I am finally getting out my laptop to get at least something updated on here and I realized it's been exactly 1 month since I last posted, which is exactly 2 months since the girls joined our family. So I'm going to ramble out an update on life in general and also about some updates in the girls' case.
This last month has been hard and I'm feeling weary. Lots of busy, lots of stress, lots of hurt, lots of anxiety, lots of feeling like there is not enough of me to go around.
Harper had her tonsil/adenoid surgery on the 12th. Her asthma started flaring up the week before so there was a lot of talk about postponing it since apparently asthma and anesthesia don't go well together. Thankfully after a medley of steroids and other medicines her asthma doctor cleared her for surgery. I was so worried about the actual surgery and complications that I didn't put a lot of thought into her recovery and it was definitely a lot harder on her than we were expecting. She ran a fever for several days after and also developed a pretty nasty upper respiratory infection...which is pretty much the worst possible time ever to come down with a bad cough. There were many sleepless, tearful nights with the two of us out on the couch. She refused food for a week and even getting popcicles down her was challenging, but thankfully she started feeling much better the second week. Until a really painful UTI landed us at urgent care late one night. I'm telling you, that poor girl has been through the ringer this month. The good news is that the surgeon said her tonsils and adenoids were huge and taking them out should definitely cure her apnea issues.
The girls are doing well. They fit in to our family almost like they were never not a part of it. All four of them play so well together. Lily and Harrison are so much alike in personality it is hilarious. Except when it's not...they are both super hard-headed and stubborn and love to test boundaries. ;)
They still have moments where the trauma they've been through resurfaces and it's been a challenge learning how to navigate through all of that. To decipher which tears are grief and which tears are just not-getting-my-way toddler tears. To know when they need correction and firmness and when they just need a big hug and some grace and a reminder that they are loved no matter what and it's all going to be okay.
I am exhausted. All the adrenaline has worn off and I have been feeling very stretched thin. Between the demands of 4 young children in general, I've also been taking care of a recovering sickling, potty training the twins, coordinating countless appointments and visits, and celebrating both Rick and the twins' birthdays. But I know it is going to get easier. I didn't have a moment away from the kids for the first 6 weeks but we now have 2 approved babysitters. I had one come over for a couple of hours last week when I took Harper to an appointment and ran some errands and it was an encouraging reminder that I will soon be getting mental breaks and have some time to take care of things when the kids start preschool next week. And on Saturday we had our first night out in months. It was amazing and refreshing and so much fun! We will definitely be escaping the crazy at our house once a week for date nights going forward.
And now for an update about the girls' case.
Right now they have weekly visitations with their older siblings and their dad. I have many mixed feelings about all of it. When they see their family you can see the joy in their sweet little faces. I'm so happy for them in those moments because I can only imagine how hard it must be to be separated from your family. But at the same time I feel like the bandaid gets ripped off a little after each visit. They have come so far in 2 months and made a lot of progress emotionally. They have adjusted very well here. The visitations stir up a lot of emotions that they don't really know how to process yet and I hate that for them.
Rick and I went to the permanency conference a couple of weeks ago. When children come into custody there are 3 possible permanency goals assigned to the case: 1) parent reunification; 2) related adoption (biological family); 3) unrelated adoption. From what our CPS caseworker told me, cases are considered open status for up to a year. After a year, if the first two goals are not close to being met, then they start seeking termination of parental rights and shift toward unrelated adoption. 6 weeks in to our girls' case, the goal was already changed from parent reunification to unrelated adoption. Placing the girls back with their parents isn't an option and there aren't any biological family members that have been identified as eligible caregivers. Again, mixed emotions. Relief that they will not be going back to their previous environment, but huge sadness that they are losing their parents. Both joy and loss are born out of adoption. It is most definitely bittersweet.
They will continue having visits with their dad until his rights are
terminated. In a way I feel like it's kind of like knowing someone with
terminal cancer. You're thankful for the time left but know that some
huge grief is right around the corner. My heart hurts for not just the
kids, but for their parents as well.
After the permanency goal change Rick and I have had some discussions about the big "A" word. Before, we were
protecting our hearts and didn't even want to entertain the thought of
adoption until we knew it was a likely possibility. And now it appears
it's heading in that direction, although the state will seek an adoptive home for all 4 before they would separate them permanently. I'm still not letting my mind wander that far for long, but it has allowed me to peek in at part of my heart that I was keeping closed before. It's a hard place to be. One part of me screams these girls really could be our daughters forever! and another part whispers don't you dare go there yet. Either way, we will continue loving them like our own and praying for God's will to be done, whatever that looks like.