CPS indicated my husband in the investigation on the injuries of Baby 12. They do not have a theory of what they think occurred that night. They simply feel like he should know what happened. Baby 4- in an effort to move the blame off himself- lied about things that he saw, heard, imagined, and counted. His stories were plentiful and never consistent, but they made the agency question the safety of our home. After they indicated the first case, 2 more CPS reports were called in anonymously accusing me personally of substance abuse and neglect. Those reports were unfounded and those cases are closed. The agency is hopelessly split over what to do with Baby 9- who we are in the process of adopting. There are people who desperately want her to stay with us and firmly believe we are the family that we have always been. Then the other half do not want to chance letting a child stay in a home where abuse or neglect have ever been questioned. I remain steadfast that we have always been the family we are now- genuinely devoted to loving all the children in our home and keeping them safe.
That's the end of the niceties.
You guys, I lost my shit over this. I've lost 40 lbs since August- literally just being consumed by it all.
I couldn't be home after I found out about the indication. I couldn't look at my husband- who I know was going through what I was (except worse because it was him they were indicating)- and he wasn't opening up to me. As unfair as it was, I was mad at him for not protecting our family from this. I could not handle Baby 4 continuing with stories and lies that could endanger Baby 9's placement and the investigation. There was a little, "How could you, after everything we've given you?", and a little, "He saw how this worked. He's going to pull this shit over and over for the rest of our lives.". So I ran. I escaped any chance I could. I was out almost every night, and on the nights I was home - my husband was out. It got to the point where my kids would see their Dad walk in from work and turn to me to say goodbye.
I did everything I could to get out of my head and I hurt everyone. I betrayed my friends and broke those relationships forever. I stepped out on my husband- permanently altering our marriage. Everyone that tried to offer support has been negatively impacted by my downward spiral. All of my transgressions are out in the open now. Everyone knows what I've done and wants me to fix it- but I can't.
I have never been in this place where I wasn't ready for a fight. I'm a fighter. I'm good at it. I can throw words and wear a blazer and make everyone in a meeting sit up straight while they agree with me. I've never been afraid of anything. My faith has been developed in that place. I know what it feels like when I'm going to fight, and I know to check in with God before I make my plans. I know He's faithful to go before me and give me favor, and comfort me, and peace that passes all understanding, and every other good Christian thing. Jesus and I have fighting down to a science. I didn't stop to check in with Jesus when I was going to run in August, though. I didn't have the practice in my faith to know He'd do all those good Christian things even if I did nothing. I treated me and Jesus like a team where I had to pull my own weight. That's not how it works. He's the Shepard, and I'm the sheep. The expectation for things working out never falls on the sheep. The Shepard doesn't ask for 50/50. In my fear, I decided to forsake my faith and self destruct. I made no effort to try sparing the people around me. That's something that I'm very sorry for.
I was a foster Mom. I put my entire last 7 years into our love story. I don't regret a single thing about that. All our friends were foster friends. Our reputation was fostering. My job was training foster parents. I was going to do this forever, and I was going to be great at it. Then it was all dying. I have no clue what else I want to do with my life. I literally cannot imagine a world where I have more purpose and more impact than I did in fostering. I was 22 when we started this. I turned 29 in September. By the time I'm 30- everything I've worked for in my adult life will be gone. My whole identity will be gone. And it's all over lies. We have never stopped being great foster parents.
For a while, the fleeing worked. I fell in love, and felt adventurous and wanted. I connected with things outside of fostering that made me feel like myself. I used to be the girl who knew about local musicians, and said risqué things, and went out dancing with my Mom. People liked me and we always had friends around before kids... I could be that person again. But I did it all the wrong way. I was reckless and selfish, and didn't reconnect to the past with my husband. I did it with someone else's. When that came out, the fleeing couldn't work anymore.
I don't think foster care broke me. I'm certain I broke me all by myself. The love in our story stands. I wouldn't go back and change anything about the kids we've loved or their families. I don't even think I would change giving my entire self to foster care. I really wish it wasn't ending. I really wish I had a graceful exit somewhere inside me. I really wish I had used the last couple months helping the people I love instead of licking my own wounds while they wrecked themselves for me.
This isn't a goodbye post. The story is not over, although it's in its last couple chapters. We have to appeal the indication and get it overturned. We have to fight to keep Baby 9, and that probably means jumping through tons of hoops. If everything goes well, we could adopt her and close our home in the spring/ early summer. If the shitstorm continues as it has been, we could need to give our opinion on a new adoptive family for her in the next 90 days and be closed then. I do not see a storyline that includes continuing to foster. There is also no chance of our adopted children being removed because there is no actual health and safety risk in our home.
I am in a better place than I have been since all of this went down. I'm not fleeing anymore. Some days are harder than others. Some days I have to write myself, "Do Not Run" notes, and other days I can focus on helping my family heal. All 5 of us are here at home. The kids are mostly unaware of what's happening. They are getting tons of screen time so the adults can talk, but they are also seeing us talk and be together way more than we have been. I'm happy for the chance to show my kids how to work through trouble instead of running. I'm humbled to the point of physical pain that my husband is standing next to me through this. It's hard not knowing what the next story will be. I am actively forcing my faith to keep me still while God makes that plan. He won't withhold any good thing from me. His ways are higher than my ways. When my heart is overwhelmed, He will lead me to the rock that is higher than I. I don't have to chase the next story.
Thank you for all the comments and emails checking in. It was very grounding to not be forgotten. I'm sorry I didn't have a happy response for you.