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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

15 years ago....

....the most beautiful 'lil angel in the world was born.

Yes, baby, you!!

We didn't know it at the time, but there you were, just a bundle of joy, not knowing that one day you'd be in another family.

The world is a better place because you are in it and as hard as it is to let you grow up and not be a kid, it's also so rewarding.

14 was a great year though.

Some things we did when you were 14:

For your 14th birthday, we threw a pool party. Of course.  K spent the entire weekend with us.  At that point she practically lived with us.

You'd just gotten your boot off only days before your 14th birthday.

We went to the Great Smokies in August and took your BFF K with us.  We rode a scenic train first class. It was an amazing trip and we'd love to do something similar again.

You finished your last year of middle school.

We went to Kitty Hawk Beach in October to get away from a hurricane. We took BFF K with us. How odd to go TO a beach to get AWAY from a hurricane.  The photos from that trip are so much different from other vacations we took. The relaxed look on your face, it's obvious you truly feel at home and comfortable now.

We had a miff later that month with BFF K's mom and things have been strained for awhile with K as a result and less time.

We took you and another friend to see Mannheimm Steamroller to start off the holiday season right before Thanksgiving.

We took you and that friend to see the Nutcracker Ballet in December.

Your uncle finally visited from Germany. It was the first time you'd met him. He hadn't been home since before we met you. He surprised us just days before Christmas.

We went to a local heritage museum that was decorated for the holidays and did a ton of things over the holidays.

We took water aerobics together and you asked the lifeguard to take a selfie with you.  As shy as you are about starting conversations, this was a big deal.

We went to see Annie on Broadway in January. I had concerns about the similarilities in your story, but the thing that bugged you most was when you thought her dog would go hungry or get caught by the dog catcher.

There was alot of snow in January and you and Lucifer loved hanging out in it on your days off school. You also played in mud puddles and reverted to your childhood for awhile, which always makes your momma smile. It's important to do all these milestones you were suppose to have.

In February, we went to an art museum.  We went to see Disney Live.  You had a playdate with your sister and we went tubing. It was the first playdate since the fiasco when you were 13.  We also adopted  Maggie Pie.  How on Earth you talked us into getting a cat is beyond me, you spoiled baby!!

In March, Ms Maggie died.  This was really tough on you and you were afraid others that you love would leave you and tried to push us away until we found ways to help you process it.

You also sprained your ankle again, which was not suppose to happen, given your surgery to fix this weak ankle last year.

May brought graduation from 8th grade, but not without a few bumps along the road.   While there was never danger of you failing or anything, you did struggle some in 8th grade  So many stressors, so much activity.  We got plans put in place at school for your anxiety.!! What to say about June. We went to Tybee Island. You got to meet Last Mom's Daughter.  This was the first time you ever showed excitement about going on vacation. You did great.  You were happy to get back to Lucifer and as always missed him, but you were a rock star and embraced vacation and loved your new friend.

We hid a mysterious letter in the vintage suitcase in the attic there and made plans for your return on your honeymoon to see if the letter was still there.

We had tons of momma/daughter time.

Your sister wasn't able to attend your party for your 15th birthday. She went to an adoption party, hoping to meet her future family and one day be as secure as you.

Momma and daddy were amazed at the turnout at your party and how popular you've become in just one year.  Kids were begging to stay and miffed that you only invited one to spend the night.

I enjoyed being your momma this year. Well, I enjoy being your momma anyway, but 14 was a really fun year for us!! I love you sweetie, happy birthday!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Adoption Match Events?

Thoughts? Have you been to one? Does your area have them?

I read so many people on boards talk about how it sounds like you'd be shopping for a kid, but it's really not like that at all.

We didn't find our child at an adoption event, but we did go to numerous events.

Various agencies in the state will host parties for prospective parents, social workers and foster children to meet up in a stress free, fun setting just to spend time together.

They are occassionally used as meeting places for prospective families first visits together to alieviate the stress for the child.

They key is good communication and organization ahead of time. Ideally, there should be organization to foster natural dialogue between kids and prospective parents and also just relax and have some fun.

We were told on all of ours nobody (except the ones that knew ahead of time they were there to specifically meet their match) were to give individualized attention to any one specific kid, so that none of them felt left out.  We were given instructions prior to the kids arriving, so that it wasn't awkward for anybody involved.

We did a zoo event once, where each parent was assigned a part of the zoo to be at. Each child was to come to each prospective parent and collect a token.  Any kid with all their tokens received got a prize at the end. That encouraged kids to mingle and go to each station and prevented parents from going off with one specific child or sibling group.

We had another event that was bowling and we were in teams.  There was not alot of interaction between teams. Each parent was on teams with various kids, but that didn't work as well because with the exception of pizza time, you only had communication with the kids on your team.

Bowling occurred several times. That was more valuable for social worker networking and passing out our flyers to the social workers for if they saw us as a good fit.

We had laser tag once, way fun, we were on teams with kids and got to play hard with the kids in low pressure atmosphere.

Another event was go karts and arcade.

While we didn't meet our child at one of those events, when her worker and a colleague showed up at our house to interview us, we recognized one of them from the events in her area.

Why am I talking about adoption match parties so far after our adoption?

Well, kiddos baby sis isn't going to get to come to her birthday party this year.  She will be going to an adoption party instead, in hopes of finding her new family.

She was given a choice and requested the adults make the decision.

Picking between seeing her sister and finding a forever family was a bit overwhelming for her.

This is HUGE.  There was a time she'd have never said anything other than going to her sisters birthday party. She now actually wants a family, but not ready to admit it to most people.  She has confessed to her therapist though and her actions with distress over picking which party tells volumes.

So, we have a separate birthday party planned for 1/2 way between their birthdays, where they can celebrate together, enjoy one on one time and not forfeit the adoption party.

Hoping she finds a good fit for her at the party.

This adoption event is treasure hunt themed, I'd love for her and her future family to find their treasure in each other this weekend.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Secrets in the Attic

Who doesn't love a good mystery?

This is another Tybee story, but I didn't want it clouding the important parts of the other post.

When we first got to the cottage, we staked out our rooms and starting putting our things away. When kiddo visited our room, she immediately noticed the entrance to the attic above our bed.

She was insistent that we MUST go in the attic and explore.  Part of me was exhausted, part wanted to message Last Mom immediately and plan our meet up. The child in me won though and before we could even think it through, hubs is yelling "What are you girls up to? There is a lot of noise in there".

We'd moved the bed out of the way and were on our way up the ladder.

Our excitement when we saw the vintage suitcase.

but, oh, the letdown when it was empty.  RRA was on the suitcase and a stray E inside the suitcase matching the font on the outside.

I started strategizing immediately on how to make this fun for the next explorer to enter the cottage.  Kiddo wanted to put the suitcase in the kids room to be found instead of the attic, but she soon realized I was right, that that was no mystery.

At first she said "What parent is going to let their child go exploring in a strange attic?"  After the amusing glare she received from me, she said "I mean most parents aren't as fun as you".

The suitcase stayed down until the last day, when I added a letter with a mystery to be found.

Hubs offered to pay for kiddos honeymoon to the same cottage if she'd promise to go in the attic with her husband to see if the letter had been found yet.

Tybee Island & New Friendships

I've followed Last Mom's blog for years, since we were in the search for our daughter actually.  All the talk about her quality momma/daughter time at Tybee and how much fun they've had had us looking up Tybee and it's suitability as a good vacation spot for us.

It seemed to fit almost everything we look for in a vacation spot so we booked a cute 'lil cottage and made our plans.

The best part of the trip.....we managed to time it to see Last Mom and Princess.  The girls hit it off.  My daughter loved hanging out with hers and our whole family just really enjoyed our time with them.

Vacations are always somewhat triggering for kiddo, but we keep trying to expose her in small doses (a few days at a time) so she can gravitate to normal.

She did great though.

She loved seeing Princess and how well adjusted she is and said "Momma, so she went through some of the stuff I did?" but the best part of the trip for me was after we got back to the cottage one night after having a ton of fun with those fun ladies and she was cuddling, giggling and hanging out with me and said "Momma, Last Mom and Princess relationship reminds me of ours".

That made me smile so much.  It was that moment that I realized she realizes we have something special and that this is real.

We had a few stressors along the way, traffic and a stalker, but so much more fun than stress.

Tybee Island was quieter than most of our vacation locations. Princess managed to get kiddo out in the water farther than normal.  The water was warm and the waves were mild.  The cost was very affordable.

Only downside was that long, long drive!!

Anything over 6 hours is a plane trip in my book, but for every now and then, this was fine.

This was the first vacation in awhile that we didn't take a friend for kiddo with us and I loved it.  She had a friend there anyway, but we had friend time (super fun for all and alone time, super fun too)

We've decided we want the showers in our backyard. I didn't take a shower inside the cottage the whole time. I was in love with the outdoor showers there.

Princess convinced kiddo to eat crab legs and she now officially likes them. She didn't, however, like her shrimp....spoiled child didn't like seeing veins. Apparently she thought shrimp never had veins.

Other highlights include ice cream on the girls noses, listening to them giggle about cute shirtless boys at the beach, climbing trees, feeding alligators, covering each other in sand, good food and laughter.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Birthdays, birthdays!

Birthdays are hard for kids adopted from foster care on a normal year.  Add uncertainty to it and it's going to be even worse.

Why would their own birthday be hard?

Why wouldn't they be?

Birthdays are reminders of family.  Birthdays should be happy occassions celebrated with family and friends.  But for kids in foster care or those that were in foster care, it can trigger memories that they should have been able to celebrate with their first families, they shouldn't have been let down.

Different families celebrate different ways.  Not knowing what to expect is difficult for most people.  Change is difficult for most people. Why would a child with so much trauma be different in that aspect?

My poor child has another layer of trauma surrounding birthdays.  This is the 8th year anniversary of the day she was removed from her biological family.  Just a few short weeks away from her 7th birthday, she was torn from the only family she ever knew to bounce around in foster care for awhile.

This month is also the 4th anniversary of when her first adoption disrupted.  Disrupted adoptions.....that's a story for another day, but short think you found your forever family and then it falls apart and you're back in the same situation as 4 years previously.

So many triggers, so much for a child to have to deal with emotionally.  When you hold yourself together through so many big things, sometimes it's the little things that have you falling apart.

Pool liner had to be replaced this year.  Normal pool guy died and we had to find a new place to service us.  They just showed up this past weekend, already in June, just long enough to make us worry it wouldn't be done in time for the party.

Crisis averted.

Invited bio sister to the party again this year.  She's doing much better this year than last year, so we were hopeful.  We were told probably so and that they'd try to make it happen. She's still in residential currently, but they had plans to find somebody to bring her here and supervise like they did for kiddos 13th birthday.

This week, we found out she's not going to get to make it after all.

Kiddo was not a happy camper about that.

But, something positive out of it.....sis will be missing the party so she can attent an adoption match event and we will be getting together at a waterpark a few hours from here to have a joint party for just the two of them half way between their birthdays.

So, they'll get to celebrate, just not the same way we originally planned.

I think we'll get through all of this without the crazies hitting.  The stress was starting to show prior to solutions, but my child is in her calm brain again for the moment and hopefully for the rest of the time.