A Week in Review

One week ago, our little Fuzzy Bear was taken from our house and placed into the care of his new adoptive parents. But, I’m going to start my post ahead of that point.

Friday afternoon, on September 22nd, I had just finished teaching for the day. Thomas still had two three more periods before the day was over for him. I had 6th period off, and had gone upstairs to work on some grading. I checked my phone to see if the babysitter had sent any texts, to find that Fuzzy Bear’s caseworker had called and left a message. I called him back, only to hear the news that the Ad Lidem (who had never met Fuzzy Bear) and the CPS supervisor (who had also never met Fuzzy Bear) had decided to make a removal permanent before the 12 month mark. He would be leaving sometime the next week, either Wednesday or Thursday.

In tears, I found Thomas and told him the news. The school graciously found a substitute for him, and the two of us left to pick up our Bears together. We called our parents on the way, and my mom graciously agreed to catch the next flight down to be with us for the weekend.

We spent the evening trying to lead a normal Friday evening, but with little success. We were distraught. After putting the Bears to bed, we called a few attorneys to see if we had any chance of intervening. Afterall, we had been Fuzzy Bear’s only family since he was 10 days old, the people making the decision had never even met our little man, and we were only about 5 weeks shy of the 12 month mark. Surely, we had a chance! Each attorney told us that we could try, it would cost a ton of money, and the judge wouldn’t allow our case to prevail. In fact, the attorneys were the ones to explain that this decision was coming at this point in time for the express purpose of preventing us from intervening: they wanted to removal to be quick so that the transition to start as soon as possible. We went to bed, knowing that there was nothing we could do. That was one of the hardest evenings in my life.

We were heart-broken. My mom arrived late Friday night/early Saturday morning, and I think we would have fared far worse without her there. Saturday was spent doing every activity we could imagine. We went to the zoo, and got official pictures of Fuzzy Bear feeding the Giraffe at the zoo. We enjoyed the hippo exhibit (it’s air-conditioned in there) and took several phone pictures of our little family in its last weekend all together. We made sure to hold tight to nap-times, and to get every last bit of snuggles we could. While Bears slept, Thomas and I began writing out lists of all of the things we wanted Fuzzy Bear to take with him, and my mom and I ran errands to find good shoes, get laundry finished, etc. That Saturday night was another of the hardest nights of my life.

That night, I dreamt that Fuzzy Bear had already left, that I had not had the chance to finish packing for him, and I had forgotten to say goodbye. But, I also dreamt that Fuzzy Bear was in his new home, and the parents looked at times like my sister and brother-in-law, who have suffered through a miscarriage. At other times, the parents looked like my Aunt and Uncle, who always wanted children of their own, but could not. Fuzzy Bear was happy, even though I had forgotten to pack or say goodbye. And the parents looked thrilled with him.

On a typical Sunday, the Bears wake up at their usual time, eat breakfast, play, and then take a short nap before church. During their nap, the weather turned stormy. My mom volunteered to stay home so Thomas and I could go for a walk together. As the rain poured, we power-walked our way to the top of a local hill, stood under a gazebo in the rain, and then walked back, almost entirely in focused, determined, sad, but resilient silence.

Sunday, we went to church, where everyone hugged Fuzzy Bear, and our entire family multiple times. Even people who had only visited a couple times came to us and hugged us and told us they would keep us in their prayers. After the service, the church threw a goodbye/birthday party for our little man, complete with helium balloons, a special cupcake, little gifts, and decorations. While Fuzzy Bear might never remember this event, it will always be a treasure in my memory: so many people loving, celebrating, and mourning with us as we said goodbye.

After church, the Bears napped, and Thomas, mom, and I continued our preparations. When the Bears were awake, we spent time video-chatting all of the grandparents (my dad and sister, and my in-laws), and we prayed a lot. We ate Chipotle for dinner (one of our favorite restaurants), and started to draft letters to Fuzzy Bear’s new family. We had done everything in our power to keep him, and now we were determined to do everything in our power to ease his transition into his new family. We wrote our his typical feeding and sleeping schedule, medical history, likes, dislikes, and everything else we could think of. My mom graciously allowed us to distract her with questions even though she had mountains of school work of her own. Again, another incredibly difficult night.

Monday morning, Thomas left for school, and we all said goodbye to my mom. I dropped off all three Bears at the baby-sitters, where all three were spoiled and loved on and snuggled for the entire day. Again, at the end of the day, I found a message from the caseworker. The departure date had been moved up. Instead of leaving on Wednesday or Thursday, Fuzzy Bear would be leaving on Tuesday afternoon.

Again, I found Thomas and told him the news. We submitted lesson plans for the next day, since we had both decided that we would spend our last day together as a family. That evening, Thomas worked on the final drafts of the letter, and I went to Wal-Mart to find good solid luggage for Fuzzy Bear’s clothes, toys, books, and belongings.

That night was the absolute hardest night of my life. Every time I heard a noise from the Bear’s room, I had to fight the urge to rush in, grab Fuzzy Bear, and run away with him. I kept running through the lists of belongings still to gather, lists of more events and activities I had hoped to do with Fuzzy Bear as he grew up.

Monday morning and afternoon was spent packing that suitcase and duffel bag while Bears were asleep, and playing and crying while they were awake. The caseworker came around 3:00. For a split second, I considered locking the door and turning off the lights, and hoping that the caseworker would leave.

The caseworker came in, and asked how we were doing, as if our tear-stained eyes weren’t actually showing the world exactly what we felt. He then told us several pieces of news.

  • Fuzzy Bear’s new parents had been pushing the CPS system in their state to move as quickly as possible, because they wanted to make the transition before an intervention could occur.
  • They had wanted children all their lives, but couldn’t have their own, and had been hoping and fighting to adopt our Fuzzy Bear as soon as they found out about him.
  • They were heart-broken at our pain, and hoped that we would be able to adopt our other two children.
  • They asked if they could be in contact with us, to send us an update on Fuzzy Bear, and to send pictures so we could have closure.
  • The new adoptive father had decided to fly to San Antonio on Tuesday as soon as he heard the news that they had been given permission to adopt, rather than wait for the caseworker to bring Fuzzy Bear on Saturday. He was staying in a hotel about 15 minutes away, anxiously waiting to meet his new son for the first time.

We were thrilled with all of this, and still are thrilled. Adoptive parents have no legal obligation to foster-parents, and so these sorts of steps mean the world to us who have to say goodbye.

We sang a hymn, kissed our little boy goodbye, strapped him into the carseat, and waved goodbye from our front porch. Baby Bear watched his little brother leave, and blew kisses as the car turned the corner.

That evening, we went to our pastor’s house (his wife is our babysitter), and they loved on us with good food, good conversation, and lots of hugs. That night, Thomas and I slept soundly. Wednesday morning, we went in to work, and began figuring out what life looked like as a normal family of four, rather than a crazy circus-family of five.

Someday, I will write about what actually helped us to come to peace with this change. Right now, it’s still a bit too close for me to feel like I can speak well on the subject. But I have to say this: grief is debilitating without a close network of loving, caring, godley relationships that have been developed over time. Without my mom there to help us laugh and cry and prepare all weekend, without our church to both weep and celebrate with us, without our school to shower us with affection and encouragement and time as a family, without our God and His only-begotten Son’s sacrifice, grief can only become despair.

Continue reading “A Week in Review”

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Change in Plans

As of right now, Fuzzy Bear (the 11 month old) will be leaving tomorrow afternoon around 4:00.

We covet your prayers, as we scurry through our last bits of preparation and packing for him, and begin this new, albeit lonelier, chapter in our lives.

Fuzzy Bear Update: When ‘Good’ Means ‘Difficult’

We found out on Friday afternoon that Fuzzy Bear will be leaving us sometime this week. At the most recent update, his departure day is either Wednesday or Thursday.

There are more thoughts coming. As it is, our little family has been grieving this weekend. But, God is good.

  1. My mom flew down late Friday night to be with us the whole weekend. She played with babies, loved on us, and helped us talk through what we need to do to get ready for our Fuzzy Bear to go to his new home.
  2. Our church family threw Fuzzy Bear an early Birthday party, complete with cake, balloons, and presents. These people surrounded our little guy with lots of love and prayer, and will continue to do the same for our little family once he leaves.

Please pray.

  1. That Fuzzy Bear sleeps well the next few nights, and travels safely to his new home. That his new family welcomes him in, and that he adjusts quickly to his new mama and papa.
  2. That Baby Bear can adjust to the empty spot in the family. He loves his Fuzzy Bear so much, and has been spending more time with him this past weekend than usual. We think he knows that something is happening, but we aren’t sure how much he comprehends. This weekend will be hard for him, as he will certainly be upset at us that we won’t bring him his Fuzzy Bear.
  3. That Thomas and I can help each other mourn, while still loving and raising our family. That we rely completely on Christ for his steadfast love.
  4. That we use our time wisely this week, both in spending time with our Fuzzy Bear, while not allowing ourselves time to wallow in our grief.

We thank you, so much, for all of your prayers and encouragements.

Soli Deo Gloria

When Words Come

Lots of bits of news from the house of Bears over here.

First off, the mom-stuff. Baby Bear is using words!!! About three weeks ago, we started to hear him repeat the same noise patterns over and over again. We had no idea what he was saying, and usually he wasn’t even talking to us (his Owl is his therapist), so catching everything clearly was difficult. Since sending him to school, however, he has started to use far more words. 8 months ago, I was becoming frustrated alongside the little guy, because he desperately would scream at me to inform me of what he wanted. I couldn’t understand him, and then Sign Language finally clicked. Since then, his hands have been his primary communication tool. Even now, he asks for ‘milk’, ‘more’, ‘please’, ‘thankyou’, ‘Colonel’, ‘bird’, and ‘water’ with his hands. The past two weeks, however, we have begun to play the “what is Baby Bear saying” game. (‘Outside’, ‘Papa’, and ‘Dekker’ are some of the current favorites.) I’m sure it will get old eventually, but Papa Bear and I have been having a blast with it. What is even more interesting is how quickly Fuzzy Bear has been trying to speak and echo Baby Bear.

Speaking of Fuzzy Bear, he has a nasty cold with a runny nose and congestion, so I’m home with him today. We have watched a movie together, before he went down for his nap, and I started my mountain of grading. I dropped off Baby Bear and IttyBitty Bear at preschool this morning to make my life easier with Fuzzy Bear. (I see now why moms choose preschool or daycare or PDO to give themselves a break.) Hopefully, he will sleep better tonight, and we will be back to our normal schedule again.

Now, legal updates. I’ll do it by Bear.

Baby Bear: His most recent hearing was yesterday, and the judge terminated his biological mom’s rights. There was a technicality that has delayed terminating biological dad’s rights, but he has already said he doesn’t want anything to do with Baby Bear. So, we are one step closer to adoption, but there is still more waiting ahead.

Fuzzy Bear: In the past couple months, three separate home-studies have been submitted by various kin. Last week, we were told that two of these home-studies might be voided on a legal technicality. If this happens, only one other home-study will be considered. We can’t ‘intervene’ with a lawyer until Fuzzy Bear has been in our care for 12 months, which will be towards the end of next month. If we can keep him with us until then, we will be able to intervene if the judge decides to move Fuzzy Bear. We are praying for patience and wisdom, as these lawyers are not cheap, and we honestly want Fuzzy Bear to be in the best home possible. But we also VERY much want to adopt him.

IttyBitty Bear: This little ball of sass is rolling over, growing by leaps and bounds, and simply adores her brothers. But the light of her life is Papa Bear. Talk about a Daddy’s girl! Nothing is moving forward with her case until she is at least 9 months old, so we won’t get anything new on her until the Spring. If we can adopt Baby Bear before then, we will have greater legal standing for keeping our little princess, since they are siblings.

That’s it for now.

Soli Deo Gloria

Legal Updates

I’m a little behind in giving everyone an update, mostly because we have very little information ourselves. But here is what we know and allowed to share over media.

Baby Bear: He has been with us for almost 18 months now, and his next court date is next week. We are hoping that the judge will terminate parental rights, since Baby Bear has not seen any of his family members since October. If he does, then we will get a new adoption worker, and will hopefully move forward with adoption happening around February at the earliest. Of course, these are rather large contingency plans, so we aren not getting our hopes up.

Fuzzy Bear: Parental rights were terminated this past Spring, but the adoption process has stalled, as various extended family have stepped forward to claim him. The only details we know so far is that a couple of these home studies have already been rejected, but a few home studies have been approved. There are also a few appeals happening, which means the process is moving even slower. We have been advised to hire an attorney in case we have to “intercede” to try and keep our Fuzzy Bear. His adoption worker will be making his monthly visit tomorrow, where we will hopefully hear some good news. Please pray that God makes it clear to everyone (especially us), where Fuzzy Bear needs to be. Our case for interceding will be much stronger if we can keep Fuzzy Bear until the 25th of October, since that will be one year and a day since we took him into our care (when he was just under two weeks old). We have also been told that Fuzzy Bear’s mom might be expecting another child, but that she has left the state. It’s possible we might be asked to take in this child (if Bio-Mom is actually pregnant), but you never know.

Itty-Bitty Bear: She is growing like a weed and looks almost identical to her older brother. Her case is separate from Baby Bear’s, but no one has stepped forward yet to claim her. We are hoping that the adoption for Baby Bear proceeds quickly, since then we will have a strong case for keeping Itty Bitty Bear with us as well.

Overall, we are loving having our three little Bears, and have been overwhelmed with the goodness and generosity given to us by so many in our community. Despite the potential pain, God has truly called us and prepared us for life as foster-parents by surrounding us with so many loving, encouraging, and just-downright-helpful people.

Three Little Bears Went to School

We all survived the first day of school for the littles. Fuzzy Bear seemed thrilled with all the friends, and IttyBitty Bear seemed happy and tired. Baby Bear also survived, and we were confirmed again that this child is an introvert. He was completely exhausted after school, but wouldn’t nap. He was most happy while playing outside with an old student of ours, away from everyone else. Fuzzy Bear just looked tired, and went to sleep pretty easily, which we believe is because he is much more extroverted.

The best part of the evening was walking past the Bears’ room and hearing Baby Bear singing “I wuv u, I wuv. Owl. Papa. Mama. I wuv u. Bubba (Fuzzy Bear). ” Yes, it was late. Yes, he was exhausted. Yes, it was still adorable. We will see how tomorrow goes.