Letter to C – Our Final Chapter in his Foster Story

May was National Foster Care Month. Try as I might to get these thoughts on paper, it didn’t happen. But they need to be shared all the same.  It has been such a roller coaster ride to date.  My family and I are so very grateful for all the support and encouragement we have received from our family, friends and community.

This is a letter to a boy I will never know past the age of “almost four”. This is the final chapter that includes him in our story – never to be forgotten.

Dear C,

You came into our lives tentative and quiet. In your camouflaged winter coat with your broken glasses and your vacant stare. Yet you left us loud, giggling and smiling.  

You were such an exciting adventure. Figuring out what you liked didn’t take long.  Life Cereal, yogurt drinks, bedtime in your comfy bed with your Kangaroo -“Baby”, dancing in the kitchen to Taylor Swift and the Jackson 5, cuddling up in the rocking chair with Ice, your first experience with pre-school and making artwork and how could I overlook – BASKETBALL! You left us with your hoop and basketball ready to make more memories and develop your amazing skills.

You were such a challenge. Figuring out what routines we could not stray from, trying to manage your confusion and anger when you returned from a visit with your biological Mom, wishing some meal times weren’t so disrupted by behaviors you could not help, figuring out what you were trying to communicate – sometimes in ways we had not heard or seen before, wondering if there would be a day when our home would be your forever home? 

We don’t have to wonder anymore. We know to be true that our paths were not to cross forever. Just the space in our hearts where you landed. You have moved on to another home. One with a woman at the head who possesses more training than we and more room in the season of her life to help you blossom. 

For all the effort we put forth to get you the help you deserved, for the care and love and learning that went on in our home every day, for the many places we traveled together outside of the world you lived in before – we are grateful.

For the lessons you taught us, the humility you brought us, the soul-searching and the conversations with God – we are grateful.

Your dazzling smile lit up the room. Your eyes sparkled the brightest when you were laughing. You are SUCH a beautiful kiddo we were blessed to know.

Grow, grow, grow, little man. Do as much good as you can. Learn everything you can and never stop dazzling the world with your amazing smile and your bright eyes. Holding on to the belief that your forever home is coming to you very soon.

Hugs and love,

Your sometime family 


What next? I just don’t know.

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How’s that Forty and Fearless Thing Working Out?

Today marks not only the celebration of St. Patrick and a culturally accepted excuse to take off work and slam beers at 9 a.m. but also one remarkable year since I committed to taking baby steps towards conquering the scary: blogging. (For those that started following my blog later in the year, Forty and Fearless was the first entry.)

I met my fourth decade with excitement of new adventures, new discoveries and a desire to shed a slowly less adventurous Jen. Writing through this past year has been an eye-opening experience and one that I wish I had started sooner, like exercising regularly and drinking strong black coffee.

It occurred to me recently while watching Twinkle Toes bend her body back like a pretzel while flinging her legs over her head, what happened to swinging backwards off the monkey bars with no hands? Where did the mogul jumps and back handspring attempts go?  I used to have the nickname “Conan” in my circle of junior high friends for my beach volleyball serve. Yet if you had seen me this summer, you would have wondered if I even knew how to identify a volleyball.

My kids have watched a video of their Mom willingly jumping out of a perfectly good airplane at 14,000 feet. Would that happen now?  Too much at stake. I wasn’t a mother then.

The last eleven years have been supporting my children’s efforts to be the best they can be. Yet too few times taking a step back and wondering, would they be proud of me and my efforts?

For example, watching Techno play basketball this season.  Getting thrown to the ground, diving for the ball with the thud to prove it, being wacked in the face and injured in other ways countless times, all the while in front of crowds of people and all the while being scrutinized for his every move. Did he hustle enough? Did he defend the basket as he should? Did he pour every ounce he had in to the game?

I do not know if I would have the stuff he has to take those risks. Good for him.

I have a friend who is preparing to give cancer a one, two punch for the second time. Not a fair burden to dole out to anyone, yet she gets chosen to stand at the front of that line twice. I am so humbled. I met the surprise blessing of pregnancy at age 39 with nary a stitch of humor. And her attitude right out of the gates is one that inspires me beyond measure.

Ice just came through to the other side of a big life transition by starting a new job today. The first time in 10 years. He did it with faith, peace and an optimism of which I am in awe. His actions never made me feel anxiety about what the future would hold for our family. Only confidence that he believed something better was awaiting him and all of us.

After all, we have come to the end of our certification process for placement of our first foster (maybe forever!) child and THEN he loses his job??  This.Does.Not.Compute. There has to be a bigger plan.

So I was sitting in an office a little over a week ago reading an article while waiting for my mammogram.  A Life Less Cautious: Getting up the nerve with help from an unlikely mentor And a quote from this essay just blew me away.

“My bravery ebbs and flows, but ultimately I always get back out there…the world opens its arms just as wide for the fearful as it does for the fearless.” ~Ellen Welty

I feel like the simple act of putting fingers to the keyboard has given me a place to sort out, organize, catalog and lay bare for the world the things that amaze and inspire me, make me feel inept and inadequate or call me to action. And in some strange way it has held me accountable for what I write and what I do.

Let me write it now, I am surrounded by courageous, amazing people every day who inspire me. Getting a whiff of strength and fearlessness from others can translate into action, ebb and flow as it might. And in doing so I am hopeful that I will find more ways to make life easier and more comfortable for those around me, strangers and loved ones alike.  Because when I am fearful and edgy, I really am a pain in the ass. It’s okay, I know it.

“Ready to Let Go of the Steering Wheel”

I’m ready, ready for the laughing gas
I’m ready, I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready to duck, I’m ready to dive
I’m ready to say ‘I’m glad to be alive’
I’m ready for the push
In the cool of the night
In the warmth of the breeze
I’ll be crawling around
On my hands and knees

Zoo Station
Zoo Station

I’m ready, ready for the gridlock
I’m ready for what’s next
I’m ready for the shuffle, ready for the deal
Ready to let go of the steering wheel
I’m ready for the crush…

Achtung Baby U2 Album Cover

Achtung Baby U2 Album Cover

Driving down the freeway on an errand with my 11-year old son Techno, iPod blaring Zoo Station*, I was sharing with him the finer points of one of my favorite bands of all-time, U2 .

As with most music lovers you can hear a song and immediately place yourself in that moment when you first heard it or when you enjoyed it most. In my case, 18 years old, just heading off to a big college, experiencing freedom that I had never had before and loving every second.  Listening to this album (yes we used to call them albums not CD’s!) in a bar or a dorm room having no knowledge that it would strike me on the freeway more than twenty years later, just one lyric, and bring tears to my eyes and a flutter in my heart. Beside my son no less. Okay, get a grip, girl and take it down a notch!

For months Ice and I have been going through the arduous process to become licensed to foster and ultimately adopt a child. To us a boy whose name we don’t know with a face we can’t place.  A boy who is looking for a forever family that just might be smack in the middle of ours.

In and of itself this concept is almost unbelievable to me.  Wait, not almost, it IS.  For those that know me and just watched me go through a spectrum of craziness even I did not know I was capable of it would appear kind of unbelievable to them as well I could imagine.

It started with 11-11-11, or as I like to call it “Freaky Friday”, the date I found out at age just-shy-of-39 that I was pregnant with my third baby, Little Bee. A wonderful, magical blessing for SURE. Age difference between her two older siblings: eight and ten years. Idea that this was the plan for me at this stage in my life: NOT.A.CLUE.

Me and my Shadow

Little Bee is now 19-months old.  Without a doubt she is one of the single BEST adventures that life has taken me on. Okay, so maybe God does know what he is doing. If I wasn’t sure before, mine eyes have been opened and the light is blinding!

Ice and I had contemplated fostering a child before.  He had successfully mentored two brothers through Big Brothers/Big Sisters for well over a decade.  He worked in a building where an agency that places children into foster homes had office space.  Being in commercial construction his company did work for this agency when they needed construction services.  But for me I do not think it was anything more than something really amazing to imagine.  I didn’t really think we would actually DO it.

Little Bee came along and it kind of sealed the deal for me. Fostering a child would most definitely not happen now.  My world was turned upside down (in the most amazing way) with the arrival of this gorgeous little person. It just didn’t feel right then.

Time marched on. Routines were established (or at least feeding and bathing her, not necessarily me!) And life resumed its ebb and flow.  The idea hung low in my brain, like a fog. Lingering. Or like a whisper in my ear.

Then one day I was standing in line waiting to enter a dance performance for my nine-year-old daughter, Twinkle Toes and another whisper demanded to be heard.

The people standing in front of me had a four-month-old baby in their arms.  His name was Jake. Through a brief conversation I found out that he would be leaving them soon – to be adopted.  Realization washed over me.  They were foster parents.  This was their ONE HUNDRED and TWELFTH BABY. Speechless.

I immediately texted Ice and shared that the whisper was getting louder.  We needed to talk.

That was nine months ago, odd.  Nine months. We are now almost finished with the four-month process to be certified to receive placement of a child.   We are looking for a boy between the ages of three and seven years.

It’s taken me awhile to collect and sort out my thoughts to write about this newest adventure. It is stressful and anxiety-ridden in its own way.  There have been moments where I really have questioned if I can handle this.  And I am positive there will be more moments.  Not a reason not to do it.  Especially after feeling somehow led to do it.  But still.  Life is sure to change again in a big way and in ways I can’t even imagine as of yet. But what I learned from my experience with Little Bee that I could have ONLY learned after she blessed our lives…

Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright
It’s alright… it’s alright… it’s alright… It’s alright

Hey baby… hey baby… hey baby… hey baby…
It’s alright, it’s alright*

This is what I am choosing to remind myself day after day. And even when I forget to let go of the wheel, there are amazing people around me that remind me as well.

View out my kitchen window last week

View out my kitchen window last week

Stay tuned…there will most surely be more to come!

*Excerpt of Lyrics from Zoo Station by U2,1991