Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adoption Journey Continued......

Aspen is thrilled to back! She and her little brother Jude sleep through the night. I wake up feeling so happy, and determined to find out what delays, disorders, or problems these two beautiful children have. I immediately make several Dr. appointments for the coming weeks for both of them. During the next few days, I continue to play constantly with Aspen to see if I can get her to communicate with me. She only seems to know the word "doggy." She is not remotely interested in potty training, and seems like it will be a very long time until she can understand the concept. She starts to want attention from me. She wants me to play stacking games with her. It is such a basic concept, but I laugh with her as she knocks the blocks down when we finish making a tower. She is starting to let me hold her, and she is smiling, touching, and hitting my face which seems like a bad thing, but for her is a sign of affection. She starts something new! She is trying to sing. I can't understand a word she is trying to say, but I love it! we also are enjoying chasing each other around the house. We are definitely bonding more and more, but she doesn't seem to care about Steve yet.
The Dr. Appt.s start. Both Aspen, and Jude qualify for Physical Therapy, Occupational therapy, Speech therapy, and Aspen also for behavioral feeding therapy. Can you imagine? At three years old she can't hold a fork or a spoon. She stuffs food in her mouth, chews it forever, and then spits it out ,throwing it everywhere. She puts everything in her mouth in her mouth that is not supposed to be there. This is one sensory little girl. Jude also has his many share of problems. He doesn't drink from a bottle well at all. He drools so much of his milk as he is drinking. He has not begun to start any solid food until we get him in our home. he is very jumpy as well. he is 10 months old now and not sitting up, or trying to scoot around. he is barely starting to roll over, and push up onto his hands. During all of the evaluations we are doing not only me, but everyone we meet thinks that Aspen is severely autistic. After having her tested for any spectrum disorders, we still cant rule out autism, or PDD. the Dr.'s want to see her back in 3 months for further testing.
Over the next 3 months I see miracles happening with these two. Aspen in now calling me mom, and has bonded to our family. Jude is laughing, drinking from a bottle, and loves to eat solids. We even begin to potty train, but it's a process. It takes her a couple of months, and a trip to flaming gorge for her to get the hang of it. She really didn't like it when I took her in a cold lake to wash her off when she had an accident. Not only is she potty trained now, but she decided she can stay dry at night too! Whoo hoo! This is a huge step, and her OT is in absolute amazement. Jude and Aspen have made what all of there Dr.'s call tremendous progress. Aspen has defied all odds, and is learning so quickly! We rule out Autism, because she's accomplished so much in so little time. Dr.'s say" these behaviors she has are completely because of physical, and environmental neglect. these two kids didn't have a prayer of of developing the way the should have.
Jude is now involved in Early intervention, and Aspen gets to go to a preschool with special ed teachers as well as the normal preschool teachers. She will receive therapies here as well. I am attending 8 Dr. appt.s a week, and that doesn't include E.I. or the preschool. not to mention taking them to 2 visits with their mom a week. Their Biological mom is missing at least half of her visits. I am a little overwhelmed, but I am doing this! I tell the caseworker that 2 days a week for visits it too much for me. Abby decides to make it once a week for 2 hours instead to help lighten my load. We are so blessed to have a wonderful caseworker!
There is little to no progress with Aspen and Jude's Biological mother. She is still testing positive for drugs, and alcohol. She misses her visits, and doesn't bother to show for some of her U.A's. Abby our caseworker asks me how Steve and I are feeling." Do you want to keep them, and would you be willing to adopt?" I blurt out"definitely", but Steve is a different story. He still wants this to temporary. remembering this i tell the caseworker that i will have to work on my husband, but that I don't want them going to another home. I am going to follow this case through no matter what.I have completely fallen in love with the two of them. How could not? I have spent almost every moment of my day working with these angels, trying to get them caught up.
We head to court on September 17th. Abby asks for termination of their mother's rights, but now we have another hick-up. The babies dad is out of prison, and wants to be able to be a candidate for reunification. The judge decides to give Dori, and Chris more time. We have to come back to court Nov.18th
Two months seems like forever to wait to find out what is going to happen. The parents are attending all of their visits, but U.A.'a are still coming up positive, and Dori still hasn't completed any of her services. Again, Abby has no choice but to recommend termination. That what she does, but the parents are going to fight this recommendation. Now we have mediation on the 6th of December, and then on the 9th we go back to court. This seems like such a waste of time though, because with the parents fighting the decision, we will have to go to trial. This dang case is dragging on forever!
Abby calls me a week later, and says ," I have some news for you" the dad is ready to relinquish his rights. I am shocked to hear this because he was the one fighting so hard. Chris asks to meet with me. He says that he sees how much the kids love me, and how much I love them. He didn't realize before, but he now understands that his kids will stay together and that Steve and I would be the ones adopting them. It was an emotional meeting, and I find much compassion towards him. This changes things. He really is not being selfish, he wants what's best for his kids, and know that he, or his soon to be ex-wife are not capable of caring for their children. He at this point doesn't want Dori to get them back. he tells the caseworker and I that" we really don't know the half of it". He agrees to testify against her if she doesn't relinquish her rights.
Over the past couple months Steve has come to the reality that I can't willingly give up these children. I love them, and I want to keep them. He feel so conflicted, but realizes there is no alternative. He tells me " life is so easy and good with our own 3, 5 is alot." I reassure him that we will have a more hectic family, but a life with them that is full of joy, and memories. W e never have a guarantee that each and everyone of our children will float through life, and make all the right choices, even our biological 3 we have. He sees my point, but is still scared. What a huge sacrifice he is making for not only our family, but for the kids, and me imparticular. I do notice him getting very protective over them though. He loves them, and wants what is best for them.
The next step is mediation. Chris is hoping to make his wife realize that giving them up is the best decision. HE DID IT! Both parents have agreed to relinquish their rights. We go to court that Thursday, and just as planned they voluntarily give up their rights, which opens the door for adoption. Wow, this is very emotional for me. I am struggling watching these parents have to do a very hard thing. I feel very sympathetic towards them. Chris is choking back his tears, and Dori, is too I think, but neverless she says to me "sometimes things happen for a reason". She walks out of the court room waving goodbye to me and smiling. I think she feels comfort in knowing she has done the right thing. I talked to her a couple of days ago, and she made another remarkable comment. She handed Jude to me, and says" he wants his mommy" Uh, how can they give up on these two? I can't understand it, but I am so glad at the same time that they are doing what is right for them. I now have some respect for them. At the same time I am ecstatic. They are ours!!! The Lord sure let me know that I had one more little girl, but I had no idea about another baby boy. The Lord sure knows what he wants, and what we need. I can't imagine it any other way. I didn't expect 2, and I didn't expect a boy, but I love it!
The adoption will be finalized on February 17th. We are planning to be sealed to them for time and all eternity in April when Steve's parents come home off of their mission. Word's cannot express how thankful I am to be lucky enough to call Aspen and Jude my own. Their names are now, Jude Daniel Morgan, and Aspen (Azzie) Hope Morgan. Both Steve and I are excited. Yes, we live what Steve calls a nut house, but it is a wonderful, joyous, happy nut house. Tyler, River and Randilynn are sooooo excited. I am so lucky to have them, and for their wonderfully compassionate hearts. We couldn't do this without them. I am so happy, so blessed, and so excited that our family is definitely complete now. The "SSMORGAN5" Ship is full, and is starting it's wonderful journey.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Our Adoption Journey

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..........