Monday, August 18, 2014

Cleaning house

While getting ready for vacation, we tipped one of the chairs down in our Suburban to make room for a very large cooler. Since only four of us were headed north, we didn't need all the seats and bringing along a cooler makes it so much cheaper. Those gas station drinks and treats are too expensive.

Well, once in Iowa, we did some more rearranging of the vehicle. As I went to pull the chair upright again I got a catch in my throat. There, tucked in a little nook under the chair, was a small purple circle.

One of Dolly's bracelets.

Dude and Dolly are still all over my house. Most of the time I'm OK with it.

Sometimes it still really hurts.

One of the things I've needed to deal with since September 23, 2013 was the fundraising puzzle. I realize I've got a lot of new readers that have joined this adventure since Dude and Dolly left. Not everyone knows their story. So I'll give you a VERY brief recap...

Dude and Dolly were MY kids. Their mom abandoned them the day they came in to Care (June 15, 2011). The only visits she kept were the ones that CPS practically forced her to keep. She never worked any of her case plan and actually ended up back in jail just a couple months after the kids came to me. When she got out, she didn't even call CPS to try and see her kids again for several weeks. (Even then, I'm pretty sure CPS called her to set up the visit.) She never wanted to parent.

The case plan the entire time these cherubs were in my home was relative conservatorship with their paternal grandma (Grandma N who lives in Dallas). At no point in time did Grandma N do anything to develop a relationship with these cherubs. She didn't know them. They didn't know her. (Shoot...they didn't even both speak the same language!) Grandma N also keeps close ties with all of her children - even the gang member, drug dealing, drug using ones. No one thought it was a good idea for the kids to go to this grandma except their CPS case worker. And that person, Minnie, is a very odd duck and really seemed to be incredibly biased against us.

The judge told us to hire a lawyer and intervene in the case. The GAL advised the same thing. The cherubs' therapist wanted them to stay with us. So after 23 months of waiting for the State to do the right thing by these kids, we hired our own lawyer and intervened.

Lawyers are expensive.

Awesome friends of mine decided to help us and a puzzle fundraiser was started.

Each piece of the puzzle was "worth" $5. If someone donated I wrote their name on the back of the puzzle piece and we started putting the puzzle together.
The puzzle was of my two cherubs. Dude is up in the tree. Dolly is down below telling him to come down. And me, Mamma Bear, I'm watching over both of them.
Everyone worked together to help put the puzzle together as donations came in. It lived on this card table in our dining area. It was a constant reminder of our new fight. It was also a reminder of how many people were fighting with us by praying and donating. I was completely blown away by the generosity of all my readers. I was incredibly humbled.
When the cherubs were moved from our home abruptly on September 23, 2013, it was almost like time froze. I got less than five hours to say goodbye and poof - they were gone. Forever.

We didn't drop out of the case. Even the judge recommended that we stay "in" through the holidays. But it was futile. CPS continued to lie about the cherubs. I saw court reports that I knew were inaccurate. We still had limited phone contact with the cherubs but it was painful. Horrible. Terrible. We knew we'd never be able to change things and our lawyer was just going to keep costing us more and more money. So, we dropped out of the case. Everything was "finished" in January 2014. We dropped out right before a court hearing because we were convinced that Grandma N was going to be given permanent managing conservatorship (PMC) and that it wasn't worth the financial or emotional effort anymore.

But that puzzle stayed on the table. Almost mocking me.

Donations still came in after the cherubs left. I still had pieces to put in the puzzle.

But I couldn't do it.

Finally I moved the puzzle to a smaller end table in my living room. It gathered dust as I ignored it.

The puzzle was still there when Ricky and Daisy moved in.

A couple months ago I got the courage to just disassemble the puzzle altogether.

Last night I finally finished cleaning house.

This wall displays two of my favorite family photos. One is when we were a family of eight with Pumpkin, Dude and Dolly. One is from about a year later when it was just US. My family. Me, Mr. Amazing, Herman, TT, Bart, Dude and Dolly.
Please trust me when I say that I believe in reunification. I don't grab on to every kid that comes in to my home and think that "I" can do so much better for them. That "my" family is better for them than their family of origin's. But Dude and Dolly...they did belong with us. They were (and still are) my kids. They always will be. They took a part of me when they left and I will never stop loving them.

I couldn't get rid of the puzzle. But I couldn't put it together either. Thankfully, I found a compromise.
The puzzle doesn't mock me as terribly now that I've cleaned it up and displayed it properly. All those names on the backs of the puzzle pieces remind me of the support I had during a very dark time. Thank you again to everyone that prayed for us and sent donations. I still am greatly humbled.

And if you're the praying type, please send up some prayers for Miss Daisy and all the adults involved in her case. We go to court tomorrow and it's going to be monumental. I honestly have no idea what is going to happen because since we've been in Texas, I've been wrong when predicting the outcome of court hearings almost 100% of the time. My thinking brain says that Daisy needs to stay in foster care. But I really have no idea what the judge is going to do.

I'll keep y'all posted.


Annie said...

That is a very beautiful and symbolic expression of two very contrary experiences. Well done.

Stacy said...

Well done!

MamaFoster said...

I love the way you displayed it. I started crying immediately when I saw all the pieces because I felt like I was looking at all of MY unfinished, no "happy ending", and no decent good bye experiences that I hold in my heart like a bunch a pieces to a puzzle that will only be put together when I reach heaven.

Someday we will lay them down at the foot of the KING and we will see how HIS ways are better than our ways. HE is holding all those pieces for all of us.

G said...

Chiming in on what a perfect way to display the puzzle.

Will be praying for Daisy and her case and all of you tomorrow. Maybe this time the judge will get it right?

Foster Mom - R said...

Daisy and your family have my prayers. Love the puzzle display and totally get that they took a piece of you with them.

Anonymous said...

Oh Cherub Mamma, I started to cry as you described what happened to the puzzle after Dude and Dolly left. Lost it when I saw how you decided to display it. It's the perfect analogy for foster care- no matter how hard we try, sometimes the pieces don't all come together. We do what we can, put them back together as much as possible, for the kids, for our families, for ourselves. But at the end of it all, there will still be a big bench of mixed up ices. And a lot of those pieces will be our hearts, breaking just a little everyday for the hours, the days, the weeks, we are unable to keep the kids safe and with us. Sending lots of love your way.

Rosie said...

Apparently I have followed your blog before, but had forgotten till I came to this post; I have been reading backwards on your site. This post made an impact the first time I saw it, again when I read it today. The puzzle pieces displayed like that is very accurate of what it feels like. A very powerful visual, and I'm not an artsy sort of person.

Thanks for your honesty and (guarded) openness.