Bring Them Home

A year and a half ago, the lives of eight people changed forever. One particular set of six siblings had been in and out of foster care their whole lives.

Enter Victor and Hannah (that's me) dela Cuesta.  
As foster parents who are also approved to adopt, we receive emails from the state with case studies of kids who are or will soon be looking for adoptive placements. This means they've been in foster care a while, with no one asking to adopt them.
Usually when I get those emails that do not fit into the parameters we set for ourselves when it comes to wanting to adopt , (one, maybe two siblings, all under age 5) I simply delete them and don't read them at all. They are hard to read anyway.
We get them all the time.

I don't know why I read this one this time. As I was reading (on and off for two days. Long cases times six) I was saying to myself that it's sad that no one is going to adopt all six kids together, especially not at their ages, from foster care. I read what they had been through in their young lives. I read how many years they've been in foster care, with no family to claim them nor call them their own. Don't get me wrong, they were blessed with WONDERFUL foster parents, but, like us, they were foster parents. Temporary. The younger ones had pretty much lived their whole lives this way.

As I was reading about them, they stayed with me, in my mind. Or heart.
While I was singing goodnight songs with the three foster placements we had at the time, and tucking them in at night, the six were with me. Wherever I was, they were with me.

Victor was just as hesitant to read about them. Why would we read their stories when we knew we weren't going to adopt them. But he did.

We went four hours north and interviewed with their DCS team. Then, a couple of days later the phone rang... Victor answered the phone. I had no idea who he was talking to, but he was extending his arm out to me with the thumbs up sign. Then he handed me the phone.
I started crying as soon as she said the words "we have chosen you to adopt the kids. We want you to be their parents."
I cried to her that I felt like she was the doctor calling to tell us we are pregnant with six kids! She responded, also crying, that's how she knows they selected the right family.
In August of 2013, we went from being a family of 2 to a family of 8!
Our kids went through a horrific and necessary transition with us. Turns out, they had never had therapy for all the trauma that had experienced before. So they had been spending their lives wearing masks that they thought would make them lovable, keep-able.

Our lives together, growing as a family, has been such a roller coaster. The trauma that started revealing itself took quite a toll...on all of us. And you should see the damage to our house....holes in walls in almost every room, heavy, solid wooden doors ripped off, floors ripped up, our banister demolished., furniture ruined. Yes, our home has taken quite a beating, but it served quite a purpose. From that trauma....healing began. Together as a family we have fought a nightmare of a past. The kids who were seen in public, like at school and the library and the YMCA, didn't look anything like the kids you would have seen in our home. Not for the first year anyway. Some of the kids struggled more than others, but they had a lot of rage to let go of. And they did that at home, where they finally felt safe to do so.

Our eldest son (11) always tried to protect his siblings when they were living with their biological mother. She and her various boyfriends beat them. Over and over. He tried to intervene every time, and was always punished harder for doing so. Can you imagine being a 6 year old boy, small for your age, and standing between your 1 year old sister and the giant fist that was coming her way? Needles to say, he has needed to be immersed in trauma therapy at a residential facility. We chose the top one in the state. Except, because our adoption isn't final, we aren't allowed to make decisions for psychological care. That's for the state to decide. They decided that instead of getting him the therapy he needed, he would be fine if he could just be temporarily removed from his siblings because living with them would be a constant reminder that he wasn't able to protect them. A little time away would fix him right up. Yeah, he lives in a foster home around the corner from us, and has since July.  The goal has been for him to move back home within the next month or so.  As he and his two younger brothers share a room, we really need to provide him with his own room, and are getting bids from contractors on splitting their room in half.

We've also had so many high points...like learning to embrace holidays and birthdays....making friends and being able to keep them because they were finally in a permanent home....basketball teams, soccer teams, volleyball teams, drama club, student council, school choir, academic olympic team, time spent at neighborhood parks...the library, YMCA, zoo....you name it.
There have been times where Victor and I would say to one another .....what on earth have we gotten ourselves into?!?! But every moment, we've had the unconditional love that parents have for their kids.

The far away county that still governs our case until the adoption is final has never understood why our kids became disregulated. They seen to have no trauma informed knowlege whatsoever, which is probably why they never gave trauma therapy to our traumatized kids. How many times can I say trauma in one paragraph? One more: Our kids are gone. Tuesday, January 20th they showed up and took them back to the foster system.

While the caseworker was out on bereavement leave,  the Guardian ad Litem made a plea to the judge in our case that the kids have never bonded with us, nor have they progressed in any way.  Upon hearing this, he ordered that the kids be brought back to their county and put back into foster care that day.  And so they were. 
All of the psychologists, psychiatrists, and in-home therapists who've been working with the kids 5-6 times a week sent faxes, emails and made phone calls to the judge to tell him how wrong the GAL was.....that the kids were very bonded with us and had progressed immensley.   Meanwhile, the guardian ad litem had never met our children.

We are asking for financial help for two things:
1. Legal fees to bring our kids home
2. Readying our home for the dela Cuesta Bunch 

Thank you for your consideration.  For more of our story, please visit our facebook page at :
https://www.facebook.com/ThatsTheWayTheyBecameThedelaCuestaBunch
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Organizer

Hannah Robson Dela Cuesta 
Organizer
New Albany, IN
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