Update on the Ortega crew

It has been a hot minute since I have sat down and wrote a blog. I still write side notes when an idea comes to my mind but have you ever been so busy in life that your hobbies are pushed to the side. These past three months I felt like I needed to find myself again. I love to stay busy, and if I am not working, I feel like I am going crazy. Besides that, I wanted to update everyone how we have been. Life has been fantastic and emotional and crazy busy! We have finally adopted our oldest daughter. I will have a blog soon all about her adoption, but please welcome Miss Emily Elizabeth May Ortega. It is crazy to think I am officially a momma. I know many may think you are already a momma, no guys! I am finally a momma! No one can take her from me; no one can make any decisions for her other than her father and I. y’all my name is now on a freaking birth certificate, this feeling is amazing. Emily is thrilled to have a forever home and no more foster care finally. She is struggling a little in school, but I feel like she had a hard time transitioning from a semester of homeschooling to public. In homeschooling, I pretty much had to start at 3rd and 4th-grade levels because she moved so much in the past three years there wasn’t much learning retained. I think that homeschooling benefited by allowing me to help her reach the grade she was supposed to be, but public school is helping her build those social skills she needed. SInce being in public school math and science has been her struggle but we are happy she is progressing. We have also noticed she is communicating with her peers in a healthy way. SHe no longer fights or bullies kids either, so I have seen her grow so much this past year it makes me so proud of her. She has changed so much to better herself, and it is paying off. I believe she sees it too and is much happier with who she is.

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Our two middle sons will be reunified with their biological grandmother here shortly. We have a great bond with their grandmother, and I feel like that is helping with all those crazy emotions you get when children are reunifying. We have had our boys for almost a year! They are the sweetest and so polite, I see bright futures for both of them. Our oldest son is starting to open up more and more. I am noticing his change, and it melts my heart that he is more optimistic as the time goes on. Our youngest son is a little stinker and always joking with us. He enjoys coming up to me and massaging my head. He will let me know every time that every momma deserves to relax, and I agree with him 100%. They are just the best, and I can’t wait to continue to watch them grow.
Now for the littlest of them all. Our eight-month-old daughter who keeps me on my toes. We went to court mother has relinquished her rights. So next step is the BIP, Full disclosure, and Adoption! Her mother and I have a great relationship, and I feel what she did was so brave and selfless. She is giving this sweet child a second chance at life. We have had Baby K since she was five days old so of course, we are thrilled to have this opportunity to be her forever family. As she is growing and learning I am loving her little but feisty personality. She is such a happy and loveable baby. She is starting to roll over and is realizing her body can go places. It is the cutest thing when she discoveries new things. She loves to eat; we have been doing the baby led weaning since she was three months old and it has been perfect. I plan on writing a blog about this too. She is allergic to tomatoes and hates! Bananas. We also learned that she is allergic to sunscreen. So if any of you mommas have any suggestions to protect her from the sun let me know. I tried five different brands so far, we have done a patch test before making that mistake again, and all of them create a rash. So as of right now, we care many hats, sunglasses, and umbrellas when we are outside. Thankfully she loves to wear her hat and sunglasses. I can’t wait to share the adorable photos once she is officially an Ortega.
I decided to take an anxiety and stress class. It is a ten-week class we are now on week 8. Now going into this class, I had never thought that I had experienced anxiety, the stress, of course, anxiety not even. I thought anxiety is when people couldn’t mentally pull it together get through a situation. Wrong and so thankful I decided to take this class. It has taught me how to prevent anxiety outbreaks with kids who are in care. How to identify triggers and how to help them through an anxiety attack. How to avoid stress and ways to cope. I took the class because I wanted to be able to help my kids more when it came to this. At the same time I realized there was a lot I needed to do in my life as well. My oldest daughter and mother have joined me in this class as well, and it has helped our relationships grow. I would suggest that if anyone deals with anxiety or stress to attend a class. On to my wonderful husband, he is studying for a test and will be taking the test soon. Updates on that once he is ready to announce it. I am so proud of him. HE supports us and takes care of us so well. I appreciate him so much; he tries so hard to get off of work to pick up the kids from school. That may seem silly to some of y’all, but he understands that loading three kids all in car seats to do pick up can become a pain. Especially if they have fallen asleep! Don’t wake the kids if you don’t have too. I only work Wednesdays and Saturdays, so he does go above and beyond to provide for us, and I can’t thank him enough for that. I never thought I would be a stay at home mom. We would joke that he would be the stay at home dad because I loved to work and was not about to stop what I loved to do. Now looking back it all fell into place. Julian can grow in his career and do what he enjoys every day. I can experience motherhood whole heartily. It has been fantastic watching our children grow, and for that, I will forever be thankful.
I am surprised I was able to write this much. Our youngest daughter is learning that mommy’s hip isn’t where she always needs to be. So she has played this long for me to finish up the blog. I hope y’all enjoyed the update and looked out for more blogs to come. Thank you all and have a beautiful day!
-Momma K and the bunch
xoxo

A letter to our daughter’s mother: our adoption story.

We are approaching our adoption, and I am overwhelmed with so many emotions. This adoption has been a long-awaited moment, and we can’t wait to see what our future holds with our daughter. 
Throughout this whole process, it has been heavy in my heart to write to our daughter’s Biological mom. I know little about her but just want to thank her for giving our daughter life but Most importantly giving her a second chance in life.

To the wonderful woman who gave life to our daughter,
I just want you to know we are proud to call her our daughter. The beautiful gift we were very fortunate to receive, is telling me what a significant loss another woman experienced. I don’t mean that by any disrespect. You pushed aside your selfish acts to make sure she has a better future and with that shows how beautiful you truly are. Don’t think for a moment that she won’t know who you are and where she came from.
It takes a lot for someone to realize that this precious gift deserves the world. For whatever reason, no judgment on your part, you were unable to give this child the future they deserve. I just want you to know I can’t thank you enough for being brave and making sure your child’s future is going to be magical. I want you to know she is very loved and well taken care of. She has grown so much and is such a beautiful young lady. I appreciate that you carried this child under your heart and gave her life.
So please don’t feel ashamed or guilty because you gave her up for adoption. I speak of you with all the respect you deserve because you gave our daughter a second chance. You gave her life, and we thank you for that. I don’t want you to worry, her father and I will treasure and guard her with our lives. I will make sure she has the best opportunities in life.
We will honor the sacrifice you made when you made the impossible choice to give her up for adoption.
Thank you for this amazing child. No matter what she will know who you are and what brave choice you made and how much you love her for doing this.
Thank you and Take care.
Julian and Kristina Ortega

You are strong!

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This past month has been a roller coaster, Mentally and physically speaking. Everyone always asks if you are “Okay?” I find that question becoming redundant. No, I am not okay, but yes I will eventually be okay. I know they ask out of concern, and it is much appreciated, but sometimes I just want a hug and someone to tell me it is going to be okay. This journey is challenging but worth every minute. Only takes some time to get back to feeling normal again and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I can tell you one thing is making time for yourself and family pay off in the long run. I want this blog to be about a few things this journey has taught u because I know when I am reading blogs I want to learn about how people dealt with certain situations because I could go through the same thing.

Oct 7th of this year, our middle daughter reunified with her aunt and uncle. It was a bittersweet moment for us. I knew her family is where she needs to be, but for the last eight months, I had watched this beautiful child become a beautiful little person. She has truly taught me so much as a mother but nothing prepares you for the unexpected.  We dealt with the death of her father and the separation of her older sister, during those months. Her older sister had to be placed in treatment once they both came into care. During that time I remember her older sister trying to break her ankles and feeling lost at what to do. I had never dealt with a child who was so angry. Once they admitted her sister to the hospital, I was sitting there talking to her and could see that deep down she just needed someone to be there for her. I stayed at the hospital with her for a whole week till they could get her into a mental hospital. I knew that she needed me and I needed her! She kept me distracted from one of the most heart breaking moments I had to deal with as a foster mom. It was a stressful week because we were also in the middle of transitioning our son back with his bio mom. One of the roughest weeks I have had since becoming a Foster Mom. I look back at that week and realize it taught me so much. I am strong, and I’m built for this Mom life.
I need to make sure I give it my all, for my kids! These kids come into care and have no idea what to expect. I can only imagine the fear they have stepping into my home, but if I continue to stay strong for myself, I can be strong for them as well.
When our middle daughter’s dad passed away while she was still in care, I tried so hard to prepare myself for the outcome. I expected her to be sad and depressed. Shockingly, she was just numb to the situation. Again, every case we deal with as foster parents teach us something new as well.
Two days after his death we received a phone call that our oldest daughters uncle had passed. Talk about a double whammy. Once again, I was preparing myself to tell her and figuring out how to help her deal with this. She had a harder time dealing with his passing than our middle daughter with her father. I am not sure if it had anything to do with our support for them or what. I have just realized so much this year, and one thing is EVERY child deals with stress in entirely different ways.
I have never dealt with death personally. So trying to understand what they are going through was difficult on my part. I tried reading books on how to cope and educated myself on that subject. I can tell you from experience no book or google search is going to give you the advice you need when it comes to death. Sadly, it is something I am going to have to experience to know what emotions they were dealing with, To understand what they needed from me during the most robust moment in their life.
A few months after their deaths is so vivid to me. I can remember feeling disconnected from my girls because if either girl was trying to deal with their loss, I wasn’t sure how to react. Of course, I offered hugs, long walks, car rides and just anything to help ease their pain but I missed the biggest picture. I was trying so hard to try to help them escape the memories. What they needed was someone to talk with, to express the beautiful moments about them. One evening, I walked into their room, and they were talking about memories, and I could feel their pain. It finally occurred to me that they just needed to talk. I am learning daily on how to parent and how to deal with everything that comes with fostering but the best thing I can say to anyone who may be doubting becoming foster parents, is you do the best you can with what you have. God will guide you; it may take a minute but worth every lesson taught to you.

You got this!

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*Pictures- google-strong

Numb

Numb

It has been one heck of a month……… I was trying to write a blog about our middle daughter going home with the family before her leaving. I typically write to prepare myself for what is coming, expressing my feelings and getting rid of all the negative thoughts. This time around I couldn’t help but feel numb.

Little S joined our family Feb 2017 with her sister. Her sister, unfortunately, had to go into treatment shortly after coming into our care. Little S was so shy and kind. Her smile would light up the room, and there was never a moment her kindness didn’t show. Her personality was amazing! She would melt your heart in a matter of seconds. I watched this beautiful child blossom. Little S found herself in our home.

There have been many obstacles I have had to deal with while being a foster parent, but no one can prepare you for what comes when a child loses their parent. May 9th, 2017, I received a phone call that unfortunately, Little S’s dad had passed away over the night. She was at school when I found out, and I knew right away I needed to get her. I would hate for her to find out during school about her dads passing. I arrived at the school, and she was so happy and thrilled to see me. I told her that we were going to do whatever she wanted to do today. Little S looked at me with tears in her eyes and said something is wrong isn’t there? I am going home, aren’t I? I just hugged her so tight and told her that she wouldn’t be leaving, but she will be visiting her grandma today. I explained grandma had something significant to say to her.

We ended up at target and went shopping of course! We went to the park, went home and did her makeup, and she put on her new dress that we had just bought. I asked her to tell me stories about her dad and what her favorite things about him were. Her memories were so precious and allowed her and I to connect on another level. Those moments will forever be cherished.

Over the summer she was growing more and more. The more she grew, the more I fell more in love with this precious girl. She came to us one day as we were folding laundry and looked at me with those beautiful big brown eyes, She leaned into me and whispered I just wish I could stay here forever. My heart was so content, but I also knew I needed to remind her how important it is to go home with family if it is possible to do so. She was so understanding but would occasionally mention us adopting her. Without a doubt, I would adopt her in a heartbeat, but again as a foster parent, I can’t stress enough how important it is for reunification to happen.

September 27th, 2017, her case worker comes over and gives us the news that her uncle and aunt will be the new placement. He gave us our ten-day notice. Inside I was broken, but on the outside, I showed her how excited I was, and we spoke about how important it is to go with them. They had passed everything they needed to do and how beautiful it was that they were going to take her and raise her. She was excited but nervous, which is to be expected. Little S leans in for a hug and just starts crying. She replies with “I would dream at night that you would forever be my momma K.” I replied, “and I will be!” No one will ever take that from me.

The next ten days just felt so numb; I am not sure how to explain the feeling. All I knew is that I had to prepare Little S for what was about to happen……. But how can I do that when I didn’t feel prepared for what was about to happen to us.

October 7th, 2017, the day has come to say See you later! She was excited at this point and couldn’t wait to get her stuff in her new room. Taking her belongings out to her relative’s car seemed like it took forever, I just kept talking to avoid anyone asking me questions. Seems like if anyone that asks me how I am doing, I completely lose it. I must be strong for her, and she should see that I am okay for her to be okay. Children feed off our emotions, and I didn’t want her to stress about my feelings. I wanted to make sure she was excited no matter what.

I will pray for her daily and pray that as a family we cope with this in the best way that we can but explaining this feeling has been difficult. Typically, I can express myself without any issues but this time around I just feel numb.

How to handle a difficult placement?

Being a foster parent positively, has its moments. Our first placements were tricky, but we got through it with time and consistency. Last month we accepted to take a six yr old boy. They had warned us about his compulsive lying and story telling. Okay no big deal, we have considered that before. We introduce him to our girls and get him settled into his room. The first month is the honey moon stage. We are getting to know him, and he is getting to know us. Everything seems to be going well. The first month is done and now comes the “testing” stage in foster care. What can I possibly do to drive my foster parents crazy? Literally! Children can be cruel. You try everything from being understanding and patient, walking away, getting down on their level…. So that he could spit in my face. We tried time out, we tried taking toys away, we tried so many things to stop this young child from causing chaos. His last days in my home I had so much anger built up I didn’t know how to feel, I was about to lose my mind. Why won’t he listen? Why won’t he obey? Why does he start problems?

So finally after all the chaos I call CYFD and ask for them to remove him from my home. Of course, they explain to me that it might take some time and to just hang in there.

I sit him down and explain what is going to happen. That we, unfortunately, can not give him what he deserves and before it gets any more out of hand he will be going with a new family. He started to cry and say he didn’t want to go. That he loved being with us. At the moment I felt horrible. Maybe we could figure out a different solution so that he was able to stay. Maybe I was over reacting and what he was doing wasn’t that bad. You can’t help but think what can I possibly do to make sure he doesn’t go through more stress and heart ache. As foster parents, you feel so torn between situations like that. Even though these kids can be involved, you still want what is best for them. You can’t help but feel guilty that if you do get them removed, they may end up just jumping from one house to another.

So when they say, tough love! I mean we went all in with tough love!

I was going to make sure this young man knew I was serious and we weren’t playing around anymore. I wasn’t mean, I was understanding to his feelings and guess what finally we saw a change in him. It is all trial and error when it comes to new placement. I was done allowing him to think it was okay to act the way he was. So he would have to write why he did what he did and why he thought it was okay. As soon as he did that, I noticed small changes in him. Our last week with him was manageable. They ended up calling and telling us grandparents would be taking him.

No matter what just love the child. They tell you sometimes you can’t love a child because of what they do. How about we learn to love a child because they are a child of God. This child didn’t ask for this. It will be a lot of tears and frustration, but in the end, it will be worth it.

Don’t get me wrong though if the child is causing to much stress ask for a removal don’t feel that you have to keep with living in misery. What I am saying is just continue to love the child and try your best.

The most rewarding part was when he went home to his grandparents. He hugged me so tight and said: “I love you, Kristina!”

In the end, those words are what made everything worth it.

Just hang in there! God knows all that you can handle.

 

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*photo credit google*

Why you should never give up

 

I will take you back to December 21st, 2016.
We received a phone call from CYFD to take a 13 yr girl. Her past was run away and bounces from house to house due to her anger. Of course, I was nervous, but I also thought I could give this child a place to stay for the week. It was almost Christmas; she didn’t deserve to be alone regardless of the situation.
She comes into our house, and I just remember her acting as if nothing was going to bother her. She grabbed a gift and opened it. I remained silent. I thought to myself observe her and allow her to settle in. I knew she was going to test the water. It is typical for any child to do so.
Within three weeks of being in our home, she came to us and asked if we could adopt her. I felt so honored, and we explained to her that it was fresh and just go with the flow. We also told her that we were very open to adopting her but let some time pass. We made sure to leave that thought open in our heads. We immediately thought about it, and of course, she was a great kid, but it was so new to us. We questioned the age. Not that long ago we were that age. We examined her past. Before anyone who is closed minded reads this…. remembers the past can repeat its self. We thought about how new this was too.
We both loved the thought of having her as our forever child. So nervous!
February 2017 Julian and I are talking about Nate and Kyleigh going home soon. I decided to bring up the adoption. I am so glad I did. Julian isn’t the type to speak up first, so when I mentioned it, he was very pleased to know I felt the same way. We were ready to have her as our forever child.
We talked to our teen, and of course, she was thrilled. Her excitement showed everywhere we went. She was proud to become our daughter, and we felt so blessed.
We have always had issues with her bullying other children. We would always address the situation, and it seemed to be dying down. Her bad habits were slowly disappearing. Now I know we weren’t going to have a perfect child, but I wanted to make sure her major bad habits were nipped in the bottom before she thought we were okay with that type of behavior.
She seemed to be growing in such a positive way. Such a beautiful young girl. I love so very much. I was proud of her. She had come so far. Proved to so many people that she could change for the better.
We started the adoption process in May 2017. We received a call that July 5th, 2017 was the BIP at 3 pm. It was such an exciting moment. We went out to dinner discuss our future as a family.
We were preparing her to be our forever child. Considering college situations, setting up her bank account, getting her a cell phone and planning big family vacations. Now we didn’t just throw this all on her. We slowly talked about it and made sure along the way she understood and was comfortable with our plans. Of course, she was so happy to be doing everything with us! So were we! Three weeks before the BIP we started to notice her anger towards our youngest daughter was coming back, and her attitude was different.
We figured it was because her mother just had court, and they stated that she would be sentenced June 23rd. We assumed it had to do with that. Dealt with the situation and went on with our day. She has always been very open to me about everything. Her first week in our home we sat down for 3 hours while she talked about nearly everything that she had dealt with in life. I let her talk and trust in me that she could come to me if she ever needed to talk. I have spent countless hours driving around being that listening ear for her. Never judging and always allowing her to speak.
When I decided to ask her what was going on and expecting her to open up she immediately shut down “nothing!” was the answer. It would upset me because I thought why all of the sudden would you shut me down?
Every situation that happened for the next two weeks was hectic. Our daughter was so angry or would jump to conclusions. She would express how our youngest daughter was our favorite or how I was doing things on purpose. I could see my child hurting and breaking inside. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I tried talking to her and would get shut down.
I would stay up googling what to do with an angry teenager. Yes, I know why google? Because you would be surprised on how many people are dealing with the same crap you are!
I would approach her the next morning, and she would just be very quiet. Wouldn’t say much and Kept to herself. June 23rd, 2017 comes around. Her mother sentenced seven years in prison. She breaks down feeling guilty about it. She continued blaming herself for her mother’s mistakes. I am trying to explain to her that it isn’t her fault. She isn’t liking what I am saying. I hear her say “I just need to talk to my mom.”(she calls her step grandmother “mom” someone who helped raise her and make sure she was safe when she could. ) it crushed me!
I instantly felt hurt, angry and annoyed! I am her mother! I should be the one she wants right now! I told her to give her grandmother a call and ask to go over. Even though I was hurt, I knew what she needed, and that wasn’t me. She called, but her grandmother told her no she couldn’t come over.
She ran to her room. I tried talking to her, and she just didn’t want anything to do with me.
The next day she asked if she could call her grandmother again. Again the grandmother said no. She had some personal issues to take care of.
That following day she had been a hand full. Very disrespectful and rude to our other children. I had asked our youngest to get her for dinner, and it ended up in a screaming match. She had yelled at her and told her to get out of her room. I immediately went in there and told her to eat!
By this time I am heated and so is she. She refuses to eat for dinner. So I send her to her room. I will admit I didn’t do it maturely and I do regret not being more grown up about it. At that moment all these emotions and anger had got the best of me.
The next morning I wake everyone up to do chores, and I had noticed when I went to her room she had a notebook and pen laying on the ground. Something in me knew I wasn’t going to find a positive note in that book.
I ended up finding a hate letter. How she didn’t want me to call her my daughter or even be my daughter. She didn’t want to be adopted, and she was just going to run away. She called me some pretty offensive names and said she hated our youngest daughter as well. I decided to tear them out and throw them away. I knew she was mad but now so was I. Hours had passed, and she comes into the living room asking who ripped out the papers and I said I did. They are in the trash. Before I knew it, I was calling CFYD asking for them to get her. She started screaming and stated how much she hated our house and our youngest daughter.
A child I had loved so much. Someone who meant the world to me! A child I was ready to have in my life forever!
I knew we needed space. I knew I had over reacted. What I didn’t understand is why now???? I questioned her safety. I doubted her love for us. I asked her goals with us. I questioned my parenting skills.
Where did I go wrong? Why didn’t I see the signs before this got out of control? Do I want this? Does she love us? Are we being used?
You name it; it was going through my head. I felt like a horrible person for calling CYFD to get her, but I was so worried that she was going to run away or hurt our youngest child.
We talked with CYFD, and it almost felt like I was numb to the situation. A child that I had so much love for I was ready to throw in the towel. Is it easier to run from our problems right? Both my husband and I let one evening go by we discussed we weren’t going to give up on her. Even though I was still hurt my love for her meant more!
June 30th I walked into CYFD feeling lost but ready to hear what she wanted to do. We sat down in the room together, and I remember her not saying a word. Question after question and not even any emotions coming from her. I had to step out and cry.
I felt like I had failed at that moment. I was ready to drive home and just say forget it! That’s what she wants right? I pulled myself together went back in the room and finally an answer “I want to go back with them.”
It all happened so fast. Looking back on how everything went. She was so used to people not fighting for her. It was typical for her to run away from her problems. Here we stood fighting for her to come home.
My emotions are still a little wacky right now. I am still questioning what the heck is going on, but as for now, she is home!
What happens next? I learn from my mistakes and become a better mother.
Don’t give up on your kids!