Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes…

In May, we went to family court to start to determine what was going to happen as far as Mary’s permanency was concerned.  Mary’s birth mom felt that if she didn’t commit to signing a Conditional Surrender ([CS]signing over your parental rights with certain conditions attached) she would never be able to see her daughter again.  She figured that the court would see her as unfit and decide in our favor and that the termination of her rights by the court and not of her own volition, is not what she wanted.  Signing over her right would allow her to negotiate the terms of the surrender, and she would essentially be in charge of her own fate.

Before court that day, in fact, once they switch Mary’s track from reunification to adoption, Callie and I had been discussing what the conditional surrender would look like if Mary’s birth ever even considered it an option (initially was very adamant that she would NEVER, EVER sign a surrender!).  We decided initially on no visits and bi-annual emails.  Eventually, we put our own feelings aside when we really started listening to Mary and what she wanted.  She absolutely wants to be able to see her mother and her baby sister and loves them dearly.  Having grown up without knowing or having access to my biological father has affected me in ways that I didn’t even know until multiple therapist have brought it up!  After really talking this one out, we wanted what was best for Mary emotionally, developmentally, and mentally.  We figured keeping her connected to her birth mom was important for her, and as her moms, we wanted to make that happened.

A few days after all of the paperwork was signed in court, we doubled down on our promise to Mary about keeping her connected to her birth family by sending her mom an email.  We wanted to makes sure that if we were going to begin to foster a relationship with B-Ma (Birth Mother), we wanted to establish some ground rules and really, tackle the elephant in the room. That BY LAW we are now her mothers, and BY LAW she was not.  Callie and I sat over the course of the next couple of days deciding the best way to address our current predicament.  Callie has a much more gentle and well rounded approach. I am a lot more direct and tend not to sweeten or soften things up, so most of our time was spent reviewing the email and her telling me that I can’t call her a ” drug addict who needs to get her life together because you have two kids that aren’t in your care, and how many damn chances do you need?!?!”.  We sent an email expressing our concerns about beginning a relationship with her and how her behavior and  inability to be consistent and present for Mary is detrimental to her.  That in order for our relationship to work and for her to be a part of Mary’s life besides the 4 quarterly visits a year, we needed to be able to trust her.  We needed to be able to take her word.  We needed to be able to communicate effectively. That we needed to see for ourselves that she was committed to being an active member of Mary’s life.  Of all those things though, our emphasis was TRUST, because honestly the only information that we have to go on and the only experiences we have with her have proven to us that “trustworthy” is probably the last quality would we would think of to describe her.  In fact, if actually asked that question, I don’t think “trustworthy” would be a word that we would even think about!  But, we sent the email.  And, she responded, an was so happy and excited that we were willing to give the opportunity to be in her daughter life.  We’ve been corresponding quite a bit.  In fact, she even bought Mary a ton of summer clothes and sneakers, a new writing journal for her stories, and underwear and socks.

In compliance with the CS, we’ve been in touch with Mary’s caseworker (since she is technically still a ward of our county, Dept. Of Social Services is still responsible until adoption is fully granted) who is responsible for setting up the first meeting of these quarterly visits. After going back and forth most of July with B-Ma about making arrangements for a visit in August, they decided that Mary’s Visit with B-Ma would be 8/2.  Our worker ended up having a family emergency that day and had to reschedule. So they did, for 8/9, but because of transportation issues with Mary going to camp outside of our county, they had to reschedule the visit again to submit a request for out of county transport and it required 14 days to approve.  Visit now scheduled for 8/24.  After emailing a few times, and B-Ma being in contact with the caseworker, everything was on track.  Wednesday morning, we sent Mary to camp with one of the outfits her mom had given her and a huge smile on her face.  She boarded the bus, gets to the facility, meets her worker, hugs him, gets in the elevator and heads up to the visiting room only to find out that B-Ma….

Didn’t show up!  She didn’t freaking show up!  After all of the emails, all of the confirmations, all of the arranging and re-arranging to accommodate her!  After a clean drug test 3 days before.  After having discussed in detail what her missing visits does to our daughter and how it is so detrimental to her!  After all of that and you don’t show up?!?!?!   Are you serious!?!  And you want to know why?!  Because her boyfriend, the new babies father, didn’t leave her a Metrocard (A $2 and 75 cent fucking card!) to take the bus, and she didn’t bother calling, better yet, EMAILING the worker who has NO ACCESS to his computer during a visit, until 11:20 when the visit started at 11!  You guys!  You have to read her email and her desperation to see her daughter because 3 months is “the longest I have gone without seeing my baby”, which is bullshit because she disappeared for over 6 months a year and a half ago!  And then you don’t fucking show up?! So, our worker, who is incredible, took Mary outside to the waterfront, to eat Icee’s and play I-Spy, and after the hour was up, put a really upset kid back on a bus to camp, to sit in her own sorrow the rest of the day.

Luckily, it seems like Mary is kind of over her B-Ma, and we’re cool with that.  I think that she is starting to recognize that her mom is just never really gonna be good at making the right choices.  Despite the days events, she was in one of the best moods I had seen her in all summer.  I think the concert at the park, gourmet grilled cheeses for dinner, unlimited use of my Pokemon GO app, and ice cream cones before bed helped make it better, for sure!  But I couldn’t let it go!  I wrote.  And I wrote. And I wrote.  And Callie edited, edited edited!  And an email was put together reminding B-Ma that that was strike one of two, and that we aren’t going to be doing this anymore.  That Mary is our daughter and we treat her and love her like our own flesh and blood.  That she is our first baby, and that as parents we would do anything to protect her from being hurt.  That we would do anything to ensure her happiness.  And that we would not allow her to continue to hurt her. No, we will NOT be rescheduling your visit.  You can see her in November.  And NO, we will not make up lies and tall tales to protect Mary from your inconstancy.  And mainly that we, unlike the system, are not paid/inclined to give her a million chances, and that we will absolutely, without question, no longer tolerate all of your fuckery!

She hasn’t responded.  Not sure if she will.  Callie blames her missed visit on forgetfulness.  I blame the forgetfulness on pregnancy brain…oh yeah, I filed to mention…She’s pregnant again…

 

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10 Things They Shoulda Told Me!

As a seasoned parent*, I think it’s important to let people know the things that no one told me about parenting that I learned along the way…

  1.  Buy stock in “insert favorite lotion here” – They fail to tell you how many times a day you will wash and sanitize your hands, bottles, toys, your kids hands, and pretty much anything that comes in contact with a teething infant/toddler or two.  I think we have spent more money on lotion for these dry hands in the past 19 months than we have in about 19 years combined!
  2. You don’t have to take the kids to the Dr. for EVERYTHING – after you have made your first round of sicknesses with your kids, you basically know what a stomach bug looks like for your kiddo and how long it takes for them to get over it.  If my kid has had diarrhea for 2 consecutive days with no fever and general crankiness, chances are it’s a….you guessed it! Belly bug!  Don’t need a $20 co pay for that! (NOTE:  Please take your kid to the doctor if you don’t know what the hell is going on!)
  3. Your body will hurt like you got hit by a truck– I don’t know why I didn’t think of this.  Did I expect to be in the best shape of my life when I decided to have kids? No, I didn’t expect that at all.  But I also didn’t expect to feel like I got hit by a semi, run over by 2 consecutive F-150’s, then compressed in a garbage truck, and spit out into bed only to be woken up at 3am with a grinding pain in my hip and a pang in my elbow.  This, all from playing for THIRTY MINUTES at a kids play space, but also and usually from bending and reaching to pick up a 20+lb toddler, I dunno, about a THOUSAND times a day!
  4. Stretch IMMEDIATELY after getting out of bed – re-read number 3.
  5. Watch the most hysterical movie you have ever seen and practice not laughing – This is for reals people!  Some of the things my kids say and do warrant a spanking, ONLY because it’s so damn hilarious  that it’s not right that I should have to be subjected to NOT laughing at it!  So unfair, but also, such a big deal.  Being aware that I have a ridiculous sense of humor and laugh at everything, I try my best to implement the RAR system (Reprimand and Run) in our house, but Callie reminds me that if they are ever going to take me serious as a disciplinarian (which I am not!) I’m going to have to stop laughing every time they do something that’s not ok.  Throwing their food from the highchair, blowing raspberries with a spoonful of green bean puree in their mouth, and beating her brothers (who were cracking up by the way) over the head with a light up Styrofoam stick (guys, it was freaking hilarious!!!!) is behavior I should be correcting and not laughing at.  “The Pest”, “Bridesmaids” and “Old School”, I’m just gonna have to watch you a few more times for practice.
  6. Snacks will be EVERYWHERE – If someone would have told me this, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said, “obviously”, but I don’t think I ever imagined the sheer amount of snacks found pretty much, everywhere.  Those Cheer.ios you gave your baby last week? Somehow, they showed up in his diaper this morning.  Those gummy snacks you gave your daughter 2 weeks ago?  At the bottom of the laundry machine fusing a sock, a t-shirt sleeve, and the insert of Mama’s nursing bra together.  I think if I picked up every snack that’s in 2 car seats, a booster seat, and the floor, I will probably accrue about 2 boxes of cereal, a pouch of goldfish, a party sized pretzel bag and enough raisins to circle the globe about 3 times.  I know that if we didn’t have money for food, we could live off of the crumbs in our car for a good 3 months.  Also, our car is somehow a sandbox.
  7. Phantom cries are a real thing – And you can get really hurt answering a “cry”. Example: I knew I was home alone, no kids anywhere to be found.  I decide, “No kids! Awesome!  I can take a long shower and tackle some of this self grooming I have long been neglecting,” and half way through said shower, our cat must have knocked something off of the table and then, crying.  Lots and lots of incessant crying.  So of course, I run out of the shower sans towel, into the living room to see what happened.  But not before I became a Gold Medal Olympian, because you see, the “slide and split” I did would have earned perfect 9’s across the board, but add in “buck naked” for difficulty and VOILA!  Hello Tokyo 2020.  If you have no kids at home before you go into the shower, chances are, there won’t be any kids at home during and after your shower, soooo….
  8. Your house/apartment/living space can dub as a daycare classroom and has the vaguest semblance of a previous life –  I know this because when my 3 tiniest kids and my niece come over, I am officially in NYS ratio. 4:1.  4 kids.  One adult.  My apartment actually IS a daycare center pretty much every day of my life.  I’ll let that sink in a little.
  9. Cleaning noses without tissues will absolutely happen – that’s right folks!  And you won’t think twice about it.  You’ll do this more times than you can count in the first 2 years of your kids lives.  And if you have twins or triplets, yeaaaaah…Might wanna consider the color of those next pair of pants when your kid has had a runny nose for a couple of days.  I have to say, I probably shouldn’t have work these black pants today…
  10. Giving toddlers choices is so awesome, and also so dumb – Every morning before daycare, I give my boys an option of what “snack” they would want with their milk (breakfast before breakfast option to keep them calm in the car on our way to daycare because I don’t have time to go home and change my pants since they’ve been crying  ” ‘nack!” for 15 minutes and there are no tissues in sight!) .  I hold up two different things.  “Would you like this (shows #1) or this (shows #2)? This or this?”  and the response is generally, and by generally I mean ALWAYS “ooohhhh dis!” and then grabbing both things!  Then of course, I get stuck remembering #5 and, why do I even bother giving them choices because it’s so damn funny!!! We leave the house, Sippy Cups filled with milk resting on laps, an apple-cinnamon rice cake in one hand and a box of raisins in the other, neither of which get eaten because hands are busy and juggling a box of raisins while trying to drink milk with a rice cake in your mouth doesn’t really work when you’re 19 months, so then of course, #6 happens.  But I can’t pick anything up because I forgot to stretch yesterday morning and went to Billy Beez and now I’m out of commission for the whole week, so that rice cake is just gonna have to sit there until a phantom cry wakes me out of my sleep reminding me that Levi is probably “crying” because he left his rice cake in the car 3 days ago!  Not that it would make a difference if I got it or not, because when he IS actually crying at 6:30am for a rice cake, he’ll remember his choice of fruit bar from 2 weeks ago and choose that instead!

Friends, being a parents is hard, hard work!

*By “seasoned parent” I mean last night, while my kids were helping me cook, they accidentally knocked Adobo all over the counter and on my hand.

…and the Living is Easy?

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July 4th, 2016

Friends,  it has been quite the summer so far!  Some things a little more major than others, but very, very busy.  Signing adoption paperwork, free concerts in the park, first family vacation sans any kind of help, meeting diblings, surgery, potty training (read:dying), amusement parks, interviews for promotions, actual promotions (!!!), planning a camping trip with 3 KIDS UNDER 2!, first time at the beach for the kids, loads of swimming, loads of working, loads of fun!

So, signing paperwork!  We are a good portion of the way to finalizing Mary’s adoption.   We went in to speak with our adoption lawyer, signed all of the various documents that all basically say, “So you’re gonna keep this kid and not give her back, right?  You get that, right?  And you are you sure?”  So we signed away, confirmed with Mary one last time that she was sure she wanted to change her last name, and that it was her choice, and that no matter WHAT name she used, she would always be out best girl, our first baby, and still our family.  She decided “Mendez” was where it’s at, and even asked if she can put it on her soccer jersey even though she wasn’t officially adopted yet.  Also, soccer?  This kid is seriously the next Brandi Chastain.  She’s fast as hell, has amazing footwork, and is so damn dedicated to being “the best I can be.  I know there’s no such thing as perfect Mama, but watch!  I’m gonna do it!”  Missed tryouts and STILL got selected for the “A” team, is starting on said “A” team, and coach called me just this morning, to let me know that he was able to get her a scholarship to go to the week of soccer camp that we couldn’t afford and that we both felt she would benefit from and agreed that it was such a shame that she couldn’t do it! Also, Christine Lily will be leading practice for the girls on the final day!!!!  I was beyond excited for this…my daughter?  “Who’s that?!?”  GASPPPP!!!!!!  Sooo, we had to google a ton of games from the 1999 Women’s World Cup.  Oh nostalgia, you’re so good to me….

Family Vacation 2016 – We decided to brave a 5 hour drive with an 8 year old (who asked “are we almost there?!?!” every 20 minutes from the second that we left the house in the whiniest voice you have ever heard!), 2 toddlers who only allowed us to listen to Raffi’s “Six Little Ducks” (also dubbed “Six Little SUCKS!”) and watch the same 23 minute and 47 second Baby Einstein Animals video on loop the ENTIRE TRIP, and an awesome chubby little 8 month old that allowed us only 6 minutes of peace and quiet before waking his sleeping brothers with a shriek and reminding his sister that “NO! We aren’t there yet, obviously, because otherwise we wouldn’t be stuck in this car listening to “Six Little SUCKS!” and a crying baby wake up the freaking dead, so please, or so help me God don’t. Ask. Me. Again!!!”, and made our way to Provincetown on the Cape in Massachusetts.    We made it, barely in one piece, unloaded the car and chucked everything into our cottage, and then loaded the kids up in the van again to meet…Diblings.  I know!!  Not only was this our first family vacation, on our own, without our parents or siblings around to help us, but also the first time we are meeting 2 of the families that we have connected with who’s children share half of the same DNA as our kids!  It was…interesting, to say the least.  We spent such little time with them (when you have 4 kids on 4 different schedules, you can’t really “make plans”) and had to leave a couple of times because of melt downs or naps or meals, but ended up meeting with one of the couples again that evening at their hotel and had a nice time talking to them and getting to know them.  The other family we met in the parking lot as we were getting our van to make our trip home.  Lovely couple.  I will say though, that we connected with one couple more than the other, and also realized that the only thing that connects us all is this random man, who made a donation, and then we randomly selected the same man to help us make our dreams come true.  Otherwise, we are all so vastly different that it was interesting to hear how we all came to the decision to use the same donor.  I will say though, the resemblance between all of our kids is uncanny!  The rest of vacation was so awesome, especially for Mary.  She got to meet another girl, who was adopted, by two moms, who’s middle name was Mary, and shared the exact same birthday!!!  Talk about the right place at the right time!  Loads of activities for every child of every age, lots of groups for parents to get information (and free childcare!), Clam Bake and Lobster Dinner, animals at the library, End of Family Week party that our kids absolutely LOVED!!!  I absolutely recommend, if possible to make it out to the Northeast and doing Family Week at least once with your kids.  You will not regret it.  Also, SHOUT OUT to the Family Equality Council for doing the damn thing!!!IMG_5359[1]IMG_5421[1]IMG_5344[1]IMG_5406[1]

Callie’s job was bought by another company and they did a whole bunch of reorganizing of positions.  To make a long story really, really, really short (it’s a pretty freaking long story!) Callie’s position was eliminated in September and she was going to just ride it out, even though they had comparable positions available.  They weren’t what she wanted and we were absolutely OK with her staying home again.  Turns out, a co-worker who’s toes she didn’t want step up must have BOMBED on her interview (even though she was super convinced that she had gotten it) at which point Callie decided she would go for it, and wouldn’t you know, she NAILED IT!?!?!?  She did y’all, and now, shes the boss, again!  Better scheduling, pay, and commute!  2 hours now has turned into 30 miuntes 3 days a week!  Also, a management position opened up at my job that I intereviewed for and should know by Monday the latest weather I got it or not.  Friends, I have to admit, it looks promising!  Still in HR, still with the same people, just more money, better benefits.  Wish me luck!

Luck with the possible new job but also with this…IMG_5505[1]IMG_5492[1]

I’m not even gonna speak on this but, send help!

First time at the beach (which they absolutely LOVED) and hanging out on Papa’s boat (Papa is also new.  Thought it would be Grandpa,  but NOPE! Papa!) IMG_5247IMG_5500[1]

Surgeries…Our home is no stranger to the blood curdling scream of a child woken up out of his sleep from the stabbing pain of an ear infection. Noah in particular has been plagued by them since he was about 9 months old. From November through June, just over 7 months, he had 6 ear infections, most double. 3 in May and June. Finally, we figured it was time to go see an ENT to see what was going on. Noah had a good amount of fluid trapped even though he had been on antibiotics for 2 weeks and was ear infection free for at least one more week. They did a test to measure the pressure and it was all off. The doctor wanted to wait 6 more week to make a final decision about what to do. In those 6 weeks we did some research, spoke to some people, tried some holistic stuff, and nothing. Went back for a follow up and no difference in the amount of fluid. We were so opposed to getting him tubes….until, until my heart broke when they did an audio/visual hearing test, and I cried my face off because my son could not hear. The 2 lowest whispers got no reinforcing singing puppets banging on light up plastic drums. No monkey laughing and banging cymbals together when Noah failed to turn his head because he didn’t hear his name whispered through the 1’x 1′ speaker in the corner. The devastation that I felt at being so adamant about not getting by poor, hearing impaired baby tubes to clear the fluid from his ears. I signed the paperwork right then, and surgery was last Thursday. Everything went great, and now, with his new titanium bionic tubes, he’s already much much clearer in his speech and he watches you more intently to see how your mouth moves. He went from saying “Yate” in the morning to saying “Jake” in the afternoon. It was unreal. He startles much easier, and since surgery has had a hard time going to sleep (maybe it’s too noisy now ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ , who knows) but otherwise, things here are great and I could never regret a decision that gives my child their best chance at life. These moms are so, so happy.    

Also, Mama is gearing up for surgery. I’ve had a lot of health issues since I was about 20, and they’ve gotten worse lately. I have tried everything I can to get my health on track for about 10 years now, but most are weight related and PCOS makes it impossible to lose a good amount of weight (and keep it off!) and finally, FINALLY, with this bomb ass insurance, am finally able to get this taken care of. I’m on track (lots of preliminary stuff) and surgery possibly in November.  So excited and so scared at the same time. 

And finally, if you have free summer concerts at local parks, make that happened! They have absolutely enriched our summer, and have also taught my kids to dance and keep time and cadence with the music and I absolutely love that!!!​


Also, how freaking cute are Human Puppy Boys?!?! Clearly rhetorical! ​


And just because…​