Mediation from Monday (3/21/22)

We had a scheduled mediation this past Monday. I’d love to have something exciting to share. Unfortunately, this is not the case. My lawyer, her lawyer, the mediator, and I all showed up. Mary was did not. Her lawyer informed us that he told her she had to be there, but that Mary said she had to work. The mediator then asked Mary’s lawyer what her issues with the adoption are. Mary’s lawyer stated that Mary feels that I have stopped her from seeing Carter along the way. That I am the reason she doesn’t see her son. This is the part that is hard for me. I am constantly sitting in court hearings not able to defend myself, while my sister someone I love lies about me. Even still on the court record last April, Mary admitted that I said she could go to any therapist as long as they were willing to talk to Carter’s therapist, the court, and Me (if there were any issues so I am prepared to handle Carter’s reaction). So while she can say these things, in the back of my head I’m hoping the judge remembers this.

The Mediator called and texted Mary’s phone. She didn’t answer. We waited a little bit, and just as we were going to reschedule she texted back. Mary stated that she thought her lawyer could represent her interests. Her lawyer stated again saying “I don’t know what to say, I told her she needed to be here.” I felt bad for the guy, I mean he is court appointed so he isn’t getting paid.

We ended up rescheduling it and yes I did say rescheduling for April 14th. I am frustrated as I took off a whole day of work, and now by the time I get myself together and changed, it’s too late to go into work. I know they want to make sure that they give her as many chances as possible. Here’s the thing I’m a sub right now, so if I don’t work I don’t get paid.

They did put the order through for her hair follicle test. She has until next Thursday to get a hair follicle test or it is an automatic failure. We shall see what she decided to do here. If she does get it done or not.

I hope she can agree to the adoption, even though I know she probably won’t. It’d be the best possible situation for Carter to be honest. If she just agreed then he won’t have to testify, say all the reasons he doesn’t want to live with Mary, and why he wants me to adopt him.

I’ll share updates as they happen.

"We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never life through it. In face, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead." - 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 

A family torn apart

There has been a lot happening the last few months, and because of that I haven’t posted. I was very sick, and I am starting to feel better. I am back at work, somedays I’m just so tired that I need to just sleep. About a month ago I got a call from the prosecutor, regarding the what Carter said Mary did. I thought they weren’t going to press charges. I mean I hadn’t heard from them, and the detective had said that they weren’t going to press charges.

What I failed to mention is that a family member called the detective and told him that Carter was lying, and that I put him up to it. My immediate family is not happy with me, they feel like I shouldn’t have called the police when Mary violated the restraining order. It is easy for them from a distance to say that. She threated to kill me, and she has physically attacked me in the past. To them it’s Mary she wouldn’t do that, yet she already has. Also, when I ignored things in the past, she just kept upping the ante. First it was text messages, then phone calls, then she was driving by where we live. Then it was her sitting outside of where we live. They didn’t live that, and to be fair I haven’t told them everything. For a while, something was happening everyday. Also, they don’t call and check up on us. When they do they don’t seem to want to know about anything. My father especially, he doesn’t like to talk about it.

I went and met with the prosecutor, and turn out they are pressing charges. They are pressing charges for not just the sexual abuse, but physical, and neglect as well. My family doesn’t want Carter to press charges, so I decided I wasn’t going to tell them this update. They would find out in time anyway, and I already had let them know that Carter wanted to press charges. No sense in starting the issue sooner then it needs to be.

I got a phone call from my father yesterday. I came home from work and I wasn’t feeling well. I fed Carter and I went and laid down. I don’t usually sleep well, so for me to actually fall asleep is a big deal. When my phone rang I had been asleep. I answered and he said that Mary was getting out of the hospital tomorrow. I said ok, thanks for letting me know. He then explained that if Mary contacts Carter that I should call him and he will deal with it, instead of calling the police. I replied with well I changes Carter’s phone number, so if no one gives Mary his number there won’t be an issue. He then started to say that there was more then one way of trying to communicate. That he was tired of all this drama, and that he would like things to settle down. He would like things to settle down? He doesn’t live it day in and day out for the last four years. Then I asked a question (now I was still half asleep trying to process everything he as saying), I asked where this was coming from. I meant it like, she violated the restraining order months ago, why are you bringing this all up now. He took it as I was insinuating that it came from my brother. He started to yell and me and tell me he was tired of this sh*t. That maybe he will just stop talking to everyone cause he doesn’t want to have to deal with this all. He said why do you have to ask so many questions, you are over analyzing it. I replied I asked one question. I have to say I remarkably calm, even though he was yelling at me. Then he said if you don’t want to do it just say screw you I’ll do what I want. I thought to myself, all I did was ask a question and you’re jumping down my throat. I tried to explain that he didn’t understand my question. However, he kept going on about how he understood, and it doesn’t matter where it was coming from. Whether it was my mom, or my brother, he was saying it so it was coming from him. He still wasn’t listening to me. He said you’re not going to obey me. Obey him? I am a grown woman, this isn’t about disobeying him, its about what is best for my son. Then it hit me and I said, okay so because Mary is getting out tomorrow, you are afraid she will try to contact us so that is what made you think of this now. He was still not listening to me, and he said I won’t call for updates, I just won’t call. To which I finally lost my temper and I said you don’t call. He said what does that mean, and I said you don’t call unless you need something. You don’t call to check up or talk to me. He kept going on and yelling and I hung up the phone. I hung up on him for the first time in my whole life.

Our family is being torn apart, and it is because of addiction and mental health. Sometimes I feel so alone, and then God

Learning to navigate the Holidays and Trauma

Most people mean well, in fact they are pretty supportive. They just don’t understand and I know that. Yesterday I found myself at work in the bathroom with someone who said boys are so much easier than girls. That may be true, but any child with trauma is a whole different level. I know that people don’t get it not unless they have a child with trauma. Some think that I am too overly accommodating to Carter and his trauma at the holidays.

The truth is, I know that Carter needs to feel in control especially at the holidays. You know he has had some pretty traumatic Christmas and Thanksgiving Holidays. So I have learned how to pivot to make this a better experience for both of us. In other words, I give choices we discuss our holiday plans. I also have learned to allow Carter to make choices that are going to make our holiday less stressful for both of us. For example, he went to his adopted grandparents house on Christmas Day and stayed there for a few days. This was hard for me, I want him to be with me all day on Christmas. I also knew that if I didn’t make it an option then my time with him wouldn’t be great. Meaning is it really worth it in the end?

Instead he got up we opened presents and went to church. After church I brought him to his grandparents. It was hard for me to drop him off. Yet he was so excited to go. I want him to be excited to go there. They love on and spoil him in just the right ways. I need to let him make better Christmas memories. I need to let him have choices, he isn’t a little kid anymore.

I started making sure we did all the things earlier in the month. Asking him his opinion, yet subtly guiding him. So we made cookies and decorated them. We had our friends judge them. We went Christmas caroling. He was in the church and school Christmas concerts. He went to youth growth Christmas party with his girl friend. We went and blessed a family in town as we always do. We went in the car and looked at Christmas lights. We did all the things. We did all the things on a timeline that works for both of us.

You have to understand, when Carter was growing up it was constant chaos, and uncertainty. Life is uncertain and I know that. I also know that during stressful times that remind him of that very chaotic time he seeks control (aka any holiday). So I have really learned to go with the flow and give up control. Which because of my traumatic childhood isn’t always easy either. I can choose to pivot and give him what he needs or I can try to force him into whatever it is that I want to do. Have you ever tried to force a teenager? It doesn’t work out so well. They can literally refuse to move, and then be a pain and make everyone around them miserable.

It occurred to me one year that I could get stuck in a power struggle or I can give him some control. Now don’t get me wrong there are certain things we just do. I have also learned that if we put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving it helps to get him out of his bad mood. Putting up Christmas is a bad memory, brings up emotions but Thanksgiving is one of his favorite holidays. So decorating before Thanksgiving helps him to snap out of the bad mood putting up decorations can cause. This year was the easiest year yet. My hope is that over the years, it will continue to be less hard and more enjoyable for him. I’m trying to change the script.

Forcing him or the issue doesn’t help. Let me tell you he has been a real stinker these last few weeks. School and church Christmas concert- Mary never let him do that stuff. He feels like he missed out so he often takes that out on me. I am real with him, I tell him don’t let her ruin the fact you have it now. Instead latch on to the fact that you can have it now. Try to get him to enjoy what he has now, instead of dwelling on what he missed out before.

It also means we still do “Santa” and his elf comes every year. For him it’s a chance to relive and reinvent holidays for himself. I’m hoping that it will help heal his heart over time. It’s a process and it is hard. I want healing for him. I want him to have great Christmas’s with his wife and kids some day. I’m hoping that doing it in a way that God is leading me will give him that. I know only God’s healing and wisdom can heal Carters heart and break the chains of our family sin patterns.

It also means that I set my expectations low. That even on great days and moments it is going to come with a lot of attitude. For example, Carter has wanted a real dresser for a while now. I found one on Facebook marketplace for cheap. It was amazing. We cleaned out the car and went and got it today. You would think this would be amazing that he would be so happy. You would be wrong. He was happy but he was also mad, crass, and snarky.

We were taking apart his old dresser and setting up his new one. He was miserable, complaining about how long it was taking (it took 10 minutes), and about how he just wanted to relax. I wanted to explode on him. He literally had a friend over all morning into the afternoon, I got them lunch. Then took his friend home and then we picked up the dresser. He had a great day, and yet he was being miserable about the dresser he wanted.

Finally I said to him, what are you so miserable about. I told him that from where I stand he had a great day and also got a dresser he really wanted. That’s when he said it, but the dresser makes me upset. I asked why. He replied Mary never got me my own dresser let alone replace one and made sure I liked the new one. I never had my own dresser before, I always shared with Mary. You never make me share. To which I replied well we share a closet. Carter said yeah but you don’t have a dresser of your own, I shouldn’t complain about sharing a closet. I asked him so what is bothering you. The fact that I don’t have a dresser or the fact that you now do. He replied that you put my needs first and Mary she just couldn’t.

That’s what I call a light bulb moment. He isn’t being a spoiled brat, he is processing the shift that is happening in his world. The shift where his needs come first, his needs matter, and that he matters a lot to me. I told him I don’t need a dresser I just need a closet. To which we both laughed. Then I said I don’t care if I don’t have a dresser, I am fine with a closet. What makes this hard is I went out of my way for you to have this dresser, when you act like this is makes me feel like you don’t appreciate it. Carter then said I do appreciate it, and I appreciate you so much. He then said I just wish Mary could have been more like you. I wish I had been born to you from the start.

I didn’t reply maybe I should have, I just feel like sometimes we just need to feel it. We don’t need someone to fix it or make us feel better we just need someone to acknowledge it. So that’s what I did, and then I did my best to transition us into New Years Eve celebrations.

Carter has stuff he is dealing with, it spills into a lot of our day. Yet it has been spilling less and less into our day. That is progress, and I pray that we will continue to move in the direction of healing.

The holidays are hard enough…

I got some not so great news today. First I heard back from the detective, and they aren’t going to take it to the grand jury after all. Did I mention that Mary hasn’t had to talk to the police? She just keeps avoiding them and apparently she can do that and they can’t make her talk to them. So they aren’t going to do ANYTHING about what Mary did to Carter. Also, DCPP hasn’t been able to talk to her either. I was so upset about this today. It just doesn’t seem right or fair to be honest. The system is so broken.

Carter forgot his phone at home today. He also had to be at both of the basketball games today. He is the mascot for the basketball season. I honestly looking back think that Carter forgetting his phone was a blessing. Carter got home a little after 6pm.

All of a sudden I heard him freaking out. I asked him what was wrong. He said she has my number. I was like who has your number and he said Mary does. She texted him, nothing negative to the naked eye anyway. I know since she hasn’t talked to the police that she doesn’t know about the not going to the grand jury. There was a particular phrase that she and Carter used to always say to each other. She said that phrase. It really set Carter off.

We have a final restraining order against Mary, and Carter is listed on it as well. It is very clear she isn’t allowed to communicate with him under any circumstances. I called the police and they came.

They were here for a while, and then of course Carter asked for dinner. I hadn’t made it yet because of everything going on, the dinner I had planned on making would take at least 40 minutes and it was already pretty late. So I took the kid out and got him a sub.

When we returned home he ate his sub. Then he started crying and was very upset. I laid in bed next to him and stroked his hair while he cried himself to sleep. He has gotten up two more times already tonight. I hope he is finally all the way settled down for the night.

The police said they would tell me after they went to her apartment to arrest her how they made out. I haven’t heard anything yet. They might have forgot. She is really good at avoiding the police.

The holidays are already hard enough for us. Mary has made for some traumatic Christmas events in the past. This just isn’t fair. Carter has been through enough, and it feels like she just keeps to just keep bothering us. If I’m being honest I’m constantly on edge. I am always weary of the cars behind us, I constantly check our cameras, I worry when Carter walks around the block or neighborhood. Mary is so unpredictable. I’m very angry at my brother for giving her Carters number. He knows better than that! Here we are less than a week until Christmas and instead of my brother making that time better, he instead makes things worse. He knows he wasn’t supposed to give her that number. I really and praying that we see how God is going to use this soon. I know he will use it I just don’t know how or when.

Update: Mary was arrested and then released with a summons for next year.

I am at a loss for words

I haven’t written in a while. Not because there is nothing to write about, but because there is so much I don’t know what to say. I guess I will start from September.

Cater has been struggling with depression that isn’t new. I had been calling to get him into a psychiatrist and we finally got an appointment in mid September. This is where things started to get chaotic. While he was talking with the psychiatrist he disclosed that Mary had sexually abused him.

When I heard this my heart broke, it is so broke for Carter. I know all to well how hard it is to deal with sexual abuse. I know about the effects, and I’m just so sad for him. That he had to endure that.

This caused a series of events to occur. DCPP was called and they came out and then the police came to our apartment.

DCPP came out because Mary had been his primary care giver at the time the abuse occurred. Ironically, this time around they have been much more helpful. Maybe it’s because we live in a different county, I don’t know but I am grateful. They set up a psychological evaluation for Carter and trauma therapy.

The detective told me it was up to me if I wanted to press charges or not. I told the detective that no it was Carters choice, and I would do whatever he wanted. The detective talked to Carter and laid it all out for him. Told him how hard it would be to prosecute and really gave him all the angles. He wanted Carter to be prepared and not taken by surprise.

Carter wants to press charges. So he made a formal statement. We are waiting on the results from the grand jury. I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

The detective after Carter made the formal statement tried to make contact with Mary. To date she had yet to talk to the detective. I don’t understand how we live in a world where we can just get away with ignoring authorities. DCPP hasn’t been able to get ahold of her either. She’s not returning their calls. They are closing the investigation, and they can’t substantiate the allegations. Blows my mind, they can’t? They haven’t even talked to her. How is it she is just allowed to get away with this. She literally is avoiding the problem and getting away with it.

Well somehow one of my family members found out about the detective and talked to the detective on behalf of Mary. They told the detective that Carter was lying about the sexually abuse and that I put him up to it. I don’t think the word livid even comes close to describing how I’m feeling. She is the abuser. When I talked to my family member they said that they think Carter is making it up and that I put him up to it. I just can’t believe that after everything that’s what they think. I mean why would we do this now? Things are finally settling down.

Yesterday I took Carter to the psychological evaluation. my heart just breaks for everything he has had to endure. I pray for Gods peace and guidance in our lives. I pray that Carter will know that none of this is his fault.

The other hard part is our family. It is totally torn apart, no one wants Carter to press charges. They feel it is the wrong thing to do. They are worried it will push Mary over the edge and that she will kill herself. The truth is it isn’t about what’s best for Mary the abuser, it’s about what is best for Carter the victim. This Christmas season we are grieving a lot, and we have so much to be thankful for. God has provided for us and continues to. I thank am so grateful I have a God who cares for us.

Final Restraining Order

So today took a strange turn of events. I went to court assuming we would adjourn for another day. My lawyer had another case at 10am. One of his associates who was new came along.

I get to court and I’m trying to figure out where to go. I see my lawyer so I wait for him. He tells me he is going to ask for an adjournment, and he introduced me to his associate. We walk and then wait outside the court room for a little bit. The court officer comes out and takes our attendance.

We are let into the court room and Mary is no where to be seen. The police had told me she was served on Sunday afternoon, so she knew about today. My lawyer told me that she will probably ask for an adjournment and it will be granted so she has time to get a lawyer.

Then finally after waiting a while the Judge comes in, she goes over the consequences of the restraining order for those involved. She said some other things but to be honest I was so nervous I wasn’t focusing well. I couldn’t help but notice that Mary still wasn’t there.

I also noticed that all those people who had a restraining order filed against them were in one place, away from their accusers.

Then the Judge addresses the lawyers in the court room and asks who they are there for. The judge calls my lawyer by name and asks who he is representing. She asks if Mary and I are present. My lawyer says that I am, but Mary isn’t.

Then she has him approach the bench. They say a few things and I hear the Judge ask can your associate handle the default. The associate says that she can. I ask what is going on and she tells me to hold on for a second.

Then the three of us go into the hallway. The lawyer explained that default means that they will go forward with the hearing without Mary there, because she didn’t show she didn’t get a chance to defend herself. They go over what will happen in the court room and they tell me that his associate will handle the default. Unless Mary shows up before the judge calls our case.

We went back into the court room and it wasn’t long before the judge called us. Mary still hadn’t showed up, so I gave testimony and after all was said and done I was granted a final restraining order, Carter is also listed as a protected person on it as well.

The court said they were going to order Mary to get a psych evaluation and medication management. I really hope she gets the help she needs.

Temporary Restraining Order

Mary threatened to come after me yesterday. Along with the threatening text messages that have come through lately, the fact that she wanted to kill our dad back in May. When she is like this she is very unpredictable. I was really scared. Thank called the police and I ended up getting a temporary restraining order.

I had to go down to the police station. I talked to the officers and showed them my evidence. Then they called a judge and I had to talk to the judge. Then they told me it was granted. Then I waited for a long time for the paperwork. I couldn’t figure out what was taking so long. It was hours. Finally, they came out and gave me the paperwork. Turns out they were trying to serve her before I left. They also informed me that because of the history they charged her with criminal harassment. I honestly don’t know how I feel about that. She has mental illness and a drug problem, she needs help. I don’t know that a criminal charge is going to do that for her. I just need to try keep Carter and I safe. I know some people won’t understand and they will judge. The thing is I need to do what is right for us.

We will have court in the coming weeks for the temporary restraining order. Hopefully she gets served and things can move quickly.


Carter got his yellow belt today. I posted a picture on social media. If I’m being honest I did it because I needed something to celebrate with him. These small moments are the things that keep me going.

This weekend was really rough. He is a teenager with the emotional level of 10 years of age and the wants of a teenager. It is a battle for him everyday. He struggles and he takes it out on me. While that might not be fair and it isn’t right that’s just how it is.

This Saturday Carter was super angry. I caught him watching something inappropriate, and I confronted him. I was not happy, and either was he. Carter claimed that he didn’t know he couldn’t watch the tv show. He knew and he eventually admitted that later but in the moment he wasn’t going to own that. It’s hard for him to do that.

Things snowballed from there and they got hard. I’ll spare you the details but I was in tears and so upset and honestly so was he. The next day he is wanted everything to just go back to normal. The problem is that he crossed some lines he can’t uncross. I forgive him and I’m sad and hurt. I also have my own stuff going on. He was having a hard time because I wasn’t all bounced back is the best way to put it. So come Sunday afternoon he started to say he was sick. I asked him what was wrong and he said his chest hurt. He also said his eyes were a little blurry at times. I was pretty sure it was anxiety, and I still think so. I gave him some tums and some Benadryl thinking it might be allergies too.

Things eventually got worse, he kept complaining and I told him to go lay in his bed and try and sleep. I wanted him to feel better and sleep was in my mind the best idea. This became in his mind that I didn’t want to spend time with him. I told him several times I did, and I also wanted him to rest so he could feel better. He ended up yelling and again we had a rough and late night.

This morning I woke him up and he said he couldn’t get out of bed. I told him if he wanted Tv later today he’d get up. He got up and got dressed. I praised him and tried really hard to be extra patient and positive. To be honest he wasn’t the only one who didn’t want to get up this morning. When we got to work, we were early. So he stayed in my classroom and ended up laying on my he carpet in my room. When it was time for him to go and work I told him so. He said he couldn’t get up from the floor because he was too depressed. He said he wanted to die but wouldn’t kill himself. He was serious and I believe he is depressed to be honest. I mean who wouldn’t? The kid just found out his mom doesn’t want to see him, he is grieving that loss. I had been talking to his therapist all weekend long. I was running low on patience and I said sternly that he needed to get up and do his work that it would help him feel better. He then said where is the lovey-dovey mom who was here before, you aren’t being very nice to me. I felt manipulated and very frustrated.

I walked out of the room and went to the bathroom. I called his therapist and my good friend. With their blessing and support (to me verbally on the phone) I went back into my classroom. He was still laying on the floor. I looked at him and said very calmly and directly you have a choice. You can get up and go to work or you can give into your depression and not move. However, if you choose to not move I will call crisis, because if you can’t do life then you need immediate help. I told him he had 5 minutes to make a choice. Three minutes later he went to work. Once he was moving and seeing people he was smiling and I could see his spirits were lifted. He came back to my classroom for lunch and we talked. He asked me if I still loved him. I reassure him of this often. I looked at him and said listen we had a rough weekend. You made some bad choices and didn’t control your anger. You apologized for it and I forgave you. I am not mad at you I’m just sad. I will get over it and it will be okay. I will ALWAYS love you no matter what. There is nothing you can do to stop me from loving you or leaving you.

He cried. He got up and came and sat on my lap and I held this teenage boy who just so wants to know he is loved, he is enough, he is worth it, and that he won’t be abandoned. We finished work and I had to then tutor. After I took him straight to karate. He had testing today. So when he came out with that smile on his face and his yellow belt I snapped a picture and posted it. I was so happy to have something good to celebrate with him, something that I could tell he was proud of himself for.

Then we celebrated. I had a gift card to Starbucks so we went through the drive through. Even our dog got a pupachino. We laughed and we had a treat.

Pictures of Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. They are just snap shots. If you hadn’t seen me this weekend you would have thought that everything was great in our world. You might even be jealous of our celebration.

The truth is so much more simple. It’s just the one thing I could celebrate with my son today, after a long hard weekend. A chance for me to show him I was proud of him for something. A reminder that even in the midst of all the chaos there is some normalcy.

Carter is a great kid, and I said that often this weekend. As much for myself as the person I was talking too. Carter has experienced trauma, and he has learned unhealthy coping skills. We are trying to work through those and help him make changes. It is hard, it is a daily thing, and it is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I also wouldn’t change it for the world. I love Carter, and I will do everything I can do help him, always.

Finding the bright spot

Carter is having a rough time lately. After my last post Carter asked me if he needed too much or if he was bad. I said no why? He said he was wondering if that if why his parents don’t want to see him or be apart of his life. He then texted a bunch of adult males in his life and asked them to go out to eat. It was already 6:30pm on a Sunday. So no one was available, however they made plans for future days. I really appreciate these men who make space for him. I think he is so longing for that validation that others want to spend time with him.

Carter has been acting out and very emotional all week. The other day he acted out for over two hours. Trying to find any reason to be mad at me, blame me. At the end of it, he was was crying asking me if he was bad or needed too much or if he had been better would Mary be so messed up. He asked me if he had tried harder when he did have visitation, would she want to see him. Then he was asking me why he can’t have a normal life, with a mom and dad. Over two hours, and this has been building since the weekend really. He kept getting little things out over the last few days but it didn’t feel completely right. Anyway, in the end I think it’s good he got it out.

I have learned to try and make things fun after one of these moments with Carter. Truth is he feels so bad after, and like he is undeserving of my love. I constantly tell him that I love him no matter what. It’s the little things though, the little thing we do to brighten the day.

Tonight was one of those nights, although he didn’t act out just was really emotional. He’s grieving I think, he said he doesn’t think Mary will ever want to be apart of his life. Anyway, after we talked and he let out his emotions. I told him let’s do your hair.

Let’s do you hair… you are probably like what? Lately Carter has been trying to get a new look. He wants to grow out the top and keep it short on the sides. His hair is more wavy though, so it’s not quiet going the way he wants. So I sat him down and I used my hair dryer that also straightens and I did his hair. At first I did really funny ones. He kept laughing, I kept saying I’m going to make him go out in public like that. We were laughing and having a good time. In the end he loved what I did with his hair. He asked if I would do it again next time. I agreed, then he gave me a hug and said thank you. He then said thanks for making my day better.

He came out for three hugs and I love you’s before bed. I tucked him in (yes I still tuck him in), and kissed his forehead. These are little things that most teenagers won’t let you do. For Carter, I think it’s about reliving or getting those moments he missed out on. He doesn’t take it for granted, and he loves when I make space for that “kiddish” stuff.

The light in my very long day/week was his smile and his laugh. It was such a simple thing, I did his hair. It’s also something I’ve always done with him. When he was a little kid I would always play with his hair. Make Mohawks, and other cool hair styles. He loved it! We ended our night on a high note, one filled with love, kindness, and gratefulness. We found our bright spot.

Family Fractures

Drugs and mental illness has fractured our family. It started when my mom’s mental illness became too much for my dad, and he left. I was six at the time. We still saw him every other weekend, and some time a little longer, but he no longer lived with us. He couldn’t handle my mom’s illness. My mom has bipolar and abuses prescription drugs like Xanax. Our mom slept a lot and then would go shopping like crazy and spend money on shoes we didn’t have. This left us kids unprotected.

Since I have taken over the care of Carter, a lot of things have happened to our already fragile family. I wanted my dad’s blessing before I went and filed for emergent temporary custody. He agreed saying that Mary had plenty of chances, and that Carter shouldn’t have to live the way he was. I was the only one living in state, my brother is in the military and isn’t around. My mom and step dad live out of state, as does my dad and step mom.

After I got custody of Carter, it became like it was me against Mary. In my mind, that was never the case. I understood and still understand why Mary might feel this way. However, my own family got to “stay out of it”, and they “didn’t want to choose sides”. It was super hard and frustrating for me. I took on a lot, and I had no support. It has been so hard on my already fragile relationship with my family. If I’m being honest, my family can be pretty toxic at times. That being said, they did agree that I was doing the right thing keeping Carter.

My family also didn’t want to celebrate when we got KLG, because they were torn. They felt like it was sad for Mary so by coming it was hurting her. Truth is it wasn’t about Mary, it was about Carter’s stability.

My family did support the notion of KLG though. They thought it was best, especially because Carter had been with me so long. However, when Adoption came into the conversation they were not so happy. Carter wanted the adoption, I’m not saying that I am not happy with it. The truth is the adoption is and was for Carter and his sense of stability. They don’t see or experience Carter the way I do. All of a sudden it was like this was all my idea and I was pushing Carter into adoption. That wasn’t the case, and it hurts that some of my family believe that. They don’t understand because they don’t live it. For Carter, he is old enough to understand that with KLG, Mary could still get him back. Even though I reassured him that it was super unlikely, it wasn’t enough for him. He wanted to know that he would be staying with me forever. He wanted me to legally be his mother. I don’t expect anyone to understand it.

Carter has been through a lot of trauma, a lot of trauma. He has nightmares, and sleepwalks. He has unresolved issues with his mother and father. Everything we do is still tied to Mary even when she is not there. He has behavioral issues, for example recently he started making himself throw up because he thought he “looked” fat. When we were in therapy talking about it, we asked him where he learned how to do that from. Carter then explained how Mary taught him how to do it when he was young. She would tell him to go to school, and make himself throw up so the school would call her at work and she could leave. To say I was annoyed at this, would be an understatement. These are not things I have communicated to my family. They don’t ask, and I know they really don’t want to know. They have no idea the extent to which Carter was abused, and neglected. They know some things of course, but they don’t know most of it. My father got to see Carter’s sleep walking first hand last summer, when we went for a long period of time to visit them. My dad didn’t think much of it, and I guess most people wouldn’t.

Some of Carter’s stuff is normal teenage growing pains. However, it is exacerbated by the trauma he has experienced. I find that when he is really acting out, me going to him and offering to run him a bubble bath, helps to calm him down. He loves bubble baths, and letting him do that now helps him to relive those childhood moments. I remember the first time I did it, when I asked him he asked for extra bubbles. He then played in the bath for over a half hour with the bubbles. He called me in to show me what he was doing, and he was just so happy. He was upset because of something he was triggered by, and then I offered him a bubble bath it seemed to change the script of his behavior.

If I’m being honest, most days I don’t know what I’m doing. I am doing the best I can, and Carter is in therapy. We are doing all the things. I love Carter, and will do anything I can for him.

Am I glad we got the adoption? Yes of course, but it wasn’t the path I wanted. When Carter first mentioned wanting me to adopt him, he’d only been with me for 5 months. In my mind, I thought for sure Mary would get it together and get him back. I never thought it would come down to adoption. Even in the beginning when DCPP said that it’d be 6 months a to a year before Mary got him back if she ever did, I thought for sure it wouldn’t take that long. Yet now she hasn’t even seen him in over two years, and that is all her choice.

It has been a really hard week on Carter; and me too. Mary has seemed like she was going to set up therapeutic visits with Carter and then the place told me she hasn’t been returning their calls or emails. I reached out to Mary and she reached back telling me to keep Carter and to loose her number. Carter has been very upset and anxious about possibly visiting with Mary. He was even more upset this week when his therapist and I told him that she wasn’t going to do it. Another broken promise, it breaks my heart. Carter said he was fine when we told him, but that night he had a bad nightmare. Then he ended up coming to me and asking to lay with me and he just cried for a while and I just rubbed his back. Those moments when he is so upset like that, just breaks my heart.

The hardest part of Carter is his trauma, his pain, I can’t take it away from him. I can’t make it better, I just have to sit in it with him, and love him. I have to constantly reassure him that I love him, and that I’m not judging him. I have to know when to give him space and when to give him that hug he really needs. I don’t always get it right, but I do the best I can. We always talk about it after and we both own anything we need to own. It can feel so personal at times, when he is upset and lashing out. It can feel like I’m failing him, and like I’m doing it all wrong. The truth is I’m not doing it all right, yeah sometimes I get it wrong but that’s life I’m human. I still show up, and if I make a mistake I apologize and own it.

So my family who doesn’t see all those things, doesn’t really know what’s going on. They don’t understand. I don’t even totally understand and I’m here everyday doing it. What I do know is that I wish they would just support us. Not judge me, or accuse me, but love and support us. My fractured family just isn’t capable of that. I’m lucky that I have a good church community. They are good to us both. I am so thankful for them and the support they have given us. God is so good to us.

The hard parts of Kinship…

Written on May 1, 2022

Kinship care is hard. I’ve never fostered a child who wasn’t related to me, but I’m guessing that no matter what it’s hard. The parts that are hard for me is the family part. Mary is my sister and I love her, and right now she blames me for her not having her son. She blames me for her not seeing her son, and she blames me for her lack of relationship with her son. Now I know that I am not the reason she doesn’t have her son. I also know that she is hurting, it just hurts me that she is so angry with me. I mean in some ways she is right. I have Carter, and I take care of him everyday. I have put up boundaries and lines, and protected Carter as much as I could. So while I don’t agree with what she is saying, I can understand why she feels the ways she does.

Today I went to a bridal shower for my cousin. I sat across from his aunt, who I’ve known for most my life. I don’t see her often, but I saw her today. Everyone was talking about their families and lives. I knew that talking about having Carter would make it hard, so I didn’t talk about him. Then she flat out asked me if I have any kids. I could feel my aunt tense next to me. I simply said yes and she said I don’t remember him. I pulled out a picture and just talked about how he is doing. I will hopefully be able to say next month that he’s my adopted son and say no more than that (update: I adopted him on May 18th, 2022) . The truth is I don’t want to feel like I have to hide my life, and I also don’t want to have to explain that I have my sister’s kid. I also know that for some family members it is awkward for them. It makes them uncomfortable. It just sometimes feels so isolating.

It isn’t just at family events this happens. My father it’s like we just don’t talk about it. He is glad I have Carter and he knows it’s for the best. He just doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t call me, or ask me how we are doing. Talking about Mary at all is a big no no. He doesn’t want to know what’s going on. At times it feels like this whole thing has torn apart our family. Of course we all love and care about Mary, we want her to get better. What it comes down to is that she needs help, and she needs to want it get it.

People often say that he is so lucky to have you, and it’s nice that people say that. It doesn’t take away from the loss Carter is suffering. Both of his biological parents are not in the picture. Carter has nightmares and sleep walks. He has trauma, and he has a lot to work through. When things bother him or he gets triggered he takes it out on me. I have to constantly remind myself it’s not personal. He loves me he is just hurting. When the feelings/moments pass I know this is true. I am glad he has me and I have him. These are just some hard things that we have to navigate through. Some days we do it better than other days.

God has been so good to us. He always provides. I know through this all he is growing us and that he will use all this hard for good. That is who God is, I can already see the fruits. So I know there will be more.