Friday, December 29, 2017

2017 in Review: The Year without Shampoo

2016 was a year of grief and confusion. 2017 was a year of searching and contentment.

I have tried to write "Year Reviews" in the past but they never really get finished. I think this is for two reasons. 1) The timeline for writing it and posting it is so narrow. If I write it before Christmas, it seems too early but if I want until I have recovered from Christmas, it is almost too late.  And the second reason is that I don't think I am good at looking backwards. My memory is horrible and I tend to focus forward. So, here is a simple summary of the year.

What happened this year:
January/February:
I attended the Pathways to Permanence Program through the Adoption Council of Ontario
March:
Dare Bear went on adoption probation (the time between bioparental rights being terminated and the adoption being finalized)
Dare Bear was BAPTIZED!
April:
G-Man went on parental leave for 5 months.
May
Our total appointments for the month surpassed 30 and stayed this high for the next 3 months.
June:
The Day of Emergency: Dare Bear injured his front teeth and gums. We went to urgent care, then children's outpatients then the dentist. We arrive home to an ambulance in our driveway. Skywalker had a seizure. We head to the hospital. This was my and Skywalker's first ambulance ride. I will never forget the craziness that was this day or the relief at the end of it when everyone was home, asleep and OK!
August:
Grant changed jobs just to find out he will lose his new job in January, 2018.
September:
Skywalker transitioned to his adoptive home after being with us for 18 months.
We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.
October
Dare Bear turned 3.
I closed Spes FertilityCare Services.
Our foster home closed for the next year.
Dare bear started attending occupational therapy.
November
Dare Bear's adoption finalized!
December:
My anniversary of starting the Curly Girl Method. I have not used shampoo since Dec 4th, 2016.

THE YEAR WITHOUT SHAMPOO:
I have always struggled with my curly hair. But last year I discovered the curly girl method and my hair has never been healthier or curlier! Essentially, the curly girl method is avoiding drying products (shampoo) and products that build up in your hair (that you need shampoo to clean out). I strongly recommend the curly girl method if you have wavy or curly hair! Curly hair really is an entirely different beast then straight hair. This year I have learned how to love the beast!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Favourite 50 Books I Read This Year

Dare Bear and I love books! I, personally, LOVE children's literature. I can't stand most fiction but children's literature is the exception. Most of my "grown-up" reading is non-fiction so you will see this reflected on my list. Yes, I did read some fiction this year. I actually really got into Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout. BUT, only one fiction book made my top 50.

As I was looking over my library history for the year, in preparation for this list, I realized that we read over 500 books this year. That number certainly made me feel better about the amount of Curious George and Paw Patrol we watch! 90% of what we read comes from the library and we are very blessed to have a well-stocked and easy-to-use library down the street from us. I actually have had to face my library reservation addiction head on this year . My library makes it so easy to reserve books online and pick them up at your local branch! The whole process, between finding the books in their online catalogue to reading descriptions and reviews to hitting that reserve button, is so enjoyable that there were many times this year where my total number of reserved items were in the double digits and it is rare for me to have less then 20 books out on loan. It's like online shopping but without the price tag! Online reservations are the primary reason our total number of read books this year is so high. And it is certainly faster to read children's books then novels.



This list is in no particular order. 
I have linked each book to its amazon listing so you can get more information on the book if you would like. I do not get anything from you following these links.

Those marked with an * are not children's books. 
My top favourites are marked with a #.
Dare Bear's favourites are marked with a +. 
(For reference he just turned 3 years old)

So, without further ado, here is the list of our top 50 books we read this year.

1.       Loud Emily
2.       The Christmas Fox #
3.       Father and Son #
6.       Little Blue Trucks Halloween +
7.       Robinson
8.       Mouse Paint
9.       Love Your Life Not Theirs*
10.   Safe in a Storm #
19.   Swap! +
22.   Jabari Jumps
23.   Fortunately #+
32.   Duck in a Truck#
33.   Hooray for Bread +
35.   Hogwash #
36.   Caps for Sale #+
37.   Rhymoceros

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

From Foster to Adopted: A Pain I Don't Know

From Foster to Adopted Series

1. The Year to Today
2. A Pain I Don't Know
3.On the Eve of Forever
4. The Memory of Trauma
5. Finalization

On the final court date, I was able to attend. I arrived at the court house extremely nervous. I entered the humble seating area outside of the court rooms and I saw BioMom, L, and Bio-maternal grandma immediately. They looked worn. Scared and worn. I knew, in my heart, at that moment, as much as I knew previously in my head, that today was not about my family but about theirs. Something was about to be broken that never should be.

A part of me was expecting more drama on this day since the whole case has always been so unpredictable. But, we had all reached the end of the show. There was nothing left for L to fight against. There was no other path but for her to lose the rights to her son.

L left the court house before hearing from the judge. Grandma, S, stayed. The judge ruled. Done.

I will never forget my conversation with S after court. She asked me in such horrific honesty, 'How did we get here?' I could see in her eyes such confusion. How did her family get here? To the point that a judge legally severs the mother-child bond. She commented that just a few years prior everything seemed to be moving forward for her daughter. Now, there is a tear in their family that will never quite heal.

Staring at this dedicated mother who was grieving the motherhood of her daughter, I discovered a pain I don't know. A pain I hope to never know. And a pain I will strive to honour for the rest of my life.

The facts of Dare Bear's adoption are that he needed a safe home; that his family was not able to provide that for him; that we are able to; that after a year and a half together Dare Bear is attached to us and we are to him.

But adoption is not just addition; one child needing a safe home + a safe home = adoptive family. Adoption starts as subtraction. One family - one child = biological family.

This is what I witnessed on this court day. One family losing one child. And it broke my heart.

Throughout this process, I am continually reminded that there is no resurrection without the cross; there is no hope without pain. My hope is, as always, in the resurrected Christ, who rises, not despite his wounds but because of them. We are all one adopted family of God. And this global adoptive family started from loss as well. "Oh happy fault, that gained for us so great a redeemer."* When the loss inherent in adoption seems too great, I will remember that our God is Greater!

*For more in depth reading on this glorious mercy of our God, read some St. Thomas.

Friday, April 7, 2017

From Foster to Adopted: Part 1, The Year To Today

From Foster to Adopted Series
1. The Year to Today
2. A Pain I Don't Know
3.On the Eve of Forever
4. The Memory of Trauma
5. Finalization

We signed the adoption paperwork last month. A year ago, almost to the day, Dare Bear left us and officially returned to his biological mom, L. The dramatic journey that joins us all together as a forever family has an anti-climatic arrival. One signature and we all move from foster family to simply family.

How did we get here?
How did we survive the 'final' goodbye to the permanent hello?
How do we start to heal from this journey?
Where do we go from here?

These are too many questions to answer in one blog post so over the next little while I will be share bits of our journey with you, starting with a summary of the year.

This time last year, Dare Bear had rejoined his biological mom, L, and Skywalker had just joined us. We missed him every day but we thought everything was as it should be.

Then it wasn't. He came back to us. I will never forget the look of relief that came over his face when the worker removed him from the car seat and handed him back to me. We may never know everything he went through when we were apart. I hope and believe there were good times during the 2 months he was gone. I know there were hard times.

We fell quickly back into our old routines, except now there was a new baby to take care of too. I honestly don't remember much of last summer. Between raising two high need children under two and the stress of not knowing if/when Dare Bear would be leaving us again, I was beyond crisis. I am just now starting to realize how difficult a time that was, as the light starts lifting the darkness.

The truth of last year is that we either said goodbye or were told to prepare for goodbye 4-5 times. As much as we were the regular caregivers in his life, we were the last choice for permanency. What made the goodbyes even harder is that they almost always started out with one of our workers tell us that he would be staying with us. Our hearts were filled with hope only to be mocked.

I have said before and I will say it again because it is an extremely important point: it has to be hard to permanently take children from their parents and biological families. Unfortunately, this means that children pay the price when the road to permanency is long.

Despite the long, painful journey, Dare Bear was baptized and his joining of our family forever was celebrated on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19th.

Adoption is messy and depends on deep loss. It is emotionally complex as my joy as Dare Bear's mother is dependent on another, just as true, mother's hurt. One of the reasons I didn't blog much last year was because the emotions were too raw. How do I capture in the moment my deep sadness at some of L's choices, my deeper tenderness towards her and my hurt and anger because of how some of these choices hurt our son?

As the dark fog of last year lifts, I can begin to see how far we have travelled. Stay tuned for the whole trip...