I've been asked many times about Zaylee and have had to just give answers vague over the past few months because of the circumstances and DCFS. I feel like it's finally time that I can share what's happening. It's been a long road for this sweet little girl, but it looks as though it is finally coming to an end. It's been the most emotional Kelly rollercoaster yet.
Last December, Kelly had proven herself to DCFS for over 16 months by following every rule and complying with every order from the court. She was drug-free for over a year. She'd gotten her GED, had counseling, done it all. She was working and supporting herself. She was in the process of divorcing her husband, who'd served time for "child endangerment" after Zaylee was removed from the home initially. We were thrilled to see Kelly's progress. She was spending time with our family and doing so well. It was the most hope we had had for her since the day she met him. Kelly and Zaylee were reunified for a final "trial" period before the case would be closed permanently. We were all so thrilled that Kelly was finally free of the husband and on track with her daughter and life. He had met very few of the requirements and his visits with Zaylee were only permitted when supervised by DCFS.
In January, when school began after the break, there were some red flags. We still hadn't seen Zaylee to exchange Christmas gifts. She didn't come for Grace's birthday. Something was not right. And then, everything became apparent. Kelly had gotten back with her husband. Again, I'm not at liberty to share details, but it was confirmed that they were back together, and that Zaylee had spent much of the holiday break with him... partly alone and partly as one big happy family, which was completely opposite of what the court had ordered. Upon this discovery, Zaylee was removed immediately from the home. Sadly... no... devastatingly...Again...Kelly chose him over her child.
This is where it gets really complicated.And this is where I really can't share details. BUT...
Since Zaylee's birth, most everyone involved in this situation has known/expected that Liza and Buddy would end up raising/adopting Zaylee. They love her as their own. I really can not go into the details, but the bottom line is that DCFS, at the last hour, has decided that Zaylee should be permanently placed and adopted by the current foster family who Zaylee has been with since that last removal.
We love the foster family, her third foster family, and they adore Zaylee. Over the past few months, they have bonded and Zaylee is thriving. She has done very well there, she's happy and content.
Much of this shocking news came to us when Liza and Buddy visited us in March. DCFS/the court/the therapist/someone with a say decided that "it would be in Zaylee's best interest" not to be moved again and that the foster family would be her new adoptive family. Last week, as I was waiting at the airport for Liza and Buddy's plane to land, I received the call that Kelly and her husband had finally agreed to legally relinquish their parental rights, with an agreement, where they will be able to continue to have a very limited open adoption. I can't share much more detail, but suffice it to say, this is not what we had all planned on, prepared for or expected over the past two years, let alone the last six. It has been an exceptionally emotional two months, more than any before.
Those in our closest circles have suggested that we fight this decision. BUT. We are very happy for this to come to an end...for Zaylee's sake! While we are heartbroken in some ways, we are very happy for the family who will be adopting Zaylee. We are thrilled that Zaylee will be raised by loving and responsible parents with six siblings that she had grown to love and two parents who adore her. She will finally be free of the travesty that she's had to live for the first six years of her life. For this, we are ever so thankful.
I took Zaylee out for lunch yesterday and when I asked her "So, Zaylee, what's new in your world?!", her answer was, "Well, I'm done with kindergarten this week and I met my new First Grade teacher and my parents signed the papers so that now I can be adopted!" She, then, explained to me that this means she will be going to the temple with her new family.
Friends and family ask "How are we?" Well...This has been such an enotional rollercoaster. It's lasted almost two years. We are thrilled for Zaylee to be able to continue on in her life with stability in a wonderful family. It was crushing news for Liza and Buddy. Doug and I have had very mixed emotions about this all. We are happy for Zaylee to be settled. We were concerned for Liza and Buddy and Aylabelle, as we knew that it would be a life-long challenge, but supported their decision to adopt Zaylee and knew that it would be a wonderful future for Zaylee to be with them, to be loved by them and to be adopted into Buddy's family, as well, because they love her as much as we do. We are sad to see her adopted out of the family, yet happy to know that she loves this new family and they love her so much! They are thrilled. They are a wonderful family with six other adopted children, three of which are bi-racial, one who is only days different in age than Zaylee. She's in heaven with a large family of kids that "get each other". Her new family not only welcomes our involvement but encourages it. We will still be a welcomed part of her life. But, still...many tears have been shed.
I am asked often... Our kids have really struggled through this past two years, seeing Zaylee's life on this roller coaster. They've wondered why we couldn't adopt Zaylee. They have had a gamut of emotions toward Kelly and we won't even mention their feelings for her husband. It's been very hard on them. They have very mixed emotions about this final decision. (I sit and shake my head.)
SO, it is with very mixed emotion that I finally share this news. The bottom line is that Zaylee can move forward with security and love. That's what matters most. For all of this time, we have fasted and prayed that we would accept Heavenly Father's will for what is best for Miss Zaylee. Now, it's time to do our part.
Life is good. Not always what we think it should be, but it's good. No editing on this post. I don't want to reread it or rethink it tonight. Enough said.