Life As A Family Of 5
“My name is Kayla, and my wife Chelsey and I are the mothers of 3 beautifully, brilliant children. For a long time now, I’ve struggled with sharing my story and recently I’ve decided it needs to be shared. In pictures, at the store, at events, school programs, and around the military installation we live on, we look like one, big happy family of 5. But at home, we are always holding on tight trying to assure ourselves we are that much closer to permanently sealing the adoption. Three years, for 3 years we have been the only mothers they have known, yet we are living a nightmare of a roller coaster. When you look in our front door, you’d never be able to guess that our babies weren’t all biologically ours. Three years ago, CPS closed one door for 2 babies and we opened our hearts and fell in love with them! Our oldest, S, is 7, K is 5 and J is 4. Please understand that none of our babies have ever been loved any less for not being biologically related to us. In fact, we have given our whole hearts to all 3.
S was my first blessing. Almost 8 years ago, I gave birth to this beautiful, precious, baby, and boy does he have the sweetest heart. He was 4 when he met his brother and sister for the first time. Since day one, he has loved being a big brother and has been a very big help. He frequently visits his brother’s classroom as his reward for collecting ‘hero bucks’ in school just to make sure that K has a good day. He asked to have his assigned seat on the bus next to his sister because this is J’s first year of school and he doesn’t want her to get off at the wrong stop. This little man, although I gave birth to him, is a shorter version of my wife. He loves reading, football, basketball, and Nerf guns. He, as well as my wife, are huge Philadelphia Eagles fans, and like to tease me for being a Pittsburgh Steelers fan (GO STEELERS!) Although the tattle tailing is real in our house daily, they all 3 stick together, no one gets left out or behind here. S plays football for a local team and we are all on the sidelines every game cheering for #32! Off the field, he is always cheering and encouraging K and J to strive to be the best that they can be.
K is the most brilliant little boy you’ll ever meet. Looking back from the day I first met this terrified and non-verbal child at 2 years of age, to see how he is excelling now, is truly phenomenal. He LOVES everything sharks and the ocean, and enjoys watching documentaries and reading encyclopedias of both. Immediately after placing the kids with my wife, due to the fact they seemed so delayed, CPS and a program known as Infants and Toddlers began assessing K. The very first assessment was done placing him in most categories at 12 to 18 months. Within 6 months of being with my wife and myself, K was reassessed and placed mostly in 24 to 36 months for most categories. K not only faced developmental delays, but he also had so much fear within his heart – fear that we would leave him, fear of sirens (firetrucks, ambulance, and cop car) because he didn’t want to be taken away, fear of disappointment, and fear we would stop loving him. Meeting a child at age 2 and getting to watch him overcome so many obstacles simply by taking time, loving him, and more importantly, learning from him, has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Together we have all faced his struggle with ADHD and were able to find the help he needed to perform at his very best in his academics. My wife and I are both very involved in his schooling and are able to be his biggest advocators. At this point, our superstar Kindergartener has now been reading at a level C since PreK!
J, she is the princess, the queen of the castle as far as both of her older brothers are concerned. She loves horses, JoJo Siwa hairbows, and everything Beauty and the Beast. She makes everything into a song and never stops talking. She even talks in her sleep! This sweet, sassy, silly, and smart princess has evolved from a non-verbal 1-and-a-half-year-old who was unable to walk due to being incredibly bow-legged. Prior to the case opening, she was hospitalized for pneumonia at 1 year old. This has been an ongoing battle for us, I just don’t believe with the environment that she was in that her lungs ever really stood a chance. Since we have had her, she has had pneumonia a few times, but thankfully we are aware of her symptoms and with some medical background on my end are able to catch it before it reaches a point of hospitalization. It is absolutely heartbreaking to watch her be so miserable and not be able to take away the pain. But J is always laughing and smiling, she is so full of life and has a determination about her that is truly inspiring. Oh, and did I mention she looks like my twin?
K, then 2, and J, then 1, along with two other siblings, were victims of an addiction they did not choose. In August 2015, CPS followed up on a baby born exposed to numerous street drugs. When completing their home visit, CPS and the city police found my son playing in the dryer, my daughter in a Pack ‘n Play for what looked to have been much longer than any child should be left unattended, with a full, wet diaper and a bottle of curdled milk. We were greeted by their, at the time, 4-year-old biological brother opening the door, while their biological mother and her boyfriend laid asleep in a bedroom with the door locked.
A Move Towards Adoption
My wife requested the kids through kinship even just as a temporary safe place in an effort to allow them to feel the love they deserve. Per protocol, CPS tried reunification for a year with their biological mother who continuously then and now chose her drug addiction over my children. After a year of making absolutely no effort towards the goals CPS set up and provided assistance with, Guardianship through kinship was granted to my now wife for both children! While this is such an awesome step forward for our country to accept a same sex marriage as kin to these children, we now are having to face the fact that CPS closed the case afterwards, and a contested adoption will be our next step moving forward.
The first year of falling in love with our beautiful babies was the easiest, yet hardest. Every couple of months my wife would go back to court and I would wait by the phone to hear if I was going to have to take K and J back to a home and pray that history wouldn’t repeat itself for their sakes. While this was not the first year of their lives, it was the first of ours with them and we were determined if nothing else we would leave the most loving impact on their lives. I bought my daughter her first pair of shoes, and we taught her how to walk. My wife and I sat with K reading, putting together puzzles, and teaching him songs so that he would verbalize more. Together we celebrated every holiday, every milestone, every season, and we did in the best way we knew how. We most definitely went overboard on our first Christmas together. They are only 11 months apart, and because they were so neglected a lot of their milestones were close. My wife and I worked closely with CPS through home visits, court, and visitations. We arrived on time to every visitation and sat until CPS would dismiss us for whatever excuse or reason their biological mother would have, or until the visitation was over which led to a scene created by her and upsetting them.
Challenges On Road To Adoption
Our year of working with CPS to try to reunify K and J with their biological mother was a complete nightmare, but something that is still haunting our family 3 years later. After some time, CPS closed the case, which sounds great on paper, but imagine a life where your wife is enlisted and the two of you are raising your children, yet every legal thing has to be taken care of by her solely. We are talking appointments, school paperwork, and all decision making. Imagine you get the routine paperwork sent home from school, and while you’re sitting down filling out and signing your oldest child’s, you have to wait for your wife to get home to write the same thing you would on a paper, but with her signature because legally yours doesn’t count.
My wife and I have been married for going on 2 years now, and our marriage has already had many trials with many more to come I am sure. This has been a long, completely uphill battle with dead ends and no plateau in sight. But one thing is for sure – we don’t ever plan on stopping until we have officially adopted our babies. Marrying my wife was one of the happiest days of my life, and I am looking forward to when I get to sign my name to the adoption papers! The most frustrating part of the entire thing for me is that together, my wife and I have been to every doctor’s appointment, every school function, every event, kissed every boo-boo, tucked them in every night, bathed them, fed them, potty trained them, and loved them more every day, yet legally, I am not their parent! And ‘legally,’ a woman who has a total of 6 kids, the most recent born in April of 2018, three of which tested positive for having been born exposed to and/or addicted to street drugs, is their ‘mother.’ What all will it take to show that our kids are happy, healthy and LOVED beyond anything imaginable?
Although we are unsure as to what all our children were exposed to, we are sure they were victims of her drug use as well. All the effects of my children being victims of her addiction are still unknown, but not absent from their growth. My heart aches over this. Our babies are all born innocent. They deserve to be free of the mistakes made by others and able to make their own choices in life. Addiction is a powerful topic, it’s coming more and more to light and sadly more common in most families. These poor babies are the ones that need the most love. They don’t deserve to be neglected or runners up to another high.
Let me be clear here when I talk about addiction, I believe and have seen so many people overcome strong addictions to better themselves and their families. I think the world of these individuals. I am not trying to belittle anyone as a person, I am simply trying to give my children a voice. To let their story be heard, and most importantly to protect them from every fear they have ever had. Isn’t that what we all do as parents? Check under the bed for the monsters in their nightmares. Wipe away the tears from heartbreaks. I want to watch my children grow, I want to be their biggest fans on every sideline, I want to watch them graduate, be successful, get married, have kids, buy a car, buy a house. Together, my wife and I want all 3 of our children to continue growing up together and to love them without fear of ever physically losing them to this system.
Both children have different biological fathers and because we are a military family, several counties are involved, so the expense of just becoming a ‘legal’ mother to my children is going to be rather high. Several lawyers we have reached out to have declined taking the case because they don’t want to have to charge us thousands of dollars. Last week my wife emailed a lawyer in a neighboring state that responded promptly to her and is actually willing to meet with us to discuss more in detail our possible case. I was beginning to feel discouraged at the stand still. I hate asking for help, and I really don’t like asking for help financially. However I would give anything to know we are going to be able to safely protect our babies permanently.
Our Beautiful Adoption Journey
I have always been asked, ‘How do you guys do it?,’ and truly this question still takes me by surprise. What do you mean, ‘how do we do it?’ Love our babies? How do we pick up the pieces of their broken hearts and love them through it? I mean, wouldn’t you? If you were given the chance to love a baby or even 2, and give them a life they’ve never dreamt of, how could you say no? Truthfully, we didn’t think twice. We took them, bought them clothes, shoes, toys, fed them, bathed them, and fell in love with them right away. Although this is single handedly the hardest battle of our lives, we would do it all over again.
This journey is just beginning for our family. Our 3 children need one another. We need to keep them all safe within our home permanently. I had someone ask me if this was ‘real.’ Yes, this is very real. These beautiful babies are real, and their heartbreaking story is real as well. As scary and surreal as this story may seem, I promise you every tear, good and bad, has been very real. We long for the day we are able to all be one, big, permanent party of 5.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kayla Hinson, 26, of Fort Detrick in Maryland. You can follow more of this family’s journey on their GoFundMe page. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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