said, "Mama, we will not be sad. We're brothers."

I heard a little "Brothers!" echo.

I love the family God has shaped us to be.


I asked the boys what they want to be when they grow up.