Sunday, July 20, 2014


No, not the movie, though I do still have yet to watch it.  More me and the prospect that seems to strike fear in every adoptive parents soul: writing the "Dear Birth Family" letter.

  • Homestudy done?  Yep
  • Agency chosen? Yep
  • Lots of money already paid? Yep
  • Letting months going by because you are to terrified to answer questions about yourself?  Oh yeah.

So this is my unthawing.  I completed my nearly already completed supplemental questions.  I managed a cover photo for my "brochure" (self-portrait, thankyouverymuch, as all photog friends were MIA...).

And I am emailing them off to the agency tomorrow!  dammit.

And I am even opening the file from the brochure expert I'm working with which has all the questions and subjects to cover for Dear Birth Family laid out to make it all so EASY!  E-a-s-y.

That is, as soon as you slay that giant Dragon o' Fear you have inside that now one will see you as a match or a mom, and make yourself unthaw.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It is May, not April, that is the cruelest month

(journal entry for AJ)

It is full of important days. Mother’s Day. Birthdays. Anniversaries of when we first met. It is heartache piled up around me, a new gauntlet for me to walk through every year. There was one wonderful year when all those days were happy days; I have to remember that year in those that follow when they are sad.

At some point we passed that dreaded marker I didn’t want to pass: That day when you would have been gone from me longer than you were here. I don’t know what date that was, and my brain refuses to figure it out. It is enough for my heart and soul to know that it happened. All I can do is pray that I did enough for you. That someday you will hear about me. That you will want to know. That some small precious part of you could will remember.

It seems fitting today that I finished up listening to a book I was grudgingly reading, upon the recommendation of a very dear and well-meaning friend. I made judgments the whole time, about the immaturity of the author’s voice, about the constant quoting of Bible verses. About evangelical callings and how I felt I was being insulted that my quiet, soul-centered and personal spirituality that has carried me through everything, was lacking because it is not Christ centered. But the last chapter that was delivered to me today was unexpected and dealt a hard blow. There was our story being played out halfway around the world to someone else. A sweet baby girl being taken from her loving foster mama and 13 foster siblings, the only home she had ever known, because birthing a child with your body counts more than birthing her with one's soul. Even when that child is abandoned, thrown away to starve and die. And as I listened, I realized that perhaps I had to be not truly enjoying the writing in this book or the author or the focus on scripture in order to build up my armor for what was going to hit.

Because what happened was truth.

I always said, especially when it came to us, there was no such thing as coincidence. We were brought together for a reason. But we were also torn apart for a reason. I knew the answer would have to come later, that there would have to be so much pain and hurt and sorrow first before I could start to see things.

And today, I saw even more clearly the truth behind much of what I had come to accept in these 18+ months.

What I realized today was that I had asked for this. Not just a child, a little girl to hold and love and call my own. But I asked for transformation, to be made a better, more loving, more giving person. I wanted my path, my purpose to be shown to me. And I wanted others to see it as well with no doubt.

The Universe granted that to me so fully in all of this. There is no doubt in my heart that my soul, for as long as I can remember had been asking for this: to be a mother. This is the passion and calling that I have to be, it is what I have to be, and we showed everyone around us how true that was. I thought I had already fought for it to happen, but I did not know struggle; I did not know pain. I did not know the face of grief and the darkest pieces of myself

I had to pay a price if I was truly going to transform. I am a different woman, a different person walking in the world now. I know things not everyone else does, but because of what I have gained, now I can show that much more compassion for others. I can understand trauma, loss and grief on different levels. This will come into play in my nursing career.

But that career will always be secondary, secondary to what this heart was created to do, which is to love you and others.

I can only trust that if I have been able to walk and struggle through this and see the greater purpose, that your journey has been the same. Perhaps it is only understood in the deepest, wisest part of your soul, and not something you may ever consciously be aware of, but your journey in this was for a reason as well.

That moment of trauma will have changed you. I can only hope that with all the love I gave you that it manages to be a change of good, and not a haunting scar.

I miss you, my baby girl. You will always be my daughter, my special one, the place I throw so much love and tears. Grow up brave and strong and loving and smart. I cannot even begin to imagine what you look like now at 3, but there must be dark blonde curls that are kissed with red and gold when the sun shines. That impish smile, and that deep laugh of yours still rings out. And those oh so serious hazel eyes, how they watched from a stern and solemn face, taking in everything before you act or move or think. You are the most beautiful little girl. Please know that I will always, always love you.

Happy birthday, my sweet monkey bean.

Friday, March 28, 2014

So many corners turned I'm lost in a labyrinth again

Grief is a living, breathing thing that once it is attached to you, never goes away.  The personality of it may change, the behaviors, even the wake and sleep cycle of this creature that lives inside of you, but it is always there, a heavy weight that for the most part, you get used to carrying around.

This is to say, I function.  I function quite well.  I'm told, "You look so good/so much better/almost normal" by a variety of people.  That is because I am used to sudden gaping holes that will open up before me and suck me into a dark pit of despair without warning.  you get good at hiding thing, at avoiding triggers, and avoiding family and friends when need be.  I guess it is evidence of a weird kind of bond you establish with your grief, your symbiosis as you learn to live again.

But those few more steps forward you start being able to take without the same number of steps back will get you somewhere.

This fall, it got me to finally call the local adoption agency I wanted to work with for my home study.  And in almost dizzyingly fast speed (when compared to foster parent training and home study), you are home study complete and ready to go find a baby.

And though you may dawdle out of fear, or whatever else might be causing upheaval in in life (we will not get into the whole job/family/health spiral of hell I've been having to wrestle with for over a year, but the move into the new year was just plain UGLY - Talk about a trigger for grief) you will eventually get to the point where you just lose it and scream, "I NEED MY BABY NOW DAMMIT!"  And that is your reminder of what in fact you have been pushing through everything else for.  And you have to convince yourself it is not a selfish want or need.  The very being of your self, that drive to be a mother, can't be selfish if it is what you are all about.

So spending time working on all that is involved in putting yourself out there in front of birth families isn't selfish.  And you SHOULD put it at the top of your list.

All that to say, I am wrestling with that which will leave me speechless, the "Dear birth mom" letter.

How do I even begin to sum up who I am, why I want to be a mom, and what an amazing future a child has by getting to be placed with me.

But here we are.

It was a long bit of wandering through a labyrinth I started walking at about 19 when I decided I would adopt a child someday.  It has been a long decade of "being serious" about trying to find my child.  But what I have learned on this journey, it has been invaluable.  I just wish there was a way I could share it with potential birth families out there.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Outing the Single Hussy

EDIT:  Per a typo-laden cease and desist letter (which spelled my name & AJ's name incorrectly several times) from the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families, I am ordered to stop publishing images of a foster child in state care.  I find this amusing as AJ is no longer in state care -- RI closed her case in March of 2013.  But I am being threatened with law suits is I do not stop discussing her case at all in any public forum or media.  So I'll just leave this here.  I'm sure everyone can come to their own judgment of the glorious Powers That Be who purport to look out for best intests of children in their care.  Those who have watched lives be destroyed and trauma caused at the hands of DCYF certainly don't see this as the case at all, but rather another corrupt political bully throwing their weight around lest truth ever be exposed.

One of the wonders of the internet is the assumed cloak of anonymity.  While some take advantage of it to be complete assholes, I find it allows me to be more honest.  I don't necessarily have people who know me, who judge me, looking over my shoulder and peeking into more than my normal public everyday life.

But then there are times you come to a crossroad and you find you need to combine your public and private voices to expose truths, and amp up the volume.  I'm getting ready to shout.

Grief has taken an odd and unexpected turn.  After my last post regarding another child the state removed from a pre-adoptive home with no notice or reason, my anger hit a point of moving me to do more than get out of bed a brush my teeth.  I emailed the reporter with me story.  And he called.  He listened for an hour and a half to me try and tell our crazy, complicated story.  I fought to remember details I didn't want to remember.  I showed him the video, listened to her screams again at the airport.  I needed him to feel it as acutely as I did, to be just as angry.

He was.

Last Sunday, Wee Bean's story was featured in the Sunday paper:

And I added my own illustration with the video showing both our happy times, and then that most awful of days:

Isn't she the most gorgeous girl?  

So those of you who would like to help add your voice to the fight, please consider liking our Facebook page.  I want to amplify my voice, to bring this story to NC where AJ is now, to see if we can't get national exposure to show the flaws of our foster care system.  I may never get to be reunited with AJ, but perhaps with enough attention, with enough exposure, we can save other foster children this pain.  We have a broken system.  judges and social workers have an antiquated and unsubstantiated bias that DNA trumps all.  

DNA is not what makes a family.  DNA does not dictate love and attachment and safety and security.  So many thousands of children continue to be traumatized, turned into damaged adults who then feed the system with their own children to repeat the cycle of social worker job security.  Think of how many families could be made, could be joyous and happy and spreading that sense of love everywhere.  
So this is where I out myself.  But I'll never stop being as honest as I am.

Friday, August 23, 2013

This isn't my story, but it might as well be

Just sharing this as proof that AJ and I are only a grain of sand in this state's treatment of children in their care.  Reading this makes me physically ill.  I spoke to the reporter today, and he has been inundated with calls from foster/pre-adoptive parents who have been treated the same.  Still, he wants to help me share AJ's story and continue to stir up problems for DCYF, especially as hers was a case that included lying in court testimony and sending her to another state in exchange for money.

I will try to get back here to post more about how our story unfolded and the trauma that was inflicted.  I'm still moving slowly through a bog of grief so it does take me a while to actually find the energy to face some things.

Family baffled by foster child’s removal
August 18, 2013 01:00 AM
Adoption seems such a warm, generous, kind thing to do. It brings certainty to an uncertain life, provides family where there was none. 
But even when all the right things seem to be in place — a caring and welcoming family and a child who seems a perfect fit in their home — adoption is not a sure thing. There is a process. There are social workers. There are big chunks of the past — the family’s and the child’s — that come into play. There are questions and questions about questions. There is the need to measure up to standards that are not always clear. 
Last month, a boy I will call Jason was taken from his foster home in East Providence by a social worker from the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). He was taken for a doctor’s appointment. He never came back. Other social workers showed up to collect his clothes and belongings. 
It was the abrupt end of a nearly two-year relationship that Marc and Maria Dauphinee thought was going to lead to adoption. But they were found unacceptable as adoptive parents. They’re not sure why, especially considering how well Jason seemed to be doing in their care. 
“You tell me,” says Marc. “When that child grew so much.” 
He talks of the things Jason did while he lived in their home. He made the honor roll at Riverside Middle School. Then he made it again, and again. He took up the trumpet. He played Little League baseball. His medications for what was originally diagnosed as bipolar disorder were being reduced. 
They first met through Adoption Rhode Island in September 2011. 
“There was an instant connection,” says Marc. 
He remembers Jason telling one of the social workers, “I think I just found my new family.” 
First, there were visits, then daylong stays, then overnights. In July of last year, Jason moved in. He started school in September and saw his name on the honor roll for the first time ever. 
There were questions. There are always questions as a family tries to prove that it is caring enough and doesn’t have any deep, dark secrets that could cause problems. No one should consider adoption without accepting a very thorough, even invasive, examination of their lives. It is incredibly complicated, especially with an older child. The people at DCYF take a very long look at how well a child is faring with a foster family before moving toward adoption. It is, says Stephanie Terry, associate director for child welfare at DCYF, a very fluid situation. 
“Things come up,” she says. 
Obviously, there are things she cannot discuss when it comes to the decision to deny a seemingly deserving, caring couple the opportunity to adopt. 
“We have the utmost respect and admiration for those willing to foster and adopt older children,” says Terry. 
“But sometimes, regardless of putting out their best effort, it evolves over time that this is not the best match.” 
DCYF does not give up easily on the possibility of a child being adopted, Terry says. But things happen. Questions come up. 
There was a question about Maria Dauphinee’s compatibility with Jason. There was a question about whether Jason would get along with Alexander Dauphinee, Marc and Maria’s biological son who is the same age as Jason. 
There were also good, positive signs all over the house in East Providence. There were the honor roll, baseball, playing trumpet in a church band, the need for fewer and fewer medications. And there was another thing Marc mentions — Jason’s increasing comfort as a member of the family. 
But when they tried to force the issue, hire a lawyer and seek a straight answer on whether they were headed for adoption or not, they say they could never get a yes or no. 
Then came the day in July when Jason was picked up for the doctor’s appointment. He didn’t come back. The Dauphinees say they were never told the doctor’s appointment was really the end of their attempt to adopt. 
“My wife called me at my office in tears,” says Dauphinee, maintenance director at Laurelmead in Providence. “It’s astounding.” 
Again, Terry says there is more to the story of how Jason was removed from the Dauphinees’ home. But she can’t discuss it. 
Jason called once after he was taken, and during the conversation, according to Marc, Jason said DCYF workers told him the Dauphinees had never intended to adopt him. 
Now, they wonder where he is, how he’s doing. He was a member of their family and now he’s not. 
“Being one of those kids, it frightens me,” says Marc. 
He was removed from his home when he was 8 and made a ward of the state. He was one of the “night to nighters,” boys in state care who were moved from place to place in what was truly a hideously damaging procedure. 
He grew up hard and beat the odds. And he understands better than most what it means for a kid to come in from the cold. He thought he was doing that for Jason. 
I first met the Dauphinees in March 2006. They had left their jobs to home school and care for their oldest son, Zachary, who was battling cancer. He had been at it for two years then. There was great support from his school and the community. 
Zachary was 10 when he died on the day my column about him appeared in The Providence Journal. 
Marc Dauphinee says the experience with Jason has been in some ways equally painful.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Not on a break, there are just no words when you live in darkness

There has been an item on my to do list since last September: Update Knocked Up.

It should be easy as there has been no lack of things to blog about.

But when your world comes to an end, there is little strength to remember to breathe.  Rehashing your struggles of how and why is of little import.

Perhaps as part of my journey out of this dark hole I can try to start telling the story.

Just know, it is not good.  With no notice, the state came and tried to take A. from me with no notice, and no chance to see her again.  I managed to get another 36 hours with her.

But with no transition, no preparation, a crying, screaming girl was pulled out of my arms at 5 in the morning at the airport, and that is the last I have heard of her.

She is missing.  In attempting to reach out to the birth family for some kind of update and the chance to be a "fairy godmother" and send books and toys and clothes, I hired a private investigator,  The court ordered her to be removed and placed with a specific family member because she HAD to be with half siblings.  But she is not there.  No one will tell me where she is, or what happened.  Is it transition that did not work out right?  Was it all a lie just to get her into foster care in another state?  Is she back in this state and I was lied to yet one more time and would not be offered her placement?

All I know is that there is a two year old child who had her life shattered at 17 months, everything she knew of safety, security and love ripped away from her, and I have to fix that.

Because I cannot breathe without her in my life.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


And I just realized someone IS saying "thank you!"  A. very much has her own language and carries on very fast conversations, and clearly knows just what she is saying (and is sure you know as well).  "Kitty," "Hi, kitty!" and "Uh oh" have been a part of her vocab (that others and I can understand) for months.

But it just clicked to me that "Dthuh do" that she has been saying for a while as well is her repeating back "thank you" to me.

Hey, I'm new at this mom thing!  And now I hear a string of "Uh ohs," coming from the kitchen, so off I go....