Monday, June 2, 2008


I’ll never forget the first night Cami was with us. Her case manager brought her to the house, and she was bawling. She DID NOT want to live in Nampa! She was angry to be moved to a home so far from her friends, and I found out years later, that when she heard we had a baby in the house she was even more upset. They brought her piles and piles of stuff into our living room, it was late evening, and she looked so vulnerable. I felt an instant connection with her. I went to Wal-Mart to get her some towels of her own and a few other things she would need, and I picked up a card with Piglet on it because she’d mentioned liking pigs. When I got home and gave her the card she cried some more and told me she loved Piglet.
She started school two days later at the high school, and she was scared. In Boise she’d been in Junior High, but our ninth grade is in High School, so this was an even greater change for her. She told me she wasn’t going to bother making any friends because she already had enough friends at her old school and she didn’t need any more. I told her I bet she’d make at least seven friends on her first day. It was funny because she was so determined to be mad and hate living here. She got home from school and very reluctantly told me that she’d made exactly seven friends.
The first few weeks she tried real hard not to like anyone in the house. But one day, she was passing by when I was playing with Will, who was not even a year old yet, and she tickled him. He laughed his oh so irresistible laugh, and it was all over. She melted right before my eyes. From that moment on, they were bonded for life. To this day, if he gets mad at me all he wants to do is call Cami, and Will is one of the first people she asks about when she calls. She would play with him for hours, carry him around like he was hers, blows bubbles with him, bathe him, feed him, dress him, she wouldn’t let the other kids touch him.
She also started to feel a connection with me. You could tell because she sought me out to talk to about everything and nothing. She started calling me “mom” by her second week with me. Her aunt told me she had never called anyone else mom that fast, and there was only one other foster mom she’d used that name for. I was honored. I didn’t really know what I’d done to make her feel that way she did, I treated her like I did all my other kids. She told me, again years later, that I never acted like this was a job, but that all my kids really were my family and that made a difference to her. She’d felt like all her other homes treated foster care like a job.
But we weren’t without problems. She got in trouble at school, skipping classes, and then smoking marijuana. I left for a week one time to go to a foster care conference in Florida and spent most of that week on the phone with the babysitter discussing the trouble Cami and my oldest daughter were getting into constantly while I was gone. She caused a lot of trouble at home, fighting with the other kids, alienating them. She dated boys who were in trouble at school and sometimes even with the law. She lied constantly about where she was going, what she was doing. She tried to manipulate everyone she came in contact with.
But I never let up on her. I gave her consequences for everything she did, and I loved her more and more as the days went by. I’d always let her know how I felt about the things she was doing, and as I seem to do, tell her how things would turn out if she continued certain behaviors. I’m not always right about things, in fact, I often predict wrongly, but somehow, with her, I was able to predict outcomes pretty well. She hated it; telling me that I was always right and she should start listening to me but didn’t want to.
She fought back every time I enforced boundaries and rules with her. She kept increasing her behavior testing my limits. She told me she thought my rules were unfair, and that I should change them. But I never backed down with her, never wanted to give up. I don’t think she knew how to handle that, she was so used to people having her removed from their homes because of her behavior, and I just kept hanging on. One time we got another girl in the house about her age and she had a fit, crying and saying mean things. I couldn’t understand the problem since she’d been so bent on hating it here and not wanting to be part of our family, and when I finally got through her protective shell, she told me she didn’t want this girl to take me away from her. She couldn’t understand how I could share my love with more than one person. She also couldn’t understand how I could keep letting kids into my home and heart after some of the things other kids had said and done to me. She told me if I took this girl in she would know this was only a job to me. I didn’t let her manipulate me. I told what I always told her, this was never a job to me, and I CAN love lots of people at the same time. She said she didn’t believe me. What came in the next months was sort of shocking.
She said she wanted me to adopt her; she wanted to be a permanent part of the family. She’d been with us only about six months. I wanted to say yes, but told her I wanted her to ask me again after she’d been with us for a year. I wanted her to be sure she wanted it before we got into the process. She must have marked her calendar, because at the one-year anniversary of her coming to our home, she asked again.
I was a little surprised; we’d had a lot of ups and downs. She pushed away every time we started getting closer, and I really thought that like others like her who I’d had relationships with, she’d only been saying what she thought I wanted her to say, or was saying things to test me. She’d been moved around so many times, and had only one or two real life-long bonds with people from her past. And I know when she moved out to our home she planned to keep her distance until it was time to move on. Even after living with me for a year, and feeling like we’d made a connection, I felt like she wasn’t being 100% honest about wanting to be adopted, but I wanted it and I let my emotion rule the day.
I started talking to her case manager and her aunt about it. Through a lot of discussion, we started moving forward with the adoption. At first, she was acting very happy about it all. She really started connecting with my extended family, and making herself a permanent fixture in my heart. That summer was trying, though. She got a job and was working as many hours as she could get. I worried a little because I knew in the past, at other homes, she would involve herself in activities outside the home just to be away from the foster family she was living with. Her behavior started escalating again, she started getting colder towards the family.
Then we were only a month or two away from finalizing the adoption. Tragedy struck our home. Will’s mom got custody back. I’d raised him from birth, and Cami had been there for a majority of it. We were both devastated. He was leaving us, and though I knew we’d still see him because of our relationship with his mom, Cami didn’t believe it. She left me the same day he did. She told me she’d never loved me and everything I ever said to her went in one ear and out the other. It was a bad day to say it, because I was grieving a loss too, and couldn’t play this game with her. She told me she wanted to move, and I let her. At that moment, I didn’t have the strength to hold on to her.
I often regret my weakness in that moment. I wish I’d have held on to her until she stopped screaming. But I just couldn’t. And she moved a few days later. She moved to a horrible place where the foster mom truly did think of foster care as a job. Cami became a lone person in a home full of lone people, and I kept telling myself that I didn’t care, she’d pushed too far that time. But I did care, and it hurt for a very long time. Ironically, I had Will back in my home within a month. His mom voluntarily brought him back to me and eventually I adopted him. Cami’s case manager told me that when she went to see Cami, pictures of our family were all over her wall. She was still calling me mom. I missed her, but didn’t want her to hurt me or my other kids anymore.
After four long months of silence between us, we met again. Cami’s counselor, my miracle worker, brought us back together. We met in his office. He’d told me that with all Cami’s problems, her inability to love and be loved by others, he felt that she had finally let someone in, me, and that she did need me. I met with her, and had a list of things I needed to make clear if we were going to have a relationship moving forward. She listened to me, and she agreed with me. Some of the things I had to tell her hurt, but she finally felt a strong enough connection with someone that she was willing to let that someone call a few of the shots in the relationship.
Cami never moved back into my house. But we’ve never missed a single Christmas with each other. Everything has not been jellybeans and roses since, we’ve had plenty of “talks” and we’ve had to listen to each other. But she’s never left me again. She tells me she often hears me talking to her when she’s about to do something she knows I would hate, and sometime it keeps her from doing it.
She’s moved here and there, on her own at 18, with a little help from me and a few others. She’s finding her way, but she still calls me mom. She’s moved out of state, but comes to see us whenever she can, and she calls and texts often. She has since reunited with her birth mother, and said the first thing she told her mother was that she already has a mom, but she was willing to get to know her. I encouraged the reunification so she could never have any regrets.
When she comes home to visit I laugh because I hear her tell my kids to listen to me, I’m always right. I’m just glad I still have her and happy she’s glad to have me!

Monday, October 29, 2007

YaYa again!

OK, I know I can't really complain. I had to know when I adopted two girls who were only 15 years younger than me that I would most probably be a young grandmother. And I am. I have one grandson (that I know of) and now I have another on the way. I'm not even 40.

But it isn't even really about me. I have issues. When Kneesaa was 18, she met this guy on the cruise down town, and within 3 weeks they were engaged. She still went off to college, but they continued to have this weird sort of dysfunctional relationship. Not to mention that I'm pretty positive that he's gay. Which, whatever, but own it, you know? Quit trying to pretend you're not! Anyway, 7 months after moving her up north to go to college she was dropping out and moving back down here, to get married, ON HER BIRTHDAY! He, of course, arranged all the wedding details and insisted on having the courthouse nuptials on that day. I ripped him a new one because I didn't want her to spend the rest of her life either having to put her birthday second to an anniversary, or, if things didn't work out, having to remember this mistake on her day.

But who am I anyway? So there they are, married, fighting constantly, she's being abused (shhh, she doesn't think I know this), and eventually they have a baby. This is supposed to make their marriage worse. It, obviously, doesn't. All it does is bring a sickly baby into a horrible situation. And she insists on reminding me often that I am Ya Ya, but I hardly ever get to see my grandson.

Well, before my grandson is even 8 months old, she's let her gay husband. She's shacked up with her childhood-best-friend's brother, and letting the abuser run the divorce the same way he ran the wedding. Poorly. Not that I was allowed to offer any kind of advice or support through the whole thing. So it's done, they are divorced right about the time my grandson turns a year old. We have a party for the baby and he has a great time. I am happy she's out of that relationship, and am continuing to be supportive of her decisions no matter how much they go against my own idea of healthy living. I welcome the new guy into the family, and chat it up with his mom and Kneesaa's best friend and her children. We all had a good time, and my grandson had a good birthday!

Two or three weeks later, she tells us she's pregnant. God help her. And if she'd stop and take a look, she'd see that we are wiling to be there for her, support her, and love her, but she's so afraid of what she's doing with her life, she won't even call. Her phone number changes monthly, so I can't get a hold her. I just want to love her, no matter what choices she's making for herself. I've accepted that I'm a young Ya let me be one!!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007


That's G for Gosh!

I'm horrible!! I have a grandson, and I never do anything for him. I always excuse myself by saying, I have young children too, I told her I wasn't ready to be a grandma! But the reality is, I knew when I adopted her that I could potentially have grandchildren soon. After all, she was 18 when I adopted her.

So his birthday is tomorrow, and I haven't even gotten a card for him. His party isn't until this weekend, so I have time, but I feel bad when I see the countdown to his birthday on my blog and I realize I haven't really given it much thought. I get so caught up in the day to day at home, and I lose track of this kind of stuff.

I've got a two year old, four year old, five year old, six year old, eight year old, and eleven year old at home. I have a 19 year old in Reno, a 21 year old living in town with my grandson, and a 21 year old in the wind. Are you thinking, "...bitten off more than you can chew..."? Maybe, overwhelmed sometimes for sure. I barely put together my 4 year old's birthday party last week. My six year old turns 7 next month. At least I don't have to do anything for my birthday in November, and I have a few months to figure out my two year old's birthday in December. Then just after Christmas my eight year old and my best friend have a birthday on the same day. My older 21 year old is in February, but she's in the wind, so I just buy her a card and something small and stow it away in a gift bag that I'll give her if she ever comes home again. My other 21 year old shares her birthday month, March, with my mom, both my brothers, my mother, my sister in law and my niece. In April my youngest girl has her 6th birthday the day before my other niece has her 6th birthday, and my dad is at the end of the month, and also one adoption birthday. In May I have my 11 year old's birthday and my 19 year old's birthday, and two adoption birthdays. In June I only have one adoption birthday. In July I have my other sister-in-law and my other best friend. August I'm free of birthdays...I think. And I didn't mention my four year old's birthday in September is on the same day as my OTHER best friend. (I only have three friends and they are all best!)

See, I can recite all that, but when it comes down to being the day of someone's birthday, I find that I've forgotten to do anything and I have to scramble. Someone has cursed me and caused brain damage I'm sure!!!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


When I was 26 years old I took on the responsibility of being my mom's caregiver. Now, at first that only meant having her live with me. I didn't change my lifestyle completely at the time. I still went out with friends constantly and lived my own life. But slowly I started living more her life. I felt bad if I left the house to do something without her. I felt bad if I was doing something she didn't like, you know, things I had a right to do because I was an adult, but things she didn't like. I started to feel like I was 16 years old again.

Here I am 10 years later, and I'm raising children with her in the house, and I still feel like I'm 16 years old. I feel like every decision I make has to be OK'd by her. If my kids ask me permission for something, if she's there I look to her to make sure she's OK with it. I HATE that. Why can't I be an adult and stop looking for her approval before I do something? She doesn't necessarily expect me to get her approval, though she does give a good guilt trip if she doesn't like my decisions. But for crying out loud, when will I take my life into my own hands again? I don't like my kids thinking they should ask Granny not mom. And they do. If she and I are in the same room and one of my kids comes in looking for permission, they say, "Granny, is it alright if..." I'm standing right there, and they don't even give me a second thought. This is my fault, I need to take charge here. I'm so weak and wuss like.

And now, my dad is here. He's driving me INSANE! He was NEVER there for me. He was not a parent. He left when I was 4. He was a jerk the whole time I was growing up. He doesn't have the first clue about how to parent, let alone how to have a decent relationship with anyone. He says the rudest things to people, and is so judgemental. And now he's doing it to my kids and I am hating him for it! And he's made snide remarks to me and my mom, and I'm sick of it!! Who does he think he is coming into my life all of a sudden and thinking he has the right to put any of us down? He's the jerk who got fired and now can't take care of himself and has nobody willing to help him! I find myself confronting him like I never used to, and he doesn't like it. Any time I confront him and make him explain why he just made a rude comment about someone in my family, he leaves. Good.

I look at friends and cousins and people my age, and I see them being the adults in their families, and being who they should be at this age. Why can't I make the change in my life to be that? Decisions about my kids should be mine and only mine, and I shouldn't feel the need to look to my mom for permission. It's not like she's all knowing and superior, she should be Granny. God help me!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I thought about calling this "Where Did You Go" or "Lost Girls" but can't decide. I had the desire to write a song one day. I was missing Allee a lot and they called and said they were moving Kristy. I'd never written a song before and suddenly really wanted to. It would be cool if someone like Pink sang it because Allee really liked Pink. Anyway, here it is, what do you think? Title suggestions?

I remember you, when I was a girl I was sitting on your lap,
You were whispering in my ear, mommy to me, together we’d be.
I remember feeling your arms around me keeping me warm, keeping me.
I wish I had a picture. I wish you were here now.

Where did you go when I needed you most?
Where did you go, I thought I saw your ghost?
I’m gonna explode, I can’t hang on
I’ve lost my way, I need you mom.

I can remember going to the fair
Laughing with you beside me eating cotton candy,
Hanging on to you as we flew through the air on the swings.
I remember being at home sitting on the porch
pointing out butterflies with you, being with you.
I wish you hadn’t left me. I wish you could come back.

Where did you go when I needed you most?
Where did you go, I thought I saw your ghost?
I’m gonna explode, I can’t hang on
I’ve lost my way, I need you mom.

I can remember searching the streets for you, wondering why,
Keeping warm without you at night,
then waving goodbye to you as they drove me away.
Sleeping in strange beds, living with strangers,
year after year while you were where?
I can remember hoping never to see you again, never to hear your voice again
But I didn’t mean it then, and especially not now that I won’t see you ever.

Where did you go when I needed you most?
Where did you go, I thought I saw your ghost?
I’m gonna explode, I can’t hang on
I’ve lost my way, I need you mom.

I’m all grown up now, I’m a woman on the run.
I can’t find my home, I can’t find my mom.
My daughter cries and I see your eyes, I hold her tight
And point out butterflies.
I hope I can be what you weren’t for me.
And keep her safe for eternity.
She’ll always know where I am, where are you?

Where did you go when I needed you most?
Where did you go, I thought I saw your ghost?
I’m gonna explode, I can’t hang on
I’ve lost my way, I need you mom.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mom's Not Doing Well

My mom is just not doing well. She lost all that weight, and then the fluid started. She goes in to the hospital 3 times a week to have fluid drained off her torso around her lungs, and they can only guess that it is being caused by her Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, specifically the Lupus. So they did a CT last week, and found a HUGE blood clot in one of her lungs. Now they're in emergency mode trying to get that to dissolve. And yesterday she overheard them saying they also found spots all over her spleen but they didn't tell her what it was or could be.

God, please help my mom. She needs you right now, she's scared. I hate seeing her like this, and I worry so much.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Name the cliche: it's like old home week, they're coming out of the woodwork, when it rains it pours...whatever.

(I can't get a title on this post. Technology!)

One time I wrote this brilliant poem using all cliches. I was so creative and genius when I was younger.

Are you feeling like I may be ADHD today, jumping around like this? I had something to write about and it made these other dumb things jump in my head, and I decided to do a kind of stream of consciousness thing.

Anyway, yesterday I was minding my own business, and got an IM from someone I worked with like 4 years ago, and really haven't seen or heard from since I left the company. It was cool, and weird, and good to talk to someone I knew then. I don't have much contact at all with any of those people, and you'd think I would. These were the people I met and worked with when I first moved back to Idaho, and continued to associate with and work with for 3 years. They saw me through a lot of stuff emotional and otherwise. And now I don't see or talk to any of them. Anyway, she was good.

Then, last night, at about 10:30 the phone rang. Now, in our house, if the phone rings late, it's usually bad news. My mom answered, then made a face and I knew it wasn't tragedy, but she looked irritated. She handed the phone to me and said, "It's {insert name here}" one of the girls' birth mom. So I took the phone and very coldly said, "Hello." This woman has no boundaries and calls at very inappropriate times, even now after she voluntarily terminated her rights to her daughter. The woman on the other end of the phone said, "Hi! How are you?" It wasn't the birth mother, it was an old friend of mine. We grew up together and went to high school together until she dropped out our sophomore year. At one time in our lives we were inseparable, and then we were on different paths just like that. Now she was on the other end of the phone line. We didn't have a falling out, or hate each other or anything like that, we just went different ways. I was sitting there listening to her talk and thinking how different our lives turned out, and yet here we were talking the same as we always did. Is that how you know someone was meant to be in your life? Even though decades can go by between times you talk, you can just pick up the phone and talk like it's something you do daily? She's a good person. I'm lucky and happy to know her.

Thanks for reading my title-free post. Should it bother me that I can't put a title on it? I think I need chocolate.

You Aren't Forgotten