March 25, 2013

So thankful, So healthy!



Bella took her very last dose of Chemo on Friday!!!  It seems so strange.  She’s been sick ever since she was placed with us – for the last (almost) two years, all we have known is hospital visits, tons of medication, and E.R. trips.  What is this life with no Chemo?  We can hardly remember!

Saturday we had a party to celebrate our sweet girl being a SURVIVOR!  We invited our family and friends who have played such a crucial role in helping our family through this trial.  Through prayer, meals, babysitting, encouragement – we couldn’t have done it without them.


At Bella’s last hospital appointment while still on treatment!



Bella with her doctor and her primary nurse.  After so much time at the hospital, these people practically feel like family!




We had the party at a frozen custard shop near our house.  Everyone enjoyed frozen custard and cake, and it was so great to get to celebrate with everyone.  I was overwhelmed at having all of these people together who have done so much to love our family and love our daughter over the last two years.


Of course, at the end of March, in only makes sense that there would be a big snowstorm during the party…



Photos of Bella from the time she came to us to today.  She looks like a completely different child.  She looks so healthy and happy now!






Nana and Grandpa



Ms. Chris, or Grandma Chris as the girls call her.



Reading books with Grandpa Richard.




Bella with our family worker.  She is wonderful!


It was a wonderful celebration!  I wish we had taken more pictures, but we were busy soaking up the moment.  We are so thankful, so relieved, so joyful that we are through this trial!  Although we’ll still be making a lot of follow up visits – no more yucky meds, no more lumbar punctures.  Our brave girl made it through!

March 17, 2013




As anxious as I was about the trial on Thursday…

They only got through half of the witnesses, so they had to set another day to finish the trial.  I’m not even totally convinced that we’ll get done that day either.  Talk about emotionally exhausting.

The next open day that the judge had was May 1st – so now we wait for another 7 weeks, and then go back for another day of testimonies and questioning.

They actually called me to the stand during the trial, and I am also going to be put on the witness list for day two as well.  It would have completely and totally freaked me out if I didn’t have experience testifying as a caseworker.  Attorneys are absolutely more intimidating when you’re the one on the stand.  I wasn’t really nervous this time.  They hadn’t even told me I was going to be asked to testify, so they couldn’t even have expected me to be prepared.  I just figured I’d answer what I could answer, and tell them they were out of luck otherwise.  (In different terms, of course.)  I did appreciate that they found my testimony worth hearing and questioning though.  Typically, foster parent’s opinions and ideas are treated as completely worthless – so I was happy to have been questioned.

The bummer about being on the witness list is that you are sequestered from the courtroom and other witnesses prior to your testimony.  I got to sit in after I testified, but prior to that I had to sit outside with Vida.  I expect it will be the same way on day two.

Only once were we barraged with snarky comments from their family members.  With a few choice words thrown in we got, “These people should be ashamed of themselves!” and “They better know that those girls will never love them like they love their mom and dad!”  Along with lots of glares and evil eyes.  I understand.  It was a hard day for them, harder than it was for me.  I’d be mad too – and a lot of people are under the impression that foster parents have something to do with the legal proceedings.  Of course, that’s laughable, as a foster parent.

After my testimony, Mom and Dad actually came up to me and thanked me.  They said that they appreciated that I was honest, and that was all they could ask of me.  They said thank you for taking care of their girls and for caring enough to be there.


Was. Not. Expecting. That.

But I appreciated it greatly.  And it also showed me that they know we aren’t against them, we are just for whatever is best for the girls.  It showed that our efforts to support reunification have not gone unnoticed.  It showed that regardless of the horrible situation that links us, a relationship was feasible.  I was so thankful for that.

Anyway.  We’ll wait, and wonder, and pray.

March 13, 2013

Can’t give up.



  Tomorrow is a big day. 

We’ve had a lot of those lately.  Bella had her last chemo appointment on Monday, and will officially be off all chemo meds as of the 22nd!  Very.  Very.  Exciting.

  But tomorrow is even bigger.

  Tomorrow we will go to court and listen to everyone on the case testify.  We will see the good and the bad, and we will listen as a judge determines whether or not to terminate the parental rights of Bella and Tootaw’s mom and dad.

  When I think about it, I feel like vomiting. 

I know in my mind what, at this point, is best for the girls.  I know they need closure.  I know they need to be able to heal.  I know that they need their childhoods released from the anxiety of being in foster care.  But no matter what happens tomorrow, there is pain, there is loss, there is brokenness.  It is possible, and likely, that we will go to the court hearing tomorrow and sit with the mother and father of our sweet girls – and that when we leave they will no longer have any of the rights associated with being parents. 

  They won’t get to decide what their kids have for dinner.

  They won’t get to watch Bella graduate from Kindergarten.

  He won’t walk them down the isle. 

  She won’t sing them to sleep.

  There is hurt.  There is pain.  There is loss.  Loss that is at the start of every adoption.  Loss that will never be erased.  I hurt so much for our girls and for the pain they will have to work through.  For the loss that will follow them through life no matter how well we love them.


  We took their mom out to lunch with us on Monday to give her some more time with the girls.  It’s so easy to detach ourselves from the situation and to talk ad nauseum about all the things they aren’t doing, all the times they let them down, how there is no way it could ever work.

  But when I am with her, when I identify with her as a person, as a mother, as a person broken and in need of a savior -

I want so badly for it to work.

  I want it to get better.  I want to paint smiles on all of their faces and mend their broken hearts.  I want to fix the brokenness that this world has to offer and for goodness sake, see us all as we will be on the other side of this life.

  I think of how I have been changed by unrelenting love.  None of us is perfect, none of us get it all right, we are all broken, and we all mess up.  I think of how my heart has been redeemed by a savior that loves me no matter what – an unlikely redemption, a heart changed forever.

And I just can’t let myself give up.

  I can’t give up on her.  Not until the judge has declared it final.  Even if, and probably when, her rights are terminated tomorrow, I won’t give up.  I will still pray for her heart to find it’s way out of the brokenness and wreckage that it is in.  Out of the hard places that life has taken her.  Out of difficult circumstances that poor choices have left her in.

  I hope we will be able to maintain contact to some degree at least.  Because I can’t give it up.


  Simultaneously I am so looking forward to it being over.  I am looking forward to working toward healing with the girls without anything to take us backwards.  I can’t wait to finally work toward being a true and legal forever family that nothing can erase.  I’m looking forward to the redemption that adoption implicitly brings.  To kiss the girls goodnight knowing that I will kiss them goodnight every night until they are grown, and that then I will worry about them every day until I die.


If you could be praying for tomorrow, I would so appreciate it.  That whatever is truly in the best interest of the girls is what happens and that we would trust no matter what happens.  And also that we are able to figure out some way to maintain contact with their parents if rights are terminated.  Pray.  pray.  pray.

March 4, 2013

Snow Days.


Lots of snow means…


Lots of snowman building…






Lots of watching the beauty of winter…



Lots of sledding…






Some crafting to keep away the cabin fever (baby blankets for their baby dolls.)…



Lots of sledding…



Lots of breaks for hot chocolate and snow ice cream…



Lots of sledding…






And lots of snuggling this sweet girl inside where it was warm!



March 2, 2013

2 Months.


  Well Vi, these two months have flown by.  Really.  How have you been here for that long?  I think you’ve gotten used to the insanity that is our house, our family.  You aren’t fazed by the shrieks and squeals that pierce our ears every 30 seconds or so.  You aren’t upset by smothering sister kisses, or even when one of them manages to try to move you in the 5 seconds that I’m not looking.  You just roll with it.  That’s a good attitude to have around here, where the bumps in the road are more frequent than average for a little one like you.



You’re pretty good at holding your head up already, and you’re making your best effort to start rolling over – I give it a week or two.  You’re in a hurry to get moving with all these sisters of yours.

You give smiles very generously, which melts this mama’s heart.  Your sisters love it when they can talk to you and get a smile – they are so in love with you.  You are cooing and making baby noises.  Adorable. 







At our six week post partum appointment, you already weighed 11 pounds 10 ounces!!! You like to eat, so it shouldn’t be any surprise. But holy cow!

These are pictures of you with our midwife, Debbie.  She loves you, and she prayed for you the whole time you were in my belly.  Not to mention she worked her midwife magic to get you out of my belly.  She is wonderful.










Smiling for Grandma Debbie.







You are delightful.  If you’re awake, you like to be held by your Mommy.  On my shoulder.  With both hands.  (Maybe you’ll be picky?)  You nap well, although yesterday you were up from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and you let me lay you down while you sleep.  But who wants to do that?  You are so snuggly and I am soaking up every little cuddle you give me.



Your sisters love you.  They sing to you when you cry, they try to give you your pacifier, and they snuggle you so much I’m kind of surprised I get any snuggles at all.  Naomi gets a little jealous of you when you nurse or need to be held, but loves you anyway.  When I lay down with Sylvia to put her to bed at night, most often she doesn’t even want to snuggle me, she wants you in between us so that she can snuggle you while we read stories.  I’m a little jealous, but that’s ok.  You sleep with me at night, which is one of my favorite parts of the day – I can understand why Sylvie likes to snuggle you so much.



Meeting Aunt Jennifer!



I love you more than you know, little baby.  I think a lot about what you will be like when you are Naomi’s age or Sylvia’s age.  I can’t wait to see, but I like you just the size you are now.  You are my Vida, and I am so blessed to be your Mommy.  As Sylvia would say, “You are the best Vida in the whole wuld.” 


I love you, love you, love you,



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