Tag Archives: Adoption

Is the Earth Spinning in the Opposite Direction?

Eagle- America Deserves Better

While celebrating the 4th of July, sitting around, thanking God for the freedoms that our forefathers fought and died for, I got a chill down my spine. You know, like the kind you get when it feels like there is someone else in the room with you but there really isn’t!

A recent study shows that almost 80% of Americans feel that our founding fathers would be very disappointed in where we are at today as a country.

As many of you know, I cover some pretty crazy stories on my radio show, stories that our founding fathers would be repulsed by. We now live in a country that supposedly considers the following things to be “bad”:
-Traditional Marriage
-Adoption
-Religion
-Strict adherence to the Constitution
-Conservatism
-Moral Values
-Child Innocence
-Self Reliance
-Parental rights

And these things to be “good”:
-Atheism
-Abortion
-Same Sex Marriage
-Polygamy (next)
-Loosely interpreting the Constitution
-Liberal Progressiveness
-Moral Relativism
-Child Sacrifice
-Government Reliance
Really? Some of you are saying, “Joe what have you been drinking all week?” Apple juice and water, because I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid being provided by the current administration and the progressives.

Do you need a few examples? Here’s a few of my favorites:

We have people picketing “equality for all”, but it’s not really for “all”. It’s only for everyone on the left. And is it really equality that they’re looking for, or something else?

In California the voters have now voted twice to protect traditional marriage. The Supreme Court, for clarity, did not rule it as unconstitutional. They ruled that the plaintiffs had no right to fight it. Period.
Supporters of same sex marriage crying “equality for all” said all they wanted was the same rights as married couples. Apparently they didn’t do their homework because in 1999 the California Legisloonies passed a law called the Domestic Partner law. This law is word-for-word the same as the marriage laws here in California. The only exception made a point of calling out “Man and Woman” in the marriage law and “Same Sex partners” in the Domestic Partner law. A progressive play on words or a lie? Did they not know they already had “equality” according to the law?

As LGBTQ groups fight for equal rights they really mean that they want to choose what rights “they” have and what rights “we” have. I use those words because “they” divide the words like that. The California Legisloonies decided that no matter what, business and government agencies will accommodate a person of the LGBTQ community. Sounds good. But let’s take a look at the transgender person on a high school campus.

If a person born with male body parts decides that they now want to live as a female while in high school, that young person now gets to share the girls locker room and bathroom while your 14+ year-old daughters get to be exposed a “different” lifestyle. And that young man, who is living as a young woman, gets to play soccer or volleyball or any other sport on an all-female team. Does that sound like its fair? I think not! Study after study shows that the physical abilities of males and females are different. Will we now change the Olympics to accommodate?

We are being barraged with laws, regulations, and mandates that go against our basic internal values as a country and a people.

We are becoming a society of “me”. If I‘m gay, you better do it my way or else you’re a “hater”. If I don’t want to work, you better take care of me. And if I do work, you better pay me what I want. If I chose not to take responsibility for myself, then the government needs to step in and give me that money or the abortion or whatever else I need. But don’t question me about what I’m doing or why. And definitely don’t dare to disagree with me.

These are not the principles that this country was founded on.
Sometimes it feels like the earth is spinning in reverse and the inmates are running the asylum! But just because a group is making the most noise does not mean that they are in the majority.

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Hell Hath No Fury Like A Mama Grizzly Denied

It is no secret that Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are in major need of overhauling. In fact, these three entitlements are some of the most heavily debated issues for both political parties.

What no one on either side of the political aisle will stop and think about is how the abuses of these systems that were created to help are now hurting the very ones that need it the most.

My husband and I have adopted 5 children from the foster care system. One of the benefits we receive from the state for them is healthcare in the form of Medicaid until they are 18 years of age.

We received our youngest child when he was only 7 weeks old. He was born addicted to cocaine, and when he came to us, he was still experiencing withdrawal tremors from the drug he was born addicted to. This is one of the most excruciatingly painful things I have ever experienced in my life! I felt so helpless, just wanting to make the pain go away for him!

Thankfully, he stopped having the withdrawal tremors. He is now a healthy, vibrant 3 1/2 year old who is into absolutely everything!

However, about 6 months ago, we began to notice a spot on his spine. It actually began as a bruise, which we originally thought was caused by his tumbling around with his two older brothers.  He may be the youngest, but he thinks he is as big as they are!

Unfortunately, the bruise did not go away. I took him to the doctor, and she told me that bruises of this kind take a very long time to heal. She explained that they are deep, so the healing process and time is much more extensive than a “normal” bruise. Feeling slightly better about things, we went about life, watching and waiting.

However, while the bruise eventually went away, a bump began to appear on his back, in the very same spot. I took him to the doctor yet again. She examined him, and determined that due to the fact that she could move the bump around, there was nothing to be alarmed about. This time, I wasn’t so sure. She told me to keep a watch on it, and if it didn’t go away, bring him back.

Rather than going away, the bump grew bigger. I took him back to the doctor yet again, and finally received a referral to a dermatologist.

Three weeks later, I was finally able to see the dermatologist. Upon examination, he determined that he needed to refer us to a neurologist. I questioned him extensively, and he explained that it could be a number of things, including the possibility of fluid leaking from his spine. This set off alarm bells for me! I tried desperately not to panic, but the thought that this is a real possibility is alarming!

The dermatologist also scheduled an MRI, so the neurologist would have this information at that appointment.

That evening, while discussing everything with my husband, we began to question the length of time it was going to take to get the MRI.  I told him that I would call the doctor’s office back the next day, to see if there was any way we could get the appointment moved up.

Before I had a chance to call, they were calling me to give me the neurologist’s number. I started telling the nurse about my concerns for the length of time we were still going to have to wait. She told me that when she first called to make the MRI appointment, the first available was in March! The doctor was not happy with this, so he personally called back to get an appointment sooner. The nurse assured me that if he had thought it was an absolute emergency, he would have gotten him in immediately! She advised me that if my son complained of his back hurting we simply needed to take him to the emergency room.

We’ve made the necessary arrangements for both appointments- the MRI and the neurology- and were simply waiting.

Then I received a call from the dermatologist office telling me that Medicaid has denied the MRI request! Remember: the children are on Medicaid due to the fact that they were adopted through the state Foster Care System. This is not simply a case of irresponsible parenting on our part.

When the nurse told me that Medicaid had denied the request, I got angry! She said the reason they gave for the denial was because there “was not enough documentation” to warrant an MRI!

Now, if you are not familiar with what an MRI is, WebMD will help explain it:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses a magnetic field and pulses of radio wave energy to make pictures of organs and structures inside the body. In many cases MRI gives different information about structures in the body than can be seen with an X-ray, ultrasound, or computed tomography (CT) scan. MRI also may show problems that cannot be seen with other imaging methods.
As you can see, an MRI is a TEST! The bureaucrats who make the decisions on who is approved and who is not approved can’t take into account that he has been by his pediatrician on 3 separate occasions, as well as a dermatologist. Four doctor appointments is not enough documentation to have a test performed to see if it is something that will require surgery.
However, a local dentist chain has “earned millions by targeting children on Medicaid.” This has gone on for years! My children were actually targeted by this very dentist chain, and had NUMEROUS “cavities” according to the dentists. It sure is strange- we’ve not had a SINGLE cavity since that visit, and the 3 previous visits were cavity free as well! Interestingly enough, the cavity free appointments were not at that clinic!
Unfortunately, they were still in foster care at the time, and not adopted, so I did not have the options I have now that they are adopted!
It took MONTHS, if not YEARS, for this dentist chain to be investigated, and in fact, I was interviewed in the process of the investigation. All this time, approvals went out from Medicaid with no questions asked. Yet, a test for a potentially harmful, or even deadly problem is denied?
This is just one specific situation I know of personally! There are thousands upon thousands of stories of medicaid fraud that go on daily in this country, with nothing at all being done! Yes, there are investigations, but much more needs to be done! Stop the fraud- by doctor’s and recipients, and you will save BILLIONS of dollars (possibly even TRILLIONS of dollars at this point, since the previously linked article is from 2005)!
We have reached a breaking point in our society. We talk about helping those in need- such as orphans- yet we have allowed fraud to run rampant on both sides of the process. We are receiving nothing but lip service from both political parties who claim they are seeking real solutions to the problems we are facing as a nation. Those who are truly in need cannot receive the necessary help because so many before them have abused the system. However, those who know how to “work” the system are allowed to continue “working” it, while those who truly need it are forced to do without.
As a Mama Grizzly, I am watching my little boy like a hawk! At the slightest inkling of increased pain, we have been advised to take our son to the emergency room. Medicaid has denied my son the necessary test to determine what must be done, but rest assured I will not sit idly by! I have made it my life’s goal to fight for these children who start out in life with so much against them! I will not allow these innocent children to pay the price for the actions of those before them!
It is a crying shame that we have allowed our innocent children to carry the burdens of this nation on their backs. They are paying the price for an out-of-control society that refuses to face reality! This is their future we are squandering away!

Forever Family

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is July 2009.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

____________________

It was here!  The day we had all longed for had arrived! It was the day of the adoption! We participated in the mass adoption ceremony that is done each month.

The children did not really understand what it meant, though we had tried our best to prepare them. They had met with their counselor, and talked about what adoption means, but they had never known anyone who had been adopted, so their little minds just could not comprehend what it truly meant.

We told them that they would not be the only children there to be adopted, but that there would be many children there, just like them, who would be adopted by their families that very same day. They started calling these other children their “friends”. Our oldest child asked if they would get to go play with their new “friends” after they were adopted. Once again, we tried to explain that even though these children were like them, we did not know them, and we would not see them again after that day. They were confused, but still very excited.

We arrived downtown with a small army accompanying us. My parents, my husband’s parents, friends and other family members were there. We were ready to make everything official!

As we set waiting for the proceedings to begin, I looked at each one of my children. I could not believe this was going to be real! This had been so long in coming! I never could have imagined, with all of the battles we had faced, that this day would be here. And yet, it was.

The judges came in, the attorney speaking welcomed us all, and the ceremony began.

I was emotional, but not overcome with emotion… that is, until  all of us who were adopting children had to stand and be sworn in. That is when it hit me! This truly was it! I was going to officially be a mommy! The state could not just come in and take my children. They were no longer the conservator of my children- we were! It was becoming a reality. The realization hit me that this was real, and I began to cry. I had to fight back tears the remainder of the ceremony.

The children did not understand why I was crying. We assured them that it was happy tears, but they were already struggling to understand what all of this meant.

Each family’s name was called out and the adoptions were made legal. When they called our name out, we stood with all of our children. I fought back tears as the judge officially named us as the parents of these five beautiful little lives.

After the ceremony, the judges came out from behind the podium and we were able to take pictures with them. Somehow we ended up being the first family to take pictures with the judges. Our children had come up with a cheer that they had shown their case workers and attorneys. As we posed for pictures, one of the attorneys told them they had to show the judges their cheer.

They sang, all in unison, with smiles on each of their faces:

We are the Manzanagrano’s
We are the mighty, mighty Manzanagrano’s
We believe in Jesus
Our mighty, mighty King
We are the Manzanagrano’s!

When they completed the cheer, there was clapping and laughter throughout the court room. You could also hear a round of oh’s and ah’s from others who were waiting. One of the judges said, “Well, I can’t argue with that!”

We finished our pictures, and went to celebrate with the cupcakes and juice that the court had provided. Each child was given a blanket made by a local church, as well as a stuffed animal.

We left the courthouse, an official family.

We headed to our favorite Mexican Restaurant to have a celebratory lunch, followed up with a special cake made by our favorite bakery.

The next day we had a celebration party at the park with our family and closest friends.

We could finally close the book on this chapter of our lives.

During all of this process- the issues with the Agency, changing over to the CPS System directly rather than going through an agency, starting the actual adoption process and paperwork- I began to feel the stress piling on.  I did not actually realize how much stress I had been dealing with until it was all over with. There were of course behavior issues because the kids did not know what it meant to be adopted. In the beginning, there were issues with melding the family. I was having health issues- major sinus infections- for which I had to have surgery to address the real problem. With each major sinus infection, I was prescribed steroids. In 4 months I gained 20 pounds from being on the steroids. The absolute last thing I needed was to gain more weight!

I was worried that something would happen that would prevent the adoption from actually going through. You hear stories all the time of last-minute things happening. I tried not to worry, but it was there.

The stress was overwhelming at times. I actually went to the doctor during the final few months of this process because I was not feeling well at all. While the adoption process and all that we had been through to have children had definitely taken a toll, I finally found out some answers to many questions that had been haunting me most of my adult life.

I went to a doctor I had never been to before. A friend of mine recommended him to me because she knew I was not feeling well. Through the course of our conversation he recommended that I have a complete panel of blood tests run. When we got the test results back he found that my B-12 level was dangerously low. He said this has probably been one of the main sources of my issues for many years. This is more than likely the main reason I have not been able to lose weight.

I started receiving B-12 shots as well as taking supplements. Over the course of the next few months my B-12 levels increased to the normal range. My energy increased and in the process I lost 30 pounds.

Now that everything was over and we got back to our life, this time, without the monthly appointments with case workers and other various officials, I was able to focus on things I had been unable to for months.

As everything settled down, it began to hit me how stressed I had been through all of this. Going through the process, you do not have time to focus on it. But now that it was all over, there was no escaping it.

It also became apparent that the children were not quite sure what to expect. We had some major behavioral issues come up with each of the older four children within the first two weeks after the adoption was final. We had expected this to happen, so we tried to be as understanding as possible, while still setting the boundaries that are necessary. We had several long talks with each of them, separately, so they could voice their concerns, fears, joys, and any other emotions that may be there. It is amazing how even the youngest one had felt the stress of our process.

It was not long before things settled down, we all felt the relief of being done with the process, and life went on as usual- with nothing really changing, and yet, at the same time, everything changing.

Our lives were still the same. Our routines were still the same. Our expectations were still the same. The children just knew that this was now their home forever.

We are

Forever Family!

 

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Tearing Down The Walls

The previous chapter in this series:  The Baby Is Ours!

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Too Good To Be True


This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is March 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
____________________

When the battle was won in the last case, I was completely at peace when they came to pick him up. There was no inner struggle. For a long while I struggled within myself that there was no struggle. I was not opening the door and throwing him to the CPS Case Worker, but I was truly happy he was going home.

It took me a while to realize that this is truly what it is about. Many people will not understand. Most biological parents who have lost their children to the system because of their own bad choices cannot accept responsibility for their actions. So when I have previously said that these children should never have gone back to their biological parents, there are people that do not understand how I can say that. I have a friend who totally disagrees with me.

The previous little boy’s case proved to me that my heart was in the right place. After a while, you truly start questioning this whole process. Am I just angry and bitter that I have not been able to have my own children, so I am seeking to take children away from their parents? This previous little boy’s case showed me that this was not at all what this was for me. I truly was fighting for each individual child, for what was right for their lives. This little boy belonged with his biological parents. He just needed medical attention.

I did not mourn his leaving at all. I truly was happy that he was going to be reunited with his biological parents.

We went back to life as normal. Waiting. Wondering if we would ever receive another call.

During this time, the children’s therapist asked me if we were still interested in adopting more children. When I told her that we were, she told me that she counseled another sibling group- a brother and sister- who were already free to be adopted. She thought they would be a wonderful match for our family. I told her that I was definitely interested, but I would have to talk to my husband, and if he said yes, then we would have to increase our license again, because we were only licensed to have three children.

I talked to my husband, and he was all for it. So I made the call to increase our license yet again. But this time I had them license us for five children. It was better to be prepared. I still knew that I had heard God’s voice, but I could not imagine how this was going to work out.

I talked to the therapist a few days later to let her know our licensing was taken care of, and she told me that there was a family member that had come up out of nowhere who wanted the children.  She told me not to give up though, because she counseled a lot of children who needed good homes full of love. She told me she would help us find our children.

With that door closed, we waited to see what God had planned for us. Would it be another call from our therapist? Would we get a call from the Agency?

It was not long before we found out. I received a call from our Agency Case Worker telling me that there was a 7-week-old infant needing placement. She did not need to say anymore. I probably literally screamed in her ear, “YES!” I was so excited!

This Case Worker with the Agency was number five or number six for us, and we had not been in the Foster system but 8 months. This Case Worker knew the heart break that we had gone through when the 1-year-old was given to a family member, and she told me she would try desperately to help us get a baby.

Not only was this an infant, there was no real question whether or not he would be available for adoption. His biological mother’s rights had not been terminated at this point, because the court process had to take place, but it was next to impossible that she would not have her rights terminated. She was a foster child herself, and the baby was born addicted to cocaine.

As soon as I hung up the phone with the Agency I called my husband. I was so excited I could not sit still.  I told him I would let him know the details as soon as I found them out.

Within a few minutes the phone rang again. It was our Case Worker with the Agency. I knew as soon as I answered the phone that it was not good news. I could hear it in her voice. She said she was so sorry to have to inform me that the baby had already been promised to another couple. I thanked her and hung up the phone.

There were no words for me at this point. I called my husband and told him. I told him I had to go. He asked me if I was ok and I told him no, and at this point I just did not have any words. I am sure you have read enough by now to realize that it is very rare that I have no words. I could not even pray. I could not muster the strength or emotions to say anything or feel anything. My husband told me not to worry, that if the other family backed out we would be the first ones they would call. Sure, fat chance. I would not hold my breath, I told him.

When I hung up the phone, I just sat silently on the couch. The other two kids were in their rooms playing.

I sat there that day for almost an hour. All I could do was think about what had just happened, and the years of trying to have a child. Why would this happen? It was like dangling a gourmet meal in front of a starving person. As I sat dwelling on how this could have even happened I became very angry. I knew that my heart was in the right place, and yet time after time my heart was being broken. I am very much in tune with the fact that life is not fair, but we had gone beyond life not being fair to life being downright cruel! I just could not understand why God would allow this to happen! I would rather have never received the call than to have had this happen.

As I sat there by myself, my thoughts racing around in my head, my heart breaking once again, the phone rang again. It was the Agency. The other couple had decided they would not be able to take the baby. Did we still want him? Again I screamed, “YES!” And I begged her not to let him get away from us.

My husband had been right! I asked him later if God had spoken to him that day and he said no that he just had a feeling. Why did all of this happen? I do not really have the answer to that question. Maybe it was God’s way of showing me that He really is involved in our lives. There could be a million other reasons or explanations why. I don’t think I will ever know. But thankfully, this time it really was true! We were finally going to have our baby!

As we waited for them to bring him to us the next day I could not sit still. I had so much pent up excitement, knowing that we were really going to have a baby!

When they brought him to us, he was so very tiny. When they put him in my arms, I was so scared I would hurt him. He had been born 6 weeks premature, so he was just now gestationally 1 week old. He was still red and wrinkly. His little fingers and toes were so tiny. His nose was so tiny. But he was beautiful! And he was ours! Immediately I began calling him my Angel Baby.

Not only was he very tiny, he was also going through withdrawals from the drug addiction. If you have never witnessed a tiny baby going through drug addiction withdrawals you are blessed! It is one of the most painful things I have ever witnessed in all of my life! His entire body would shake as his body craved the drugs. His eyes would get so big, not understanding what was going on within his body. We would swaddle him tightly and hold him close until his tremors would pass.

I found a song that I began to play for him when he would start going through his withdrawal tremors- “Angel Baby” by Linda Ronstadt. I had never heard it before I went searching for a song with that title. Since this is what I called him from the first day, I thought it would be fitting to find a song with that name. This became our ritual. As his body would begin to shake from his withdrawals, we would swaddle him tightly, hold him close, play the music, and rock with him. We went through this process the first two months or more.

It is very rare occasions that I have seen my Dad cry. He cried at both of his parents funerals. Other than that, I do not recall any other time where he has actually cried, until he saw our baby during one of his withdrawals.

It is amazing how much we remember. After we got through the withdrawal tremors, we did not play our “Angel Baby” song as much. After a while, it had been months since I had played it for him and danced with him.

Probably 8 months or more had passed that we had not played the song at all. One day I decided to play it. As soon as the music started, he looked up at me with the biggest, most beautiful grin in the world! He was playing in his playpen and he stood up, reaching for me to take him. He wanted me to dance with him! He remembered! I was so amazed that he remembered our song!

It is now a very common thing that is heard in our home. My baby loves to dance with me. All of my children love to dance with me, but my baby has a very special bond with me, through this song and me dancing with him. It will forever be one of my most beautiful memories of his infancy. Once again, God has taken something traumatic and turned it into something very beautiful in my life- and my son’s life as well!

Just a few days ago I played our song. It had been a month or so since I played it for him. As soon as the music started he stopped what he was doing and came over and climbed up into my lap. He would lay against my chest for a while, just listening to the music with me. Then he would sit up and look at me- look into my eyes. It was the sweetest, most beautiful, most moving thing for me. The way he was looking into my eyes was like he was remembering. It was a deep, soulful look that you don’t expect from a child so young. He just turned 3-years-old; how does he know what this song is? Yes, I know he remembers…. but it was much more than just remembering. Though we have listened to this song quite often, and he always snuggles up to me when we are dancing or just sitting, there was something different about this time. I will never forget that look as long as I live!

This will be something that I continue to do all of his life.

I am now searching for a special song for each child. Since they all love to dance, I want each of them to have their special song. It is not a process that I am rushing through. I’ve listened to hundreds of songs, and have found 2 that are perfect.

I want each one of my children to have many wonderful memories of their childhood. Since they have endured so many bad things, anything I can do to help them have beautiful memories is a bonus. I do not ever want any of my older children to feel left out because they do not have a special song like the baby does. It is not their fault they were not with us as infants. So this will be a gift to each of them that will last a lifetime.

____________________

The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Full House

The previous chapter in this series: Fighting For Another Child

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

 

 

 

 

I Am So Angry

Once again I am veering off the ongoing saga of our story to adopt children through the Broken Foster Care System.

If you’ve already read my Mother’s Day story, you know that our adoptions were finalized in July of 2009.

After the adoptions it took some time for the kids to adjust to the fact that they were in fact adopted, not foster children any longer.  Thankfully, our youngest child didn’t know any difference at all.  When he would have visitation from his case workers it was just another friend coming over to visit. In reality, I do not believe the next two children (age wise) truly comprehended the difference either, as they were so young when they came to us, as well, that it was more like just a visit with friends when their case workers came over.

However, the oldest two children definitely knew the difference. In fact, I do not believe the reality has set in to this day. They “know” they are adopted, that this is their home, we are a forever family, but what does that really mean to a child who has been cast back and forth within the system all of their lives?

Dealing with the aftermath of things settling down and us finally becoming a family was overwhelming in many ways, yet like a breath of fresh air all at the same time.

Today, we are almost 2 years past the final adoption. Things are the same, yet different. When things would come, and questions were asked we’ve always addressed the questions directly and honestly.

One of the issues we have had with three of the four older children is being destructive. It doesn’t matter what it is, they will destroy it. They have LITERALLY peeled paint right off the wall. They tear up almost every toy they’ve been given. Our youngest daughter destroys her clothing.

At the current time I am removing absolutely everything from their game room with the exception of a couple of plastic buckets of toys. Until I am able to move things around, there is a bookshelf with books, games inside, and just general kid stuff. There is a TV and TV stand. I have already removed the quilt rack, which they destroyed, and the blankets that I had for them to cover up with when they watch TV. I have removed some of the blankets because they were given to them as adoption presents by a local church who makes quilts for each child that is adopted.

I am flat out exhausted from trying to replace things that are broken; caution not to climb on the bookcase because it will fall and either hurt someone really bad or literally kill them; cleaning out broken toys, and other variety of clean up from their destructive behavior.

Our youngest, who I refer to in my writings as “the baby”, just turned 3-years-old. It is amazing to see the difference in his playtime behavior from the other four children.

We learned in our classes to become foster parents that the most formative years is birth to 3 years. That amazed me, since their language skills are not developed, coping skills are not developed, and other things that seem like they would be more important than the first three years.

However, our family is a prime example of how true this is. Our baby- the three-year-old, has been taught from the very beginning how to treat toys, clothing, our home, and how to take care of things in general.

Very recently, after dealing with the aftermath of yet more destruction, my husband made an observation that had never crossed my mind. He said that maybe no one ever taught the other four children how to play! This struck me as odd, since I play with all of them. However, their “most important formative years” were already passed when we got them.

I wonder how much of this truly has an effect on how they treat things now. They see the positive examples, get in trouble when they do destroy things, yet they still do not seem to learn. They still keep repeating the very same behaviors.

So why am I angry, you ask? Because I feel like the system has set my older children up to fail! My husband and I are doing everything we know to do to UNDO the bad parenting that they had by their biological parents, as well as foster parents that did not care and try to RETEACH the PROPER way to play and treat things. This goes beyond just “messy kids”. This goes beyond the “kids will be kids” excuse. It is literally to the point that buying them toys is just a waste of time and money.

This past weekend is a prime example. We took the kids shopping, and I decided to try one more time with new toys. We bought them Lincoln Logs, because they love to build stuff with blocks. They did well the first day. Then, what do you know… the next day, they are in the game room throwing the Lincoln Logs at each other and the window! Now, they had been warned that these were not to be thrown, because throwing things is one of the frequent offenses that they get in trouble for. Oh, I know, all kids throw things. However, there is almost a systematic destructive intent to the actions of at least two of the children. One for certain, the other one has come a long way. (She actually was not involved in throwing things this time, so we are making a little progress!)

There’s a well-known saying in the foster care system, although it is breathed in hushed tones. It reminds me of the scene from “St. Elmo’s Fire” where Wendy’s mom whispers everything that she finds “too horrible to utter”.

So, what is this phrase that is “too horrible to utter”?

Too old too adopt.

This is not true, in the sense that you are never truly “too old” to be adopted. There are adults who have been adopted.

what this simply means is that most people want to adopt a younger child- a baby most preferably.

Our oldest two children were almost “too old” to adopt. I will try to explain this more as I go along, because I do not want this to be misunderstood.

I love ALL of my children very much. And yes, I know all children- biological or not- have issues. I know… kids will be kids. I know all the cliches, true as they may be. However, there is a “magic age” that once passed, it becomes a great deal more difficult to get past the “issues” of being in foster care. That “magic age” is about 5-years-old, give or take a bit.

Our oldest child was 6-years-old when we got her, and 7-years-old once she was finally adopted. She had already learned to “play the system”. However, she met her match with her mommy and daddy! She may have been allowed to play her previous foster families to get her way but it didn’t work that way with us! We were told this is why they (the case worker and therapist) wanted us to meet them, because they both knew needed parents that would be firm yet loving, not push overs as they had previously had.

And yes, before it is suggested, they have been through YEARS of counseling- that did absolutely nothing to help them resolve these issues or help us deal with things. Basically it was just a “system requirement”. Don’t get me wrong- we had a WONDERFUL counselor! But to actually help get to the core matter of the issues it did nothing!

I am angry that the system did not expedite the cases of my older children in a more timely manner so they would have had a more settled life before they did.

I know that this will just make them stronger in the future. I know that challenges grow us.

But that does not make me any less angry.

What makes me the most angry is that in my almost 4 years of being involved in some form of the foster care system, not one single time has an elected official responded to my various correspondences.

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to sit down with a MedicAid investigator about 6 months ago and share some of my experiences and complaints regarding the Medicaid fraud within the foster care system. He was quite intrigued, yet was not very hopeful that anything would ever come of my complaints. I told him I have absolutely no problem testifying in a court of law about our experiences. I am MORE than willing to be the voice, the hands, the feet… the whole BODY in this fight for these children stuck in this broken system of foster care!

Tax payers are being fleeced by doctor’s who prescribe unnecessary medications to children in foster care because it is “easy money”.

My two oldest children were two that fell into the above category. It makes me wonder if the fact that they were being “doped up” has caused lasting affects on them.

I am angry that no one seems to care enough to really get involved.

It makes me angry that even now, in my writing, I have comments directing me how I should leave parts of my story out- whether it is my faith or my political stance.

While I appreciate the input and comments, I can’t change who I am. I won’t change who I am! My faith is one of the most significant facets of who I am! Without my faith I have nothing. Jesus Christ is my Strength.. my very breath that I breathe. There’s no way I can continue in this fight without standing on my faith in Christ. If that offends people, so be it! I accept the fact that there are those who do not have faith in Christ. I don’t try to force my beliefs on them. I don’t ask them to change. I do not say I will not continue fighting this fight with people who do not believe as I do. I will GLADLY join with ANYONE who will join in this fight- a fellow Christian, atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, you name it! So if I’m not requiring that they change for me, why is it being suggested that I leave out this part of my story? I refuse. If that offends some people, so be it! That just makes me angry!

I am just angry! As you can see I am angry about a lot of things! These children do not deserve to have to deal with the burecratic crap that they are being dealt right now! Something should have been dong a LONG time ago to solve these issues!

Fighting For Another Child

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is March 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
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It was hard to pick myself up by my boot-straps and carry on, but it was what I had to do.

It was not long before we received a call on another baby. We once again knew from the beginning that he was just a foster child. He would not be available for adoption, and it was very likely that he would go back to his parents very quickly.

You may be wondering why we agreed to take each child that we have taken, when so far the majority of these children were not even available for adoption.  Yes, we went into this program fully knowing that our goal was to adopt, not just foster. But when we started this process, my husband and I agreed that there was no possible way we could turn down a child. If we received a call from our agency, we would accept that child. These children have already faced so much rejection in their lives. Though most of them that we have fostered and lost are probably too young to really remember what was going on in their lives at the time, we believe that if we received a call to take in a child, God had a plan for us in the life of that child. We may not ever realize what the purpose of each situation was, but God is in control.

So the next baby was placed in our home.  He was 15-months-old. From the very beginning there seemed to be something wrong. This child just did not fit in our family. I really struggled with this, because I do not believe you should ever reject a child. Each child- each person- is uniquely created by God for a specific purpose. So for me to say he did not fit felt like I was rejecting him. And the strange part about this was this child was the first Caucasian child we had ever had placed in our home. With the exception of the first two little boys who are black, the rest of our children have been Hispanic.

I now question whether this child should have ever been removed from his home. It is an internal struggle for me. While I definitely believe everything happens for a reason, there is only one remote reason that I can see why he may have been removed. I think the only reason he was taken was that God allowed it because He knew that I would push in the system that this baby be checked out for medical issues. The parents were refusing to do this, and there was something definitely wrong with him. He would not play at all. I would get down on the floor with him with toys, and he would just look at me. He wanted to just lay in his play pen and sleep. We only had him for 3 weeks. By the last few days he was playing a little bit with our little girl. He still would have nothing to do with our other little boy. But then he was taken back home, and part of the requirement was that they get him medically tested to see what was going on with him. So, he went back where he belonged. I had fought for him. I truly believe that was the only reason he was removed from his home.

I believe it is my job to fight for every single child that was placed with us- I believe this is EVERY foster parents job- to fight this fight for each child that is placed with them. But so many- most- do not do this.  They simply do the barest minimum that is required, if that.

With every child that came into our home I documented, I made calls, I emailed and I fought the system for these children.  They have no way of fighting, except through me. This calling is not just about becoming a parent, though yes, I am so grateful that I have been given this opportunity and privilege. It truly is a gift beyond measure. However, I was called to fight for each one of these children. They need an army on their side, but since the system that should be the army standing up for them, is not fighting the battle so often, I will be the warrior that fights their battle.

Even now, with our journey in the actual system being over, I fight for them. I WILL be the voice for these voiceless children! Somebody has to!

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Too Good To Be True

The previous chapter in this series: Do Not Be Afraid

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Do Not Be Afraid

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is November 2007-March 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
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When we first heard about the Foster-To-Adopt Program, it had been our intention to adopt a baby. One baby. I wanted to have the full experience of raising a child from infancy. Since I would not have the experience the actual pregnancy, I wanted to at least experience the infancy process.

We realized very quickly that baby’s are hard to get in the system. There are so many older children who need homes, but there is very often a wait for infants. Not only is there a wait, it is also not guaranteed that you will be able to keep this baby- or any child you are placed with who’s status is still classified as Foster rather than Foster-to-Adopt. The difference in the status is whether or not the parent’s rights have been terminated. 

We decided that we would broaden the age range for children we would accept. This is how we came to have the two sets of children we had already been placed with rather than infants.

But I still wanted to have a baby. It was still something my husband wanted as well, but I do not think it was as important to him as it was to me.

We had almost increased our license to four children when we found out the first two boys were back in the system, but I was so unsure of being able to handle four children at one time. But the longing was still there. Though I had children, I still long to have a baby! I did not know at this point whether or not I could handle more than the two children we already had.

One evening I told my husband I needed to spend some time with God. I went into our room and shut the door. I spent a while in prayer, wrestling with God over whether or not I could handle three children, one of which would be an infant. As I lay silently before God, just meditating, I heard a very distinct voice. I sat up very quickly, expecting someone to be there. Who I thought it would be, I do not know. I knew that it had not been my husband’s voice, and there were no other adults in the house. It then occurred to me that I had not heard the voice with my ears but with my heart.

God had spoken to me again. But there was no way that what I had heard could be possible!

I sat for a few moments, just taking in what I knew I had heard. After a few moments, I left our room. When I walked back into the kitchen, my husband asked me if I felt better. I chuckled and he asked what that meant. My exact words were, “God is crazy!” He looked at me as if I had literally lost my mind. I’m sure he was wondering what in the world had caused me to say that!

I told him that God had told me not to be afraid to go ahead with three children, I would be just fine. In fact, He told me to be prepared because we would have a total of five children. When I told my husband this, I laughed. But even then, I knew that God has spoken. And I knew that I would not disobey. I had made that mistake too many times in my life before. I just did not know how in the world I was going to be able to handle five children!


After discussing all of this with my husband, we decided we would increase our license to three children, and hold the spot for an infant. We were not ready to step out in faith at this point and just accept that God had spoken. I believe we were both in shock. My husband knows I do not tell him that God has told me something very often. In fact, I have been frustrated many times in the past because I did not hear God’s voice when I would pray so desperately for answers in various different situations. We just were not quite ready to accept that this would be our reality. And there was the possibility that I was just imagining things. To say that you know God has spoken to you is nothing small!

The next day I made the call.  Our license would be increased so that we would be able to have three children in our home.

It was not long before I received a call. There was a baby available. However, they told me right up front it was a definite we would not be able to adopt this baby. She would not be coming to us from the State Foster Care system; she would instead be coming to us through a private adoption agency. There were legal issues that had to be cleared up before she could be given to the adoptive parents. We agreed to take her.

Although we knew from the very beginning that she would not be ours, we loved her as if she were our own as we did all of our kids. We were told before we ever picked her up that we would have her anywhere from one day to one month at the very longest. I went to the hospital and picked her up from the hospital nursery when she was just 3 days old. That was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. To be in the hospital nursery, the nurses giving me instructions on care, feeding her, rocking her… I cannot even tell you the emotions that were going on inside of me!

Over the next month, I got to know the adoptive mom. We talked on the phone every single day, if not several times a day. We built a relationship over that month that still exists today. We are getting to see her grow up, experience her birthday parties and other special events of her life. I am truly honored to have been there the first month of her life. I would not have it any other way, because this little girl is exactly where she is supposed to be! Her life is one of those strange stories you hear where the adopted child looks exactly like one of her adoptive parents. She is literally the spitting image of her Daddy! We know without a doubt he is not her biological father, but it’s one of those strange little quirks that happen in life.

It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to be a part of bringing our friends their child and caring for her the first month of her life. This child is the reason we are all friends today. But, even knowing from the very beginning that we would not have her long, and knowing that she was going to a wonderful, loving family that wanted a child so desperately- just as we did- it still killed my soul to let her go. I had bonded with her. So, I was very happy for the family, but my heart was breaking. There is just no preparing your heart for such a mixture of emotions. I kept my emotions together to be a part of this very special moment in our friends’ lives- laying their new baby in their arms-spending a few minutes with them, and walking back outside to leave the adoption agency office. I made it around the corner- because I knew they could see me through the window. I had the other two kids with us, and of course my husband was with me. As soon as I made it around the corner so I could not be seen, I collapsed and just fell to pieces crying. I did not want to take away from their special day in any way. My husband had to help me to the car. I realize now a lot of my issue was that I was scared- yes, of being a good mother, but also of my heart breaking.

That day, my heart broke. I was so very happy for my new friends. But my heart was breaking, because I still wanted a baby.

A couple of weeks later, we got a call for our next child. He was 9-months-old. I was told that he was foster, not foster-to-adopt, but it was very likely that his biological parents’ rights would be terminated and he would be available for adoption. Of course said yes, and once again, we fell in love. This baby stole my heart from the get go. No, that’s not true. The first day all he did was cry. That was why he was removed from the previous foster home, because they could not deal with his crying.

Between my husband and I, we finally got him calmed down. But it took a couple of days. After that he was the most loving, most beautiful child. And he was a great fit with the other two kids. We began hoping. This was our mistake. The court case was not going that well for the parents, and we were told it was very unlikely they would get him back. In fact, there was a CASA advocate assigned to the case- a non-partial child advocate that talks with all parties involved in the child’s life. She told me that she saw absolutely no way how the biological parents would not lose their rights. There were drugs found in the same room as the child when he was removed from the home, and there was absolutely no remorse from the biological parents. Add that to the fact that they were not attending their classes. After talking with the biological parents it was the recommendateion from the CASA advocate that he not be placed back with the parents.

We were told that there was one other possibility, but it was highly unlikely that this would happen. There was another family member- an aunt- who had said she would take him, so they were pursuing the possibility. However, the CASA advocate told me that there was a person in the home that had a drug conviction, so she would not recommend at all that he be placed in that home.

But, once again, I got a call one day. And just like that, they took him with just a 2 hour notice. Once again, we had no idea there was even a court date scheduled! This time, my husband did not even get to say goodbye. Our other little boy was with me when I had to drop the baby off for visitation. We realize now that this traumatized him more than we could have ever known. I go to drop the baby off, but never go pick him up. we explained to the other two children why I had not gone back to pick him up, but how do you truly explain something like this to a 3 and 4-year-old? There are no words that make sense in a situation like this to an adult, much less a child!

They took him on his first birthday. I cried. I cannot tell you how much I cried. Literally, I cried for 3 solid days. It finally got to the point that I told God, “You have to take this pain and help me to stop crying. I have 2 other children to take care of, and I am not doing a good job of that right now, much less being a good wife.” I finally stopped the continual crying, but the sadness would last much longer.

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Fighting For Another Child

The previous chapter in this series: Jumping Head First Into The Fight For My Children

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Jumping Head First In The Fight For My Children

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is October -November 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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Our October court hearing was supposed to be a pre-trial hearing for the Termination of Rights. At this hearing, the biological mom’s attorney asked for visitation rights to be re-instated. They had not had visits with their biological mom since they were removed from her- the second time- the previous April. So here we are in October, and her attorney is asking for visitation rights right before her rights are to be terminated. I assumed it was a formality. How very wrong I was! It never occurred to me that the judge would actually grant visitation to her again, but he did.

I was devastated! I did not understand what this meant! If she was being granted visitation rights, did this mean the judge was not going to terminate her rights? No one could answer that question for me. Our CPS Case Worker was just as stunned as I was. The State attorney, our children’s attorney, everyone involved was at a complete loss as to why the judge had re-instated her visitation rights.

These two children are child #5 and child #6 of their biological mother’s. At this point she had already had the previous four children removed from her. Her rights had already been terminated on all four of these children and they have been adopted. These two children- my children- have never even met their four older siblings.

My children were taken from their biological mom when they were just 2-years-old and 1-year-old. They were removed from her for physical neglect and abuse. My little boy (the 1-year-old) had cigarette burns on one eye-lid, and on the corner of his other eye. The day they were removed, it was winter. The month of December, though not exactly the coldest here in South Texas, still requires long sleeves- especially for a child! When the CPS Case Worker arrived at the home, the front storm door was open. The screen door was closed, and a chair was propped up against it to prevent the children from getting out. There was also a chair propped up at the back door to prevent the children from getting out the back door.

Both of the children were dressed only in diapers. No clothing at all. They were on the floor, eating from the trash can and the floor around the trash can.

Biological mom had been given temporary, semi-supervised custody of the children the spring before they came to us. She was living in a facility where she had her own apartment but there were “supervisors” on site. By this time, they were 3-years-old and 4-years-old. In less than a month they were removed from her care once again, and placed back into Foster Care, because she left them unattended in the bathtub while she went outside to talk with the other residents in the facility. My little girl was trying to shave her brother’s legs, and she sliced his leg open.

With her previous history, the judge granting their biological mom visitation again did not make any sense at all.

 I knew from the very beginning that this was a bad idea. However, I had no voice in the matter. I had no choices. The judge had spoken and I had to comply with his orders. So we went to our first visit at the CPS Office.

 I had never actually been to the CPS Office building. It shocked me to my very core when my little girl spoke up from the backseat, “Right there, mommy, that’s where we need to go.” I had not told them what was going to happen. I wanted to keep the anxiety down for them as long as possible. But at 4-years-old she could tell me where she was supposed to go. She knew it well. How a child so young can remember something like the location of the local CPS office is beyond me.

The after effects of the first visit were excruciating. The children had not seen her for 7 months, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, there is a visit. When it was time to leave, my little girl cried. She did not want to leave. My little boy did not care, until he realized that his sister did not want to go. All I can guess is that he realized he was “supposed” to not want to go either. This is when he started crying.

That night, they both had accidents in their beds. We had not had a single problem with accidents during the night our entire month that they had been with us. But the very first night they had a visit, they both wet the bed.

This continued for a week and a half. We finally got back on track, only to have another visit the next week.

This visit was even worse. Their biological mom had arranged to have her mom be able to come to the visit as well. I was very confused to hear her talk. While CPS was telling me that they were still set to terminate rights, their grandmother was talking about her daughter getting the kids back. My heart was being ripped apart right in the middle of the CPS office, and all I could do was plaster a smile on my face and nod politely. I tried to be light hearted and encouraging to the grandmother, but it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to sit through. 

Once again, that night, both children had accidents. The accidents continued for a week and a half or so and then stopped.

And then we had our third visit. The visit went the same. Their grandmother was there again, so I had to put on the cordial smile and be encouraging once again. She was telling me that she was planning to buy the kids a little plastic swimming pool to put in the back yard for when they returned home. The grandmother told me that she had told her daughter she had to stop losing her grandkids. Remember- my children are her fifth and sixth child to be taken from her.

I guess it would not have been very wise to tell the grandmother that I hoped the children never were returned to her daughter.

Again, it is not at all that I have something personal against this lady. In fact, it is quite the opposite. I respect her as the mother of my children. If it were not for her, I would not have these two beautiful children to love. But when is anyone in this entire process going to stop and actually think about what is best for these innocent children?

The aftermath of the third visit was worse than the other two combined. While we had the bed-wetting again, my daughter became aggressively violent. We had been informed that she had violent outburst when we were told about them, but we had not witnessed it at all to date. She was definitely rambunctious and did not know her boundaries, but she was not aggressive or violent.

After the third visitation with her biological mother, we not only saw it, we experienced it!

My husband’s oldest sister and her family were in town visiting for the Thanksgiving holidays. All of the children were playing together, and our daughter suddenly grabbed the glasses off of one of the other children. With one swift move she snapped his glasses in half.

When I talk with my children, I try to always physically get down on their level by bending down and looking at them in their eyes. I feel that this prevents the feeling of fear that is caused by someone towering over them. So when I bent down to get on her level to talk to her about what she had done, she pushed me. When she pushed me, she pushed so hard that I literally fell back on the floor. There was such hardness and anger in her beautiful brown eyes! I completely understand why. She had no way of understanding what was going on in her little life.

I knew immediately that this had to stop. These visits were not healthy at all for my children!

I am a documenter. My dad has taught me from a very early age to document everything. You never know when you are going to need the dates or facts to refer back to. So all along I had been communicating with all parties involved in our case.

After this event, where she broke the glasses and pushed me, I got angry! I documented the events and emailed it to all of the attorneys, case workers, and therapists involved. I was about to come unglued by this point.

After this incident, the judge finally stopped the visitation.

We soon found out that the biological mom was not doing all of her counseling and other classes.

But even with this knowledge, the court did not terminate her rights. They set the court date off for 3 more months.

And so the waiting continued.

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The Purpose Of  This Series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Do Not Be Afraid

The previous chapter in this series: Our True Battle Begins

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Mother’s Day- Mourning Turned To Joy

On today- Mother’s Day- I dedicate this to all ladies who long to be a mommy but their dreams have not yet been fulfilled. I know the pain of Mother’s Day when your heart desperately longs to hold your child in your arms but you have not been given that opportunity. I pray that you will continue to read this article to the end. My sincere prayer is that somehow, some way, my journey will give you hope. I have learned that everything- and I mean everything- happens for a reason!

Over the years of us trying to have a family I have written different things, and been a part of a couple of groups for foster and adoptive parents. I had to write a short biography in these groups. This is a revised copy of our biography. If you would like to know more about our journey, I invite you to read from the beginning.

A day of celebration. Or so it was for most. But for me, my heart ached so desperately that the celebrations were like a hot white knife of pain twisting in my heart. Mother’s Day. Why would this beautiful day of celebration be so painful for me, you ask?

It is not because I have a poor relationship with my mom.  In fact, my mom has been my biggest champion all of my life. Oh yes, she has made her mistakes along the way as a mommy, but she is a wonderful mother and friend, now that I’m an adult.

The cause of the deep pain in my heart on what should be such a happy day is because there was a huge hole in my heart crying out to be filled. That fateful day was May 14, 2006.

At this point in my life, I had been married to my husband for 3 ½ years. By this time we had been trying to conceive a child for 3 years. First, we had to endure surgery for my endometriosis. Then I had to be put into chemical menopause, due to the endometriosis. Then we began the real road to trying to conceive, where doctors were involved in the process. The medications and procedures I have been through have cost us not only monetarily, but physically, mentally and most especially emotionally.

So as I sat in church on that fateful May 14 in 2006, I tried to hold back the tears that were threatening to pour in buckets. We had just had another failed round of medication and procedures. The pain was intensified through my hormonal roller-coaster ride, another year of failed dreams, and more and more unanswered questions. Why, God? Why will You not bless us with a child? As soon as the service was over, I ran out as fast as I could find the door. I had to get out. I had to scream. I had to cry. I just could not be around the joyous occasion of Mother’s Day any longer.

It would be almost a year before we would come to realize that God’s plan was to bless us more abundantly than we could have ever imagined! But just as Isaiah 55:8 says, my ways are not His ways; my thoughts are not His thoughts.

We had talked about adoption, but it seemed like such a far-reaching dream, because we are not financially wealthy. To pay $20,000, give or take a few thousand dollars was not an attainable goal for us.

So when some of our best friends told us about the foster-to-adopt program, we were intrigued. Or, if I am being honest with you, I should say my husband was very intrigued. I still had my hopes set on conceiving our own child.

We decided that I would have one more procedure before we started the process. When it ended in no pregnancy, I called to make an appointment for the informational meeting. Within a month we had started the process to become foster-to-adopt parents.

Less than five months later, we had children in our home! Talk about whirlwind! Most mom’s have 9 months at least to get ready to be a parent!

I will not tell you it has been a bed of roses, with rainbows opening each day and a winking moon closing out each day.

 After almost two years of being in the foster care system, we were able to finalize the adoption of all five of our children.

 Hearing the giggles and laughter of my children each morning lights up my life.

 I never thought I would hear a child call Mommy. Yet now I have five children calling out various forms of mommy at any given moment of the day.  Every now and then I still get a shiver down my spine as I hear that name- me! Mommy! You bet I am! I am a mommy! And I am blessed beyond my wildest imagination!

Though our children are adopted, this is not over for us. We do not know where God is going to lead us, but we know that there are many other children are stuck in the broken system of foster care.

Today I am very grateful to my Editor here at ConservativeDailyNews.com for providing me the space and opportunity to tell our story. No, I can’t save the world, but I can certainly change the world of countless little lives that have no voice. No matter how long it takes I will continue to fight to make changes and fix this Broken System!

I pray that God will use us and our experience to help many other children find a loving home. There are many empty arms this Mother’s Day. There are many children who need loving arms to hold them.

I believe our struggles are not without reason. God has called us for a purpose. We have been allowed to experience this system first hand. We know the hurts. We know the frustrations. We know where things need to change. So we are here, surrendered to do whatever He would have us do.

My mourning that Mother’s Day in 2006 has turned to boundless joy!

Thank You, Jesus! I am now a mommy!

My heartfelt prayers go out to each and every hurting heart just longing to be a mommy this Mother’s Day.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors

I am going to take a small detour from the continuing story of our journey through the Foster Care system to address you, Sir and Madam- our elected officials.  You are the ones who have to make the changes necessary in this Broken System.

While I do not mind at all sharing our personal story, the main goal of this series is to fix the Broken System of Foster Care. To accomplish this goal I am going straight to the top-you- the lawmakers of this nation.

Over the last 4 years I’ve talked to many people about my concerns. I’ve started all the way at the bottom, and gone all the way to the top. I’ve made phone calls, I’ve written letters, I’ve written emails, I’ve filled out online forms and I’ve actually sat and had conversations in person. I’ve talked to Case Workers, Supervisors, Investigators; I even contacted one of my State Representatives, but never received so much as a “thank you for contacting me” email.

I am now going straight to the top and I am not going to stop until somebody, somewhere, listens to me and commits to helping me bring light to this Broken System.  I am determined to be the voice for these children who “slip through the cracks” way too often!

There are simple things that can be done immediately that would cost nothing, yet would streamline things drastically!

One specific thing is requiring that all communications be shared with all parties involved with the child’s case. I was shocked when I found out that it is not a requirement as a foster parent to send weekly reports to all case workers, attorneys, etc. I was required to send a report once a month to my private agency case worker.

I am a firm believer that communication is the key to the success of any relationship. Without communication a relationship- no matter what it is- will fail. Invariably.

As a foster parent, when I would send my monthly reports to my private agency case worker, or any other correspondence that dealt directly with the child, I automatically copied the ad lidem assigned to the child, the CPS case worker, and anyone else who may be involved in the case. Without fail, I was told by every single CPS case worker that I was the only foster parent who had ever included them in correspondence regarding the child. This bewilders me to this day!

With the technological capabilities that we have today there is absolutely no reason at all why everyone involved with a child should not be on the same page. If you are following our journey, you know that with our first two foster children, there was a court case deciding their case , yet neither my private agency case worker nor myself knew that a court date was scheduled! When the judge ruled that the children were to go to a relative immediately I was given 1 hour to collect their belongings and explain to them that they would be leaving our home. To children who have already had their lives disrupted this is just another upheaval in their lives!

Had I been aware that there was a court date I could have better prepared myself, the children, and their belongings. As it were I was the one that informed my private agency case worker as to what was going on, not the CPS case worker!

As I stated in my opening article for this series,  the ENTIRE system needs to be completely overhauled! We must start with changing the laws that are written to protect the rights of the biological parents more than the rights of the children.

We must weed out judges who give these abusive parents chance after chance after chance to get their lives together, all the while the children are left with their lives in limbo. Every child needs permanency! While the “goal for permanency” is touted in the Foster Care system, the implementation of making permanency happen in the lives of these children in an acceptable time frame is missing!

Too often CPS case workers are just there to “do a job” rather than making a difference. Don’t get me wrong, there are many case workers who do have a true passion for the children they work with. However, there are many who see their position as simply a paycheck. Because they are government employees they are protected more than they could dream of in a private sector job!

I have experienced personally how private agencies often view these children as nothing more than commodities rather than the precious lives in upheaval! As I continue to tell our story you will get a first-hand account of this actually happening!

I know of foster parents who see these children as nothing but a paycheck. They do the absolute barest minimum to care for these children, yet take advantage of the system at every available opportunity.

It is my hope and prayer that by telling our story someone, somewhere will help me completely overhaul the Broken System that consistently fails our children in Foster Care. We have to be their voice! I will not be silent until someone listens to me!

I ask you, Congressmen, Senators, Governors- will you listen? Will you step up to the plate and fight to make the necessary changes?

You ARE being held accountable!

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Our True Battle Begins

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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It was not even a full month after we first received these two beautiful little boys that I received a call from the CPS Case Worker saying that she had just left the court proceedings and they would be at our house in an hour and a half to pick up the boys! What?!. I had never even been told that there was a court hearing scheduled that day. It was not until later that I found out that our Agency Case Worker was not even aware of a court date that was scheduled.

This is one of the MAIN reasons why Foster Care is a Broken System! In this day and age with the technology we have there is no reason in the world why communication cannot be streamlined so EVERYONE involved in the life and care of that child is aware of what is going on with their case!

At the court hearing, the judge ordered that the boys were to be taken out of foster care and placed with their grandmother. We had not been aware that this was even a possibility. From the time I received the call to the time that they came to pick the boys up was 1 hour. This is all the time I had to get them packed up and tell them that they would be leaving. I also called my husband frantically, telling him they were going to be leaving. Thankfully, he was already on his way home from work, so he would be able to tell them good-bye.

When the CPS Case Workers arrived to take them, I showed her the storage bins I had for them to take with them. One of the first things we were told in our classes is that anything that is bought for the children while they are with us goes with them when they leave our home. Most of these children have nothing that belongs to them. While I would have automatically done this, knowing that it was one of the main things that had been stressed to us in our classes made it even more important to me.

I am sure you can imagine my bewilderment when the Child Protective Services (CPS) Case Worker asked me if I was sure I wanted to send all of these things with them. I assured her that yes, I had already bought the storage buckets for them so I would be prepared whenever the time came for them to leave. Thankfully I had this taken care of the first few days so I did not send them off with a garbage bag of belongings.

I  reminded the CPS Case Worker that the oldest boy had celebrated his birthday with us, and that many of the things were his presents that he had received at his party. She told me once again that it was not necessary to send everything with them; I could keep some stuff for the next children we would receive. Once again I insisted that these things go with the boys.

By the time the boys were loaded in the car and buckled in their seat belts, this CPS Case Worker had asked me a total of 4 times if I was sure that I did not want to keep some of the things I was sending. By the last time, it was all I could do to keep my composure.

While we knew from the very beginning that these boys were not up for adoption, it was not easy at all to see them disappear down the road. These two little boys- our first sons- will always hold a very special place in my heart. Every time I see a bottle of Ranch Dressing I smile and think of the oldest one. My, how that little one loved his Ranch Dressing! I can still hear his little voice now- “Miz ‘Llenah, I want my ranch dressin’, please!”

That little boy stole my heart from the very first moment. I struggled more with the youngest one, because he cried for hours. He craved attention. While I would spend time throughout the day holding each of them, rocking them, playing with them, it was never enough for the youngest one. He would scream throughout the night. I was so mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted by the time they left, but I missed them before they were out of sight.

The next day, I called our agency case worker and told her we were ready for more children when they were available. She was bewildered, wondering what was going on with the boys. She was not even aware that they were being taken to the grandmother!

Our home was open once again.

It was at this time that she told me about another set of siblings- a little girl, 4-years-old and her brother who was 3-years-old. They had been placed in 9 different places, if I remember correctly. They were about to be moved again. She told me they should be ready to be adopted in December (this is now end of September 2007).

I did not hesitate! I told her absolutely we would take them! To know by December we could be finished with the Foster Care system and start just living life was a dream!

So we made arrangements to meet them. We decided it would be best not to just place them immediately, since they had been moved so many times. When we met them, we fell in love immediately. And they immediately began calling us mom and dad. That was a bit strange to me. In fact, they thought they were going home with us that day. They were so used to being moved around to different homes and different places they just naturally expected that they were on to their next stopping off place.

They came to spend one night with us the next week, and we made arrangements for October 1 for them to be placed with us. They didn’t want to leave to go back to the other home. So, October 1 came and they were brought to their new home.  Thankfully, this would be their last home. They would never be moved again! But, I am getting way ahead of myself here.

The day after the first two little boys were taken to their grandmother is when we agreed to take the next set of children. While we would not get them immediately, we were committed to taking them.

The next week, while discussing the brother and sister that we would be receiving with our Agency Case Worker, I found out that the first two little boys were back in the system. We did not know it at the time, but when they were removed from our home and taken to the grandmother, they were not taken to her home- they were taken to her place of employment! The grandmother had them only 4 days and discovered she could not handle them. She took them back to the shelter. This is now the second time the baby has been abandoned. His biological mother had left him literally on a street corner and drove off. Thankfully, it was on the street where the biological father lived, but that really does not make it any better. My prayer is that this baby is too young to remember what he has gone through.

I did not know what to do! Our little boys needed a home! But we had committed to the other two children! We were only licensed for two children. My heart was so very torn!

We discussed increasing our license to four children. I just did not know if I would be able to handle them all. I prayed and prayed, searching for an answer, but I did not receive one. All I could do at this point was trust that God would take care of these two little boys.

We had been told horrible things about the two children we were about to receive. They were destructive, no one could control them, there were major behavioral issues, and they were mean to animals. While some of the things we were told were true, not all of these things were. True facts or not, it does not hurt my heart any less to realize now that  ALL these two children wanted and needed was to be loved, to feel secure, and be given loving discipline.

From the very beginning we realized that these two children were not going to be nearly as easy as our first experience was.

Our Agency Case Worker had told us that their biological mother’s rights should be terminated by December- just two months away. Their biological father’s rights had already been terminated, and the final court date was scheduled in December.

There was a pre-trial date set for the end of October, to prepare for the Termination of Rights hearing in December. Never could I have ever imagined that our battle for these two children had only just begun.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter of this series: Jumping Head First In The Fight For My Children

The previous chapter of this series: Love Plain and Simple

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Love Plain and Simple

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is September 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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I had been told when I received the first call about these two little boys that they were foster children, not foster-to-adopt. The difference is with a foster-to-adopt child, the legal rights of the parents have already been terminated. For a foster child, they are in the system because they have been removed from their biological parents for reasons that are unique to each case. Reasons for removal can ranger from neglect all the way to actual physical or sexual abuse.

With the case of these two little boys, I was told that they could be in our home anywhere from 6 months to a year. It was not my ideal dream, because I didn’t want to ever have to let go of any child that we would have placed with us, but there was always the possibility that the rights of the biological parents would be terminated. If they were in our home, we would be the first to have the option of adopting them.

I am sure from the outside, reading this, that this sounds so harsh. How can I hope that someone’s rights for their biological child are terminated? Please let me make myself very clear before I go any further. It is my absolute belief that the absolute best place for a child is with their biological parents- IF, AND ONLY IF the child is in a healthy, safe and secure environment. If those three things- health, safety and security- are not the priority of the home- it is NOT in the best interest of that child to be with their biological parents just because they share the same DNA. It is not at all a biological argument, it is child’s well-being argument. If a child is in an unhealthy, unsafe or insecure place, they should be removed- biological, foster, adopted, day care, school, extra-curricular activity. This is just basic common sense- or, should I say, I would assume that this would be basic common sense. As I have stated throughout many of my articles it appears that common sense is a thing of the past! I have learned through our experiences in the Foster Care System that common sense is most definitely missing in regards to the rights of a child. More often than not, the “rights” of the biological parents are put before the rights of the child in the eyes of the law! It is absolutely appalling, but as you will see as our journey unfolds, the proof glaringly obvious!

Back to our story.

Within just a few days of the boys arriving to our home, the oldest one had a birthday. He was turning 4-years-old. Of course we planned a birthday party for him. He was so overwhelmed! Though we had invited just our closest friends, he received an abundance of birthday presents! We did not realize until later that he had probably never had a real birthday party. While I was so excited at the thought that we had the honor of giving him what was more than likely his very first birthday party, I was also overwhelmed with sadness- and anger- to realize that he had never had this joy given to him. Even if you are not wealthy you should be able to save up enough through the year for a very small birthday party! How much is a package of cupcakes? Kids do not expect extravagance!

It was the most amazing feeling in the world to be a mommy! While the youngest little boy could not talk yet, and the oldest little boy did not call me mommy, but chose instead to call me “Ms. ‘Llenah”, I was in fact their mommy at this point in their lives. This is not something that I took lightly. This was the most amazing honor, to know that I had been entrusted with these little lives.

There is a detail in this story that I have left out up to this point that I must add. For me and my husband it was not an issue at all. The only reason I am going to share this detail with you now is because it is something that I must bring to light, and to tell this part of the story, this detail must be shared.

These two little boys- our first two foster children- are black. For the record, my husband and I are very white!  I was told in the initial phone call their race, and it never fazed me. I did not care what color their skin was! I just wanted to love them!

It now becomes an important part of the story because it saddens me to realize that racism still runs so deep in the veins of our country. We can deny it all we want, but the reality is that there is racism that runs deep in all races. It is not just in the white community, racism exists in every community. Just as I, as a Caucasian (“white”) woman, am not racist, there are white people that are racist. There are black people that are not racists. There are black people that are racist. There are Hispanics that are not racists. There are Hispanics that are racists. There are Asians that are not racist. There are Asians that are racist. We cannot put a label on any one group because of a select group within that group.

I believe that the breeding of racism is actually fueled by every facet of our government. If it were not, why is it a question that is asked on every single legal and government form? The color of my skin does not determine my character, just as it does not determine yours.

I have taken a detour on this issue because it is another passion that is dear to my heart, as I am sure you can see by now. In fact, with our current President, it seems that anyone who opposes him is a “racist”.  I laugh- a very sad and ridiculous laugh- when I am called a racist or a bigot, which actually happens more than you probably would imagine due to the fact that I am heavily involved in political conversations online. If they only knew half of my views and actual life choices they would realize how ridiculous their words are. If they only knew the truth! But then again- most of these people who want to throw the race card around wouldn’t know truth if it jumped up and hit them in the face! Oh well. They are the ones with egg on their face, not me!

While I am very passionate about my convictions on this topic, I also realize that there are many who choose to live in ignorance. That is their prerogative. They will never know the many wonderful people they are missing out on knowing because they cannot see past the color of their skin.

I have tried to deal with this passionate conviction of mine by ignoring the ignorance of others. There are just some people that refuse to admit they may be wrong about something.

One Saturday, we took the boys to eat pizza. I was oblivious to everything and everyone around me. I was a mommy, and I was enjoying every single moment of it! As we were leaving, I could feel my husband’s tension. I asked him what was wrong. He said nothing was wrong, but I knew better. Something was just not right with him! I knew that there were no conflicts between the two of us; the boys had been perfect little angels; and there had not been any conflict that I could see while we were eating.  As I continued to question him, he told me we just needed to leave.

I finished wiping up the boys, and we headed out the door. My husband told me he would tell me what was going on when we got in the car.

Once we got the boys buckled into their car seats, and were driving away, he told me that there was an older white man in the restaurant that seemed to be appalled that we- a white couple- had two black children. My husband said every time I would wipe one of the boy’s faces, or give them a kiss, or tickle them, or whatever else I would do with them, he would grumble and scowl at me. He said it was all he could do to keep his mouth shut and not tell the man off.

I began to chuckle. My husband turned quickly and asked me what was so funny. I told him how sad it was that this man could not see past his own insecurities. He had to pass judgment on us, knowing nothing of our situation. I am by no means saying we deserve, need or want special attention or accolades for the call that has been placed on our hearts. It is actually quite the opposite. We are doing this because we have been called by God for a purpose. But this man has no idea the joy he is missing out on! All he could see is two very dark black little boys receiving love and affection, hugs and kisses from a very white couple. How could that be?

Love. Plain and simple. Love does now know the boundary of colors. Love is love. And strangely enough, it was not until my 30’s that I truly understood what love is. It is not at all what our society defines it as. I will have to write an article on this later, because I believe it is an intrinsic part of our journey. Love. Such a beautiful thing that is so misunderstood!

One of the most interesting details to this story is that overall, my husband is usually the very calm side of our marriage. I tend to be the irrational, impetuous, spout-off-at-the-mouth side of our marriage. In this instance, our roles were reversed. It took everything in him to remain calm and quiet, while in my obliviousness to this man’s racism, I was very calm, even after knowing the situation.

His ignorance did not matter the least to me. He was the one missing out. Not me!

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Our True Battle Begins

The previous chapter in this series: Finally! The Pitter Patter of Little Feet!

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Facing My Fears

This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is January-March 2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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We finally decided we had reached the end of the fertility journey. We would not try again. It was just too painful. Not necessarily physically, though that was painful. The emotional and mental pain was unbearable at this point.

We had discussed adoption, and were both very willing to adopt, but we also knew that we did not have the financial resources to pursue this option. So at this point we were going to have to just accept that we were not going to have children.

We had talked about trying to move closer to my family. My brother lives in the Dallas area, and we live in the San Antonio area. While we are in the same state, we are still about 3 ½ hours apart. We began to pray about it and left it in God’s hands.

My husband began searching for a job in the area. If this was what God wanted, He would have to open the doors necessary for us to move.

Within just a few days he got a response from his resume, and had a phone interview that went very well. They asked him to come up for an interview in-person. We made the arrangements and went to Dallas for his interview. He was offered the position.

We gave our notices at work, gave our notice to our landlords, and began to make preparations for the move. However, I never packed a single box. Usually, that is the first thing I do if we are preparing for a move.

We made arrangements for my brother and his family to help us move some things to their house temporarily. My husband would go on and start working while I stayed behind to finalize the packing and moving preparations. My brother and his family came down to take a bed back with them. My husband was to leave on Sunday to start work on Monday.

Saturday night we were both very restless. We lay in bed, talking. Neither of us were at peace. Why was this? We had prayed for God’s direction, He had answered. All of the doors were thrown wide open for us. We had not received any bumps along the way. So why were we not at peace? 

We did not go to sleep until 4am Sunday morning. He was supposed to leave around noon. After an entire night of talking and praying, we decided that he was not going to go to Dallas. We did not understand why this had all happened, but we knew very clearly that he was not supposed to go. None of this made sense to either of us. Why would all of this have happened if we were not supposed to move?

My husband had no problem at all rescinding his notice at his job. He did not know it at the time, but another co-worker had given their notice the same week he had given his. This left his company with only one systems analyst in the field. His boss had asked him if he would reconsider the move, and my husband told him this was the decision we had to make. Friday- his last day of work, his boss offered him a considerable raise to reconsider.

We have often wondered if this was the reason this all happened. Was this God’s way of providing more income for us? I do believe this is part of the reason. But the real reason- or should I say reasons- were yet to be realized.

Around this time we had friends who had become foster parents through the State. They told us about the program, and suggested that we check it out. We were not sure how it all worked, but needless to say, our interest was piqued.

I was in a discussion with two of my dear friends who knew the fertility process we were going through. I told them about our other friends who were becoming foster parents, and suggested that we check into it. I told them that I did not know if I wanted to do it. One of the ladies turned to me and said, “You are being selfish.” She told me that I was being selfish in many ways, none of the least of which was that I was depriving a child the love of a good home. Wow! Talk about hitting you below the belt! That took a lot to digest.

That day she shared something with me that I had never known about her- she was adopted. I knew she had a very difficult childhood, but I did not know that she had left home at an early age and was taken in by friends’ family. At the age of 18 they adopted her. She said if it were not for the lady that adopted her, she would not know Christ today.

She made me stop and think. The reality of the situation was that I was scared. We had gone through so many procedures, jumped through so many hoops, had our hearts hurt so many times; the thought of more pain was just unbearable. I was letting fear prevent me from moving forward.

That day I faced my fears. I realized that my friend was right. I was being selfish. At this point I could not even acknowledge to myself, much less voice to someone else that her arguments had been right.

Over the next couple of weeks I thought a lot about our conversation. I talked to my husband about everything, and he was completely ready to find out what we needed to know to get started in the foster-to-adopt program.

In March of 2007 we attended the informational meeting. The thought alone was overwhelming to me. We could go through these classes, get our certifications, get our background checks, have our home inspected, and we could have kids. And it would cost us very little money! The only out-of-pocket expenses we would have would be the fees necessary for background checks, licensing fees, and the other miscellaneous items. With a quick calculation, we were estimating less than $300 total and we would be able to be parents! Why was this not made known to more people who are struggling to have children?

It would not be long before I understood that it’s not really that simple.

We took an application home and filled it out. Within a week we were sitting in our first class.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: Fostering Hope

The previous chapter in this series: A Missed Message

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Dreams Of A Little Girl Shattered.. Or Are They?

This begins the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is pre-2007.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.

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You were created for a purpose. In fact, each of us was created for a special, unique purpose. Sadly, many of us go through many years of our lives not having a clue what our unique purpose in life is. Unfortunately, too many people never seem to find their unique purpose in life.

If you had told me as little as 4 years ago that my purpose in life was to become intertwined in politics I would have laughed in your face and probably had a few “not so nice” words for you. I absolutely, positively despise politics. I am not a game player, and I see politics as nothing but a huge game at the expense of other people.

I also believe that everything in life that happens, happens for a reason. We may never know why some things happen, but there are other times I believe that it becomes quite evident why something or a series of events happen.

I view my entire life through the lens of believing that every single thing serves a purpose for my specific purpose in life. If I had not lived through the things I have lived through I would not be the person I am. While I am by no means perfect, I am very happy with the woman I have become.

However, it has not always been that way.

I will tell you how it all began… me becoming so intertwined in the very thing I detest so much- politics. This is a very personal and painful story that has spun into what has now become a life-long commitment to shed light on and change a system that is completely broken.

There are a couple of things that most every little girl dreams of. The first is her wedding day. Before she learns to walk in high heels, it is quite likely that she has planned her wedding down to the tiniest detail. She knows what her color scheme will be.  She knows what her cake will look like. She knows what her brides maids dresses will look like. And most importantly, she knows what her wedding gown will look like.

It is not important to her at this point that she has no way of knowing the most important detail- who her groom will be.

Nor is it important to her that she has not given this man, who she has most likely not even met at this point in her young little life, the opportunity to make choices on their very special day.

The wedding day is, of course, all about what the bride wants, right?

Another day that most every little girl dreams of is the day she becomes a mommy. From the earliest age we are given baby dolls so we can prepare to be the best little mother in the entire world!

As a child, my favorite toy was my baby dolls. I was never one to play with Barbie Dolls. In fact, I do not believe I ever owned a Barbie. However, I had countless baby dolls. My dollies and I would play for hours, lost in our little world of make-believe.

I was an odd mixture of a child. I was one who always wanted to be grown up way before my time. And yet, I was perfectly content to play with my dolls, lost in a world that disappears from us way too quickly- childhood.

I crossed over the bridge from being a child to a lady way too young. From the very beginning I had numerous problems that have lasted me my entire lifetime.

When I was about 20-years-old I first heard about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I read a magazine article, and they listed all of the symptoms. I had every single symptom! I copied the article and took it to my doctor. She tested me, and told me that no, I did not have it. At the time, very little was known about PCOS. I thought I had the answer, only to be shot down again.

Over the years, I honestly cannot tell you how many doctors I have seen. I am what some would call an anomaly. If there’s a strange health issue, more than likely, I have it. I do exaggerate here, and honestly, I do thank God for my good health. Though I have many issues, I know I could have it a lot worse. So, though I have seen many different doctors, for various different reasons over my lifetime, most of the time my doctor visits centered around the parts of my body that define me as a woman rather than simply a human.

When I was in my early 20’s I was diagnosed with Human Papaloma Virus (HPV). At the time, I was mortified! It is a sexually transmitted disease. It was not until many years later that I would discover that nearly 80% of the population has HPV- and many do not even know they have it.

After it was discovered that I had HPV I began the treatment. There are no words to express the pain involved in the treatment of HPV. I’ve had several different procedures over the years. The first treatment was freezing. They froze my cervix. And then they thawed it out. And then froze it again. And then they thawed it out again. Quite honestly, I cannot tell you what else is involved in the procedure. I know there is something else, but I do not remember. I believe I’ve had the freezing procedure done twice. This procedure is not only painful during the process of the procedure, but the aftermath is almost as bad.

Later, I had the CONE Procedure. This procedure requires that they cut a cone-shaped piece of your cervix out. You only have a local anesthesia. As with the freezing, not only is it very painful during the procedure, but it is also very painful during the healing process as well.

I ended up moving to another state, and had to find another doctor. So the search began yet again.

I went to see a doctor that had been recommended to me. I had such a bad experience with her that I swore I would never go back to another gynecologist.

By this point in my life, I have had so many bad experiences with doctors that I cannot recount them all. This last was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the saying goes. I finally said enough. No more. I refuse to put my legs up in stir-ups for anyone else! Man or woman, it didn’t matter.

But with the issues I have had over the years, I should have known I would never be able to stick to my word.

When I was in my early 30’s I began having severe pains in my abdomen. I tried to dismiss the pains, but eventually they got so bad that a friend and my husband ganged up on me and insisted that I go to the doctor. I am very thankful that they did, because this doctor diagnosed me with endometriosis. I had to have surgery to address that issue.

After the surgery, I had to be put on medication to put me in chemical menopause for 6 months. I was told exactly what to expect. But in reality, there is no way you can fully grasp what is going to happen. Thankfully, I was prescribed what we called “Happy Pills” during this time. If not, my already bald husband would have been pulling out the stubble. It was no fun at all- for either of us, or anyone that spent any time at all around me.

It was probably around this time in my life where I began to truly feel less of a ________.

You can fill in the blank with many different words. The first word was “woman”. I felt like I was not truly a woman. Not only had I never had children, but now I was going through menopause. Keep in mind I was well informed that the treatment would only last for 6 months, and then I would be off of the medication and have a normal cycle again. I felt less of a person because I could not lose the weight that I needed to lose. 

I am sure at this point you are wondering where my rational thinking was. That’s the point. I was not rational at all.

 I have spoken to other women who have gone through chemical menopause, and the reaction is wide and varied. Mine seems to be one of the most extreme experiences. One of my friends had very little change mentally or emotionally when she had to have the same treatment.

After completing the 6 months of chemical menopause, we began to try to have children. Previously, we had not tried to prevent pregnancy, but it had not been a consistent calendaring of events.

This is where the real fun begins.

After several months of actively trying to conceive, with no results, I went back to the doctor. My doctor told me there was nothing more he could do to help me, I had to help myself. He told me that the endometriosis was taken care of, so the only problem I was having in conceiving was that I needed to lose weight. This would solve the problem.

Almost in tears, I asked him how to do that. His next words infuriated me beyond words. “Just don’t eat so much”. I had to clamp my mouth shut before I went off right there in the office. Sure, he had no problems. He was very fit and slender. It was quite obvious he had not struggled a day in his life with weight issues. And not only that, my husband is very slender and eats twice as much as I do, if not more!

Since he did not feel that he could help me any further, he referred me to his colleague, who is a fertility specialist. Thankfully, I did not open my mouth and say the things that were on the tip of my tongue, because the referral was the beginning of a lot of answers for me.

I was very leery to go to my first appointment with yet another doctor. I could not tell you what number this one was.

When I met the new doctor, at once I was put at ease. He was not slender. He is a plump little man with a smile that warms the room and my heart. He has the bedside manner that I have always dreamt of. During the very first visit, I told him exactly what his colleague had told me and how I felt about him. His response was not at all what I imagined. He said, “Well, yes, losing weight may definitely help- not in just conceiving a child, but in a healthier life. But that may not be the complete answer. As you can see, I need to lose weight too. So, I’ll lose 10 pounds if you’ll lose 10 pounds.” Immediately I was at ease.

Now, honestly, neither of us lost the 10 pounds. But to have him treat me as a person with feelings rather than him ridiculing me made all the difference in the world.

The first thing he did was run a complete battery of blood test. I had told him that I had all the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), but they had told me for years that I do not. He looked over my information and agreed that yes, I had every single symptom. When the test results came back, it showed up as negative for PCOS. I started crying, right there on the examining table as he talked to me. He immediately started patting my hand. He assured me that he was going to do the test again. He saw the issues, and was not giving up. So, when the second set of test results came back negative, he told me not to worry, he was going to treat me for PCOS no matter the test results. By this time, he had performed a vaginal sonogram and could actually physically see the cysts on my ovaries with the sonogram. So he diagnosed me, even though the blood test was saying I didn’t have it. This is what makes the difference between a doctor and a good doctor. He actually listened to me! I cannot tell you how many doctors over the years have just shoved me out of the office with a more nutritious eating plan.

I will not tell you I eat the healthiest. But, over the years, numerous times I have made many concerted efforts to eat right, exercise, and lose the weight. Every single time I failed. If I actually lost weight, I would gain it back almost immediately if I ate anything not on the plan. Or, there were even times when I gained weight rather than lost weight, while eating healthier and exercising. Yes, I do realize that muscle weighs more than fat, but I did not gain that much muscle mass in that small period of time. After a while, it becomes very discouraging. You see the scales going up. You are making better decisions in what you eat. And you have no real success. So why try? And you go ahead and eat the unhealthy stuff anyways. It becomes a vicious cycle.

To have someone listen to me, to know that maybe, just maybe, after all these years, there may be some answers, I was excited beyond belief! Yes, it means I am sick. Yes, it means I will have to take medication- possibly for the rest of my life- but hey, it is answers! I’ve gone 15 years or more with absolutely no answers and more frustrations.

It was interesting to find out that the medication that is used to treat PCOS is diabetes medication. Though I am not diabetic, PCOS affects the amount of insulin that is absorbed by your body. When I started the medication, I had a few small side effects but nothing major. It was during this time that my husband and I decided we wanted to go full-scale in trying to conceive a child. So in addition to the PCOS medication, I also started taking fertility medication. Once again, we got on a merry-go-around ride of up-and-down emotions.

After about a year on my medication for PCOS, it suddenly started making me violently ill. My doctor changed my medication and I was on this medication with no problems at all for almost 2 years. Then I started having problems again. I was still taking the fertility drugs as well.

The fertility medication had to be taken at a certain time each month- depending on when your cycle starts. After you finish the medication, you have to go into the doctor’s office to have a sonogram. Depending on what the sonogram shows depends on what you do next. If the follicles are a certain size, you are ready to proceed. If they are not to a certain size, you have to wait a day or so, and go have another sonogram done.

Add to this that your sex-life is no longer determined by when the mood strikes you and your spouse, you now watch the calendar. You count days. You know when you “have” to have sex in order to conceive. It does not make for a romantic setting, to say the least.  While my husband and I have always had a very healthy sex life with no complaints on either side, it became a dreaded thing when we had to schedule sex for the sole purpose of having a child. The enjoyment seems to disappear when you both know that in the back of your mind you are wondering if this is going to be the time you are finally successful.

Studies have proven that the most sexual organ of our body is our mind. If our mind is not there, then you are simply going through the motions. I never truly understood this until we had to schedule our love life. While previously, a phone-call inviting a noon-time rendezvous was very exciting, it now became a burden for both of us. It was not at all that we did not enjoy being with each other anymore. We both just knew that the purpose of our love-making was very specific during these appointments.

Needles to say, this process becomes quite expensive very quickly. Most health insurance policies do not cover fertility treatments, so this comes out of your pocket. In less than 6 months we spent almost $10,000.

I have had people ask me why we have gone through so much to have children. If you are one of those people who are very blessed, and you can conceive without any difficulty, then there is no possible way you can understand. If you have not walked in these shoes, there is no way you can know the emotional agony.

When my husband proposed to me I told him there was no way I could marry him, because I knew there was a big possibility I would not be able to have children due to all my medical problems. He is the most genuine, most matter-of-fact, most black-and-white view of things people I’ve ever met. I had seen him interact with children, and I had heard him talk about spending time with his nieces and nephews, so I knew he loved children. I still tease him to this day that I think he wanted to be a father before he wanted to be a husband.

When I told him that I did not know if I could have children, his response was that there is always adoption. That thought had never occurred to me with him, because it was not an option at all in my first marriage.

Even with the thought that we could adopt a child, I still saw it as impossible because we are not wealthy people. By this point we had spent well over $12,000 or more in our quest to become parents. I knew that adoptions were not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

One of every little girl’s dreams for me had been shattered. I was not going to be a mommy. Or… was I? Sometimes things are not always as they seem.

Little did I know that lives were about to take a dramatic turn.

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The purpose of this series:  Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

The next chapter in this series: A Missed Message

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?

To say that our Foster Care system is broken is a gross understatement. Whether it is the actual Child Protective Service agency, the individual case workers, the judges deciding the cases, foster parents, or the law itself is hard to pinpoint. I would venture to say it is most likely all of these factors combined.

My main question is this: who hears the voice of the children? Or more especially, who speaks for the children? It should be all of the people above: CPS, case workers, foster parents, judges and the law.

But more often than not, no one is taking that position.

We have judges that care more about the rights of the “parents” than the rights of the voiceless children.

You are probably asking yourself why the Foster Care system is something I care so much about. Am I a product of “The System”? No, I was never in Foster Care. However, all five of my children were. Please note that I said “were”. Thankfully, we have made it to the other side of the Foster Care system and our adoptions were finalized on all 5 of our children the summer of 2009.

Through our journey to have a family, my husband and I learned more than I ever would have imagined about the Foster Care System. When we started the process I wanted one child. My husband talked me into committing to adopting two children. One day in prayer God spoke to my heart and told me He was preparing us to have five children. I literally laughed out loud at God. Just a note of warning for you…. Don’t ever laugh at God!

Our journey is amazing- one I would not change for anything in this world! Yes, there have been many tears shed through this process. There have been many broken hearts. But there have also been countless blessings on this journey.

We have been asked if we plan to adopt any more. I do not have plans for that, but I leave that decision to God. He knows the plans He has for me and my husband (Jeremiah 29:11).

I have also been told that I cannot save the world.

I agree. I can’t save the world- only Jesus can do that! However, I know that I can change the world! I believe God has a plan to use me and my husband- our journey- His story lived out through our lives- to shine the light of truth on the atrocities that go on in the Foster Care System.

I am committed to giving a voice to the voiceless. These children have no one to be their voice. Oh yes, there are the occasional CPS Case Workers, judges, foster parents, teachers, or other people who have come into the lives of these children. But all too often these children “slip through the cracks” of the system.

One day it is my goal to stand before Congress and be the voice for these children. Laws need to be changed. Accountability needs to be set in place for anyone who has contact with these children that have been entrusted to the care of the state. This system is broken and someone MUST stand up and demand that it be fixed!

As of September 30, 2009, there were 423,773 children in foster care. This is the latest official number available. (Source: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/stats_research/afcars/tar/report17.htm )

Currently, there are approximately 115,000 children in the United States Foster Care system waiting to be adopted. (Source: http://www.adoptuskids.org/resourceCenter/aboutTheChildren.aspx )

These statistics are astounding to me!

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So through the pain and anguish, heartache and anger of our journey, the joy is most definitely worth it! And in the process a passion has been lit inside my soul to be a voice for the hundreds of thousands of children who I cannot bring home and adopt.

As a Conservative leaning Libertarian I am often disgusted and appalled at the Liberal agenda. The common argument is that Conservatives have no heart for the poor and needy. Liberals argue that because as a Conservative I want to cut the Federal Budget to the barest minimum I have no heart. I would challenge anyone who says these things to stop expecting the government to help the needy and step up and help them yourself! If you truly care so much about those in need, show them you care, do not “trust” the government to take care of the needy! And as you can see from the statistics there are many lives that need help! Where are all those bleeding heart liberals? These children need all of us to speak up for them and take action! This is our future we are talking about! 

I invite you to come along on this journey with me. It does not matter to me if you are Conservative, Liberal, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, straight or gay. If you dare to follow me on this journey, prepare yourself. At times you will be angry. Other times you will cry. Occasionally, you will smile, or even laugh. However, those times are rare in “The System”.

I will share our family story so that you will have a small glimpse into the darkness that truly exists. I pray that God will allow His Light to shine through me- our story- to change the world for these voiceless children. My prayer is that through our lives you will add your voice to mine. These children need to be heard!

Will you join me? Together, we can make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of children!

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The story begins: Dreams Of A Little Girl Shattered… Or Are They?

Foster Care: A Broken System- Video

An Open Letter To All Senators, Congressmen and Governors