Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Feeling Safe

How do I help my children feel safe and know that they are loved? How do you help a child who is not yours and who is being forced to move yet again? These are questions that I am facing as I try to parent my child and my foster child.

E spent the evening with us and is now sleeping. I would love to say peacefully but I am not sure that is true. It is difficult to think about how scared she must be. To be forced to move just because the adults in your life tell you to. How can I expect her to trust that I am a good person and won't give up on her when so many other people have failed her. These are questions that I am not sure I have the answers to.

Jacob is also struggling with the transition. He loves having a playmate and there were lots of giggles and screams of delight tonight. There were also extra requests for snuggles, difficulties going to sleep and jealousy. He did well and I know he will continue to adjust.

I allowed Jacob to stay up a few extra minutes while I comforted E in the other room. I then took some extra time to rock and snuggle with Jacob. It seemed to help. E stated she was scared (I can't blame her) and Jacob stated he was sad. Both kids need time and E needs to know she is safe and can heal. The next few weeks will be difficult for all of us but I know God will help us.

Please let me know if you have any advice on tranisitioning a 2 year old and 3 year old. I have assured Jacob he is mine forever and I love him dearly. I have told E that I will be here for her while the adults decide what is going to happen. I can't promise more than that at this time.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Jacob had a great time dying Easter eggs. It was even more fun eating the one we dropped and cracked after dying it.
"There it is!" This was taken the moment Jacob found his basket. The Easter Bunny hid it behind his "garage" and dump truck. That sneaky Easter Bunny!

Mmmm! Look at all the goodies and toys!

This was Jacob's second Easter here although I doubt he remembers last years. He keeps asking if the Easter Bunny can "come back more." The Easter Bunny brought Jacob a picnic basket, police car with a police officer, play doh and lots of candy. We don't normally buy candy or much junk food so the candy is a huge treat. Jacob and the dog are now on day 2 of sugar highs. Oh the joy of being young at Easter!

Jacob and I had a very busy weekend. We died Easter eggs on Friday, met our new foster daughter on Saturday and spent Sunday at church and Grandma and Grandpa's house. I had to work in the afternoon so Jacob had a great time with his grandparents and Uncle Chuck.

I am sure everyone is wondering about our new foster daughter. As I have mentioned in the past, I have just completed the licensing process to become a foster mom. I found out last week that I was matched with a 3 year old girl who needs a new home. I will refer to her as E for confidentiality reasons. We met E on Saturday and she appears to be a good fit for the family. Since E is a foster child, I will not be posting any pictures of her on here. I may share stories but nothing of a confidential nature. I don't know how long E will live here but plan to enjoy every moment I do have with her.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Thoughts On Obama's Speech

Most people have heard parts or all of Barack Obama's speech on his pastor and race in America. I don't want to start a political blog telling people who to vote for or why. I believe everyone has the obligation to study the candidates and vote for the person they believe will make the best president. That being said, I do have some strong feelings on the recent debate involving Obama and his former pastor.

First let me say that Jacob and I are a religious family. We belong to a protestant church where we believe that all people should be welcome and all view points should be respected. I do not always agree with my pastor and I do not agree with everything that the church says. I do believe in the basic prinicpals of the church and the majority of what is said at the pulpit.

I believe that Obama is probably in a similar situation. Just as I have faced discrimination in my career because I am a woman, he has faced disrimintation because he is black. He has most likely faced more discrimination than I have but we have both felt the pain and frustration of bigotry. He is a good example of how discrimination and bigotry can be overcome.

He spoke of not letting the events in the past cause us hatred today. He is correct there also. It is very easy to be victimized by a person and let that hatred overcome everything we do. I have faught feelings of hatred after experiencing discrimination and hateful comments from my co-workers but I refuse to let those people define who I am.

America has come along way in accepting people who are different than the majority and letting all people contribute to society. Racism is not seen or felt as much as it once was. I know my son will experience it as he grows just as I have experienced sexism. Whether it was someone telling me I shouldn't be in martial arts because it isn't a good sport for girls or not responding to my calls for assistance at work, the sexism affected my life. It did not stop me though. I am still a law enforcement officer, still participate in sports and still do not care if someone believes it is ok for a woman to do.

I believe it is good that a potential president is willing to overlook some negative beliefs and see the person behind those beliefs. We all must work with people who have view points that disgust us. I must work with people who have routinely made derogatory comments about my family because we are a multi-racial family, led by a single mother, formed by adoption, involved in foster care or a variety of other ways we do not fit the norm. I do not stop being with friends who have anti-homosexual feelings while I maintain friendships with people who are gay. I do not allow people to make hateful or bigoted comments around me but I don't let those comments stop me from being friends with the person. I don't spend time with people who are unable to accept me or my family but I am willing to be friends with someone who agrees not to discuss their bigoted feelings around me or my family. My one rule that I enforce is that I do not tolerate intolerance around me or my family.

I cannot change other people's beliefs even when I believe they are wrong. I can teach my son to be tolerant of all people despite their beliefs. I can teach my son to love others and be friendly even if they are not friendly or loving towards us. I do teach my son to speak up when someone says something racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise morally wrong. I also show him how to be loving towards those people. We tolerate people but not intolerant acts or statements.

I believe that this is how Obama views his former pastor. He doesn't condone or believe the hateful things his former pastor said. He doesn't allow the man to make the comments around his family or him. He also is able to see past these weaknesses and faults to see the rest of the man. Obama is able to show love and acceptance to a person who doesn't believe as he does rather than continuing the hatred by excluding this person from his life.

I won't say who I am voting for. There are things I like about all of the candidates. There are things I don't like in all of them. I am continuing to study and listen to all of them while I decide who to vote for. I also know this. I plan to look at the beliefs and the actions of the candidates themselves and not at the people who make up their family and friends.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Unexpected Changes

Jacob and I arrived in the United States one year ago today. Many things changed that I expected. There have also been many changes that I never expected. Here are a few:

1) Night lights. I also knew that Jacob would need a night light in his room. I prefer my room completely dark so it was a huge shock to find myself installing a night light in my room. It is there now to prevent accidents in the middle of the night visits.

2) Trips to anything kid related. I knew I would enjoy spending time with my son but I never realized how much I would look forward to kid centered events. I love going to the children's museum, the zoo and the park. I now plan adult activities around the kid's activities. I would rather go to the zoo than a band concert any day.

3) Making rules like No Cooking!

4) The extremes I will go to to see my son smile and laugh.

5) It is not unusual for me to find toys hidden in my purse or coat pockets. Some I put there and others are left by my special helper.

6) That Mommy can be a good and bad word to hear. It is great when accompanied by I love you or when my son is happy. It can be not so wonderful when I hear it for the millionth time in five minutes while I am trying to concentrate or talk on the phone.

7) That I could love someone else so much.

8) How much fun it is to just stay home and play with cars.

9) All of the ways a parent can hide vegetables.

10) How wonderful "That's my mommy" sounds from a two year old.

Kids Expo

Digging for dinasaur bones.
Riding the choo choo
Checking out the police car
Jacob and I went to a Kids Expo last Saturday. He had a great time! The choo choo train was a lot of fun but his favorite was the police car. It took some time and tears to get him to leave!

Jacob and I also found some great information on activities for next winter. I think I will sign him up for gymnastics and swimming lessons. both are things he will love. He ran through some obstacle courses and used the gymnastics equipment at the expo. He did great on all of it and loved it. Jacob's uncle competed in gymnastics in high school and thinks it is great for all kids. I think it will be good for the winter months when we can't get outside and play.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ethiopia Last Year

On March 10, 2008, I met my son for the first time. His social report had reported him as shy around strangers. I was sure that he would cry if I moved too fast. I arrived at the care center at around 9:30 AM with my parents and the other families meeting their children. They told us they would take us one at a time to meet our children so that they could video tape it.

I anxiously waited to meet my son. Two families were called and quickly walked away. Finally, my son's name was called. As I walked out of the building with my parents and the social worker, I began scanning the children's faces trying to figure out which one was my son's. I saw a child who looked similar in a nanny's arms and wondered, "Is that him?!?" The social worker continued to walk by though without stopping.

We walked over to where the toddlers were sun bathing but I did not see any child who looked like mine. I waited patiently as the social worker asked the nanny where my son was. The nanny we had walked by walked over and placed Jacob in a chair. She began pointing and saying , "Mommy! Mommy!" Jacob watched me with a curious eye sitting absolutely still.

I slowly walked over and began talking quietly to Jacob. The social worker told me to pick him up and look at the camera. I was nervous. After all, I didn't want to scare him by moving too quickly. I did as I was told and Jacob didn't fight or cry. He put an arm on my shoulder and began to play with my name tag. A little girl sitting next to us took Jacob's shoe and he let out a small protest. I reached down and retrieved his shoe. A look of relief came over Jacob's face as if to say, "finally, I have someone to help me."

Jacob and I left the group of toddlers and walked over to a small porch to sit and get to know each other. Jacob didn't want to leave my lap. He seemed afraid I would disappear. A nanny came over and picked him up. He allowed her to but kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I wasn't leaving him. I gave him a small bear and some banana flavored treats. It would be an hour before he would leave my lap and he never did move more than an arm's length away from me that morning.

About two hours after Jacob and I left, I was told it was time to leave. I hated leaving my baby but knew it was best to stay with the group and see some of the things in Ethiopia.

Two days later, we were allowed to return to the care center. I was the first one to walk up to the building that housed the toddlers. As I walked up the cement steps, I saw Jacob standing by the patio door to his play room. I approached the building and he began screaming, laughing and banging on the door. He was so excited I had returned! I entered the building and sat down in the toddler room. The toddlers came running over and began playing with my hair. A little boy gave me a hug and I hugged him back. Jacob pushed the little boy so hard he fell. Jacob then stood in front of me and kept all of the other children from approaching me. After seeing many other children come and go (he was there seven months longer than most children), he wasn't going to be left again.

I picked Jacob up and brought him to the van. We left the care center for the first time together and went to the guest house where Grandma and Grandpa were waiting. We spent a nice day together before returning in the afternoon. Jacob cried as I left him but was quickly comforted by the nannies. I knew he was in good hands although my heart ached to just bring him back with me. I knew that it was best for him to sleep in his own bed after experiencing the joys and stresses of getting to know each other.

That was one year ago today. A lot has changed but I will wait to summarize how our last year has gone until later. I will continue to reflect and remember one year ago as the week goes on. Stay tuned....

Saturday, March 8, 2008


It was one year ago today that I boarded a plane in eager anticipation of meeting my son. I anxiously waited for 26 hours as we made our journey to Ethiopia. The plane landed safely and the Ethiopians began to applaude. I began to cry. I was so grateful to be safely in the country where my son was waiting. The following week was filled with many highs and lows. Mostly I just tried to take in everything and enjoy all of it. There were moments of tears as the stress and emotions became too much and there were moments of joy as I gazed at my beautiful son.

Today marked the beginning of what would be a life changing event. The next year was full of wonderful moments. Attached is a link to a photo montage of Jacob's first year home. I hope you enjoy it.

View this montage created at One True Media

Friday, March 7, 2008


It was one year ago today that I worked my last day of work before leaving to meet Jacob. I had training all day that day and remember trying very hard to concentrate. Every bone in my body was aching to just run out the door and to the airport. I was scared, excited and very happy. I was also a little nervous about not working for 12 weeks.

One year later, Jacob and I are once again preparing for major adjustments in our lives. I am anxiously awaiting my first foster care placement. I have notified my social worker that I will take a child up to seven or eight years old. I am still hoping for a younger child but am willing to consider an older child as well. I can always adopt or foster an infant later.

I am able to take an older child now because I finally received permission to go to dayshift. I will be going to dayshift at the end of April. Jacob will be moving to a full-day daycare/preschool program. He loves his half-day program he is in now so I am sure he will love the full-day program too. I am still working on finding weekend care but I have almost two months for that. I won't panic yet.

People often laugh that there is always something happening in our house. We are either switching shifts, daycares, babysitters or waiting for our next child. I love it that way! We are always looking for ways to improve ourselves and our lives. I am always searching for something fun to do that will be either healthy, educational or just a way to relax for a day. The next two weeks will be full of changes but it will also be a great opportunity to learn, have fun and improve our lives.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

It's A Party!

I had no intention of having a large birthday party when Jacob turns 3. After all, he is still very little and wouldn't know the difference if we just had cake, presents and dinner with grandparents, uncle and us. That all changed last week though.

The YMCA by us was having a silent auction for their Strong Kids Campaign. The Strong Kids Campaign gives financial assistance to families so that more children can participate in activities at the Y. I love the program. I grew up spending a lot of time at the YMCA and now love all of the programing for preschoolers. I hope that we are able to continue to benefit from them for years to come and that other children also find it a safe place to spend time.

I thought the silent auction would be a good way to donate some money and have fun in the process. I was pleased (but not surprised since we bid an hour before closing) to win two baskets. The first basket was full of lotions and moisturizers for me. The second was a birthday party at the YMCA and pizza gift certificates. So now, Jacob will be having a birthday party at the YMCA. Of course, all children under age 7 will need to have a parent with them. Jacob won't turn 3 until next fall but it should be fun.

I have seen a lot of research that programs like the YMCA have are great at preventing children from making poor choices as they grow up. It gives the children a safe place to play after school and provides positive role models. All of these are very important to children especially those whose only other option is hanging out on the streets.

I am a very strong advocate for prevention programs. I am very pleased to be able to help these programs whenever I can.