In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.















Monday, May 9, 2011

4 Years

Today marks a turning point in my life, my husband’s life and most of all in the little’s lives.

It was the day after Mothers Day 4 years ago that we officially became Daddy & Mommy again.

Even though they were already living here 90% of the time for the 8 months leading up to this day but was instead called “babysitting” while she supposedly worked. Even though they already had beds, dressers full of clothes, toys and all little ladies baby paraphernalia. Even though I had been hauling them with me to work every day. Even though we held the titles of  grandma and grandma and we did everything daddy’s and mommy’s do. Even though they had already bonded with us. 

It was Mothers Day 4 years ago when my eye’s were opened up to the truth that I had refused to see. I had been manipulated. I had been lied to. I had been used. My husband had tried to tell me. I didn’t believe him. Instead I felt sorry for my step daughter, closed my eye’s to the hurt she inflicted on us and believed that if we supported and helped her to start loving herself then she could get her life together and thus be a mother to the little’s. As you know it didn’t work that way.

She made that Mother’s Day pure hell and then walked out the door. Without her children. With my youngest daughters help we spent the rest of that day and the next getting to the bottom of the truth. And the truth was not pretty. When she came to our home the day after Mother’s Day, she was angry because she had gotten word that we had found her out. She threatened to take the little’s and that we would never see them again. As lies spewed out of her mouth I stopped her and told her that she needed to take her children and go home because I was DONE with her lies and manipulation. I told her that her father and I would be over immediately after he got home from work.

When they walked out the door and drove away, I sobbed. I hated sending the little’s with her but in reality these were her children and we had no rights to keep them. A couple of hours later, my husband and I went to her apartment. We were horrified about the condition of the apartment but even more so of seeing little lady laying in a filthy crib with a bottle propped up to her, while little man held a cup of juice that had mold floating on top, in his little hands. It was mere minutes of confronting her that she verbally asked us to take the little’s. Within an hour of confronting her, we walked back out of the apartment with the little’s in our arms, after my husband loaded up the remaining of their belongings into our car.

They have been with us ever since.

Now I could say what a horrible person I think she is.  I could lament about how much we tried helping her to be the mommy. But, I won’t. While it was wrong of her to lie, manipulate and use us like she did, it would have been worse for the little’s if she hadn’t. I cringe at the thought of what life would have been like with propped up bottles and dirty juice cups in the midst of a filthy apartment.  But even more I cringe at the thought of them not getting fed emotionally. She was and still is emotionally void. As much as it makes me angry that she did all these things in order for us to be constantly caring for the little’s, I am thankful she did. I am thankful that we were her safe place and that she knew we would love them.

She loved the little’s enough to manipulate us so that they were with us the majority of the time. When she was confronted with the truth of having to step up to the plate and be the mommy because we were not going to be helping anymore she loved them  enough to admit that she couldn’t be the mommy. She loved them enough to ask us to take them. She loved them enough to walk away. She loved them enough to want them in a loving safe home instead of the alternative.

There are those that throw stones at her and mothers like her. It could be easy to condemn her. In our hearts we ask how could a mother do this? Yet, when I heard this morning of another mother killing her children I thought more mothers need to walk away from their children before it reaches this point of no return. More mothers need to love their children enough to hand them to someone that will.

This doesn’t mean that she didn’t change her mind once we wanted to make it legal. This doesn’t mean that she hasn’t continued to lie and manipulate. This doesn’t mean that she hasn’t  told whom ever will listen that we stole her children from her. This doesn’t mean that it has been smooth sailing with her.

Over the past 4 years we have had a bitter sweet journey that led us to being called daddy & mommy today. Early on, it cost most of our savings and some of our sanity in order for us to have complete legal & physical custody of the little’s. I don’t care who you are, no one likes fighting their own child in court but you do what you have to do when faced with the alternative. Thankfully we live in a state that gives relative caregivers as much rights as birth parents in the eye of the law. 

At this point she has done nothing to improve her life or ability to parent so the likely hood of them being with us through the long haul is very high. The only way she could get custody of them is if we were proven to be negligent parents or if we see fit to hand them back to her ourselves.

She will always be the birth mommy. The little’s know she is mommy and that we really are the grandparents but prefer to call us daddy & mommy. She will always be in their lives and the little’s will get supervised visits with her. We are a family with more than one mommy.

We were newly married when we received these children. The plans we had  were put on the back burner.We thought it was just going to to be a temporary thing and we surely didn’t plan on being daddy & mommy. Almost 5 years later here we are. We may not be doing what we planned to be doing but I truly believe we are exactly where we are suppose to be.

You would think that with all they have been through they would be messed up little people but in reality they are very happy normal little people. Yes, on occasion we have issues with them being overly attached to us and they have difficulty being apart from us. They have an issue with people leaving them. If it were up to them all five of my adult children and grandchildren would all be living with us, along with various aunts and uncles. Smile

The little’s have changed our lives and filled up our hearts. They have expanded my family and added a whole new flavor to it. They may exasperate us every some days and we may not get many breaks but they add so much love and joy to our lives that I cannot imagine them not being here.  

I don’t share our story because I want  pats on the back or for you to praise me with accolades. I share this because if our story can help one person it is worth sharing. If our story can help others to be supportive of someone that is raising someone else child or children. If our story can encourage someone that is walking in our shoes. If our story can help others to be more understanding and less judgmental of parents that walk away. That just maybe if we all consider the alternatives…the children killed by their parents, children that are abused and neglected…the children that are all alone, that are not nourished physically, mentally or emotionally, then we could stop throwing rocks at parents that walk away instead.

Our story has a happy ending but not all do.  Motherhood and fatherhood is not a right but a privilege. Children are not but mere objects that we can discard at our discretion but sometimes walking away is the most loving thing a parent can do. I wish with all of my heart that mother’s  or fathers that take their children’s lives had thought about this alternative first.

That night, 4 years ago, when we walked back into our home carrying these two precious souls, we started a journey into unknown waters. So much has happened since then. We may struggle at times. We may lose  sight of where we are going at times but some how we always find our way. I know we are right where we are suppose to be.

I hope each of you that are mom’s, and those that stand in as mom and those of you without children but have mothers hearts had a happy mothers day this past weekend.  As I reflect on getting to be a mom to each one of my children and grandma to my grandchildren my heart is full. I could not ask for more. (Well, except that they lived closer. Smile )

 

Until next time, much love and big hugs to each one of you, Lori

 

PS Thank you for your continued prayers and positive thoughts that are sent my way. I so appreciate you!

 

69 comments:

Zookeeper Jess said...

You always say everything perfect. This blog post touched me deeply because we are so much alike in both personality and through our situations. I wish my sister had the strength to walk away when needed but she didn't. It had to happen in a sad, different way. But like you, although the past 15 months are something that have affected us in so many ways, we are Thankful that it brought us to where we are today. My sister keeps going further into a dark hole and it hurts me and bugs me so much to see that she just won't get it together enough to be a better mom to her (our) kids. At the same time, I am ever so Thankful that my nieces are in our home. Protected, loved, happy. It's bittersweet. I wonder how you deal with visitations. If you could email me, I'd love to chat with you about this. At this point my sisters visitations have been revoked. Many have opinions that she doesn't deserve visitation and at this point were haltin them. I am not sure when we will allow them again but it's something that I think about daily. It's hard to know what is the right choice. I worry that she will hurt them more. Thank you for sharing this post and I hope you'll email me. zookeeperjessi@gmail.com

Elizabeth Grimes said...

These things are so difficult to understand. How fortunate the Littles are that you are in their lives, to be there when they need a mom.

The Incredible Woody said...

The littles are so very, very lucky to have you in their lives! You are an incredible woman!! Much love to you:)

jpooh said...

Since this day should be celebrated - for the Little's sakes, if no other - I'm going to wish you a Happy Anniversary, Lori.

If there were only more people like you in the world, it would be a much better place. Thank you for being you.

Jan

XLMIC said...

I am moved to tears. There is so much in this story. And you are so right... it is easy to judge and blame and finger-point, but in the end, none of that matters. What matters is that children deserve love. They deserve care and consideration and respect. And now the littles are getting that... from you :)
Happy Anniversary!

Just Be Real said...

Very touched dear Lori. ((((safe hugs)))) to all.

Jeannie said...

Great post. I'm glad for them that their birth mother walked away too. And glad you were there to take them. Other kids do not fair so well and the kids end up in the "system".

Anvilcloud said...

You may not want accolades, but I think you're freaking awesome.

Linda said...

I agree with Anvilcloud. You and your husband do indeed deserve accolades. May God bless you as you love and nurture the Littles, and may God work in the life of their birth mother to free her from her demons.

Brian Miller said...

((lori)) i pray for you often and i am so glad the littles have you in their life...you took on a daunting task...and set aside your own dreams for a bit...and thank you...

Deborah said...

I agree with Anvilcloud, you may not want accolades but I'm giving them anyway. You have so much strength Lori. It makes me wonder about the things i call struggles. You are an inspiration to me how you have so graciously handled what God has asked of you..even against your own plans. I hope to continue to grow as a person so that I am always prepared to do what He would ask of me. Happy, happy mothers day!

Unknown Mami said...

I think you are right where you are supposed to be, too. I'm glad the littles are loved and safe.

Joyce said...

Lori, I have a brother who is an alcoholic, his story is long and so, so sad. But I will share with you what I tell the rest of my family, as long as there is breath in his body, there is opportunity for God to reach down and make a change. I am so glad you are there for your step daughters children and it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job raising them. Someday God may work a miracle in her life and she will realize what a wonderful gift you and your husband gave her. Hopefully then she can try to start building a relationship with them.

kcinnova said...

Love made you their mother, and that love is priceless.
I look at the photos of the littles and your love and care makes them glow from the inside.
If only more desperate mommies had that safe release valve that you & your husband provided, there would be fewer hurting children in the world.

I'm not big on the idea of jewels in crowns in heaven, but if it's true, you will have an incredible crown to lay at the feet of Jesus.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Your Littles are so blessed to have you and your husband as their champions. What an amazing difference you are making in their lives.

I'm happy you have custody of those gorgeous children and can protect them.

You know I pray for you often and wish you and your family all the very, very best.

xoxo jj

Natalie said...

Your story is such a sad one, especially since she has become a parent yet again.
I am understanding all the underlying struggles with taking on two more children when your life was finally becoming your own, but what else could you do?
They are beautiful little ones and they are SO blessed to have found their way into your home. ♥

TechnoBabe said...

The plans you had as newlyweds may not have included raising such young children, but what a blessing for all of you that you are young and strong enough to do it. The littles needed you and needed to be in your family as children to have half a chance in this rough life.

Years ago I worked with a woman who for much the same reasons was raising her granddaughter. She and her husband did not ever imagine they would be raising a little one at their ages. But they would not imagine their granddaughter in foster homes.

You have had ups and downs over the past four years. It warms my heart that you and your husband are providing a home and family for the littles.

blueviolet said...

My aunt had to do the very same thing with her daughter's child. It's only one little girl, but it was a battle royale to get her taken away permanently. My aunt had her for years, but finally the courts allowed the mother's sister to adopt her. Now that precious girl has a chance. Just like the littles do with you! You're a blessing!

Buckeroomama said...

Another beautiful from-the-heart post, Lori. I love the way you look at life "half-full."

Have a blessed week! :)

Hilary said...

Your Littles are so blessed to have you and your husband.. as you are to have them. Your heart is huge, Lori. I'm certain that everyone who knows you is better for it. You're a true gem. Belated Happy Mother's Day to you, dear Lori.

LPC said...

Happy Mother's Day, Lori. Happy mother's day.

Kamana said...

you are a strong incredible woman and they are lucky to have you as their mommy

Busy Bee Suz said...

I can't believe I missed this post this week...
Oh, your story should be shared. I know you are NOT alone.
Thank goodness you have the mind/heart/drive to take those babies OUT of that environment. Can you imagine the dangers they would come across??
This is a day to be celebrated Lori.
love to you and your family.
xoxo

Jeni said...

My circumstances with being a co-parent, of sorts, to my grandchildren are a bit different from yours in that my daughter and her two little children have been living with me since daughter and her soon-to-be-ex-husband married and since each of these two grandkids were born. We live together in the house built in 1903 by my grandparents and where I grew up, where I raised my three children after my ex and I divorced. I'm thankful my daughter and her family want to live with me in this house because being retired now, I couldn't possibly afford to stay on here alone and also, my daughter couldn't possibly afford to rent an apartment much less a house, for less than what my mortgage payment runs us. She will get the house when I die -at least that is the plan. (Which reminds me I need to see an attorney to try to make sure that IS what happens to the house when I'm gone and that daughter and the grands DO still have a place to live!)But although our arrangement is so that we both have a home, food, etc., it still makes me responsible a lot of the time for how my grandkids are being raised, dealing with their autism and other issues as well. But you know, at the end of the day, I wouldn't want it any other way and I know that's how you're operating too with the "Littles"! Keep up the great work you and your husband are doing there!

ladyfi said...

Children are so very resilient - but they cannot live with love and hugs and emotional nourishment. And they feel safe and secure in all the love you give them.

As the mother of two children I didn't give birth to, my kids also have two sets of parents. And I constantly think of the woman whose greatest tragedy became my greatest joy...

ladyfi said...

Of course - I mean they cannot live WITHOUT emotional nourishment...

Colleen said...

Oh Lori. I didn't see this until tonight. Let me tell you I read it with tears in my eyes. What a world we live in. And thank God for people like you.

So much love to you. xxx

Shrinky said...

I cannot imagine what life is like to walk in your shoes. Those littles are wholesome and happy with you and your husband there loving and keeping them safe. But what a cost - no, you would not change the way it is, you are deeply needed, and every word you write expresses how much you love them, I know there is no other option you would wish to choose now. Because of your selflessness, sacrifice and devotion, these littles are going to grow up strong, independant and fully equipped to be responsible, givng members of society. I know you do not look for praise. I also know you take my breath away - you are simply incredible!

Katherine said...

I cannot even understand the emotions you went through and continue to go through but what i do know is you are beautiful soul, within an even more beautiful light.

Your radiate hope.

K xx

<3

mommytoalot said...

Hi Lori,
Your beautiful littles are blessed to have a mommy and daddy that did step up. As a foster parent, I see so so many sad cases and grandmas simply are unable or unfit to step up.
I also have custody of two littles, totally different scenario , in fact we are not even related. It's a long story, I did a little post on it awhile back. Mom in not unfit in my opinion nor is their grandma but it was not up to me. We just stepped up. NO ONE in their family came forward, no one. Any how here we are also almost 4 years later..and it's challenging and hard on our marriage but the children are doing well.
hugs,
lisa

Stella said...

I think I started to get to know you right after year one. You are amazing and I can't believe how lucky these kids are!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I admire your honesty. Always have. We never know what life hands us, but that is the strength of very few - those that step up and take on what comes. Doesn't happen very often.

A belated Mother's Day to you. Sounds like you have great support and love. Take good care of yourself.

Kathryn Magendie said...

so glad you were there for the littles - *hugs*

gram said...

you did the right thing and i am proud of you for what you did, i would hope that there would be more people like you in this world, it would be a much better place, take care and i hope you had a wonderful Mothers Day..........(I am still alive and well, just on the back burner simmering....) have alot of catch up reading to do...take care of yourself and keep up the love and hugs with the "littles" they are sooo lucky to have you! :)
hugs,
~cheryl~

LauraX said...

thinking of you today Lori...sending you love and healing light.

The Incredible Woody said...

Thinking about you today! Hope summer and all the fun that goes with it has arrived at your house:)

LauraX said...

thinking of you prayerfully today Lori:-)

Joyce said...

Where are you, how are you?

Michelle said...

How are you, Lori?

Been reading your health woes and seeing myself in too much of it. Sometimes I see bits in the littles as well. I got caught up in a "little" story of a family member who never wanted to be mommy and sometimes I was more that than she was, but she never NEVER gave up holding on tight and her child was one that got lost, badly lost. You're doing something so important with these two little people that I never managed. Love and hugs xx

Zella said...

Thought of you today. Hope all is well and you are able to enjoy this summertime. Hugs.

Linda said...

Hi, Lori. Just wanted to drop in and let you know you are in my thoughts and prayers. Hope things are looking brighter for you these days.

Joanna Jenkins said...

Hi Lori, I've been thinking about you and just wanted to say hello and that I hope all's well with you.
xo jj

ladyfi said...

I do so hope you and the little ones are well!

Hilary said...

Hi Lori,

I'm just dropping by to let you know that I'm thinking of you and yours, and that I hope you are feeling better and coping well. And that I miss you.

Hugs to you,
Hilary

LauraX said...

thinking of you this evening Lori...sending love to you and your sweet littles.

Nezzy said...

I hope you know how blessed the 'little' are to have you and to call you Mama and Daddy. Ya'll did the only thing that you could.

Sometimes our blessings come in many forms. Your story touched my heart.

God bless you and have a fantastic weekend sweetie!!! :o)

Zella said...

In my thoughts, Lori. xo

Linda said...

Miss you, Lori. Hope things are going all right at your house and that the Son is shining in your heart.

gram said...

Checking in to see if you are still here, I hope life is good for you. Take care....hugs

Hilary said...

Tap, tap, tap. I'll just leave a hug and my best thoughts on the front steps for you to collect when you're up to it. Hope you're doing okay, Lori.

Hilary said...

Stopping by to wish you and your lovely family a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope all is well in your world. Hugs.

The Incredible Woody said...

Just wanted you to know that I was thinking of you and your family this morning. Hope all is good in your world!

LauraX said...

Thinking of you this evening and sending love.

Laura said...

thinking of you this evening Lori...sending love and light.

Hilary said...

You've been on my mind, today. I hope you are doing well. I'd love to hear from you when you're up to it.

Hugs to you, dear Lori.

Brian Miller said...

smiles..hey you...great to see you come by....

Brian Miller said...

hope you are well...we are doing good....

ladyfi said...

It's been a year since we last saw you out here. Just want to let you know I'm thinking of you and yours.

Big hugs.

Zookeeper Jess said...

I hope you're okay...it's been over a year and we miss you :(

Laura said...

I've not forgotten you Lori... just thought you should know.

Zella said...

You popped into my head today for some reason. At times I wonder how you are, how your family is doing. I hope all is well and you are looking forward to another bright and sunny spring :)
xo

Bella said...

Lori,

it has been a while since you've posted but you've been on my mind and in my heart for a long time now. Hope you are doing well, hubby too, and those littles I bet are growing up quickly. Much love to you and your family.

Hilary said...

Almost two years since your last post. You are very much missed.

I hope all is well with you, dear Lori.

Hugs,
Hilary

onlinephduk said...

My, what a journey, full of complications yet it’s worth fighting for. If that happened to me, I would certainly do the same thing just like what you couples did. Being a mother can either be biological or simply a choice! I think the little’s were very lucky and blessed to have you couples accepted and loved them unconditionally. I wish you all the happiness and love throughout the days of your lives. God bless!


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Hilary said...

Hi Lori,

Two and a half years have passed. I thought I saw you posting a comment at someone's blog several months ago.. maybe longer. I hope you and your family are doing okay.

If you do read your comments and should you so desire, please drop a quick line. I'd just like to know how you're doing. And to make sure you know that I think of you often and miss you muchly.

hugs and love,
Hilary
thesmittenimage@gmail.com

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