And then we were 7, again.
Life with 6 children has been an adventure. Our home is always loud. There is rarely time for rest. From the time the sun comes up until the time it goes down there is always something that needs taking care of or a Little that needs tending too. My oldest, Madison, is 20 now and has gone back to Arizona to go to school and work. That also means one of the biggest adjustments has been that there is one less set of hands to help keep up with the Littles. That took some getting used to. Structure and routine are our friends. Even so, we try to make even the daily routine fun for the boys. We have beach days and family fun days.
We have a nanny that helps during the day so that I can work my business and take breaks to spend quality time with the boys. Having her helps me give my boys the best part of me. I struggled with the decision to hire someone. Why do we do that to ourselves? I felt so GUILTY for not being able to do it ALL. But a friend helped me see the light. She said, “do you not realize that it is only American women who do everything by themselves. Women all over the world have help.” (Of course, the caveat is if they can afford it. I get that.) If I were working outside the home, I would have a daycare provider. So what’s the difference? I work from within the home, so why shouldn’t I also have someone who can help me with the boys. I like to believe I am Wonder Woman (and I really do think we are at least related) even she did not have to take care of 5 boys while saving the world. So, I suppose I have a leg up on Wonder Woman really. She doesn’t have kids. Bam!
I get asked often, “do you think you will have more?” They really mean “get” more. There will be no more “having” of babies in this house. The question is one that we have always responded to in the affirmative. The reality is that there will be more children. There will always be more children.
As to whether or not we felt we could bring more children into our home – we have simply just not ever been ready to say, “no.” We knew, at some point, we would have to say no. Maybe if we had more money, maybe if we had a farm, land, five nannies…. wouldn’t that be a dream??? Then we could say yes to all of them.
The second week in December, 2015, we received the call. A baby boy had just been born. Unfortunately, we didn’t know the case manager and she didn’t know us. Our previous case manager had moved on to a different department. So, even though we had adopted all three of the baby’s brothers, they did not immediately agree to place the baby with us, even though we were willing. There were hoops that needed jumping. In the meantime, we began the process, again, to get our foster license reinstated.
For months we waited. We filled out paperwork. And then filled out the same paperwork. Again. And again. We imposed on friends and family to fill out portions of our paperwork, references and participate in inspections. Our village is amazing and have always said yes. Whatever was needed to bring home the baby. I checked in with CPS weekly. I was always told, “soon.” In an effort to speed things along, I told her our story. Perhaps if she knew us and could connect with us, she would understand the urgency. So I told her. Again. And again. I made sure she knew that we believed that siblings should be kept together. She said she agreed. I also conveyed to her how we had previously lost J and J and that we could not bear to do that again. That if the baby was to come to us, we needed some indication that the case plan was at least pointing towards severance. She could not give us any guarantees but all indicators of bio mom and bio dad (a different father than our boys) appeared to point towards severance. There was some relief in that.
During one of my weekly check-ins we finally received an update. One that did not sit well. We were told there was a slight glitch, and that was that there was a man who had come forward and was claiming to be the father, but to not worry, mom was adamant the man was not the father. The man she named on the birth certificate and who had been participating in visits was the father. The case manager was not worried. The great news was that we could proceed with visits and after a few visits, the baby would transition to our home.
So we, well I, really, began visits each time I was in Phoenix. The baby was able to stay overnight with me at my apartment. We began calling the baby Levi. If he was to be ours, this would be his name. He was such a sweet, happy baby. When he was with me in Phoenix, he also spent time with my daughter and the rest of our family. We were all in love…
I believe in intuition. Sometimes we are more in tune with it. In retrospect we can point to a feeling, an uneasiness that drove our decision-toward making one choice over another. It was a Friday afternoon and visits with Levi had been ongoing for about four weeks and I simply had a feeling. A feeling we needed to wait. Curt and I discussed it and we agreed to tell CPS to slow things down as far as transitioning Levi to our home. I immediately emailed the case manager that afternoon and asked her to please not move forward with placing Levi with us until we knew for sure that this other man claiming to be the father was confirmed to actually be the father, or not.
She called me that following Monday and told me 1) that they still did not have the DNA results back on the man claiming to be the father, and 2) that if we did not take the baby, that there was another family member that was cleared to take the baby and that if we did not take him, she would place Levi with her and she would not move him again. I, again, asked her to wait. I begged her to please wait to make that decision. She said she couldn’t. And so, we were left with a choice. If we did not make the right one, we would likely lose him forever. I asked for a moment to call my husband. To which she agreed.
Neither one of us knew what to do. Either we take the baby and trust that it would all be OK. Or we could take him and have our hearts broken, again. We have always tried to err on the side of trust. It was extremely painful to even think that we might be opening ourselves up to that type of loss again. Almost unbearable. But thinking ahead to our futures. To our boys’ future. We knew we had to say yes. And so that is what we did. We brought Levi home.
Our boys were in love with their brother immediately. Both of the two oldest Littles, Aydyn and Jaycob, were the most attentive to Levi. Both of them always doting and making sure I knew if he was crying or that his bottle had fallen out of his mouth. They would lean over him and gently kiss his face. As a parent, you wonder what type of grown-ups your children will become. If you look at them. If you observe long enough, you are given glimpses. These moments, when I am a silent observer, I catch those moments. Even Jake, my ever moving little boy, has moments where he is still, gentle and full of care. Aydyn, softly and gently would speak to his baby brother and just love on him. Those moments. (sigh) If only our lives were a movie and we could rewind these moments and play them over and over.
I would love to be able to continue our story and tell all of you that this chapter has a happy ending. We chose to trust that everything would work out and that Levi would be the final addition to our family, but he was not. Sadly, just two weeks after bringing him home we learned that, to everyone’s surprise, the man that claimed to be Levi’s father was, in fact, the biological father. This was something no one had ever dealt with before and no one anticipated this result. I wish I could have screamed as we were being apologized to over the phone, “I DID!!! I felt it! I asked you to wait….I begged you to wait…and now…now, we are losing our baby.” Again.
The following few weeks were extremely hard. I had to travel to Phoenix to facilitate visits between the biological father. Every week, it became harder and harder. The toll that it was taking on our family. My boys. My marriage. It was unbearable. I finally broke. I sat, alone, in my bathroom and cried. I knew we had to let him go. Ultimately, we informed CPS that we couldn’t do it. We couldn’t keep growing an attachment to the baby knowing that he was leaving us. It wasn’t fair to any of us, including Levi. Sadly, only five weeks in to having Levi come live with us, he was placed back with his former foster family. A wonderful family that loves him. Who he knows. Who will pour into him and be the BEST place for him until he is placed with his dad. We have a relationship with this family and they keep us posted on how he is doing. I am so grateful for that.
I am not sure what purpose it served, having a child placed with us only to have him leave. But I can say I know there was a purpose. When and how that purpose is revealed, remains to be seen. There is one thing, my boys got to meet their brother. They know who he is and they know mom and dad fought to bring him home. If the bigger purpose is never revealed this side of Heaven, I am ok with that.
I know there will be more babies. Likely soon. The last 3 boys are all about a year apart. We used to be able to confidently say we were not ready to say no, if and when “the call” comes in. One thing that is now clear to us is that our family is complete. We have six incredible children. Four Littles. Each with their own needs, one of them special needs. They are our future and where our energies now lie. Saying no will be hard. So very hard. As hard as saying goodbye.