Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Women who have impacted my life: part 1

I have been thinking a lot lately about the women who have influenced, impacted and changed my life. So I am going to do a series on these women. Because of the positive influences in my life, I made great choices, the best of which was getting sealed in the Temple for Time and all Eternity to the love of my life. And there are women who help teach, guide and influence me to try and be me best self today. Not all stories are from the past, and I can't wait to discover the future ones!

 The stories I will tell about each of them is special and dear to me, and hopefully you will see how much the things you do and say affect others! I know some lessons I learned I was probably taught multiple times or by several different people, but I understood those lessons when these women taught me. Please enjoy reading about the women who have helped shape me, and who I love and am grateful to!
My Grandma Bessie Hatch: She is in Heaven now, and I know she watches over me. She is my hero, and saved me. When I was born she already had dementia, and my parents told me it makes it hard for people to remember what day or year it is, and that is was very difficult for her. I can only imagine. But she never forgot me. She noticed I was often left out from the cousins ( I'm the youngest) and in all I have over 60 first cousins, so she would send me fancy dresses with frills and lace, and once a sock puppet doll with a green checkered dress that I still have! And remember that dementia? Well when the family got together and when it came to me, she didn't forget me. She saved me. One day when I was around 5, a much older boy cousin brought me into a room to play doctor. Do you see where this is going?

                     Well my grandma may have had dementia but she watched out for me and was so in tune with the Spirit. Before he could hurt me she burst into the room, pulled me away from his reach, gave me my shirt and shielded me as she yelled and handled him. I don't know what happened to that cousin and that situation, but I was never left near him ever again. She saved me, I had no idea what was coming, and though I have experienced abuse other times earlier and later in life, I was saved that day. No one else came looking for me or to check on me, but she did. She always did. I love her very much and cannot wait to throw my arms around her when she greets me in Heaven one day and thank her. She is my hero.

Another hero in a different sense: Sister Bibber. She taught me compassion, selflessness, and the importance of visiting teaching. In our church each month the women go visit other women they are assigned to. They teach a message about the Savior, become better friends with each woman and are there should that woman, or Sister as we call each other, need any help. It was my senior year, I woke up at 4:45 every morning, went to early morning church class, school, college class, then to my nanny job, then home. I helped around the house when I could with cooking and things, but was much too busy. My mom worked as an X ray tech and loved it. Then she got sick. Like in the hospital, surgery, no real answers scary kind of sick. She was sick for 6 months. And here comes my hero, Sister Bibber.

          She brought us food at least once a week and came to visit my mom once a week. I don't think she ever missed a week the entire 6 months. And in Maine, people live far from one another so she sacrificed so much for our family by giving us her time, her love, her support, and meals. She also organized the other women in our branch (congregation) and we had at least 3 meals a week brought in. For 6 months. I learned from Sister Bibber the importance of service, of doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of the women you are blessed to serve. I believe in visiting teaching, I try to be just like her and know how to best love and serve the women I now visit teach since I'm all grown up! When I tell others this story I always cry. The qualities of a choice and amazing woman were shown and taught to me. I watched and learned that I wanted to be like her. That she was a hero. I love her and am so grateful to have been able to be on the receiving end of such kind, generous service and compassion. It changed my life.

Thank you to these women for teaching me, saving me, and loving me. I am so so grateful to you.

These are just some of the women who have changed my life. Keep checking back because there are many more stories of gratitude to be told.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

10 Things I wish people had told me when I became a Foster Mom

Please note: we are not mad, offended, angry or resentful of anyone who has done #1-7 on this list, I just had to learn the hard way and I think it's important for people to know. :)

1. People who were your friends get mad: mad that you have children who have naptimes and bed times, and on game night need to be fed and changed and comforted mid game. Mad that you have to cancel, mad that you can't spend all your time over at their house listening to their problems.

2. People don't consider you a real parent: because I have no biological children, Mother's day was interesting. Some people were very supportive and kind, others made it seem like fostering made me less of a person and that I had no right to call myself a mom.

3. People judge: People who are supposed to be your support system judge your foster children. They judge the case they don't understand, they judge the color of your foster children's skin, they judge your choices to do what you do. And these judgments are not fair or kind.

4. You will see selfishness and selflessness in people you never imagined: People down on their knees, deep in trials give more than you could imagine and forgive in amazing ways. The hearts of these children are incredible. The selfish come from the adults who don't believe in giving people second chances and believe they know more about parenting children with difficult lives than we do. Hello people, we've been trained and trained and trained, we have been recertified and taught how to deal with rehabilitating our children, because that is our job. Get over yourself.

5. Foster moms can be the nicest or the most cruel: I've read so many facebook posts and blogs from foster moms and been so proud to be one of them, and at other times, so angry at how some behave or treat their children. I also have met some of the most amazing and giving women and families. Especially A.M.C. who volunteered to watch our children for free for an emergency surgery so Ken could be there when I woke up.

6. Everyone asks you if you are going to adopt the children you have: They don't care what the case plan is, they don't think the biological parents deserve a chance, they think you deserve these children, and a lot of people are very vocal about it, IN FRONT Of MY FOSTER CHILDREN! Not cool.

7. You will get bullied: Either by someone working for the state, other foster families, neighbors, people at church, people involved in the case, at some point with each case you will get bullied. It may be because you make someone else look bad by doing what you are trained to do, or it may be because you have a nice blouse on, who knows the reasons, but you will get bullied.

8. You will see miracles that others could only dream of: The miracles we have had have been amazing. Prayers are constantly answered, we are watched over by angels, and having these children in our lives is a huge blessing We have grown closer to the Lord and to one another because of numbers 1-7, and now on number 8 you see it's all worth it. The blessings that have come, the lessons we have learned have been life changing. And humbling. Now I look at others in a whole new light, and I look for miracles every day.

9. Your marriage will become a rock or will crumble: As newlyweds we wanted children. It was hard, but we both parent in the same style, and we both rely on inspiration from the Lord. Because we continually turn to the Lord and to one another ours has become a rock. We have to work at it like any other marriage, but we've been given miracles and blessings to become strong and solid.

10. Your view of the world will change: You will see miracles where others won't look, you will be uplifted by the Lord in times of difficulty and really appreciate it. You will find out who great friends, good friends and bad friends are. Your support system will be completely redefined. You will look at those less fortunate than you with respect, and you will fight hard for children who aren't even yours. And then one day, when you know you will have a child of your own, you will treasure and cherish it, and really thank the Lord for what you have seen and lived through.

Mommy Pretty, I love you. Here mommy flower.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Our big news: adoption

Disclaimer: all the thoughts, opinions and observations in this blog are strictly my own and do not reflect any agency or government entity. They are purely the feelings in my heart.

I took a few deep breaths. Tears brimming over my eyes, ad made my way around the corner to the kitchen where my incredible husband was trying to complete a mountain of homework. I felt awful interrupting him because then he would need to stay up later to finish, but this was to important to wait.

He looked up and smiled, saw my tears and moved his computer aside.
                " Sit down my love, what's wrong?"
     "Well, I don't know how to say this, and I don't know what you will think because it is completely opposite of what we decided, and it's going to mean a huge sacrifice on our part, and I'm really struggling with it."

My sweet husband held my hand and waited for me to speak. He had a look in his eye that told me he already knew what I was going to say and that he was proud of me for listening to the promptings of the Lord and trying to come to terms with this decision. He held my hand tight and just waited.

The my tears poured out, my heart ached as I spoke the words that needed to be said but hurt so much to acknowledge. Even now as I write this my eyes are watering and I remember the strong feelings of love, sadness, and comfort at doing the right thing.

       I sobbed as I said, " I know we decided that we would do a planned transfer of the children by June if they were still with us so that we could adopt a child. We have to have an open bed to adopt, and all of our beds are full. But Ken, (and here's where I really started sobbing, it was a true miracle he understood what I was saying) I just can't give them away to be split up into multiple foster homes, separated from one another just so I can have the baby I've always wanted. I feel so selfish having such a hard time keeping these children that won't be our to adopt, but I just can't send them away. I'm so torn and so sad. I'm sad for them, and I'm sad for us. And I feel so selfish wanting my own child to keep. Is that bad? Why am I struggling so hard? Are you ok if we continue to foster them and put our own family on hold until they go to their forever family?"

And my husband gave the best response in the world. " I'm so glad you understand. I'm so proud of you for seeing what needs to be done, and putting the needs of these children above our own desires, even thought waning our own child is a righteous desire. I have felt this way about the situation but wanted you to find your way here too. I know how hard it has been for you to wait for the children that will be forever ours. But this is the right decision. We both know that. We can't put these children back into homes where they will be separated. We don't know how long we will have them, but we do need to keep them until they go to their home. I'm so proud of you, it's not selfish, and I know how hard this is."

Then I just cried and cried. He was right, his answer was perfect. We both know that these children need to stay with us until they go home, and that we need to put our adoption on hold. I cried some more, feeling my heart breaking for our sweet foster children and the stress they are under, and knowing we have to wait even longer for our forever family. But we both have comfort knowing we are doing what the Lord would have us do, so despite the pain, we know it will be ok.

Many people don't understand what goes on behind the scenes of foster care. You love the children as your own, and you need to give them back. In Arizona the biggest priority is reunification with family, which we wholeheartedly support. Some foster parents try to sabotage the biological parents because they think they bio parents aren't good enough. That is not right, it is not what the Savior taught, and we make every effort possible to support reunification.

Fostering has shown me the extremes in compassion and selfishness in others. And in places I would never expect to see. I have seen extreme compassion and love in biological parents who just need a helping hand. Who are ready to change their lives and serve others around them. And I have seen great selfishness in people who consider themselves to have their lives in order and think it's ok to be judge and jury on things they don't understand.

What you can do is support Ken and I in our decision to wait for the precious children we are in charge of to be safely home. And support us in our efforts to adopt children with special needs and disabilities. We have prayed and fasted and know this is what the Lord wants us to do. Yes we have to wait for our adoption, but we know in the Lord's timing it will be worth it.

Fostering is so difficult to understand when you aren't living it. Hopefully the example above of one glimpse of a decision that will affect the rest of our lives will show you how complex fostering is. PLEASE ask me questions, please be supportive and kind. And know that I will continue to be an advocate for reunification, for adoption, and for mothers who can have their own children. Find ways to help support and serve your community or foster and adoptive parents. There are so many opportunities out there, you just have to look!

We are so grateful for the guidance of the Lord. We are so grateful to be able to pray and fast about difficult decisions and have people in our lives do their very best to support us. We are grateful for the trials and big decisions that leave our hearts slightly broken from the sadness of the sacrifice because it gives us a chance to allow the Savior to heal the wounds and for us to grow closer to him.

Our adoption process has been put on hold at least until the fall. We will keep you posted as things progress. Please pray for the children in our care that they may feel loved and supported by all those around them. Love to you all.