Sarah at fosterfull stole the words right out of my mouth.
Go get a frosty!
Sarah at fosterfull stole the words right out of my mouth.
Go get a frosty!
Just a little bit ago, a fellow blogger posted about siblings and foster care and it inspired me to share a story of something that happened to us not too long ago.
If you’ve followed this blog at all (or checked out my family page), you know that we have three boys. Rick had two and I had one when we first met. We’ve talked before about whether or not we’d want to have a baby together. Rick is such a wonderful husband – he’s the kind of man who you justknow would be wonderful during pregnancy. It would be nothing like before. I wouldn’t be going to doctors alone. There’s no way he’d leave me alone the night our baby was born. He wouldn’t leave me to find my own rides to the NICU. He’d definitely rub my swollen feet. In short, he’d do all the things I wish my ex had…and none of the things I wish he hadn’t done. And we’d make a super cute baby – dark wavy hair, green eyes…
But the reality is that we have three kids! And one of those kids has special needs. It would be nearly impossible to handle a baby. We decided that we would take measures to insure we didn’t have any more kiddos…but at the same time, if it was ever to happen, we would make it work.
Last year – I can’t recall exactly when, but I want to say early fall – Rick got a call from CPS on a Friday morning. He called me and texted me at work – said he needed me to call him as soon as I could.
Ryan’s mother had another baby. He was 2 months old and in the hospital recovering from methadone addiction. CPS wanted to know if we’d be willing to foster and eventually adopt him.
I just started crying. I wasn’t even sure why. Rick started crying, too. What were we going to do? What could we say? This was Ryan’s blood – how could we turn him away? What if he wound up in a bad situation because we didn’t say yes? How could we live with that?
But we have THREE KIDS already! Our house is pretty damn full. Our lives are already chaotic. We both work full-time. How could we do this? Rick said, “I keep thinking the same things… but then I think, if you were pregnant, we’d find a way to make this work.” We were both so torn. We told the CPS agent that we needed her to give us the weekend to talk this over.
After a lot of talking and crying, we decided we couldn’t take him. Rick called CPS on Monday to let them know.
We found out that the 2nd call they made on Friday was to the couple that adopted Ryan’s older sisters many years ago. They had taken the baby for the weekend while we thought things over! They also agreed to foster him until a decision was made on whether or not he could be adopted by another family.
What a relief. If he couldn’t be with his brother, at least he was with his sisters!
We also found out that the baby’s mother was fighting this time. To my knowledge, she never really fought before. And this time, she won. Little baby J is back with his mother. That’s something I could not have handled. How could we have explained that to Ryan? “Your mother gave up you and your sisters, but she fought to get your brother back.” How much damage would that do? I’m sure it hurt his sisters as well, but at least they’re a little older and they might be able to understand the situation better. Ryan couldn’t have gone through that without getting scarred.
I couldn’t have, either!
I’m happy with our little family. Our youngest will be 6 in September, so I just keep telling myself that means I’ll only be in my 40s when all the kids are out of the house! (Of course, I realize Colin may always have to live with us. Let me have my fantasy for a minute!) Rick and I will be able to enjoy some crazy middle-aged years together alone since we didn’t spend our crazy 20s together. If we were to start over now, I’d be in my 50s before that time came. Rick would be in his 60s!
I’ll keep the level of crazy and happy we already have and focus on the future – for us and our boys.
I’ll begin with a little background history.
My husband, Rick, and his first wife were foster parents for about 2 years and adopted two children during that time.
Colin was about 5 weeks old when he first came to their home. His birth mother went to one CPS hearing and then disappeared, never to be heard from again. He was malnourished and wound up unable to swallow solid foods until he was around 1.5yrs old because – as a baby – his mother would put peanut butter in his mouth to shut him up. He learned how *not* to swallow as a defense mechanism. During those first five weeks of life, he was rarely – if ever – held or loved the way a little baby deserves. This is the root of many of the issues he still faces today.
Ryan was a little over a year old when CPS brought him to live with Rick and his first wife. He had been removed from his home at birth as his older sisters were already taken away from their mother years before. (He spent his first year in another foster home that was closed down.) His sisters were adopted by another family (we keep in touch with them regularly) but they were an older couple and weren’t capable of taking on a baby – his sisters are 6 and 14 years older than he is. Rick and his wife adopted Ryan a few months later. He was their last foster child.
Ryan was a quiet boy – hardly spoke at all in the beginning. Colin is 7 months older, so he did most of Ryan’s talking for him.
Not long after Ryan was adopted, Rick’s first wife passed away due to complications from diabetes and medications. He was a single father of two very unique boys for over 3 years.
My story is a little more simple. I married at 24 and had Robbie when I was 26. He was born via emergency c-section 5 weeks before his due date (I came down with HELLP Syndrome). In 8 days, he was out of the NICU and on his way to becoming the crazy, smart, silly little boy he is now. I divorced in 2008 when Robbie was 15 months old. His father moved back to Australia and has very little to do with Robbie now.
In June of 2010, Rick and I met for the first time.
While trying to figure out when we could meet for a traditional date, we decided to say screw it and meet for lunch at the mall – with all three children in tow. We had lunch at California Pizza Kitchen and then took the kiddos to the play area so we could talk for a bit. I was hooked from day one.
I knew there would be challenges with Colin. He had been diagnosed as ADHD for quite a while by that point and was taking Metadate every morning. Oddly enough, what I didn’t expect was how Ryan and I would interact. He had very little female influence in his life at that point in time – in fact, he referred to everything and everyone as “him” or “he”. He was also dealing with some anger issues. He would get this dark look in his eye and you just knew he was going to get himself into trouble. Things were a bit chaotic. He would be sweet to me one minute and defiant the next. I wasn’t sure how to handle him at all. All I knew at that time was what little boys could be like from birth to about 3 years old. 5 and 6 year olds were beyond my comprehension!
Robbie also had to learn how to play with older boys – and how to deal with Colin when he acted a little “off”. He did amazingly well with the idea of sharing his mom. He did not, however, take so nicely to having a new adult telling him what to do and trying to discipline him, etc.
Fast forward to today. Rick and I have been married for a little over a year. Colin and Ryan are both in 1st grade and doing fairly well. Colin’s meds have changed a time or two (as has his diagnosis – now diagnosed as being Autistic as well as ADHD) and we found out Ryan was in desperate need of glasses. We’ve put Ryan and Robbie into play therapy with an amazing psychologist that has helped them both with their behavior issues at school and home. We’re hoping to convince our insurance provider that they should cover Colin’s ABA therapy so that we can get that rolling – meds alone are not helping and likely just masking some of the issues he’s having. Robbie is in private kindergarten and doing well. Both Ryan and Robbie play soccer. And we’ve added two crazy dogs to our insane household. Rodeo came first – he’s a lab/pit/?? mix and the sweetest dog that’s ever lived. He is so gentle with and protective of our boys. However, he was lonely whenever we’d go out on the weekends or at night. Sooo…we found him a playmate – Miss Chloe. She’s a greyhound/border collie mix – tall and skinny with the black/white border collie markings. Just gorgeous. Even if she is kind of a dip. She’s a snuggler and has twice the energy Rodeo has, so she keeps him pretty well worn out.
There you have it – the Readers’ Digest version of our background. Moving forward, I plan to discuss the challenges of raising kiddos – special needs and otherwise – as well as post recipes, home improvement adventures and anything else that pops into this garbled mind of mine.