Saturday, November 27, 2010

The kids Are Going Home...A Look Back At The Last Nine Months

Well...the Thanksgiving turkey has been cooked and devoured, the dishes cleaned, and the house put in order. The general hubbub  of the holiday has briefly subsided. It was a fantastic Thanksgiving with great food and a rare occasion when family put aside their differences and enjoyed a nice holiday. No one got their feelings hurt and stomped out in a huff...not even was a Thanksgiving miracle that made for a wonderful day.

It was also a day that we sent our 5 year old nephew Marcelo...who we have fostered for nine+ months...back to be with his mom to stay. He was so excited he could barely contain himself all day. When the time came to go, he leapt into his mothers arms and seemed like the happiest boy in the universe. I can't help but be happy for him too . I guess this is what Thanksgiving is all about in the long run.

Now that our time with the kids is coming to a close, perhaps it's time to settle back..loosen the belt on my stuffed tummy...and think back over the last nine months...

When all of this began it was rough going. Our nephews and baby niece were traumatized by being taken away in a police raid. Marcelo was used to being the little man and leading his younger brother around. He could not express his fear or his questions about what was happening to him so he had turned it all inward on himself. His eyes gave away so much pent up anger and suspicion. It was impossible to imagine then, the little boy who he would become as our time together went on. Marcelo's younger brother Jason(2 1/2) was so traumatized by what happened that he would bond with whatever stranger picked him up and cry hysterically if they put him down. He could not be alone. And little Mary thankfully, was just too small to be affected by much of what occurred. She was wouldn't sleep at night and often cried for hours because even though she didn't understand what was happening...she knew she wasn't home.

And my Children Daniel and Selena...They had thought it was all going to be fun and games having new kids in the house. That is until they started moving into their "territory". Daniel and Selena have always had no competitors for our attention. They were also raised with rules and firm boundries...their cousins, not so much. It was a rough getting everybody on the same rule system since the new three rebelled and my two didn't understand why it seemed they were being held to a tougher standard. Poor Daniels room got trashed on a daily basis and we finally had to declare one room a "boy" room and one a "girls" room for the sake of giving each kid a place to be away from all the others. Selena's room became her safe haven where she could retreat from the boys...though the baby grew into a one girl recking crew of her own. Even though the kids initially bristled at having their space invaded...all the kids became friends and companions to each other. I know that they will feel the absence of their cousins as they eventually all go back to mom. Given all the bickering, tears, and timeouts this year...its no small thing that they had finally come to accept each other.

And the dads?...having five kids pushed Jay and I to our limit and beyond. Much of 2010 saw me spending more time in the van than at home. The kids went to three different schools at three different times of day. We had doctors appointments as well as dentists, therapists, social workers, government assistance agencies, and parental visits. If it wasn't for the fact that Jay stayed home the first three months, I would not be here to tell the tale...I would have cracked up in short order. It felt like even our off days were filled with work and it took its toll on both of us....we lost our tempers more often and felt always tired. The stress also took its toll on our health and on our ability to take care of ourselves. We were up to our eyeballs in spilled food, barf, and dirty daipers...we never thought we would see the day when it would be just the four of us again.

Their were days when I wondered just what the hell I had gotten myself into. I felt like a sons schoolwork and behavior had begun to slip ...and my daughter had begun regressing behaviorally to regain my attention. I wondered if my family would take the strain and if we would ever get to the day when we could again be the parents we were before we ballooned from a family of four to suddenly a family of seven.

However, we were not alone and we got alot of help along the way. From Jay's aunt who helped watch the three when we needed a time out of our own. That was invaluable. We also got lots of love and support from the YouTube community...many of whom sent gift cards and donations that helped us manage the extra financial burden. Each one warmed our hearts and was very appreciated. It helped us keep up with the mountain of diapers that we have gone through in the last nine months. I also think that God really watched out for us because there were days when I really could not see the light at the end of the tunnel...and I am gratefull for him holding me up when I couldn't hold myself up...there were days like those too.

So, enough of my  bitching...The last nine months were rough, no doubt about it. But there were also alot of good times. We saw Marcelo begin Kindergarten...Jason made up laugh and cry everyday...and Mary grew from a little baby who could just roll over to a walking, almost talking baby girl. They gotten so much bigger in the last nine months. This Thanksgiving I think it finally hit home that we had all grown together through this experience. I looked down as my nephew Marcelo and saw no trace of the angry boy he was only a few short months ago. His eyes shined with happiness and anticipation to be with his mom again. I remembered him, Jason, Selena, and the baby running in circles through our house, and how they had come to be like any other siblings...sometimes friends...sometimes enemies..but always family. I also realized the empty space Marcelo was going to leave behind. One by one Jason and Mary would do the same. As I picked up Marcelo and told him I loved him and how happy I was for him...I felt so many things. Even though it will be nice to be the four of us again...I am going to miss all three of them. I will miss Marcelo's intelligence, Jason's teddy bear charm, and watching little Mary continue to grow from a chubby little baby, to a little girl. Nine months changed so much...not just in them, but in me too.

I put Marcelo down from that hug with the certainty that I will be reminded of these feelings again soon as Jason goes home within the next two weeks and baby Mary goes two weeks after that....What a ride its been...full of frustration and tears, but also growth.

So the Turkeys gone, the pie is eaten, and yes...Jay has already had us put up and decorate our Christmas tree and hang the lights outside. We move from one Holiday into another and from one phase of our lives into a new one...hopefully a little stronger...a little wiser...and a little more thankful for the present moment, because what felt so hard..added so much to our lives.

Happy Holidays everyone and...Until next time dear readers....


  1. I'm sure you have got countless amounts of letters, comments and remarks just like mine, but I'm sure one more wouldn't be harmful.

    Your family is a great example of the American family and have made tremendous impacts on the live of youth and the American culture. The Leffew family have made countless people question the norms of life and the way we view it and dare I say, question the government as well. You have pushed me, along with others, to expect a greater future and to strive for a change in our culture. A family unit should be about love and compassion for one another and nothing else; pushing people to understand and accept such a baffling reality is a challenge that you, Selina, Daniel and Jay have tackled hard.

    As teenager who has recently begun a self-realization process, I thank you for your inspiration and demonstration that all things are possible.

    I look forward to learning more about anything and everything from your family.


  2. Jay & Bryan,

    I know these last months have been so hard to endure but the rewards are just as great. The two of you always inspire me with your dedication to family. It's nice to know others have similar values.

    Your sacrifice has enabled those three children to know stability and stay with family. Through it all though you received a special gift. Your family became bigger. It may have had it trials and work but children are our future and you got to influence and teach three more. You both made a difference in their lives.

    I sit here and wonder why anyone ever questions gay marriage and gay families when we are so capable of love and compassion. You two really do set a model that I challenge anyone to say is wrong.

    Please continue to share your lives and journey in life. It makes life a bit brighter for us all. Happy holidays to all of you as well.