lighthouse

I started this blog eight years ago, when it became clear that no one was going to come to our rescue.

At that time the issue was my adopted son, who had sexually assaulted some of my children and some of the other children we knew, was being released from the Texas juvenile system. He would not have to register. His crimes had been lessened in a plea bargain, and then they were to be sealed.

We lived in the house where he had lived, where he had hurt the children.

I started the blog because I didn’t own a gun. I started the blog so there would be a record.

It has become more than all of that, and (at least so far) we have survived.

I believe in writing. I believe words can stand where people have walked away. So that is what lighthouse is about–a blog about fosters

Wherever you may find us.

The parable of the retold

I remember you

I remember when you ran into the waiting room with your sister

I remember all the warnings and admonitions I got from Martha-the-caseworker and your recently relieved first foster mom

And your blue-as-the-sea implacable gaze across a very misguided table

I remember your speech therapist and her fairy godmother-like delight in seeing you make eye contact and in watching your self-inflicted facial wounds

Heal and not return

Storms all over the place

Storms in you swirled all around us, even when I tried to contain them.

But I am not a vegetarian!

We have all been in the grips of a winter cold. This morning one of my younger kids slept-talked a single line–but I am not a vegetarian!!!

I don’t know the context, but the sentence itself was lovely in its exposition.

Often our lives are defined by others based on labels. The vegetarian label seems pretty harmless unless he was dream-offered a nut-apple-squash loaf or was inhabiting some sort of carnivore-topia.

In the world we are awake in we navigate through real perils when we reveal who we really are. Revealing we are a certain shade of skin or religion or sexual identification can cause people to see us differently–for good or ill.

Revealing our status as crime victims can do the same. I might not have thought so years ago, before I knew or started telling our family story, but now that I have, I can attest: it does.

Years ago I remember talking to my children’s counselor and she used the term “damaged good.” As in, “you wouldn’t want people to see your kids as damaged goods.”

Terrible to think she was right. We absolutely could have buried the story of what happened to us. We did not, and we are a healthy, happy, fairly isolated group of people now. Telling the story has categorized us as “high-risk” and the syndrome of isolation and silence has been almost categorical.

A small, small, lovely group of people have stuck around, bless them.

I used to believe that sexual assault victims should absolutely tell someone. I still believe that, but I would tell them not to expect much from those you tell.

I would tell them keep talking until you are safe.

I would tell them you are not alone.

Tara Stories

When my children have their birthdays everyone tells them their story–how the delivery went, first memories of the child, what we ate in celebration.

Your mom told me about your birthday. She was in the hospital for a some time before you were delivered because you were a multiple birth. She was so excited about you. You all were delivered (most likely c-section) around 33 weeks old.

You were each tiny and perfect from the beginning.

She was overjoyed by your birth. They told her she would need help since all of you would spend three weeks in the NICU before leaving with three identical apnea monitors. They said they asked your grandmother to help out but she said no.

So they call us. I was young and stupid. The other foster mothers were older women. One had fostered and adopted many children, the other had only your sister and her own grown daughters. They made up lullabies for her.

When we left the hospital together people mistook me for the mother and them for my supporting family. We explained this was not the case.

I did not get to know your mom until they told me they were taking you away. She fought for her parental rights, but the system was well rigged against her.

Sometimes she would call me. She told the most interesting stories. It is these stories I wish I had written down, recorded, preserved for you, best would have been recorded, in her own beautiful voice.

So you could hear them now. So close to her birthday.

Break Up Songs

Since I lost you I have developed a small bag of tricks to cope with grief. The best of them is prayer, others include running, swimming, mixed martial arts, and writing stuff down. I did not begin to write about grief until I lost the others as well….mostly because others had written about us.

At the time I wrote to judges, elected representatives, functionaries, dignitaries, and Hillary Clinton, and I still lost you.

The other tricks included comfort eating or not eating and pretending that all the cheesy break-up songs in the world were for you and me (because for some strange reason there are none for grieving foster moms, per se)

This is a part one-of-two letter, dearest Little One. Don’t make my mistake, start writing now. It will help a little now and a great deal later.

You have a story, beautiful Rapunzel.

Tell it.

Foster Care

Trees remind me of home, as do the adorable wearable blankets one might buy for a baby born in a winter country. I struggle with the pronoun I, construct tree houses and wearable blankets out of words strung around the neck of a woman turning into the composite her grandmothers long gone on to the next thing…home…give me a cup full of it, your face, voice in my head, Man who shows up just in the nick of time in sorrow as piercing as joy.

Perhaps you know this place. Perhaps it is just up the hill, just around the corner, just out of reach on the spectrum of visible light

Dog-whistle-there

For-those-who-have ears to hear