Look at the Birds

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Welcome back to my little corner of the blogosphere. It’s been awhile my friends and I have much to tell you. Something happened today that sparked my fingers to blog, so I’ll start right here, with this morning.

But first a little back story. Years ago when I first started attending church the father of one of our Sunday School member passed away. I didn’t know him very well at all. After his father’s funeral, he stood up in the front of the church and told a story. He said it was tradition to dig family members graves themselves. He and his family had dug the grave the day before the funeral. The morning of the funeral he went out to the grave to make sure everything was okay, he was understandably very sad. He asked God “I just need something, a little something.” Then he said “God put the birds in the trees for me.” Now it seemed like a great story, but being new to church, I did not understand the significance of that story. Later, during an anxiety ridden awful part of my life, I read Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds. They don’t play or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?” and the following verse “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” That was when I understood our friend’s story. The birds were put there to remind him that God is with him and he’s more valuable to Him than anything.

That story always stuck with me. Maybe because it was my first time hearing a story of God speaking to someone. Someone that I knew in real life. It wasn’t just a neat story on the internet. Flash forward three years. I had just returned from a doctor’s appointment that turned our world upside down. Carlee didn’t just have Autism (which was our hope) she had intractable epilepsy, irreversible brain damage, Cerebral Palsy, Rumination, and a Sensory Disorder. The dreams I had for my daughter went out the window. I gave myself one night to mourn. To grieve the loss of the daughter I’d always wanted. The next day I would get up, brush myself off and fight for her. I like to think I’ve done just that. Sure, there are still moments of grief, but I’ve turned into a fierce mama bear and fight with all my might for her. But that first night, I was a mess. I didn’t want to be around anyone or talk about it. I went to buy ingredients for pizza pasta¬† (my comfort food). There in the Wal-Mart parking lot, I heard the nearly deafening sound of birds. I could not see a single one, but the noise was so overwhelming that I stopped dead in my tracks. My friend’s story from a few years earlier popped into my head. I knew these birds were singing just for me, straight from God. He was telling me “I’ve got this, I’ve got her, this isn’t the end. Stop worrying.”

He was true to His promise. It wasn’t the end. I don’t have the little girl I’d dreamed of, but I’ve got the most amazing little girl. I’ve got a fighter and a lover. I get the privilege of fighting for her and defending her. I get to see her grow and change. I get to see her world bloom and watch her bloom right in front of my eyes. I get to see a living breathing miracle every day. And I always smile when I see birds, never forgetting God’s promise to me on that day.

So those two stories lead us to what happened today and what I had to get down into words the moment I got home. We’ve had our foster baby for 15 months. His Facebook nickname is Bluebird. He got it for a number of reasons. One, he had teeny little bird legs and bright blue eyes. Two, I have grown to love birds. Three, I had recently read the verse “He will cover you with His feathers and under His wing you will find refuge.” Psalm 91:4. I thought it was a perfect verse for my Bluebird. It’s been 15 wonderful months that God has given us to raise and love this adorable little boy. We prayed he’d stay in our family. But we always prayed for God to have His will done and do what’s best for Bluebird. God’s will and my plan didn’t align this time. Bluebird is leaving our home in a few weeks. His new family is crazy amazing. I feel very very lucky that he’s going to such an awesome home. They are Christians and very family oriented. They have two younger sons, so he’ll still be surrounded by big brothers. The very best part is that both his new family and his mama are insisting we stay in Bluebird’s life. We’ve stayed involved in our other babies lives, but they aren’t local. Sweet Bluebird is only going to be 15 minutes away. We’ll get to see him often and watch him grow up. I couldn’t be more thankful for this whole situation. It’s truly the best I could have hoped for.

This morning I took him over to his family’s house for a day visit. As I was driving down the long dirt road to their home, I kept seeing birds diving in and out of the fields. I smiled to myself. Then, I turned the bend and came upon a field, out of the field flew hundreds of black birds. A huge cloud of them, straight from the field where they were hidden and into the air. Just for a moment, long enough for me to exclaim “Look at all the birds” and then back they went, hidden amongst the grass. The birds, placed right there for me to see. God’s promise for my Bluebird. He’s got this, He’s got him. It’s going to be okay.

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Today, I rage.

She came to me a broken little 20 month old. After over two years of healing and hoping and helping. She’s still broken. She still cries out from the pain of her seizures. She still chokes on her own puke that she brings up without knowing she can stop it. She has a hole in her stomach to receive food. Her ears don’t hear correctly. She deals with a disease that’s meant to be given to adults who have unprotected sex. Not to an innocent child. She still doesn’t speak. She still falls and stumbles and bruises her head. She still can’t play without mouthing the toy. She has zero self care goals met.

Most days, I can deal with this. Most days I see all progress she’s made and I know she’s a miracle. Most days, I focus on the good. Today is not that day. Today is the day I cry and I rage. I rage at the fact that NONE of this had to happen. She could have been a completely normal child. Today is the day I rage. She’s aging out of nursery, but we surely can’t put her in children’s church. We keep her home. Or only keep her in Sunday School. People offer to keep her for me and it’s wonderful. But she’s my daughter and I understand what caring for her entails. She’s too much when there’s a class full of kids. She needs one on one attention. And I don’t want to hear murmuring about the “four year old still in the nursery”.

Today I rage. She has a cousin just four months older than her and they can’t play together. I get so insanely jealous seeing pictures of my niece playing dolls and tea party. Will Carlee ever do that? I flipped through a catalog of American Dolls and I would give anything to take to get one. For her to understand what they are. For her to wait impatiently to get her first one. Hell, I’d buy her every damn doll in that place if she knew. Forget Dave Ramsey, I’d bust out a credit card and get her whatever she wanted. If she knew.

Today, I rage. I get online and all my sad feelings spew. All my anger. Later today, I’ll feel guilty for posting this, for feeling this way. Right now, I’m too pissed to feel guilty. Today, I watched her have seizure after seizure. See her cry. See her suck her fingers until they bleed, because that’s all the can comfort her. I watch her on her tip toes because her ankle muscles have tighten to much for her to walk flat. Can we get into a doctor? Nope. They won’t let me have the casting that was recommended by her therapist who knows her. No, they want to do braces, as if she could understand that. “Maybe surgery when she’s eight” because why make her life any easier than it needs to be. We’ll just let her lose all range so you can cut later. What’s the big deal with another surgery?

Today, I rage. I rage at her birth mother. The child who did this to her. I could forgive, I could, she was young, much too young. But she’s gone on to have FOUR more children since Carlee’s birth. And she’s pregnant with two more. They all suffer, they all have issues. Some more than others. Thankfully, they are being cared for and loved on and healed in their new homes. She just keeps doing this. She just keeps stealing childhoods from her own children. I can pray and hope for a normal life for Carlee. For dolls and and dress up and prom and graduation and a wedding. If I listen to the doctors. She’ll have none of that stuff. Of course, I believe in a God much wiser than those doctors. But, today, I’m drowning in their diagnoses. And it’s all her fault. The pain she’s caused the child she gave birth too. It’s her fault. She packed her bags at eighteen and LEFT. She abandoned her child. She didn’t want to deal with the medical mess she made. So she just went on to have two more. And then two more. And now two more. 7 kids in 4 years. My beautiful friend can’t get pregnant. She gets to have seven kids. At least she doesn’t get to raise any of them.

Did you miss the part where SHE WALKED OUT. In all the time that I’ve had Carlee, since April of 2012, she’s never seen her. Never even tried. She messaged me last Christmas “Will I ever be able to see her again? I love seeing the pictures” I had mercy for her. I set up a visit at her family’s home. So she could see the daughter she walked out on. She said she was coming. She didn’t. No call, no text, just never showed up. That was the last time I heard from her.

Do I feel badly blasting her? No, not right now. I pray the day will come when Carlee will understand what a treasure she is, that she was adopted in love, that she will ask me about her. I’ll be kinder then. I wouldn’t want to hurt her with the harsh truth. I already have to deal with that one day with Matthew. But today, I vent. I want her to feel what Carlee has to live with. I want her understand what she’s doing to these babies. But, she won’t. And I can’t make her. So I write here. I scream here. I cry here. I rage here.

Then I wipe off my face and go back into my world with a smile. I’d give anything to make her whole. Even if that meant I’d never met her. I’d do it. But she isn’t whole and we were given the responsibility and the joy of raising her. That makes me heart smile.

My 4 Year Old

My baby lady turned four on Sunday. There was no big party, no princess gowns, no bounce house, and no glitter. But she’s here. Long after ‘they’ said she wouldn’t be. She ate her cupcake and enjoyed it, even after ‘they’ said she’d never eat again. She locked eyes with everyone, after ‘they’ said she might never do that. She ripped open her presents (with the help of her brother) and looked at them all and picked her favorite. Even though ‘they’ said she might never play with toys appropriately. She smiled, even though ‘they’ said she might not because of the brain damage. She’s going to show up every single one of ‘them’. My baby girl has improved so much in the last year she’s doesn’t even resemble the child she was. Does she do things that a four year old does? No, of course not. Does she do things a six month old does? Not anymore, she’s moved on. She was stuck so long at 0-3 months development. She’s progressed to about 9-12 months. It’s progress and it’s slow and you may not see it, but we do. And she does. So we spend Sunday celebrating our beautiful daughter. Our purple in a sea of blue. Our living breathing miracle. Our 4 year old. 10385285_10152290244228882_8688481818152742140_n

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My family. Carlee’s namesake and my best friend came to visit.

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Randomness

Life moves on and so do we. Time is quickly escaping us. And here we are already in July. Carlee’s 4th birthday is at the end of the week. I cannot believe she is four already. She came to us shortly before her second birthday. Last year on her birthday, it was four days before her surgery. Seeing the pictures of that day, I can honestly say that that surgery saved her life. When I see how thin she was, how her hair had fallen out, and the life was out of her eyes, it makes me so sad. It makes me angry that my girl had to suffer so long. That foster care wouldn’t give her the quality of life she needed. That she had to languish in waiting. Until the day I got adoption papers in the mail, and three weeks later, after eighteen months of begging, she had a date. Things have been up and down over the last year with her health. However, as of now, we’re in a peak. We’re starting to work with communication devices and sign language.

We’re in the midst of summer. My girl is loving the heat. She has a hard time with cold due to her slow circulation. She’s always layered up, even indoors, even in the summer. However, once outside she flourishes. She’s running and playing and making grass angels. Two years ago, she’d scream if the grass touched her feet. She hated texture of any kind. To see her throw herself down in the grass and move her arms and legs. Well, it’s just amazing.

My big kids are doing well. We’re getting a lot of use out of the pool. Shane just got back from a week of Boy Scout camp. Jackson will head off for his last year of Cub Scout camp later this month. Sam just “flew-up” to a Bear. Matthew wants nothing more than to be a Cub Scout. His favorite thing to wear is his brother’s old scout shirts. Sweet Bluebird is learning to sign as well, but he’s well on his way to talking as well.

We’re nearly done with the school year. Just have to finish up some testing. I really dislike this time of year. Testing is so bias and shows very little of what they learned. Well, it’s what we do. And it will be over soon.

‘Tis But A Season

To everything there is a season. This season is interesting. Our home is full of special needs equipment. Things I never thought I’d have in my home. A seven foot tall crib. A medical pole with tubing. A very large walker. Arms guards, helmets, finger guards, button covers, chewy tubes, and feeding tubes. It’s all such a part of our lives now, it doesn’t even seem weird. My thighs are consistently bruised because Carlee rams her walker into me. I can pour liquid and put in a new tubie with my eyes closed. It’s amazing that it’s all just become second nature to us.

Within this season there are changes. Because of Carlee’s needs and immune system, I’ve been staying home from church. I don’t mind missing a Sunday every now and then, but for now, I’m staying home with her. Her immune system is down. A simple sniffle in another child could turn into a horrible sinus infection for her. Any sickness could activate her virus and do further damage to her brain. So for this season, until her immune system is hiked back up, I’ll be home.

I have sermons playing on Sunday mornings. I’m still learning. I miss the family of church. I miss singing. However, I’m happy to stay here and keep her healthy. I have a home group on Monday nights. I have Ladies Bible Study on Tuesday nights. I still have my community. And after all, this is just for a season.

 

 

 

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This….

Oh, what a day!

Is than an understatement? Am I being dramatic? Who knows. What I do know is that I have been through the emotional wringer today. Carlee’s setbacks became very apparent today, the rumination, it is like a PTSD trigger. Okay, not to make light of PTSD by any means, but that year of vomit, it took it’s toll on me and seeing her start again, it’s making me a little crazy. I don’t want to see her regress. She’s been doing so well. Because she’s been doing so well she’s been used to having her cup and food. Without it, she’s a very angry non-verbal three and a half year old. Then that brings up bitter feelings toward her birth mother that I’ve tried really hard to rid my soul of. But knowing she’s walking around and living her life while she sentenced her daughter, my daughter, to a life of suffering, it just makes my blood boil. It makes me want to punch something. And cry.

There were a few high points today. My kids at preschool dyed eggs and painted with bubble wrap and playing in shaving cream. They were adorable. Bluebird fell asleep in the Ergo and I got to watch his sweet face dream. I had two really good talks with moms on the playground about life and foster care and special needs.

It was just one of those days. High and low and lower. My foster friends are getting babies left and right. I’m happy for them, I’m happy for me. But when you really stop to think about it, it’s damn depressing. All these children being removed. All these lives interrupted. I love that Bluebird is here, he’s a joy, but the ‘why’ of why he’s here is sad. And I don’t wish sad on any child. It’s the paradox of foster care. We make smiley faces and say “congratulations” when someone gets a placement. Congratulations on what? “Hey, there was a child abused, but yay, you got a baby.” I do it. We all do it. I’m glad these babies and kids have a safe place to go, but God, I wish it wasn’t needed. That parents could just parent without the neglect and the abuse. That they could break what seems to be an endless cycle. Maybe we’re the ones to break that cycle. Maybe that’s why we says congratulations. We could be the ones to stop the abuse. To change their futures. To change their family history. Or maybe I’m being dramatic.

Blue is the new Purple?

We opened our home up to foster care again. I haven’t been actively pursuing it, but I did let them know the new cell phone numbers and our new age range. A 3-6 year old girl. It’s been over two years since we got a call and almost a year since we’ve had a foster child. April 25th is Carlee’s Anderson day, the day she was adopted. So when the phone rang with our county’s number, I didn’t think much of it. However, it was ‘the’ call. Our 3-6 year old girl turned into a 14 month old baby boy. Carlee remains the purple in my life. Our new little one is nicknamed Bluebird, he has big beautiful blue eyes and teeny little bird legs and arms. He’s just adorable.

Everyone has acclimated well. Matthew likes that Bluebird plays Cars with him. Shane is happy with a baby. Period. He’s my baby whisperer, the flock to him. Sam and Jackson are pretty indifferent, having wanted an older child to play with, Bluebird is just another baby in the house. Carlee is thrilled that there’s more cups and puffs around now.

Her rumination started acting up about a week before Bluebird got here. She’s back on the feeding tube during the day. My hope is that we can get it under control before she makes it a habit again. Her finger is all gross again too, so the guard is back on. I’m praying this is a temporary setback.

Some days is leaps and bounds forward and other days is one step forward two steps back. One day, she’s just going to strap on skates and be so far into the sunset, we won’t even recognize her.