October 19, 2021

a John Hancock, welcome to the **** show, & 'the' call (new bits since yesterday)

* I was going to post this yesterday, but in the interest of HOLY LONG POST, BATMAN . . . I broke the post up in two pieces . . . here is piece two along with a funny video that relates to yesterday's post. Introducing ticklish Mini:

Another thing that happened while in our not-a-spa hotel room in June:  I was trying to get Harry to eat fruit. He'd not been exposed to fruit before entering foster care, and after he spent over a year with Debbie in foster care - still wasn't expected to eat fruit. Larry hadn't eaten fruit either, but he soon discovered a love for strawberries. Larry would also eat apples and he'd try just about anything. On all of our visits to them, we'd packed some fruit for lunches so that they began to grasp that this was part of a healthy way of eating.

At the hotel, I gave Harry the choice of what fruit he would eat at lunch. I gave him an incredibly small portion. One day I discovered that he'd put his fruit in the pocket of his shorts and told me that he'd eaten them. When I discovered it, we talked about lying and the importance of telling the truth. I asked him if anyone had ever lied to him and how that made him feel.

Harry:  Yeah, my parents lied to me. They told me that they'd see me again. 

In case you are just joining, or in case I haven't shared - the boys went into foster care and for about 6 months, I think, they still had visitation with parents, when they showed up. Ultimately the mom and the dad voluntarily signed off to terminate their parental rights. Of course this was the right thing to do, since neither were in a position to care for their children.

Well. Harry said this through tears. He and I both cried. I hugged him and told him how sad that made me feel. I validated his feelings, but that didn't feel like enough.

Also, the boys laughed or something at one point and I commented on how much metal/wire was up in their mouths. 

Larry:   Yeah, our parents didn't buy us toothbrushes, so we had to brush our teeth with our fingers. They could've gotten us back. They just had to fix the stuff they were doing wrong, but they didn't fix anything so they can't get us back. 

Coach and boys messing around in the
non-spa, unheated hotel pool. That's
my toe - happy to stay far away
 from the unheated pool.
He said it so matter of fact. I don't think that made it hurt any less. I'm sure that they were told this in therapy so they would understand that it wasn't their doing, etc. Harry still struggled with guilt. He blamed himself for them going into care. Debbie said that when the dad visited him he told Harry that it was his fault. That's a lot to carry around as a kid. 

Tip of the iceberg. 

 JULY:  As soon as I got back from Arizona in early July, I started constantly asking Jo when we might be able to pick up the boys. Indiana was waiting for a guy to sign the contract, and that guy went on vacation and no one knew when he would be back. 

I can't make this stuff up. 

I hatched a plan with Jo and Debbie. If we got word that we could come get them, we would drop everything and come. When we drove Ed back to school mid August, we would get the rest of their stuff then. 

Late morning on July 21st, 

Jo called and told me we could come pick them up. 

Contract (that our worker said was one of the worst contracts ever. She apologized that she couldn't get them to budge on anything) was signed. I called Coach. He shuffled a few patients around, stopped home for a lunch I'd packed for him,  and started driving. 

Coach and Larry
racing on scooters.

I stayed home and rid the house, particularly the upstairs, of the WELCOME TO THE SHIT SHOW vibe that we were dealing with. We figured it might be nice if we lead with more of a WELCOME HOME feeling. 

Coach said the pick up wasn't easy. The boys were upset. Larry wouldn't get out of Debbie's car. The boys later told us that Debbie had complained openly that she didn't have enough time to gather their stuff. I'd spoken to her a few days prior and told her that we'd grab them last minute, if that was OK with her. She said SURE  -she'd start packing. 

Me:  Anything of theirs that's kind of beat up, you can toss. I have a bunch of Reg's old clothes saved, and I like to shop, so we'll fill in wherever they need stuff.

Debbie: She's is raising a 3 year old granddaughter because her daughter flaked out. She has a very messed up back and needs surgery. She was in constant pain. Coach even looked at her x-rays to see if he had another opinion. He's helped many people avoid surgery. He looked at her x-rays and was like, NOPE. GO UNDER THE KNIFE. Additionally, she was also going through a divorce and she works full time. She wasn't hoping to keep the boys any longer than necessary. They were tight with her. As much as we knew they wanted to live with us, this was going to be tough. She was the first person who ever cared for them in their lives, but she was not an adoptive parent. Who knows what they were told the last few days as we were begging Indiana to sign stuff and let us bring them to Chicago.

I was bummed that she'd told me she was poised and ready to move them quickly. She admitting that she was ready to move them along, and was barely sleeping because of her back, etc. Why put a negative spin on it for the boys? 

Curly playing with boys at the beach
 4th of July weekend - just
before the fire alarm.

They hadn't opened a book all summer and were stuck at her sister's house during Debbie's work hours. The sister was a grouch, according to the boys. They had nothing to do at her house. We were like DANG, LET'S GET THEM HERE AND HAVE THEM MEET THE NEIGHBOR KIDS BEFORE SCHOOL, PRACTICE READING, GO TO THE POOL, PLAY BASKETBALL, GET ON A DECENT SCHEDULE, ETC.


Are you ready for the next chapter . . . the boys living here? If you had people move into your house (even if you knew they were coming and you could only control so much because of SO MANY BODIES) would you describe your place as SHIT SHOW or WELCOME HOME? 


Nicole MacPherson said...

Oh, how heartbreaking. What those boys have gone through and had to shoulder. How very sad.

I forgot to wish Ed a happy birthday!

Jenny in WV said...

I doubt your home is a Shit Show, but even if it is, it is a Shit Show with Fresh Fruit served daily. So it's not the worst thing.

It's so great that the boys were finally able to move in with you and before school started! Hopefully they know that they are wonderful and worthy and can make peace with their past.

I totally identify with Mini being ticklish. I once had a free 10 minute chair massage (a wellness week event at work) and I'm so ticklish it was the worst! Not relaxing at all!

I didn't get a change to comment yesterday, but those baby announcements were fabulous! You are very talented!

Eli said...

Woohoo! I'm so glad too read that the adoption went through!

Suzanne said...

I am SO GLAD you finally got them! And that you and your family have the opportunity to try to help them heal from the trauma in their lives. <3

Busy Bee Suz said...

Poor Curly. Getting wax sucked out of her ears makes her laugh. She might be sadistic in the future.
Those boys really have some work to do. Their parents (I use that term loosely) are horrible (and surely messed up themselves) people.

A few years ago the Coach and I took in a family friend who has been dealing with drugs since she was 15 and at 30, it was all she knew. We helped her get a fresh start in a different area, rehab, meetings. therapy, etc. One thing that she said to me at dinner kind of blew my mind. We grilled chicken breasts on the grill, I steamed some broccoli, and made a salad. She hardly ate and said our food was 'too fresh'. She was used to processed/fast food. Good lord. Hopefully, the boys will continue to make progress in all areas including their diet as it affects their mental state.

Pat Birnie said...

I enjoyed reading this chapter just as much today, the second time around! Oh those poor boys and the sadness they have had to endure. They are so lucky to be part of your loving kind clan- shit show and all. I’m sure you have your work cut out for you. I look forward to hearing more about their early weeks and months with you.

Gigi said...

I am so happy to hear that you have them. It sounds as if the love and guidance you will provide will help those boys flourish.

Beth Cotell said...

Oh my goodness!!! I'm so happy you were able to bring them home! I just knew something was going to happen and they weren't going to be able to live with you. I'm glad I was wrong!!!

Ernie said...

Nicole - Yes, they've had a very unfortunate start to life. It is heartbreaking to consider.

Mini said the same exact thing to me today: I FORGOT TO WISH ED A HAPPY BIRTHDAY. She sent him a note in the mail when I sent him a card, so I told her not to worry.

Ernie said...

Jenny - Your shit show offering fruit scenario cracked me up.

They have been through so much. They have a long way to come. Just after they arrived, we found out that we were able to get a spot with a top therapist in our area - only works with adoption cases like ours. That was a huge relief to us as we'd been on her waiting list.

I've never met anyone more ticklish than Mini. Just getting her passport picture taken was torture and NO ONE WAS TOUCHING HER, but she acted as if she was being tickled and the boys were like WHAT THE HELL. The lady had to keep asking her to step down so she could take someone else's photo. Bazaar.

I was always the one responsible for mom's missing scissors as I was always working on some project in my room. I was ahead of my time as being crafty and HGTV and pinterest were not yet things. I still wonder why in the name of all things that are holy did my mother not just buy a SECOND PAIR OF SCISSORS for the house. Ah, the 80s. At any rate, how I loved dreaming up the various ways I might announce a birth or a move or wish people Merry Christmas. I missed my calling to work for Hallmark, I guess.

Ernie said...

Eli - It was so exciting to have them finally move in, but the adoption was not final. There is a trial period in place - one that usually lasts about 6 months to be sure that everyone agrees this is a good fit before making it legal.

Ernie said...

Suzanne - Yes, we were so surprised that red tape had been in the way every step of the way there. Coping with their trauma is exactly the job that lay ahead.

Ernie said...

Suz - Every time I take her to get the ear wax removed, I video a snippet of it, because it is so darn entertaining. Where would her brothers be without extra reasons to tease her? I don't think we've ever had the same doctor or aid or whoever twice, so each time we have to 'splain her giggling issue.

Mini cried recently - she is so upset that the boys' parents are not rotting in prison. It's pretty incredible what the people who should be most caring towards their own children can do to them. Incredible.

What a wonderful thing you did helping this woman. Dinner sounds amazing. How nuts that it didn't interest her. With the boys, it is bananas but it is so hard for them to try to enjoy food when they have no experience with anything but crap. Harry in particular. Larry is more open to trying things - probably partly because he does whatever, and I mean WHATEVER he can to shine a light on his brother's difficult points. Sound fun?

Ernie said...

Pat - You are a trooper. Part of me wishes I'd written this as it was happening, because I keep forgetting to include things and get to the next bit and realize - WAIT, THEY NEED TO KONW THIS FIRST. We hope that what we offer is enough. One of my big issues with all of this is what I refer to as UNSCRIPTED. We don't exactly know what to say at times. Winging it is our go to and not sure that's what we should be doing. Work indeed. Nonstop.

Ernie said...

Gigi - It was hard to believe it was finally happening. And once it did, we had to brace ourselves for the reality of it all. We hoped to be impactful. And then I was just hopeful school would start. :)

Ernie said...

Beth - Yep, they eventually landed here. Outgrown shoes, weird appetites, bad attitudes - that started out only trying to please, and all the stuff in between. I hope I don't lose my momentum in sharing. It is an exhausting tale. Thanks for sticking with it.

Maddie said...

I am SO HAPPY for you and your whole family (including your newest members!). I feel like even though it has been a long hard road you’ve travelled, that in the end you wound up where you were meant to be. I know you guys are still walking down a long hard road but I feel like now you all have each other. Like you can walk this road together, helping each other along the way. Does that make any sense? So so happy for all of you guys!

Ernie said...

Maddie - This is very sweet. Thank you. We were excited to, and really nervous. We thought working as a couple would be a more effective way than being at Debbie's - as good as you was to the boys, she was on her own. Plus we had our kids as role models, etc.

More to share next week, if I get around to drafting it. I have a high school senior who is requiring MUCH of my time to help edit her college entrance essays AND I came down with a nasty ass sinus infection today. Misery.