Recapping 2016 & 2017

To gloss over lots of pain and trauma I'm not ready to commit to language, I thought I'd bridge the blog's Dark Period by hitting the highlights:

Lulu is 8 and still a joy. She began piano lessons and took to them like a human to air. She happily practices daily and now composes sweet, weird little songs. She enjoys soccer, dance, running (legs for days), and making noise. Any kind of noise will do. As the encourager, she tells me daily that I'm, "the best mom she's ever had," even on my worst days. She is full of energy, but brings a laser beam focus to things that interest her. She stands up against injustices, regardless of how big the opposition is. Either smiling or scowling, she wears her heart on her sleeve. I'm absolutely crazy about her. 

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Light on the horizon

We can feel it. The odd prickle of anticipation, of hope. 

It's no secret that the last few years have been the most painful in my life thus far. I paused writing here as fear, darkness, and depression seized our household. Last year was exceptionally difficult and I marvel that we all survived the Dark Period. Now here we are, in a different year, a different season. But it has taken a bit of time and a lot of effort to shed the hold last year had on Alex and me.

I realize all that sounds melodramatic, but if you've ever been in the clutches of major depression yourself or walked helplessly alongside a spouse or close friend as they struggled through it, it's quite mystifying to be on the other side looking back. How did we survive that? 

You guys, Flavia and Lulu are almost out of foster care. We're so close to finalizing their adoptions that hope has illuminated all the dark areas of fear hiding in my heart, and I'm leaning in to the light. We're all moving forward, in our own ways, as a family. Growing, learning, healing. It's so much better than simply surviving.

Underwater

...but surviving. I owe updates on 2 TPR trial dates, but I've honestly not come to peace with where things are at (case-wise) in order to put thoughts to words. In addition to a trial date next week, we were given 5 new dates in late April and early May. 

Here are brief updates on life outside the trial:

-My grandmother passed away at the beginning of December after being diagnosed with cancer 5 weeks prior. She was the best and is deeply loved and missed.

-Visits with birth dad were reinstated and began recently (separate from birth mom's visits). 

-Visits are now therapeutic visits. They take place in a private office with a neutral therapist who is supposed to help the adults and kids interact positively. The girls are both thrilled they do not "have to" go to the foster agency for visits (consider- small, bare rooms with retina-searing yellow walls, hyped-up children running around, adults cursing loudly, and classic foster parents discussing how much "foster money" they received this month). I don't blame them.

-I'm getting to know both birth mom and birth dad a bit (more). It's complicated, but good. 

-We're in a hard stretch of a hard season and it's exhausting. I'm exhausted.

-This is not where Alex and I thought we would be when we chose to grow our family through the foster system, but I'm forever grateful that my heart has been broken for all the families and kids stuck in the system. There are not enough good foster homes. If you've considered fostering and aren't or are opposed, I'd love to hear your thoughts/questions. (email nycpinwheel at gmail dot com)