The Dress.

We let her wear girl clothes at home for a long time before we did it publicly.  This was my compromise to her pleas and begging to be a girl. That lasted for over a year. A year! What message does that send about self acceptance? It sends a message of shame is what it does. Sometimes our best intentions as parents, are just not good enough. I can’t kick myself anymore for it but for a while I felt guilty and just truly sorry I let it go on for that long.

After we wrote the coming out letter, I took Q for a walk and finally told her that we let everyone know she is now a girl. That she doesn’t have to pretend to be a boy anymore. She smiled a huge smile and said, “really mommy, really!?”. I nodded, gulped, and stuttered when I said, “yes sweetie, really”.  She was content and happy. She paused and had one simple question.

 “Can we buy a dress?”

For my dress hating self, this was not going to be easy. I took a deep breath and started my journey of better acceptance of my kid.

The next day we went to the store. I had approximately 8.5 panic attacks on the way there. We walked in, Q holding my hand, and she looked up at me searching for approval of which “side” she should go on. The boys side or the girls side? I nodded nudged her along to the girls side. Soon we were swimming in pinks, purples, teals, and cheery yellows. I wanted to vomit, but glad that I did not.

She sifted through each and every dress to find the perfect one. She found it and then promptly found 10 others. After intense 4 year old negotiation, we settled on 3.

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My kid is transgender.

In April, we came out publicly that our kiddo is transgender. Little man, as referred to in this blog, is now known as she/her pronouns and I will give her a new reference on this blog as just Q. I didn’t feel compelled to write about it because my writing was drawn to the experience of fostering Bug. Over the next few weeks I will work on putting my experiences from the transitioning experience with Q into words. Of course at some point I’ll get the courage to write my final experience about saying good bye to Bug. I haven’t yet found that courage though.

This was our public coming out letter from April:


Dear friends and family, 

We are writing this letter in advocacy for our family. We have thought long and hard as to how to broach the subject, and we feel that it is best to be done in an honest and heartfelt letter. This is certainly nothing new, but just finally time to put it out in the open!

The moment Q was placed with us, he began to verbalize the conflict he had with the way he identified. As we were getting to know this precious child, everything was new to us obviously. We let things unfold as they needed to without putting pressure or much thought. After all we had plenty of things to learn and do as we worked on finalizing the adoption.

He came to us with painted nails. He was notorious for sneaking into nail polish at his previous foster homes. He would constantly talk about makeup. And that child has quite the affinity for ruffles, pink, and princesses. For those that know us well, this is most definitely not an influence from us. Despite my deep-seeded feminist dislike of princesses…they cannot be stopped. This is all Q.

Truth be told, even though we are also part of the LGBTQ “family”. We had hoped it wasn’t true. I’m embarrassed to say that I prayed it wasn’t. Despite our desires for this to be a phase, we cannot ignore this anymore. Q has verbally expressed consistently, that he wants to be a girl. When asked what he wants to be when he grows up he says a girl, a mom, etc. He always has. I used to whisper to him when he was barely awake in the night asking him if he was a boy or girl, and he always said “girl”. We brushed it off quite frequently, telling ourselves that he was just gender-nonconforming, and that it was only a slight possibility he was actually transgender. Not because we are against transgender folks but because we have deep concerns that this added layer on top of the already complex identity would be too much for Q to bare later in life. With time, energy, research, and consultation with professionals and LGBTQ advocates—we realize the errors of our ways. We know that this is Q’s journey. And as much as we know that being in the LGBTQ world has its challenges, and the journey can be bumpy—we value that our experience is our own. And so it must be this way for Q as well.

Lately things have shifted to be more urgent. Sadness has consumed Q as his desires to be a girl have been increasing. He steals things from girls at school, and recently froze up at the doctor’s office when a nurse referred to him as a boy. His body froze, he was enveloped with sadness, and he said he did not like that.

From here on, unless otherwise informed, please refer to Q as her/she/girl. We support our child and whatever her journey. Our main goal is for her to be safe, happy, know she is loved, and play!! If you have questions or concerns, you are welcome to ask us directly. Under no circumstance may you ask Q your questions or continue to refer to Q as a boy. We understand this takes time and mistakes will happen (we are certainly still learning) but intentionally calling Q by he/his/boy references will not be tolerated. Talk to Q about Paw Patrol, dancing, spaghetti, or milking the goats if you are at a loss.

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One week left.

In one week Bug will leave us to go onto his next journey. We will love and snuggle as much as we can possible squeeze into these last precious days.

While we will do our best to celebrate all that we have experienced and learned from our time with him, we will also be hurting. Please hold space in your hearts for us in the next couple weeks if you can spare some.

This I know.

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I sat in the chair that my Grandfather rocked me as a child and sang the lullaby I can most easily recall from my Grandmother. Feeding him, rocking him, and adding another young soul to the history of that chair, is important. It validates my experience, that when I rock future babies, infants or teenagers or grown adults or if my adult child rocks me, I can recall the love that is forever built into that chair. This I know.

I realized that I will not get much longer with this little baby. That my heart and soul will forever be changed by him, but that this is one of the few times I have left with him to do this very thing. This I know.

When I sing the same lullaby I will recall his coo. His contagious smile. I will remember his aura that commanded me to be present. To be 100% mindful of tending to his exact need. This I know.

I watched as the sun set behind the mountain and the skies turned to dusk. The birds flocked to their trees for the night, the bats came out for their nightly hunt. In a little over a month’s time the air will get more crisp. The leaves will start to get their autumn colors. He will be gone. This I know. 

The seasons will shift. My heart will heal. Love is forever. This I know.

Phone call with bio mom.

The meeting was scheduled for June 26th. I was instructed to go to the DCF office where we would have a call with Bug’s bio mom and I would meet this unknown cousin. I asked what I was supposed to talk with his bio mom about and what the meeting would be like. No response.

So I show up to the meeting, only after panicking and making a plan of talking points with my best friend. I realized I didn’t know what in the world I would say to the woman whose baby I love so dearly.  Armed with talking points, I went to DCF where I waited a really long time. The social workers came out like a whirlwind and we went into a conference room quickly. I noticed the cousin was not in attendance and then they were dialing Bug’s bio mom before I even sat down.

The social worker whispered sternly “first names only!”. And then the bio mom picked up.

Before I could get my feet underneath me in the insanity that I found myself in, bio mom was angrily telling them off. Because they hadn’t given her an update in over a month. A MONTH. They hadn’t even contacted her to tell her he was okay. She demanded visits with him (as she should since her rights have not been terminated). They cut her off and were rude, just rude. She got upset by this (obviously).

Before I knew what I was doing, I leaned over and slowly took the phone from the social worker. Clearly they have never gotten the memo about kindness or deescalation. They looked at me, appalled that I had the balls to take her phone (to be honest, so was I).

“Hey mama, I’m one of the foster parents, let’s just chat you and me. Can I tell you about him? Can I tell you about his smile and how he sleeps?”

Of course, she started crying right away. She instantly was more calm and I gave her detail after detail about him. The social workers tried to interject at one point and I shushed them and told them it was not their turn to talk.

I told her how he sleeps, how he smiles. I told her how much he weighs and how much he is eating. I told her how loved he is everywhere he goes. She thanked me for taking care of him and for loving him. I was floored by her thanking me. I had painted her to be something that she is most definitely not. She is just a mama that needs help. And I have so much kindness and concern in my heart for her.

I was then shooed out of the conference room and they continued their yell fest with her.

No cousin. No discussion. Just in and then out.

Maybe kinship. Maybe not.

3 Months.jpgThe end of June marked 3 months of Bug being with us. He can hold his head up like a champ now, he coos and smiles, and laughs. When he really smiles he scrunches his nose up and there is a nose crease right in between his eyebrows. He loves repetition and I play the “goo goo gotcha” type games and make ridiculous sounds and noises I never thought I would find myself doing. Anything to hear his giggle and to see him happy. He physical symptoms of the NAS have improved dramatically.

Early to mid-June DCF informed us that there was a kinship placement identified. Surprise to us since they told us they had explored kinship already and we should expect this placement to last at least a year or longer. Turns out not so much. So next came the really awfulness of the unknown. They kept trying to get us to “make a plan” and “figure out a transition”. They also laid the guilt trip on us THICK. And I mean THICK. Every moment they get, they like to tell us how “hard it will be for him the longer he is with us”. After I got over my whimpers and wounds, I kicked into action.

I told them to do their job. They need to come up with the plan. They need to offer options. And I reminded them that we are not responsible for why he is in care, nor are we responsible for any additional “hardship”. I did not use drugs while pregnant. I did not go to jail. I am not the social worker that didn’t explore kinship options.

This random cousin, that we do not know the name of or have contact info for, doesn’t have daycare set up, nor is she even licensed yet. What exactly would you like us to do?

I also told them that Bug now knows that the world can provide for him and that his needs can be met. This is a significant thing that our 4 year old did not get as a baby and we will struggle for a LONG time (perhaps forever) trying to address that neglect. I told DCF that this is indeed the exact reason that babies are placed with foster families. So that they can learn that the world, although a scary place, can indeed keep them safe and provide for them. It is okay for him to get attached. If he knows he is loved and can attach, we are doing things right. Having loved and lost is hard, but never having attachment is near impossible to fix. BELIEVE ME.

So here we are. A month later. No update. No info whatsoever. No idea.

So we carry on…

2 Months and a Lifetime of Love

2monthsBlue.pngWell it’s been a full two months since we have had our foster baby, we now call him Bug. He takes about 5 ounces in his bottle, he holds his head up, he smiles. He poops all the time, and projectile fluids are neat. Bug has hairy ears, baby chub that is starting to create rolls, and he loves loves loves to be outside. His symptoms from having Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome have decreased. Overall we have seen positive growth and improvement in his health.

I wish I could have found the head space to write more frequently to document this but something tells me more of this experience will be written looking back on it. Goodness knows it takes a lot of energy to care for a newborn and writing just hasn’t been the top of the list.

I will say that the feeling of fostering a baby is a rollercoaster. He is wildly cute and lovable. Most of the time, the days and nights go on without thinking about the magnitude of the situation. Other times, a wash of anger/sadness/grief/panic/anxiety comes over me. It passes quickly when Bug cries out and requires a bottle, a diaper change, or a snuggle. But the truth is, he is not going to be ours forever. I will not know what he is like in his teenage years, or who he will fall in love with. I won’t hold his hand as I age and he won’t bring me mother’s day gifts when he is older. I hope that his body and his heart know how much he was loved as a baby. I’m counting on that body memory that we see so present in our oldest child from early childhood trauma. I’m counting on Bug knowing we stayed up and gave countless snuggles, that we were there at every turn to love him through it. As long as he is with us, I will continue to show up and be the mommy that he needs and deserves. My heart will always hold him dear and I will love him forever and always.