I am writing this first part for people who have/are fostering with the hope of adopting. I am writing to help them deal with their grief after losing that child.
Tomorrow I will write about my sister, and dealing with that grief.
During grief people can say some pretty insensitive and hurtful things- without really meaning to. That is why I am posting this- in hopes of shedding some light on those items so they are not repeated.
I am about to write about family issues that arose because of our grief. If you are family and are reading this, I am not writing this to stir the pot. This is important to share for others' grief processes and I have no ill feelings towards anyone because of this. Please do not make this a "thing." :) I waited 2 years to post this, and it needs to be written. I am not using specifics because it is not important- as I said, I do not harbor ill will towards anyone...
July 22nd marks two years since we said goodbye to our sons.
For those new to our blog, or just needing a refresher, here is a quick reminder of what happened:
March 2010 we began adoption training. At this same time we did respite for two little boys. I was to watch them over spring break, so I kept them for a day as a trial run. I knew from that day that they were our sons. After the week with us, Paul and I were completely in love. Going from no kids to having 3 and 5 year old rambunctious boys in your house leaves a huge impact when they are not there. I mourned when the left. Literally.
Over the next few months, we got to see them sporadically, (once they showed up at a restaurant and begged to eat with us. Their foster family felt bad, but I would never have it any other way. It was heavenly!).
The boys apparently talked about us often. Woody, (the 5 year old), randomly asked all the time when he would get to live with me, (he had no idea we were planning on that very thing). Buzz would wake up in the middle of the night crying- not for his mother. not for his foster mom. FOR ME.
Regardless of what the world thought/said, we had chosen them as our sons, and they had chosen us as their parents. Forever.
July they were finally moving in with us! After 6 months we could fight to adopt them.
The DAY before they moved in, we got word that mom suddenly, (after 9 months of doing NOTHING), wanted her kids back. We knew, (if cps did their job), the earliest they would leave us would be about October. Match that with the hope that if mom took her time and we could make it to the 6 month mark, we could fight for them- we had hope.
A week later, we got word they would go home by the start of school. We had a month.
A week later we got a call- they were being picked up at 8 am the next day.
We lost them in 2 weeks instead of the few MONTHS it was supposed to take.
I do not want to speak poorly about cps, (they did help Annie after all), but in our boys' case- they royally messed up, (this is not just me saying this- people from different agencies, people that know how the system is supposed to work... they agree with me too). You see, mom saw the boys for a total of 4 hours in the 2 weeks, and those 4 hours were at a cps office, under cps supervision. When we got Annie, it took a month of transitioning her into our home- with cps watching- to make sure it was a good placement. When a child is taken away by cps- it is supposed to take long to transfer them back home as well. After messing up enough for cps intervention, parents need to prove that they have changed, etc. In this case, their was no proof of anything.
Ok, so my quick refresher took a little while longer than I intended...
A week after we lost the boys we were scheduled to go to my cousin's wedding in Austin, a weekend affair. With 2 rambunctious boys, (and for other reasons that I have forgotten), we knew all of us would not go to the wedding. Woody would stay home and have a special weekend with Paul, and Buzz would come with me.
After suddenly, (with only a few hours warning), losing the boys, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a wedding, especially for a whole weekend.
If the wedding was just for a night, I would have gone. If the wedding was a month later, I could have gone.
I knew I would be surrounded by people celebrating, and I would be thinking about how I had been dreaming of dancing the night away with Buzz- he was quite the dancer. :) I would be in full grief mode, and I did not want to take away from the bride. :)
I also knew they would not understand my grief, and having dealt with quite a bit of grief in my life, I knew the best thing for me was to stay away.
I emailed my entire family explaining my I couldn't come and asking for my feelings to be respected.
I was flooded with emails/phone calls- not of encouragement, hugs and prayers- but of people trying to convince me to go to the wedding.
One family member said something to the effect of, "as a foster parent you knew you'd lose them so it can't be that hard." Yeah, say that to someone who is losing a loved one to an illness, see how well that goes over.
We knew we'd lose them, IN OCTOBER. And there was still hope we could keep them. So 2 weeks was a shock and way too soon, (not to mention the fact the cps didn't do their job so it was maddening to know the boys were going home to an unstable/possibly dangerous environment).
This was exactly the reason I was avoiding the wedding. That was the last thing I needed to hear.
Then another family member called to say how upset they were that I mentioned that losing them was the hardest thing I ever had to do. You see, my sister was killed in a car accident October 2006. In their eyes, they thought I was saying this was harder than that. First of all, what if it was? This is my heart we are talking about, not yours. But that's not the point. I said it was the hardest thing I had to DO. When Tracie died I didn't have to DO anything- all I had to do was mourn.
I didn't have to hold her in my arms and tell her I'd never see her again. I didn't hold her and tell her that I couldn't be her mommy anymore. I didn't have to let her leave, knowing where she was going was much worse than where she was, (if the boys had been transitioned properly then I could have trusted this decision of cps).
Losing my sister was the hardest thing I have DEALT with- the most grief I have experienced. Losing the boys was the hardest thing I had to DO. See the difference? Receiving a phone call about this at that time was not easy to deal with, nor was it appropriate, (we're talking days after they left).
As I said, what if I had taken losing them harder than losing my sister? How to you control your grief- how can you, an outsider, know the pain I am feeling? Anyway, it was just insensitive. Absolutely no ill feelings towards this person. :)
Also, when my sister died, no one questioned my grief and we were supported by so many people. That support goes on to this day, which I will write about tomorrow.
When we lost the boys, we were truly supported by only a hand full of people, and only truly understood by a few.
Do you know how toxic it is to try to grieve and deal with all those emotions when people don't get it, or when they think it is not a big deal? I had to put my mental health first in this situation. Grief can take years, and I wanted this to be a good grief- something I dealt with and moved on so to speak.
I am not mad at either family member, but it solidified my decision not to go. I was contacted by many other family members as well, and they were all the same. They were not meaning to be rude, or to cause me harm, but as I said, it was just toxic.
They didn't get it and probably still don't. Many of you reading this now may not get it either, and that is why I am writing it all out for you.
This past March, we were at adoption training again. I was talking to a woman, telling her the boys' story, and her face contorted with anguish and she asked, "how did you get through that?!"
I smiled and began to say my usual answer of knowing God's sovereignty, Romans 8:28, etc... but then the tears came.
I rarely cry over the boys anymore, and it is usually because I hear a song, (music is very important to me- for grieving, for praising, etc).
Well, out of nowhere I was overcome with emotion at the fact that someone understood my pain, and knew it was real. Like it was ok to grieve. I was surprised by these tears.
As I said, I harbor no ill feelings to my family. I only shared it for others to see:
1. If you do not get a foster parent's grief, then say nothing. If they ask for space/time to grieve, respect that.
2. If you do have sympathy, but not empathy, give the sympathy- it is greatly appreciated!
3. and finally, if you have empathy- whether from experience, or like the lady at the adoption training- you just have empathy- definitely show it. It is greatly needed.
If you are considering foster to adopt, and are scared, don't be. It hurt to lose the boys, but they will always be apart of our family, and remember: we adopted Annie the same way. The boys hurt, but Annie was worth the risk! AND, the boys were worth our pain- read on:
Another dumb thing people would say was, "don't get too attached." Below I listed a few links to old posts- read the one titled Guarded Heart. You'll see what I had to say in response.
This song goes right along with that response. I heard it earlier this year and lost it. Like I said, I rarely cry over the boys, but this killed me. It was as if the writer of the song read my blog post, and my mind, and then wrote this song.*
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If video is not showing up, here is the link for the song: All Of Me
Here are some things I never wrote about at that time, but they are important to mention for my memory at least:
- I can't remember when, but it was spring/early summer 2010- and a friend turned to me and mentioned me having the boys soon. I lost it right there in church. I could NOT wait to have them home with me. I tried to laugh off my tears as hormones, but she stopped me. She hugged me and said that it was not hormones. It was ok to want the boys so desperately. ♥ thanks B.R.
- I would call Woody, Buzz or Jersey, "Angel," and Buzz would turn to me and say, " No Mommy, you a angel." ♥
- The day the boys left we went for a drive. We didn't go anywhere, just drove for hours. I did not want to be home. I was flipping to music on my iPod, (I'm telling you, music is super important to me), and came to, "You'll Be in My Heart." Cue tears. This song, as well as Matt's song above are my songs for the boys.
Here are old posts from 2 years ago. Please read them. I just did and it amazes me to see where we were. I am so so so so so thankful for this blog! I always have been, but I am most thankful for the posts we did about the boys. It's nice to go back and remember, ya know?
Bad to Worse
This is Hard
*song was written when he knew he would lose his child to a heart defect after birth. The had just celebrated his first birthday when this song was released. :) Jehovah - Rapha :)