Monday, September 24, 2012

Why should we be when we already are?

I have spent tireless hours in our swagger wagon the past few weeks now that school has started. Three back packs. Three lunchboxes. One nap mat. Six snacks. Three water bottles. I could go on and on. If you asked me when I was 22 and right out of college if I saw myself doing that 10 years later what do you think I would have said? I would have said "sure". I'm not sure if it's because of my parents or my environment, but I never had this yearning to make a lot of money, to marry some big wig or have a powerful job. In college I never even thought about how much money I'd have to make to survive and I didn't even realize math majors existed until I met my husband. I never knew what I wanted to be. I guess I had this inkling that I didn't have to be anything because I was already something and I just had to wait it out.

When Chris and I had our first son, I could tell he was just like me even as an infant. It was my first time experiencing similar characteristics in my entire life since I'm adopted and it was amazing to see me in him. He was and still is, bubbly, talkative, emotional, creative, and empathetic. He has this sense about him, knowing that other people's feelings are important. Making sure they feel loved is important. It made me realize that I don't have to be anything because I am me, just for him and his brothers. It was the first time in my life when I realized what God needed me to be. Selfless.  It's what all mothers are really called to be. My birthmother, the few hours I got to spend with her before I was brought to my mother, selfless. My mother, adopting a child knowing it would bring complications to her own family, selfless. Mama Mary, accepting the ultimate challenge of giving birth to The Son of Man and watching him die on a cross, beautifully and perfectly selfless. I wanna be like that.

When we experienced our first adoption that fell through last year I was angry, I did my "ugly cry" a lot. We had named her Faith, she was just perfect, so much hair, tiny little long fingers that I knew wrapped around her brother's fingers would be a blessing to us. We couldn't imagine the birthmom keeping her because she had previously placed 4 other children for adoption. But she wasn't our blessing, in fact she wasn't ours at all and we were called to be selfless. That's a hard lesson to teach but we did it and are thankful for God's grace and mercy because we know there's more to come.

So, one day in one of the "go to gymnastics, stop at Chic fil A and then head to teeball" nights, we were going around saying what we wanted to be when were grew up. I always go first, because I'm the boss, and I tell them I'm not a grown up yet so I still have time to think about it. James, a scientist. Henry...we can just hope that he's not doing something dangerous, and Lucas said he just wanted to be himself. I think that's the perfect answer. We should all have that answer.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Oh snap...that's finished!

Four wonderful words. We're done with training. Holy crap, I feel like this is a huge step forward because we have worked so hard to get here! We still of course have to get our homestudy completed but after 40 hours of trauma, neglect, sexual abuse, CPR, first aid and psychotropic medication training I feel like we've accomplished a really big step. We met a few other families on Friday who were in very similar situations with young biological children and they were also fostering to adopt so it felt really good to feel like we weren't the only ones out there. It's really easy to feel like you don't have support but it's been really important to us to keep in contact with our agency, and they've been great so far. We're also really thankful for the prayers of our friends family as we went through our training so THANK YOU!!! So here's the deal....
Since we're fostering to adopt we have a couple of choices of what we could do. The first option is straight up fostering. The goal of fostering is reunification with the parents so we're 100% sure that we're not going to be doing that. Another option, would be for us to be in the "legal risk" program where the goal of the placement would be finding adoptive parents but there would still be a period of 18-22 that it could take for the parental rights to be relinquished. The last option is for emergency placements. With emergency placements you can just get a call, no knowing anything about the child, and it they try to figure out the plan for the child while they're in your custody. We're thinking right now, we'll be doing legal risk since it would give us the best option for a placement to stick. Next step is we schedule our fire inspection with the county and get our homestudy scheduled. We'll be ready to roll end of October...can't believe it. Keep up the prayers that everything goes as planned and we don't have any hiccups! High five everyone!!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

We All Have a Story

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

In our first training class this month our trainer's first question to all of us was "why do you want to foster or adopt??"  When it came my turn I, of course answering for both Chris and I, said, "I was adopted". It seemed appropriate but wasn't completely true.We had a story, just like everyone else in the room and we just weren't willing to completely divulge it.  Training has been rough at times. I think the hardest part was our entire evening on Shaken Baby Syndrome and SIDS. I've had this burn inside of me ever since I was little, that "you can't scare me" or "you won't make me back down" personality trait that made me stay planted and I remember praying as I was sitting there asking the Lord to keep me still and to listen. It's important to hear the stories, to know the abuse because it will help us understand possibly behaviors of our future child. Chris had to walk out and take a minute before he could really talk about the information that night and that's ok, we all needed a minute that night. To tell you the truth, after deciding to adopt through CPS we had very little support from  family and friends. For us, a bit shocking, but not completely surprising. Most asked WHY?? Why adopt one of "these children"? Why would you put your family, especially the boys, through something possibly traumatic and painful just to add a child to your family...we already have three kiddos right? "Are you willing to...? "What will happen if....?" "Are you ready for....?" These seem to be normal questions but what it's made us realize is, no matter who's questioning us, the only validation that we need is God's. We don't have to explain to everyone why we're doing what we're doing. We don't have to explain why our daughter will not be "second best" because she was a foster child before an adopted child. We don't have to explain why our daughter will be in our home because we know God's plan for us and we have comfort knowing that he's gotten us this far. I'm glad I was given a stubborn personality because I could easily try to appease everyone, but no this mama. You're setting us up for failure? For tears? I don't think so. We will flourish, we will grow we'll have road blocks and barriers but they won't be bigger than Him. You see, we rest in that. I wish I had had the courage that night to tell my story, the story of my birth mother, my family, my children and the beauty that we have found in knowing that our God is bigger than any of our pain and suffering. So we're choosing to praise Him everyday for the children we already have, for the ability to have babysitters all month twice a week so we can do our training, for our awesome trainer Angela from Spaulding, for the time we get to sit together and actually talk about the important things in our life, for our new home, for all of the prayers from friends and family, and for each other. Praise is a choice and we're choosing to praise Him through everything.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Giggle When I'm Nervous

The past six months since we've been back in Houston sort of feels like we've been white water rafting with no oars. Jumping from side to side, making sure we're afloat but having fun at the same time. It use to feel scary but now we're use to it and have learned to lean into our faith. We know The Lord is always there in the boat giggling at us. The other day Chris commented on my giggle. "Uh, oh...that's your nervous laugh." I had to admit. I was nervous. We had been waiting for the approval of our agency app and now that we had been approved and our training was scheduled I was hit with this wave of emotion, and that emotion was anxiety. How was I, the "emotional one", going to handle talking about psychotropic drugs, sexual abuse, neglect, attachment disorders and rage for 6 hours a week? I mean crap! I teared up at the information session! This is ALL BEFORE the home study. I really needed to pull it together. I needed some quiet. I needed to process my feelings and I needed to pray. We all needed to pray, so that's exactly what we did. We don't have all the answers to our questions, I still giggle a lot, but we have great friends that giggle with us, sons who make us smile even in the mist of the waves, one who always has his hands up on the ride and a BIG God. Bigger than our anxieties, bigger than our fears and way bigger than our raft. We start our training June 5th!! Please be in prayer with us!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It is well with my soul

Last night I was at mass with a good friend of mine. I couldn't take my eyes off of the beautiful children in front of me, the three oldest of five, singing their hearts in praises to our loving God. My mind, normally filled with anxieties, was peaceful and our hopes for more children seemed much closer than they did just hours before I had walked into that church. We had gotten a call that we're scheduled for our state training and home study in the months of June and July which would have us ready for placement the beginning of August. My mind exploded and we sort of giggled in nervousness but we're "high fiver's" and it was a really good high five yesterday. We're scheduled, that's big. We can totally pull this off and the idea of four, possibly five kiddos makes me smile. Such a gift to us from none other than God himself. Please be in reverent prayer with us for our training and homestudy to go well, for the child or children who'll be placed with us and for the comfort and peace of the biological family members. It is well with my soul.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Too Many Buts

I feel like we've been in limbo one too many times but I know that this time won't be the last. Part of the adoption process is just that, not knowing what's going to happen or when you'll receive your placement. Because of our recent change of plans we knew there would be a different sort of emotional challenge that we have been trying to prepare for. Children who are placed by CPS are placed for a reason. They've been neglected, abused, hurt by someone who is suppose to love them unconditionally. I'm not sure there's really a way to begin to understand that, but we're trying to wrap our minds around it. We also know that with the amount of children in the state of Texas, close to 6000 that we'd have a placement quickly. Unfortunately, we got a really big BUT after we we heard that were had been approved this week. My brother passed away back in Sept and because there has been a death in the family we were told that we'd have to wait 7 mo's to even begin our training. Although I understand a waiting period for "life changing events", I felt I had the obligation to at least try and explain my family dynamics to them. Long story short, I ended up crying on the phone with them and passed off the communication with them to brave and less emotional husband :). So, he called yesterday and they do feel that our situation is different than any other that they've really experienced so we're hopeful to have the decision appealed and start our training. It's hard not to feel like a Mama Bear, knowing that our daughter is out there somewhere waiting for us. We want to protect her but know she has a struggle ahead. It kills us to think that we'd have to wait for her to be in an abusive situation for 7 more months just because of my brother's passing. We're trying to remember to praise God this weekend for the great kiddos we have and be thankful for their health, empathy, compassion so when our daughter arrives, we'll be there to love on her.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reality Check

"You'll be dealing with emotional abuse for sure. For instance one of our children's father would lay her down behind the back tires and put his truck in reverse. He'd spin his tires to make her think he was going to run over know, things like that." R. had been doing these meetings for almost thirty years. Speaking to prospective parents about foster care and adoption. I turned to Chris and said, "that could be our daughter." It starts to get really easy to not notice the amount of pain around you. The amount of children who need homes. We have nice cars to distract us, nice homes, happy smiling kiddos, warm food, high fives, an awesome church community. For a short amount of time I think I forgot how messed up our world really is. Chris and I made the prayerful decision to begin the process for adoption through the State of Texas a big change from where we started. We knew that starting this process would mean dealing with the effects of abuse and neglect. It's a biggie...the effects are usually life long companions to the children and there is loads of research that shows that children adopted from the state just don't do well. Scary? Sure...from our perspective most things are. Meeting new friends is scary, trying new foods, helping friends through grief is scary but we do it and it makes us stronger. It gives us tools to do things that are more challenging later on down the road. So we'll do it and God's gonna walk us through our emotions. He's the peanut butter in our PB sandwich. Right in the middle. So we're putting in our preliminary paperwork to get started. After that we have training hours that we'll have to fulfill and in that time we'll have our home study completed. It's a short amount of time, normally 120 days from start to finish then our caseworker will begin to find a child that will fit our family. We needed to remind ourselves that we're not looking for the "perfect" child. Just like our kids don't ask for the "perfect" parents. There's no such thing. We just know how to love each other, for now, that's enough. We're all God's children...thank goodness He takes care of the perfect part.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When's My Sister Coming Home?

It was quite on Sunday afternoon, not the scary quiet when you know your kids are really doing something terrible, but good quiet. The weather was phenomenal, had the windows open and the kid were playing in the backyard. Our middle son, who's four, ran in with pink cheeks and grabbed a juice to reboot so he could go jump on the trampoline some more. He's jumped over to me and asked a very simple and frank question. "When is my sister coming home?" Chris and just looked at each other, not ready to answer the question. He saw us take the car seat out of the car, not head to the hospital and put the baby girl clothes back in the garage. I knew he was thinking about her. We all do at some point. As honest as we could be we've told our boys that she'll be here. That God is good and in His timing we'll see her. We tell them that God asks lots of things of us. To be patient, kind to people who others would assume to be outcasts. He never promises that we won't hurt, or suffer or cry. But He's there to walk us through our sorrow. Our oldest two would really love to have a sister. It started out as a calling for Chris and I to extend our family and it's blossomed into our family needing her. We have a meeting tomorrow about adopting our daughter. I feels to be a familiar place, but different at the same time. Our skin is tougher, our expectations are different and we've surrendered this to Jesus. Time to be molded and shaped into what we need to be for all of them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Today We're Happy

This is not an inspirational, “this is my New Year’s resolution” post. I actually don’t really do resolutions. I have a really bad short term memory so things like that are useless. I use most of my brain power to remember more important things like what I’m cooking for dinner or what happened on The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I just feel like I haven’t written anything down in such a long time and so many people have asked or emailed about our adoption. The past six months, maybe longer we’ve had a lot going on. I’ve had it all categorically organized in my head but the past months have proven to be quite emotionally challenging and to be perfectly honest I think I needed a little time to process and reflect. Bottom line we’ve had major changes in our lives. We’ve dealt with a divorce in my family, mental illness, the death of my brother, a big move and of course the last adoption that fell through. I like to think that my eternal optimism gets me through most things in life and to some people it would seem like everything, for me, is a grain of salt. But things such as these can’t be grains; they’re more like boulders that you’re continually rolling uphill with three kids on your back. You can’t stop moving them because they’ll roll right over you. I actually find it very interesting parenting and having children during times of sadness or trauma. I remember loosing a very close friend of mine in college and I was able to take the time, be introspective, to walk to the chapel on campus and pray, say the rosary or just sit there when I needed to. With children you have to make the choice. You can be honest and describe your emotions or you can hide them and cry in the bathroom, laundry room or your car when you’re alone. We chose the first option. I think of our short journey of almost 10 years and there’s one thing that we’ve always done. Cope with things together and that’s what we do now, just as a family. Feelings are feelings, it’s good to teach children how to describe them and remind them that God is faithful. We learn through our tears and our sadness. He never told we’d always be happy but He always says He’ll be there for us, we just have to call on Him.
So with that said, there’s definitely hasn’t been a lack of joy the past 6 months. Chris got a phenomenal job that he loves and we’ve moved back to Houston. The kids are happier than ever and we feel settled and surrounded by friends and family. Chris is able to spend more time at home with us and it seems like there’s a big weight that has been lifted off his shoulders. I’m so very proud of him and I can tell he’s much happier and most importantly, proud of himself. We live just 20 minutes from my sister and nieces and nephew who I’m very close with so it’s such a blessing to be near them. We’re also back at our old church and we absolutely love it there.
            We did a lot of praying the past six months, as a family and individually. We had to put the adoption on the back burner because of the move but we prayed and asked for guidance on how to move forward because it was really hard on our hearts dealing with the last possible adoption. I think it was harder than I ever wanted to admit. So we just let it sit for a little bit until we felt ready to move forward. So we’re ready…we’re changing things up a bit and can’t really explain much as this point but let’s just say I have butterflies. We have an adoption meeting next week so I’ll post more about it then but as always, we appreciate all of the prayers and support from our family and friends. We always remember you and are so thankful.