Hear the Angel Voices

Hear the Angel Voices

I’ve been waiting on myself to begin. I knew it was time to get back to this and I knew it was time for a shift. I shut down the old blog, bought a new name, and created a new site. A new chapter. But how to begin, Becca, how to start. The pressure. Y’all are like,...

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Bye, Mom.

Bye, Mom.

My mom died on April 1, just a little over two weeks ago. I don’t know which cliché to use – does it feel like yesterday or years? Both, I guess. My mom was a young 74 and did all the healthy things – the exercising, the kale, the vitamins, the check-ups. I look like...

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No Shame

Well, it had to come. Some of you readers have been with me for a while now. You’ve read these random blogs and followed along on Facebook as Jax came home from China, was diagnosed with all the things, and proceeded to grow up into a teenage boy. He’s gone from...

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The Answer is No.

So we’re homeschooling over here. It’s going really well, I’d say. We have great people, Jax’s anxiety is at an all-time low, he’s happy, he’s inquisitive, and importantly, he’s learning things that are relevant to his 14 year-old-life and skills he’ll use for his...

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Better

I have sucked as a parent lately. Truth. 'Tis the season for holiday lights and wrapping paper and for mom to be a stressed out asshole. That should be a Christmas carol. “Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the waaayyyyy. My mom’s annoyed at everyone, please bring...

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Grandma Mary

Grandma Mary

Dear Jax,It's Gotcha Day, little dude. We adopted you eleven years ago today. I love this day, but this year's celebration is bittersweet. Your grandmother died on Friday night. Your dad's mom, Grandma Mary. This year's Gotcha Day will be a little less inflatable...

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Relief

Relief

Johnny made it to his Army base on Monday. Other moms are messaging me tips to survive boot camp, linking me to Facebook groups, introducing me to people who can show me the ropes. It's lovely, but I’m in a different sort of situation. “Hi Martha with your...

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Maybe This Time

Maybe This Time

A day or two ago, Jax had an appointment with a psychiatrist. Jax has never met this man before, but I have, and I like him a lot. He regurgitates mountains of stuff from memory, has a Harvard degree, and is smart, smart, smart. All good stuff when you’re a mom...

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Brothers

Brothers

Johnny, I've been down at the Capitol this past week fighting for a bill that would expedite the adoption of older kids. I'm pretty invested in it because you and I went through this. We had nine months to make your adoption happen, and had I not already had a giant...

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Nobody Said It Was Easy.

Nobody Said It Was Easy.

And I quote: "And after fourteen years of foster care, Johnny was getting all As and Bs in school, happily helping around the house, had checking and savings accounts, and looking for his first job - all within just a few months of being adopted into a family. "...

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Dear Person Who Hurt My Child.

Dear Person Who Hurt My Child.

I've spent the last few days outlining an open letter to the person who hurt Jax. A real doozy of a piece, cleverly called "Dear Person Who Hurt My Child." I was going to write and publish it this morning, throw it all out there and let the internet lovelies react to...

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Not the Best Witness

Not the Best Witness

The adult who hurt my son will not be charged. I'm a lawyer. I get it. There are no witnesses, no physical evidence, and Jax ...well, Jax isn't the best witness.  At 13, Jax still believes that Noelle the Naughty Elf stole my car keys and tried to take my...

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“They don’t need another backpack, Mom.”

“They don’t need another backpack, Mom.”

I was coming out of an Ace Hardware the other day - feeling super handy, I might add - and on the way to my car, I saw a woman standing by a table raising money. It was a legit 100-gazillion degrees in Phoenix and I was entirely prepared to do the polite smile...

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The Opposite of Yelling

The Opposite of Yelling

I was sick this week. Throwing up throughout the night, curled up in fetal position at the base of the toilet, not sure how clean the bath mat is, I do not even care, I will never eat blue cheese in a salad again, SICK. Being sick as an adult is lousy. Being sick as a...

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To Johnny, on your 17th Birthday.

To Johnny, on your 17th Birthday.

Dear Johnny, I know this isn't where you thought you would be at age 17. Still in the foster system, a day pass on your birthday, preparing to be shuffled around again, and then again and again. I know. As a child, you must have thought ahead to 17 and pictured your...

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An Unlikely Intersection

An Unlikely Intersection

Last week, a family asked about adopting my foster son, Johnny. A family. Adoption. This was a big deal for a sixteen year old foster kid who moved in with me last month because he had nowhere else to go and had every intention of aging out of the system as an orphan....

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Out of the Way, Mom.

Out of the Way, Mom.

I had a moment recently. My son, Jax, and I had been in the car running errands for a few hours. I was singing along to the Beatles channel when Jax said, "Mom, I'm hungry." Well, yeah, breakfast was a hurried cup of yogurt three hours ago so that's reasonable....

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Welcome Home, Kid.

Welcome Home, Kid.

A teenage boy is coming to live with me. Today. In eight hours, I will be an official foster parent. It's been only a few months, but I have notes upon notes about my short experience so far with this child welfare system of ours. I can't wrap my head around how we...

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I’m Supposed to Be in the Creek

I’m Supposed to Be in the Creek

Last week, I was in my favorite place in the world with my 15-person family. Every few years, we head to a ranch in the mountains of Colorado. We've been going here since I was a little girl, and there is truly no place I would rather be. I told my clients I was out,...

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“See you next year?”

“See you next year?”

I volunteered to go to an education meeting last week with a foster kid. This kid was in high school and not too interested in me at first. I didn't blame him, I'd never met him before and this was a child who lives in a constantly-changing world with...

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The Santa Exit Plan

The Santa Exit Plan

It was late-September of 2008 when we brought my son home from China, just two months before December and our sparkly, over-the-top, American-style Christmas season. My little boy had no idea what Christmas was. He had no idea who Santa was. Hell,...

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…Except That It’s Christmas

…Except That It’s Christmas

This time of year, man. It’s stressful and chaotic and my annual intention of providing a Pinterest-perfect Christmas lasts about a day and a half until I decide that F-bombs will definitely help me assemble the gingerbread house. Ahhh, December. This year, the...

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I Gotcha, Kiddo.

I Gotcha, Kiddo.

Jax’s eighth Gotcha Day is coming up. “Gotcha Day” is the anniversary of Jax’s adoption from China. It’s the day Jax became our son, and like good adoptive parents, we celebrate. Jax gets a few presents, we decorate, we eat pizza and cake, we participate in general...

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The Invisible People

The Invisible People

I was at a Ross the other day. I love Ross. There is one by my son's school, and on the days I don't feel like laptopping at Starbucks, I walk around in their exceptional summer air conditioning while having riveting conversations with myself about my need for their...

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“To Girls Everywhere, I Am With You.”

“To Girls Everywhere, I Am With You.”

"To girls everywhere, I am with you." This is how a woman who was assaulted and raped behind a dumpster at Stanford University ended her statement to her attacker at his sentencing hearing. My admiration for this woman is seeping out of my pores. If this were me,...

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I am a Helicopter Mom. No shame here, no self-deprecating humor, there is really no other option for this child tornado of mine. Maybe helicopter isn’t the right word, I think I’m more like the car with the flashing lights that travels behind the Wide Load truck on the freeway. You know when some brave soul picks their flipping house up, places it on a truck, and moves it across country? The other drivers can see the trailer coming with a freaking house on it, it’s unexpected and a tad out of the ordinary, but there is always a car with flashing lights following this freeway-speeding house as if to say, “Don’t worry, I know this is a bit precarious, but I got this.”  That’s me with Jax. He’s the house barreling down the freeway and I’m the car with the flashing lights. 

All this to say that there are eyes on my kid all the time. He doesn’t go to the bathroom by himself in public places, he does not leave my side in the grocery aisle, he has an adult by his side at all times in school. If he is out front playing with the neighbor kids, someone is out front with him playing with the neighbor kids. Wanna ride your bike, Jax? Great, off we go. He is thirteen years old and he is never unsupervised. Never.

Jax has many, many gifts. Impulse control and emotional regulation are not among them. Recently, I was discussing Jax’s progress with his gifted occupational therapist. “Progress” is a poor word choice because we were actually discussing Jax’s permanent limitations and the long-term game plan to keep him in his few comfort zones. I get this, I’m fine with this, I preach this to the choir all day every day. “My goal is for Jax to be happy,” I said. She wholeheartedly agreed, but her normally cheerful voice took a turn to very serious as she added, “And safe, Rebecca. Keep him safe.”

Keep him safe. I hung up the phone and there it was. Jax is vulnerable. Jax is always going to be vulnerable. Happy, yes, but safe. 

I could be fancy and say that the timing of this call was prescient. But really, it just makes me want to throw up. Because despite all the eyes and all the adults and all the safe places and comfort zones, Jax was being hurt.

My flashing lights failed Jax. They failed him repeatedly and for months. They failed him in a safe place, surrounded by trained adults. This wasn’t a sketchy public restroom at the MiniMart, I didn’t take my eyes off of him at a public park, he didn’t jump into a rusty van advertising fidget spinners and free wifi. This was a background-checked, experienced and supervised adult – and this person inflicted pain on my son. Taunted him, held him down, and hurt him. Over and over and over. 

Now what, guys? I’m asking, truly, I’m asking. Now what? How do you protect a child who is already as protected as Jax? What do you do when all the cars with the flashing lights fail?