Archive for January, 2011

I Smell a Skunk

When Francis was three years old, his teacher in pre-school told the story about how her dog had been sprayed by a skunk and they had to give it a bath in tomato juice.  Francis thought this was the worst thing ever because he HATED tomato juice.

With both a severe vision impairment (legally blind) and obsessive compulsive disorder, Francis began to worry about getting sprayed by a skunk.  Obviously, taking a bath in tomato juice would be the most horrible thing ever.  He refused to go outside to play in our backyard because he was so afraid he would step on a skunk which he couldn’t see. We put up a chicken wire fence to keep the skunks out.  (Up until this point, we had never seen a skunk in our yard, but Francis was sure there was a skunk out there just waiting to rush up to him to spray him!)  He was still leery about going out and had a few more questions.

“What happens if the skunk jumps over the fence?” he asked, and we reassured him that skunks don’t jump that high.  (I don’t know if this is a fact, but it served the purpose of reassuring him a skunk would jump.)

“What happens if a skunk digs under the fence” he asked, and again we reassured him that skunks don’t dig under fences. (?)  It would have to be one motivated skunk to go through all of that work just to spray Francis!

His next question sealed his fate.  “What happens if the skunk sprays me THROUGH THE HOLES IN THE FENCE?”  I had no answer except to say that that was absurd, which would not do anything to allay his fears!  I gave up.  He didn’t go outside to play for the rest of the summer!

Dinosaurs, Diet Coke, and Driving ‘Round in Circles

Yesterday was my brother’s birthday, so as treat, I took him on a trip to the Museum of Science.  My brother turned 51 years old, (while I am not admitting my age, I can’t deny that I am older.)  For those new to my blog, Curtis is legally blind, profoundly deaf, and severely developmentally delayed.  He can also be a joy to be around!  He is fun loving and enjoys just about anything.

My son Angel came with me on this adventure.  I picked Curtis up in the afternoon and he was so excited about the trip that he actually came dancing out of his group home, wearing a non-stop grin that was contagious.  We drove to suburban area of the city where the museum is with the plan to take the Metro into the city the next morning.  Before we went to the hotel, we stopped at a mall for dinner. Curtis’ LOVES malls, especially the food court, where we all had our choice for dinner.  After eating, Curtis wanted to walk around the mall independently.  I gave him $20 to spend and agreed we could meet back at the food court in an hour.  Off he happily went, thinking he was alone.  All the while, Angel played “spy” and followed him.  He thought he was on his own, and we didn’t want to spoil that illusion.  Off he went to, predictably, get a diet coke.  He pointed to the diet coke sign and handed the cashier his $20 bill.  She handed him his soda and his change, which he attempted to put in his pocket, (with half of it falling out on the floor.)  As he turned away to sit at a table, Angel scooped down and picked up his change to give back to him later.  Angel sat a few tables away so he could keep an eye on Curtis.  After finishing his soda, Curtis was up and moving…with his nephew as a tailgater.  Curtis then started his quest to fine every single elevator in the mall.  He knows that stores like Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Sears. and Lord & Taylor have elevators and he has the nose to sniff them all out.  In his mind, the elevators are transporters, taking him to level of the space station on Star Trek.  He has a mission to complete, to find every elevator in the mall, and after he completes his mission he can get another diet coke.

After the mall, we went to the hotel and checked in.  Curtis was so excited that he didn’t sleep well.  Every hour, ON the hour, he woke me up to see if it is time to to get up. (He learned this hourly ritual from my mother, who used to beg him to let her sleep “just one more hour”.)  I awoke at 7:30 to see him wide awake in the next bed, waiting for 8:00 am so he could wake me up and ask me if it is time to get up!  I moved to get out of bed and my movement announced that it is time to get up.  Curtis jumped up happily. He had all of his clothes on for the day. (He must have dressed during the night.)

After a quick breakfast of yogurt and bananas that I had brought, we drove the car to the parking garage for the Metro.  This happens to be his favorite parking garage in the whole world:  it has a spiral driveway all the way to the top.  As we drove, we sang and sway back and forth.  “Around and around and around and around” all the way to the top floor.  We then made our way onto the subway, which he also loves.  He asked me where we were going, as I had kept it a surprise.  Having recently lost his hearing completely, he does not yet understand that he cannot hear, so the conversation goes something like this:

C: “Where are we going?”

Me: “To see the dinosaurs.’

C:  “The aquarium?”

Me:  “No, the DINOSAURS!”

C:  “The movies?”

ME:  “NO THE DINOSAURS!!!!”

C:  “You’re taking me back home?” he said as his body melted in disappointment.

ME:  “NO!!!  WE ARE GOING TO SEE THE DINOSAURS!!!”

Realizing I was not going to get anywhere with telling him, I grabbed a piece of paper and drew a large picture of what I think was a pretty good imitation of a dinosaur.  “Oh!” he said happily, “we’re going to see Fred Flintstone?”  I sigh and shook my head yes…

I am the type of person who can sleep anywhere, any time.  Exhausted after being woken up all night long, I curled out across 3 seats in the back of the subway car, and Angel and Curtis sat across from me. It is about an hour’s ride into the city and I asked Angel to wake me up when we got closer to the city and it started to get crowded.  I was sure people would NOT appreciate me taking up 3 seats.  I fell fast asleep.  I woke up only when Angel was tugging on my sleeve because we were at our stop.  I was MORTIFIED!  I looked like a homeless person! I have “bed head” and drool coming down the side of my mouth. The subway car is full of people, many people standing up.  “I told you to WAKE me,” I reprimanded him.  At least it sounded like I was scolding him for the sake of the people standing up.  Secretly, I was grateful I was able to get an hour’s sleep in.

We had to change from the Red Line to the Green Line.  The seats in the car we entered were completely full, so Angel and I each grabbed a vertical pole and Curtis grabbed the horizontal pole above him and was kind of hanging like a monkey.  Angel and I put our arms around his waist to steady him.  The car swayed back and forth and we swayed back and forth.  Curtis thought our fingers were tickling him on purpose, so he started to laugh.  Angel and I started to laugh, and pretty soon the 3 of us were laughing hysterically.  Several of the passengers offered their seats as they could tell our predicament was precarious.  “No, thank you,” I said, “We are the adventuresome type.”

When we get to the museum, Angel, true to his nature, went to check out the museum store.  (One of his female “peeps” is a shopaholic who believes in the “shop til you drop” motto.) Curtis, true to HIS nature, wanted to eat first.   It’s not so much that he wanted to eat as he wanted to get a soda.  He is obsessed with soda.  We went through the cafeteria line and he picked out macaroni and cheese and I picked out a chicken caesar salad.  With him hanging on my arm, we payed and I looked for a seat. It was very very crowded. I was trying to do sighted guide technique with him on one arm, carrying the tray with the other, and steering him towards the one empty table I saw all the way across the room.  He spotted the sign for Diet Coke.  He wouldn’t move, just pointed at the sign.  I tried to tell him that first we needed to get a seat, that I couldn’t possibly stop for soda with a tray full of food and him on my arm, but of course he couldn’t hear me.  He continues to point at the Diet Coke sign like ET pointed to home.  He kept trying to drag me closer to the soda machine and I pulled him towards the table. The tray of food was unbalanced, and I was afraid our $35 lunch was going to drop on the floor, or, worst yet, on top of the head of one of the many children in strollers nearby. Finally I won the tug of war and we reached the empty table where I plopped the tray down, grabbed the soda cups and headed with him back in the direction of his  beloved soda. His face immediately burst into a smile as he realized what we were doing.   He was a happy camper!

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the museum.  The dinosaurs were  big enough for him to see, and he really enjoyed them, although he did keep asking where Fred Flintstone was.  (The Flintstones were our favorite cartoon when we were growing up.  Every Friday night.  Channel 6.  8:00 pm.)  When we finished with the exhibits, Curtis bought another soda “for the ride home” .  He perked up again when we got to the parking garage and had to go “around and around and around and around” in the car to get out.

Bringing him back to the group home was uneventful.  When the staff asked how his weekend was, he answered “GREAT!  I had diet coke and we got to drive around and around in circles.”  He didn’t even mention the hotel or the mall or the subway or the dinosaurs.  The next time I take him, I think I’ll save the money and just park at the Metro parking garage and buy him all the diet cokes he wants.  It would sure save me money, (and anyone who has read my blog before KNOWS that I like to save money!)

Stay Away from Me With That Umbrella

It happened again this morning.  It was pouring rain out.  I have to walk about 4 blocks from the parking garage to where I work.  It had been raining a LOT lately.  I had on boots and my jacket with a hood pulled over my hair to keep it from getting wet.  Several people walking near me kindly offered to share their umbrellas with me.  I politely declined.  You see, I have a real phobia about umbrellas.  Not much in this world scares me, (I have 5 kids after all.)  I was not afraid of sharks after seeing Jaws.  I was not afraid of snakes after seeing Anaconda and Snakes on a Plane. But put an umbrella near me and my knees begin to shake and I go pale. (I hate the video of Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain!)

This fear dates back to my childhood.  I don’t know how or why, but I got the fear that I was going to be poked in the eye with one of those little knobby things on the spokes at the end of the umbrella.  Getting wet in the harshest downpour could not compare to the fear of getting poked in the eye, so I would never use an umbrella.  Of course, as I grew, I have realized that this fear is slightly irrational.

When my son, Francis, was going to Cambridge University in England, he took my mother and me on a guided tour of London.  Being London, it was raining of course.  Francis and my mom had umbrellas, I chose to get wet.  No big deal.  What’s a little water?  Anyway, we were in front of Buckingham Palace and Francis wanted to get a picture of my mom and me.  She and I put our arms around each other and smiled for the picture.  He took the picture JUST as SHE POKED ME IN THE EYE with her UMBRELLA!  It is incredible to have my worst fear captured in a picture.  The good news is, my eye stayed intact in my eye socket and didn’t really get poked out. The bad news is, I still have my fear of umbrellas….

The Easter Bunny Goes Pee…

My 13 year old daughter who is deaf still believes in the Easter Bunny.  I think it has something to do with her not being able to hear people all around her talking about it!  She still believes he brings eggs and an Easter basket, (which, of course, we worn out-THIRTEEN YEARS OLD-parents still provide.)  Well, yesterday she had PROOF that the Easter Bunny exists.  She went with her dad to the local mall and she went into the ladies room.  As she was coming in, the Easter Bunny, (who MUST be a “she” because “she” used the ladies’ rest room,) came out of the handicapped stall.  Now, I’m guessing she was using the handicapped stall so there would be enough room to take the costume down to use the toilet.  Had Marie walked in 5 minutes sooner she would have seen what would have looked like a dead Easter Bunny sprawled on the bathroom floor!   But, NOOOOO, she walks in as the Easter Bunny comes strutting out of the stall and waves to Marie.  She is thrilled, of course!  Then she stops and thinks.  She yells after the Easter Bunny to come back, she forgot to wash her paws!!!!!!

It Had to Come out Sooner or Later

     We knew our daughter, Marie, had been sexually abused, neglected and physically abused before she came to live with us.  She and her sister had been removed from the family due to reported sexual abuse.  Her sister disclosed details.  Marie insisted nothing happened.  Marie was returned to her mother with the admonition that the abuser leave the household.  Marie had always steadfastly defended her mother and insisted nothing happened.

     The effects of the abuse was clearly evident in Marie’s psychiatric diagnosis.  She had post traumatic stress, and would freak out at times and become like a wild animal.  She would spit, bite, swear and kick with a wild look in her eyes.  She was hospitalized several times for this, and taken to the emergency room countless times.  Each time she would have to be restrained by 5 or 6 people.  At the emergency room, she would be put in restraints.  One particular hospital put her in adult restraints, and she slipped her arms out and punched a doctor in the fact.  Then they put her in soft children’s restraints and she ate right through them.  It was heart breaking and scary to watch.  With psychiatric care and lots of medication, her outbursts have lessened. 

     Marie had promised her mother she would never let me love her and she would never disclose what went on in the family.  It took her three years with us before she would let me touch her, and she called me by my first name not “mom”. (She had promised her mother she wouldn’t.)  The only time we ever had any physical contact was when she would curl up in a ball in my lap in the rocking chair and I would rub her back. She loved this activity, and even though she is 13, we still do it every day.   About a year ago, through family counseling, Marie said that she loved me not her birth mother.  We explained it wasn’t an “all or nothing” thing…that she could miss and love her birth mother and love me also.  She seemed to be relieved that we weren’t asking her to “trash” her mom or not care for her.

      One day two weeks ago, Marie and I were sitting in the rocking chair watching tv.  I’d taken the day off work because it was the end of the summer and there was no one to watch her during the day.  We were “bonding”.  She turns to me and says (in American Sign Language because she is deaf,)  “I hate my birth mother.  I love you.”  I said my typical response.  “You don’t have to hate her, you can still love her and love me also.”  “No”, she signed, “I hate her.  She let her boyfriend have sex with me for money and she didn’t stop it.”  We talked about the details, which I will not disclose in this blog.  But she definitely had had sex at the age of 6.  She detailed her embarrassment, her shame, the pain and her anger.  She indicated she wanted the man to go to jail and her birth mom to go to jail because she let it happen.  She was adamant.  I was calm on the outside and mortified on the inside.  On one hand, to bring this up now might be more traumatizing, on the other hand, she’s been traumatized for so long that it might be a relief.  Then she said the one thing that convinced me it was right to report it, “I don’t want him to hurt other girls like he hurt me.” 

     Marie e-mailed her “old” worker from the Department of Children Youth and Families.  She was blunt.  It said “man had sex with me.  Mom knew.  Want man and mom in jail.”  We have never heard back from the worker.  

     I called the police station and reported to a police officer that we wanted to report sexual abuse, but we needed a sign language interpreter.  He told me to talk to his boss, and the call was transferred.  I talked to the desk sergeant, and he told me to call back on Monday and talk to the desk sergeant because he would know how to make arrangements for this.  I called back on Monday and told my story.  He indicated they would not provide an interpreter until I first filed a claim.  I said I couldn’t file the claim because I wouldn’t want it to look like I was putting words in her mouth.  I said they needed to get an interpreter.  He was adamant I file a report first.  I called the Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing and left a message. I did not hear back from them. I then e-mailed an interpreter we had used on several occasions, a wonderful woman who had spent much time interpreting for Marie when she was hospitalized.  She reported to me that I had to have an interpreter certified for legal matters, otherwise it could be contested in court.  There were 2 in our state and one was female.  I called the Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing again and left a more detailed message.  I have still not heard back from them and it has been almost 2 weeks!

     I made an appointment with my daughter’s primary care physician, a wonderful guy who worked in the community free clinic. (He had delivered Marie and had been her pediatrician before she came to live with us.  I took her back to him and was amazed at his compassion for others.)  I had arranged an interpreter through Marie’s medical insurance which has always been great about providing interpreters.  We explained to the doctor why we were there, and he delicately did an exam on Marie.  He told her she had not been permanently damaged and took blood and urine tests for STDs.  (Who would have thought??)  He said he would check on the legal ramifications of reporting something 7 years after the fact.  In Marie’s favor was the fact that the police knew who the gentleman was and he had been arrested and convicted in the abuse of her sister.

     A week later and still no word from anyone.  Every morning Marie would wake up and come and ask me “Is today the day we go to the police and the man is arrested?” and I had to keep telling her that I was “working on it”.  We went back to the doctor and he indicated all of her tests came back negative, (thank God!)  He asked me if I had made any progress on reporting it and I said no.  He had done research and gave me the name of a program that helps children who have been sexually abused.  They provide an advocate and a lawyer, and everything they do will stand up in court.  I called them on Thursday.  The woman who coordinates the program is on vacation so it will have to wait until another week or so.   I am very frustrated at the roadblocks and the wait, but we WILL persevere and report the abuse.  I will do everything I can to have the man who repeatedly raped my little girl go to jail.

     Marie has been strangely content with herself. I think she had held it in for all these years and it has been a big relief to get it out.  She does not seem traumatized.  She seems angry at her birth mom and her boyfriend.  She and I are in for a real adventure with the legal system, an adventure that I, as a parent, wish I never would have to take.  Six years old…can you believe it???  I know I am naïve, but it is amazing to me that there are people out there who could be so cruel to a sweet six year old girl!    

Being a Foster Mom

     After we adopted our daughter, Dinora, from Guatemala in 1984, we wanted more children.  However, her adoption was costly and we did not have the money to do it again.  I happened to know someone who took in a foster baby and ended up adopting her.  Great, I thought, and we became foster parents.  The thing I did not realize prior to this experience is that the goal is almost always to unify the child with their biological parent.  We ended up having 14 foster children before we were able to adopt Steven.  Giving up the first foster child, who we had brought home from the hospital with a fractured skull and blind eye, was difficult.  He ended up going home to his biological parents within a month because no one could prove they had abused him.  (He’d fallen off of the changing table, they said.)  I cried and cried the day I had to drop him off, and I sent him home with 3 bags of clothing, a stroller and a bag of toys.  (I later learned not to give away baby items as we were soon again going to be needing them for another child.)  I learned to not get attached to the child, assuming he/she was going to go home.  Yet, each time I got a new foster child, I was filled with excitement.  I got to be a new mother 18 times!!!  Not many parents get to experience that. 

      I write about this because my son, Angel, has a aide who provides 20 hours of services for him.  She has been a foster parent of teenagers, (bless her soul,) and she was called to take another teenage girl.  Angel had been with her when they met, and the few times they visited before she moved in.  Today, this woman was going to pick up her new 14 year old foster daughter, Dawn, from a residential facility for girls.  Angel was not going to come, but Dawn asked if he could please come.  Angel, who loves to impress people with his kindness, bought 2 bouquets of flowers, one for Dawn and one for his aide.  For his aide, he also attached a balloon that read “It’s a girl!”  Motherhood can be a joy as many times as one becomes a mother, even if it is to a foster child!

Bunny Comes and Bunny Goes

I bought Marie a bunny for her birthday.  She always wanted a small furry creature to call her own.  She’s had several hamsters, but they always managed to escape from her.  I thought a bunny would be slower in hopping away.

Marie’s bunny was a “pigmy” bunny.  It certainly looked like a pigmy bunny when we bought it.  It was a great orange color and she named it “Pumpkin”.  Pumpkin ate and ate.  Pumpkin grew to be a VERY large pigmy bunny.  Marie enjoyed giving it “treats” to eat.

One late afternoon, Marie came to me screaming and crying hysterically.  Pumpkin was choking!  I tried my best Heimlich Maneuvers on it to no avail.  Marie dragged me to the car with my car keys to drive it to the nearest vet.  By this time, Pumpkin had gone limp and no longer appeared to be breathing, but Marie’s hysterical tears told me I had to  take it to the vet so they could tell her they tried everything but it was dead.

When we got to the Vet’s, they were closing and leaving in their cars.  Marie jumps out of my car when it is still running, and she runs as fast as her feet can take her over to the vet who just happened to be lucky enough to be driving a Volkswagon “bug” convertible with the top down.  Marie jumps up on the side step of her car and shoves the bunny in the car right in the vets face.  The vet and another staff person screech to a halt in their cars, grab the limp, obviously dead bunny, and rush into the office.  All the while, Marie is screaming at the top of her lungs.  They rush the bunny into an examining room, and I see them doing CPR on it, and then they shut the door.  5 minutes they come out gloriously happy.  Pumpkin is ALIVE!  She had been eating a fruit mixture, (obviously given to her by Marie) and she choked on a banana chip. They had quickly performed surgery on Pumpkin and removed the offending banana chip.  We ALL start crying with relief.  They said so many times people come into the vets with their animals near death and they can’t save them and it is very discouraging to the vet.  This was the first time someone brought them a dead animal and they were able to save it!  Marie being deaf and so darn cute, had tugged at their heartstrings, and they were excited that they could bring back her precious pet.  They sent us on our way home and a happy Marie gripped the bunny so hard I had to tell her to lighten up or she would kill it for sure!  I was instructed to make an appointment for the next day to bring her back for an exam.

Once the bunny got home, it looked no worse for the wear, except it moved very slowly and listed to one side.  We thought the excitement had gotten to it and it was too scared to move!  However, the next day, when the vet examined it, she took me aside and very apologetically, said she had some very bad news.  I started to laugh because I knew what she was going to say…the bunny was brain damaged from the lack of oxygen.  It didn’t matter, I told her.  All Marie expected was for Pumpkin to be a companion for her.  If it listed when it semi-hopped, never regained its previous enthusiasm for life, and had a vacant look in its eyes, it didn’t matter to Marie.  She had her pet back to love.  As we were leaving the vets, she gave everyone a hug and a kiss and she signed “thank you” to them.  I went to pay and they said they provided her treatment free of charge!  2 wonderful outcomes, a live bunny and several hundred dollars stayed in my pocket.  Life was good!

Different Children/Different Adoption Experience

I was in family court today  and while I waited my turn for my case to be called I sat there on a cold metal bench watching people around me.  In the far corner was a group of family members there to celebrate the adoption of the most adorable blonde haired, blue eyed girl, dressed in a red velvet dress with a white lace top and red bows in her hair.  There were at least 10 family members and a professional photographer.  They were called into the courtroom first, as usually happens with the adoptions.  They came out ten minutes later, the new mother crying, the new father proudly carrying his official new daughter.  The family members were joyously hugging and congratulating them, which was completely incongruous to the rest of the mopey general public, myself included, waiting to be heard in court.  (Not too many people smile or dress elegantly when waiting for court, and the judges and social workers all have their own private room so they don’t have to mingle with the rest of us!)  Anyway, it reminded me of the 4 very different adoption courtroom experiences I’ve had with my children.

The one that comes closest to the scene I’d witnessed was when we adopted Dinora from Guatemala.  Adopted at the age of 12 months, I did dress her is a frilly dress with a bow in her hair.  Our 3 year old son came along dressed in a little vest and tie, and my husband and I proudly carried our children into court for our little one to become an official member of the family.  We did not think to bring other family members around, (just as I did not want any other family members around when I giving birth, I guess!)  We did take a few pictures, and then we all went out to Chuck E Cheese’s for pizza to celebrate.   It was a lovely adoption!  What a great experience!

Our third child, Steven, we had had since birth.  I took him home from the hospital when he was one month old. They had trouble placing him because he had been born heroin and cocaine addicted to an alcoholic birth mother and anyone with any experience with these children know what serious difficulties they can have.  Due to his exposure to drugs and alcohol,  his brain appeared to be wired wrong, (my “formal” diagnosis.) He had excessive sensory integration deficit whereby he would scream if you touched him gently, or if there was a tag on his clothes, or it the tv was too loud, or if the room was too bright, and so forth.  Plus, by the age of 2 he was super active and never slept.  Joy!  Joy!  Nothing, however, could dim our love for him and we wanted to adopted him. (What held it up for several years was a reported birth father, in prison for life for murder, who would not release his custody.  The funny thing was, Steven’s birth mom was Caucasian, light colored hair, blue eyes.  His reported birth father was a red headed, blue eyed Irishman.  Steven was obviously bi-racial with his dark skin and gorgeous curly black hair.  Even though one might entertain the idea that it WAS theoretically  possible that these two people could produce a child with Steven’s characteristics, the fact that the reported birth father was in prison when Steven was conceived should have given a clue that he was grasping at straws to obtain custody. Finally, after a forced court ordered DNA test, it was determined he was not the father and Steven was free for adoption.  Our loving son could become a permanent family member!)   His adoption courtroom experience was very memorable, but all for the wrong reasons.  He was almost 4 and wild, wild, wild.  He was taking Ritalin, which just took the “edge” off.  He still had his sensory issues, and wearing clothes was a real challenge for him.  During the adoption proceedings, I sat Steven on my lap, but he wriggled and cried and tried to get free.  “Let him DOWN”, the judge said sweetly, and who can argue with a judge?  So I let him down.  He proceeded to run around in front of us and strip off his clothes piece by piece.  The judge started talking faster and faster, trying to hurry the adoption process along.  Steven finally was naked and he started to climb up the wood in front of the judge, just as the judge finalized the adoption.  “Good luck,” the judge said to us, “I think you are going to need it!”

The adoption of our son Angel was semi-sweet.  He loved to dress up, so he was wearing a suit and tie.  The court had combined his adoption with the adoption of his five brothers and sisters who were being adopted by their aunt.  The children were removed from their birth mother when Angel was born as he was also born to an alcoholic birth mother who was addicted to heroin and cocaine.  The aunt agreed to adopt his siblings because they already had a family relationship, but Angel was a stranger to them all.  His aunt, only twenty-eight years old herself, had five children of her own.  They lived in the poorest part of town in a small apartment that could not rationally hold eleven people. She did not have a car,so we picked them all up to take them to the courthouse for the adoption.  They were dressed in clean but tattered clothes.  It was obvious that this mother was going to struggle with these children as several of the older, teenage ones were already showing signs of delinquency.  The adoption process went smoothly in court, and we dropped them off at their home with a hope that things would work out.  Then we happily went home to celebrate with Angel.  Another family outing to Chuck E Cheese’s for pizza! (Angel has kept in touch with his siblings, whose adoption has since been rescinded by the adoptive mother.  Two of his brothers are in prison, one in the training school for boys, one sister had died and the other sister has lived with several different foster families.)

Marie’s adoption was our final adoption.  She had come to us as a foster child at the age of seven, having been picked up in the city streets at 4:00 am carrying her infant brother trying to find food for him.  At her tender age, she had been the caretaker of this infant because her birth mother was incompetent and spent her nights out doing drugs of hooking up with guys.  Marie was devastated when she and her brother were separated, and she worried and cried for months that he was going to die because she wasn’t there to take care of him.  At the adoption proceedings, as in Angel’s case, her brother was to be adopted at the same time she was.  By this time he was about four years old.  When she saw him in the courtroom lobby she joyfully ran up to him to pick him up.  He started to cry!  He didn’t know who she was!  His new adoptive mother held him and calmed down, but every time Marie came near him he’d start to cry again.  Marie was devastated and tearful the whole time. The joy of her adoption was overshadowed by her sadness that the infant she had raised did not know who she was.  (She managed to recover somewhat, however.  After the proceedings, they let us go up and take a picture of the judge. In every picture, Marie snuck in “bunny ears” fingers over the judge’s head.  So much for a memorable adoption picture!)

I would have to say that no two adoption courtroom proceedings are exactly alike. The only thing that is alike in all of them is a deep love of the adoptive parents for their new child/children.  For me, in each case, it matched the love I experienced during the birth of my first child.  That is a joyful thing!

I Miss My Mom…

This entry will not be about my kids.  It is entirely about me wallowing in sorrow over the loss of my mother.  No, she is not dead, but she has become ill with dementia and today was the first day she did not recognize me.  My “mommy” is gone.  I suddenly have great empathy for those who have lost their parents.  Because I did not have a great relationship with my dad, I was sad to see him pass away, but I did not feel the sadness I feel now.  My mom used to come over and help me with my kids.  She made me custard pudding, (my favorite.)

She has taken me and the children on many vacations and we had great fun!  Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize, London, and the Grand Canyon.  She loved to travel and we were more than happy to keep her company.  She liked to go to places where she could really experience a unique adventure.  We stayed at a resort in Costa Rica where we were the only non-Costa Rican people there.  NO ONE spoke English.  We spent the week laughing hysterically at this “problem”.  We ate Costa Rican food, (boiled turkey, roasted rabbit, and lots of great fruit.) She and Dinora took a white water rafting trip, level 4.  My mother had always wanted to go white water rafting.  She did not, however, know that she was going to get wet. There she was in her long pants, socks, sneakers, and sweatshirt, standing next to Dinora in her cute little bikini.  Of course the raft flipped over a few times, and it was a good thing my mom had her life vest on because the weight of her clothing would have pulled her under and she would have drowned for sure! During our trip to Guatemala we stayed at out-of-the way places.  At one place, they did not have electricity and no built in heat or hot water.  We were given a “manservant” to keep our fire running and to heat hot water for a bath.  And on our long trek up the mountain to get to Mayan Ruins, we were all exhausted.  The guide said to watch out for jaguars which lived in the area.  My mom, who was exhausted from the climb (at age 80) said “I almost with a jaguar would get me so that I could lay down.” In Belize, we went to a zoo that had chicken wire fencing around the animals and we almost lost pieces of Steven a few times when he reached his arm into the flimsy cages to pet the lion or the alligators.  She came with us on the trip to London to settle Francis in at Cambridge University.  We spent several days sightseeing.  We ate pigeon.We ate pigeon and we had tea every day. My mother cherished the tea set.  I bought it for her from the inn where we stayed.  I told her it cost $25 (because she was always against spending money on “things”.)  I actually paid $250 for it…One fear of mine came true…I have always had this fear of being poked in the eye with an umbrella, so I would never use an umbrella.  During a double decker bus tour of London, we stopped at Buckingham Palace.  As it was raining, my mother had an umbrella and I didn’t.  Francis took a picture of us, and just as we said “Cheese”, my mom poked me in the eye with the umbrella.  And I have a picture of it! My worst nightmare came true and I lived to tell about it.

My mom has the most beautiful insides of anyone I know.  She was always upbeat, optimistic, encouraging and pleasant to everyone she met. She never ever had an unkind word to say about anyone.  She always took the “high road”, and she has devoted her life to making life better for my brother, Curtis, who is developmentally delayed, legally blind, and totally deaf.  She always felt guilty because he went to live in a group home.  You could not convince her that he had a full and happy life living with 3 other guys.  A great deal of her dementia has including her insisting she was going to take Curtis home to live with her.

She was my role model, my cheerleader, my friend, and she always took care of me.  And now I have to take care myself.  I know I am selfish, but I don’t like it very much!  I feel so sad to see such a vibrant, bouncy, vivacious woman slowly slip away.  I try to visit almost every day, even if she is “out of it” and I just sit there and rub her back or hold her hand.  When I leave, I always hug her, kiss her, tell her I love her and that she’s the best mother in the world. She has always told me she loves me back.  Not today.  For the first time, she didn’t know who I was. I feel lonely.  Scared.  I miss my mommy…

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