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Adoption Awareness

November 14, 2017

No one tells you the heart ache of adoption.  Yes they talk about the long process, the mountain of papers to file, the multiple hoops to jump through.  But no one tells you about the life long attachment disorders that children struggle with from being removed from their birth mom.  No one tells you that children services will treat adoptive parents as if they were any other bad parent if accusations are made.

On the eve of adoption awareness day, my adopted sister became un-adopted.

Is that even a word?

A girl that has lived with us since she was 2.5 and had 14 birthday parties with us as a family.  We are the only true family she has ever known beside her brother who also lives with us.

Today we sat in a courtroom and listened to how children services did their due diligence again.  We listened to how we have rights, more than Cassie about the decisions being done.  I am a nobody to the courts, just a sister, a bio daughter of the parents.  I wanted to stand up and say “BS”  Bull Shataki!  Cassie has had the say from the beginning.  She said she didn’t want to see us and children services said “ok, you don’t have to”.  She said she doesn’t want to go back home and they said “ok, you don’t have to”.   Bull Crap that my parents had more rights than she has had the last ten months!   The judge sat there and annoyingly told my parents that Cassie is just a child and she has no idea what she wants or know what is best for herself.  Children Service has no founded justification for being involved in our family and yet they took permanent custody today.

As far as we know it is over, There is no more contact.  No more visits.  No more court dates. No more information on how she is or what she is doing in life.  She can hide behind the system from now until she ages out of the system.  She is 17.    She has one more year.

I wish her the best…mostly.  A small sliver of my heart is rather bitter right now.

So this morning I had 2 sisters and now I only have 1?  When someone dies you still claim them as family even though they are not here.  This feels worse than a death.  Because she chose this for all of us and is very much alive.

I’ve said it before and I will probably say it until the end of time.  Children Services dropped the ball in this case.  They have taken the word of a documented liar over parents that have been actively involved with support groups, church groups, school groups, and children service classes.  They have treated my parents as if they are criminals guilty of terrible things.  They have allowed a 17 year old girl essentially run away and still be protected from the streets.

I’ve said it all day BS won today.  Those 3 ladies from the system walked out of that courtroom proud of what was accomplished today.  I bet even Cassie walked around school today a little more smug.  What a joke.

I’ll save the tears for another day, because today I am more pissed off then I am sad.  The holidays are quickly approaching and I know they are going to be hard on me.  I had a crazy weird feeling last Christmas that it would be our last ‘normal’ Christmas.  I couldn’t shake the feeling…now I know why.  This Christmas will look so different, but the year after it will be easier and the year after that will be easier.  I know this about life.  It keeps going.  New memories happen and old ones grow dim.

 

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Relinquish 

October 26, 2017

Relinquish. It means to give up. Quit. Let go. 

It’s what was spoken in the courtroom yesterday morning. Discussion of how Children Services has done their due diligence and are acting on behalf of the family.

Bull.  Not in this case. In this case they have allowed a 17 year, known and documented liar, to run the show.  They have not tried to seek family counseling. They have not tried to encourage her to bridge the lines of communication. They have bought into her lies and believe she is an innocent victim needing saved from a vicious abusive family.   They have fed her attachment disorder by allowing her to cut off everyone who ever loved her.   

Relinquish. It’s what the parents decide to do when there is nothing left.  When there is nothing left to be said or done. When there is no hope of ever moving past this as an entire whole family. It’s when the parents accept that their child no longer is theirs. Usually because the parent did something wrong and can’t keep it together. 

But not in this case.  In this case.  Sure there were problems. But not the abuse she has spoke of. She has been a troubled child since the day she came into our home. Addicted. At 2. Contact highs meant she went through withdrawal. Just as if she smoked the joint.  She came to us broken.   For 14 years, I have poured into her. Loving her. Often being reminded she was my sister not my daughter. 

Relinquish.  In this case,  it’s about healing.  It’s about trying to finally stitch up the gaping wound that has been the last 10 months of our lives. It’s about being done. Being done with the monthly visits from a case worker who thinks you’re the worse parents in the world. It’s about being done with the review hearings that only say what terrible people we are and that she wants nothing to do with any of us.  It’s about being done with the theats of testimonies and more accusations every time Cassie gets worried children services will see through her facade. 

I understand why my parents are making the decision. But something about hearing it spoke in an official manner with tones of accomplishment and approval from children services. Something about setting a date to sign the document. I feel like we are one nail from the final one.  It feels like death, but worse because she is still very much alive.  

I’ve never felt this kind of rejection. I’ve never felt a broken heart quite like this. I don’t know what to do with it. I don’t know how to respond to it. I don’t know how to heal and move on from it.  But I know I will, which is so bittersweet. I know from experience that life moves on and that wounds may leave a scar but that’s all they are.  A scar. A reminder of tragedy. A reminder of healing. 

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Come sit at my table! 

September 28, 2017

For years I have wanted a different table.  A table that fits perfectly in my awkward, narrow, tiny space we use for a dining room. A table that will sit my whole family and then some.  A table that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg!! 

This.  

This is what I have wanted!!  

It fits perfectly!!  

It screams “Sarah” 🙂 

My dad is ahhmazzing!!!

Yes, my dad built this table, stained it, and sealed it. 

He even signed it

On our 12th anniversary of living in this home,  my table arrived!  I still smile when I turn the corner and see it snug in it’s space.  I get excited when I tell someone about how much I love it.  

This is the first table my dad has ever built, so of course there are spots he could have done different.  But it’s character and handcrafted with so much love.  

Sometimes I feel like this house is closing in on me.  We had a 5 year plan.  This was supposed to be a starter home.  Unrealistic?  Yes.  But we had lofty ideas! Five years came and went.  Just a couple more years.  We thought we’d add a bathroom or take out a wall.  But here we are 12 years in.  No new bathroom. No walls removed (although, there is a closet with a bigger doorway!  😉). 

It sounds crazy,  but with my new table I feel like I can live here a few more years!!  It’s something new and fresh and it is so beautiful!!! 

Thanks Dad!  I know it’s been a rough year with a lot of junk and name slandering, but anyone who truly knows you, knows that this is who you are.  A man who loves his family dearly and will strive to make them happy. He is a hard worker, willing to build a loft for his granddaughter (also something he has never done) and then turn around and build a table with benches.  

You have found your retired hobby!  

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A public letter to my sister

September 10, 2017

I don’t understand what you have done.  I don’t understand why you did this.  I cannot understand why you are continuing this act.  I will never understand how you could tell such lies… No wonder you are having nightmares and can’t sleep at night.  I loved you, in some messed up Jesus way, I still love you.  I gave so much for you.  I defended you.  I made decisions based on how it would impact your life.  We made plans for the future.  We joked about Thanksgiving dinners and all holiday events.  For the last 14 years I could not imagine a life without you in it.  Without you being a main part of it.  A friend, a sister, a crazy good aunt to my kids…you had me fooled.  I thought our bond was stronger.  I thought I meant more.  I thought I meant as much to you as you did to me.

When you left I was heartbroken.  When you started lies I was angry and hurt.  When you seek to continue to destroy I am flabbergasted.  No one is forcing you to come home.  We got the message loud and clear you want nothing to do with me or my family or your family.  We don’t get it, but we heard you.  I won’t be writing you anymore.  I won’t be sending you anymore pictures that Ruthie draws, you are no longer her favorite aunt anyways.

For 14 years you had a birthday with cake and presents.  For 14 years you had vacations and holiday fun.  For 14 years you had laughter and you were loved.  I have the pictures to prove it.

Stop with the lies. 

Let it be. 

Try to move on from the terrible year you have created for us all and continue on your new life.

3 miles away from me. 

With strangers who get paid to take care of you.

Go ahead.

Take advantage of the psychiatric help…Heaven knows you need it.   I’m not trying to be mean.  I’m just trying to say goodbye.  How do you say goodbye to your sister who you have loved so deeply?  How do you say goodbye to someone you never thought would not be a part of your life?  Someone you thought one day would live with you?  How do you say goodbye to someone that is so lost and is losing the battle for her soul?  Someone who is not dead, but wants me to treat her as if she is?  Someone who steals your public pictures off of facebook and can hide behind fake names?   Someone you love so much and hate so much all in the same sentence?

You have been raised in the church you know that one day you will have to give an answer to all that you have done.  I pray for your soul.  I pray that you allow Jesus to break you and wash you clean.  I pray you find people, good Jesus believing people, to love you and be there for you when that happens.  I wish I could be those people for you, but I don’t think I will be.  This is not what I planned.  This is not how I thought things were going to go.  Satan has got you so tangled up that you can’t even see love.  Bet your nightmares and sleepless nights stop if you fess up.  They will get you the help you need even quicker if they know the truth.  They won’t force you to come home, this I promise.

I know things were not perfect.  No home life is.  But your life was not the lies you are spreading.  You were loved.  You were cared for.

You were wanted.

You chose this new normal for all of us.  You have decided for all of us.

You leftNot us. 

I probably will never understand.

Good-Bye Cassie.  I will miss all of the things that should have been.  I will be sad when I think about all the funny moments that have happened because I will be the only one laughing still.  Like the time mom bought you boots for Christmas or the time you…

You are forever etched in my memories and forever not in my future.

These are some of the songs that have become so important to me over the past 8 months..  Sometimes I listen to them just to cry and pray for you.   Sometimes they blindside me while I am driving down the road.

Even If ~ Mercy Me

Live Like You Are Loved ~ Hawk Nelson

Oh My Soul ~ Casting Crowns

Be  Still ~ Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

Healing Begins ~ Tenth Avenue North

Mended ~ Matthew West

Worn ~ Tenth Avenue North

You Are Loved ~ Stars Go Dime

Even When it Hurts ~ Hillsong United

I have them on repeat in my brain, because truth of the matter is I have not been able to go a day in the last 8 months without thinking about you ~ the good, the bad, the ugly ~ it’s been 187 days and counting since I hugged you and told you that I loved you and heard you say it back.  187 days  that were unnecessary, unwarranted.  I thought about the possibility of running into you at the store or the zoo or on the street ~ you live in the same city!  187 days and counting, I am not sure I would do anything.  Probably stand there in shock, a stranger standing before me that my heart loves deep down, but cannot allow those feelings to be brought to the surface again.  It hurts too much.  Every time I allow it to creep up you light a new match.  I  need to live in the now and I need to love on those that want me to love on them.  You don’t deserve the quiet moments of my day.

Good Bye Cassie Elizabeth.  My heart will always love you, but that does not mean you will be a part of my life.  That doesn’t mean I justify or rationalize what you have done.  It also doesn’t mean you won’t have to answer hard questions if you ever want to come back into my life.  It doesn’t mean I won’t one day forgive you, but on that day, know it will be because I am releasing myself from the bitterness and anguish you have caused.

What it does mean is, I pray you find what you have been searching your whole life for.

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Endings

August 24, 2017

Every time I get myself to a place of  somewhat contentment with this new normal that my adopted sister has given my family, she strikes again.  Her birthday is Tuesday.  I send a letter every month but of course I never hear back.  Children Services probably blocks it all out if they even give them to her at all.  But because of her birthday I bought her a gift and wrote her a long letter, sharing how it’s being crazy to adjust.  Sadly, life goes on and she has missed an entire summer worth of memories.    The letter spoke of a willingness to start a group counseling or something to rebuild a new relationship.  Well, I got the gift back.  The case worker returned it saying she doesn’t want it or anything else from me.

Do you realize how bad that hurts?

But that’s it.  I cannot keep doing this.  I cannot keep allowing myself to go to a place of healing that involves her in it.  She doesn’t deserve my tears.  My thoughts.  My feelings.7a2a746303fc396d9dbda7ebb7108172.jpg

I cannot erase the memories.  I cannot burn all of the pictures.  The fact of the matter is Cassie is my sister.  She has been a very real part of my life for 14 years, but now she is not, by her choice.  For whatever reason she has decided she doesn’t want to be a part of my life or my kids, but it doesn’t change all of the years she was.  I battle the thought that those 14 years were all a lie.  But I just can’t believe that.  At least not on my part.  I can’t regret her being in my life. I can’t regret loving her.  I need to learn what God has for me in this heartache.  I have learned about how God’s unconditional love is beyond amazing.  I have learned to take a step back and see how I am speaking to others and how my children view me.

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This is where I have been the last 8 months.   Waiting.  Hoping. Wishing this was all a bad dream and I am going to wake up soon.  But it’s real life.  She really did all of these things and she really did go away.  I keep waiting for Children Services to force her to fess up.  Force her to face us.  I have lost all faith in the system.  I used to be a foster parent.  I grew up with foster kids.  I also thought they were doing what is best for the children.  But I have seen over the years the cases where they have given kids back to messed up situations and now I am walking in a place where they are protecting a pathological liar.  Allowing her to take up a bed in a home that could be used for the children who truly need it because of abuse and neglect.  Allowing her to live a lie and hurt the only people that ever loved her.  Children Services is not my friend and I have lost all respect for them as a whole.

 

When I saw her in March before I said good bye I hugged her and said I loved her.  She hugged me back and said I love you too.  I think one part of her does love me.  But that part is not winning the battle right now.  She has fooled all the right people and is now cowering behind them.  She knows she did wrong.  The bitter side of me says she will miss us one day.  But she has lite the match and is now watching the bridge burn today.  I can’t unlove her in my past.  But gosh darn it I can stop looking for her in my pictures.  I can stop saying she should be here.  I can stop giving an account of what she is missing and just live my life making a lifetime of new memories with the family that is here.  I can learn from mistakes that were made and words that weren’t spoken.  I can speak gently to my children when I want to scream at them.  I can make sure they know how much I love them even when they drive me batty.  I can stop saying “if Cassie was here” Because she is not and she is not going to be.

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Hard Lessons Suck

June 7, 2017

I’ve been avoiding this post.  Ignoring the lessons God is speaking into my heart.  The last 4 months have not been the easiest. My 16 year old sister has turned our world upside down.  My heart is completely broken.  I go from sad to angry to disappointed to confused in a matter of minutes. I spend holidays and family get togethers with a deceptive smile. Trying to be in the moment, but not being able to shake the feeling she is not there. 

I have searched pinterest to try to attach words to how I feel. 


Sometimes it works,  sometimes it just allows the tears to flow.  I’ve saved clip art after clip art. Saving it doesn’t change anything,  but I have found it somewhat helpful.  Like one day she’ll come across my account and see all of these things and know how I feel. 
Church is doing a series called “Right Now”. It’s been a good one.  It challenges me.  I’m always looking ahead.  Always waiting for the next thing.  Pastor Jeff said we are here right now for a reason.. Yes I’ve heard that before.. But this time I found myself screaming in my heart.  I refuse to believe that my right now is part of some greater plan.  That my heartache is a lesson waiting to be learned and applied. Tears burned my cheeks as he prayed and the band sung.  No,  God.  I do not accept this path. I do not accept this hurt. 

I’d like to say I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and He is helping me accept this better.  I’d like to say I surrendered my circumstances. I’d like to say I’m learning and applying the lessons God is trying to teach me.. again.  No, my response has been teach me a different way.. I do not like this way.  I do not think this is the best way to show me. 

He’s trying to show me how His unconditional love works.  He’s trying to show me how He feels when I don’t rely on Him for my needs. 

Everyday I have this amazing opportunity to be in communication with the Creator of the world.  Sometimes I grab hold and seize the day,  but if I were to be honest those days are not frequent.  God is patient with me.  He reminds me.  He calls me back. Every time. 

I feel beyond hurt.  Beyond betrayed by my sister.  How could she do this? Why would she do this? How can she possibly just walk away as if I didn’t exist or matter?  As if my involvement in her life meant nothing to her?  

But that is what I’m doing to my Heavenly Father.  He has given me everything I’ve ever needed.  He has provided in all areas.  He has sacrificed so much for me..knowing I’d be the way I am. Knowing I’d talk back, run away, and try to hide from Him. He has given it all willingly and freely,  without hesitation or reservation. 

I have a long ways to go and I’ll be honest I’m fighting every step of the way and still struggle with this life lesson being taught like this. But here is where I am.  It sucks.  I cry a lot.  I’m mad a lot. I question a lot. I do not know what anything looks like up ahead.  I do know I’m learning a new normal and God is placing people in my life to navigate through this new normal. 

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Buckle up,  it’s lengthy! 

February 25, 2017

Storms woke up kiddos and unfamiliar spaces call for a long night on the couch.  But,  my mind is awake anyway. Lots swirling around. It has not been a very good season of life for us,  I feel everything is in complete and utter chaos. 

I feel like it’s been like this for almost two years.  Slowly spinning out of control,  losing grip little by little until I’m at a point of total surrender.  I feel myself going through the motions with little emotion. 

I realize life is all about perspective. I get that. No one super close is struggling with a terminal disease. No one is facing massive amounts of oppression.  But in my small little world,  it’s a lot and I’m not handling it with grace. 

Marriage is hard.  There is a lot of give and take. It’s draining. It’s frustrating. It can also be the most fun you’ll ever have with another person. I know I’m not the easiest to love.  I like things a certain way and I enjoy knowing what’s around the corner.  I do not care for change, surprises,  twists,  and wrenches in my life. In the area of marriage I’m closed off,  which really makes it hard to love me. I try to carry the full load,  after all,  I’m home all day. My house should be clean. Dinners should always be homemade and delicious. 

I’m. home. all. day. 

I love that I’ve been able to work from home,  I am so thankful for the opportunity to be home. But sometimes,  I am jealous of Mike,  he gets to go to work!  He gets a break from the kids, the noise, this house!  I’m naturally introverted, so don’t get me wrong,  I like my space.  But I want to be with “my people”, my circle of friends and family on the weekend, I sometimes cringe at the thought of a Saturday home with just the kids.. 

Kids are hard. There is a lot of give.  Sometimes you get back, but kids are needy. My 10 year old thinks it’s OK to talk back,  get sassy,  slam doors,  and sit on her iPod all day everyday. She used to be so sweet and helpful, but we’ve hit the tween stage and I do not like it. Nor do I know how to handle it.  She is a spitting character image of her dad and the two of them can look at each other crosseyeyed and go off.  It’s exhausting to continually feel like I’m the referee. I wish I could make them see how much alike they are and how much they do love each other. Because she really is a daddy’s girl. My 3 year old is sweet as can be,  but because I’m with him and understand his language a little better than everyone else he clings to me.  His speech is improving so much and in familiar places he is becoming more confident. Key word -familiar places.  He still flips out sometimes. He doesn’t like change..even more so than me!  I can’t even rearrange the house without him melting down. Seriously, we still have some Christmas decorations up,  because he flips out when I try to take the downstairs.  The doctor’s office is a nightmare. Never have I wished so much to crawl in a hole. It’s exhausting raising him some days.  I love these two little people so much it hurts. 

My younger sister has lived her entire life in turmoil. Even though we got her at such a young age,  nature is winning over nurture and it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart for my parents,  who have invested their golden years into providing for her. It breaks my heart for her only biological blood she knows. It breaks my heart for my kids. They adore her. It breaks my heart for her.  She is so lost.  So confused. Mentallly unstable. And she’s only 16. Separation has been hard this month,  but it’s been needed.  But the longer the separation,  the more I anticipate a visit. The more I go from sad,  to hurt,  to mad.  Why can’t nurture win?  Why can’t she accept our love?  Or is it why won’t she?  Is this her true heart of hearts decision?  She is too young to be out in the real world, especially with her unstable behavior. The world is not full of people that love her and want what’s best for her. She thinks she’s better off,  but she is not safe out there! 

Money sucks.  Just when I think we have a handle on something we rack up 100s of dollars in medical bills.  I think we have a saving solution only for it to be taken away in the upcoming months.  Job switch,  business loss, sickness,  and general time restrictions have been super rough to start the year.  The idea of moving was dangled in front of us,  yes it would have been an adjustment. But to get out of this 2 bedroom house would have been nice.  To give the kids their own rooms,  would have been nice. To save on a mortgage would have been nice.  But now that’s not happening and we get to navigate the kids disappointment along with our own.

I have a very good friend at my daughters school. She is maybe half the reason I love this school so much! She listens to my craziness,  she says the bad words for me when I joke about not being able too. Today,  well,  yesterday,  she said OK,  that’s all the crap going on now give me some positives!  It’s the first time she’s ever said that.  It’s the first time she’s ever challenged me to get out of my funk and see the positive. I didn’t know what to say. 

In that moment, I had a hard time even giving her two.  I feel consummed by it all.  I feel like there has been no moving forward. It’s the dumbest thing,  because I know how to make it better.  I know if I refocus and dial into my relationship with God all else will either align,  or at least be calmer in my spirit. My spiritual example would impact my daughters attitude.  My soft spoken words to my husband would change how he responds.  My trust in God’s provision would calm my outlook on our finances.  

I know this

I have mulled over her challenge all day and now all night!  It really bugged me because I don’t usually think of myself as a negative Nancy.  I am typically a little better with the fake smile here and there.  But she sees me. She sees it all and called me out. 

Over 12 hours later,  here are some of my positives.  

~I have a roof over my head. In this world,  you don’t have to drive far to find someone on the corner begging for money,  holding a sign of homelessness. My house is small,  but we are dry,  warm, and safe to rest peacefully. 

~I have two healthy kids. I was told I might not have kids. I was told I was lucky I even got pregnant with one let alone two! My kids are here with me and overall healthy to live full lives for many many years. 

~I have a hard working husband. He is a commission only worker. He goes out everyday and works to provide for us,  knowing his paycheck is only as good as his sales are. That amount of pressure can be unnerving. 

~I have amazing friends. I have these 5-6 ladies in my life that are there for me. They ask the hard questions. They speak life into me when I need it.  They say bad words when I can’t and pray when there are no words to be spoken. They are all from different walks of life, in fact the only reason any of them know of each other is basically through me. I call them “my people”!  Each of them bring a different dynamic to my life. They are who I need to survive.

~I have a patient Heavenly Father.  Perhaps the best positive there could be.  I am never alone. I will never be forgotten. I am never too far gone. He is always there willing,  wanting,  waiting for me to get back into communion with Him. 

So while this season is rough and frankly I don’t see it necessarily getting better over the next few months/year,  the way I approach it and process it could make all the difference.  It’s time to get my heart realigned with what I have known in my head all along.