I started this post July 18th, which marked one year of placement. Woah, what? No way. You can read all about it here. But, I'm just now finishing it and a lot has changed with our case since.
Much like my initial title, Controlled Chaos, I didn't feel I could come up with a better title for this one. Part II- One year later, what I've learned about controlling the chaos. I must say, there is very little control over here and it's so so good. We've had to let go of a lot this last year. Let go of the idea of a perfect family. a perfect placement, expectations, selfishness, comfort... so on and so on. We really thought the struggle in our first year of fostering would be saying good bye to kids and grieving the loss of little ones in our care. Not one placement.. one case.. and lots of wanting to see them go. Wanting to quit. Wanting this all to be over.
Really, I've considered disrupting placement a lot since March. It's been rough, as I'm sure you gathered from my last post in May. Things haven't gotten any easier around here. But, boy are they BETTER, because my heart is better. The Lord has grown me tenfold this year. I have endured and I am still fighting this fight. Let me explain, I am better, but I've never felt so humbled in my life. I admitted my weaknesses along the way, and the Lord was faithful to show up, convict, strengthen, and challenge me to love as He loves. I've relied on the Word of God so much during this season, thanks to my husband and my Grace Church Denton family, and the prayers of those who love me. The Holy Spirit has truly stepped in and granted me the endurance and the fruits of the Spirit (Eph. 5:22-26). He allowed my heart and desires to be transformed into His. In a time with so many unknowns, I was forced to be grounded in the only Truth I know. For that, I am eternally grateful for fostering. Make no mistake, I am not boasting, I am doing my best to express the growth I've experienced, and what The Lord has done. I am better because I've been broken, beat down, exhausted, and completely at the end of my rope. I'm better because I am not capable of doing this on my own, and I know it, now more than ever. My prayer life is better because I was forced to learn how to truly pray for His perfect will in our life. To praise Him no matter the outcome or current circumstance. My heart is better because I've learned I have no control over this process or the outcome. none. Hard thing to swallow, but so so good. So forget the controlled chaos.. It's just beautiful chaos over here.
We were about ready to call it quits when our trial got postponed from early June to late July. Mostly because visits continued at this time. The boys were so out of control, emotionally unstable, unresponsive, and defiant. Mom was showing up to every visit and I was barely holding on. Our agency and family stepped in immediately. Dan and Bridgette + respite family kept the twins, My parents + Teag + David and Bridget took C (#gypsykids) for 6 days!! Jake and I went to Ft. Lauderdale, FL for a few days, and then spent some quality time with Carson over the weekend. It was perfect timing and so great. Jake and I were able to relax, reconnect, and recover. We were so humbled by the people willing to step in and help us out in our most desperate time during fostering. I was completely exhausted. When our trial was postponed, there was serious talk of our future as a family. Meaning, I felt the responsibility to see the foster process through, but I wasn't sure what adoption would look like. Really, with each day in current circumstances it made me want to adopt the boys less and less. I know that sounds awful, and I hate that I felt that way, but I promise to always be honest during this process. Fostering is hard and it isn't always pretty! So, with the week break I was able to clear my head a bit. I felt rejuvenated and knew given the opportunity we would definitely adopt.
Trial by judge end of July. We showed up to court for what we thought would be a 3 hour trial. We got there early and ended up sharing a bench with bio mom. She asked for a piece of gum and then if I was a lawyer, cps, casa, etc. I finally said I'm a foster mom.. she said who she was and then we talked about the boys for a bit. It was strange, but I was thankful for the short time we had with her. Jake sat in the whole time. I had to wait outside the court room because I was a possible witness and couldn't hear other testimonies. The hours kept passing and I didn't know what was going on in there. By 5:00pm I was becoming anxious about testifying. I felt very calm about it at first, and then was really hoping I wouldn't be called in there. 6:00pm they took their first break and everyone looked exhausted. The judge asked the court staff if they could stay late and finish this out. ooookay. A little before 7:00pm they officially released me as a witness and I was able to go sit in. I got in there just in time to hear bio mom testify, and to hear the judges decision. It was sad, confusing, and emotional to hear the mom answer questions... It was pretty nerve wracking to look at the judge and see her poker face. I really didn't know what would happen. A little after 8:00pm the judge made her decision. She took everything into consideration and gave the mom a fair chance, but in the end, she found the best interest of the boys was to terminate all parental rights, for bio mom/bio dad/any potential dad. No contact, no pictures/letters, no visits, not even a goodbye visit. Wow! It was surreal. We were both holding back the tears... We didn't really feel like celebrating. It was a heavy process to be there, and the day was mostly about loss. I was in tears because I was thankful the boys were safe, I knew they would be safe, and I knew they'd be able to fully heal. Praise the Lord. However, it was weighty, the sense of loss for their bio mom, even though I clearly agree with the court's decision. But, also the loss the boy's will experience. Their story is quite different than Carson's. This won't be the last time you hear this from me, but, adoption is something we celebrate in this house, we are also very aware of the loss involved. This was one of those sobering moments for us. We were relieved and completely exhausted from the day, and really the year! We went to chili's and ate a chocolate molten cake, because, well, why not?..
Jake stayed home for breakfast so we could tell the boys.. it was great to tell them visits were all done and to see them process it. They were a little confused and even a little sad. They didn't really seem to understand. By the end of our short conversation there was nothing but celebration as we talked about things like they get to stay here forever, no more visits, and they get to be Piatt's.
We asked a few questions about the next steps. We were excited, but mostly just relieved we didn't have to deal with the regression and stress of visits. We got some great news. We were told mom went on record saying she wouldn't appeal, and also that we were moving directly to adoption unit and not making a stop at PCM. Our Caseworker was just waiting on the final order from DA so we could transfer and start the process...
Turns out mom didn't go on record and she did in fact file an appeal last week. Sooo.... here we are. The appeal will take months and months and months (official timeline from DFPS). They comb through the whole case and see if there are any significant discrepancies. Until this appeal is addressed the adoption is definitely on hold. We won't be moved to adoption unit any time soon. The DA said to tell us there won't be an adoption in 2015.
okay, so I was extremely disappointed and frustrated by the delay. I was angry about the appeal. I was upset about the continued foster paperwork (it's such a drag), cps/agency/casa visits.. still needing licensed baby sitters, etc. Just the fact that our family is still controlled by the state. I took the hit a little harder than I would've liked!! wah, wah, wah.. So, I had a pity party, really a pity pizookie (from BJs), had a good cry and then prayed and asked the Lord to help me. Wouldn't you know I woke up the next morning with a different perspective. It is what it is. There are so many positives and I am so thankful for these boys. I'm thankful we get to heal from visit regression and fall in love with each other as a family before adoption takes place. The boys are doing extremely well without visits in their life. We are seeing a notable change in behavior, and even a willingness to potty train. They've been primarily in underwear since last week! yay! We still have a long way to go as a family, but we are thankful for the last year, the present, and whatever the future holds. I'm thankful I didn't crumble under the weight of fostering this year and I will continue to meditate on His Truths.
"I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1