Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Broken

We had hoped for a long time to have a third child (in fact, we wanted four children total).  But no matter how hard we tried, no matter how much money we spent, we were never able to get pregnant with a third child.  Time went by and I'd come to believe that our family would include only our two beautiful daughters.  I feel truly blessed and unbelievably lucky to have them.

As my birthdays came and went, I felt as though I was too old to have anymore - I didn't want to be called my child's grandmother.  LOL!  But Jess is nine years younger than me and still had the baby bug in her.  So she started looking in to fostering and adopting through D.HS.

We started the process last fall.  We filled out mounds of paperwork, got the family fingerprinted, had background checks, interviewed with numerous people, took six weeks of training (three all-day Saturdays, and three half-day Saturdays), had a home study (with multiple follow-up visits to the house), renewed our CPR and First Aid training, and filled out even more paperwork.  It's been a looooong process.  And just when we thought our home would be open, they told us that we needed more things.  For as long a process it is, it is a much more frustrating one.  I understand that they have to cross the T's and dot the I's but we are a good Christian family and this isn't our first rodeo when referring to raising children.

With the girls going to a new school this year, I knew I wouldn't be going back to work at their old school (that's a post for another day).  So Jess and I decided that I wouldn't work this year so that I could take care of any foster children that may come into our home.  The day our home opened, we got a call.  A newborn baby boy.

Overnight, our home was transformed.  Bottles, diapers, blankets, and pacis were all over our house.  We had a crib, a swing, and a bouncy seat.  We had baby boy clothes size newborn and 0-3 months, baby towels, tearless shampoo, and baby lotion.  We hadn't seen the likes of this in almost 8 years.  But the baby was a sweetheart and an all around good baby.


I can't say much about his case, suffice it to say that he was taken because he and his mom tested positive for opiates and benzos at the time of his birth (with no prenatal care, and he was born way past his due date).  He had a rough few weeks after his birth, having aspirated meconium, been intubated, and put on TPN for the first two.  He didn't come into our home until after he'd been in the hospital for four weeks.  

At the first court hearing, the judge ordered a list of things the mom had to do in order to get her child back.  A few of which include, management of the prescription drugs she tested positive for, finding a job, finding a home, etc., etc., etc.  After a few weeks, it was clear she was not doing the plan.  She missed several visitations, she was still testing positive, and she still didn't have a job or home.  

At just about the time where we'd had him for seven weeks, we went to another court hearing.  The mom's attorney argued that because she had prescriptions for the drugs in hers and her child's system, he never should have been taken in the first place (nobody cared that the drugs were contraindicated for pregnancy!).  Therefore, the case was dropped and he was returned to her the very next day.  Nobody cared, either, that he was going back to a dangerous situation, that his father was arrested for molesting the mom's 3-year old daughter (from another father, who she also lost custody of when she was a couple months old).  Nobody cared. Nobody cared!

Except us.  We are heartbroken. We knew going into this that children would come into our home and then leave.  But this was not the way it was supposed to happen.  The parents are supposed to work their case plan and become suitable parents to their children.  This did not happen.  And having missed more than half of her scheduled visitations, she didn't act like she wanted her child back.  But that day, we handed him back to her, with no reassurance from the agency that he would be safe, fed, or cared for.  

It's been a week, and although the agency told us we can call them to check on the baby, they don't answer their phones when we call.  

Through this whole process, I have become so jaded.  I have lost my faith in humanity.  How do these people sleep at night after knowingly put children in danger?  It is awful and I just don't understand it.  These children fall through the cracks and no one cares.  

I care.  And I'm still trying to figure out what I can do.
 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Summer Vacation - Part III

Maddie and Colin stayed with us for a couple weeks after Nationals and we had a blast.

We took the kids shopping and they all gravitated toward this sculpture.  I love this pic!


They had some fun with the underwater camera.  LOL!

Syd


Colin



And then some posing above water - Syd and Maddie.


Add Layne to the mix.  Duck lips!


An "usie" (ya know, a selfie with more than one person LOL!)


These pics crack me up.  Posing next to painted pictures on the wall of the pool.  LOL!




Colin being clever with the camera.  He took some pretty cool pics.






Having fun on the playground.


On July 4th, we went to a Travelers game and later watched the fireworks from the field.




Trav's won!


The fireworks were quite a show.


We played games a lot.  The Game of Life was one of the favorites.


Another "usie".


Joined some friends on a walk across the Big Dam Bridge.


Everyone has new sneaks!


On one of the last days Maddie and Colin were in AR, we took part in the Chick-fil-A free meal.  We dressed up as cows and got a free lunch!  (We took this shot several times, and each & every time, Layne closed her eyes.)


We had such a good time with Maddie and Colin here visiting with us.  Can't wait for next summer!

A week after they went home, we started our 2-week vacation to the Northeast.  A few more posts should cover the vacation - one for New York, one for Boston, and one for Provincetown.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Vacation - Part II

When we were not dancing, we were playing around on the beach.  We had such a good time with our dance family.  
Here, the girls spell out the studio's nickname - FFTC.  The girls are both on the second F.


The girls had such a good time hanging out together.  Syd is 6th from left (black top), and Layne is 4th from right (pink skirt).


The girls outside the competition venue in Panama City.  Layne is far left (pink top and tutu), Syd is squatting in the front with a hat on her head.


We were on the 28th floor, so the view down to the beach was pretty good.  I got out my camera and shot the umbrellas.




And it was perfect to view all of the wild life that swam through our part of the beach.

A large sting ray.


Some baby sharks  - that made a sharp turn toward the opposite direction when they saw people.


A dolphin jumping out of the water.


A bunch of dolphins


A manatee!  There were actually two.


My parents drove up mid-week to see a couple of the girls dances.  My niece and nephew, Maddie and Colin, joined them up for the drive.  They stayed when my parents went back home and drove back to Arkansas with us.  They stayed for a couple weeks and hung with us.  We were so happy to have them and we had such a good time.  Next post … our time with them.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Nationals - Small Groups

Lastly, came the small groups - a lyrical, a jazz, and a tap.

WITH LOVE

Lyrical is not Syd's best genre, so she ends up in the back a lot.  LOL!  This is a sweet beautiful dance.

Syd is in the back (count four from the right)


Still


On the right


Second from right


Middle (but still in the back LOL!)


(Best if viewed in full screen.)  Sydney starts in the back (fourth from right)



BEAT

This was Syd's (and the rest of the girls') least favorite dance.  I don't think they ever really got it together.  
Syd is second from left.



Second from right


Third from left


Second from left


Still


Still


Syd starts out behind the girl that is second from the left.  But then moves around.



THE JOINT

"This Joint is Jumpin' "  This is my favorite of all Syd's dances (except her solo).  Such a fun and awesome dance.
Syd is third from left.


Middle "boy"


Right "boy"


She and her partner are in the middle


Far left (the only "boy" without her hat over her eyes)


Far left


(Best if viewed in full screen.)  Syd starts out sitting behind the table and moves far left.  But then moves all over.  And then about ⅔ into it, she wipes out.  LOL!  Slippery floor.



All three acts earned a "Elite Top First" - the highest adjudication award.  Out of about 55 acts, there were over 20 "Elite Top First" awards.  So unless they called out the Top 25, we knew there was a chance none of the dances would place.  

They awarded the Top 15.  Beat didn't place, and although With Love didn't place either, they received the Breath of Fresh Air Judges Choice Award. A fun award! The Joint on the other hand, despite Syd's face-plant, place 5th!  And just as we were about to burst with pride, they announce that The Joint made it to the Showcase!  The Showcase is the opportunity for the 10 top-scoring dances (one dance per studio) to re-compete for the National Grand Champion.  What an honor!  Now, we were actually bursting with pride!!

The Showcase competition was the next evening.  The girls performed one of their best (and Sydney didn't even fall!).  However, it wasn't enough to win the National Grand Champion (and they don't place the rest - only called out First Place, so we don't know if we came close.  LOL!).  But we were so proud.  The girls did awesome!

Now … on to another great season!