Anxiously Accomplished

It’s hard to describe the feeling that comes over you when something you have worried and stressed over for so long, just disappears. I have been on pins and needles for 903 days. Never knowing if Stella would stay with me forever or not. Don’t get me wrong, her case looked good, I knew she was where she needed to be, but I have this thing called anxiety, and it said otherwise.

Having anxiety and deciding to take part in the foster care system is basically signing yourself to play a really long version of Russian Roulette. You can’t stop your brain from going to the worst case scenarios and in these circumstances, it can make you physically sick with worry. I would spend sleepless nights worried about the most irrational, wildest, most ridiculous worst case possibilities after getting one small sliver of bad news. See, with anxiety, where everything is already under scrutiny, the simplest piece of information can be twisted into this terrifying news that doesn’t even exist. It’s just the best.

There were days when I wouldn’t even want to speak to anyone, because I was so full of worry. Days when I was so exhausted from not sleeping, because I was up all night thinking about what could happen. Days when I couldn’t eat, because I knew she had to go to a visit that she didn’t want to participate in.

Once I finished the adoption placement a few weeks ago, I was her legal guardian. I don’t think my brain really had time to process what an accomplishment that was, because everything else was moving so fast and I had things to get done. Even standing outside the courtroom on adoption day, I still wasn’t at ease, we were taking photos, and making sure everything on our checklist was finished.

As we were making the hour drive home, it hit me.

Like a tidal wave of accomplishment, celebration, and calming.

We did it. We crossed the finish line. She is safe and provided for, for the rest of her life.

I will never be able to fully describe what that felt like. The purest, truest, brightest feeling of joy and calm. My brain is never quiet, but it was Tuesday.

For a brief moment, I had no worries, no concerns, no fears.

903 days of worry.

903 days of anxiety.

903 days of fear.

Gone.

And that is without a doubt, the most beautiful version of overwhelming joy I think there is. When I realized I was feeling every ounce of worry shed off of me like a second skin, I noticed I was even breathing easier. My anxiety had even made breathing a chore. Not anymore.

Now I get to worry about normal mom things like,

  • What is my kid chewing on?
  • Why is the floor wet?
  • Why do the shoes I bought her yesterday, not fit today?
  • Why is my kid always snotty?
  • Is she going to put me in a nursing home or her basement when I’m senile?

I’ve accomplished a lot of things in my 32 years, but this is by far my proudest moment. And I still have a tiny speck of sanity left. So, today I’m giving anxiety the finger, because as hard as it tried to break me, I won.

 

Stella Frances

Saturday, June 13th, 2015 at around 8:30pm, I answered a phone call. A phone call that would change multiple lives. My case worker was calling to ask me if I would accept my first foster placements. She knew I planned to be an adopt only case, but I had a placement fall through the week before, so she wanted to give me the option first. Case looked good. I accepted.

A few days later, on June 17th, I met my daughter. She was this scared and timid little thing that wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. She was not shy about her displeasure with everything. She never smiled.

After a few months, a lot of tears, prayers, and love, she started smiling and laughing. Then she started talking, which currently never stops. This kid exudes positive energy in her sleep. It’s impossible to meet her and not fall in love with her. Her transformation is mind-boggling. And I got to see it all.

We have been together for 903 days, and today we get to stop counting. We have forever now. That’s a lot of adventures.

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We had a wonderful photographer document our day. I’ll have a more detailed post when the pictures come in.

 

 

A Name.

A name.

We all have one.

It’s what identifies us to the world. Usually, it’s a name you were given at birth. A name that was picked out because of its sound or passing a family members name down. In extremely rare cases, like this, you get to name the personality.

Sassy was born with a name. There wasn’t anything wrong with the name, but a little over a year ago, she asked me for a new one. Knowing her case was headed for adoption, I asked her what she wanted her name to be. At that time, her best idea for a name was “Princess”. I thought about the proposition for a while and came up with three names that I thought best suited her and her personality. She picked her first name without hesitation and has never looked back. Her new first name is as sassy and boisterous as she is. Stella.

Her middle name was no question. I knew I wanted her to have a family name. Once her little personality started to really shine, there was no doubt which grandmother’s namesake she was. Frances Alma Blackwell was one of those women that could cut you down and bless your heart in the same sentence.

She had more spunk in her 90’s than I’ve had in my entire life. She drove everywhere like she was a getaway driver for some sort of terrible crime. I actually saw her hub cap  roll across someone’s front yard from her hitting a speed bump. She told me I was hallucinating.

She was as stubborn as the day is long, and as mean as a snake if she needed to be. She survived losing her husband and son. I’m telling you this woman was as tough as cast iron. As strong as she was, she loved like it was her mission on this Earth. All of us knew how much she loved us.

Nanny was not my biological grandmother. Her son that she lost, was my brother’s dad. When my mother remarried, and found out she was pregnant with me, Nanny was the first person she called. Nanny was more excited about my arrival, than a millennial on Iphone release day. We always had a very special bond, her and I. She would have loved Stella to the ends of the Earth and back.

Nanny was one of those homemade candy making southern grandmothers. Her fudge is making me salivate right now just writing about it. You’re not supposed to make divinity when it rains, she didn’t care. It always turned out perfect. She was like a candy wizard. I loved visiting her on candy making days, when you hugged her she just smelled like butter and sugar. It was glorious. That’s still the memory I go back to anytime I melt butter.

I think the first time I compared Stella to Nanny, was one of the first few months she was with me. Stella was eating, so very slow. So very very slow. The one joke you could always count on being made at Christmas, was something about Nanny’s eating. That woman was the slowest eater on God’s green Earth. When I was about 10 or 11, I called her the day before and asked her to start eating at breakfast. To this day, when Stella takes 4 hours to eat a meal, I start calling her Frances. Stella has several times a day, that I will just stop and laugh and say “Ok Frances” because whatever she just did was 100% Nanny.

There is no other name I could imagine my baby girl having. She is named after the toughest, sassiest, funniest, woman I’ve ever known. That is saying a lot since our family seems to produce extraordinary women. But what’s even more than that, Nanny and I had a bond that was never based on blood or biology, just indomitable love.

Pretty perfect naming story if you ask me, or Stella Frances.

 

 

Sweet November

November is the one month of the year when people purposely sit and contemplate about the things in their lives they are truly thankful for. Most days, being gracious isn’t at the top of my list. In all honesty, most weekdays I’m just trying to make it home after work, through rush hour traffic, without Sassy repeating any of my “traffic words”. We, as a collective whole, don’t take time in our busy day-to-day to stop and be thankful.

This November, is different. This one is special. This month gave me the greatest blessing I’ve ever received in my 32 years of living. This sweet November, I am officially adopting Sassy. On the 17th, I signed the towering stack of paperwork, filled out her new name, and exhaled the biggest sigh of relief imaginable. I think most importantly, Sassy got to go to school with her new name she has been longing to go by for a year. Talk about one happy and thankful little girl.

I’m thankful for amazing friends that recommended the best attorney for the job. Our attorney jumped into action, and miraculously reserved us the last available court date of 2017. I was already told it would be January, and I was fine with that. Yesterday, I received the best early Christmas gift possible. We will go before the judge on December 5th. That’s also my late grandfather’s birthday. My grandfather that adopted my dad. Pretty beautiful if you ask me.

Actual representation of my reaction to everything!

This November, I am thankful for the heartbreak and torment infertility caused me. That’s right, I’m thankful my uterus can’t do it’s one and only job. I’m thankful for every single negative test, for the pain, for the doctors being wrong. I’m thankful for most types of adoptions costing astronomical prices. For God finding a strength in me I didn’t know I had, and sending me to the foster system.

It’s not easy being a foster parent, I don’t sugar coat things. It’s stressful, terrifying, maddening, but yet the greatest thing you will ever do. I’ve spent the past two and a half years on pins and needles, fearing that she would leave me. Knowing I am her mother, but not knowing if that’s what I’ll remain. When they brought her in the room to me all those months ago, I knew right then, she was my kid. Sometimes you just know.

This year, I am thankful for 2 and 1/2 years of labor pains, coming to an end. I’m thankful Sassy has her new name, and that we’re stuck with each other now. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this is National Adoption Month, or that we signed on the same day of the month I took her home. It’s serendipitous to us.

Today, I’m thankful for every single bit of the bad, because I wouldn’t be here with Sassy without it. Sometimes the journey you keep trying to force yourself on, isn’t the one for you. Surviving the storm, makes you find beauty in the rainbow not everyone can see. I can see the beauty in my pain and tragedies now, her name is Stella.

 

 

Finally

Court.

It’s a place I’ve become all too familiar with. A place I have frequented since I became a foster-mother. A place that gives out complimentary anxiety at the door. Two weeks ago today, I sat there, waiting impatiently to hear a judge say the words I had longed to hear for almost two and half years.

He didn’t.

He didn’t disagree or agree with anything. He was taking everything under consideration, which is what should be done when it’s a serious matter such as rights over a child.

They don’t tell you how mentally and emotionally exhausting it is, the waiting. The waiting for someone to tell you that the child you have raised for two and a half years is indeed yours. Of course, not all cases are like this, some biological parents are able to become great parents once they receive the assistance and support of DHR. I’m strictly talking about a case where there is one parent with no resources, no motivation to participate or complete any tasks, and has no means to care for a child. Foster parent shamers can come off the ledge now.

Two and a half years in limbo isn’t fair to any child. That’s more than double the amount of the time it should take to determine someone’s capabilities as a parent and a good human. On the other hand, it’s a pretty heavy matter to take away someones rights as a parent.

The morning of Halloween, I received THE call. The call that told me the judge agreed it’s time for adoption. I’m fairly certain the people in the office next door heard me scream.

My bad.

I didn’t think it through before I told Sassy. I told her once we got in the car. I think I need to get my hearing checked after surviving her squeals of excitement in a car. It was a very happy Halloween.

We have a little more waiting before we can start the adoption. We’ve made it this far, a few more weeks won’t hurt.

Sassy has come so far from the first day I saw her, to now. She was this terrified little soul who didn’t trust any adult. She never wanted to be touched, and rarely smiled. Now, she smiles all the time, survives off of hugs and chicken nuggets, wants to talk to every stranger we see in the grocery store, and is too smart for her own good. She still has some trust and abandonment issues to sort out, but that takes around 7 years to really overcome.

A few more weeks.