I’m WINNING!

She’s still here; I still hear her voice in my head.  She’s with me sometimes for better, sometimes for worse.  It’s like the mother/daughter marriage that does not end with, “Until death do us part.”

Hayden

Hayden M. Bennett, graduate

When Hayden graduated from ASU, “Go get’em Hayden,” my mother’s voice merrily skipped through my mind.  She really loved him, and hoped to see him graduate.

Her ultimate goal was to see my kids get married, but that wasn’t meant to be.

At times I’m chased by her words  or advice, like an anvil falling on me; I feel flat as Wile E. Coyote.  She spent significant time spreading thick layers of doubt about what I couldn’t be, how I should look, and how early I should wake in the morning.   It was clear she wanted me to be like her, and I could not have been more opposite as a child or an adult.  I always thought there was something wrong with me.

However, rounding out the memories of Mother is the clear message she gave to me within a dream over a year ago.  It was like a precious gift.   She was the very best version of herself, happy and carefree with her mom and gramps by her side.  That would be her ideal eternity.

In my dream she wasn’t angry or rude in any way.  No signs of controlling things or being passive aggressive. All the bad behaviors must have been left here on earth.  Maybe in her belongings encircling a ring, or folded into a pocket-book.  She was as clear and warm as Arizona in early June.  I’m not gonna lie, the dream was the turning point for me.  Whether it was created in my mind, sent from my mother, or God – it was the single most important moment for me since my mother passed away.

It’s been over two years that she’s been gone.  Some may feel like that’s a lot of time passed and others who have lost a loved one believe it’s still early in the healing process.  I can say that remnants remain from years of my mother plastering me with negativity and doubt.  I recognize what she did (and why), but still there are times where I roll along like an unbalanced wheel on my car.  I go through the motions with an odd jiggle or shimmy.  Usually, it’s only a big issue when I try to go too fast.  If I’m taking things slow, there’s a tiny shift, slight bump in the road (so to speak) on occasion – that’s it.  But it’s there.

Now is the time I find it necessary to proclaim to the world that I am WINNING.

I'M STILL WINNING!

No, not like Charlie Sheen,

I’M WINNING!!! GIVE ME MY TIGER BLOOD…

(bleh)

Rather more like a qualifying round for the LDA Survival Trials at the next Olympics.  My parents did what they did, for whatever reason… right?  Right.  My mother treated me many different ways for a host of reasons, and it’s in the past, Right?  Right.

I’m thankful for all I learned, the things I understand better, and knowing I am still somewhat unbalanced.  I own my jiggle or shimmy.  And that’s okay.  It has all shaped me.  Yeah, it would have been a bit simpler to start out with a better shape, but… what can I say?  Only, onward and that’s winning.

It is difficult to hold dear only certain things, the good things about my mom.  I can report that I try recalling only the best, as  I am never without my “Rosy’s.”  (You know… my favorite glasses.)  Even if I have to put mom away for a while, aka out of my head, I choose to be happy.

This HAPPEIGH reminder hangs in my office.

Do I feel different about family now?  YOU BET.   It is uber-complicated to explain?  I didn’t think so initially, but alas… it is.  To the non adopted crowd, please don’t react coldly to what is an emotional issue.  Really, for any circumstance, not just adoption.  Take a moment and think what it feels like to be in an adoptees shoes.  Or a mother who lost a child to adoption, what difficulty she must have moving forward.   Do I want to know things, like who my dad is?  YEP, SURE DO.   And finally, the big question:  Why can’t I be happy with the family I knew and focus on that?  Well, because you can’t be lied to for 43 years about who you are and your beginning and not be affected.   Whether you’re unbalanced, off the charts pissed, accepting, or have “those” days lying down with a tear soaked pillow, being a late discovery adoptee is being twisted at your core.  Think wet towel… rotate it in opposite directions until all the moisture has dripped off.  And then freeze that center twisted part.  Now your twisted core remains that way and you move forward with the uncomfortableness inside.  That’s how it feels.  At least how I describe it.

I believe many of us grab hold of the things that are near and dear in order to survive.  For me, faith is the core and I hold on to what I’ve been given.

What's your life saving ring?

In addition to Mike, my white knuckle grip is on my kids.  They are my only blood relatives, and while I know family means all sorts of things to many and comes in all forms, my two kids are golden.  It means something to me that I have this special connection to them, in addition and over and above the rest of my non blood family.  They will never be strangers who blow me off, they will fight to understand and care for me, no matter what.  What I have with them is priceless.

Not to mention my kids are incredible adults!  Take a second to read, you’ll see what I mean.

Ashleigh, Teri, Little A, and her Sweet Baby Brother are a family, for now.  And while this foursome is in place, I know in my heart that Ashleigh (and Teri) do their absolute best for the kids and love them totally.   Ash and Teri have created a very special foster home.  They both spend a significant time planning what would be best for two of “Gods greatest gifts.”  From trying to get pics of the kids parents for the fridge, to services that both little ones need.

I often hear from people whose view-point is that CPS isn’t fair to parents and that children should be kept at home and the family supported.  They feel the money used to support the child in foster care would be better served supporting the family.  To which I say, every circumstance is different and the best thing we could do is advocate for the best child protective service program in every state.   We have a VERY long way to go!  I think the parents who get the shaft is far more infrequent that the hundreds of children who are subjected to a different kind of abuse by CPS.  Whether it’s due to lack of quality case managers, or social workers who simply see this as their first job, or the issue of funding an acceptable number of case managers… they mostly do a disservice to the group of people they are supposed to serve.  Just because a child is now safe does not mean they don’t need anything else.

I can promise that my daughter and I are advocates for one reason, the child who finds themselves in care and become wards of the state.  We’ve both advocated for swifter returns home, when it’s appropriate.  It all comes down to what is in the child’s best interest.  Please, feel free to pose any questions or share your comments and continue this discussion.  Maybe there are things I can learn from you, and you may be able to gain insight from me or Ashleigh.

And next up is Hayden.  Have you ever known anyone to own a dream, one they will never give up?  I really haven’t, until Hayden.  Not only is he smart, committed to his dream, he’s an amazing person who’s filled with a great sense of humor.

He graduated Cum Laud with a Film degree from ASU, Herberger Theater of Fine Arts.  He studied film and media production and made many shorts, music videos, and his final documentary short project, denied.  Along the way he has taken incredible photos and even shot the cover art for my book.  Check out videos, http://www.vimeo.com/user2728819/videos or the rest including photos at, http://www.krop.com/hbennett/portfolio/59507/#/

Hayden loves the entertainment industry and has an understanding of the future in entertainment and what’s possible, where things are going, and how it can change people’s lives.  I’ve met some co-workers and teachers, and they all say the same thing, “He’s going to make a difference in this industry one day.”

I love my family, but I am unconditionally bonded to the greatest treasure in life:  M.A.S.H. (Mike, Ashleigh, Susan, Hayden)  The treasure began with Mike after high school, and then in 1986, and the last addition joined in 1989.  Over the past 25 years I can honestly say that God created something unique in us as a unit.  No matter what the four of us do over the rest of our lives, the blessing of M.A.S.H. will go un-paralleled.   I know my kids have already made a difference in people’s lives, and the best is yet to come.

The MASH unit from a few years ago.

Life’s a process, and the processes in my family are swirling around these days with so much hope and optimism. 

Mike is our rock, our core, a great husband and father who’s career has been… well like this:

For me, I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, a fellow late discovery adoptee and FOLAB, an advocate, and soon to be a published author.  For my kids in their lives and their life’s work, it’s a time of change and sometimes chaos.  Doing your best and letting your actions show what you stand for is not easy and sometimes messy.  It’s called “hard work” for a reason.  They don’t call it, “Whiny baby easy stuff.”  You know?

Having the best possible understanding of my beginnings has increased this special bond with Ashleigh and Hayden.    If I didn’t know the wrong things; the detrimental behaviors, and dream flattening hold from my mother – I couldn’t be who I am today, for me or them.

As Glinda the Good Witch explained to Dorothy, “You always had the power.”  Sometimes it takes a big event in one’s life to see what or who was keeping us from our power.

It's all about fine tuning it!

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No longer, “Mother’s Sue!”

You may have noticed, I am semi-retired from the roller coaster, as a choice.  Do I wander sometimes and get back on?  Oh yeah and with a full stomach!   But I also wait and watch, get in line and enjoy it with my hands in the air screaming, “Woo hooo.”  Better balance is finding me.  The deep realization that almost every aspect of my life will be exposed in about seven months is bringing growth.  It’s good, it’s a gift, and it is titled, Late Discoveries.

As I go through childhood pictures looking for the “similar to Kathy” photos, I feel so many things.  Some emotions  tsunami-up and out before I even understand why.  Seeing pictures of my mother made me miss her, and then frustration and confusion set in… the person I knew as my only parental unit since I was 19 refused to get past her choice of keeping my beginning a secret (and everything that goes with that.)  I know this is old news, but bear with me.

She kept me right where she wanted me her whole life, and yet I know she loved me and saw all the good me.  Her governing mind-set was stead fast in cement, even when she was given so many opportunities and time; living to 88 years old.  She is still a lump of confusion that finds its way into the pit of my stomach.  I have tried to dismantle her and understand, but today I realize that it’s okay for me to accept that I did not know her completely.  I can be more still now, staying off the ride to look through photos and see how they can be the same old pictures; yet carry new meaning.  Mother no longer controls anything.

She was simple to me, pre DNA, a lonely person who I felt connected to by love and responsibility.  That really is a great summation.  Many times I played the role of peacemaker between her and my kids, and with her and my brother’s family.  Mother could be so angry and hateful, and manipulative to the point of anguish.  Honestly, I just couldn’t stand it and rather than letting her “own” all of that and leaving her to it, I often spread the scene “Jif” smooth and creamy.  I never realized how exhausting it was – until it wasn’t.

Trying not to stain the pictures, I returned to the task of the moment – finding pictures of me at about one, eight, and fourteen years old.  I have three good childhood photos of Kathy and upon learning of our similarity, the publisher asked for pictures of me to illustrate our likeness.  While I love that I know who she was (to the best extent possible) it means so much to me that I resemble my mother, the woman who loved me first.  And that is apparent in our childhood, more so than any other time.

In her twenties, Kathy looked almost Italian.  The clothes, hair and terrific wide dark eyeliner would make anyone say, “Bella donna.”  We look nothing alike in those photos.  However, the most recent picture I have of Kathy, she was 49 and with her last husband.  There it is, I see me.

Kathy and husband

I see the “aging” face I don’t really care for, but yet I’m trying to care for it the best I can.

I hope when the random total stranger see’s our pictures together in my book, they can know a little bit of the joy I found in our same eyes, nose, cheeks, and lips.  And I hope the confusion is loud and clear when they see the Westby family portrait from 1968, as my mother pinches me with her white-gloved finger tips.  It’s not The Westby’s, it’s The Perfect’s.  For many years, our home was surrounded with bright green grass and a perfectly painted exterior-gloss white picket fence.  I remember the can vividly; my dad would pour some in a pie tin for me to do touch up.  Yes, even I had a part in the white picket fence display.

Many times, it felt like a perfect life, and I found joy in my brother and grandmother.  We all lived together; my grandfather was a grump, Mother worked and was busy, and Dad was basically foreign.  I think he was as uncomfortable with me as I was with him.  My brother is really the only family I have (outside of the one I created), and we are having ongoing challenges.  We’ve done a little “boxing” while both of us claim everything between us is fine and good.  Clearly, fine is deep frustration between his wife and me and good is the difficulty I am having dealing with both of them.  So, yes we are fine and good.  The things we’ve had issues with are just landmarks of a greater problem, but possibly his perception is different.  I think I choose to allow the landmarks to stay because I no longer feel the need to Jif-it over.  We no longer have to do anything on behalf of our mother; we’re all adults with our own perspectives and ultimately, our own choices.  I hope we can find our path and that we keep our connection.

The greatest observation I have is that I know I’ve changed.  Not all in one moment, over about a year or so and I purposely have been upfront and honest with him about who I am.  I embrace the truth about all of me, where I come from, the struggles growing up and always suppressing who I wanted to be.  I’m making up for lost time, and feeding the real person inside – not just covering up “Mother’s Sue.”  I hope he just needs time to see me, because no matter what – differences abounding – I love my brother deeply and will always accept him for who he is.  I know this has been hard on him, too.

His photos were another big emotional piece for me while I was sorting.

My brother, Bob holding me.

As I gazed long at this cute freckled blond boy holding me on what was probably my first day in my new home, my mind easily slips into the pages of the home study.  The social worker commented many times about how much he loved his little sister.  From the time I came into his life until we were all together at the final hearing when the adoption was complete, there’s story after story of his love for me.  There’s a sweetness about these reports, pages that fill my heart and help me to know The Westby’s and The Roderick’s while they were getting a new life added to their household.  Those are all things that were kept secret from me, and I sit taller as I write how much I love having all the treasures pertaining to my life.  There’s satisfaction in getting what is yours.  (“Ha ha, Mother!”)

*Side note:  Getting my original birth certificate is the diamond I am mining.

There are still treasures to be had, and I hope that anyone reading this can see how unfair it is to have all of the stories and events about your life kept hidden.  People who are adopted struggle with their identity, on a soul level because there is such great conflict between the two people who created you and the home in which you were placed.  And then if you’re a late discovery adoptee, you were raised in a swarm of deceit-bees.  A child feels it and has to adapt and find ways to calm the noise.  (Sometimes by making louder noise!)  As an adult, we can get away from the swarm but we know that something is wrong and missing.  An adult adoptee tries to fill the hole and feel right. (LDA or not.)  I’ve tried to fill that hole most of my life and probably always will, but knowing what caused it is half the battle.   I can work to fill it within the frame of what’s best for me, my goals, my life.

Never underestimate the power of writing through your feelings, journaling, or creating art that speaks for you.  Do I stumble (often) and look in the mirror to see “Mother’s Sue?”  Yes.  But, it is less and less and I am enjoying life more and more. “Cheers!”

Keep your chin to the sunshine

While this holiday portion is thrilling and filled with excitement for children, the rails of the ride in December sometimes quake unnerving-ly beneath us.  We’d like to think Ohh… Jingle Bells! Uhm NO, the shaking intensifies and it doesn’t stop and you feel it in your chest.  It’s not audible happy jingle-jangling associated with reindeer or the big man in red, it’s a general butterfly nervousness… x 100.  It’s anxiety on crack!  While it seems most hear joyous Christmas bells, we often don’t – oh we want to, but Christmas is a time of family and that can be hugely hard!  (That has to be another post for another day.) I’m going through hugely hard with my brother and his family right now.  (I deleted that at first, and then I realized none of them read what I write anyway, so it stays.)

This relationship will always be a work in progress, as it should.  I truly love my brother Bob.

Sister & Brother

Bob and I

Sometimes I need extra warmth in addition to M.A.S.H.  (That’s; Mike, Ash, Sue, Hayden. – collective core since 1989.) For me, this time of year it is necessary to lean on my “special family”.   I hold dear those special ones who understand adopted me and know where I am coming from.  They “get me” and that fact often makes it all a-okay.  It’s as if they lift your chin up to face the warm sunshine, giving you warmth and peace.  When mine is nearly stuck to my chest and I’m feelin’ low, a “special family” person lifts my face with ease by sharing her soft loving words.  She always takes the time to share her wisdom and reminds me; KEEP YOUR CHIN TO THE SUNSHINE! Yes Sondi, my chin is up… and you’ll never know how perfectly wonderful your words are to me.

My Christmas wish is to find a new roller coaster in 2011 where the majority of it is  SUNSHINE! You may say, life is just not that way.  But why not?  Or at least why can’t it be that way more often?  We each have control how we react to any situation, right?  We can decide who we surround our selves with.  We have the POWER.

I recently read a post where a guy said that “adoption crap” had ruined yet another relationship.  He and his girlfriend had broken up after many years together.   To that, I must share this:  “Adoption crap” can’t ruin anything, only you can make or break a relationship.  It’s how you choose to interact with loved ones, friends, co-workers, or strangers on the street that matters.  Yes, they can stab ya in the back, take the last cup of coffee, or steal your parking spot – but you are in control with how you react and how you conduct yourself the rest of the day.  If ya got adoption issues, work on ‘em – face them head on.  But this person only see’s the wreckage and then defines it – after the fact.

That’s just my perspective from where I sit, from where I’ve been, and from my view behind special glasses I own.  Sure we all have out of control moments, hopefully not out of control years.

Something to remember is this great quote:  A man is what he thinks about all day long.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was recently told that I make pain look pretty, and that made me stop and really think about what I write.  I felt like Pooh Bear sittin’ on a log, “Think, think, think.”  Well, I totally disagree because it infers that I’m not telling it like it is.  Or I’m dressing up “pain” to go out for a night on the town.  Or I am painting over it with words and passing it off as something else.

My example of pain would be when a loved one dies.  There’s no making that look pretty.  I am not a believer in, “Well… they had a long full life” or the one I hear all the time, “They aren’t suffering anymore.”  Those things are all about the other person, like my mom for instance.  She did have a long life and no, she isn’t suffering any more.  But that has nothing to do with me, here alive today without her.  I don’t have that one person I shared everything with.  She is in a good place, but what I have felt is painful. There is her loss and then there’s all her complexities that I learned about after she was gone.  To say there were things un-said states the obvious.  It was heartbreaking and I had to make massive adjustments just to breathe.  Now, it’s just sad, hard, and it has taken a long time but I do cry less.

Mom

My mom in Maui being goofy on a granola high.

Oh… wait – maybe that part was “pretty” to say, I cry less? I deal with it (and there’s many ways I do that) and then find a place for it and move on best I can.  Am I drawn back there, sure… but less and less often.  Maybe I make the journey look pretty?  I wouldn’t ever define a roller coaster as pretty, but that’s just me and I guess I haven’t seen EVERY coaster…so?

Possibly the issue is in defining pain (or pretty) right?  Well, I’m not gonna go there – it’s totally subjective.  So if you think I make your pain look pretty, maybe you need to have another look and realize that I’m not talking about your pain.  Or if one thinks I’m glossing over my pain, possibly consider that I don’t see it, feel it, or own it as “pain.”  I don’t know, and honestly it doesn’t matter – pain (pretty) is relative, isn’t it?  If you have glasses like mine, well then that changes things too – there’s an awful lot of pretty out there.

While I share my journey on this complex coaster I have chosen to put it out there for you to do what you want with it.  Love it, hate it, or something in between – ultimately I hope it encourages you to find your way  ~as healthy as possible~ on your coaster.  (And if you’re at all interested, journaling and/or blogging is a great way to share and to look back to see how far you’ve come.)

Safe travels this holiday season to everyone; especially my fellow adoptees, adoptive moms, first moms, and “special family.”  May your Christmas coaster glide to a soft spot on December 26th… Ahhh, and may you have many moments where you’re able to KEEP YOUR CHIN TO THE SUNSHINE!

How to send Africanized bees on vacation and Happy Thanksgiving!

Today I coast, slowly … everything is quiet and still, except for what is on the inside.  Outside, blank stare – inside, thoughts acting like Africanized bees; chasing something.  Maybe it’s the frustration over a relationship, which now has to become a fringe one.  I exhale, “Add it to the pile.”  I’m seeing more and more fringe in my life, I realize.  “Fringe may come and fringe may go…” (You gotta laugh right?  What else can you do?)

Maybe the bees (and I think these should be spelled, beez…) are chasing around fear? That would not be surprising.  I can share all day long the importance of not having fear in your life.  It’s the opposite, or absence of faith.  I know that, but for some reason I tend to disguise it and let it in.  And then the beez move it around until it’s too tired to continue, or until I realize it is indeed fear.

The beez really know how to work on, “The great unknown.”  (Think loud male voice, bit of an echo.)  One may think that the great unknown is space, nothingness, or a void.  But this specific unknown, as it pertains to my simply wonderful created family, is the GREAT unknown.  The word great meaning – of high importance and also conveys the great-est things in my life, my kids.   AHHH… young adult kids can be challenging, they can be so amazingly spectacularly great, but then hard at times too.

I do believe that so much of my inner challenge today, i.e. beez,  is adoption related.

Before I confirmed that I was adopted, I was pretty-calm on the path of: I did my best, raised my kids with love, and now they’re adults and have to find their own way.  I always hoped to have them in my life, often as possible, and be close.  But, it was somewhat like watching a newly born butterfly soar from his chrysalis.  It was filled with a few winces, but faith and amazement were a big part of the view.

Now – Oh my prayer-flattened knees, it feels so desperate sometimes and, well, shhh… I think I’m “too” crazy about THEM! Thankfully I have two kids, and they seem to ebb and flow at the right times with challenges, or quietness – alternating for the most part.

Wow, amazing how the beez leave or give up, just the thought of MY TWO.  They are so different, yet were so similar growing up.  Just pondering the key strokes to press to brag about them, gives me peace.  Huh… the beez have left the cranial space.  Or at the very least they’re on vacation, on little insect lounge chairs sippin’ a cold one.

As we near Thanksgiving, and the end of November (say it with me, National Adoption Awareness Month) please join me in being thankful.  However you get there; through the good the bad the ugly, end trails you have to squish through… whatever  to get to the happy-tracks in life, may we be thankful.

Things I’m thankful for:

Foremost, God and faith, without them I’d be lost.

Mike, Ash, Hayden – easy ones… gotta shoot them out first.

"Shootin" Mike, Ashleigh, & Hayden

People in my kids life who love them and care for them.

Family, new friends, old friends, and those “fringe” friends/relatives.

A book deal ~ woo hoo!

My four-legged family: Bicki, Arby, Ozzie, and … well not really so thankful, he’s been a pain, but because my mom loved him – Petey aka The Kraken.

But mostly – Bicki…

Bicki

Bicki

And all the totally great every day things in life, no matter how small; thick fuzzy warm socks, peppermint mocha creamer, No. 2 pencils, multi color file folders, vanilla chai tea,  giving the dogs a bone first thing in the morning, Brooks shoes, tv shows, great books – currently “The Help”, wine, Burt’s Bees lip moisturizer, music and dancing through the house, coffee, painting something, the way Bicki perches on my shoulder, Sunday morning paper, pancakes, and Facebook. (Yes, it’s true fb.)

What has touched me most this year, Hayden – without a doubt.  While I know he’s Mike’s best friend and everyone who knows him likes him, he has grown very special to me.   I have my girl, Ashleigh – the child of my heart, my daughter I adore.  But I never expected this great thing with Hayden. He has been a shining light of warmth, compassion, and love.  Best thing of all is, he “gets me” and he’s a 21 year old guy!

He doesn’t just listen when I talk about something “adoption” he cares, he understands it, and I can see he feels it, as it does involve him also.  (While I may not know who my dad is, he also doesn’t know who (one of) his grandfathers are or even if he is alive.)  Hayden asks questions and talks with me about things I never imagined.  He’s wise beyond his years, and shared his financial plans the other day and it was impressive.

Nothing holds a candle to hearing your son share how devastated he would be if something happened to me or his dad.  I was speechless, listening to him talk and explain. And that doesn’t happen very often.  I was so moved inside, and had no words or gestures on the outside.  I wanted to say something to him, or get up and go over and hug him… but I couldn’t.  We were outside by the fireplace and it came up as part of a different discussion. As the conversation carried on between he and Mike, I could not.  Didn’t hear a word that was said for about 20 minutes.  I just stared at him and thought, You have no idea how your love fills up my soul!! Shifting up to the stars I lay my head back, with tears falling down my face. Thank you God for this incredible gift in my life, my son.

Whew!! Enough gushing – I don’t want to make all your kids look bad.  ; ) Ha ha!

What I want to share is that even when there’s beez and fringe issues, or deep sadness that’s adoption related, you should always look for and accept the wondrous things in your life.  This crazy ride moves me around, and way up… then very far down, so when I feel the “up,” I cherish it.  As, this too shall pass.

(Unless I could convince Hayden to film his undying love for his parents… hmm I could watch it every day!  I bet even the dog would want to poke her eye out at about day 3.)

Happy Thanksgiving!  May you find your blessings, whether adoption is a part of your life, or if your blessings are many because adoption has added to your life.♥

Pull my finger

Up ahead in a dark tunnel I see dancing golden flicks of light.  As I get closer I can see candles, quite a few.  They’re on a beautiful big cake.

I’m on a straight-away now and going a bit slower.  I lean up as I pass and read, “Happy Birthday!”  It’s my beautiful red head, Foster K and she’s sitting right in front of the cake.  Her sky-blue bright-spirited eyes shoot right through the dark.

“Happy Birthday, Hon – Wow… Fourteen, right?” I ask her.

“Yeah… finally,” she chuckles, just before taking a deep breath, blowing out the candles.

I am turned, watching the scene as it gets smaller behind me.  The tunnel is filled with a sweet birthday-candle smoky haze.

“Hey Sue… Love you!” She shouts at me.

Oh… wow…

I turn and sit forward, unable to speak.  Suddenly I am thrust through double doors that take me out side.  I am unaware of what’s around me as my heart is deeply touched by Foster K.  The scene glistens and its all a blur.  I am profoundly affected by this special young lady.  Tears of joy land one and then another on the sapphire-blue safety bar.

While I’m guided up a small hill, and then down, I think about Foster K.

I’ll never forget the first time I met her; she was barely three years old.  Starving for everything, she needed to be out of this place. With her long red hair, big voice, and capable body I knew my life would never be the same.

She moved in the next day and it wasn’t long before I thought I was in over my head.  Her strong personality (cussed like a sailor) and will to survive (by not letting anyone in) made me realize – I had met my match.  I knew that deep down she really needed me, even if she did beat her fists on the side window, screaming from her little car seat, “Let me out of this f***ing car!”

She had been torn apart physically and emotionally, and let’s just say- it got worse before it got better.  Finally, the nightmares, self-mutilation, and lack of impulse control drained from her little body as it didn’t stand a chance against a determined mother on a mission.  Together with my family, we provided therapeutic foster care and we could all see the miracle that was K.  We filled her up with love, music, and fun.

By five years old,  she was soaking up everything.  She was smart and had a terrific sense of humor.

A social worker witnessed this one day when Foster K raced up to her at the front door and said, “Pull my finger.”  She pointed her index finger out and then held it up higher, “Quick, pull it… Do it!”

Yes, you know what happened.  As I sat mortified, pointing directly at my husband, Foster K’s laughter engulfed the room and spread amongst us.

Everything we poured in to this child, we got back (obviously) and still do.  She is filled to the brim with joy.  As I continue to see her on this journey, I’m always reminded of how incredibly blessed I am; to have been her mom when she needed me, and now her friend.