What a roller coaster of a year 2010 was. We had heartache, and tears. We had fun, we had saddness, but we also made some great memories as a family. Most of all and most important, we had a year of miracles.
Five years ago, I talked Steve into taking classes to become foster parents. He was VERY relunctant to say the least, but gave in for me, and to make me happy. He always makes me happy :) Let's just say I almost always get my way. We took the weeks of classes, and I again, pushed him into becoming licensed foster parents. Steve really didn't want to do this. You all know that he loves his life simple. Well, I am a bit different. I have felt my whole life that in able for us to progress in life spiritually that we need to accomplish things that are not always easy for us. That we need to push ourselves to learn from mistakes, and from new experiences, to take on those challenges in life, and make our lives better. To become as much as our Savior as we can. I have always thought that I would be involved in Foster care as some point in my life, after all I had foster cousins as I was growing up. The first 10 years of our marriage it never entered my mind, as we were blissfully happy with each other, and with raising our 3 "perfect" children. I always thought I would have at least four children, but my health decided otherwise. I was happy though I had my boys, and then I had my baby girl. I was so blessed. I thought our family was complete. It wasn't until our baby girl Randilynn, was 3 that I started to feel like someone was missing. I told Steve, and Steve repeatedly told me that our 3 were perfect! I agreed, but felt it could even be more PERFECT. We considered adoption, but this really scared Steve.This is what started this whole journey into foster care. I thought well " if he is scared of the unknowns that maybe he could fall in love with another child while we were taking care of her( I knew we were missing a little girl) and that we could adopt through the State of Utah. But wow, I had no idea of the heartache, joy, love, and miracles that would result out of my decision to do this.
Steve and I became licensed foster parents in February of 2007. I took 3 months before we received a phone call from a resource family consultant from the state asking if we would be willing to take in a sibling group. A little girl named Shaylaundra, and her younger brother Michael. We were a little thrown back, because we asked for only one child. We both were excited though, so we said sure. Shay and Randilynn became best friends and sisters. They were inseparable. The boys loved having a little brother who LOVED to play the guitar. I have never seen a 2 year old feel music the way he did. Everything was going really well, except for 2 things. First, Steve was not handling having 5 children very much. He loved these two children, but it was too much of an adjustment for him. Second, as the children expanded time with their biological mother, they became more confused, and started to act out. Shay began to hit Randi, and Randi grew increasingly tired of her. This was so hard on her, and our family. We were told in December of that year that the kids would be returning home to their Mother. As much as we loved them, we were relieved. These were not the children that Heavenly Father wanted us to have. Steve and I both decided together that 5 children was too much for us and our family.
A few months later in may we got another call to take in a 15month old little girl named Janie. "Perfect" I thought! Could this be my little girl? I feel in love with her, and took her in as our own. Again the Lord had other plans. Janie went home in December of 2008. I was heartbroken, and thought that I couldn't do this again. With my children strongly urging me, I decided to try it again. Everyone thought I was crazy! How could she be willing to open her heart again, and again, to be disappointed and to feel so much pain. This is what people around me were thinking, even my husband. Steve hates to see me hurting.
In April of 2009 I fell absolutely in love with Navaeh. She was brought to us at 2 months old. I bonded instantly the moment they put her into my arms. I was certain that this was the baby girl I had been waiting for. But, there was a daddy involved that loved her so much, that he would do whatever he had to get her back. And he did! After only 4 days baby Navaeh went home to her daddy, who feel to his knee's sobbing when I placed her in his arms. At this moment I knew she was not mine, but belonged to a very loving daddy already. Nevertheless, I was completely devastated. I stayed in the house, not going anywhere that I didn't absolutely have to go for 3 weeks. I cried daily during those 3 weeks. How I missed her so. I knew I would love her forever, and I still do to this day. In fact, just writing this has brought be to tears.
What?!! "She's going to do it again?!" people thought. But by this point I KNEW my baby girl was out there. I was determined. 2 months later we were blessed to have Avree Ann come into our lives. An adorable 18 month old who stole all our hearts. Even Steve's! Things were a roller coaster with her, and her family. It seemed as if there was a strong possibility that we would be adopting her. But, there was also something about her mother that I felt could not be given up on. This mother,wanted to be a GOOD mom, used to be a good mom, but lost her way soon after Avree was born. I decided that I needed to be as supportive as I could to her. This was very different than any other cases we had. There was just something about Jen that made me feel connected to her, that made me want to help her. I was so conflicted because I wanted Avree to be ours, but I wanted to give her mom a chance too. Jen saw how much we loved her daughter, and was able to make the decision that she wanted us to adopt her if she couldn't get her life back on track. It took a solid year, but Jen made it!! She made it!!! The system actually worked the way it was supposed to. This mom who at first I thought had no hope of getting her daughter back, changed her life and won back her daughter. We are still in frequent contact with Avree and Jen, and support and love them today. I am so proud of Jen! Wonderful lessons were taught to me through this case, and I wouldn't change anything part of it. I grew as a person, and learned not only forgiveness, but even more compassion. I learned that people can change. How blessed we were to have Avree in our home, but Steve and I were tired, and decided to take a break from foster care for at least the summer, maybe forever. But, again, the Lord had other plans that would change our lives eternally.
Three weeks after Avree went home we got a surprise call from our RFC. On April 14th 2010, I looked at the caller ID on my phone and knew I was in trouble. I told them not to call me until after summer, I told them I would only take in a little girl that was under 2 years old when that time came. I had no interest in taking in another one until summer was over at least." Why is she calling me "I thought". I know I was very clear about what I wanted. I needed time to heel after Avree went home. How my life would change that day. Our RFC Deanna was on the other side of the phone telling me that she had a baby boy, and a 2 1/2 year old little girl that was coming into the office in 10 minutes, and asked if she could place them with us. My first response was "no way", and I knew Steve would never go for it. But being who I am thought if the state needs someone right away I would take then in for a week until they could find another foster home. I talked to Steve and he agreed, but, "ONLY FOR A WEEK" he said. I agreed.
I went to pick up the kids 10 minutes later. "Whoa, what have I gotten my self into?!!!!! This little girl Aspen that I agreed take in for a week was completely out of control! She didn't talk, she didn't make eye contact, she was throwing things, running down the halls, spitting, and biting everyone. I instantly thought she was severely autistic. Her baby brother who was 9 months at the time was soooo tiny, and so beautiful, so content. "What an angel" I thought, but I knew I was in over my head with his sister. I told myself "it's only one week, I can do this." I brought them home and introduced them to the rest of our family. Our children were very concerned about Aspen and her behaviors, and very in love already with Jude and how cute and little he was. He looked to be about three months old, and acted like he was too. A soon I got them home something switched my gears around. I became determined to see what these children were capable of. I worked all day the next day with Aspen with not much of a change. The next day a miracle happened though. She made eye contact with me, and began to smile at me. I began slowly to try and touch her, and she begins to let me. Soon she decides she likes me and instead of a traditional hug given, I get a smile and a punch in my face. She doesn't know how to show love for someone. I begin to try and teach her, but this will be a long time coming for her. I want to give her all I can before she goes to her next foster home. remember I am only doing this for a week. I have surgery the following Tuesday, and know they have to be gone by then. They found a home! A new foster family is anxious to come pick them up. I instantly begin to cry, not just cry, but sob. Steve looks at me surprised. "Why am I having such a hard time letting them go? I knew this was coming."
Four days go by and I've heard nothing of how they are until my phone rings. It's Julie, the new foster mom. She has severe concerns with Aspen, and asks for some advice, and help. We decide together that Steve and I should go over to her house to see what we can do to help. When we arrive within a minute of visiting with Aspen, Julie begins to cry. She says" This is the 1st time I have seen her smile this whole week" I am very surprised to hear this, and also that she has not been sleeping through the night, and crying all night long every hour. This poor foster mom is exhausted, and doesn't know what else to do. Aspen had bonded with me and only me. I decided to help. I will come and visit for the next few days to see if we can get her comfortable in her new home, and be there for support. This wasn't to be. The next day Julie calls me to tell me that she is turning that back over to the state. That Aspen needs more help than she can give her. I am devastated! "No these kids have already been through enough!" I then am begging Steve as I sob to get them back. At least until we can find out more about these two angels, and get the stable. Steve very much does not want this, but gives in at the sight of my hysterically sobbing. I call the state, and I have them back by nightfall.
To be continued..........