Believing in What I Cannot See

17 Mar

It’s hard to believe that our two year re-certification is here….and we still have not been able to say yes to a placement call. No placement in two years. Not one. None of the questions answered in two years. Questions like: Who is God sending us? What behaviors will we have to handle or overcome? Will we really be able to grow our family through foster care? Can we even handle this at all?

But there we were last week, at the kitchen table answering questions and filling out paperwork to re-certify with our agency. There was one form with a list of all of our goals and growth areas with “N/A” on most of it. The worker causally waived her hand over the form and said, “Just sign at the bottom most of this doesn’t apply since you’ve not had a placement“.  Yea, thanks lady.

And then again when we were reviewing our continuing education requirements  “You don’t qualify for the 8 hour waiver since you have to have had a placement for more than nine month and you haven’t had one”. Um…. I KNOW!!!! 

il_570xN.299436411Philip Yancey wrote in his book Disappointment with God, “Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” It doesn’t make much sense to me yet, that God would call us to be foster parents almost three years before we would ever have to say yes to a foster placement.  Waiting is a part of foster care, I understand that. But waiting day in and day out for over 860 days with a constant ache to hold this child….that doesn’t make sense to me right now. 

Some things I can see in the reverse now. God knew we would get pregnant and that would cause us to go on hold.  He knew that MiahBoy would be a terrible sleeper and we would be too exhausted for almost a year to do anything other than basic functioning.

Maybe we had to start the whole process so early because God knew if we had gotten pregnant first we never would have become foster parents; our logical minds may have overridden the pull of our spirits. I’m only now able to see pieces of what He is up to. 

Only God knows where my child is now and that’s where we have to have faith. Faith that all the work of the last two years was not for nothing. Faith we are truly being obedient having a home ready for one of His children who desperately needs a safe place to land. We have to have faith even though this doesn’t make sense to us right now, because makes perfect sense to Him. 

In that same book, Yancey writes, “Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” I do believe the Lord has children for us.  I have faith in the promise He gave to meet the longing He Himself put in my heart.  Although I don’t understand why the wait has been so long, I have never lost faith that one day I will hold in my arms the little one whom God has whispered to me. For that child I will endure. 

May our Lord grant us the perseverance and endurance to see this through and bring Him glory.  Amen. 

The Final Countdown: Opening for Placements

11 Sep
“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.”Robert Southey

Right?

Well, I’ve taken quite a long break!
I have missed sharing with you all. If you’re still following me, I’m sorry for the spotting blogging this year and the unfamiliar name and look of the my blog now. I did some revamping in preparation for FINALLY being open for placements….almost. Seriously, just hear me out.
So,I get it. It is entirely possible we now hold the record for longest-period-of-time-as-certified-foster-parents-without-ever-actually-taking-a-placement. It has been a year and five months to be exact. I know it may seem like we got cold feet and decided fostering wasn’t for us, but folks, that could not be further from the truth.
In the last few months I have done volunteer work for agency fundraisers, fulfilled some continuing education requirements and starting going to ‘Foster Moms Night Out” with other amazing moms at my agency. I have also done respite care for a couple darling little ones and made fantastic new friends in their foster mamas. Taking this slow has been a good opportunity to learn more hands on. The classes were great, but nothing beats real life.
Even though it may have seemed a little wishy-washy or non-committal to have been licensed for so long and not taken the leap to full fledged foster family, it has been RIGHT for us. Todd and I are whole-heartedly committed to God’s timing. So, while it may have looked foolish to the world, our waiting was wisdom. Our family was not ready. There is no perfect time to have or add children to the family – but there can be better seasons to do it. And PRAISE Him we are coming into the season where we’re ready to say yes and go off the hold list!
Friends, I am excited. Baby J turns one-year-old this month and he such a big boy. They really are only babies for one short year. I was walking through the baby aisle at Target a few weeks ago and just starting crying, so strong was the ache in this mom’s heart for ANOTHER! To bring another one home. I remembered this feeling. It’s the same stirring of my spirit that drove me to foster care in the first place. The Holy Spirit is stirring me because NOW it is time. In just three short weeks we will take a deep breath, pick up the phone, call our social worker and say bring on the placement calls!
Todd and I continue to pray for discernment and the wisdom to say yes to the right phone calls. I believe that foster care can be a divine appointment and we want what God has for us in this. Thank you for reading along and being so supportive of our family through the past year and half.  I’m looking forward to sharing more as we start walking out this complicated, rewarding calling of “foster parents”.

Worth the Watch

29 Nov

A friend of mine who is also a foster parent recently shared these videos on facebook.  I just love them because I love anything that makes me want to start the adoption process all over again.  I’m all heart and these really engage this mama’s heart. I’m really looking forward to the day we welcome the first child into our home!

 

 

 

I’ve got some explaining to do…

25 Nov

There are a handful of blogging “sins” as I understand it, and I need to confess that I have committed the worst one of all.  I went on an extended hiatus and did not tell you.  My little corner of the blogosphere went silent without so much as an explanation.  Forgive me.  Below I have posted a few pictures that will hopefully explain where I’ve been…but the good news I’M BACK!!! 

 

My little miracle was born that last week of September. He had a rough start and spent a short time in the special care nursery, but he bounced back from it quickly. Baby J is eight weeks old and doing wonderfully now.

After a long labor, I ended up having a cesarean section.  The recovery from the procedure was tougher than I thought it was going to be.  Combine that with the shock of how demanding a newborn baby can be, and I was down for the count.  I couldn’t think let alone, blog and thus I have been silent for way too long.

In regards to foster care and adoption, Mr. T and I are “on hold” with the agency until Baby J is three months old and we’ve had time to adjust and gel as a family.  Sometime around the start of the New Year, we will begin taking calls for placements again.  It’s really up to God.  We will pray and listen and trust Him to lead our family in the direction that is best for everyone. 

Our social worker has already been out to re-evaluate us since Baby J arrived. In fact, Baby J was less than two-week sold when she to come out and re-assess our bedrooms, finances and transportation situation.  Since Baby J sleeps in our room right in a bassinet, the number of beds/placements we have does not need to change. Mr. T and I also paid cash for a new mini-van so we could transport more than one child under the age of four.  We can fit four car-seats in our van if we needed to!  I love it!!!

While on hold, I will be sitting in on the fund-raising committee for our foster agency.  They do a silent auction and dinner each year to raise money since they’re non-profit.  I’m very excited to be part of the planning committee.  It’s hard to be licensed as foster parents (finally!) and have to put the process on hold.  Being able to work with our agency on the fund-raiser is helping me feel like we’re still part of the process.  

I’m looking forward to getting back into blogging and catching up with all of you to see how things are going with your foster and adoptive journeys.  I can’t promise to blog every day, but I will try to stay on top of it.  There is some much to share and I find new information and encouragement all the time.  I want to share that with all of you more regularly…. Thanks for forgiving my “blogger sins” and continuing to read. 

Please post how you’ve been in the comments and/or leave a link to your recent blog updates so I can get caught up! Thanks!!!

What’s In a Name?

19 Sep

I’m less than 10 days away from my due date and giving birth to my first son.  I have to be honest, I truly believed we would have a placement before I gave birth.  But that’s not what God had planned for me and Mr. T. 

Today kicks off my maternity leave and hopefully a week where I learn to lay down my career and pick up a new one…mom.  While I’m waiting to go into labor (or be sent into labor by a merciful doctor) I’ve been thinking and pondering and praying about what it be like to be a mother.  Throughout the year-long process to become a foster parent, I felt like a mother to children I had never met.  I longed for them.  Prayed for them.  Read books about how to parent them and bought things for their rooms.  I felt like a mother without children.  Now that I’m unexpectedly pregnant, being a mom is even more complicated.  I still feel like a mom to children who are “out there” somewhere, even while I have this wonderful miracle in my belly. 

I love this blog by Foster2Forever about what it means to be a mom, called: Are You Really a Mom If You Have No Kids?

When my recent placements moved on and my house and arms were empty,  I started asking myself a simple, yet profound question –  Is it possible to be a Mom and no kids?  I mean, what does it mean to be a mom?  So, I did what any self respecting 31 year-old would do, I opened my laptop and googled the word Mom.  I found my answer, kind of.  Even Wikipedia, the go to definer of words, sounded stumped.

Here is part of what they had to say:

“A mother, mom, mum, momma or mama, is a woman who has raised a child (to whom she may or may not have given birth) in the role of parent.  Because of the complexity and differences of a mother’s social, cultural, and religious definitions and roles, it is challenging to define a mother to suit a universally accepted definition.  The proverbial “first word” of an infant often sounds like “ma” or “mama.” This strong association of that sound with “mother” has persisted in nearly every language on earth, countering the natural localization of language.”

To sum it up, motherhood is more than giving birth, and it’s really complex to define.  I’d say. There are many women I know struggle with this question – and with the empty house and arms.

  • women who miscarried
  • women who attended the funerals of their children
  • women waiting for “the call”
  • women who foster other people’s children
  • women whose children have grown and flown the nest
  • women who chose to place their children for adoption
  • women who had their children removed from their care and placed with another

And for all these women and for myself, here is the conclusion.  Your full or empty house doesn’t define who you are.   Loving and losing a child, doesn’t “demote” you from Mom to something else.  Loving a child who isn’t in your arms yet doesn’t either.  Your love and actions do.  Selflessness, compassion, love and that protective “mama bear-ness” are parts that make up a mom.

If you love a child more than yourself, you are a mom.  If you would do anything for the safety, wellbeing and joy of this child, you are a mom.  I like how Elizabeth Stone puts it when describing motherhood,  “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”  However I would expand it to say, “Making the decision to LOVE a child is momentous…”

So love selflessly, compassionately and protectively on, my fellow mothers.  Our children, wherever they are, will thank us.

Catching Up On My Reading

30 Aug

Clearly my blogging prowess is taking a nose dive as I near my due date.  I’m 36 weeks pregnant, so our little one could come at any time, although we have three weeks before his official arrival date.  There is so much to do still to prepare for a little one to come and I’m starting to feel like I’ll never get a handle on the “to-do” list.  That ….and of course, I’m tiiiiiired…and not much is new on the fostering front.  I still struggle with the timing of growing our family and am trying to surrender it all to God and trust His plan for us.  It’s not an easy thing to do when I walk by an empty kids room every morning…. a room and child I have prayed over many, many times. 

There is one new (small) development: we bought a mini-van!  My husband scarifically gave up the Ford Ranger he loved and has been driving since before he ever met me to trade it in for a red Honda Odyssey…. all for the love our future foster children.  The truck could honestly hold….well… no children and my Accord could only hold two in car seats (3 total) which would mess with our foster license for 2 children ages birth to 4 (since they would both need to be in car seats and so would our biological son).  I can’t have some silly car get in the way of growing my family the way God intended, so we prayed for a van we could pay cash for and GOD PROVIDED!  That’s right folks.  We paid cash for the new van that will transport all my babies.  :)  God is good.

While I wait to deliver my biological baby and meet my foster/adoptive babies…I read.  I read more blogs than anyone I know and am currently subscribed to over 30 foster and adoptive blogs alone.  Let me share some of the recent highlights I’ve found.  You may already be following these bloggers, but if not …. ENJOY!

10 Stress management Tips for (Foster) Parents by Foster2Forever is a great blog post about handling the stress of general parenthood with added things that come with parenting a hurt child. 

There is a wrong way to be right when it comes to parenting as well, just ask the ladies of Feminagirls.  This post caught my attention because it is SO easy to judge the parenting of another mother, especially when you don’t know the history of the foster child in her care.  These girls call it like it is and ask women to support one another instead of strive to be “right”.

“DA” a former foster child has started a new mini-series on her blog called “How to Love a Foster Child“.  She’s been asking her friends to share their experiences with trying to be in relationship with her and how the history of being in foster care has affected their friendship.  There’s some interesting insight in there….take alook at the 3-part (so far) series.

Lastly, I wanted to share Mom Tried It’s “Letter to My {Foster} Daughter“. it’s beautifully written and a tear jerker (although that could be my hormones too!)  It inspired me to write to the child we haven’t met yet and I’m going to continue to do so. 

If you have any other blog post you’ve been dying to share, pass them along.  I’m always looking for a good read and more insight into foster and adoptive parenting.  Thanks for reading me!

A Little Less Like This World….

20 Aug

I’ve been walking with God whole-heartedly for about 5 years now.  During that time, God has done some amazingly beautiful transformations in my heart and mind.  I don’t look at the world the way I use to; I look at it through the lenses of eternity.  Recently, I’d say in the past year, God has really been pressing on the “mom” in me.  The mommy calling I tried to run from before He revealed to me His heart for the orphan and the “least of these”. 

My sister forwarded me an email from a blog called, “Desiring God” about this very thing.  It’s title: Motherhood is Calling (and where your children rank).  I was working when I got the email, so I stashed it in my “to-be-read-when- I-have-nothing-else-to-do” folder and went about my day.  Then, my dad sent me link to the blog on skype.  Again, I’m too was too busy to stop and read.  Well, this morning when I woke up, my blackberry was flashing at me.  I  had a message on facebook. Yet another friend had passed this on.  “I give”, I told God.  I will read about how motherhood is a calling even while I’m aching at not being able to say yes to placements and am fearfully awaiting the day I go into labor…..

This article is EXACTLY what I needed to hear.  Hope it speaks to you as well.

A few years ago, when I just had four children and when the oldest was still three, I loaded them all up to go on a walk. After the final sippy cup had found a place and we were ready to go, my two-year-old turned to me and said, “Wow! You have your hands full!”

She could have just as well said, “Don’t you know what causes that?” or “Are they all yours?!”

Everywhere you go, people want to talk about your children. Why you shouldn’t have had them, how you could have prevented them, and why they would never do what you have done. They want to make sure you know that you won’t be smiling anymore when they are teenagers. All this at the grocery store, in line, while your children listen.

A Rock-Bottom Job?

The truth is that years ago, before this generation of mothers was even born, our society decided where children rank in the list of important things. When abortion was legalized, we wrote it into law.

Children rank way below college. Below world travel for sure. Below the ability to go out at night at your leisure. Below honing your body at the gym. Below any job you may have or hope to get. In fact, children rate below your desire to sit around and pick your toes, if that is what you want to do. Below everything. Children are the last thing you should ever spend your time doing.

If you grew up in this culture, it is very hard to get a biblical perspective on motherhood, to think like a free Christian woman about your life, your children. How much have we listened to partial truths and half lies? Do we believe that we want children because there is some biological urge, or the phantom “baby itch”? Are we really in this because of cute little clothes and photo opportunities? Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? If so, what were we thinking?

It’s Not a Hobby

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.

Our culture is simply afraid of death. Laying down your own life, in any way, is terrifying. Strangely, it is that fear that drives the abortion industry: fear that your dreams will die, that your future will die, that your freedom will die—and trying to escape that death by running into the arms of death.

Run to the Cross

But a Christian should have a different paradigm. We should run to to the cross. To death. So lay down your hopes. Lay down your future. Lay down your petty annoyances. Lay down your desire to be recognized. Lay down your fussiness at your children. Lay down your perfectly clean house. Lay down your grievances about the life you are living. Lay down the imaginary life you could have had by yourself. Let it go.

Death to yourself is not the end of the story. We, of all people, ought to know what follows death. The Christian life is resurrection life, life that cannot be contained by death, the kind of life that is only possible when you have been to the cross and back.

The Bible is clear about the value of children. Jesus loved them, and we are commanded to love them, to bring them up in the nurture of the Lord. We are to imitate God and take pleasure in our children.

The Question Is How

The question here is not whether you are representing the gospel, it is how you are representing it. Have you given your life to your children resentfully? Do you tally every thing you do for them like a loan shark tallies debts? Or do you give them life the way God gave it to us—freely?

It isn’t enough to pretend. You might fool a few people. That person in line at the store might believe you when you plaster on a fake smile, but your children won’t. They know exactly where they stand with you. They know the things that you rate above them. They know everything you resent and hold against them. They know that you faked a cheerful answer to that lady, only to whisper threats or bark at them in the car.

Children know the difference between a mother who is saving face to a stranger and a mother who defends their life and their worth with her smile, her love, and her absolute loyalty.

Hands Full of Good Things

When my little girl told me, “Your hands are full!” I was so thankful that she already knew what my answer would be. It was the same one that I always gave: “Yes they are—full of good things!”

Live the gospel in the things that no one sees. Sacrifice for your children in places that only they will know about. Put their value ahead of yours. Grow them up in the clean air of gospel living. Your testimony to the gospel in the little details of your life is more valuable to them than you can imagine. If you tell them the gospel, but live to yourself, they will never believe it. Give your life for theirs every day, joyfully. Lay down pettiness. Lay down fussiness. Lay down resentment about the dishes, about the laundry, about how no one knows how hard you work.

Stop clinging to yourself and cling to the cross. There is more joy and more life and more laughter on the other side of death than you can possibly carry alone.

It’s Another Foster Friday!

13 Aug

TGIF…F!  Thank goodness it’s foster friday.  You may remember I first mentioned the “foster friday panel” when they discussed how to answer the question of why we became foster parents.  Today Mimi is presenting the topic of Birth Family Relationships.  Head on over to her blog to read the whole post.  I just included some highlights.

When I first started fostering, I had high hopes of being able to develop close relationships with my children’s birth families that continued even after my babies returned home.  Six placements later, I’ve learned that every case is different, and I gauge my level of contact and the extent of our relationships carefully.  However, I know firsthand that those close relationships are possible in certain situations.  Today’s “Foster Friday” touches on the relationships between foster/adopt and birth families.

Kylee- My family’s relationship with birth families has always varied on a case-by-case basis. With most of my foster siblings, especially in our early years of fostering, my mom would drive the kids to their parent visits as opposed to having a caseworker come pick them up. This allowed weekly contact with the parents in a very minimal amount. It was a good time for my mom to meet the parents(s), learn more about the case, and sometimes take pictures with the mom and her child. That was primarily all of the contact we had with birth families during the actual time of placements. Our agency was one to advise against exchanging numbers, so as far as I know, that was never done. I know many people have positive experiences with that, but it was never what was right for us.

We did have one little girl, however, who was with us over the holiday season. Her mom and grandparents wanted to badly to spend Christmas with her, so my mom was able to set up a little bit of time on Christmas afternoon to allow them to see their baby girl. I was about 14 at the time and went with my mom to that visit. It was so special for me to see this family love on their girl and smother her with hugs and kisses! 

 
Each time (as in, 90%) a child left our home, my parents would send a lifebook with them, along with a letter which included contact information. Several times this led to further contact from the bio family, adoptive family, or relative. We have had contact with several of our children, which typically involved babysitting the kids or meeting for lunch. Primarily, this contact took place in the 6month-1year time frame after reunification, while helping the child’s “two worlds” become intertwined. Other than this, or becoming facebook friends with several parents/relatives, there are currently only one or two children that we are still in contact with.

I’ll end with this: Our very first foster placement was a 3-month old little girl. Our whole family fell in love with her and cried buckets of tears when she left our home. We sent contact information and her aunt called us a couple of times. Earlier this year, after not having heard from them in about 7 years, “our” little girl was looking through her lifebook, found our phone number, and decided to call. Ten-years-old now, and in 4th grade, she was able to talk to my mom on the phone. Such a special moment!

For us, minimal contact during the time of placement worked best. However, sending our information allowed the family to evaluate if they would like to remain in touch. We always loved it when they would call or e-mail, but understood if they decided not to.

 

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