Monthly Archives: January 2015

Christmas With Kiddies – A Better Late Than Never Post

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I put these little elves to work!

I was told no less than 4,723 times that this was going to be just the Best Christmas Ever because we have our kids with us now. While I did enjoy the season because I had extra people to share it with, I wouldn’t say it was the best in my life just because they were here. I mean, I’m not so old that I don’t remember my awe at getting a Barbie Dream Kitchen (that still lives in my garage) myself. Or our first Christmas in this house where we were moving on Christmas Eve so we just had a tiny tree, a couch, and Christmas spirit.

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Oh Santa, you are just so cute!

It’s a lot of pressure to be Santa! Its a lot of pressure to buy for three kids with such different taste and it all still seem fair. Agent K is teetering that line between wanting Minion jammies and Nerf guns vs. wanting a phone and a car. He was a great sport and we are very grateful to him for playing along this year for his sisters. They haven’t had Santa previously and do you want to know how mad a mom can get? Have her 8-year-old tell her that the foster parents said ‘Santa is dumb and if a man tries to come down our chimney, I’m going to shoot him right back up with this here gun’. Wow, really making some great decisions there. Anyway, we tried our best and I think both girls believed for this year. I don’t know how long it will work but when I told them that anyone who doesn’t believe obviously wouldn’t get gifts from him, it seemed to put the doubts to rest.

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They wrote Santa letters, left him cookies, the whole thing and thats all I wanted. Just one year of child-like dreams at Christmas. We did Reindeer on the Roof (which I suggest above that stupid elf) and drove around looking at lights in our jammies. It really was magical and I’m very glad about every effort we put into it to make it as special as possible for them. They deserve everything happy they get and what kid couldn’t use a little spoiling now and again?

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I loved the two-week break we got off work the most. Husbando and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary by going to the Armed Forces Bowl and we got to spend lots of time with Nephy-Niece and our other family. The kids love their extended family so much, we haven’t stopped talking about them since we got back almost a month ago. Every day they ask about someone and when we can see them next. That does my heart a lot of good to know they are forming deeper bonds every time they see them. So basically Christmas WAS wonderful and we had a great time. The kids got too many gifts to count, we ate more wonderful and delicious food than we should have and we shared more fun than I can explain in writing. Can’t wait to do it all over again next year : )

 

 

Birthmother Letters

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For a while now I’ve been intrigued with open adoption communication, specifically between the birth and adoptive mothers. I daydream about what I would say to the birthmother of our children if we ever accidentally ran into her at the grocery store. I know her face well because I’ve stared at it for hours. I found her on social media, dating sites, and several other places. Heck, the kids even have ‘life books’ that have pics of them together in it. I am prepared for safety reasons but also for general curiosity.

After reading some recent posts about birthmom letters, my mind started swirling with ideas and the last straw was the article I read about a birthmother coming to the adoption finalization at the court house. Everyone’s situation is different so that doesn’t bother me that they did that, I just know ours wouldn’t be welcome to participate. I’ve decided to write some letters on here in hopes that I won’t continue to stay awake thinking about this. This one happens to be how I would introduce myself. Tact was never really on my list of positive qualities.

Dear Birthmother,

Hello. I’m Carynn and I’ve been given the gift of raising your children. Thanks for pushing them out of your body and then keeping them only long enough to cause them permanent heartbreak. I’ll be taking over from here but my uterus thanks you for your service.

These kids are amazing but I’m not sorry you don’t get to witness that. You don’t deserve that. I will be honest, my husband and I give you the benefit of the doubt and call your cruelty and selfishness a ‘mental illness’. We don’t fathom how a person could treat another the way you treated these three beautiful little people and so we just assume you are sick in a way we could never understand. For your sake, I hope that is right.

I see you’re still married to the girls’ dad and that surprises me. How is it that you can keep that relationship going over ten years but not the most deep bond known on the planet, a bond between mother and child? I also see you moved several states away and maybe that is why you’re able to spend so much time with your step-son (who happens to be the same age as your own son). I don’t think you should be allowed within several hundred feet of a child, daycare, or school but I guess they only keep track of sex offenders these days.

The kids don’t ask about you, they just mention occasionally that they have done something or gone somewhere with their birthfamily. I’m sure Agent K is keeping a lot of memories bottled up, as he does when he thinks something may hurt us. He is quite mature like that. The girls probably don’t remember much more than the one terrible memory they shared with us and I hope that fades over time. I’ve never told them they can’t speak of you, I just think its an unspoken understanding between them that they don’t want to think of the past and the pain. Do they wonder about where you are and what you’re doing? I am sure they always will. Probably in those last moments of consciousness before they drift to sleep when I confront all my deepest and most painful thoughts.

We finalize our adoption in the next 60 days and after that, I hope with that and the changing of their names they find some peace in their broken little hearts. Peace knowing they will always have a family who loves and cares for them in a way they never knew. Peace knowing there is no more unknown about where they will live tomorrow and peace that trusting us will not leave them hurt.  There will always be a deep wound that you left them but our goal in life is to help heal that to the best of our abilities and love them as much as they will let us. In the event you care, we aren’t going to let them down on that promise. We are going to take such good care of them and treat them like the gifts they are. I’m sorry you will not have the same pleasure.

Sincerely,

Carynn

 

An Agent K Christmas

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The last I posted, we were just getting into the Christmas season and now we are done with New Years. My bad, I’m a lazy blogger. I will admit we had some struggles over the last month that threw Husbando and I for a loop and we have finally had some not-so-wonderful situations to deal with. Today we will be talking about how we had to learn quick how to use 11-year-old, DHS-approved, effective discipline for our son. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say effective because we don’t know how effective it will be long term until its actually been long term. We didn’t get it all right but we did the best we could. For the sake of transparency and helping others, here is our story.

Agent K, our oldest and seemingly most mature kiddo, decided to stop turning in his homework assignments and also get into some trouble at school/daycare enough that we had to make some pretty hard decisions. He was suspended from school in-house style twice this semester and from daycare right before Christmas. He was throwing a pen back and forth at a kid and had he not had two ‘strikes’ from earlier in the year, we wouldn’t be having this convo but let me get back to the point. Not having a ‘backup’ daycare plan, Husbando had to pick him up the last day of the semester before break and the first two days after he went back. I personally feel like suspending them from daycare is idiotic since it only punishes the parent but don’t even get me started on the ridiculousness that is his after-school program.

One thing we eventually learned with our son is that the typical consequences were not going to work. He did not respond to taking away tv time, electronics, his basketball games, desserts, nothing. I think that has to do with feeling like he had nothing of his own for a very long time. He had few possessions and also learned to live with disappointment in others. He probably often felt like there was nothing left for him to care about once his family was gone. I think there is a defense mechanism in his heart that shuts him off from feeling the pain of ‘normal’ consequences. If told he couldn’t go somewhere and instead had to stay in his room, he would just go quietly read and never seem disappointed in not going. Same with ice cream outings, family movie night and event an OU basketball game. Missing that game hurt Husbando more than anyone because Husbando has urned to take a son to sporting events since he was a kid himself. As some of his favorite memories in his childhood, he wants to give that to Agent K too.

On the other hand, we didn’t want to cause any more stress on him during what is already a very difficult time for him. We wanted to continue to bond and grow as a family during our favorite time of year, not lock him up in his room even if he didn’t seem to mind. He has been very honest about Christmas being his hardest time and he is reminded each year that the last day of school before winter break is when he was separated from his parents and never lived with them again. That Christmas was the worst time in his life and now every Christmas forever he will deal with those emotions. I can’t imagine what it was like but picking fights and failing all your classes can’t be the answer.

With all the trouble and missing assignments (that btw, he did but didn’t turn in… WHO DOES THAT?!), led to horrible grades and they pulled him out of all his Honors/AP classes. They then told us they were also pulling him out of gym to put him in a new class called Carrera. It was initially designed to prevent teen pregnancy but also helps kids who are having trouble in other ways. A teacher has to nominate you and if approved, you’re in for at least 3 years. It takes the place of an elective but they do make sure to add physical activity to the curriculum. Yesterday they learned about the female reproductive organs (boy was that a hysterical drive home) and today they are swimming. I know there is a group therapy session in there every week so that alone should maybe start to help.

For the actual holiday, we took away his big Santa gift, a 32″ flatscreen for his room, and he has no idea we ever bought it for him. The family got a Wii U and the original Wii was going to accompany that tv so he could play games in his room when/if friends ever came over. We still gave him his gifts but under the understanding that he would have to earn back the right to use, play, or eat them. He got a ton of jerky (one form of currency that actually works) and only on days he gets a great report from all his teachers does he get to have a piece. So far this first week back he has had a good report each day. He got several very nice gifts from his grandparents including a dehydrator and an iPod. Neither will be opened until he has earned that right. His sisters got to open and play with their iPods on our four-hour road trip home and that seemed to bother him a little. Because our kids are so loving and have been taught compassion, I actually had to keep the girls from sharing their iPods with him. That was a hard one even for me.

The break and this week went well but on Wednesday night I actually heard him jokingly say ‘man, I’m so tired because being good all day is exhausting!’ I almost cried at my disappointment. Getting through one day without being in trouble is a struggle?! He actually thinks that way or he wouldn’t have joked about it so the long-term success of this is up in the air. Eleven-year-olds don’t like to work at things, I’m not stupid. If he gets tired of being ‘exhausted’ from being good, he just won’t be good. At that point we will have to re-evaluate and reset.

Some of this is just being 11 and some is figuring out life with us. Some is missing foster dad, some is missing bio parents. I’m guessing there is also some sibling rivalry, tweenage hormones and a little bit of testing boundaries in there too. We are doing our best to sift through all that and decide how to help him. This is a marathon, not a sprint so I’m sure I’ll have some updates in the future.