So What’s One More?!?

When Callie and I decided to become parents, we went back and forth about how many children each of us wanted.  I was easily talked off the “19 Kids and Counting” ledge, and I tried my best to help Callie creep a little closer to the “Maybe Brady” mentality.  We met somewhere in the middle of my ideal family of 7 kids and 2 moms and her “I hated being 2 kids so 3 is more my speed”, and settled on 5.  Until we had 4!!! I swear to you, about 6 hours from our youngest being born, our thoughts became audible when a massive “FUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKK THAT” could be heard in our hospital room when someone had the audacity to ask us if we were thinking of having more.  Or maybe we just imagined that!  Who knows!  We were delirious.

We’ve gone back and forth several times about the subject of baby #5.  Some weeks (when we are totally head over heels again and find that cute little pocket of “how we used to be when we first met”), we are ALL OVER baby #5, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that our relationship has been, well…”going through it” right now.  I haven’t really talked about this in depth, but Callie and I have been going to therapy bi-weekly because things have been less than stellar at home. My wife is a hoarder collector of things (diagnosed or not!) and it is a HUGE source of contention in our house/relationship/family life.  I grew up in a house that was immaculate.  No, I’m serious!  Like, NOT normal immaculate, so I’ll give Callie that one.  But she also grew up in a house where I had no idea there was a dinner table because it was literally a mountain of CRAP (still is!) in the middle of the dining room.  A space where you have to shimmy down the hall to get to the bathroom (which also, I refuse to use…you get where I’m going with this!).  Totally not normal either!  I just want to live somewhere in the middle, and that has become increasingly difficult because now she is not just hoarding accumulating things for herself, she is also hoarding amassing everything that belongs to the other 4 members of our household.  Good thing is, things are getting better, communication has been WAY more effective, and we’ve been able to find more middle ground about all of the totally useless shit Callie’s “valuables”.  Most of the past 6 months have been a lot of working on communicating, finding middle ground/compromise, and learning how to bend and give in sometimes.  We’re not perfect (wellllllllllllllllllllllll…. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) but we’re working on being good spouses which I think got a little lost somewhere in the chaos of 3 under 3, and a moody, likely hormonal, premenstrual Pre-teen! (SEND HELP!)

So the prospect of my already so loved 5th child has been dwindling because of, well, life, and I have to admit, it stings a little.  Sometimes it feels like 4 is just the perfect amount of kids, and sometimes I do headcounts in my head when we go out and I automatically say “…4 ANNNNDDDD 5!” without really thinking about it, and suddenly my heart gets so sad about Littlest Mendez possibly being a figment of my imagination.  As I’ve been stewing over this (im)possible decision and life change, and also grappling with the craziness that is OUR LIVES ALREADY, I decided, “You know what?!  Now isn’t really the time.  Maybe it’s NEVER really gonna be the time.  We are so busy with the 4 we have already.  Activities are expensive! Time and efforts are already spread so thin.  GROCERIES! Individually dedicated time is hard enough with FOUR let alone five!  Now isn’t the time!”

And no sooner do I utter those words, do I get a phone call:

“Hello Mrs. Mendez!  This is Ms. S from the Resource Unit at ::Government Agency::  We have a 7 month old little boy that has been sitting in the Pediatric Unit since 10 am (currently 4:45pm) and we haven’t been able to find placement for him.  Would you and Mrs. Mendez be interested in caring for him?”


“I’ll let you speak to her, and then you can give me a call back and decide.  He’s such a good baby.  Severely neglected, head is very flat, has no muscle control, and can’t sit up or hold his bottle yet, but he is so oblivious and won’t stop smiling and laughing.  He has blue eyes and dirty blonde curly hair.  If she has any questions, have her call me and I can give her more info! Even if it’s just temporary for a few days until we find a permanent placement, he needs somewhere desperately!”

“Ummmm….ummmmm…ummmm…ummmm, sure! I’ll call her!  Let me get back to you!”

I give Callie a call, but she already knew what was going on.  She had already heard the voicemail because apparently the worker had called her first.  Callie of course had her reservations becuase FIVE KIDS with 4 UNDER 4, but she called and had a few more questions answered about the biological family, the conditions he was found in, if they have any immediate concerns and things like that.  (SB: Callie is MUCH MUCH better at the “nosy neighbor” thing than I am.  She can formulate about 100 questions before I can think of just ONE!)  After speaking to the worker, Callie called me back to let me know what she thought, and she thought a hell of a lot of stuff.  We talked about our concerns, our hopes, our reservations, our interest in investing time and energy into an infant that likely has some developmental and emotional delays.  But one thing sealed the deal.

His name.  This past year, I have begun to restore my faith in Something bigger than me.  And before Callie and I had spoken, I asked the Universe and God to send me a sign and let us know what to do.  When Callie told me his name, I knew!  My heart, OUR hearts knew!  His name was the same name that Callie and I spent my entire pregnancy arguing about.  She wanted to name Austin, well, Austin, and I wanted a different name.  A 4 letter name to match Levi and Noah, but she wasn’t having it!  When they told us that the baby had the name that I so desperately wanted for our youngest son, Callie and I looked each other in the eyes and knew.  We just knew he had to be with our family, albeit temporary, but we have to see what this “5 kids” thing is about.

So, at 6:15pm Wednesday 8/23/17, just over a week ago, Little R joined the Mendez’s.  He is a smiley boy, with big expressive blue eyes, adorable puffy little lips, and this tuft of wiry dirty blond hair.  He was kept in a car seat most of the time, so even when you pick him up, his little legs stay in a sitting position, and his head really issssss super flat, so we’ve been avoiding putting him down if we can (get those back and neck muscles strong), offering super cuddle puddles with ALLLLLL the kids (because from what we understand there wasn’t a lot of interaction or human contact for him), singing to him, rocking him, and giving him LOADS of tummy time.  Even the teachers say they see a pretty significant improvement from last week!  Guys, I have to say, this baby is a dream!  He is the least trouble of all of the kids, sleeps from 6:30pm to 6:30am without waking up, and even when he is tired or hungry, it’s two little cries and wait. That simultaneously makes me really happy (YAS!!! No crying infants!) but also really sad (did no one ever come to this crying infant that he doesn’t even bother!?!)

So, at least for now, we are a family of seven. Two ladies who lost their damn minds, a prepubescent almost 10 year old daughter (LORDT, help us!), 3 toddlers (enough said!), and an infant who couldn’t have been a better addition to our family!







When “Mom” Shows Up…

It’s been MONTHS since Mary’s mom has shown up.  Last time was sometime in early March to be exact, but just once and Mary didn’t even get to see her.  Before that was mid January.  We’ve dealt with meltdowns, turmoil, questions like you wouldn’t believe, and really, thing that shouldn’t be asked by a 7 year old. 

“Is my mom dead?”

 “Is she sick in the hospital?” 

“Who’s gonna take care of my mom when she’s old and sick?” 

“Did she have the baby yet?!”

“Is my baby brother or sister gonna be a foster too?!”

“Did my mom forget about me?”

“Does my mom not love me anymore?”

These shouldn’t be things that a 7 year old should be concerned with. Does my mom still love me, should NEVER be a question that a kid asks, let alone even starts to think about.

Friday, Mary’s mom showed up.  It took about 100 emails, countless phone calls, visits to her home with no response, and a ton of prayers, both silent and outloud, with Mary leading, before FINALLY! last Wednesday, she showed up to the caseworkers office.  She left a note stating her new address. No number. No time to be contacted.  No, “Hey Lady! I’m alive and well!” Nothing! Smart on her part, considering EVERYONE who has ever dealt with the foster care system in our county KNOWS that the workers ALL have court on Wednesday.  Super smooth.  

The worker shows at her house.  No answer.  Karen (our worker) sends a letter to meet her Friday in her office.  Surprisingly, mom shows.  “I love my daughter and I want to see her! When can I see her?! I didn’t f*ck up too bad, did I?” ( Im pretty sure she batted her eyelashes a little when asking).  By law, she is entitled to visits.  By our judge, she has to take a toxicology test and not test positive.  Our caseworker claims that when she saw her, she “didn’t look intoxicated”.  I think looks can be deceiving. 

Mary has completely been a different child since we have been getting more honest about the outcome of her case.   180 different!   The therapist says the not knowing was causing severe anxiety.  We agree.  “We may be your forever family, honey” we say to her. 

“You’re just my real moms,” she says.  

“I’m gonna be a Mendez too!” she’s vocalized.

“What if the judge makes me go back with Mom and I wanna stay here?!” Good question my CooCoo. Really. Good. Question.

She has a visit with mom coming up on Thursday.  Her next Tuesday therapy visit was cancelled. Not good.  She has no idea she might be seeing mom.  We have no idea what will happen after she sees her.  We’re scared we have to start all over again. My heart hurts to know that she’ll cling to her mother and probably cry most of the visit and I can’t cuddle her and tell how much we love her and love having her in our family.  We’ll have to wait until she gets home, in a fit of resentful rage, wondering why she has to come back to our house, and not back with mom. It’ll be hard.  Really hard.  With lots of tears and snot, and that’s just us! Poor Mary will have nightmares, not want to go to school the next day.  Need more attention than we can muster with me working full time and Callie watching 3 kids until I get home, 2 of which are hardly 5 months old. 

Will mom hate us and will it taint our “relationship” when Mary tells her mom we said she’s “sick in her brain”, because you know, you can’t always see “sick”, our child friendly way of saying “dealing with addiction”?  Will it be more difficult to see Mary and spend time with her if, you know, this screwy system ends up sending her back home? Will the caseworker defend us when mom is flabbergasted that we would “badmouth” her to her own flesh and blood?!

We are unsettled today, gearing up for this visit.  We are considering a conditional surrender just to get it over and done with, even though that’s not really what we want.  We love the shit out of Mary.  She’s our one and only daughter.  She’s our baby.  She’s our heart.  She’s Mamá’s best bud.  I’m nervous, and I can’t shake it.  It’s gonna be hell in a day and half a time.  

We’ll be strong, we’ll push on and keep on trucking like the family that we are, but someone will be angry, someone will be resentful, someone will be jaded, and I just hope and pray and wish that it’s not Mary.  That it’s not us.  I never thought I would be *that* foster parent.  The one that wishes that the bio family will screw up so royally, that there is no other option by adoption. But I am, because now (and always) we love her. So fiercely. So wholey.  So…with everything! We worry about her. And we want the very best for our little girl….