Have you ever had one of those nights where you have someone on your mind and just can't stop thinking about them? Well that is me right now. It isn't just anyone I am thinking about and wishing that I could have them here with me. A few years back I was a foster mom to a little guy that stole my heart. Today he is turning 8 years old and it has been 4 years since I have seen him. Not a day goes by that I catch myself thinking about him, wondering where he is, what he is doing, if he is safe or if he has the things he needs. I often wonder if I saw him in a store if I would know it was him, would he remember me?
Let me tell you about MY Peanut. When I first met this tiny guy he was only 5 weeks old. I was going to be babysitting him while his mother worked. The very first time she brought him he was wrapped in a baby blanket, she handed him to me and the first thing I noticed was the horrible smell. The smell of filth and vomit was overwhelming. I unwrapped this little bundle to find a tiny little pale, thin almost elderly looking baby with the brightest blue eyes you have seen. He had some stomach issues which was a factor in him being so little. Before I knew it I had become attached to Peanut. As time passed, and I will say that it was a VERY short time span, he started staying the night with us. Nights turned into days, days turned into weeks. Eventually it went to his mother taking him every other weekend. Which was fine with me, at least I knew he was being taken care of if he was with me.
I was lucky enough to be there for most all of his firsts. The first turning over, first tooth, first laugh, first crawling, first food, first word, first birthday and first steps, plus many more. I watched that sickly little bundle turning into a chunky toddler who was always so full of happiness. There was always a smile on his face and a twinkle in those blue eyes. So much energy! Oh my goodness he kept me on my toes, he was definitely all boy, haha! Everything was an adventure with him no matter where we were. He loved to eat and he had no problem telling you what it was that he wanted or didn't want. A few of his favorites were hot dogs/corn dogs, bread pudding and "chicken on a bone" (fried chicken leg). He loved to snuggle next to me and for me to play in his hair, it usually put him right to sleep. He always wanted to hold my hand, or wrap his little hand around my finger. He was crazy about his sisters (Sierrah and Hannah) but was a total mommas (me) boy. I don't think there was a person that saw him that didn't melt when he flashed that devilish smile.
Eventually it ended up where he was placed in my physical custody by the state. I can't give a lot of details because of legal reasons, which is also why I can't post pictures of him either. I went through foster parenting classes so that he wouldn't be removed from the only home he had ever really known. There wasn't even a question about it, he was "my" son and I had to fight for him. We had to travel 30 minutes one way weekly for supervised visits with his mother, who only showed up twice out of probably 10 visits. Then we had to do it again once a week for a few weeks so that his father could have visits. Mind you his father wanted nothing to do with him up until this happened. I convinced the workers to allow the visits to happen at home with me supervising because it was too hard on Peanut to keep being locked in a tiny room with people he didn't even know. We had numerous court dates, meetings, more court dates, home inspections, classes. I was told by the main worker on his case that because of his mothers non compliance and his fathers lack of interest that I would be allowed to adopt him. There were some hoops we had to jump through before we could get there, but Peanut would be legally mine soon.
I agreed to anything they asked, no matter how hard it was. I couldn't refer to myself as momma to him or the girls as his sisters, so unfair! I never taught him to call me momma, that was something he had done on his own. It ended up to a point where the judge gave his father unsupervised visits and also allowed him to take my boy out of state, hours away from me. I thought I would die the first several times I had to do that. Still his mother was showing no interest in complying with what the state needed her to do. In time the judge gave her unsupervised visits even without her complying and the case workers all being against it. The times she did show up and get him were horrible, he screamed and cried not wanting to go, most of the time she smelled like an alcohol bottle. Because she wasn't driving there was nothing I could do except report to the case workers the condition she was in.
That baby always came home filthy, no shoes, and hurt in some way. He was always so hungry and would eat until he about made himself sick. It would be days after a visit before I could leave the room without him getting hysterical at times. Yet they continued to make me force him to go. He did in time grow a good bond with his father, who seemed to really want what was best for him.
There was a court date scheduled, and for some reason I just couldn't bring myself to go to it. This was suppose to be the last court date before I could start adoption proceedings, according to the worker. I had been to every other one, but something in my gut told me not to go, so I didn't. Instead I loaded my boy up and we went to get some lunch and play at the park. I kept wanting to go pick up the girls and leave, to run, my heart kept telling me something was wrong, seriously wrong. Then my phone rang, it was his father telling me that they had come to an agreement on custody and that he would be by to pick up Peanut and his stuff in a few hours. Of course I immediately called the caseworker to find out what happened. I was basically told that I had to have his belongings packed and ready to go in 2 hours, that his father had been awarded custody and that his mother would have limited visitation. We were promised that we would still get to see him, talk to him and have him for visits by both of his parents. Sadly things didn't happen that way after about 3 moths of him being gone. Letters and packages were returned unopened, calls not answered or returned.
A piece of my heart died that day. I went through a few months of really bad depression. Honestly my heart was so broken that I felt like I was dying. I had my girls still and I was very thankful for that and I loved them with all my soul, but my boy was gone. How in the world was I going to survive, how could I go on without him? I saw him everywhere I went, I saw the sadness of everyone, my girls, my family and friends, and yet there was nothing I could do. I can't tell you how I made it through, I can't tell you that the pain has went away, I can't even tell you that my heart is healed. What I can tell you is that I did make it through, somewhere I found some strength and picked myself back up. I am still angry, very angry at the system, caseworkers, judge, his parents and myself. I am angry because I feel like this little boy fell through the cracks of the system that is suppose to be there to protect him, I should have protected him. I have found out that his father abandoned him for a few months with his ex wife, then he gave him back to his mother.
Today 'my' baby boy turns 8 years old. It doesn't seem like that is even possible. I can still hear his little raspy voice telling me from the back seat "Momma I'mma home now?" or him telling me "I love you much bigger!". I can still hear that contagious giggle he had when he was excited, I can still see him and the girls snuggled together on the couch watching a movie together and him with his blankie mom and I made for him. Today I am going to look through the hurt and just remember all the good and smile. I am going to pray that he has everything he needs, that he is healthy, he is warm, has a full belly, clean clothes, lots of love surrounding him and a smile on his face.
Peace, Love and Cupcakes!