Sunday, March 13, 2011

Adoption According to Brenda - How to say "good bye" when you foster.

Pictures at the last court date...the day we thought the judge might say she would get to stay with us.  Sadly this didn't happen.
I have known I wanted to post on this topic for a while and I felt this was the right week to do it but I have put it off all day because it is a hard subject.   Ashanti turned 3 this past Tuesday and she hasn't been in my arms since she was 8 months old but even after all this time it hurts and I miss her.   I still dream of getting a call from her Father telling us he wants us to adopt her.
I know that call isn't coming. So I try to focus on all the of things Ashanti gave us and taught us and what we were able to give her.
When you love a child but then have to let them go there will always be pain but that doesn't mean you will die when you do it (even though you feel like you will die).   The following things helped me while we transitioned Ashanti over to her Father during a 2 week period ending with me dropping her off at the airport to her Father where he took her to Florida to live.
1.  Letting myself feel everything.
During this difficult time it is important to cry if you fee like crying.  Scream, punch pillows....let your feelings out.   For me it depended upon the day...some days I cried until I didn't think I could cry anymore and then I cried more.   Other days I was angry.   Sometimes I would take time for myself in my room so I could grieve in private.  Whatever you feel allow it to come out.
2.  Talk, talk, talk and talk some more.
During this time while Ashanti was with her father for more and more hours each day I spent alot of time on the phone.  I talked to my Mom and Sister alot.  I talked to friends on the phone or outside in my neighborhood.   Sometimes talking about it helped me.    There were sometimes I didn't want to talk and those times I would just keep to myself.   But I did find a great amount of therapy while talking.
3.  Write:  blog, journal....whatever works for you.
My blog saved me in many ways.   I needed a place to vent where I could say whatever I wanted and no one would say anything back.   I needed to express what I was feeling and going through.   I found the online support incredibly helpful during this time.   Those who read my blog became a life line to me.   I am so grateful to my readers for their friendship and love during this time.   You can read my posts about Ashanti and Chevey here, here & here.
4.   Find an escape.
Right about the time we were transiting I got my copy of "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer.   This book became my "escape".   While Ashanti was with her Father I would curl up in my bed and allow my mind to get sucked into the story.   I also found myself taking naps.  Sleep, reading and movies allowed me to take a mental break from the pain and the anticipation of the final goodbye.   This became an important part of those 2 was so painful I had to have some way to think about something else for periods of time.   When Ashanti was home with us every minute was filled soaking in her sweet smell, her cute face and giggles.  it truly was an emotional time!
5.  Special things to send with the child you love.
I found some comfort preparing some items to send with Ashanti.   We purchased a stuffed Elephant for Ashanti.   We give all of our Birth Mothers a stuffed Elephant to symbolize our "never forgetting".   So we decided to give one to Ashanti too.   I also prepared a large storage container full of her favorite blankets, crib items, clothes she would be able to use soon  and anything else I could fit that would help her Father as he started a life as a single father or an infant.   Sending formula, baby items etc brought comfort to me.  
6.  Special keepsakes just for you.
I kept a bunch of items that mean alot to me that Ashanti used while she was here.   I included the last pajamas she wore (I can still smell her on them)...

the last night at our home, the washrag we used to bath her and the paper she crumpled up in her hands as she struggled with her very first time away with just her Dad.   She had a very hard first visit and came home looking emotionally drained.  It broke my heart.  I don't know why I keep the makes my heart hurt when I see it.  She was hanging on to it when he brought her back home...but I keep it.

   That is the most painful item...everything else makes me smile.    Everything makes me miss her.  Even right now it is hard to write this.   Even thought it hurts it was worth it...she is worth it!   I am so thankful for the time we had! 

7.  Celebrating what was right and good.
Try to focus on all the happy memories.   While Ashanit and Chevey are not part of our family...they are part of our hearts!    No one can take that away from us.  
8.  Knowing you did something good.
One thing that helped me as I drove away from the airport after handing Ashanti over for the last time....I had an overwhelming feeling in my heart that we had done something good.   We gave Ashanti so much love and gave her a great start.    The pain is witness of that!

No one can get through something like this without pain unless they never loved. 
To those who are going through this and to those who are afraid to foster even though they want to....
I know this is hard but you can do it!    So many children need many children need people like you to help them during one of the hardest times of their life.   Let your heart lead....don't let fear stop you from being a foster to adopt parent!
Your life will change in ways you never dreamed and your heart will be filled in places you never realized had holes. 

1 comment:

Adrienne said...

(((HUGS))) Thank you for sharing your true and honest feelings. You touch and inspire us. Love ya!