Wednesday, March 19, 2014

~The Gift we call Abby Mae~

To tell you the complete story of how Abby Mae was brought into our family, I need to start at he beginning. The very beginning. :)
  During the last 10 months, Joshua and I had come to a point to where we truly wanted a forever child but were accepting the fact that it probably would never happen and we were content with that. We found ourselves content, because we trusted the Lord had beautiful plans, forever children or no forever children! We would continue to do what we were called to do and foster kiddos.
  Back in August we decided to open our home for one child. We had no idea what that looked like of course, but I remember praying specifically that with this placement we would be able to experience what it was like to bring a baby home from the hospital. A week later I got a phone call from our agency asking us to take in a newborn who was being placed up for adoption. Of course we took the little guy. I was gifted with the sweet experience of picking up and bringing home a baby from the hospital. (I know what you are thinking... What in the world does this have to do with Abby Mae?!) Through his stay here at our home, little did we know the Lord was preparing us for 7 months down the road. We had the little guy 7 weeks. Of course we wanted to adopt him. Yes, we asked. We tried, but the answer was no. I guess God was trying to say "be patient, I have something better for you". I remember sitting in my kitchen floor one afternoon sobbing and pouring my heart out to the Lord. I begged Him (not for a forever child. I knew we had accepted the fact it wouldn't happen, but my heart would still ache for that child. We have loved each one of our foster children as if they were our own, but we still had that deep desire to give a child a forever home. The time came when our little guys birth mother chose a forever family for him. It was one more set of crazy emotions we had to work through. We absolutely love adoption, and so when we found out this family had been waiting so long to be matched with a child, we were THRILLED!! We were so excited for them. On the other hand, our hearts hurt so bad because there was part of our hearts that wanted so badly to be on the receiving end of a forever child. The day we dropped him off, we drove away with such mixed emotions. Sad, yet joyous. Mourning a loss, yet celebrating life! We see what a loving family he was placed with, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that is exactly where he is supposed to be :)
 After a few months, we began to heal. We didn't open our home again though. We chose to focus on the two current kiddos we had and to see their case through to the end.  We would then open our home. Can you see how WE planned EVERYTHING??? Haha!! Thanksgiving rolled around and we were approached with a question of potentially adopting a baby from a birth mother who was thinking about making an adoption plan for her baby. (I can't even begin to count the times we have been asked this by different people) So we agreed to pray about it. We did. I literally prayed, "Lord, if YOU want us to have this child, then YOU work out details and YOU open the doors". I was not going to pursue this whatsoever. I did call our agency to see what we needed to do to in case this does happen, knowing full well it wouldn't. Since we have been asked this so many times, I decided it would be smart to get some details in case in some rare occasion it actually happens! After that, I never heard anything else about it, so honestly I had forgotten about it. I told myself at one point, "oh well. Just another door closed I guess!" Then on February 19th, I got a call from our friend of the family. She asked if I remembered my mom approaching us about possibly taking this baby. Of course I knew right away what she was talking about. She told me the baby was born the day before, and the mom wants to put her up for adoption. Would we be interested?? Welllll......OF COURSE! :D I approached it cautiously simply because everything was so in limbo. I talked to the birth mom over the phone, and she said this is what she wanted. We visited for a few minutes about adoption, our story, etc. I got off the phone and immediately went to work. I started making phone calls to attorneys, case workers, and anybody else we needed to get this process started. By the next morning, we were packed up, ready to go meet the birth mom and baby. I called the birth mom literally five minutes before walking out the door. Through a short conversation, she told me she had changed her mind. My heart sank. At the same time though, the Lord was saying "This is not the end. Trust Me. Go to New Mexico". I told Joshua that she changed her mind. He told me that he felt like we still needed to go for some reason. So we did! We loaded up and blindly drove to New Mexico, completely unaware of the reason. While we were there, a situation came up that made it very clear the door was shut on this whole thing. I made my phone calls to attorneys and case managers to tell them it fell through. We knew there was a reason we stepped out on faith and went to New Mexico, we just had no clue what it was! We got home Sunday night. Monday morning we got up and started back to our normal routines somewhat sad, knowing the possibility that was right at our fingertips had been taken away. We trusted the Lord though, that He had a great plan for that baby and for us. Tuesday rolls around and we get another phone call.  They told us the situation has taken a turn, and they want to know if we will adopt this baby girl for real! I WAS BLOWN AWAY..... So I made my phone calls again, trying my best to not sound like a raging lunatic who has no idea what is happening! Within the next week and a half, we had to come up with the money to pay two attorneys and a home study developer and travel expenses to New Mexico AND get ready for a newborn! AAHH!!! This would have been 16 MILLION times easier if we would have had months, even a year to save that money! God works differently though, and that is when He said again...."Trust Me. Just trust Me". By march 8th, we had the money we needed to bring Abby Mae home. The kids and I got on a plane Sunday, March 9th and went and picked up our sweet Abby Mae. It has all been a blur from that point on! We see now why we had to travel to NM. It was a test. A test to see if we were going to trust, because we were about to be placed in a situation where the only thing we could do was sit in the back seat and trust the Lord to guide each step.
  Going back to the story I told you earlier about the little boy we took in... Through all of the hurt and heartache we experienced with that we were able to empathize with the aunt who was taking care of our sweet Abby Mae until we could come get her. She was dealing with some of the same emotions we dealt with back in August and September.  It was absolutely beautiful to be able to say.... I truly understand and actually mean it. It created such a neat bond between the two of us. I would have never thought that something so beautiful could come out of such pain and loss.
  As I sit here typing, holding this precious 4 week old little gift in my arms, I am completely blown away still. 30 days ago we had no clue what was about to transpire. 30 days ago we thought we would always only be foster parents for the rest of our life.  30 days ago we did not even know Abby Mae existed. Now here I sit holding our forever daughter. Never once did we expect this. I can't even begin to tell you how grateful we are to the Lord for giving us such a precious, PRECIOUS GIFT!! To God be ALL the Glory!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why We Do What We Do

Occasionally we are asked why we as foster parents do foster care. Not many times, because most people understand it as "taking in kids to help them". Absolutely! There is more to that though. So very much more.  It has been 2 years since we started this journey with kids in our home and ohhhh the things we have learned.....

We don't do this for the money-  The state reimburses foster families at the end of each month an allotted amount of money for each child they have placed in their home. What we get doesn't necessarily mean it costs that much to take care of a child. It is just an extra boost of help with providing for their needs. Could we live without it? Absolutely. Could we care for kids without it? Absolutely. Is the financial assistance helpful? Absolutely. It is not a determining factor of why we do foster care though.

We aren't in to just adopt-  Three years ago we knew we wanted to start trying for a family again. We faced the infertility road once again, and decided we needed to start praying about another possibility God might be placing in front of us to provide a family. Talking to a friend, the words adoption...foster care...Buckner...Covenant Kids... all started coming up. Leaving the event we were at, we started to wonder, 'could this be the road God has intended for us'???? Stepping out on faith we started the foster care process. Why we skipped straight up adoption and just went to fostering, I'm really not sure. Possibly a mixture of the fear of no financial means to adopt and the overwhelming responsibility that comes with adoption. I stop and laugh right now because there we were, oblivious to the reality of  the responsibility of foster care!! Ha!! So as we began the meetings and trainings, I truly believe our hearts were in it to adopt a child out of foster care. That is not a bad thing! Kids NEED to be adopted out of the system! After our first few kiddos left, we were disheartened. We also got a huge dose of reality though. The full extent of reality didn't truly hit until child #7. At that point we started realizing that we needed a heart change. God wanted us to take in kids to love, nurture and help heal wounds that they couldn't care for themselves. He didn't want two foster parents bitter at the system and the families of these kids just because we couldn't have biological kids and we couldn't keep their child! God has continued to open our eyes to how much of a difference it makes in the life of a child to have a safe place for a certain amount of time. That safe time gives the child time to heal as much as possible from their past, but also gives the parents an opportunity to do the same. Some parents don't make the choice to heal and get their child back anyways. Do we agree with that? No. We can't change that either. We aren't called to. We do what we are called to do and that is show these kids and families Jesus. That looks different for every child and family. No two are ever the same. Joshua and I still have a deep desire to have a child that stays with us permanently that we can give our last name to. We are not promised that will happen and if it doesn't.... That is ok!!!

We don't do it because it's easy- If I have heard it once, I have heard it six million times.... "I just don't know how you give them back"!!! I am by no means dismissing the fact of how hard it really is to let children go. I could write a book on how hard it is, but I won't ;) Sometimes it seems as though when we are approached about letting them go, that we choose that! If we had the choice, none of them would leave! We take these kids in, love them like our own, then we endure the heart break of letting go. The kids struggle at times too with leaving, but they do have their family to go home to. We take this heart break, so the kids don't have to. Seems crazy, but it's for the best. I always tell people that you would really be surprised what God is capable of doing in your life with foster kids if you allow Him! (Or should we even be surprised at what He can do?? He is God!)

We do it out of obedience- There are times I really question if what we are doing is right. I know, sounds crazy after all I have previously said, but it's true. When God stirred our hearts to take in foster kids, I know He knew He would be dealing with two very stubborn, hard headed foster parents. So when times get hard, it's so easy to question this calling. I'm sure God shakes His head occasionally at us, but He still sticks with us. Even though the path you are set on is rocky and unstable at times does not necessarily mean it's wrong. God wants us to be faithful to serve HIM through this calling of caring for foster kids. He knows it's hard. He knows loss hurts. He knows
family drama is ridiculous. Most of all, He completely understands. So even though we question
ourselves and things get ugly sometimes, we are still going to be obedient to that very moment God called us to begin this journey.

Monday, March 11, 2013

We do it anyway!

It's a normal day just like any other. The only difference about this day was that it would be the day we take in a foster child. Everybody is excited to have a new baby/child in the house. Nervous, but excited! We get the child's bed ready and sheet tucked in tight. Toys are ready. Pantry is halfway stocked with food that might appeal to the child. Paperwork is blank and all ready to be filled in. Everything is perfect. So we sit and wait. We wait for that precious little child/baby to come through our door. We always think what will they be like? What will they look like? Will he/she be crying or smiling when they come to the door? Then the knock comes at the door and it is the caseworker with the little bundle of joy. We welcome them in, greet the child and then begin paperwork. One of us plays with the child and the child just laughs and plays while the other parent does paperwork. He/she uses his manners very well. There is no arguing or screaming when we have to move on to a new task after the caseworker leaves. We sit down and have a perfect little family meal. Later, we cuddle with the child then tuck him/her into their bed which they already love. They sleep through the night with no fits or crying. They wake up the next morning ready to run into your arms and be loved on.


No. Not at all. That is not real. That is what we THINK foster care is like sometimes. This is what we always wish it could be like. The reality is though, that all of what happened in that former paragraph is actually completely opposite of what it's truly like to take in a foster child. (yes, rare occasions happen where the child is actually semi-behaved for awhile) They don't know us or our family. They want their real mom and dad. They want their home and their bed. They don't want to play with the toys we have. They don't love us. They actually are pretty annoyed with us at the moment. We look at each other and say "our home is clean though! No drugs, no abuse, food whenever you want it! You don't have to sleep on trash, or even on the floor!" No. They don't care at the moment. They still miss "their home" as bad as it was. Even as resilient as infants are, they too can have a hard time. Their security of their caregiver(good or bad) has been taken away. They have to adjust to a new schedule. New smells. New bed. Now, is it possible over time for the child to adjust to us and our family? Possibly! Some kids will never adjust the way we want, because they have a past. A hard, very difficult and hurtful past. Some kids will though. Every child is different.
 Each week that passes, we have to pack them up and send them to visit the very family that hurt them in the beginning. That visit can possibly cancel out all of the progress you have made with the child's behavior and attachment. It still has to happen though. Packing the child up for them to go back home indefinitely to the very family that hurt them is much worse than a visit could ever think about being. It still has to happen though. We could ask God "WHY??!?!" but there is no point, because He knows why and that's all that matters. The decision for that child's life has to pass through His hands before it could take place anyways. So whatever happens is truly meant to be, because the Lord allowed it to happen. Does it hurt? Absolutely! Thankfully though, we can rest in the fact that God knows exactly what is going on with that child. With every child!

 All of this is something that Joshua and I have had to be reminded of over the last few months. When these kids come into our home, it's like taking in a newborn every time. These kids may not know how to do things that other children their age can do, so we start at the beginning with them. We learn them. We learn their likes and dislikes. Their "triggers" or things that set them off. One thing we tend to forget frequently, is that all of this takes time. We deal with fits at meal times, and bed time or anytime for that matter. We take the kicks and spit in the face. Why though? Why do we take all of this? Weren't we just supposed to have "our own biological kids" who are good and don't do this??


We were not. God called Joshua and I to do something totally different. We do this because this is the path the Lord has put us on. Some don't understand how we could take in kids and then let them go. I never know how to respond to that, because I don't know how we do it either! Only by God's grace and mercy! It is not easy to take in a child that is not yours and figure out how to love them like they are yours, and then turn around and let them go. No. It is not easy, but we do it anyway. We do it because God instructed us to. These kids/babies need a safe place to call home even if it is just for a few days or a few months/years. They need a safe set of parents that they can eventually learn how to trust. They need a warm bed and blanket to call their own for awhile. We do this even if it does mean we have to have our hearts broken multiple times. Even if we do have to sacrifice time, money, energy, effort, space, and sanity. We love them anyway. We take them in anyway. We love them like our own anyway.  Not.easy. But definitely something we have to be faithful in doing. We absolutely love doing foster care and we know that this is a ministry for our family. I just felt overwhelmed to share my heart though, about the reality of foster care. We can get so lost in the "cute kids" that come into our home that we lose sight of their past and hurts and what they really need right now. Foster care is not all flowers, bunnies and tutus. It is hard. It is work, and it is worth it to see how you can make a difference in the life of a child.

Friday, January 25, 2013

God really CAN give you more than you can handle!!

I begin this post by saying that God is absolutely incredible with the way He unfolds His plans for our lives. Unfortunately, there are times we sit here and try to "plan" what we think our lives should look like and how we think we should always have the fun, easy, "all things handed to me" lifestyle. It is so easy to go down that path because we are human and we are sinful.
  We have recently gone through a chapter in our lives of doing our own "life planning session". Long story short, we fail in the end just so ya know ;) We began this last chapter in November when we suddenly got the news that our little J was going to be moved back home to be with his mom. We weren't expecting that to happen until March or April in the least! At that point, I felt overwhelmed with the fact that God is about to do something and it's going to be big. I kept saying that I knew for certain He was up to something, because losing this little guy is very random. The very next month, the little girl we had went back home as well. So there we sat... empty nested. Joshua and I both felt completely ok with that because we truly needed rest. So there we sat with no kids and the planning started. "We will be taking a loooong break" "We will take kids again in February or March" WE this. WE that. The list goes on. One afternoon before our little girl left, we were presented with an opportunity to take two kids from another foster home sometime in January. After many days, and much debating on how "this is not OUR plan!!!!!" we decided that God has something up His sleeve and we better get on board quick. The babies came Jan. 9th. :) We knew from the beginning the little boy was not completely healthy, but we had no idea what was to come. Our plans that we had made were totally trampled, put through a shredder and then burned. The night we got the kids we knew little man was not well. We ended up at the ER the next day due to complications with his tummy and stayed in the hospital 8 days with him. The days were long. Very long. We couldn't find an answer with what was wrong. Through all of this my heart is broken because I am holding a 21 month old baby who has been through more in his little life already that some adults face, and now he is being poked and prodded in a hospital being held by somebody he doesn't even know. As I would sit and rock and rock and rock him, I just kept thinking how this was not even CLOSE to our plan!! hahaha! I was just in total shock! After we were finally home, we start the appointments for his little sister. She has a mis-shapen head, so we knew there would be some level of care we would have to follow through with. Again.. little did we know what was to come. We followed through with all of the xrays and CT Scans. Planning again (you would seriously think I would have learned by this point.... but no, still planning) I went into our appointment already KNOWING what the doctor was going to say. So I am literally blowing off the appointment. When the doctor came in and told me she had to have surgery, I felt like a bomb was dropped on me. Not just one surgery, but two and soon. Very soon. I left the office absolutely overwhelmed and feeling horribly guilty. Once shock had worn off, it was as if God grabbed my hand and said, "Come on, I got you. Just keep walking with Me and I will help you take care of these babies." I knew nothing else but to hand every single bit of our lives over to Him. (something I should have done a few months ago) All of this was TOTALLY unexpected. Never ONCE did I expect this, plan on this, or even imagine this to happen with these babies. That is where God's plan became so clear in our lives. We know at this point, that God can give us many challenges and trials, but He is always faithful to be there for guidance, support, encouragement, discipline and strength. He is a perfect God and Father and my life and my family is totally surrendered to HIS plan.

I have posted a link to a video of a song that has truly spoken volumes to me. I encourage you to follow the link and listen. I couldn't get the video to post :-/ You may have to copy the link as well instead of clicking on it.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A time to cry, a time to laugh, and a time to pack

Today I pack. I pack up our stuff to go see family, but I also pack up our little J man. He will be leaving us tomorrow forever. Letting go never gets easier, but after letting so many go, we start to learn "coping techniques". Is that good? Who knows.. but we just ask for our friends and family to pray for one specific thing. J cries every.single.week. when he leaves for his visit with his mom. Please pray that tomorrow when CPS comes to pick him up, that he will not cry when he is taken away. Seems selfish I guess, but I don't know if I can endure that pain again. I went through that with D and it just about killed me. Also pray for J, that the Lord will open his eyes to the need of our Savior Jesus Christ as he grows up.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Maybe This is Our New Normal

I have wanted to update my blog for the last few months, but have not been able to access my account. I was losing hope there for awhile, thinking that I had lost it all. As you can see, I got back in! :)
  God has done some awesome work the past few months. We have really seen Him move His hand in our life. Let me say this though, God moves His hand in our life every single moment, we just fail to recognize that. We can't take a breath without God allowing that to happen. Cliche? No. Just a simple truth we forget frequently.
  After we let our little D-Man go the beginning of May, we continued to follow the Lord's calling of doing foster care. We took in a 6 month old baby girl. Baby K came to us with some caarazzzzyyy hair. (that's not why she was in care haha) I will never, ever, ever forget that head of hair. I don't think I have ever seen that much hair on a 6 month old. Needless to say, my desire to do a little girls hair (without her arguing with me) was about to come true. I got to learn so many techniques and tricks to hair styling. Besides the hair, baby K was extremely sweet. She was such an easy baby. We always gave her "K Kisses" and every time we would ask if she wanted "K Kisses" she would get the biggest smile. ( K kisses were just simply kisses with her name tacked on lol) She was such a joy to have. When she left, she went to be with her family who love her so much. We are always scared to let them go into the unknown, but she is in a home that loves her so. After baby K, we welcomed another little girl into our home!! So many girls! We have still had our Baby boy J, so Joshua still has someone on his team ;) Baby J and our new baby girl S, are one month apart. We have gotten to experience "pretty much TWINS"! We have our insane times with them, but for the most part, it is sooo nice because they are both on the same level. Both walking, self-feeding, play well together, etc. :) They both love to give each other hugs too. Sweetest thing ever is to see 2 littles hug.
 We love to talk about the individualities of each of our kids. It's fun and funny to look back over the past year and remember and laugh at the "not so funny at the time" events that occurred, but we have also come to a point to where we can look back over the past 13 months and see what a blessing it has been that God has allowed to have children in our home. I have prayed and prayed that God would allow us to have a child of our own (through adoption or pregnancy), but my eyes were opened to something within the last few months and weeks. God's intentions for creating me were not to fulfill my fleshly desires. Does He give us the desires of our heart if we delight in Him? Yes, but His purpose for creating me/us was to glorify Him ultimately. So maybe the Lord has us on this path for a reason that I have been overlooking. We keep looking forward to when we have a child of our own, but when we do that, we are missing out on how God wants to use us right here where we are now. What a challenge. So if never having a child of our own and serving the Lord through helping orphans would bring more glory to Him than us having a child of our own, then so be it. I never thought I could come to that point, but I have, and it is only because the Lord has worked on my heart and brought me to that place. As I always say, I am looking forward to the next step of this journey :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Learning How to Let Go

We have come to a point in the Foster Care/Adoption road that we have always been terrified of... losing one you love so deeply. From Day 1 of Introduction into Foster Care/Adoption we were told that these kids will not be yours permanently and that it may be hard to let them go once they have lived in your home for months at a time. We had the head knowledge of that for many, many months. Having the head knowledge and actually learning that are two totally different things.
  The evening we went to pick up our little D to bring him home, our hearts learned how to love in such a way that neither Joshua or I had ever felt. When we layed our eyes on that little guy we ached to keep him, but a tiny part of our heart was guarded because we knew there was still that chance of him only staying a short time. When we got the initial phone call about D, we were told there might be a chance he will be up for adoption. Later, we were told to look long term with D. We heard so many times "Would you be willing to adopt him?" The anticipation of adoption was built up so high. So as months went by, that guard we had was let down and we let little D come into our hearts full force. We still always knew there was a chance he could leave, but we ignored it and told ourselves the lie that it would never happen to us. The day came when we found out he would be leaving us. There was no more phone calls we could make, no more people we could convince, no more hoops we could jump through. We had come to the end of all of our efforts. My heart broke in such a way that I really wasn't sure how to push on. I didn't want the days to end. I didn't want to put him to bed at night, because I knew we were one day closer to letting him go for good. In the midst of such a sad time that day of finding out he was leaving, I didn't realize what the Lord was doing. From the day we found out he was leaving, the Lord gave us almost a full month to mourn and grieve the losing of D. What a blessing. I needed to hold that little boy while I cried and hurt. During that month, God gave me such an indescribable peace about D leaving us. I can't explain it because when I think about losing a child, my first reaction would be to get incredibly angry and bitter towards God. I would ask "Why God??? WHY??" I would want to hurt somebody, and scream at them and tell them how it should have been handled differently! God gave me something different though. He gave me a peace that allowed me to pack D's clothes without getting mad. He gave me a peace that allowed me to cherish some sweet moments with him instead of wasting my energy on pondering things I should have done differently. He gave me a peace that made me thank God for what He was doing in our life even though I couldn't understand. Did I cry? Yes. Did I hurt? Yes. Did I ask why? Yes. But through it all, I saw the Lord's hand in every single step. D will always be my first son. I will not get to raise him, take him to kindergarten, teach him to ride a bike or anything else that I always dreamed of, but that's ok. God knew better than I did and all I was told to do is to just trust Him.
 As I was thinking about writing down my thoughts on the situation of D leaving, all I could think of was how we are learning to let go of him and letting God take control. I don't think I could have found a more appropriate song to share with this post. I couldn't get the link up for you to listen to it, so here are the lyrics.

I'm holding this picture - You drew when you were four -
It was one we proudly hung - On our refrigerator door -
I found it in the attic - In your old dresser drawer -
By a pillow that we made you - And a blanket that you had -
When we learned to chase the monsters - From underneath your bed -
And I remember -

How I learned how to hold you when you cried - I learned how to let you be strong -
Learned how to calm you in the dark - Learned how to listen with my heart -
I learned how to watch you grow - But how will I learn to let go -

And when I walk in your bedroom - The memories that I keep -
Are bedtime stories - And rocking you to sleep -
And as I held you - You'd drift off to dream - And I know
it might sound crazy - Now that you are grown -
But yesterday still feels - Like the day we brought you home -
And I remember -