It’s funny how something you’ve prayed so fervently for can come at the most inopportune time.
After eight years of missing my mountains, my city, my friends and my FAMILY, we’re finally headed home to Fort Carson, in my beloved Colorado Springs.
Now if the timeline wasn’t just insane.
We’ve known it was happening for about a year, well, known as much as a wish, a prayer, and an email from branch. We just expected it in January. We had it planned out as carefully as we could. Jason would head to WOAC (Warrant Officer Advanced Course) in August, he’d be back in October, and we’d have three months to sell the house and PCS. Totally doable timeline.
But then we got the email. Jason is now supposed to complete WOAC enroute to Fort Carson, and instead of PCS’ing in January, he needs to leave Drum by the beginning of October.
Normally, I’d be jumping for joy. Sure, there’s some stress associated with putting the house on the market, getting it sold, getting movers schedule, purging, the whole PCS thing. Come on, we’re headed HOME! But along with the euphoria of hearing those magic words we’ve been waiting for, came the absolute terror of losing our Little Miss. We’ve had her a few days shy of 8 months now, and we don’t have a permanency hearing until September, just a few weeks before we’re scheduled to clear Drum.
All of the “what are you going to do’s?” are being fired at us, and we’re fumbling for the answer, trying to make massive decisions for our family without all the answers.
Yes, we want to go home. That’s where our strongest support structure is, good schools, amazing activities, and without sounding juvenile, I miss my family and friends. It’s where we’re retiring, and should be our last duty station. No more moving the kids to different schools, no more new bases. We can put down roots and watch them grow. It’s the army, and even if we turned down these orders, they would simply send us somewhere else: we’re leaving no matter what we say.
We’ve talked to our social worker about our position, always up front and honest, and the truth is, we don’t know what will happen. Our minds have been swimming in a sea of “what if” for these last couple of weeks, struggling to figure out what we’re going to do if “a” happens, or “b” occurs, trying to come up with every possible contingency plan when we can’t even see past the first step of this.
So we’re concentrating now on what we know.
1. We’re putting the house on the market. No matter what happens, we’re leaving here, so the house needs to sell. Man, I’m sad about this, and I’m sure I’ll devote an entire other blog to the way I feel about this house, and all its quirks.
2. Once we sell this house, we’ll rent a smaller townhouse and put a bunch of our stuff in storage. Jason’s not scheduled to clear until October, so we’ll stay here with him.
3. My parents get to go get their fingerprints checked, so that we can stay with them while we House-hunt. That way if Little Miss is cleared to come with us, we’re all set. My parents freaking rock.
3. We don’t know what’s going to happen with our Princess Pumpkin, but we do know one thing for sure: We won’t leave her. For the last 8 months, she’s slept in our home, in her room with her crib, tucked in by Jason and I. She’s been cuddled and loved and annoyed by big brothers. She’s stolen Diesel’s dog toys, and giggled when he’d watch her, waiting to snatch them back. She’s grown, and developed, and flourished here, becoming a part of our family. We’re the center of her world as much as she’s the center of ours. There’s no chance in Hell that I’d walk away from her and simply hope it all works out. That’s not what family does, and though we may only be “foster,” we’re going to fight as her family up until the moment they tell us we can’t. Because in the mess of this system, someone has to look out not just for rights and legalities, but stand in her corner and take the punches.
So we came to the hardest decision yet: if she’s not legally clear, either to come with us or to go to one of her biological parents, the boys and I will stay here until she is.
Why? Because if someone told us our little Iron Man couldn’t move until he was legally cleared, well, I wouldn’t leave him behind either. We’re a family.
We’ve heard some mixed reactions about our decision, the first being, “you’re going to tear the boys away from their dad again?”
There’s no right way to answer this, because there’s simply no right answer to the situation we’re in. We sat the boys down and we explained the situation without giving them too many details about what’s going on with Princess Pumpkin. We told them our options, and that we’ll be separated from Daddy until December anyway, when he finishes his school. They unanimously, and somewhat fearfully agreed that they want to stay with their sister, even knowing that we don’t know when we can be together again.
So am I torn? Yes. Are we possibly ripping our family in two when we don’t have to? No. Because if we left her here with another foster family, we’d still be ripping our family apart anyway. Is it the best decision?
Yes. God, I hope so.
We could never in a million years walk away from her willingly.
So no, we don’t know what’s going to happen, and yes, our stress level is up at DEFCON three. There’s never a moment when I’m not aware of what we’re about to go through, and yes, the tears are falling. Falling because I know I might be here for months alone, solo parenting these five kids instead of home with my parents, buying our new house in Colorado. Falling because I don’t know what our breaking point is, how long this could drag on when our system is admittedly not geared toward the best interest of the child. Falling because we’ve been through two deployments in the last two years, and we’re signing up to be separated again by choice, for God knows how long. Falling because I’m terrified of the possibility of handing her over to virtual strangers and never seeing her again, not knowing how she is or if they’re singing her to sleep. And falling for the gratitude of simply being able to love her as long as we have, when we didn’t know if she’d stay through the first month.
We’ve always tackled this foster parenting thing one month at a time, never looking past the next court date, just living in the moment, but when we look long-term into the future now, it kills me that I can’t pull out a magic 8 ball and know what’s going to happen.
I can’t see our life without her in it.
So over the next few months, you can expect a multitude of blogs on the insanity of PCS’ing, but be patient with me. We have a house to prep, to list, to sell, to move, all while I’m trying to finish up another novel.
It’s everything we’ve ever prayed for, thrown at us so quickly, overlapping to the point that we’re drinking from a waterfall.
But I can tell you that we’re a family, and I’ve never been prouder of my little men than when they said they wanted to stay too, that they couldn’t leave her behind. I’ve never been more thankful to have Jason as my husband, my partner, knowing that we’re in this together. Always.
So please, say a prayer for us, send positive energy, whatever you believe, take a second for us and think about our little family, and that whatever is best for our Princess Pumpkin is done in her best interest, that she’s settled quickly and not left to linger in the system, and that our family isn’t torn apart when we don’t have to be during dwell time.
Watch out, Colorado, we’re coming home. Hopefully this September. Maybe this Christmas. Maybe in the Spring. But we’re finally coming home. We’re just not sure how many of us there will be.