Sunday, December 30, 2007

Love Without Fear

For several months now, this 'love' thing has weighed on me. What exactly is God asking us to do when we love another? Are we to love only when we receive love in return? Are we to wait until someone loves us first before we love another? Are we to 'guard our hearts' and only love in pieces? Or are we to love with our complete being expecting absolutely nothing?

Often people comment to Alex or me, "Oh, I could never be a foster parent because of the hurt of letting go." The letting go hurts, a bunch. However, when we make statements such as the one above, are we really allowing love to work in us? Or are we acting, at least partially, with our own interests (to be loved in return) in mind?

When we began this interesting journey, we expressed that same statement above to one another. The hurt of letting go was precisely the reason we wanted to be an 'adoption only' family. Then Covenant Kids got hold of us... and they asked all of the families in training to pray about being foster-to-adopt families instead of straight adoption.

This is such a difficult thing. I do not claim to understand the depth of God's love for humanity; nor do I claim to understand the love we are to show to a hurting world. I do know this - such a love, one that exists beyond all self-motivation, is supernatural. It is of God. It is impossible for believers to 'create' on their own.

1 John 4:18 says "There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life - fear of death, fear of judgment - is one not yet fully formed in love." (The Message)

Do we experience and exhibit 'well-formed' love? Other Bible translations express this same concept as 'perfected love.' Do we allow the Holy Spirit to lovingly work through us, trusting that God will assuage the grief of letting go? Do we really even trust God with our hearts?

2007 has been a year of serious contemplation, meditation and transition for me. It has been a year in which I finally gave up (at least partially) my agendas, my expectations, my perfect plan. Surrender is a much better place... it requires so much less of my energy. Plus, it allows me to truly experience and share love without fear. What a concept.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry, Merry Christmas

May your day be merry, bright and filled with the love of our Christ, born in a manger bare to bring love and grace to a world in great need!

**I did have a family picture posted; however, Little Mommy wasn't fully 'there' when it actually posted (the picture looked fine in my preview :)) Anyway, maybe another time. Blessings to you!

Monday, December 24, 2007

And the Stockings Were Hung...

When I think of special Christmas memories as a child, my Mom is at the very center of every one. She diligently made our celebrations special with scavenger hunts, ornaments, baking and Christmas carols.

There is one special tradition that has continued as we have added children to our mix... the handmade Christmas stockings which hang on my Mom & Dad's mantle each year. The stockings have always been symbols of 'welcome to the family.' It all began when I was a babe... this is the beautiful stocking my Mom made for me.


When Alex joined our family, my Mom made this one... complete with a fishing pole because fishing is something Alex enjoys. The stocking was a sign that he was really 'in' the family.


Next, Budding Author and Little Mommy received special stockings (pictures deleted :)) ...

And this year, two new stockings. One for Prince Caspian and one for Little Boy Blue. These two stockings mean a great deal. Our choice to adopt and foster is one we prayed would be embraced by our families. The emotional upheaval of our choice does directly impact others... especially my Mom. We are grateful that both of our families have chosen to love these two and to welcome them officially into our midst. And these stockings are a symbol of just that!

Oh, in case you wonder about Little Boy Blue's stocking without a name, we decided to leave the name off until next year. If he goes to live with a family member, we can put his name on there and send it on with him as a reminder of his Grandmother. If he stays with us, we will add his new name, too. Either way, he has a special stocking all his own.


You know what? My Mom doesn't have a handmade stocking of her own. I've often thought that maybe I could whip up one for her to make the stocking display complete. However, my 'whipping up' just might take the entire year. Sewing is something I dream of someday being able to do. Maybe one of these years ...

Until then, thanks Mom. You have a gift for making new family members feel like old-timers and welcomed immediately. And the stockings are just one way you do it!! Merry Christmas.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Termination is an Ugly Word...

I've really come to hate that word... 'termination.' It sounds ugly to me. Termination of parental rights or 'TPR' is the term used to legally dissolve a parent's right to their child. Involuntary, of course. If it is a voluntary act, it is called 'relinquishment'... not quite so ugly, but permanent, nonetheless.

Little Boy Blue's Mom did not show at the status hearing. Her attorney attempted a 'continuance' to allow her to show and beg for leniency. The Judge said 'No.' So, TPR trial (in front of a jury!) is scheduled for the very end of January. And, since Mom is losing her parental rights, no more visits for Little Boy Blue with Grandfather or Great-Grandmother. Shock to my system.

Before the hearing, Friday morning, CPS called at 8:00 a.m. to see if they could pick Little Boy Blue up at 9:00 a.m. at the 'meeting spot' for a visit. They had forgotten to let me know that the Grandfather & Great-Grandmother wanted to see him. I do not like that type of last minute notice... however, I pulled him together and sent him off, little did I know that it might be his last visit. Usually, we send a letter about his week(s) and some pictures. I was lucky to just get him dressed and his diaper bag ready in 30 minutes.

He came back from the visit at 12:00 noon and he was starving. For some odd reason, no one fed him. So, he went from 7:00 a.m. to Noon without food. We put 2 bottles and baby food in the diaper bag. That makes me spitting mad!

Another weird thing... the CPS transporter said that Grandfather did not come, but that Grandmother was there with Great-Grandmother. CPS had just told me that morning that Grandmother was deceased. So, who is the mystery woman allowed to visit with Little Boy Blue?

The saddest part... CPS told us that Great-Grandmother said there are other family members who want him. She has not been known for complete truthfulness, so all of this is speculative. Home studies must be completed and criminal background checks done before he will ever be moved.

Yet, in the midst of the chaos that surrounds itty-bitty, yesterday morning it was decided that Little Boy Blue would be baby Jesus in our church's Christmas program. I will just take him up and sit him in the manger for all of the other beautiful children to peek upon. He will love that!! If only all watching could know how special is this opportunity for this particular baby boy!!

God, You are so good to us. I've been teary and emotional thinking about our year and the many things You have graciously taught us about real love. What blessing, what joy, what peace!

And with every end, there is a beginning...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Little Boy Blue Come Blow Your Horn...

Here's the update on Little Boy Blue. His Mom has been out of state for almost 3 months. Throughout this period of time, the extended family said they did not know her whereabouts. At the last visit he had with his great-grandmother and grandfather, they admitted to having lied about it all. Plus, CPS received an anonymous call stating "Ms. Smith fled the state. Her parental rights should be terminated and Little Boy Blue given to the family he is with." Odd. (Alex jokingly asked me 'You didn't use our home phone to make that call, did you?'... ha.ha.ha.)

The hearing tomorrow is a status hearing. If Little Boy Blue's Mom comes, she is facing some serious business. Termination is moving forward. His attorney does not want her to have any more visits... she feels it will not be in Little Boy Blue's best interest to see his Mom if her parental rights are being terminated. We'll see what the Judge thinks.

Now for the possibly sad news... the attorney also mentioned that there is a cousin in Georgia who is a CPS caseworker there who could be considered for Little boy blue. There has been no mention of this to us by our CPS worker... and believe me, I've asked a million times about different family members.

So, today I've just reminded myself over and over of why we are doing this. I've prayed almost constantly for a quick resolution to this (thanks to Gracie's reminder weeks ago). And I've thanked God for the joy of loving this little boy. I guess it is that simple - just tell that to my heart!

Here's to sharing our life with you... thank you for your interest and your prayers on behalf of our family. We feel blessed and honored.

P.S. I'm still holding out hope that my strapping Scotsman, Alex, will chime in on this blog over the holidays. He says he has something in the works :) ... he just guards his words much more than I.

Introducing the Cast of Characters...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Budding Author (7)
Little Mommy (4)
Prince Caspian (17 months)
Little Boy Blue (8 months)


There are many competing thoughts in my brain right now. My desire is to get them on paper quickly so that they do not fade with the days. However, I haven't had the time to enter all of the e-mail addresses to make this blog private. I have to enter each e-mail address to send an invite to each of you... the task seems daunting. Yet, I have so much to say... maybe tonight.

For now, Little Boy Blue needs your prayers. Tomorrow is a hearing which will be a turning point in his case. And, as I watch him playing by my feet, I'm grateful that he has no idea what is happening. He is free. Free to just be a little boy, growing, learning and hopefully, feeling loved.

When I do get this blog converted, the first thing I'm going to do is post a few pictures... just so those of you who haven't seen these lovely faces can see who I've been writing about. All of these nicknames have real names and faces behind them!! I promise you something... when you see the faces of Prince Caspian, Little Boy Blue and Baby Girl, you will not believe these are the faces of foster care. Isn't it funny what we convince ourselves to believe about foster children?

On that note... we went to a Christmas party sponsored by Covenant Kids this weekend (even with runny noses). Every single child there (well over 200) was a lovely, beautiful human being with God's fingerprints all over him/her. When I think about it now, I'm so moved. All of these families - welcoming children of different races and backgrounds. It just reminds me of what love is... it is not an easy task. But, oh the joy!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Sick, Sicker, Sickest

What a week! Boys with colds, girls with flea bites, and a light-headed Daddy & Mommy after a total house extermination. Disgusting, huh? I agree. Little Mommy and I have been eaten up by those tiny creatures. Why don't they like the boys? And how exactly did they invade our home with all of our furry friends outdoors? Hmmmm.

The boys certainly had their share of misery this week, too ... runny noses and colds make for grumpy babies, toddlers and Mommies.

On Wednesday, we had 3 case worker visits scheduled. Of the 3, only one actually arrived. One forgot, one rescheduled and one was welcomed with Kleenex by our sickly family.

ECI came to evaluate Little Boy Blue again. It is a long story and one about which I will share additional details when I convert this blog thing to private mode. In fact, I will probably be doing that privacy thing this week.

So, if I haven't heard from you, feel free to let me know you want to tag along. If you don't actually know us, that doesn't automatically rule out an invite... just give me some info about why you are interested in our family, where you live, where you grew up, social security number :), that type of thing!! No, all kidding aside, just let me know who you are and I'll gladly send you an invite.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Seemingly Unrelated

What do these things have in common:

*A beloved snail collection featuring one Mommy snail and 15 million babies;
*A black velvet Christmas dress with black patent leather shoes;
*A homemade 'dance pad' made out of packing bubbles by big brother for an early Christmas present;
*A tea all prepared for Baby Jesus and Mommy; and
*A fort in the woods where hours are spent building and hanging with big brother.

You are right! These items all belong to my Little Mommy. She is a beautiful, inquisitive, eclectic mixture of girly-girl and tomboy. Maybe I'll post a few sweet photos of her when our blog goes private...

Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming Full Circle

Little Boy Blue returned from his visit today with a new outfit and a new jacket... lucky boy! He is fast asleep after what was a very exciting time (according to the transport worker).

What to say and what not to say... Hmmmm. I have to evaluate almost everything I write here in light of privacy issues. Over these past few months, there are millions of things that I have been unable to communicate due to Little Boy Blue's ongoing case. Also, there are many things that we choose not to tell anyone, even if his legal case were not an issue. Much of this is his story, not mine. Same with Prince Caspian... the story of his biological family is his to tell, we cannot spin it to our liking and present him in a skewed light.

So, back to today... it is now known where Mom is and when she is returning. What is not known is if she will seek to have another chance with CPS. If she seeks and is granted such mercy, she will have a 6-month extension (from the February trial date) to 'work her plan' before the termination trial occurs. Little Boy Blue will then be approaching 18-months. As it is, even if the trial is in February, he will almost be celebrating his first birthday.

The competing sides of this continue to boggle me... the right of Little Boy Blue to have a permanent home (wherever that may be) as soon as possible vs. the right of a Mommy to her child. At one time very recently, I weighed in heavily in favor of Little Boy Blue being with his Mommy. Once she exited without even a word to CPS, I have shifted completely into Mama Bear mode. I still pray for her often - for her wounds to ultimately be healed and her dark perspective to be brought into the Light. However, my intentional focus now is on ensuring Little Boy Blue a safe, loving, stable environment, with or without our family.

So, here we are. We've come full circle, I think. And here we go around the Mulberry bush again... but this time, Little Boy Blue has several very vocal warriors on his side.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Visit for Little Boy Blue

Boy, I'm surprised that I can still be surprised! I fired up my computer early this morning and there was an e-mail from our CPS caseworker. She has decided to keep Little Boy Blue's case, not just supervise. I am happy.

She has also scheduled a visit tomorrow for Little Boy Blue with his great-grandmother and grandfather. Surprise. Welcome back, Friday!

Still no word from his Mom... still planning to terminate... still no knowledge of family members who want him... still, he's ours. Sigh.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Some Exciting News for our Blogging Friends

Two special friends, blogging friends, have some exciting things going on in their adoption experiences... I have to share, in hopes that you, too, will be blessed by their willing hearts and excited for the little ones who may join their families.

*Little Hope Giver at Love Each Child.
*Precious Jewel at For such is the Kingdom.

God is living and active in the lives of these folks! How amazing it is that we get to share in all that He is accomplishing through the lives of others!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Uncountable Blessings...

Today has been a day of precious peace for our family. Sensing my anxiety about having a large family gathering at our place with 2 new additions to our family this year, my hubby scheduled a great dinner out for all of us and my in-laws. What a special, unselfish thing for him to do! He loves to eat homemade Thanksgiving food just like everyone else. Yet he put that aside and thought only of me, as the chef and chief bottle washer, today.

So, we scrubbed behind our ears, dressed all the wee bairns in their Sunday best and headed North to a restaurant on the lake. It was delightful. We smiled with pride as person after person commented on our growing family of 6 ... I basked in every word.

There were certainly a few folks missing at our table today ... my side of the family opted for a home-cooked feast. I'm sure everyone there appreciated the quiet that would have been absent had our brood attended.

Now... I'm all rested up and ready to be the chef for two Christmas celebrations at our home. In fact, I was noodling through our menu choices as we returned home.

Thank you, my Scotsman, for knowing me and my limits this year. You make me very, very thankful!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

On a Lighter Note...

... it is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here! We are putting our decorations up today because the kiddos just could not wait a day longer. It is a much lighter time around here for me, too.

I pulled out my old piano books (with notes from my teacher from December of 1978!) and played every Christmas tune I know. This is good for the soul... Steve, I'm sure you know this already!

Thanks so much for the words of encouragement on that less-than-pleasant blog post from yesterday. Friends are friends even if you've never seen their face! Pretty cool.


On a blog note... for some reason an old post was posted with today's date on it in my Bloglines feed. What is up with that?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Truth, and Nothing But...

In case I may have left you with an impression that our days are just 'sweetness and light', here it is the real deal .... my emotions about foster care have been all over the place for about 7 days. No, it is not hormonal, gratefully. It is the in-your-face, blinding-light realization that this child, Little Boy Blue, is not mine. OK, I know, this is not a surprise and shouldn't be the impetus for an emotional ride.

Yet, here I sit after riding the wave of the unexpected. Coming from me, the 'I hate emotional women' woman, this is all very perplexing.

In so many ways, it was easier for me when Little Boy Blue had weekly visitation with his Mommy. At least at that time, as each Friday came and went, I had the reminder that he was very likely a temporary member of our family. Now, with the weeks coming and going, and no word about his permanent status, I deceive myself into believing that he is forever mine.

The 'what ifs' of his case have me reeling ... the possible long-lost relative in New York that wants a child, or the biological Daddy who may have been in the dark the entire time and really loves Little Boy Blue. I've imagined each and every one of these people when the reality is probably very different.

And an additional unexpected oddity; I'm missing Baby Girl so much it hurts! She has been gone for 6 months!! What is up?? Has my brain's rational function been covering up the truth that sits in my heart? Or have I just been running on adrenaline since Prince Caspian joined us and not allowed my heart to even feel anything remotely emotional??

Whatever the cause, the truth of it is... my heart hurts. My heart hurts for a beautiful baby girl that I loved, still love, will always love. My heart hurts for a baby boy's life who was cut short last week that I loved for a few days and moments. My heart hurts for my family who loves deeply a different baby boy, Little Boy Blue, who marine-crawls, babbles and loves in his own baby way. My heart hurts for those other babies out there who need love, just plain ol' love.

For the raw emotional expression, I apologize. Hopefully, you see transparency ... it is rough terrain some moments, this fostering thing. I am ragged this week; but still thankful...

Thankful that God saw fit to give us hope in the form of Prince Caspian, who is almost ours, in the midst of the fostering chaos; Thankful for a husband who is IT ... the cat's meow; Thankful for Budding Author, my adventurer; Thankful for Little Mommy, my tender-hearted beauty; Thankful for Prince Caspian, my bright curious munchkin... and Thankful for Little Boy Blue, who is my sweet angel baby for the moment.

As I write this I am reminded... none of these gifts are really mine for keeps. They all belong to the Giver of all good gifts. So, ultimately, I am grateful to Him... who saw fit to bless me with these good things. May the glory and honor be Yours, Lord, this Thanksgiving week.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Changing Faces

We are getting new caseworkers all the way around. It appears very typical for caseworkers, even within private agencies, to be moved around, promoted and even exit on a frequent basis. This is difficult for families operating within the system.

New individuals do not know the intricacies of each case and it takes a certain period of ramp-up, which causes delays of all sorts. Our CPS caseworker for Little Boy Blue is being promoted... and boy, does she deserve it. She is a go-getter and will, thank God, still supervise his case throughout the legal process. Our Covenant Kids caseworker is getting shifted so that she does not have to drive as much. This makes us very sad. We love her and have grown comfortable with her monthly visits and her friendship.

There are certainly things which make this fostering business very difficult; a change in personnel is one of those things. Another of those challenges presented itself this week with sad news ... a baby who was in our care for respite over the summer passed away. I cannot comment any further, but we are grieving for everyone involved. We rejoice that precious little one is in the presence of God and we will gratefully get to attend his memorial service.

Without a doubt, fostering has been the singular most difficult experience of our lives. For our own ease and comfort, I'd really like to say 'no way, no more' after Little Boy Blue's case is finished. However, when I look back, I also see this time as huge in terms of the growth of our faith. There is nothing we could have done or asked for on our own which would have caused us to rely so heavily on the direction of God. We are being refined, whether we like it or not.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Happy Decade Birthday, Boy Wonder

I have this precious nephew. Actually, he is my only biological nephew. Much to my surprise, he turned 10 years old this past week. How did that happen??

There are so many things to write about this special young man... so many. Maybe I'll share just a few, to honor him and to honor the Mommy and Daddy that God entrusted with his care.

*Boy Wonder was born many weeks premature, after a several week stay in the hospital by his Mommy. Since he was the very first grandchild on both sides of the family, this was a challenging, difficult time for everyone. He was born in the middle of the night by emergency c-section after a very long attempt at induced labor. I will never forget my Sister's face as she came out of surgery... I will never forget my brother-in-law's face as he came out of the operating room to brag about his big boy.

*Boy Wonder spent his first month in the NICU in Norman, Oklahoma, being doted upon by sweet nurses and his very special Mommy & Daddy.

*Boy Wonder went back into the hospital right around his first Christmas to have surgery for pyloric stenosis. This was before my Sister became a Physician Assistant... don't know whether it would have been harder or easier for her to have the knowledge she now possesses.

*Boy Wonder was diagnosed with diabetes insipidus early, early on in his journey. He takes a nasal hormone daily to regulate his pituitary gland.

*Boy Wonder was diagnosed with autism around his 3rd birthday. This diagnosis has never defined him or the expectations that his parents have for his life.

*Boy Wonder has had two parents who fight for him to have every chance, while simultaneously challenging him beyond the next milestone.

*Boy Wonder adores his grandparents... I mean adores. He skips through their house and down their sidewalk with a huge, tooth-filled grin. He feels the unconditional love that they have for him - he knows.

*Boy Wonder has progressed as an academic champion year-after-year with the help and prodding of his parents. He is in a traditional 4th grade classroom where he happily runs the show :)

*Boy Wonder is very musically inclined. His favorite music group is the Pride of Oklahoma Marching Band for the University of Oklahoma. He regularly attends their practices and conducts on the sidelines.

*Boy Wonder sings like an angel. Perhaps, that is because he is so close to God.

*Boy Wonder loves his cousins... they romp and play at 'the farm' as he calls our house. He loves the chickens and goats. Even our English Mastiff and he share a very special relationship.

*Boy Wonder makes me laugh, cry and think deeper thoughts about our world and what we classify as 'normal'.

*Boy Wonder gives our family the courage to foster and adopt a child that may have similar challenges.

God Bless You, Boy Wonder! You are God's precious gift to our entire family! Happy, happy 10th Birthday.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Compassion or Not?

What is Compassion?

My definition of compassion has been challenged; mixed up, mashed, and kneaded until it no longer resembles that which once was. You see, I thought compassion was more about me than anything else... about me feeling sorry for another, as if my 'feeling sorry' actually accomplished anything. My attempts at compassion were easy for me, my attempts at compassion never required me to get my hands dirty.

The most beautiful, compelling definition of compassion was introduced to me on another blog called Seeking the Forgotten. The author lives in Guatemala. She is in the trenches; loving and making a difference in the lives of hurting, lonely children. She has pushed me to think deeper about compassion on several occasions through the pictures and writing on her blog. I only know who she is through her blog, we've never met. Isn't it interesting the way God uses a complete stranger and the internet to challenge very deeply-held beliefs about His work?

The definition she shared was attributed to Henri Nouwen and others when I searched on the web. Here is the definition:

"Compassion ~ is not a bending toward the underprivileged from a privileged position; it is not a reaching out from on high to those who are less fortunate below; it is not a gesture of sympathy or pity for those who fail to make it in the upward pull - .....On the contrary, compassion means going to those people and places where suffering is most acute and building a home there. God's compassion is total, absolute, unconditional, without reservation. It is the compassion of one who keeps going to the most forgotten corners of the world, and who cannot rest as long as he knows that there are still human beings with tears in their eyes."
My self-righteous thoughts about compassion are nipped right in the bud when I read this. What about you? Is compassion something reserved for those few who are 'called' to missions work overseas? Or is compassion something we are all called to as followers of Jesus? Aren't there plenty of opportunities for real, authentic compassion right in front of our eyes?

Is compassion something to only think about a few times per year as we write a check for missions or scan the Angel Tree? Or is compassion a lifestyle, a way of existing?

I'm challenged here... am I really willing to relinquish my 'privileged' position here in my comfy world and extend a hand horizontally to another who might not look, smell or understand anything common to me?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

God's Tapestry

Wow... do we feel loved and pampered! Today, hubby and I attended a foster/adoption training program sponsored by Tapestry ministry of Irving Bible Church. Actually, the conference was underwritten by 15+ churches of varying denominations. It is great to hear of the body of Christ coming together to create such an event. The Tapestry foster and adoption ministry has encouraged many other churches to form similar ministries to mobilize the body of Christ into meeting the needs of orphans here and around the globe. Very cool!

The day included the following: Breakfast, lunch, childcare and 6 training hours for foster parents... and it was all free! Yes, we feel loved.

When we first received word about the conference, I thought there had to be a catch. Given the challenge for foster parents to find babysitters, I was just sure that the free childcare was a misprint. Nope.

So, early this morning, we happily deposited Little Boy Blue and Prince Caspian with very qualified persons and enjoyed training sessions on some very weighty topics. Our day included conversations and education on these topics: Race & Culture, Open Adoption and Biological/Adoptive Sibling Relationships. There was also a very talented keynote speaker who has a heart for children coming from 'hard places.'

My brain is brewing about how to write on the topics we covered. We were convicted in many areas where we really thought we had our motives nailed down. It is beautiful the way God gently reminds us of what He is really accomplishing.

We came away from this event refreshed and energized after meeting families in very similar situations as ours... what a beautiful thing to see a true 'tapestry' of children from every tribe and nation and the families who love them.

People try to say that we are doing a good thing by fostering ... No, God is doing a good thing. He is doing what He does - loving little ones. We are merely the cracked vessels that He works through. It is all about His love... for the least of these.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Upside-Down Day

Little Boy Blue's caseworker visited our home yesterday. We were absolutely surprised to hear that CPS is changing his status from 'return to parent' to 'termination.' The termination trial will be set for early 2008. The caseworker asked us if we wanted to adopt Little Boy Blue. Can you believe she had to ask? Absolutely!

We are adequately perplexed and very sad for Little Boy Blue. His Mommy hasn't seen him for 6 weeks and CPS doesn't know her whereabouts. It is odd that she was doing well for 5-6 weeks and then just abandoned her hard work. Unfortunately, prior to the 5-6 weeks of success, she had a difficult time of it. Little Boy Blue's attorney does not play games and does not have much patience for Mommy.

Hubby and I shed a few tears last night for his Mommy. How can we rejoice in the middle of what will be someone else's heartache? What is ultimately best for Little Boy Blue?

The termination process is not a short one... and another family member could come out of the woodworks when the process is started and have priority over our family. So, we just continue to wait and watch this beautiful little butterfly stretching his little wings for the first time.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Meandering Toward Something...

Is a decision to home school our children an effort to 'run from' formalized education and bury our heads in the sand? I am and have almost always been an idealist... I vehemently deny 'running from' something and instead say we are 'meandering toward' something else; toward a priceless opportunity for our family.

To our lifelong friends in various public education roles... please do not take our decision as a vote of no confidence. You are each making such a difference - we are fully aware of this. We love you and respect your professionalism, your faith and your commitment to the children of tomorrow. Our decision probably just confirms what you already know about us - 'those folks sure are nice, but they do make some unique decisions.'

If you have any interest in sharing our perspectives on home education, join us at The World is Our Classroom. I do not plan to write much more about education here. This blog is for our foster/adoption journey and a few other random topics. So, stay tuned here even if there is no inkling of a desire to know more about our education option.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

At a Loss for Words...

I came across this story today from the Houston Chronicle... Four children ingest cocaine, police say. Surely, you are sickened by this, as am I. The large questions loom for me... why? will there ever be a home that will take 8 children together? why do some children get out? And the overarching thought... this could have been Baby Girl, Prince Caspian or Little Boy Blue, children we love.

Never would I want to guilt anyone into looking at foster care or adoption... However, this article shows reality magnified so that we can all see it for what it is... There is a huge need for foster families and adoptive families in our very own backyard.

This case got media attention, most do not.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bits & Pieces

Well, it has been a while since I've chimed in on this blog. Thursday morning I woke up with a swollen eye and itching skin around my face. I was just sure that I'd had an allergic reaction to this lovely 'wrinkle cream' my Mom had given me for Christmas last year. :) As the day wore on, the Benadryl helped a bit.

Friday morning I awoke to one very swollen eye and one marginally swollen eye. Additionally, the itching places had turned into red patches of teeny, tiny bumps. Nice. Honestly, I looked very deformed. My temporary deformation caused me to pause and consider people who exist in this state at all times without any hope of physical transformation.

So, I made an appointment with our Doctor friend. It was poison ivy... on my face! It is truly amazing what a steroid shot and dose pack can accomplish in a very short time. I'm grateful for the blessing of modern medicine. My stubborn self usually just stays home and lets poison ivy run the course. This time, since an important sense was involved, I decided to humble myself.

During these interesting days, we also made a very important family decision regarding the education of our children. This may come as a complete shock to some and to others, not so much of a surprise... beginning in January of 2008, Winding Road Academy will be open for full-time education. In other words, our home school will open doors and assume the complete responsibility of educating our children. I have so much more to share on this topic. My attempts will have to wait for another day... the weather is just too beautiful to sit here at my computer.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Family Portrait

.... courtesy of Little Mommy.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Day Without Worry...

I'd like to 'think' I've always been a 'thinker.' However, the reality is that I spent a large part of my life as a 'worrier.' What is the real difference?

When I was in college, I wore my worry like a badge. The girls at my college from my hometown would race to see who could call their Mom first with tales of a 'stressed out' day. The stress we experienced had nothing to do with the great questions of our world. Stress related only to superficial things: relationships, peers, clothing, gossip and so on.

I've heard the phrase, "Worry borrows." Wrong. Worry steals. There is no borrowing to it. Worry does not have any intention of giving back the hours it takes. Worry steals. Permanently.

Worry takes an ordinary beautiful day and turns it into a gut-wrenching, headache-driven, tedious series of minutes. Worry takes a delightful relationship and twists it into a paranoid, soul-numbing, dreaded conversation. Worry removes our freedom to think and move in a way that pleases God.

Flip the coin... To think is to ponder, mull over, and chew on something until you have a conclusion that satisfies. Perhaps the conclusion is not permanent or complete. A conclusion can simply be a recognition of mystery. I spend many hours of day and night thinking. Even when I'm doing the most mundane of Mommy tasks, I'm conducting a running conversation with myself regarding some topic of interest.

Where worry steals, thought graciously gives. Thought expands, thought provokes, thought pushes. Thought joins us all in the great conversation. It is not as if we are thinking about things that have never been thought before... there are heaps and piles of commentary on the subjects we seek.

I have certainly been criticized for 'thinking too much.' Valid criticism when my thinking crosses that imaginary line into worry. Every now and again, it does. God specifically asks us not to worry or be anxious but to instead go to Him with a thankful heart and present our concerns to Him. God does not ask us not to think... in fact, we are to love Him with our mind.

I believe that God enjoys my questions and my thinking... and it is He who gently reminds me that my worry alone cannot accomplish, it cannot solve. Oh, the day is bright and beautiful... may I allow it to be what it is rather than clouding it with worry.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Missing Mommy

While we are busy, busy around here with activities and adding Prince Caspian to our fold, somewhere back in the fog is a real sadness on our part for Little Boy Blue. His Mommy has basically disappeared; not a kidnapping kind of disappearance, a disappearance by choice and circumstance. There are a few known tidbits, but, for the most part, it is all hazy. This will be his 3rd Friday to stay with me instead of going to visitation. Out of the last 5 visits, he has only had 1.

I have a lingering hurt for Little Boy Blue about the lengthening of this process. It could be years before this is resolved, one way or another. A set-back of this sort somewhat restarts the 'plan.' We have not asked many questions yet; so much is unknown.

I have a lingering hurt for Little Boy Blue's Mommy. How will this play out for her? Do the skeptics who believe that a person can't change just point fingers of 'I told you so' at her today? Does she feel such a sense of shame that she cannot manage to show her face?

The saddest part is... she will miss seeing her baby sitting up on his own today, feeling him reach his little hand out to touch her face, and tickling his precious toes to make him giggle endlessly. And what things to miss!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Zest For The New Task

Giving up something you love to do is difficult. Many Mommies temporarily give up things they love to do... gardening, sewing, baking, painting, etc in exchange for more time with their wee ones.

For me, when we made the decision to follow God and expand our family, I had the difficult task of, at least for the foreseeable future, giving up most of the work I had come to love. I've also found myself sacrificing my time in the garden... I did sow seeds with Baby Girl in a Baby pouch; however, the watering of those seeds was remembered in late July when all shoots were crispy.

I believe that God fills the void left from sacrificing one thing by birthing a love for something else within you; something that 'fits' within the time available. It may be reading alone for 10 minutes, it may be listening to good music, singing around the house, exercising, anything ... God fills in the gap with a tasty 'something else' to bring some sweetness to an ordinary, busy day.

Writing, I've found, is something that I love to do. The beautiful thing is that I would have never discovered an enjoyment for writing had I not let go of the work and, to some extent, my garden. To take it a step further, had we not heeded God's call to adopt, I would have still loved my work and my attempts to be a green thumb; however, I would have missed out on the sweetness of the 'something else.'

Journaling has always been a part of me. My journals are 'stream of consciousness' and not written for any one's eyes but my husband's, my God's and mine. My husband and a close friend have strict instructions to burn the mounting stack of spiral notebooks upon my death. With this blog, and another project an old friend has me working on, I can attempt something I've come to love at any hour of the day... for 5 minutes or 50, depending upon my schedule.

To write something that someone else would want to read is humbling. To share my life in the midst of strong emotions is freeing. To be once again given a task I love is amazing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh, The Things That Distracted Me...

"Eyes blinded by the fog of Things cannot see Truth.
Ears deafened by the din of Things cannot hear Truth.
Brains bewildered by the whirl of Things cannot think Truth.
Hearts deadened by the weight of Things cannot feel Truth.
Throats choked by the dust of Things cannot speak Truth."

-Harold Bell Wright, The Uncrowned King, 1910

This passage sits, written in my hand, in the front of my Bible. It serves as a reminder to me of my lifelong battle with Things. Material Things.

My parents were self-made... people who worked hard together in a traditional marriage to build something from nothing. They were a team, both with equally important roles. It delighted them both to see my sister and me lavished with the extras that they never had growing up. They wanted our lives to be easier than theirs had been.

Their goal was altruistic and also very common for the parents of my peers growing up in suburbia. It was my handling of the situation that caused my problems. Nothing was ever enough for me. I became a 'consumer' of 'Things' in the truest sense of the word. The most fashionable clothing, the expensive car, the latest designer handbag, the expected college and post-graduate education... would anything finally satisfy me? My parents must have been shocked, I am confident that this was not what they intended to create.

In my twenties, my life hit an all-time low. The 'Things' had failed to satisfy and I was a depressed, sad person. I'm only grateful that the epiphany came then, instead of decades later. Through a series of circumstances, I learned how to get by with very little. I still had my parents to fall back on; however, I learned how to shop wisely and, most importantly, to desire less.

Then I met my husband. He was not raised with excess, in fact, the exact opposite. His college was not a 'right' but a privilege garnered from hard work on the athletic field. He was so grateful for his degree from an excellent school. He was and is acutely aware that he would not have had such an opportunity, but for a God-given physical gift. And, once that gift served the intended purpose, my husband closed the door on it and left it behind without any regrets. He is not a man who spends entire weekends watching sports; nor does he live out his unfulfilled dreams through his son's athletic pursuits. In fact, he rarely even watches his alma mater play and would be tickled if our sons become musicians.

So, he rubbed off on me in the area of Things. He was also a person of deep faith back then. Not a perfect man; but a man whose faith in God never wavered. He rubbed off on me in that area, too. He encouraged me to ask question upon question until my perceived intellectual barriers to faith were finally answered.

We have walked together as God has peeled the desire for material things away from me. We learned to live without my salary, we chose a simpler existence in the country, we try very hard not to be impulsive with large purchases. We fail in this area regularly, but materialism does not have a hold on me any longer. There is not a thing that anyone around me owns that I seek, not a thing.

By any standard, we have a great home and nice land. Take the house and leave the land, I'd be just fine. We could live in a trailer on this land and be very, very happy. For that matter, we could live in a trailer anywhere and be happy. We've often talked about picking up and taking a year with our kiddos to see the country in an RV. It sounds like the trip of a lifetime to me. It is doubtful that CPS would approve such an adventure, so that dream will have to wait.

In conclusion, for me, materialism had a grip so tight that I couldn't see, hear, think, feel or speak Truth. Somewhere deep within me was a thirst for that elusive quenched-soul. Finally, I am able to drink from the fountain of Truth, and I am satisfied.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

'Counting' Our Blessings

1 Doctor's Office
2 Adults
3 Attempts to look in Prince Caspian's ears for infection
4 Adult Arms - attempting to corral the little ones
5 Shots for Little Boy Blue
6 Spit-ups for Little Boy Blue between the waiting & exam rooms
7 Forms to fill out for Prince Caspian
8 Child-sized arms & legs in constant motion

Yesterday we had Little Boy Blue's 6-month check-up and Prince Caspian's 15-month check-up. It was our opportunity to introduce Prince Caspian to our very favorite Doctor friend. This Doctor has really been extraordinary in our fostering experience.

Children in foster care are covered by Medicaid. Children in foster care are required to see a Doctor. Not every Doctor takes Medicaid. Additional complication, we live in a rural area, approximately 30 minutes from a city where there might be a Doctor who might take Medicaid. Our Doctor, here in town, does not take Medicaid. However, he makes an exception for our foster kids. He says it is his contribution to our efforts and the efforts of another local family who takes in teenage girls. If you lived nearby, I'd have to find a way to refer you to him!

So, back to the visit. The appointments were at 2:00 & 2:30, back-to-back. We had to be there at 1:30 to fill out the abyss of paperwork on Prince Caspian (since Little Boy Blue has already been seen at this office.) I pick up Budding Author and Little Mommy, rush back to town and begin to unload everything and everyone. Just then, my sweet husband walks up out of nowhere and says in his deep, manly voice, "I'll get that stroller." Whew! Huge relief. While I had convinced myself that I could swing it with all 4 kids and 2 getting shots, pangs of doubt still lingered as I fumbled with our double stroller.

Diagnosis - both boys are healthy, growing strong and developmentally on target... if you knew their backgrounds, you would shout 'Amen.' We are so happy for them both. Early Childhood Intervention will still be referred for Little Boy Blue because of his continued stiffness, a few minor things we have noticed, and because he needs to be "followed along" as he moves through different stages. However, on motor skill and language development he is doing outstanding. He engages well with people and this week he sat up by himself!


Little Boy Blue will not see his Mommy tomorrow. I have more than shared my feelings on this subject with you and, therefore, will leave the statement without additional comment.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Everyone Needs a Little Mommy

It is Little Mommy's turn to be the center of the family blog spotlight. I think she secretly likes being the center of attention, even though she acts the 'shy girl' part.

Little Mommy was born in 2003 after 15 weeks of bed rest. I began significant contractions in Week 20 of the pregnancy. In many ways, I knew she was a girl; everything just felt different. And then, when things got a bit dangerous, I got very scared. I remember many sleepless nights crying out to God to please calm me down and be with my little one. So many special verses are etched in my mind from that time.

Somewhere around Week 35, my water sack sprung a leak again, just like my first pregnancy. I knew something was weird and was admitted to the hospital to give birth to her the very next day. I did not sleep a wink the night before... vividly replaying Budding Author's emergency arrival.

Little Mommy was a beauty. She had perfect little rosebud lips and a mass of dark hair. The day she was born, she moved into the NICU due to respiratory issues. She quickly recovered and was out a week or so after her birth.

She was welcomed home with open arms, even brother's. Everything was pink... we went girl crazy. We were so much more relaxed with her. Being a parent the second time tends to peel away those Type-A tendencies very quickly.

Little Mommy has always been my helper. She loves to cook with me in the kitchen. I have great confidence that she will be baking bread on her own by age 8. She does such a great job with homemade cinnamon rolls under my watchful eye, of course. Many nights before dinner she will come in and say "Mommy, what can I do to help you?" Often, I just stand with my mouth ajar.

Little Mommy has an intuitive knack for babies. She talks wonderfully to them and wants to cuddle and snuggle for long intervals. She has at least 30 'babies' of her own. (stuffed animals; hand-me-downs of mine and my sister's) If I had a dime for every nap I've interrupted of her 'babies', I'd be a wealthy woman. She will often be heard shushing me because I've roused her 'babies' from their slumber.

She is a blond-haired, blue-eyed 4-year old. With all of her maternal instincts, it may be a surprise that she is really a tom-boy at heart. She loves pink, but she loves being dirty in pink. She will ride her bike as daring and dangerously as Budding Author. Laughingly, she tells me that she is a 'country girl.' I love it!

This child never ceases to amaze me with her competitive spirit. She wants to read like her brother, so she pushes herself until she can brag that she's finished reading a book of her own. She is a creative, lefty with an artistic flair.

Outsiders would call Little Mommy very shy... she tends to stick to her own family and a few close friends. She wants to be anywhere that Budding Author is... this may be a large problem for him when he gets married. She's already asked us if her husband can come live here with all of us. What fun! (I say with sarcasm dripping from my mouth.)

This Summer, she gave herself her first haircut. We had just been to the beauty shop to just get the very tip ends of her long hair trimmed. She comes into the kitchen, not 5 minutes after we arrived home, and says "Mommy, don't you love my hair." It took every ounce of strength in me not to bust out laughing. She had cut at least 7 inches of hair off of both sides. Her hair was now a bi-level. Luckily, we have a friend who is great with hair. She cleaned it up beautifully and now, Little Mommy is a sassy lass.

Little Mommy keeps me on my toes. She is 4 going on 14. Her favorite things are Strawberry Shortcake, drawing, acting out the Sound of Music and climbing our mimosa tree. She loves to have one-on-one time with her Daddy and me. She craves it. If she doesn't have her special time, she is very upset. I guess that has singularly been the most difficult part of having additional children. She needs my undivided attention and I have royally messed it up on many occasions. We are learning together, she and I.

In the foster/adoptive sister role, Little Mommy is caring, attentive and emotional. She still tells me she misses Baby Girl. That's OK because I do, too. Little Mommy wants a baby sister so bad she can taste it. I pray that God gives her the desires of her heart. (Whew! Did I really just write that??)

Little Mommy, you are 'it', girl! I want to be like you when I grow up. Oh, I take that back... Daddy would have a hard time with those tantrums! You will always be our precious princess. I pray God's richest blessings on your life. And God, she was well worth the wait!

Here's to You, Budding Author

The primary purpose of this blog is communication about foster care, adoption and the reality of each. It may appear to the occasional reader here that I do not spend much time talking about Budding Author and Little Mommy, our biological blessings.

So, humor me a bit, while I brag on these two... Budding Author's story comes today, with Little Mommy's soon to follow.

Budding Author was born in 2000. He was our 'surprise' baby. In 1999, we were told that we would probably not conceive on our own. I was very sad. Many of the readers of this blog have struggled with infertility. It appears to be more common today than ever before (another topic for another post) - or perhaps infertility is just more commonly shared with others today. In any event, we decided not to pursue any type of infertility treatment. It was not some deep reason that drove us away from it... just more of a practicality for us personally. Plus, adoption has always been an option for us, even that early in the baby game.

Surprisingly, we conceived Budding Author all on our own, the old-fashioned way. Our ob/gyn at the time did not believe that I was pregnant and had to do a sonogram right then and there. We decided to continue being old-fashioned and not find out the gender of the baby.

About 33 weeks into the pregnancy, my water sack began to spring a slow leak. Budding Author came by emergency c-section in the middle of the night a few days later on June 9, 2000. We were in the hospital already, due to the low level of amniotic fluid. The nurses could not find his heartbeat and the doctor begin cutting on me without anesthesia! Ultimately, I was completely put under for the delivery. I awoke to find my sweet hubby by my side telling me about our beautiful baby boy that was rushed to the NICU.

He was a feeder/grower in the NICU for 2 weeks which gave me a bunch of recovery time. We were so grateful for this little peanut. I can still picture my husband's face when he talked of how handsome our baby was and how proud he was of me.

The years have passed quickly. From potty-training to learning the alphabet, counting to ten, playing soccer, reading his first chapter book, writing a new 'Curious George' story and forming a budding relationship with God... he is a big boy now with purpose and sensitivity.

He loves Star Wars, Legos and a combination of the two. As we have studied Ancient History together, he has consistently asked me whether he will meet the heroes he learns about (Odysseus, Alexander the Great, etc.) in heaven. He wants to meet these men of our historical tales in the flesh. He has met them in his imagination, you see.

I look at his feet and laugh! They are huge! His Daddy comes from athletic Scottish stock, so Budding Author comes by it naturally. He loves a competitive game of any sport; however, he also has a huge love of music of any kind. Piano is his current instrument, because it is what we already own. He honestly made out a list of all of the instruments he wants to learn to play and in order... french horn, trumpet, saxophone, xylophone, guitar, etc.

All in all, he is an active 7-year old with a zest for life. He loves people, yet loves solitude. His favorite two things to do alone are designing wonderful Lego creations or walking in our woods with our English Mastiff by his side sporting his huge walking stick. He still loves to be read to at night... reading aloud is a family thing. There is nothing like piling in our king-sized bed and introducing him and his little sister to Stuart Little, Aslan and the Little House on the Prairie.

It is my special blessing to have Budding Author in my life. He loves with abandon and thinks deep thoughts about himself and the world. He challenges me to be a better Mommy.

And as for being a foster/adoptive brother, he takes his mission very seriously. In a 7-year old way, this is his calling. He loves on these little ones, brags on them to his friends and, when the days is through, he thanks God for making us a family. He humbles me with his understanding of Little Boy Blue's situation.

So, here's to you my Budding Author. Oh! and God, thanks for sharing him with me!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Can a Crumbling Life Be Rebuilt?

I do not claim to be a poet; however, emotions without outlet have brought my pencil to paper on many occasions. It is as if my thoughts are easily, quickly synthesized in poetry. Never would I have imagined such a thing. Poetry has always been my very least favorite form of expression.

Casting Crowns has a new CD out. A song on the CD, Slow Fade, triggered this poem. One verse in particular pierced my soul... "It’s a slow fade when you give yourself away; It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray. Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid, When you give yourself away. People never crumble in a day." You can listen to the song here.

Funny, I bought and listened to this CD on Friday after finding out the news about Little Boy Blue's Mommy. A reminder, lest I forget, that she and I walk the same difficult, dirty road of life.

Can A Life Lost Be Found?

Losing yourself.
Until nothing remains,
of the girl you once were.
Nothing; not a look,
not a thought, not a dream.

Losing yourself.
As the innocence drains
and a vague desperation sets in.
Proding, pushing you to move,
somewhere, anywhere.

Losing yourself.
As the black cloud hangs persistently,
and his net traps you like a bird.
You wish to fly, yet feeling wanted,
for the first time, you stay.

Losing yourself.
You realize his true intent
as he poisons your mind.
You become unrecognizable,
a shadow; the way out, gone?

Remembering yourself.
Seeing the eyes of your beautiful son,
and a pinprick of light beckons.
You feel a tingle of hope,
an option, a way out?

Remembering yourself.
Knowing the choice is yours,
an unexpected hand reaches out.
Will you meet Him,
the only hope of true change, the Way?

I pray she will meet Him. If she does not, I'm a Mommy, standing firm and ready.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Bittersweet Friday

Bittersweet - primarystressbit-schwar-secondarystressswemacront, Pleasant and unpleasant, or bitter and sweet, at the same time; tinged with sadness.

If you have followed our journey for any length of time, you will remember that Fridays are the day that Little Boy Blue visits with his Mommy. Two weeks ago, Little Boy Blue made the trek to 'busitation' (as Little Mommy calls it). His Mommy was sick and did not make it. My heart felt that it was something more. I simply cannot explain why. Just suffice it to say that my Mommy antennae were up and sniffing around.

Last Friday, 'busitation' went on as normal with Little Boy Blue's caseworker bringing him home and sharing loads of information and encouragement with us. Not encouragement that Little Boy Blue was going to be ours, just encouragement in general about our fostering, etc. She told us that we would have Little Boy Blue until at least early 2008. We were sad that he would not spend Christmas with his Mommy, but were certainly excited to have him with us. So, I thought my Mommy hunch about the week before was just rubbish.

This morning, we got a call that Little Boy Blue's Mommy is in a heap of trouble. Oh, my faint heart. I cannot keep it from roaming through the fields of 'what if' or 'what is next.' My desire for Little Boy Blue to be permanently reunited with his Mommy directly conflicts with my desire for hubby and me to raise him. Bittersweet.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Will You Be My Friend?

Yesterday I caught a glimpse of the littlest boys doing what little ones do...

Little Boy Blue was playing quietly in his exersaucer... Prince Caspian was digging through my plastic cups while I emptied the dishwasher. A few minutes later, I realize all is quiet. I peek around the corner of the kitchen and spy Prince Caspian giving Little Boy Blue a plastic blue cup. Little Boy Blue giggles with glee as he holds it up to his mouth trying to drink. Then Prince Caspian toddles off and gets his sippy cup... sweetly he holds it up to Little Boy Blue's mouth offering him a taste.

These two may not be brothers forever; but they are brothers and friends for now.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

If I Could See Down the Corridors of Time...

There are certainly days where I wish I knew what the future holds... is it 4 children or 70 as Budding Author desires? Is it forever foster care? How will things play out for Little Boy Blue? Is there a baby sister for Little Mommy?

My personality foolishly attempts to plan, predict, manipulate and change life. It is ironic then that our current situation leaves no place or need for my control. Funny, I cannot do a thing to change today no matter how much research I do or how organized I may be.

I laughingly wish to see the future; yet if I really knew what tomorrow held, would I even have the courage to take the next step?

This is my lesson... If God had pulled back the curtain and shown me what 2007 looked like, I would have said 'No thank you, this heart can't handle that. You'll have to pick someone else.' And I would have missed it all!

It all boils down to faith. Do I trust that the God of the universe cares for our family? Do I really believe that He knows Baby Girl and Little Boy Blue and will care for them without my help? Do I really believe He loves me and knows what my heart can handle? Do I really believe that He will work all things together for His good? I do.

Adoption Comes in Many Shapes & Sizes

This weekend, Little Mommy and I had the pleasure of attending a baby shower in honor of the adoption of a beautiful baby boy. His Mommy and I used to be in a bible study group a few years back, before we moved to the boonies. This baby has been prayed for in so many different ways by so many people. It was a privilege and blessing for me to hold him and see how those prayers have been faithfully answered.

The story of his life is a huge reminder to me that adoption comes in many shapes and sizes. The Lord provides safe homes for babies and children in a wonderful myriad of ways. Some families are created through domestic adoption (closed or open), some through international adoption, some through grandparent or other kinship adoption and some through the state foster care system. Some children are placed in families with no children, others are intentionally placed with new siblings. Some children are placed with their biological siblings, others are not. The most important part is not the means, but the end - a loving home in which to thrive.

The Texas foster care system is how our family will be woven and spun. When I look at Prince Caspian, and see how he 'fits,' I know it could have been no other way. My grateful heart dances today!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Joined at the Heart, Prince Caspian and I

We received a package this week with 3 special books in it for Prince Caspian! It was a wonderful surprise from a dear law school buddy of mine and his sweet, growing family. There was one book called 'My Mommy and I' which has captured Prince Caspian's and my attention.

Specifically, it is a colorful board book telling of great things that 'Mommy and I' do together. The very last page is what gets me every time. It says... "We're joined at the heart, my Mommy and I."

Isn't this a beautiful, simple way to describe adoption? We may not have the umbilical cord connection, or the nursing moments that bond a Mommy to her baby; however, there is no question that we are joined at the heart. He has fit into my heart just perfectly, like the missing piece to a puzzle.

**Not that every day has gone smoothly... yesterday was particularly challenging. At one point I found myself working with Budding Author on schoolwork, trying to help Little Mommy with her 'reading', feeding Little Boy Blue a bottle (which he spit up on everything) all while Prince Caspian whined inconsolably. (If Prince Caspian is tired, our world is painful! If he has gotten great sleep, our world is great fun!)

Me, I'm just the conductor for this out-of-tune orchestra. And there are times when I'd rather be playing on the xylophone rather than keeping everyone on track, believe me!

Back to Prince Caspian. It has been 3 weeks since he joined us and I feel like he has been a part of 'us' forever! Thank you, God, for helping us get past our fears to be able to just love this little guy.

"We are joined at the heart, Prince Caspian and I!"

Friday, September 21, 2007

We are Alike, She & I

Although I've been quiet on this blog this week, my heart has been anything but quiet. It beats in my chest with excitement, thanksgiving, love and disbelief. The excitement, thanksgiving and love portion is easily understood. The disbelief portion probably requires some explanation...

I've written about Little Boy Blue's Mommy in the past... she and I are connected by this precious baby. Never did I desire to meet her in person, never did I fathom that I would look her in the eyes and see a woman more like me than I ever imagined.

In fact, I've said to God before (and a very special friend) that I could never actually do it, meet her I mean. And then, the letter came. CPS wanted us to meet with them and his Mommy to discuss permanency plans for Little Boy Blue. Unbelievable!

The meeting went very well and the goal is still reunification. Honestly, it was a surprise blessing. I cannot clearly explain in words what it did for me to see her in person. I do know this... she went from being this negative image in my mind to being a living, breathing person, in the flesh. I saw our similarities and also our uniqueness. She and I certainly have more in common than I ever imagined. By commonality, I do not mean likes and dislikes or physical similarity; I mean she and I are both fallen human beings who have made poor choices and are in need of a Savior. It really is that simple.

I have great hope for her and for Little Boy Blue. I can see a Mommy's love shining through, I see a heart and mind capable of so many things. And, I am praying that she feels only God's love through our family. May we cease to judge and begin to fervently pray. Please join us, if you so desire.

Do you believe people can change? I've heard on and off my entire life that people don't change. If that is true, why did God even bother sending Christ to this earth? Is His salvation and redemption only for the future? Are we stuck in our poor choices, doomed to repeat them over and over? May it never be so. We believe in a God who came so that we may have LIFE; so that we might be changed through the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Before I get too theological and scare our Pastor to death, I'll end with this. We believe, without a doubt, that Little Boy Blue's Mommy can change and we believe in the One who can speak to her heart and extend His sufficient grace to her to make that change come about. May she see Him everywhere she turns and may she be so touched by His life-changing power that she never turns back.

This is a difficult place where we have arrived... we are in this fostering thing for the long haul. I'd never have expected it or desired it, but here we are. If I had my preference, I'd say 'forget it, I give up, this is way too difficult.' And then I look into Little Boy Blue's eyes, I see our children loving him with something very real, I see my husband lovingly exercising his little body to relieve the continued stiffness and I realize that he is ours, at least for a season.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Normalcy (however that word might be defined) has returned to our home. Each person's spot is now settled!

I've compiled a list of things that have changed and things that have stayed the same since our family has grown...

Changed Things:

  • Diapers... exponential growth in quantity.
  • Food... Prince Caspian is an extraordinary consumer. I cannot even imagine what teenage years are going to look like! We made our first family shopping trip to Sam's last Friday evening. What an event.
  • Going out... leaving the house with all of us is an adventure. I plan ahead and yet I always forget something.
  • Volume... things are loud and busy when everyone is at home and awake.
  • Comments... People stare at us all and eyeball the youngest two and ask 'now how far apart are they?' or 'are you done?'

Remaining Things:
  • I still have 2 children and a husband who are potty-trained... yippeeee. Let's look at the bright side!
  • My sleep is complete. I haven't missed a wink since Prince Caspian joined us.
  • I still adore my husband. We are partners in this labor of love... it would be impossible to explain the level of commitment he has for our family. As many of our old friends are separating or divorcing, I am SO grateful for the steady foundation that he provides our family.
  • This journey is one I still feel called to patiently complete. We don't know how many children or what our family will ultimately look like; however, the ride is as interesting as the destination!

Friday, September 14, 2007

What a Difference a Week Makes...

Precious Prince Caspian has officially turned a corner in his adjustment process. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were quite difficult over here at our place. Wednesday night our home group from church was here and things really got better from then on!

He is waking up happy, going down for bedtime with mostly a smile and eating, eating and eating. We are just tickled!

On another note, my Mom's surgery went well. She is feeling better today than she has in many months! That is an answered prayer! And get this, her surgeon actually prayed with her before the surgery. He said his profession is more than a career, it is a mission!! What a ray of hope...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm Still Reading...

For some reason, I feel compelled to report back on my summer reading. Yes, I still read... even with all of the activity around here. In fact, reading is my one indulgence (well, maybe Dr. Pepper, too.). I simply cannot wait to get to the end of a day and have even 10 minutes to myself to tackle that pile 15 books on my nightstand. I'm sure you pity my husband. Luckily, he usually has a book going, too.

So, here is what I have read this Summer:

Love Your God with All Your Mind by JP Moreland. This is now a classic for me. If I had read this book back in my twenties, I imagine so many things that would have fallen into place regarding my faith. Thank you, Mr. Moreland, for providing a book I will return to over and over.

Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher. Very interesting book on a segment of conservativism and how it plays out in everyday life.

The Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls. You absolutely must read this book. It is the true story of one family who did not get 'caught' by Child Protective Services, but should have. The writing is excellent and it will make you laugh, cry and stand in unbelief, all at the same time. Thanks Mom for recommending this one!

Suite Francoise. Still not done. I've enjoyed a peek into France; however, seem to get bogged down. I'll keep on until I finish this one.

The Iliad by Homer. Read about half of it, then re-read parts of it with Budding Author as he studied Ancient Greece. Finished up by watching the movie, Troy. While there are some unnecessary parts to this movie which bothered me, overall it is an interesting portrayal of a possibly fictional event. Budding Author and I keep going back and forth on whether we like the Greeks or the Trojans best... after seeing the movie, I have a new appreciation for the Trojans, poor guys!

The Question of God: C.S. Lewis & Freud in a hypothetical debate. Very interesting read. This will stay on my shelves for our children to explore someday.

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. A novel dealing with an ethical choice of a doctor which will haunt him forever. Excellent, quick read.

OK, what else? There were a variety of other library books and several others for our local book club. My memory fails me at the moment.

Humor me, sometimes I need to write about something other than foster care :) If you enjoy a good book with a cup of coffee, let me know what titles I must read this fall!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Days to Remember...

Not perfect days... just days to put away in the memory box to remember when these 4 little people become adults and venture off. Days to remember when things get quiet around here. Right now, I cannot fathom a quiet day.

Yesterday was rough... Prince Caspian's 2 eye teeth emerged and a previous diaper rash reared an ugly head. He was sad most of the day. As my Mom put it this morning, "You've been through this before as a Mommy of 2 others, so you know that it will soon pass."

And today is a new morning, but challenges remain. Prince Caspian is busy eating crayons, babbling in his special language and wanting to constantly eat! This boy can put away the groceries. I've never seen anything like it!

Meanwhile, Budding Author and Little Mommy are moving along. Little Mommy seems to feel a little left out. Today we moved her doll house down to the living room so that we can all play with her. Budding Author is challenged to get his schoolwork done amidst the chaos. I'm challenged on many levels... organization, patience, clean house, meal preparation, etc.

I would love to hear how your life is going... in fact, I need a breath from outside these four walls. :) Enjoy your day, whomever you are out there!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Update on Little Boy Blue

This is the very best Friday I've had in weeks... primarily because of Prince Caspian, of course. I love the way he has integrated into our family. He is a trooper... and a pleasure to parent.

As for Little Boy Blue, he has had to relinquish the spotlight for a bit. Today was his visitation with his Mom. The case aide said she was wonderful with him today. She brought an exersaucer and fed him baby food. She made him giggle uncontrollably, too.

We have a new case aide who gave me more information about the visit than I've ever had before. In some ways, this is a good thing. It makes me very happy to know that his Mom is really sincere and wants to have him back. The case aide said she asked many questions about our family. It may be time for me to send a letter back to her, from me. We are still sending the letters from Little Boy Blue. Maybe she needs to hear about our family, a sanitized version for our privacy, of course.

In my heart, I'm really leaving lots of room for flexibility with Little Boy Blue. There is a high likelihood that he will be returned home. The example of Prince Caspian's foster family has given me a new outlook on being a 'bridge' between an old life and a new one. In Little Boy Blue's case, the old life (in utero) and new life are with the same Mommy - just different circumstances and hopefully, a changed heart. I'm a bit more comfortable with it all now. Budding Author loves to hear about Little Boy Blue and his Mommy. In fact, he thinks it will be a wonderful thing if Little Boy Blue gets to go home. Go figure!

Have a great weekend! Thanks for reading along while I ramble!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Range of Emotions

Today has been a day to remember! We were all up early, blowing up balloons, making a banner and baking and decorating cupcakes. Of course, the kids were bickering and even hitting one another! Go figure!

I woke up in the middle of the night and felt anxiety settling in... and sweetly, I was reminded of the verse in Philippians that carried me through my tough pregnancy with Little Mommy. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." It is true. And, guess what, I slept like a baby for the rest of the night. That peace that passes all understanding is real and beyond my paltry explanation.

Prince Caspian arrived around 11:30 a.m. We were still signing all of the CPS paperwork. He sat in my lap like a little gentleman. Then we had some lunch and as Budding Author put it "began partying." Cupcakes from head to toe for Prince Caspian... and play, play, play! We unpacked his toys and put them in with ours.

Nap was difficult... probably the most difficult I've ever attempted with our kiddos. He cried unless someone was in the room with him. Finally, my hubby had the idea for me to lay on the floor by the bed. So, I lay with my eyes closed next to the bed. And, finally, precious baby lay down and closed his eyes.

He will grieve for his foster family; of this, I'm sure. They are dear people and loved him immensely. May we have that 'peace that passes all understanding' as we patiently comfort him and wait for the little boy to bloom where he has been planted.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Magical Weekend

It went by very quickly, our time with Prince Caspian. And, now, I'm sitting here trying to remember every detail of his little face. Hubby just left to take him back to his foster home. This really does not make sense; he spent the night at our house last night and now he goes back to his foster home for two days. It seems like this is counterproductive when the ultimate goal is a smooth transition. Again, I must remind myself that these are the rules, this is the way it is to be done and we are just participants.

Saturday we took Little Mommy and Budding Author to meet their new brother. It was love at first sight for them. We also found out why our family was chosen for Prince Caspian... because our family parallels his foster family in many ways. Both families have older siblings, both families are active, both families are Christian... great reasons. We will certainly emphasize the sibling reason for Little Mommy and Budding Author. What a very personal thing for both of them!

We took all of the kiddos (including Little Boy Blue) to a playground and carousel. Then we all went to Olive Garden. Prince Caspian is a wonderful, mild-mannered baby. His foster family has taught him wonderful manners. And, did I mention his beautiful smile? We love him.

We returned Prince Caspian to his foster home Saturday evening and picked him up Sunday morning for our overnight slumber party at our home. On the way home, we stopped by to see one set of grandparents. What fun! It couldn't have gone better!!

Prince Caspian seemed very comfortable at our home. He met the dogs, cat, goats and chickens. He slept in his new bed, he played with his new toys, he loved on all of us. We are blessed beyond measure. Our only challenge: our 12-year old schnauzer has issues with our toddling Prince Caspian. She has already been a loose cannon - snapping at our kids and once biting Little Mommy in the face. We must find a new home for her; a home where she can thrive in her last years. If anyone who reads this is interested or can help us find her a great place, please post or contact me.

Here is the Terrific Trio walking down our very own Long & Winding Driveway:

"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Ecclesiastes 4:12

Sometimes I have to pinch myself ... this is REALLY happening! Blessings to you on this celebratory day!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Oh, those blue eyes...

... they captured my heart for sure! We pulled up at Prince Caspian's foster home and he was waiting! His foster Mommy was holding him where we could see him through the glass storm door. Whew! Emotions just came like a flood...

It had been a very busy day around our place. Budding Author and I were deep in study of the Trojan War and insect body parts. The morning included many Spelling words and review for Budding Author's first math test of the year. Preparations to take Little Boy Blue to a sitter filled my head. I really did not even have the time to emotionally prepare for our meeting with Prince Caspian until we jumped in the car for our 2-hour trek to his foster home.

I did get dressed in my 'uniform' (faded jeans and a white t-shirt) and we proceeded to stop at Whataburger to pick up to-go burgers. Guess what? Within 10 minutes I had spilled mustard on my shirt in 2 places! To those of you who know me well, this comes as no surprise. Hubby was wearing a long-sleeved shirt (in late August, in Texas!) because his short-sleeved shirts were dirty! (How can that be? It sure feels like I'm constantly doing laundry!) So, we laughed heartily at ourselves. Gratefully, we arrived early and were able to pick up new shirts and toys for Prince Caspian.

No amount of emotional thought would have prepared me for this beautiful little one. Nothing in my wildest dreams would allow me to believe that we could love him so deeply upon sight. Amazing.

We loved on him, played ball with him, held his hands while he toddled all over the house, kissed him, met most of his foster family and made plans for his transition to our home. His foster family has 5 biological children, ages 22 to 4. They normally foster 2 children at a time; their other foster child was recently adopted. This is their calling... and I love his foster Mommy. She ranks right up there on my list of personal heroes!

We took many pictures and, begrudgingly, left to head back home. We barely pulled in the driveway when Budding Author and Little Mommy came running out the front door yelling "show us the pictures, we want to see Prince Caspian." That just filled my heart with joy! They are SO excited. It is not everyday that you gain a little brother for keeps!

So, here is the plan... Saturday we will all go to spend a few hours with him. We can take him to the zoo, or just to play somewhere and then to dinner. We will spend the night close to his foster home. Then Sunday we will bring him home for an overnight visit. We will have to take him back to his foster home on Monday. On Wednesday, CPS will bring him to our home to stay!!

We are planning a big family party for Wednesday. Budding Author and Little Mommy are staying home from school, we are getting balloons and making 'Welcome Home' signs. Maybe some cupcakes are in order!! And then, that afternoon, Prince Caspian will meet his grandparents. Of course, our home bible study group starts up that night at our house! We look forward to introducing him to all of our friends!! It will be a beautifully special day!!

Praise God for small miracles!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

How to Say Thank You?

As I impatiently wait for tomorrow to arrive, someone comes to mind that I have all but forgotten. How can I possibly forget the feelings of someone in whose shoes I've walked? Prince Caspian's foster Mommy.

What is she feeling as she helps him prepare for a new life with another family? Even though his foster family is not an adoptive family (they have many biological children and feel called to fostering only), there still has to be some feeling of sadness. This woman has raised our soon-to-be son for a year! She has comforted him while he cried, fed him his first bites of baby food and held his hand as he took his first steps. How can I begin to thank her?

We want to do something special for her... yet I'm perplexed at what might be appropriate and meaningful. Any ideas?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Day After Tomorrow...

... he will no longer be a stranger. We will look in his eyes and, prayerfully, communicate the depth of love we already have for him. We will watch, with anticipation, as he walks on wobbly feet around his foster home. We will hold him, laugh and play with him for as long as we are able.

This first visit with Prince Caspian is just for hubby and me. Our kids will join us this weekend when we have an 'outing' with him at the zoo. Then we will have to return him to his foster home. A few days later, we will pick him up for an overnight, after which, the adoption paperwork will be signed and the 6-month clock will begin ticking.

We are almost ready here at our house... 2nd crib is up, 2nd high chair in place and a few appropriate toys scattered here and there. Really, the major things are taken care of. Everything else will fall into place.

He is ours! Words truly fail me now... at the core, the only thing I know for sure is gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for the way we love this child we have never even seen a picture of... This no-picture concept is so foreign to most people I talk to; it was foreign to me. Yet, now it seems the most natural, 'right' thing. It is as natural and right as giving birth to a child whose face you haven't seen, but you've loved with all of your heart for 9 months.

The crazy thing about all of this is that life continues around us... we have kids in school 3 days per week, school-at-home days 2 days per week, piano lessons, bible study, Little Boy Blue's visitation and all of the other commitments of our days. Also, I just found out today that my Mom will have gallbladder surgery in 2 weeks. I cannot participate in her recovery like I would want to do...

Bottom line, I don't have a maternity leave from life when Prince Caspian arrives. He will immediately join the hustle and bustle of our days... and I hope he is fascinated by it all and wants to stay!

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Friday to Remember

With all of the grief I've given to Fridays in the past, I'd like to offer a hand of reconciliation to that day of the week :). Today has been an exciting day. Yesterday, we had our meeting with CPS and heard about Prince Caspian's daily life, his personality, etc. He was described by his foster Mommy as a happy, laughing, independent almost 14-month old. Today, we bask in the joy of knowing that this one is ours... for keeps!

Budding Author's response to it all was, 'Yes! This is awesome!'... Little Mommy is much more subdued, 'When do I get to meet him?' All in all, we are ecstatic to add another permanent member to our family. Our kiddos have been such troopers, hanging in right there with us on this foster journey. And, they are rewarded with a baby brother!

We will get to see a picture of him early next week... isn't that interesting - we still have not laid eyes on the child. My first glance at him, in person, will be next Friday or Saturday!! Anticipation! My son! WOW!

We went to our local library's book sale this afternoon and picked up a special toy for baby Prince Caspian. Tomorrow will be a day of shopping for 'stuff.' Yipeeeee. I feel like a kid in a candy store... Oh! And did I tell you he will have our last name from the first day he is placed? We are giving him a completely new name (I will certainly post on the whys of that at a later date)... but legally, he will only have our last name until early March 2008 when we can offically adopt him!!

Blue bubblegum cigars should be on the to-buy list for tomorrow :)...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Light Peeks Through

Finally, a pinprick of light at the end of the adoption tunnel. Yesterday, we got the call about the next step in our adoption of Prince Caspian. They have scheduled our meeting for today at 3:00 p.m. They FORGOT to let us or Covenant Kids know until yesterday! Isn't that humorous? We are the soon-to-be parents!

Last night, we were sufficiently overwhelmed. With the time that drags between the CPS 'steps,' we get back into our normal lives and make no permanent decisions about highchairs, changing tables, cribs, etc. We almost forget that we were 'chosen.' I think this must be a coping mechanism for us... if we spent all of our time planning for tomorrow, we would miss out on today.

But tomorrow is here! The plan for his transition will be put in place... and the race begins. I want to get his family book made (on my bum computer that takes me 5 times as long as it should to accomplish a task!), I want to make a DVD of our family for his foster Mom to show him, and that doesn't even begin on the very practical matters of food, toys, clothing, etc.

The tunnel is still pretty dark and it will be 6-7 months before the adoption is finalized... but, the light exists nonetheless. And it is beautiful!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday Comes But Once A Week

If you read my July post about Fridays, you will remember that this weekday comes with great difficulty for me. Little Boy Blue has his one hour visit with his Mommy on Fridays. For the last 6 visits, I have sent pictures and notes to her written from Little Boy Blue. Well, he doesn't actually write them... but I take the liberty of speaking for him.

Today, I received one in return. It was very nice and appreciative. Funny, when you put a face on someone and you read words of gratitude, it is very difficult not to sympathize and even 'like' that person. Brutal honesty, I do not want to like her. But I find that I do... and I'm grateful that I'm not stuck in the rut of hate and bitterness about her poor choices.

Her next custody hearing is in less than 2 weeks. I'm begging God to prepare my heart for the outcome... and here is what my pencil wrote:

Two Mothers

Her empty arms,
Fill mine.
Her sadness and grief,
Allow for my unspoken joy.
Her poor choice,
Gives a chance for my love to overflow.

In an instant, it can all reverse,
Like an hourglass turned upside-down.

My arms empty,
Her arms filled.
My grief surfaces,
Her redemption complete.
My choice to love,
Has given her a chance to heal.

In an instant, the tide can turn,
But the choice is made... I will love.

Thank you, reader, whoever you are, for allowing me a fellow traveler. We carry one another, you know. And this, my friend, is the stuff of life.

To Him who has truly carried me through several difficult seasons, I give You every ounce of the glory! And I rest today in the shadow of Your wings...