And I just left you hanging, which was so rude.
Let's catch up:
We lost the fair hearing to overturn the indication against Brandon. Neglect Finding: "Inadequate Parental Supervision" now comes up on his State Central Registry background checks, and will until Baby 12 turns 26 (8 yrs past 18th birthday). The fair hearing and decision still leaves me completely flabbergasted. There was NEVER a theory or account of what happened to Baby 12- except that he was in a car accident- with the county contracted transportation service- before we found bruises on him- it doesn't even seem like anyone thinks Brandon did anything "wrong" besides not know when and where the bruises appeared. This skips ahead to point 4, but I love having a reason to bitch about Brandon. If I can be angry and blame him for something, please, sign me up. Still, I can't say a single thing against him on this issue. He absolutely did not hurt or neglect Baby 12 or any of our children, ever. His actions and responses during the night of the bruises were exactly the same I would have taken. He was the victim of a system under scrutiny that is desperate to pass the buck and look proactive while simultaneously doing nothing for children or families.
Baby 9's adoption was finalized on National Adoption Day 2016. She was adopted by both of us, and we all couldn't be happier. We had some extra steps to take because of the indication, but everyone agreed that moving her from the only family she's known was harmful and unnecessary.
The county did close our home for future foster care after the adoption. There was talk of keeping us certified and "on hold" just to allow me to continue training. After a chat where I was clear that the only reason people loved my classes was my raw honesty, and I could not teach any other way, we received a letter in the mail saying we are completely closed. No one over here was shocked even a little.
Brandon and I are divorcing. Nonsalvageable is the most accurate word I have, but still doesn't hold the punch necessary for the reality of what happened to my marriage. We were so young and took on the world with limited experience and exposure. We ran head first into crisis after crisis while everyone cheered and admired, but had no way to know what kind of support we'd need. It was our youth and ignorance that gave us the courage to build what we did, and I can't despise or regret that. It was also our undoing. We were changing with age and exposure, and didn't do it together. We both literally looked up after 5 years of floating in the same pool on different rafts, and realized the other wasn't there. It's sad to have failed and happy to have survived all in the same tear. Our three babies have two parents who love them like crazy and are committed to their wellbeing and security. There is no way that I could have written a happier story with what I knew at the time, and no way I could have written this story knowing what I know now, I wouldn't change a thing. We are comically incompatible now. It leaves no room for uncertainty or confusion. A year later, I am thankful for it all.
Stepping out of overwhelming chronic helplessness resulted most visibly in a 90 lb weightloss for me. I've joined the ranks of soccer Moms who "just want to lose that last 10lbs", and I'm digging it.
Baby 4 is huge now. We had to have the deodorant talk, and everything. He is still amazing, and courageous, and resilient, and challenging, and impulsive, and frustrating, and charming, and clever, and full of promise.
Baby Girl is medically as stable as she's ever been and getting ready for Kindergarten- which should be illegal since she was an infant 4 seconds ago.
Baby 9 is the epitome of healthy, thriving preschooler: loving independence, princesses, and "dippy eggs".
And, Jesus? He showed up in a big way for all of us, and, in true Jesus fashion, broke down every religious ideology that every bogged down my spirit. I learned about grace from the only place that it matters- down in the mud. While I've never stopped being His, my love for Him is a whole different creature than it was. His love for me is exactly the same: complete and incomprehensible.
While we've turned some pages, the story continues. The love is here and as encompassing as ever. I can tell you, it never stopped being worth it.