Thursday, October 31, 2019

What a year!

A full year has gone by since the last blog post and what a busy year it has been. First of all no one could of told me that by the end of 2018 that I would be back in my home state of Michigan because that was the furthest thing from my mind on January 1, 2018. What was going through my mind was that we made it to a new year and there was infinite possibilities for any and everything good to come our way. Years one and two had me feeling like this was some trial experiment and if we didn't like it we could stop at any time. Of course I knew fully well that I had one hundred percent of the responsibility for the three amigos but there was still this feeling of a shoe would drop at any time.

Getting in the position of "mom" seemed to be the most difficult thing to do although I had functioned as mom in every sense of the word since the 3 amigos arrived to my house. Funny how your mind can make an easy thing super complicated. Every meeting, appointment and or assessment I was mom but I had to some how still grasp on the fact that I was grandma but we adopted them. I was still feeling cheated out of my rightful title and not seeing or fully accepting my new title. It was as if I was somehow demoted and yet I was upgraded and I couldn't see or accept that fact. However, life always has a way of showing you by example. Truthfully my denial of "mom" was because I knew the boys still called Vanessa that and I didn't want to confuse the situation but Trinity on the other hand flat out called me mom and I answered. Talk about dual roles🤦 So what happened to finally get me to stop straddling the fence? I grieved for the lost of my title of grand mom this title that came way too early for me  but I somehow had become accustomed to slowly over the years. Yet, I celebrated the recognition that I was mom in every since of the word. Heck, I brought all 3 amigos home from the hospital not to mention naming 2 out of 3 of them. The main reason of my acceptance is because I finally not only saw myself as mom but I began to feel it as well. I was no longer a substitute, I was the lead role.

During the 3 plus years of having the 3 amigos, they had many specialist appointments and some results came but unfortunately in some cases there were more questions than answers. So what does a parent do? In my case, I felt it was time to return to Michigan where we can not only get the best doctor access but as a bonus have in state family support. Sounded great! At least on paper. You see when we moved to Arizona 11 plus years ago we have two daughters who had the ability to tell their wants and needs. Moving to Michigan we had 2 kids that have delays and not to mention all of them are under the age of 10. Could a road trip even be a good idea? Will  the little patience I have survive the trip? The first thing was to make sure the move was even possible. When would we move? What city would we select to move to if we are able to move? Was I jumping the gun in looking to move out of Arizona? Here I am again with a bunch of questions and few answers. When you decide to become a parent, there's a part of the position that requires sacrifices and selfishness. Every real parent when it's time to use them. 

In May 2007, I came to Arizona and fell in love with the state but in 2018 the love wasn't as strong plus my life was way different than when I first arrived. The daughters I arrived with in Arizona were now legally adults. I now had 3 children under 10 who all have different needs. Then again what about me. I have an established nonprofit organization. I am making connections and having events. Am I just to leave all of that behind? I worked hard to get this far. I wasn't the only person to have to deal with moving though. Chris had a job that he liked and Regina was attending college and had a job. An out of state move would shake up their worlds too. Time for a family meeting. After the conclusion of the meeting the decision was made. We were Michigan bound! How incredibly terribly exciting! The original plan was to leave at the end of the school year in May 2018 but the actual move didn't happen until October 2018.

Preparing to move across the country again was easy but I had so many questions about road tripping with little kids. Not to mention being afraid of my legs cramping up and delaying us in driving through the various states. I asked all of my experienced parents and grandparents about road tripping with kids and I truly felt ready. We had secured our new 4 bedroom 3 bathroom apartment so all was good. I hired a house and carpet cleaner. The truck was rented. All systems were go! Then the call happened. What call? The call from our soon to be apartment complex saying that the tenant requested an additional 2 weeks. That 2 weeks turned into them refusing to move out of the apartment. As a temporary fix until the tenant is removed from the apartment we were placed into a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment but the complex would still work on getting the tenant out of the apartment before our arrival on 10/15/2018. Everything was all good. Right? Well there was no time to worry about that because the move out day was fast approaching and packing was in full swing.

Moving day finally arrived. The tenants were still in our apartment but it was time to vacate the house that had been our home for 2 years. Not to mention the State of Arizona where all three of my children were born. The realization hit me that for the first time in our lives, Vanessa and I would reside in two different states and she had no idea. By 12 am we were out of the house and decided to start on the road once the sun rose. There was something so surreal about leaving Arizona. When I arrived in 2007, I was looking for a fresh start and now here I am in 2018 heading toward a fresh start in my home state of Michigan. I broke a promise to myself and I realized it. When we reached Arizona I said if I left the state, I would not be driving because of how we had to come down the mountain. Here I am in 2018, driving out of the state but I was not leaving the same way I came in because I was not returning to the same city I lived in prior to moving to Arizona. A new city with new opportunities was where we were headed. 

The road trip was ROUGH! The three amigos got sick in New Mexico. Maybe this was a sign to turn around and give up. No. We were moving forward after showers and a good night's sleep. Over the entire trip from Arizona to Michigan we stayed the night in 3 states New Mexico, Oklahoma and Missouri. Truly it was the way it was destine to be for this trip because we didn't plan on it at all. The visitors' centers in each of the states were beautiful and provided history of the states. We were on Route 66 how about that! There was a celebration clap and scream when we crossed a state line as well as taking a picture of the state welcome sign. This happened in every state except Michigan. When we got to Michigan it was dark and I didn't want the flash to bother other drivers. I will say that when were arrived on 10/14/2018 in Michigan the internal celebration moved me to tears externally. I was in my home state after 11 plus years. Wow! After seeing the Pure Michigan commercials every year I was home in Pure Michigan. I arrived and not one cramp through the entire drive. Thank you, Jesus!

After spending the night at the Battle Creek visitor center we drove to our new apartment complex on 10/15/2018 with the hope that all of the apartment drama was over and we was going to get into our 4 bedroom 3 bathroom apartment. Our hopes were dashed. The tenant didn't move out and we were stuck into a 3 bedroom apartment upstairs. Then the apartment complex was sold and new management arrived in January 2019. New management said we couldn't move out as promised by previous management. We had to live out our lease. What could be worse? Snow came and reminded us just how much we missed Arizona. The 3 amigos on the other hand loved the snow. I loved seeing the wonderment and beauty of Michigan through their eyes. It rekindled the love that I have for Michigan. 

So it has been a year since we arrived in Michigan and it's our 3rd adoption anniversary. The process of getting established with the various doctors and therapists was a long but it got done.  I can say that although nothing went according to plan we ended up just where we need to be, with each other in a home full of laughs and love.

Happy 3rd Anniversary Chris, Regina and my 3 amigos Daniel, Deondre, Trinity. You see our home has 3 adults and 3 kids. There are still hurdles to cross but as long as we remain focused on the goals we will be just fine. After all this year 3 is definitely our magic number 😉









Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What I learned in 2 years of reparenting

It has been quite some time since I sat down and typed up my thoughts about life as an adoptive mom.  Yes, life has been busy but mostly I believe I did not want to face the actual feelings that I have had throughout this two year journey. I reminds me of when a couple get married and all the happiness and excitement that happens during the wedding and honeymoon and then they return and have to learn how to live with one another. Although I had the kids in my home for over 4 years, once the third party was gone, I had to learn how to do my role as mom and not grandma.

I found myself looking at and experiencing depression. You see I had this notion that I would be co-parenting with my oldest daughter but instead it became more adversarial than anything. Tons of therapy appointments, visits to specialist, and regular doctor visits took it toll of me also. The biggest hit was that in spite of being with us for over 4 years, there was still a part of my oldest that still held out hope that his mom would come and get him or he would find her. This prompted the boys to go out the window why we were sleeping early in the morning.  The range of emotions that came with that experience placed me right in the middle of depression. You see in my mind I had failed to make these children feel that they were home and loved. I didn't think about the other aspect of them just missing their mother because she had not been an active participant in their lives for quite some time. It was me I just knew it and thus I sank into despair until I realized I was there and then I began to fight my way out.

I wasn't trying to fill my daughter's shoes as mom. I was still trying to be grandma but the conflict came because I expected gratitude for the things that were given but forgot that it was not really taught. I had not fully accepted my assignment but I did it and this too caused a conflict within me and also in the house. I wanted out. I wanted to be able to do anything that I wanted to do and not have the parental responsibilities. Yet, I knew I had responsibilities. It was not fair. I had a nonprofit to grow and to soon to be consulting business why am I being punished for the decision of my child. Then I remembered that I made a choice along with my husband and daughter to ensure that these children were healthy, happy and loved. I signed up for this sacrifice and it was time to pay the bill.

I found ways to enjoy and work in my nonprofit and be the mom I was meant to be the kids. I was no longer lost in despair I was building both my business and my family. Neither of which were going to grow successfully in an instance but would need tender loving care to grow and succeed and I was just the person to give it.  Life is not all sunshine and lollipops but thank God it is not all dark clouds and rainstorms either. What I learned specifically about me is that I am a woman of action and what is always the catalyst for the actions I take is love.

I truly thank my family: Chris, Regina, Daniel, Deondre, Trinity and Shadough for being with me on our journey and I know each year will be better than the last. Happy Second Adoption Anniversary!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

One week away


We are one week away from the anniversary of adopting our 3 grandchildren, so I felt it was the perfect time to do a year in review. I wish that I could tell you everything has been sunshine and roses but that would just be a lie. There are times when there is more confusion than ever. The thought of  raising 3 more children was terrifying at times in spite of the fact that we were already doing just that. I have always said that I came into this journey thinking that the children would return to their parents and just how shocked I was when we were it but I was also sad. When it came to having my own children, I knew that I did not want to have more than 2 children. I gave birth to 3 daughters. My oldest Vanessa, is the mother of my 3 grandchildren. My middle daughter Venita, died at 1 month and 8 days old from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). My youngest Regina, is my rock and has been a great help in our transitioning to our new normal. Our new normal though has began to look a lot like the past and Chris and I are having a hard time understanding just how to remove that past before it damages the present and future.

When Daniel and Deondre arrived in April 2014 there was so much work to do with them. We could not even understand what Daniel was saying most of the time. Deondre on the other hand did not do much talking at all. When he did speak Daniel felt like he should be his interpreter. It is comical now but then it was sad and at times very exhausting. Trinity came home in January 2015 and we had so much work to do with her regarding her health. So here we are 3 years after Daniel and Deondre, 2 years after Trinity and a week away from 1 year of adoption. There have been some highs and lows in the process but that happens in all families. We are currently dealing with quite a few lows as we approach our adoption anniversary. One of the biggest lows is that Daniel still tries to behave the way he did when he was with his parents. That behavior is putting a strain on the family. At times he acts out in school and even to the point of bullying another student.

This leads to another low where Chris and I after giving chance after chance finally did whoop Daniel. This whooping however resulted with Daniel getting a bruise without us knowing it. The very next day Daniel went to school as usual and was fine. At some point during his day at school however Daniel complained that his leg hurt to his teacher and she sent him to the nurse. During the visit with the nurse Daniel showed her his bruise that we knew nothing about and the nurse reported us to the police as alleged child abusers. Can you imagine coming home and finding 2 police officers at your door and you have no idea why? Only to find out that the school reported you as an abuser and your grandson/son never said anything. Now you have 2 officers looking at you like you are trash because you are presumed guilty before you say a word. There's nothing so surreal as having to ask if you could use your own bathroom in your own home. We never lied to the police or DCS when they arrived the following Monday. We did whoop Daniel however we had no idea that a bruise resulted in the whooping. Currently we are waiting for the final decision in this matter.

Our next low deals with the health of Deondre and Trinity. Deondre is developmentally delayed and we have been having a time getting people to even see him at time to get him the help he needs. He is also diagnosed with epilepsy. Trinity on the other hand was born premature and was diagnosed with a life threating skin problem. These two will always need someone to speak for them until hopefully and prayerfully they will be able to speak for themselves. That is definitely my job. In spite of the lows there are so many highs. Each day that I know where they are and they are healthy and happy my heart smiles. We are looking forward to celebrating our first anniversary with a the kids. Nothing worthwhile is easy and raising these 3 is definitely worthwhile❤.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Back to school

I remember when my daughters were in school and how before the end of summer I knew when school was going to start. Every year there was a school shopping schedule for clothes and school supplies. This tradition went on every year without fail up to my youngest daughter's sophomore year of high school.

Everything changed in the 2013-2014 school year. Our grandsons moved in and here were these two dependent children moving into a independent household. Self sufficiency was a way of life and now we had to clean and feed children. To make matters worse we were required to place the boys into daycare so they could learn how to socialize with other children. When the girls were young, we didn't have to use daycare because our work schedules always had a parent home. I will admit I did try the daycare experience with my youngest daughter but I didn't like the leaving her with strangers. We eventually found a daycare center that we felt would work well with and for the boys. Just when we got settled in the daycare routine along came the news that my oldest grandson would start preschool. Seriously, I hadn't gotten use to daycare and now here comes preschool. The youngest grandson would begin at home preschool. When does the madness stop?

Thankfully, through the help of agencies we had help with getting school supplies and clothes for the boys. We would receive this help for 3 years and all the crazy that came with having dependent children subsided. The new school year begins on August 9, 2017 and we are NOT prepared. No school shopping for clothes or supplies has been done. It was my hope that when the boys transitioned from being our grandsons to being our sons we would have the routine down and even possibly be ahead of the game not this year but there's always next year 😊

Sunday, April 23, 2017

From the uphill battles to celebration

Our Past
It's amazing how time can seem to fly by so fast and at other times it stands so still. My family and I moved to Mesa, Arizona from Detroit, Michigan in June 2007. I know some of you may be thinking why such an extreme move from the cold to the heat? There are a few reasons why we made the choice to move. The first was the fact that I had earned my Master of Healthcare Management in 2005 and was only making $12.01 an hour as a pharmacy technician. All opportunities to move up within the organization I was working went nowhere fast. Second was that my husband had been laid off from the plant and all the jobs that he did find were way out in the suburbs and we found ourselves using the money earned to put gas in the tank to get him to work. Lastly the biggest reason is to have a fresh start after my oldest daughter decided to have an online romance with a former family friend.

The move to Arizona was not a difficult one for my youngest daughter and I but when it came to my oldest daughter and husband that was a different story. You see my husband had not ventured outside of Michigan and my oldest daughter wanted to be with her friend and newly rediscovered family. I believe the biggest problem they had was that we did not know anyone in the entire state of Arizona. For me it was icing on the fresh start cake.

I wish I could tell you that the move to Arizona was this happily ever after experience but alas it was not. We struggled a lot for quite a few years both professionally and privately. We thought about moving back to Michigan but we had no jobs or even a place to live so we had to tough it out. In February 2008 we were able to visit our beloved Detroit and were surprised to see that in our almost 1 year absence how much had changed so much so it seemed foreign to us. As much as we loved being in Detroit for our brief visit we realized that Detroit was no longer our home but neither was Mesa at this time. We were in a sort of limbo when it came to finding our place that felt like home.

When we welcomed in 2009 our family was in turmoil. My husband and I really were not talking to each other but more so at each other. We lived like roommates than husband and wife. We were thinking of separating to see if we could get back on track. We attended marriage counseling in church and outside of church. I will tell you that just when it seem inevitable that we would be living in different homes we were both sad but had no idea how to fix us. You see the only issues we had was we were not communicating and we had not dealt with the damage that happened to our family from our oldest daughter's choices. Thankfully our love was much stronger than our stubbornness. In August 2009 the whole family moved into our new apartment where I made good on my promise to my daughters about having to share a room for a short time. I had even started a new degree program in pharmacy but I would not finish it because my heart belonged to public health. I found the ultimate degree program that would allow me to earn a Masters and Doctorate of Public Health at the same time. This program was just what I needed. I was laser focused in the program but I had no idea that something was on the horizon that would remove me from the program and it would take a minute to get back on track.

As a family we were so excited to celebrate the graduation of our oldest daughter from high school in 2010. She received a full ride scholarship with her books included and we were the proudest parents on Earth. The closer we got to graduation of our daughter the more sad she seemed. That was weird to us because she had always expressed her need to leave our home so much so that we wanted her to leave too. The day would finally come where we would receive the answer about what was going on with our oldest daughter and in our wildest dreams we would not have figured out the answer. It seemed that our oldest daughter was seeing someone without our knowledge. This man would soon be introduced to us as well as the announcement of a new baby. Talk about a one-two punch to the stomach but we kept our tempers in check. Weeks past and we found out this baby was coming much sooner than expected. November 2010 we met our first grandson. His mother and him stayed with us until January 2011. Our grandson would come back to stay with us at 3 months and stay until he was removed by his mother at 6 months. Our family now had a huge void in it.

By the August 2011, apartment living would be behind us and we 3 would be moving into a house. Another fresh start to attempt to heal the hole in our family. We had peace for 4 months and then our oldest daughter was back needing a place to stay with her son. My husband and I were both against allowing her back in spite of wanting to see how our grandson was doing in addition to our daughter. It took our youngest daughter to make a plea to us to allow our oldest daughter to come into our home and make our family whole again. We finally decided to after much anguish and tears to allow my daughter and son into our home. We were able to celebrate Christmas and welcomed in the 2012 new year. Our family reunion would be short-lived because our oldest daughter would leave our home for the final time with our grandson in tow before the end of January 2012. We went back to our peaceful existence with little involvement with our oldest daughter. By the middle of 2012, a new baby would be on the way but this time we had decided not to be so involved in the pregnancy and delivery of this baby.  By November 2012 we had established out own nonprofit organization Henderson-Hughes Health Partners (H3P).

In February 2013 our second grandson was born. Something so precious would seem to reunite our family but it did not. We did manage to keep the door cracked on our relationship enough to make sure that we could be reached if needed but not enough to feel the devastation of losing our grandsons again. For a year we had a hot and cold relationship with our oldest daughter until April 2014.  Everything that we thought we knew was all a lie. Our grandsons we placed into the foster care system and we would not find out until 2 days after the placement happened. Meanwhile in June 2014 Henderson-Hughes Health Partners (H3P) became a 501C3. Our focus was health literacy and  we created a program that centered around teen sexual health education.

On April 24, 2014, 2 weeks after our grandsons were placed into the foster care system they would come to live with us. Although we had no idea why our grandsons were place into the foster care system we all pledge to be there for them until they could be reunited with their mother and father.  December 2014 would bring us a brand new granddaughter who was born prematurely.  She too would come to live with us on January 23, 2015.

After almost 10 years of Arizona living, 3 years of being parents to our grandsons and 2 years being parents to our granddaughter we have gotten to a place of thanksgiving and acceptance of our life's journey.  As for our nonprofit organization its focus has grown from health literacy to add advocacy and public health. We also added 2 more programs the H3P Senior Initiative that focuses on senior sexual health and health care advocacy as well as Young Grandparents Observing Understanding Grandchildren. This program is designed to help understand the foster care system from a grandparent or kinship placement perspective. If you would like more information on our nonprofit organization and programs check our website www.h3p.org


Present
2007 - 2017 10 years and counting



Friday, December 30, 2016

First Christmas After Adoption

On October 31, 2016, my husband and I became the parents of our 2 grandsons and our granddaughter. It was a 2 plus year process for our grandsons and 1 year plus process with our granddaughter with DCS. Truthfully we never thought we were going to see the end of the long winding road of DCS Foster care but the end did come. The finny part was just how quick everything was over and it left you with so many questions. Such as now that we have adopted the children, what happens next?

State workers are overworked. I get that. However not everyone is knowledgeable about the adoption process within the state. My family and I were definitely in the dark about the process. We did have an adoption case manager but unfortunately for us he was not really any help to us. Thankfully, we are resourceful and know how to advocate for ourselves and got in touch with our lawyer how answered most if not all of our questions. 

Going into the adoption my husband and I were the kinship foster parents of our grandchildren. We moved to a larger house in March 2016, which meant our home had to be inspected. We also had to renew our foster license in 2016. I have often said if parents had to go through the rules and regulations of foster parents, it may result in less children in the foster care system. Not only must your home be clean but your water has to be a certain temperature, as well as your refrigerator. The children must have beds, dressers (or a container for clothes), clothes, ways to transport the children to appointments, etc. Natural parents don't have to such restrictions. Foster parents do however receive help from their licensing agencies and various nonprofits that focus on helping foster parents and children. Unfortunately, all the help goes away once the adoption takes place. In some cases it is not immediate but in others it is instantaneous. In our case we were able to receive help for our first adoptive Christmas. The children received toys, clothes, and shoes. Raising one child without health problems can be difficult but in our case we have 2 children with health issues and 1 one child with behavioral problems. In our almost 3 year journey there were times when we wanted to throw in the towel but we were determined to stick with it until the best solution for everyone happened.

As we look toward 2017, we will be working out creating a resource for adoptive kinship parents. More details will be coming in the new year. Henderson-Hughes Health Partners (H3P) also has first period pouches available free of charge for young ladies in need. Details are listed on our website H3P1.org.

Have a blessed and happy new year!