Our little family

Our little family
Wife Woman, Husband Man, Catcher and The Hoskinettes.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

No longer "For Rent"

When we bought this house with it's five bedrooms and over double the square footage of our old house we made one serious agreement we were not willing to go back on....That we would not walk away from our old house. We even wrote a whole letter to the lender stating that we were going to rent out the old house, because we could afford both houses (barely...but still) so there wasn't a "need" to walk away. Some people have choosen to walk away from older, smaller, more expensive mortgages, in view of the current downturn of the market. Most have HAD to walk away from those mortgages, but in either view, we were planning to be the exception to the norm. That made us stand out to the lenders and we were able to get the loan for this house in near record time. And now it's been nearly 4 months since we became the owners of 2 houses and still only one has been occuppied. In the beginning it was the holidays, then January it was because the friends who were helping us to prep the old house just didn't have as much free time as they'd thought, so the painting and repairs were dragging on and on. Finally in Febraury Adam decided to just fork out the money to pay professionals to do the work. The work was done mid-February, but still no renters. We'd posted ads for the rental as well as held several open houses. There was some luke-warm interest but no one seemed very serious.

Adam in the last few weeks had started to consider what it would be like to actually just let the house go, deed it back to the bank, or even short sale it, just to be rid of the burden. And while i suppose some part of me understood that, I just couldn't imagine going back on the statement we had made which was the main reason we were able to get this house....that we wouldn't just "walk away" from the other one. Everytime i reminded him of that, he agreed so we trudged forward. Everytime I prayed I felt that God's plan was not for us to go back on our word and to "have faith" God will provide away....it's hard hearing the same answer over and over with no results as yet....but we continued having open houses and placing ads.

Then at our last open house a young woman, single, working mother of two young boys came to an open house and was VERY interested. She stayed and filled out the application right then and there as well as paid me for her credit report right then as well. We also recieved another application that same day from a family down the street, the owner of the house they rented was letting it go to foreclosure and they needed to move out in a matter of weeks. We told everyone that day that we would be choosing someone the following monday so that they could move in by March 1st. (really not looking forward to another month of two full mortgage payments)

Out of the two apps we recieved we called references but were concerned about the actual number of people residing with the family from down the street, although she only listed four, we had seen for quite sometime that an additional daughter and friend had been living there as well. So we just the single mother, her job references were great, she had the money and we were glad to be helping her out. When I called to tell her we'd picked her she suddenly decided she couldn't move in until March 15th (I'm assuming that meant money problem...needed another pay check before she could afford to move in) we agreed that if she wanted us to wait that long she was at least going to have to put down the FULL deposit amount for us to hold it that long, because we could rent to the people down the street and get a full month's rent to begin with. She agreed to pay the full deposit and meet us at the house on Saturday at 11am...this was her best day and time, not mine.

So Saturday (today) we pack up all five kids and Adam and I drive out to Modesto, where we park and let the kids watch a movie in the car while we wait...and wait. At 11:05 I call her cell just to verify that she is still coming....i get voicemail and leavea message. At 11:15 the baby is crying in the back and I step out to call her and tell her that we are only staying as long as 11:30 and if she isn't here by then she forfeits any and all contract with us. Voicemail. We're sitting in the car and Adam sees the family down the street loading things in a van. Well, I thought, there goes our only other chance for renters...they must have already found a place. I was feeling very down and Adam decides to go talk to them just to see. Turns out they were moving out their grown daughter and her friend to an apartment (so yay they really didn't have too many people living there!) and the rest of the family still needed a place! He informed them if she didn't show they were second our list (didn't have to tell them thankfully that the list was only 2 people LOL) so a few minutes later at 11:30 I called to inform the young woman she had lost her chance at the house and we were renting it to someone else. And later today we had a signed contract and first month's rent and deposit paid by the people down the street!

It was such an amazing feeling to drive home, a few kids snoring in the back, another one crying, and one who sang every song on the radio...while I smiled, knowing that the Lord had kept His word and provided a way. We are so happy that we have been blessed to be able to keep the word we were inspired to give.

And as a happy side note, we're getting our new dining room table this week...can't wait to post pics!!

(happy dance to follow.....)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Meeting the mother of your children.....

We'd had this day once before, but it was over 3 years ago. But somehow I was still nervous. As Adam and I dressed for court this morning, I debated over what to wear, I'm sure my husband wondered why it was even that important, he had one nice suit, so that's what he wore. I've lost weight and I wanted to wear something that looked nice and fit right, but there was something more. This was what SHE would remember of me. Although I'll never forget seeing HER in shackles and an orange jumpsuit 3 years ago, I just felt like I wanted to look nice to show her I was a nice person....I don't know why her opinion matters...but somehow it does.

Babysitters and rides were arranged and as we left the house it almost felt like we were leaving on a really fancy date. We were dressed in our Sunday best and my husband even opened the car door for me....this was no ordinary 'date'....it was a court date. We drove to Merced in the early morning light, enjoying our moment of quiet time to talk in the car. The paper said 8:15, although court can start anytime after that. So we arrived around 8am, and waited....and waited. Our social worker came, "They'll be terminating their parental rights today, and as long as your homestudy is completed (which it is) then your adoption can be complete in as soon as 75 days." Wow, just like that she could be ours by May. This was all so much faster than Maggie's was and I was glad of that. I brought pictures of Maggie and Darla and a letter for the social worker to give to the Birth Mom. I kept worrying that she didn't know how much we loved these girls, and that maybe if she knew it might make her feel better.

Finally we were called into the court room for the case. This was the same court room we entered for Maggie's final adoption hearing 3 years ago, it was familiar and yet scary all at the same time. The social worker took her seat at a desk beyond the half wall that divided audience from staff. There was not a person in the room aside from staff so we had the entire audience area to choose from as a seat. Being the nerd I am I picked a front row seat behind the desk the social worker was at. Adam pointed out that as a cop he always sits in the last row, but since no one else was there, this was ok too :)

The door directly to our left opened and an armed guard led in the birth mom, orange jumpsuit and shackles, I had an instant flashback of that day 3 years ago. It was in a different court room, but she looked almost exactly as I'd remembered, although her hair was braided nicer today. On that day 3 years ago we sat in an audience full of social workers there for other cases and we didnt' stand out, I wondered at that time if she'd even seen me, I stared at her the whole time hoping for a moment of eye contact, I just knew if i could connect with her she would see my love for Maggie and be ok with this....as I recall I never had that moment. What I remember most was that the birth father at that hearing had stated he was wanting to get Maggie back up on his release from jail. That scared me to pieces. And I had visions of that same fear happening this time. Although nothing ever came of his "hopes" the fear that someone could take her away from us was frightening for quite some time before her adoption was complete.....would today end the same? In fear?

The birth mom shuffled in, looking almost exactly like our Maggie (except taller), feet and hands shackled, the guard directed her to a chair that happened to be directly in front of me...and I mean DIRECTLY, i could have reached out and touched her without leaving my seat. For a moment I tensed, maybe this isn't where we should sit, I whispered to Adam, but then moving would feel just as awkward, so we sat, hands held tight in complete silence. Only a half wall seperated this person, this woman, from me, a woman, a person, a mother to her children. How must that make her feel. I felt so tense and scared I was caught off guard when her lawyer sat down next to her (directly in front of Adam) and they started talking, hushed tones, but clearly meant for us to hear.

"Now you know we're here because they're going to terminate your parental rights, and there really isn't much we can do about that....do you have anything else to say?" The lawyer seemed so matter of fact, as if to say, 'you're screwed lady but if you have any final words say em now.'

She scooted forward in her seat and turned to look at me, "I know them," she started, which caught me off guard because I didn't even think she'd seen me in that court room 3 years ago,"They let my momma see the baby, she said they love her very much." We had let Darla have a visit with the grandmother a few months ago but I had no clue what she may have said to her daughter about us, I remembered worrying about that so much at the time, but had nearly forgotten it until now. "I got to see pictures of the baby," at this point it became more apparent that she wasn't saying "my baby" but rather "THE baby." "She's with her sister, they look happy." She turned to smile at me again, and when she did the lawyer handed her the pictures and letter i had brought for her, "Oh yeah these are for you, pictures and stuff."

I watched her eyes look down at these pictures, these pictures I took with my camera, these pictures where I'd smiled at them to get them to smile at the camera, these pictures that were a piece of our family, and she turned back with a smile. I have never wanted to hug a person more in my life. It was almost painful not to stand up and hug her, an ache that only got worse when she turned back to her lawyer and said "I want them to have her," nodding her head towards me, "they love her and she is happy there." A tear formed in my eye and Adam's eyes as well, it streamed silently down my face when she said "If I ever want to be the person they would like to know someday, I've gotta fix myself." I held Adam's hand so hard, because it was all i could do to keep my hand from reaching out to her.

The judge started to speak about the termination of rights and her lawyer made his statement that she was submitting to the court's request and was happy with the placement. During this brief time the mother leaned towards the birth father and said "what are you gonna say today?" I didn't hear what his response was as he was further away, and from her reaction I can only guess it was going to be the same claim he'd previously made which was to say "When I'm outta jail I want my kid back." Because she leaned as far as she could without leaving her seat and loudly whispered, "DON'T do it!! Just let her be, she's happy there, they're good people, I WANT her there!" The judge and her lawyer had by this point finished their comments and the judge turned to the birth father's lawyer for his client's statment on the case, just as he was about to speak, the father beckoned him to talk for a moment, that moment was the longest 'moment' of my life. They conversed for what felt like an hour (in actuality probably only five minutes, but in a silent courtroom it may as well have been an eternity) Then the lawyer stood back up and said, "My client, while unhappy with this situation has decided to agree to submit to the courts request to terminate rights."

She had done that, for us, for Darla, for love. She had convinced him to let it go. She turned and smiled at me after the attorney's comments with another big smile. Everytime she smiled at me I felt my soul fill my eyes with every word of love I could possibly convey through a look and a smile. I don't know that I could ever have said them out loud even if I were given the chance. In a few moments their rights were terminated, we were all dismissed and everyone stood to leave. She mouthed the words "good bye" to me I stood not wanting to leave her, feeling like I hadn't told her anything and yet everything I could have, I put my hand on the half wall and said "good bye" she placed her hand on the half wall a few inches from mine, the closest we possibly could have been given the situation, but in that moment it was like our spirits connected, mother to mother, we understood each other. Then we had to turn and walk away.

When Maggie was placed with us more than 5 years ago, all we were told about the birth mother was (in no kind terms) "She's a crack whore." These are words I would never ever use myself, but it created an image in my head of a screwed up person who couldn't love anyone but herself and her drugs even if she wanted to. Maggie was better off with us, and I held onto that image for many years. I never told Maggie anything negative about her mother, I kept it as honest as possible by simply saying (when she was old enough to understand more about adoption) that this was a person who couldn't take care of her, and so we did. But today.....today has given me the picture to forever hold in my mind of a woman who loved her children so much she was willing to give them to us to hold for her, because she knew she couldn't. A woman who understood selfless love in a way I could never imagine. And when we came home today, and I saw little Maggie, looking exactly like her birth mom, looking exactly like the face of a woman I have come to love and care for deeply, I could only hug her as hard as I would have her birth mom. And hope that one day, she'll get to hear what a great woman she is. And when I rocked Darla to sleep for a nap, I whispered to her about meeting this wonderful person, who loved her more than she'll ever know.

What a journey this has been, loving these extra children who've been added to our family, and loving the person who added them to this world. This day will live in my heart forever.....and possibly in the pages of a book describing the selfless love of a mother.....I'm going to start writing it tonight.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

"new" jeans

So for anyone who's been following my "weight not, want not" blog, i've been dieting for a little over a week now, 9 days to be exact. And i've lost 11 pounds! woo hoo go me! And today i finally fit into that pair of jeans that's been hanging in my closet for several years now....unworn. I wore them once i think, but i gained weight and never wore them again, i keep them thinking....someday? today is some DAY! I wore these jeans today and while i LOVE fitting into them and wearing them, i'm looking forward to a day when even they are too big. I finally came to that point in my life where i decided my health was more important than the comfort of food. I picked a diet that is working for me and i'm sticking to it something fierce! I've been tempted several times but being that i've already lost a good amount of weight i KNOW sticking to it will mean so much more to me than that few seconds of satisfaction from eating something that will not help the weight loss. I know one day i'll get to my goal weight and be able to enjoy an indulgence here and there without fear but for now i'm sticking to this, I'm loving the way i feel and am so excited to step on the scale every morning (bet you never thought you'd hear ME say that did ya?!)

So for now i am pleased wearing my near new jeans and feeling good for the first time in a long time.