Tag Archives: protect

“No good deed…

…goes unpunished.” Isn’t that how the saying goes? Haven’t we been punished enough?

I wish it didn’t hurt so much to have my brother tell me that he doesn’t want our family at his sons missionary farewell. He wants the weekend to be all about his son, and I get that, I really do. I have never once questioned the safety of my family around my siblings or their children. I have never jumped to the conclusion that they are a danger to be around, or worried that they would cause a scene and detract from whatever celebration was going on. We have always opened our doors to my siblings and their families and welcomed them with open arms. That’s why I hurt every time I think about my nephew leaving for his mission soon. Sending someone on a mission is something that we will never experience with our own children. None of our kids are active in the church, all but one is engaged, married, or has children. But because we have brought children into our home who, for one reason or another, are not able to be with their families, we are no longer welcome to stay with my brothers. Even though they knew before they agreed to let us stay with them, that there was a good chance we would have both T and R with us. Now, we are being asked to get a hotel room, and to stay away except for the 1 hour farewell at church.

So let’s lay this out: R is not able to live with his family because he used to be violent; he has been in our home for over 3 weeks and has shown no sign of violent behavior, not to mention the many visits before being released from residential treatment; he is happier than we have ever seen him; we are his only hope, his last chance, at a family/home life, his other alternative being to return to residential treatment where he would stay for the rest of his life; my brother asked us to find another family to place him with while we come up for a one hour visit; we would drive for 6+ hours, each way, to spend one hour sitting in church, and maybe a few minutes saying “hi” and “bye” to family, plus we would paying for a hotel room; my brother assumed that R would not be able to cope with being around a lot of people, but he didn’t bother to ask any questions, he just said R isn’t welcome, but R is as much a part of our family as any of the other kids; all of this is based on an experience my brother’s friend had with adopting a child which resulted in the child being returned to state custody and the adopted parents divorcing. R is not his friends adopted/unadopted child. R has spent the last 3+ years in residential treatment to have his issues identified and to learn how to live with them and appropriately deal with them.

When my oldest nephew received his mission call, we all gathered around the computer and waited anxiously for a call that didn’t come in time for us to hear him read it. Their reason for excluding us? They couldn’t get skype to work right. So why not call us? There was no shortage of phones in the room. We could see them all in the video they sent us the next day.

We brought T and R into our home, into our family, because they need us, and we need them. We can’t have more kids of our own, and it’s painful to feel like we are constantly being punished because our family isn’t like the my brothers families. We started the processes of fostering and adopting, but work and school had us moving too much, and the cost to continually move our families case around was more than we could afford. In vitro was not an option because of the cost as well. Multiple attempts at using donors, all ended in miscarriages; miscarriages that each left me feeling more broken, worthless, and alone than the last.

When we got the call from T’s mom that she needed us to take him for a while, well, it just felt like the right direction to take our family in. That was the beginning. Then Jay’s brother called and ask us to consider taking R in, if and when he was ever released from residential treatment. We deal with one nasty parent of each child, and one good parent. We are almost constantly put down, verbally (sometimes through texts) abused, put down, and second guessed by the nasty parent of each child. We hear, at least once a week, that we aren’t doing enough for these kids, by parents who don’t see, don’t know, and don’t ask what we do, how we do it, or why. We see how selfish the parents are because they don’t put their child first, ever! Their nasty phone calls or messages are all about the pity party they want everyone, including their children, to throw for them. These kids are essentially our foster children, although the state is not involved, the parents and the courts are. We fight for the, when the world would sooner lock them up and walk away from them. We tolerate the abuse from nasty parents towards us, but not towards the kids. We tolerate a good parent questioning us and siding with the nasty parent. While the other good parent is trying to remove the other nasty parent from the situation altogether for the benefit of the child.

All we really want is a complete family, in whatever form that comes in for us. We may never be able to complete our family, and we certainly will never be able to complete it the way my brothers all have, with 3, 4 and 6 kids all born into the family. I’m hurt that my brother would not ask questions about R. I thought he would always have my back, but this time he didn’t. I don’t know how to move on from the hurt I feel. All we wanted was to support my nephew, and to be there to share in the celebration. Instead I just hurt that my brother doesn’t trust us, or R. He’s never even met him.

It’s not fair! Because of the decision we’ve made to open our home to help children, my family is pushing me away. I never really felt like I belonged in my family, and this just makes it worse. I worked so hard to build good relationships with my brothers only to have it overshadowed by the past of one child.

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After days like today…

…I find myself wondering why we do this. Why do we take in other people’s children? I know going into it that there will be struggles along the way, both major and minor ones. I know that there are parents who all get phone calls and video chats and who create unnecessary heartaches. I know that there will be times when no one gets along and others where everyone gets along. 

It doesn’t take me long to remember why we take in other people’s children. We do it because every child deserves a chance; we love them; we want what’s best for them; we want them to be happy and to feel a sense of safety and security that they didn’t feel elsewhere.

One parent decided to call one of the kids and tell them that they will never be living with that parent again. Then he hung up on the child. This was after a week of no phone calls. I promptly called him to find out what’s going on and to let them know that their approach was unacceptable and causing undo stress on the child. I was yelled at and hung up on, and then sent multiple messages that were full of hateful, hurtful, and down right mean things meant to hurt me. In one message the parent said that I was never good looking, it was only my personality that kept people around. Another said that my motivation has always been to keep their child and to make the child my own because I’m unable to have more children of my own. I received a total of 17 messages, and every one of them was written to hurt me and my family and to put the blame on everyone besides the parent. One even said “And don’t think I don’t understand that you’re keeping every single text I sent you so you can use it to get a f****** restraining order…” Here’s the thing. I don’t scare easy, and I have no need for restraining orders. I’m not afraid of him. I have enough self esteem that I don’t really care if someone finds me physically attractive. If you don’t want to be around me, then don’t be around me. If I don’t want to be around you, I will not be around you. It’s not rocket science. My self esteem and self respect do not revolve around what you think of me. The fact is that you placed your child in my care, and while you have convinced yourself that it’s only because you needed a break, the truth is that you had a mental break, you were not physically able to take care of your child (your child was taking care of you), and you even admitted to me when I picked the child up from you that you had relapsed and started using again. I spent the better part of this afternoon picking up the pieces of this broken child because the parent was unable to keep the child out of the mess the parent finds himself in. One of the last messages stated that the parent wanted me to stay up all night with them, talking to them, so they don’t do anything stupid. So after 16 messages of putting me down, and tearing my life apart trying to make me feel as bad as the parent feels, they have the gall to ask me to stay up all night and help them out. Because what, raising their child isn’t helping them out enough? 

Then, during anothe child’s scheduled video call with his mom, the mom realizes that my child is in the room and instead of talking to her son, she spends the next little while telling me that it is in the court order that no other children are allowed in the room during her time with her son (which, by the way, is complete b.s. and evidence of how ,anipulative she is). She demanded that I make all the children leave the room before she would talk to her son. All of the children in our home, except my daughter, have parents outside of the home that they have contact with. All of the children know that when one is talking to a parent, the tv is paused, and no one is to interact with the child on the phone, or try to but into the conversation with the parent. My child is an adult, so the moms point is invalid anyways, but I will not allow anyone to dictate how my home is run. I will not allow the children to see the parents disrespecting anyone in my home. I turned off the video chat service when she made it clear that she was more interested in yelling at me and trying to make demands than she was in talking to her son. She is allowed only 3 hours of contact with him a week, and she would rather yell at me than talk to him. I don’t understand. We will try again when she is supposed to have her next phone call with him. 

We do not say anything negative about the parents of the children, not around them, and certainly not to them. Just as my daughter did with her birth father, the children are allowed the freedom to form their own opinions about their parents without our biases being involved. So far, the children each have one parent they like to talk to, and one parent that they dread talking to. Still, we try to encourage them to communicate with each parent. We have given them a voice and taught them to use it. They know that their thoughts matter here. We do the best we can for these children, for our family. We are an extra blended family, and life is tough. We get by; we manage. We are protectors of the innocent and we are their guardians. We will continue to fight for them. 

So with phones shut down until sense and reason take hold, it is time to say goodnight. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “Today was a difficult day. Tomorrow will be better” ― Kevin Henkes, Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse

When someone hits rock bottom…

…I mean really hits rock bottom, they are appreciative of every thing you do for them. It’s easy to say you’ve hit bottom, but to behave as if you have is not so easy to fake. We experienced this when S contacted us Thursday. Actually, he contacted me. I forwarded everything that was said, by S and myself, to Jay. We called a family meeting and let J and T know what was going on. Jay was convinced that S was really at rock bottom, and that if we help him, the only direction S could go was up. Based on this information, J and T agreed that it would be ok for S to come home and we would support him in getting back on his feet, with certain stipulations: he was to get a job; fix his status with the national guard; send support to M and E; pay rent; apply for Medicaid; absolutely no drinking, drugs, smoking, or chemicals of any kind allowed on the property or in his system; and he was to be respectful and help out around the house. 

Jay and I went to pick him up Friday morning from a shelter an hour away. When I saw him, immediately my anxiety level went up. Thoughts of “oh no, here we go again” went through my mind. I hoped that things would be different this time around. I trusted Jay, and I wanted to trust S, but I had my reservations. 

From Friday to Monday our home had a dark cloud over it. It felt different just walking up to it. Clothes and dishes were left out and I was sounding like a nag because everywhere I went S had left a mess. No progress had been made to gather his missing documents to be able to find a job, he had made no effort to apply for Medicaid or contact the national guard. He grabbed T and threw him to the side when T was trying to play by blocking the walkway and asking everyone for a password. He made unnecessary comments in conversations that did not involve him. By Monday evening I’d had enough. I pulled Jay aside into the kitchen and started to fill him in on everything that had been happening. S came in, already agitated, and tried to join the conversation. He tried to say that he didn’t have time to get anything done because it was the weekend. I called him out on it because he spent his days sleeping and his nights keeping me awake, and he could’ve applied for Medicaid online, and I was able to reach his unit in a matter of minutes, which tells me he put zero effort into doing either. 

He started to play the victim and once again denied that E was his. She is 14 months old, and he still calls her “it!” I was furious. I got in his face and told him that he had sex, with my friend, in my house, and that whether or not he believed she was his, he was going to accept responsibility for her as long as I had anything to do with it. Whether or not E is his (and I fully believe she is, she looked just like him when she was born, and everyone else has accepted her), he broke the rules and the consequences are that he is now a father, and he must accept responsibility. He started yelling excuses at me, and raised his fist up to swing at me. My instincts must have been stronger than I knew, because before he could hit me, I reached up and grabbed him by his throat. The swings were coming, but I wasn’t going to let go until I was safe from the blows. Jay jumped up and grabbed him and told him to leave. S turned around and kicked a hole in our kitchen door. Everything happened so fast. He went outside, undressed down to his underwear, and started screaming for the “Mormons” to come help him, he was trying to wave down passing cars, and yelling obscenities. The police were called to remove him from our property. The police came to talk to me, and I told them what happened and Jay confirmed it. Which is totally different from what S told them, but I fully admitted that I grabbed him before he touched me. The police asked us to gather all of his things and bring them outside. We did, and the officers told us to go back inside and they would take care of everything.

Lesson learned, he’s out of chances. I know S blames me for growing up the way he did, although I was the one who pushed Jay to fight for custody of him and K. Their mom made sure that I was always the bad guy, and the kids always tried to play both sides. The children are now adults, and they have to decide for themselves what the truth is about their parents, all of their parents. I’ve read many articles and blogs about the importance of parents being accepting and supportive of the step parents in their children’s lives. I refuse to talk badly about other parents around the children. It’s not fair to the other parents, or the kids. I’ve seen the damage that can come from sharing negative feelings about others around the kids…the parents are a big part of each child, and who they will grow up to be.

I wish that we could trust all of our children, but 2 of them have already burned the bridges beyond repair, at least in my mind. We hope that they are able to learn the importance of good decision making and find success for themselves. I believe that S is not mentally capable of making decisions for himself, but we do not have the means to have him declared incompetent, and with R coming in only 3 more days, we can’t have the violence and disrespect in the home. There are certain things that can no longer be tolerated. We are R’s last chance at a family life. If we fail him, he will spend the rest if his life in residential facilities. He is still young (almost 13). He needs a family environment where he can thrive and use the skills he’s learned from the residential facilities he’s been in. 

I have been struggling…

…to find reasons to continue fighting for my happiness, my family, my children, and even myself. Stress has been high, and it feels like I’m slowly drowning in an ocean of everyone else’s problems and issues. I want to be stress free, feel pure joy, and be completely at peace with myself. I would love to feel it forever. I would be satisfied to feel it for a moment.

I have one friend that I can talk to about my struggles. Ok, I have more than one friend I can talk to, but I have only one or two who I trust to listen without judgement and be honest in their thoughts, and unbiased in their suggestions. Today I asked him for his thoughts on my recent struggles: S moving back in; Jay thinking S may have finally hit rock bottom, and realizing he hasn’t; learning that S is likely schizophrenic and suffers from delusions; learning that R will be leaving his facility and moving in with us full time in a week; feelings of confusion and hopelessness; health issues; etc. As I poured my heart out in a string of emotional texts, he read them without saying a word until I had finished saying my peace. His first reply had me in tears. He said “I’m so sorry you feel this way. But there are tons of people that love and cherish you.” I was caught off guard. I’m not sure what I expected him to say, but that last sentence was nowhere on my list of potential replies.

“…tons of people that love and cherish you.” Tons? Love? Cherish? Wow! Those words hit me hard. They got me thinking. Why do so many people “love and cherish” me? I’m not sure I know. I’m sure that people love that I fight for them, maybe they love that I fight against them (you never know, right?). I am easily taken advantage of, although much less so than I used to be. It might be that I can be extremely passionate. I don’t think I’m all that memorable, but I also have a hard time remembering other people, sometimes even the important people; it could be that my negative view of myself tells me I’m not worthy of being remembered. I am pretty hard on myself. I do have high expectations of myself. I have a serious stubborn streak that won’t let me quit. I have been able to reach some pretty big goals. I have found varied measures of success. I tend to go “all in” with people. I give them the benefit of the doubt, but when they let me down, or hurt the ones I love, I take it hard. I hold grudges. I can forgive, but don’t forget. Things qualities can’t be why people feel such strong feelings for me.

I have some people that I “love and cherish”. I know why I “love and cherish” them. I don’t think it’s the same reasons people feel that way about me, but I could be wrong. Some of the reasons I love and cherish them are because they are: genuine with me, honest, and supportive; they make me feel safe when I’m with them. They seem to care about me as much as I care about them. Feeling emotionally secure and physically safe are so important to me. I never again want to experience the abuse, neglect, and constant fear that I used to. These people that I “love and cherish” protect me, or at least make me feel protected. 

I may never know why I have so many admirers because I’m too embarrassed to ask. My friend texting those words to me had a profound impact on my stress level and emotions. I must find a way to love and cherish myself, and to let others know that I love and cherish them. Hopefully it will make a positive difference for them also. 

To My Aunt…

…and Mother of My Child,

Just over 20 years ago, I gave you a gift. My daughter. I asked you to adopt her and give her a loving family, and a life far better than I could have offered her. You took time to consider it, and then you gladly accepted my gift. From the day she left my arms at 1 month, 1 week, and 1 day old, she was your daughter. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t selfishly wish I had kept her. My decision to give her to you was probably the only truly selfless choice I made in my life, and yet, from the moment she was gone I regretted it. 

You have done a truly amazing job at raising her, just as you have done with her 3 older brothers. You have taught her the importance of being a lady, family, being yourself, and accepting yourself. You have protected her. I understand the need for a mother to protect her children. This is why I am writing this. 

I have always wanted a strong relationship with her. And J has always wanted a close relationship with her sister, but we kept our distance for fear of disrupting her life and the family dynamics that you and Uncle had worked so hard to create. A trip to visit when she was 8, bringing her out to stay with on 2 separate occasions. Her last trip out here was not the best. I couldn’t understand why she so forcefully pushed J away after the first couple days. She said things that broke my heart as I drove her to the airport to fly her home to you, and I didn’t know why. J could not have been much worse than nieces or nephews who might vie for her attention back home. So why the negativity and harsh words about J? I didn’t understand, but to protect J, I had to leave it alone and create distance between B and us. To this day, J still doesn’t know the hurtful things that were said about her.

A while back you and I spoke on the phone. I felt attacked by you, and again, I didn’t understand where the hurt and anger, that was now coming from you towards me, was coming from. I understand your need to protect your daughter, but I did not understand where you got your information, or why I was the target of your rage. My husband and I have felt a hole in our family since we married, and we considered many options to fill that hole. Fast forward through many years of using donors in an effort to get pregnant, multiple miscarriages, and failed attempts. We considered adoption multiple times, as well as fostering. I talked to you about some of this and you strongly encouraged me to what we needed to do for our family, but to keep our efforts from B until we had a child in our hands. I respected your wishes and said nothing to her, even though I wanted her to be a part of the process, I kept it from her. You told me during this phone call that you “knew” I had told her about this stuff, and chastised me for doing so. I tried to tell you that I didn’t say anything to her, but you wouldn’t listen. I cried for days, and I still get highly emotional when I think about that conversation and how little you must think of me. 

We have a little boy in our custody now, and another boy that is older who we get when we can, and will hopefully be coming to stay with us full time as well. The older one has issues that require us to limit his exposure to violent themed items such as video games and weaponry. The younger one is aware of these issues, and on multiple occasions has taken it upon himself to tell the older one “you can’t play with my nerf guns, because you get violent.” The younger one knows he is not to say things like this, and as soon as he does he knows he’s in big trouble. The last time this happened, I told the younger one that he lost his favorite privilege forever because he does not have self control. He had a full blown come-apart before I could ask him how that made him feel. I was finally able to drive the point home, and let him know he didn’t really lose his privilege but helped him to become more aware of the hurt that words like that can cause. This string of incidents got me thinking and I realized something…

…you were probably told that I was the one who talked to B about trying to increase our family, but in all reality, it was probably J trying to confide in her sister the frustrations she felt during these processes. I thought about it more than I should have. I finally asked J about it recently. I asked her if she ever talked to B about us trying with donors, adoption, and fostering. You know what? She said she had talked to B about it during her last visit. And do you know what else? B pushing J away and all the hurtful things said to me finally made sense. It finally clicked. I don’t know why B would throw me under the bus, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t just ask for my side of the story. I do wish you wouldn’t have attacked me so harshly without hearing both sides. I don’t think you realize that, had I known, I would’ve fought to protect B…after all, she was my child too. 

I’m sad that everything happened the way it did, and that B didn’t come to me. But why should she have come to me when you told her to keep everything to herself and not tell me how she really felt? She was miserable for most of the trip, and you told her to smile through it and not tell anyone. I lost so much respect for you, and I created distance in the relationship between her and J and myself. I gave my child to you almost 20 years, and you have taken her away from me again. I hope that you never have to experience the hurt that comes from someone you love accusing you of hurting your own child. Oh, don’t you see? Everything I have done for her was done to protect her. Why would that stop now? 

Sincerely,

Her Birth Mother

What kind of man…

…pushes away his own child? 

It takes a special kind of man to step into the life of a single mother and her child, and then step up and adopt that child and raise her as his own. I married such a man. He has his flaws, oh does he ever have flaws, but he loves my child the way a birth father should love his own child. He’s not perfect, and he makes a lot of mistakes. He also sacrifices so much of himself, his time, his physical and emotional resources to be a dad.

On the flip side, it takes a special kind of a$$ hole to cut down and demean his own flesh and blood, the child which he helped to create. I divorced such a man. Sure, he has some positive qualities, but they are all over shadowed by his willingness to throw insults at her which are about me, and since she was created in part by me, she feels these are personal attacks towards her. I spent the majority of her life trying to help her obtain and maintain some sort of positive relationship with him. I refused to say a bad word about him to or around her because I wanted her to have the opportunity to form her own opinion of him. 

Let’s go over some facts. I have plenty of bad things I could have told her about him: he was, and still is an alcoholic in denial; his top priorities were always based around his wants…friends were more important than family…cheating on me with my best friend, cheating on me again with my cousin; he never could hold down a steady job; his way of standing up for me was telling his step-brother not to call me a b!tch because only he could do that.

He told her she is a man-hater, and that I have raised her to be that way. The fact is, I raised her to be independent and stand up for herself. The men in her life…almost all of them…have let her down, not once, but over and over again. The majority of men in her life, my ex especially, have hurt her and caused her pain, so it is no surprise to me that a strong and independent young woman such as her would want to remove men from her life.

When she just a couple weeks old he and his stepmom took her and left. He said I didn’t keep a clean enough house, and that there were too many dirty diapers laying around the house. Let’s go over some more facts…He refused to help care for her at all. I was very sick and what little energy I had went into caring for her, so diapers would pile up during the day and be thrown away at night before I went to bed. A couple days after my friends drove me for hours to get her back, I was rushed into emergency surgery to fix complications from child birth which was the cause of me being so sick and low on energy. When the police went to his dad’s house to get her and give her back to me, she was sleeping in a dresser drawer and the police were disgusted by how dirty she was.

He had many chances to have a relationship with her. He would move close to us to be near her and then decide that it was too hard, so he’d go back to where he came from. Of course he blamed me every time because I would not allow him to be around her while drunk or stoned, and his friends he would have her around would have to be clean and sober as well. Knowing my ex, and his demeanor while under the influence, I did what ever was necessary to protect her.

About a year and a half ago, he said he was ready to commit to building a relationship with her but he didn’t have the money to move and would need help with housing until he could get a job and pay for a place on his own. So I paid for him to move, and he lived in our home, rent free, under the agreement that he would get a job and help keep our vehicles running. Well the job he got required him to be awake early in the morning, which he was unable to do on his own, so my husband would wake him up everyday. He was late too many times because he would fall back to sleep, and was fired. Other jobs came and went in similar fashion. Both of our cars died within weeks of each other and we were left without transportation. During this time he began a power struggle with her. He demanded respect but gave her none. She outright disrespected him one day, and I came to the conclusion that in that particular situation, she was in the wrong and needed to apologize. She went to talk to him and he rejected her and pushed her away. I gave him notice at that time that he had a week to get out of my house.

I don’t care who you are, parenting is hard. You don’t get to turn your back on your children when they hurt your feelings. Yet that is what he has done her entire life. Of course it’s my fault that he would only call or try to communicate around special days, like his birthday, her birthday, Christmas. I kept the same phone number, and when I would change it, I’d let him know. In fact, I’ve had the same phone number for 4 1/2 years now, yet it took him 4 months to notice we moved. I always encouraged her to talk to him even when she didn’t want to. So yeah, it’s my fault.

At the age of 16, she decided that she no longer wanted him in her life, a decision I fully support, and a decision that is not easy for him to accept. He keeps insisting that I got what I want…a mini me. She is a mini me, but she is all of the good that I wanted for myself but never achieved, and all of the emotions that I never learned to deal with appropriately, and she is smart, and caring, and she has the biggest heart (which she has learned to keep locked away so no one else can damage it). She is an amazing young lady. She has the potential to do great things in life.

There have been times as her mom, when I have felt tremendous frustration, when I have wanted to give up, when I have said hurtful things because I didn’t have the skills to properly handle situations, when I have let things get out of hand, when I have made mistake after mistake, when I have had to apologize for doing or saying something I shouldn’t have, when I have held her and comforted her, when I have felt pride, when we have laughed so hard we cried. I am not a perfect parent. I am still learning everyday. But I will never give up on her, and I will never walk away from her. She is a reason for me to get up every morning. She has been my whole world for just under 17 years, and nothing she can do or say will change my unconditional love for her.