Will Anyone Want Me?

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My name is Tippy. I am 3 months old and I am a kitten. They say I am a FOSTER kitten and that means I am waiting for my forever home. I did not know I was a foster kitten until Miss Jennie told me. I just thought I was a kitten who got moved all the time because no one wanted me. Last Tuesday, Miss Jennie put me in her lap, gave me a few yummy treats, and started to tell me the story and here is how it went…..

My mom was named Bella and she was a cat called a “stray”- that means she did not have a family. She grew up on the streets and got scraps of food wherever she could. Every night she tried to find a dry, safe place to sleep under bushes or bridges. Sometimes she would find bowls of food on people’s porches and she would try to eat a little bit but the owners always chased her off. Miss Jennie said my mom always wondered why the other cats had warm beds and owners who loved them and all the food they wanted. My mom always felt like maybe her colors weren’t pretty enough or she was too skinny or she meowed too loudly. She could never understand how those other cats could get people to love them and take care of them and she couldn’t.

One day my mom started to feel funny and she curled up in the back of an old barn on a farm with lots of horses, pigs, and cows and laid very still. Suddenly she realized she was having BABIES! That is when I was born. I came out first and then  my 2 sisters and 2 brothers. There were 5 of us in all. We were all black and white. I bet my mom had a hard time telling us apart!

Miss Jennie said my mom was really young when she had us and maybe she was not ready to be a mom. Momma cats are supposed to feed their babies and lick them clean every few hours, but the farmer, Mr. Ted, who found us told Miss Jennie what happened. When we were 5 days old our mom left us because she “couldn’t take care of us anymore.”  I asked Miss Jennie to tell me the truth of why she took off.  With a very sad look on her face, Miss Jennie told me that she left to go play with the other cats and have fun with her friends. I asked Miss Jennie why she would  choose her friends over us and this is what she said:

“Your mom loved you the way she knew how. She was never taken care of by her mom growing up so she never learned what  a good mommy did. When your mom was very young, she was left on the streets to take care of herself and when the animal control people tried to catch her she always ran very fast and hid under cars and in sheds.  She got pregnant with you when she was just a kitten herself and she wasn’t ready to have babies. After 5 days of taking care of you,  she got scared of the responsibility and she ran away.  Leaving you was not right but she did just what her mom did to her.  It was what she knew.  I hope you can forgive her someday. I promise she did not mean to hurt you. I know she loved you all very much and I bet she misses you a lot.”

When my mom left us, my brothers and sisters and I had no way to get food or stay clean. The farmer and his wife, Nelda,  were nice enough to take us into their home for 25 days and feed us with a bottle. She rocked us and smoothed our fur. When Miss Jennie was telling me this story, she pulled out a little book with my name TIPPY written across the front of it. When I saw my name, I jumped up and started leaping toward the book.  “Is that about me?” I asked, stuttering as I spoke because I was so excited. “Yes,” Miss Jennie answered. For the first time I saw a picture of me and my brothers and sisters!

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“Ms. Nelda started a Lifebook for you and when Ms. Donna dropped you off she gave it to me. It has pictures and stories about you and that is where I got some of the information I am telling you now. Unfortunately, I only got 3 life books from the shelter for you and your brothers and sisters. I guess 2 of them got lost. That makes me sad but I am glad we got a few of them at least. A lot of kitties don’t have anyone to make a Lifebook for them.” When Miss Jennie showed me the picture of Ms. Nelda rocking and feeding me, I remembered feeling all warm and full and I was happy I had a picture so I would never forget.

Miss Jennie put down the book and continued telling me my story.  She said that one day Miss Nelda  got really sick and had to go to the hospital. Mr. Ted wanted to keep us but he had to take care of Miss Nelda when she came home from the hospital hooked up to a lot of machines. They cried as they put us in the big box and took us to a place called an “animal shelter.” Mr. Tom told the shelter that I had been so worried about Ms. Nelda that I had stopped eating for 3 days. He was very concerned about me and asked the shelter to watch me very closely.

At the shelter, there were cats EVERYWHERE! Big cats, little cats, black ones, gray ones, and it was scary!! My brothers and sisters and I got separated into different rooms. Miss Jennie said I must have been very scared because I did not know if my brothers and sisters  were ok and I was the oldest kitten so I probably felt like it was my job to make sure we were all safe. As she said these words, I did remember feeling responsible for them and trying to sleep all the time just to forget how difficult it was.

 

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Miss Jennie said that someone came in and fed us with a bottle like they did on the farm and stroked our fur like Miss Nelda did, but it was so crowded and loud that she thought it probably wasn’t the same. As soon as Miss Jennie told me that part I suddenly remembered how I had felt for those long weeks at the shelter… I just wanted my mom to come back and get me.  But she never came. I sat and waited and looked at the door but she never showed up. Was she worried about me and my brothers and sisters? I thought maybe I wasn’t a good kitty and she had to leave to get away from me. Or maybe someone took her into one of those big houses with the warm beds and loving people so she forgot about us. No matter what anyone told me I was sure of one thing…..She was coming back. I knew it. When I started to think about it, I felt like I was going to cry. It made me feel really sad inside so I quickly asked Miss Jennie to continue with the story so I would not think about it anymore.

Miss Jennie opened my Lifebook again and it said:  “Tippy and his brothers and sisters had been at the shelter for 28 days and they really needed a family to come adopt them.” She showed me a picture of when I was in the cage waiting for someone to take me and I looked really nervous about what was going to happen to us. I remembered how other kittens were getting taken away from the shelter and no one ever picked me or my brothers and sisters. I had tried to sit up straight and meow really softly but the people always kept walking past my cage and did not even notice me. Maybe that was how my mom felt when she was a stray. Did that mean I was a stray too?

 

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Mr. Tom came back to check on us and the people at the shelter were on the phone talking about the 5 of us and how we needed to be rescued before it was too late. “Too late for what?” asked Mr. Tom. He waited at the shelter all day to make sure nothing bad happened to us. At 4:00 that afternoon, a lady came in, rushing and trying to catch her breath. She told the shelter that  she was there for me and my brothers and sisters. She said she was with a rescue and she was there to save us.

“STOP!!” I interrupted Miss Jennie. “I can tell you what happened during this part.  Ms. Donna was the lady’s name and she was very kind and sweet to us but I was super nervous about where we was going. Maybe we were going to be dropped off under a bridge somewhere and I would live like my mom did. I was ok with that though because maybe I would find her! I missed my mom so much.  I knew it would be hard to take care of the 5 of us but I had been looking after them since my mom left and I was getting pretty good at it. Even at the shelter I would listen to what the volunteers were saying to each other and was able to hear updates on my brothers and sisters.”

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I continued, “Ms. Donna took us to her house and there were other kittens there too but not nearly as many as the shelter. What a relief! She had big cats and little cats and they were friendly to us but I could tell they were wondering who we were. They had been there longer so they ate first and knew where to go to the litter box. I was confused about everything because it was all so new and I didn’t want to make a mistake and then I knew I would be a stray forever.”

“I tried to keep myself very clean and only eat a little bit so the other cats at Ms. Donna’s would not get mad at me and try to get me kicked out. I thought that I would stay at Ms. Donna’s for a long time but after 3 days she put us back in the big box and we left in the car. This time I knew I would be dropped off under the bridge. How many times could I move before they just dumped me somewhere?”

“You remember all that, Tippy?” Miss Jennie asked. “You were so young then! But research tells us that when young kittens experience a lot of loss and sadness when they are little those memories stay with them. They call what you went through “trauma” which means it was very difficult and you had a hard time understanding why it happened.”

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I replied, “Miss Jennie, will I always remember all the bad things that happened to me and not be able to remember the good?” Miss Jennie rubbed my head and said, “Maybe we will find someone you can talk to. They have people who let you come to their offices and play and talk. I think you would like it. It is called therapy. We can talk more about that later.”

I continued telling Miss Jennie the rest of the story. “Ms. Donna stopped the car in the parking lot at Target and we waited. A few minutes later a lady in a silver car pulled up and told Ms. Donna that she would take good care of us.

Opening the Lifebook I saw a selfie of Miss Jennie and the 5 of us in the parking lot getting ready to leave for her house. All that was going through my head was…..We were going to another home? I guessed that was better than the bridge but why did we have to keep moving? Did nobody want us?

 

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From here Miss Jennie and I were both reminiscing about how we met. She would talk and I would interrupt. Together our stories went like this….

Miss Jennie brought us all home and we got to meet her other cats- Brady, Ollie, Gracie, Noodle, and her dog, Tucker. She had 3 sons and a husband at home and again I was very confused. Would these people like me? Would they treat me well and feed me? Gracie’s kitten, Noodle, was busy drinking her mother’s milk when we got there. I tried to remember drinking my mom’s milk and I was sad that I was starting to forget even what my mom looked like, how she smelled, and what she sounded like when she purred. When I saw Noodle drinking her mom’s milk I got really jealous for a minute because I thought Noodle must be a better kitty than me because his mom did not leave him all alone. It made me wonder again what I had done wrong.

We watched the other cats and figured out where the litter box was and when Miss Jennie put down that yummy food from the can for us. After a few days, I started to learn the routine but I was way too scared to let the people hold me and if they even looked at me I ran away. I thought if they did not see me they might forget I was there and let me stay. I did not want them to think I was too much trouble so I hid most of the time under the couch until I had to go to the bathroom or get some water.

Then one day my sister went up to Gracie and started to drink her milk. Wasn’t Noodle going to be mad? Nope! Noodle moved over and let my sister drink the milk too. The next day all my brothers and sisters and I drank Gracie’s milk and it was the first time I could remember another cat showing me love like a mom does!  Gracie also licked us and watched to make sure she knew where we were and that we were safe. I was so happy! I wanted her to be my momma cat but I think she already had her own babies and probably did not need more but I was so relieved that she accepted us.

After we  were there for 4 weeks, Miss Jennie started talking to Mr. Kenny about finding us new homes. What??  Move again? No way. I was running away or I was going to be such a bad cat that no one else would take me and they would have to keep me here. I decided to start scratching everywhere, running around crazy and pooping in the middle of the floor so none of Miss Jennie’s friends would want to take me away.

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Miss Jennie could tell that I was not acting like myself and sat me down to explain. She said her job as a foster mom is to take kittens like me and clean them up, love on them, take them to the doctor, and then find them FOREVER homes. Is that how all the cats with people owners got to their homes? She said this big word- ADOPTION. I had never heard that word before! Miss Jennie said adoption means you to go to your forever family. WOW! Did that mean I could go to a family and never, ever have to move again? It sounded way too good to be true. I thought Mr. Tom was going to take me forever, then the shelter, Ms. Susan, and Miss Jennie…..if they did not want me who would?

Ms. Jennie tied these crazy bows around our necks and started taking LOTS of pictures. I almost fell asleep she took so many. When I saw them I was surprised at how handsome I looked!!

 

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Afterwards, she told me she was very, very careful about who would take us. She would not let bad people adopt us and she would check to make sure our new home was safe, they had food for us and would love us. I still was not sure any of them would want me. I had that funny white spot on the tip of my tail which may be the reason no one had wanted me before.

Miss Jennie told me again that I would get the perfect family and that they would come get me soon. I thanked her for telling me everything and I jumped down to play with my brothers and sisters.

The next day, Miss Jennie brought in a box with 2 really little kittens who kept crying and crying. I could tell they were hungry and I felt very sad for them. While Miss Jennie was getting their bottle ready, I started to wonder if I was sad like that when my mom left and I did not have her to feed me. I imagined that I was just as scared. So I jumped right in the box with the little kittens and licked them and helped them get warm and cozy. Miss Jennie kept taking pictures of me and I am not sure why- I was just doing what Gracie had done for me.

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I am writing my life story today, August 6, 2016 and I am waiting for my forever family. I am not sure who it will be but I think I am starting to trust Miss Jennie. If she says she will find a family for me, maybe I can believe her. When she talks to me about being adopted, I get a little excited. I don’t want to think about it too much just in case it never happens but I think it would be amazing to have my own family. All I can do is wait. I hope someone picks me. I would be a really good pet. I promise.

 

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Adoption through my eyes

This is my adoption story.  I am not a spokesperson for or against adoption and nothing I share should be taken as a generalization about adopting.  Every story is unique and has its own qualities that make it what it is.  It is time for me to share mine.  It is difficult, emotional, and some parts are hard to admit.  I know it is a piece of my own healing process no matter what else comes of it.

We adopted our son when he was almost 13 years old.  We had never talked about adopting and had not prepared ourselves for it but we felt strongly that God spoke to us to adopt this particular child. And we did. He became our oldest child by 2 1/2 years, which we never heard anyone recommend.  The “experts” say that you should take a child younger than your birth children, but we felt God was bigger than expert opinions no matter how hard it might be.  We did not have anyone really who thought it was a fantastic idea because it would clearly come with a cost to me, my husband, and our 3 children.  We also did not know a single person who had taken this on before. No one.  But we went forward because it was what we were called to do.

The next 5 1/2 years were very demanding- the adjustment, the sacrifices made by the 5 of us, and the mere exhaustion of 4 boys in our family. We only had those 5 years to train our son up for the world- we had missed his first 13 and there was so much for him to learn.  Lessons came at a cost, discipline was constant, and the push back from him was ever present. But we stuck it out.  No matter what. That is what we signed up for when we became his parents.

I have probably had a  hundred people say to me, “I bet he is so thankful he got you!” I would smile politely, without a response.  There is no response to that statement because he did not know how to be thankful. He came to us with so much hurt, disappointment, and anger that there was no way he would let down his guard and think about what he had. It would leave him vulnerable and he had been through too much to open himself up to that.

His therapist said to him, “When are you going to stop pushing your parents away?”  The answer- up until this point…..never. The pain of those first few years made  him into a survivor- a child who can make himself exist in any situation and not be bonded. Bonding is too much.  Too personal.  Too deep.

So we were left with knowing that we would not get from him what he had hoped for. A parent/child relationship. One that involves the give and take of love and acceptance. We were a means to an end for him and after he turned 18 he just left. Took off for somewhere he thought was better. No real explanation or reasoning. Leaving just because he could. Not really leaving much behind because he is a survivor and he can make life work wherever he is. It was the most crushing experience of my life. Watching my son walk out and not look back.

My son graduated from basic training in the U.S. Army and we were able to celebrate the graduation with him.  We were so proud and so excited for his future. We were overwhelmed with his courage and strength to work so hard for something so honorable. We got back from his graduation two days ago and I was beaming with pride. He had become a respectable, honest, young man with credibility and integrity. But I still did not have a son who wants me to be his mom. That crushes me deep to the core. It burns from the inside out.

But here is where my journey has led me.  The picture of this angel is called the “angel of freedom.” I found it today and it spoke volumes to me. In order to be free, I have to let him go and stop trying to find something in him that he does not have to give away. It is not fair to him and it only hurts me. I pry and almost beg for answers I want to hear from him. I wait for the gratitude, love, and acceptance. And then I am devastated when it is not there. 

I pray God will give me freedom from my expectations. Freedom from the constant disappointment that I don’t have with him what I have with my birth children.  We cannot give away what we do not have. 

I have prayed for 6 years now that it would be “well with my soul.”  It is not yet but I am hoping that as I grow I will find the peace that passes understanding. That will be a time of amazing freedom.