Way back in 2006 we got a call for a little guy named “A”. They told us that he was 11 months old. We knew that D & d’s mom was pregnant and due at some point in the early part of the year, but we didn’t know exactly when so we went ahead and said yes to A. It turns out that he was 23 months old… And it was a disaster of a placement. We had three little boys ages 1, 2, & 3… and in the month and a half that A was with us, they all had birthdays. Crazy times!
Right in the middle of all of that our Vinny was born. We’d been hoping that Vinny would come to us straight from the hospital. Looking back, it’s likely a good thing that didn’t happen. We were still baby foster parents at that point. I don’t know if we could have handled a newborn with D & d and I know for a fact that we couldn’t have with A added into the mix. Although, I would have loved to have spent the beginning of Vin’s life with him.
When he was just a little guy, he got to see his big brothers every week. They went on visits to see their bio-mom and Vin was there with her. I even have a picture of their bio-mom when she was pregnant with Vin 🙂
When he was about six months old, the boys stopped having visits with her. So, they stopped seeing him, too. We’d pretty much given up hope of having him as a part of our family.
That’s why we were in shock when we got a call a year later! In that year, they’d severed the rights for D & d’s parents. And we’d taken placement of our little Bean. We were literally only a couple weeks away from adopting D & d when we got the call that would (again) change our lives. The lawyer for Vin called us to ask if we knew that he was in foster care. She wanted to know if we wanted her to let the caseworker know that we were interested in taking placement. Of course, we said yes! I remember calling our agency (somewhat frantically) trying to see what we’d need to do to get our license changed.
It turns out that I didn’t need to change the license. I needed patience instead!
We got that first call about Vin in July of 2007, but it wasn’t until October 1st that he was *finally* moved to our home. I can’t say that I really was all that patient. I know that I made more than my fair share of phone calls before his placement finally happened.
When he showed up I couldn’t believe my eyes. No, really, I thought they had the wrong address! Where did those baby blues come from?
So, poof, we were a family of 6. I had always joked that the reason that Vin was never placed with us was that I didn’t look like the mom of a Vinny. And, yet, I was.
When he came he was only 20 months old. Such a little guy. Bean was 10 months old at the time. And I had my hands very full. I tell new foster parents that the first few weeks of having a foster placement are really bad. But, you won’t remember them, so you’ll be willing to do it again. When he came to us, we knew what the roller coaster of being a foster parent meant. We’d been through the torture of court dates and extensions and visits. With your first foster placement, you don’t know any better. This time, we knew what was ahead of us and we still wanted to dive on in.
As with all foster children, the plan for Vinny was reunification. He was in foster care while his biological family had the time to work on their issues and work the case plan so they could get him back. Another layer of his story was an out of state relative. He had lived with a couple in a different state for several months before coming into care. They loved him very much (still do) and were also asking the courts to have him moved to live with them.
We knew all of this from day 1, so my mission was to get as much out of this chance as possible. I wanted to give the boys the chance to know their brother (all three). I didn’t know if he’d be here for a week or a month or forever. So, I reminded myself as often as possible (although, not often enough) to get out the camera so that I would always have at least a piece of him.
So, it began. Our lives as his parents. When he had first come into care, they hadn’t called us because he’d been living with the out of state family who only spoke Spanish. So, they looked for a Spanish speaking foster home. They never asked us if we spoke Spanish! I translated for the first few weeks, maybe even a month. I was the crazy lady walking through the grocery store with a bunch of kids, speaking Spanish to the white kid and English to the Mexican kids. Even though Vin didn’t talk much at that point (can’t say the same now!) he still stumped us on a few words in Spanish. It was Halloween time & our neighbors used to make a haunted house. When he’d see their house he’d say, “Cucui”.. We had no clue what he meant, but we have some friends who helped us out.
We were also lucky to have friends who helped us with clothes for our little guy. He came with very little and an amazing mom from a chat board that I frequent sent a whole box of clothes for him. I remember sitting there going through the box with tears streaming. It was such a hard time for us and to have a “stranger” reach out and care about our little guy meant the world.
Back then, Vin was having visits twice a week with his biological parents. He’d go see his bio-dad one day a week and then his bio-mom one day a week.
It was hard.
Even though he liked being at the visits, he hated to go. He’d run and cry when they’d come to pick him up.
And, it was hard on the older boys. They didn’t really “get” what made Vin their brother when he was a stranger. And they didn’t understand why he went to see his bio family.
But, time went by. And we figured things out. The guy who’d come to get Vin started bringing a Lego catalogue with him and Vin would happily go with him. Eventually, the visits moved to McDonald’s and Vinny couldn’t wait to go.
Over time Vinny became as natural as every other part of our family. We figured out how to take four kids in public. He learned how to hold my hand in the parking lot. He started talking and could tell us what he wanted. And he started to become Vinny. He’s never looked at things the same way our other kids do. He’s always surprised us. Last Christmas, we went to the mountains to go see Brian’s parents. When we were talking about the snow Vinny was very concerned. He was worried that he wouldn’t be able to breathe in the snow. That’s just the way that his mind works.
He’s definitely been a challenge to how our minds work. We don’t know much about his life before us. But, we do know that he’s slow to trust. We know he’s very intelligent and at times even a little wise. And we know that he’s our son–through and through.
In the middle of 2008, the visits that Vin was having with his biological dad stopped. And the visits with his biological mom were erratic.
Of course, we were hoping that this meant that he was getting closer and closer to being ours forever. But, foster care would never be that easy. In January of 2009, Vin had a new caseworker who was ready to move him back into his biological mom’s house. I left court that day in tears. Thankfully, his Guardian ad Litum (GAL or lawyer) stepped up and asked that the court do a little more investigation before he was moved.
In the time that the courts and the case worker did bonding assessments and looked more at his needs, we spoke to his biological mom a few times. She became more comfortable with us. And, eventually, she told the caseworker and the judge that she was ready to give up her rights.
Since we hadn’t heard from bio-dad in such a long time, we thought that severance for him would go very quickly. And, as you know, nothing is quick in foster care! So there were delays.
But, now we’re here. Today we were able to finally adopt our son!
Court was on time (wow! shocker!), and we were so lucky to have a court room full of friends and family to support us on this very joyous occasion. And I only cried a little.
Thank you for all of your support and love over the past few years on this road to forever.