Friday, June 29, 2007

Small Miracles

Little Boy Blue's visit was only 1 hour... but the planning and transport was 4 hours. He is from Denton County and CPS sends a case aide to pick him up and then bring him back. There are several reasons for this; privacy for the foster family, travel expense for the foster family and CPS control that the child will be present for visitation.

He came home with 3 new blankets and a stuffed cookie monster from his Mommy! He was exhausted and very mellow. I do not pretend to know what goes on in the mind of a 3 month old who has probably not seen his Mommy since birth. I'm sure the bond is there 3 months later... I'm just sure it is!

As for me, I am thankful tonight that we have the very best caseworker at CPS. She called this morning and patiently allowed me to ask every single question. I guess interrogation is the word that comes to mind. For those of you that know me well, you know I can be intense with questions... and I don't tend to recognize social cues on when to stop asking!

She is experienced, court-savvy and has been down the involuntary termination road many times. She is the antithesis of our previous CPS worker.

As information junkies, we are considering our caseworker and her willingness to provide the information we thrive on a small miracle. Wouldn't it be awesome if the next child that comes to our home could also have her as a caseworker!! Highly unlikely, yet we never cease to hope.

Tomorrow I get to attend an 8-hour training on Behavior Management to keep our license updated. Hubby gets to enjoy the Tremendous Trio all alone! Lucky man!!

Have a superb weekend. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement today... we are uplifted and grateful!!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Drama That Is Foster Care

We had a super morning playing with dear friends and their children. I think we counted 14 children in all from 5 families. This is a neat opportunity for us every Thursday morning...

And then I walk in the door and the news hits... Little Boy Blue will have visitation starting tomorrow with his Great-grandmother and his Mother!! We knew that his Great-grandmother would see him every few weeks. However, we understood that his Mother was in a facility to work out her challenges. We were told that if she left that facility before the end of the program, that her parental rights would be terminated. I cannot go into any additional detail about her situation; however, we are sufficiently frustrated and confused.

But, I remind myself, this is the system within which we've agreed to operate. We are playing by rules that someone else has created. We do not agree with many of the rules... but that does not change our commitment to the individual children in our home.

Please hold Little Boy Blue and his Mother in your prayers tomorrow morning. May he feel his mother's love and give her many of his gummy, dimpled smiles. And may God's grace, that is sufficient for any one of us, be his Mother's to claim for herself. Amen.

My friends had great words of wisdom regarding my earlier post about work. One friend put it succinctly... 'As women, we can have it all, just not all at once.' This really is the truth. I am blessed to have friends who really reach me. My stubbornness gives way to reality with the words of people who care...

To Work or Not To Work

I keep telling friends and family that 'I'm not taking any new clients' or 'I've got to slow down life for our family.' Why then, have I taken on 2 new clients in 7 days?

My small-town legal practice is just that... part-time, typically easy-going clients, etc. However, my commitments to these individuals cannot be laid back and lackadaisical.

So far, I've been able to keep up with the workload. My dear Mom comes to help with all of our children once per week. It is amazing the amount of work that one can cram into two hours of uninterrupted time. Yesterday, I had help from a sweet neighbor teen. But the primary reason I'm able to keep up with the work is the fact that my hubby works from home. This may soon change ...

My husband has a great job opportunity that is presenting itself which would take him to an office about 20 miles away each morning. We are spoiled. We have lunch with him every day. He is actively involved with education, diaper changing, etc. And, he can watch kiddos in a pinch if I have to go to court or to a new client meeting.

So, what does one do? My work has been a surprise blessing these past few years. I left the legal profession for a time due to a distaste for all things legal. In 2005, I returned to the practice of law on my own terms. I believe God showed me that I can make a very small impact right here in our little community. So, I take court appointments in guardianship cases, help families with wills, trusts and other stewardship issues and also assist small businesses with their legal needs. This is basic legal stuff, but it is fulfilling and an opportunity to serve.

This is the dilemma of many Mommies. How to intertwine several roles while always maintaining a family life that is God-oriented and peaceful?

Do I give it all up? Or do I try to balance it out by truly not accepting any more new clients? Or can I attempt to be Superwoman in a red cape and fall short on every responsibility?

This post falls under the 'other ramblings' category as it has little to do with foster care. Just thought somebody out there might have some suggestions....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Answering the Big Questions - Part Two

Warning: This post is 'long and winding' and may require a cup of coffee...

One of the most frequent questions and/or comments we receive relates to the impact that our foster-to-adopt choice has on Budding Author and Little Mommy. The question can be as simple and innocent as "How are your children handling the loss of Baby Girl?" or as imposing of a comment as "I could never do that to my children."

Another statement we've heard insinuates that somehow our children are going to 'miss out on things' because they have temporary foster siblings. The 'things' referred to relate both to material items and time with hubby and me. I don't begrudge the curiosity and sometimes boldness of these statements; in fact, it causes me great introspection about child-rearing and life.

I'll take the 3 areas separately, since our responses to each one are very different.

First, answering the question 'how are your children handling the loss of Baby Girl?'

The day that Baby Girl left was, perhaps, the most difficult day in my life. I think I can speak for my hubby and children that it was just as devastating to them. You simply cannot prepare yourself for an unexpected loss; not at any age. Even though we had a few week's notice, the loss was still unexpected because we had deceived ourselves into believing she would be ours forever.

Our children shed tears that day... they felt the very real pain of loss. And then we spent the day with art supplies and canvases at the kitchen table. They created some very abstract masterpeices and then, realizing Baby Girl was really not there, they cried again. We took them to a very special Japanese dinner and laughed a bunch! And as the evening closed, we prayed that God's hand would protect her and that she would be deeply loved by her brothers and new family. And we all cried.

The subsequent grief process has been fairly short for them. At first we heard "I miss Baby Girl" about 10 times per day; then 5 times a day; now, almost never. It has been a month since she left and their little souls have healed. They have been more than ready to welcome the children we've enjoyed... and they are overjoyed with Little Boy Blue. And Little Mommy continues to remind us that we are too heavily weighted in the boy category.

Second, addressing the 'I could never do that to my children' comment.

Hearing this comment could make me feel that we are somehow placing our children in a harmful, hurtful situation by introducing them to other children and allowing them to love other children when they could ultimately leave our home. It really surprised me at first. How could someone believe that we would intentionally place our children in harm's way?

We believe that we are giving our children a living opportunity to serve another human being in need. They have the first-hand chance to exercise their patience and flexibility when we get a phone call to take 2 children which will interfere with a birthday party. This is real life stuff.

Additionally, we pray that we are showing our children how to follow God even in very difficult situations. We are imperfect parents and people, and our children see how God can use even us when we really trust in His guidance.

Finally, they hear about redemption and love in the stories of Mommys and Daddys who make mistakes, yet ultimately get to raise their children. We do not expose them to all of the gorry details; however, they are curious and we give them the information that their hearts can handle.

Let me give you an example of the way Budding Author views our choices and how God provided a very personal encouragement to a little boy ...

Budding Author is an excitable, yet sensitive young man. He has enough energy for 20 people and, at the same time, feels very deeply about many things. One Thursday, we shared with him that Baby Girl would most likely be going to live with her 2 brothers in an adoptive family. On that Friday, Budding Author went to school and shared his concern at prayer time with his class of 8 other students and one very godly teacher. His precious teacher, without any knowledge of our news, looked him in the eyes and spoke truth into his heart. She told him that God had used him to be a wonderful big brother to Baby Girl. This struck Budding Author with great depth. The entire thing was now very personal to him... it was him doing the serving, him doing the loving... and what a fabulous job of it he does!

A few weeks later we were doubting our ability to get 'back in the saddle' and be a foster family. When we asked Budding Author if he thought we should be a foster family or just a straight adoption family, he, without hesitation, answered 'foster' family. We asked him 'Why?'... and he answered, "Because God has asked me to be a foster brother... this is what God wants us to do."

Our hearts are grateful that God blesses him, personally, and gives him the encouragement he needs through the voice of a willing, loving adult.

Thirdly, commenting upon well-intentioned observers who state that our children will be 'missing out' on things.

By things, some mean material possessions; others mean parental time. Are our children going to miss out on a new video game because of additional children? Honestly, they may miss out on the new video game, but not because of additional children. This question goes to the heart of setting priorities for a family. Are our priorities 'things' and accummulations of possessions?

One goal for our family is to encourage contentment and satisfaction with just what we have... and we have a lot! But our children do not have the latest and the greatest of everything. It is not a priority. Our family unit is the center, not each individual child. We believe this will serve them well when they enter a world that inundates young people with credit and the lure of the 'next best thing.' So, no, having foster brothers and sisters will not keep our children from 'things' they would not have had in the first place.

Moving in a different direction... are our children going to miss out on parental time? I would love to say no; however, the reality of a growing family is a reduced sense of down-time. The effort here has to be mine. We do have a unique education arrangement which allows for more family time... so, hopefully the effects will be outweighed by the blessings.

Whew! I've reached the end of my public thoughts on this matter... as always, I'd love your feedback, criticism, rotten tomatoes and so forth...

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fireflies in My Head

OK... Yesterday's post was all over the place. I went from love to adoption and back to love. Sorry. There are so many things I want to write hovering around in my brain. The thoughts are like fireflies lighting up with their bioluminescence (isn't that a great word?) and then going dark. If only I could capture all of these thoughts and hold them in a jar to carefully examine each one individually.

As I was writing yesterday about love, my brain was flickering through what I had read about orphans & Christians on these two Christian blogs:

"Yet Another Good Question" by Dan Edelen who references the 2nd blog, Orphans vs. the American Dream by Anthony Bradley. The 2nd blog is very convicting and is not for the faint at heart.

Later today or maybe tomorrow, I'll begin an attempt at the 2nd big question. Thank you for being interested enough to join our journey.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Loving Someone Else's Child

For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

When we first began thinking about adoption, one concern in the back of both of our minds was our ability to love another person's child. The depth of love that we feel for Budding Author and Little Mommy is indescribable. We were concerned about whether our hearts could feel that same love for a baby not born between the two of us.

To some reading this, loving someone else's child may not seem like a difficult proposition. For us, it wasn't a huge complication, just a doubt about our own hearts.

God's Word talks a great deal about adoption. The story of Moses being adopted by Pharoah's daughter and the reality of Joseph, 'adopting' Jesus as his own earthly son, proved to be instructional and encouraging. The Bible also talks about believers being 'adopted' into God's family. Now, we aren't theologians, nor are we experienced Bible scholars, but we love God and we believe that He provided just the nudge that we needed right there in His Word.

Additionally, there is no doubt that we, as believers, are to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. For our family, that means physically doing the caring. For other families, it may mean something altogether different. That is what I love about God... we all have a different task and we are perfectly equipped to complete the task that He asks of us.

Bottom line, we just had to trust God on this huge question. The heart's capacity to love has surprised us both. And, I'll tell you what, so far, we've loved each child in a very special way. This is not our doing... again, we could not have willed ourselves to love children outside of our comfort zone.

After Baby Girl left, I had huge doubts about whether I could love another baby as much as I loved her. Even as they were bringing Little Boy Blue through the door, I thought to myself, "what if I cannot do this again?" But there he was. The choice was already made. He was to be loved by me. Why?? Honestly, I don't know.

An even more difficult proposition to consider - loving the 'someone else' who caused this child to be considered neglected, abandoned, abused and unloved. The very first night we had Baby Girl, my sweet hubby was up all night worrying that there was a Mommy somewhere searching for her baby. You see, although Baby Girl was abandoned in a very ugly place, my husband still believed in a mother's love...

We later found out that it was extremely doubtful that her Mom was looking for her anywhere. And the mother's love that fills a typical Mommy's heart gave way to an uncontrollable addiction that causes all things to give way to the need for a fix.

So, how do you love someone who does this to a helpless, innocent, beautiful child of God?? Just like we love any one else. Only with the miraculous, life-changing Spirit of God can we view people through His eyes and not our own. We are not doing well in this area on our own... I am praying for God to peel back the layers of my own prejudice and judgment and allow me to see the horrible bondage that makes a woman sacrifice her child on the altar of illegal drugs.

Heavy stuff.

We LOVE Little Boy Blue...

Oh dear! We love him! We really love him!

It seems like Little Boy Blue is getting more and more comfortable with us and our ways. He arrived with a great deal of stiffness and rigidity in his body. This is very common for babies who were exposed to drugs in utero (more on this topic later in the week as I try to answer the 'Big Questions'). He has relaxed quite a bit today. We were trained in all of the exercises to help a baby relax and become more limber and will continue with him, just as we did with Baby Girl.

It is delightful to watch a baby study new faces, experience new things and then, ultimately, develop a sense of comfort. We pray that our home feels safe and secure to him. May he feel deeply the love that surrounds him.

And may we not hold back, even though our hearts want so desperately for him to be ours. Yes, love takes root oh so quickly!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Big Questions

For some time now, I've been thinking about the primary questions we receive from friends and curious onlookers about our becoming a foster family. Hopefully, by taking a few posts to answer some of these tough questions, we can encourage someone else who may be as unsure as we were about taking the next step into foster/adoption...

The Big Five:

1. How can you love another's child as much as your own biological child?
2. How can you do this to your biological children?
3. Aren't you worried about taking children that are drug-exposed?
4. Why would you want to take children of a different racial background?
5. Why through the State of Texas rather than a private adoption agency?

Tough questions. I wish I could say we have easy answers to these questions. Unfortunately, there are no easy answers. However, we do have information. Good, solid information frees us from the paralysis of fear. This is true in all aspects of our life.

Tune in this week and next for our attempt at explanations. We love the questions; thinking and struggling over the answers only strengthens our resolve... and maybe yours, too.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Welcome to our home, Baby Boy!

Little Boy Blue arrived this afternoon to a very warm reception. With beautiful blue eyes and blond hair, he really reminded me of both of our children when they were tiny. Our Covenant Kids case manager told us in advance that he looked a lot like my hubby... and she was right.

Budding Author was uncharacteristically quiet. I know he is already thinking about the questions; will he stay? how long? He was also a bit disconcerted about the quick surgery Little Boy Blue will have next week.

Little Mommy's question was simpler, "Mommy, how many more diapers do we change before he leaves?" And that boy/girl ratio is now all out of whack for her... Her second question, "When does the girl come?" I told her she would have to go ask her Daddy.

Permanency? We don't even know that word any more. His case is complicated and, in Texas, the goal is always reunification with the birth family, even until the very last minute when the Mom or Dad just cannot get it together. So, on our end, we simply love.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Planning for Snakes, Snails & Puppy Dog Tails

Friday morning a bundle wrapped in blue will arrive at our door! We just found out that we were selected as foster-to-adopt parents for a 2-month old baby boy. We have had 5 calls in the last 24 hours about 5 different children under 3 - our physical location has proven to be a stumbling block for some CPS placements.

Now, where do I begin preparations for our new one? We have zero baby boy clothing. We have 4 garbage bags full of baby girl clothes. But, you know what? We had zero girl clothes the night Baby Girl arrived. And just look how God provided...

I started to dig out the bottles only to find that I forgot where I put them away when Baby Girl left... or did I send them all with her?? or is it possible that I could have thown them in the garbage?? Yes, it has happened before. My mind is truly heading skyward.

Tonight I went to the office for a new client meeting and wondered why no one arrived. I called the client and she said "our meeeting is on the 14th." Stubbornly, I said "but today is the 14th!" Foot in mouth... this entire day, I've been operating as if it were June 14th! And even worse, I cannot meet them tomorrow night because we have mandatory CPS training. Where are my brain cells? Don't you want to hire me to represent you??

I have overscheduled my poor family this summer... we need a 'nothing week.' It's not looking like a reality until July.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Of Birthdays and Weddings

Last weekend we celebrated Budding Author's 7th birthday. It was a fun-filled time with friends and family. Birthdays of our children always cause me to pause... this year, more than any other year, I have been asking myself some difficult questions...

Are we nurturing him to become the unique human being he was created to be? Or are we attempting to create 'mini me' or 'mini hubby?' Are we providing him examples of beauty, purity, excellence and truth so that he will know a counterfeit when he sees one? Are we giving him the freedom to explore life for himself and allow God to speak directly to his heart? Or are we attempting to force-feed our faith on him, depriving him of the experience of knowing God for himself?

May we always attempt to simply plant and water the seed and allow God to do the rest. Budding Author is not me; he is not my husband. And we should never expect him to be such.

Weddings... aren't they the most amazing of reminders? We attended a beautiful outdoor wedding this weekend on Lake Grapevine. The bride entered in a horse-drawn carriage. It was just lovely. Little Mommy said she was 'just like a princess.' And she was. The love between the bride and groom is firmly-rooted in faith. The joy was ours to celebrate with them.

Weddings also cause me to pause... these moments in a life; these chapters; these stones of remembrance. Weddings are reminders that hope continues, it lives and thrives. Despite all of the challenge this life presents, hope endures and peeks from the rubble of life every single sunrise.

May hope be yours today!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Dynamic Duo Exits

We had the 2 wee ones again this week... little premature peanut at 2 months and a hefty 5 lbs 11 oz. and black-haired beauty at 3 months and 10 lbs. Both of these sweeties are with a foster Mom who has had a tough time of it. Last week she was recovering from surgery and this week they had to redo a portion of it.

Interestingly enough, we found out that when we do respite care for other foster parents, we are not on the 'open list' for children of our own. Now we know. Covenant Kids is actually trying to license us for up to 6 children (including our own) so that we have the flexibility to do respite and still take potential foster-to-adopt children. Currently, we are licensed for 4 children.

We did get a call about a sibling group of 3 - ages 3, 20 months and 6 months. Could we do this? My heart says yes; my head says no; my husband just shakes his head and laughs. What do you think? Is it impossible to think that we could muster the strength at almost 40 years old to raise an additional 3?? Are older parents somehow 'less?' (If so, what about Abraham & Sarah or Elizabeth & Zacharias?) Will our adoptive children think they've gotten the short end of the stick because we will be collecting Medicare when they graduate? I'd love your opinions, friends!

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear what is going on in your neck of the woods. Post a comment or send me an e-mail. Are you enjoying every second of your summer? Has the temperature and humidity risen where you are?

Much to ponder on this beautiful afternoon...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Worth reading...

A friend of ours, out here in the boonies, has a blog of his own. He is one of the worship leaders at our church. He and his wife have served in so many ways at our tiny church. They are always willing to step in to fill a need.

They also were the founders and often teachers of our 'home group.' This group of families meets in our home on Wednesday evenings during the school year.

Just to give you a glimpse into our group... when we found out our first foster baby girl was going to be leaving, a few of these women actually cried with me. I mean real tears... about a child they had prayed for and spent evenings holding in their arms. We were and are honored by the sincere love and concern that grows in this group. There has never been a discouraging, gossipy word uttered by our friends in this group about one another - and we are even a year and a half into it! This is a rare thing in our world today.

So, back to our friend the blogger. His entry today is wonderful and I encourage you to read "Take a Stand - Planting and Harvesting" for yourself. He speaks to my heart today, in a moment where I want to take control; I want to make the miracles happen in relation to our family. And yet, I know the One who designed the seed and asks us only to plant and water. The mystery of who He is renders me speechless.

He knows the children who will be in our home... all our family needs to do is get out our seeds of love, water the souls of the little ones with commitment and security and watch Him bring in the harvest.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Naming of Flowers and Children

Latin has always fascinated me. My study of Latin in college was a delight. My college major was 'Letters' which brought more than a few chuckles and "Oh, are you learning your ABCs?" Digressing. Letters required me to undergo a thorough study of Latin.

As I have headed into adulthood and the early autumn of my life, I've found myself more and more enthralled with the Latin names given to flowers and other plants. Somehow Althea rosea rolls from the tongue in a way that the common name, Hollyhock, just does not. And what about Soapwort. Doesn't Saponaria ocymoides sound much more lovely?

Latin is considered a dead language by most. Dead because it is not spoken and therefore, useless. Not to me. In fact, one gift I plan to give our children is Latin.

Budding Author found a pillbug (a.k.a. doodlebug) yesterday. We looked it up in our Gardener's Bug Book and found out something very interesting. The pillbug's Latin name is Armadillidum vulgare. Like an armadillo (of all things), the pillbug curls up under a hard shell when threatened. Fascinating!

Where is this going, you ask? And how in the world does it relate to foster care and adoption?

In light of the privacy concerns of the children which CPS places in our home and in conjunction with my love of Latin flower names, I've decided to give each child a beautiful Latin flower name that describes their particular personality. Odd, I know. Yet, somehow beautiful to me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The First Steps of Our Journey (in chronological order)

For those who are reading our blog for the first time, this is a good place to start...

The Waiting Game – posted January 4, 2007

Life continues to roll on around us... but in the back of all of our minds we wait. And wait. And wait. And wait.

Our journey to becoming a foster/adopt family has been like birthing a natural baby, or two, or three! We actually began this process years ago. Our journey toward adoption has been much like a seed. The seed, the idea of adoption, was planted before either of our natural-born children arrived. Our intense desire to love and teach children hit a wall when we were told we might not be able to conceive. Adoption was a reasonable and exciting option.

Ultimately, we did conceive, twice. We were and are thrilled to be parents of two healthy children. In reality, the fact that we have two healthy children has very little to do with our decision to adopt. As our family has grown and matured, it was as if a person or two were missing. Nothing sad, not a reduced sense of happiness; just an odd feeling that those chairs at our table were meant for someone permanent.

The seed of adoption was watered with our children's desire to have a little brother or sister. It has been amazing to watch the transformation from 'I want a baby girl' to 'I want a baby... any kind of baby. A pink one, a purple one, a green one.' My grateful heart leaps for joy at the precious innocence of our two. They have made plans... plans for how the car will be arranged, plans for whose clothes the baby will get to wear, plans to introduce the baby to our friends and family, and secret plans that are too fun for us big folk.

The sprouting stem began to emerge from the well-fed soil in August of 2006 when our hearts were convinced that we were to adopt a child through the Texas foster care system. Thus began 30+ hours of training for each of us, an application process that proved tedious and repetitive and the wait. We've had our FBI fingerprint check, two other background checks, six reference letters, a fire inspection, two disaster plans and a dozen phone calls & e-mails checking on the status of our application. All in all, we should have made up a song entitled "12 Days of Adoption." I'm sure it would have brought more than a few chuckles.

So, here we are, the stem is beginning to show a few leaves. We will have our home study in the next month or two. And before we know it, the stem and leaves will bear the beautiful blossom of a life!! A life added to ours.

After the Home Study – posted February 1, 2007

Our Home Study is officially behind us! Yipppeee... All in all, it was a good, yet exhausting experience.

Our social worker was really a delight. We were like-minded in many ways.

She arrived at 9:30 a.m. I began telling her about the lake which can be seen from our back windows and how there is a barbed-wire fence between our property and the lake. My dear son piped in "but I just go right around the fence." Anyone who knows how particular CPS is about bodies of water located close to foster homes can imagine the panic this sent through me. First off, we don't go around the fence. The rule is that we don't get near the lake at all. Secondly, even if we did go close to the water, it would only be with an adult. I can laugh now - but at the time I was a little concerned at the fact that we were just beginning!

The social worker met with each of the kids individually. It worked out well. The kids were hospitable and honest and she saw the really positive sides to their personalities.

Then began the conversation of a lifetime... or should I say the conversation about a lifetime. Alex and I each met with her separately to discuss our lives in great detail. This was eye-opening and cathartic in many ways. When you analyze your life as a whole, rather than in pieces, it makes a great deal of sense. Isolated events, on their own, look like a group of mistakes, trials and successes. But, when taken as whole, clearly God's hand can be seen weaving the tapestry of a life... all for His ultimate good. Not that it all was 'good,' but He used it all for His good.

Alex & I met with her together and spoke of the strengths and weaknesses of our marriage. It was universally accepted that we need more 'date nights.' We were certainly aware of this, but at a loss as to how to make it happen. We sincerely enjoy our children... it is not as if we need to get away from them. But it is always nice to enjoy an evening out for a nice dinner and book shopping!

So, after 5 and a 1/2 hours, our social worker was encouraging and very positive about the desires of our family to be a foster-to-adopt family. We were energized and ready for the next step. When working with CPS, the home study is a very last step. The agency, Covenant Kids, pays for the home study. So, they don't want the home study to be too early. They do the background information, training, etc. before moving to the home study step. It makes sense from a financial stand point.

When do we get the baby? We should be licensed in the next week or so. From there, they work to make a connection between our family and a child that would fit well into our environment. We are open and trusting... we started this journey with certain desires in mind. They have changed and our hearts have opened along the way. We are flexible. How amazing that God can take two stubborn, set-in-their-ways people and bring them to a point of flexibility. It never ceases to amaze me. We couldn't have 'willed' ourselves to be flexible in relation to a new addition to our family!

And the Bud Emerges – posted April 18, 2007

Here I continue with my seed/plant/flower theme that began in my original post... see below.

Our house was officially licensed with CPS through Covenant Kids on February 14, 2007. Yes, St. Valentine's Day. Appropriate, yes. Coincidence, who knows. We tend to think not. Since this entire journey is all about love; God's love for all of humanity, we think it is such a fitting date.

Our hearts were simply elated with imaginings. We drove back from Arlington to our little country 'farm' with daydreams galore. Every now and then we would look at one another in the car and say 'can you believe it?' or 'is it really happening?' You see, to us the wait was endless. But to God, the timing was impeccable.

Indulge me for a moment while I digress. In December of 2006, our children began praying for God to 'keep the baby safe.' My hubby & would laugh - we didn't think we were even going to get a baby. We had asked for a child under 3 - to keep the birth order of our children intact. We thought the 'baby prayers' would pass - but they kept on, at every meal, at bedtime, praying on the way to school, prayer in Budding Author's class. Our expectations were for a toddler of some sort... However, our precious children knew better. Their prayers continued - despite our chuckles and whispers under our breath about how they were going to be so disappointed, etc. Ha! Out of the mouths of babes.

Now back to the post... On February 16, 2007, I awoke to a beautifully orchestrated migraine. Of course, the Imitrex was gone. I settled for an antiquated substitute, my husband's old fashioned migraine medicine; one of the originals from the 70's. Dear me! The day was off to a super start!

Around 10:00 a.m., Covenant Kids called... a precious baby boy had been taken to a fire station in Tarrant County. Come to find out, his umbilical cord was still attached. They were calling to ask US if we wanted this baby!?!? Holy cow! Only 2 days after our licensure!! We quickly said 'Absolutely, where do we pick him up?' However, little did we realize that CPS worked much differently. They decide who, what, when, where, why and how! We were 100% NOT in control of this. (I can hear the chuckles right now from those who know me and my difficulty in relinquishing control of any sort.)

So, once again, we were to wait... In the course of 2 hours, we had named this child, bought imaginary clothes for him, figured out how to tell the kids, started saving for his college tuition. No, really, we were pscyhed.

I talked with my Dad and explained the opportunity. He laughed - a great laugh. On the other line, Covenant Kids called back. We had not been chosen due to our far distance from Tarrant County (over 90 miles). OK... talk about a deflated balloon. The migraine medicine was at a peak and I was on some type of rollercoaster. Alex left the house to run an errand, saddened by the on-again-off-again status of 'our' baby boy.

Around 2:00 p.m. The phone rings again... it is Covenant Kids. A beautiful baby girl, approximately 2-months old was found in Dallas. Sketchy background... were we interested? I said a hesitant yes and asked a gazillion questions - assuming, of course that Alex was a complete go on this. Covenant Kids said 'We'll call you back when we know if you will get to be her foster parents.' I called my husband immediately. My sweet husband was still in shock from not getting the baby boy we had created in our daydreams just a few hours before.

Still the migraine reared an ugly head on and off. The afternoon waned, no call. In my mind, another 'no.' We do, after all, live in the boonies. And guess what kind of people live in the boonies; axe murderers and meth addicts. Who cares about the home study and the references and, for heaven's sake, every other hoop we had jumped through smiling!

And then, around a quarter to 6, I get a call from a Covenant Kids caseworker asking 'I'm on FM 9878 (our road), now where exactly do you turn?' 'Huh??? Are you coming for another home study? ' Gently, the caseworker replied, "No ma'am, the baby girl is on her way." Ahhhhh! OK... picture this. A woman who has not brushed her hair all day, no shower, jeans and an old gap sweatshirt, pounding headache, no make-up... running from one end of the house to the other yelling 'A baby is coming, a baby is coming!' I didn't even bother to pick up the strewn clothing items!!

To our kids, it was the most natural thing that could've been said on a Friday night. I laugh now... how did I get such resilient children? There must have been a mix-up at the hospital - BOTH TIMES! They are not the fruit of my womb... me, the loony, plan-my-life-out-to-a-tee woman who drives my extended family bonkers! And, my kids, ready for 'THE baby' that has been in their mind, hearts and prayers for months!!! They didn't care if it was our 'forever baby' or our 'temporary baby.' It was 'the baby.'

She came through our front door, carried in a blue car seat. The CPS worker told us she had slept the entire way up Hwy 75, except for a quick bottle stop. OH MY GOODNESS! The absolute love that swept over me for this little, helpless munchkin nearly knocked me over. I was smitten.

It was as if I watched the entire situation from the second floor balcony... My beautiful children just staring and gasping and sqealing in delight. My husband smiling as if he had just laid his beautiful eyes on a treasure of great worth. A tiny bundle of warmth. And then, the mother in me kicked in... like riding a bicycle. God is good! My headache disappeared, my wrinkled clothes didn't matter, my dirty house could've been in Kansas for all I cared. This baby, this beautiful baby! And, for heaven's sake, she needed to eat!!

The paperwork was a blur. Thankfully, my husband was, as usual, our God-given rock. He signed everything (we became her legal custodians and medical consenters) and did it all with a smile, even though I know he was exhausted from a day of Mr. Mommying it while I stayed in bed with a heating pad on my head.

And so I fed her. A simple act for a mother... even a foster mother.

Buying Stock in Kleenex – posted May 21, 2007

Two weeks ago we got the call... if you have read my previous entries, you know the one I'm referencing. Our precious baby girl has a family. Two completely opposite responses surfaced almost immediately...

First response - Praise God! Two brothers! Two beautiful brothers and a father who is somewhat involved, although he has terminated his rights to the boys.

Second response - No, it simply cannot be! We had it all planned out, we'd already decided on her name, her bedroom, her first car, where she would go to college... OK, so not quite that far. But we LOVE her. God, what are you thinking??

Funny, we've drifted back and forth between these two responses until as recently as last night. Our family and friends have talked it all through with us until we are all tired of speculation. We just accept. We take this gift for what it has been, pure joy!We have had the unbelievable blessing of watching a child unfold; of witnessing the transformation of a little one reaching out to a family who desperately loves her. How could we ever ask for more?

Is this our 'plan', our ideal situation? Absolutely not. But do we finally rest in peace after wrestling with God? Absolutely.

Adios, mi hija bonita. Te amo mucho. Puede el asidero de Dios usted en la palma de la mano.

Farewell Beautiful Baby Girl – posted May 26, 2007

She left the same way she came.... precious chocolate-brown eyes staring up at us from a carseat and smiling a beautiful, dimple-filled smile that brings even the grouchiest of souls to laughter.

The difference - my sweet husband is the one delivering her to her new destination. Oh, and she's much chunkier than when she arrived. We've done our job... the love, attention and yes, food, are enough for her for now. Yet our tears flowed freely despite all rationality.

And now again we wait....

Monday, June 4, 2007

Summer Reading Challenge

Janie over at Seasonal Soundings is inviting everyone to her Summer Reading Challenge 2007. Joining in, here is my list:

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky - Recommended by my Mom. Written by a young Jewish woman living in Paris in the early 1940s, this novel encompasses 2 parts of a planned 5-part series. She was ultimately arrested and deported to Auschwitz and died at the age of 39. The story is set in occupied France.

The Iliad by Homer translated by Robert Fagles - Started this one several months ago. Plan to finish it this summer.

Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher - Describes a group of conservatives who 'count themselves as part of the Right but whose 'small is beautiful' style of politics often puts them at odds with Republican orthodoxy.' Dreher writes for the Dallas Morning News and has a super blog, Crunchy Con.

Question of God: C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud debate... by Dr. Armand M. Nicholi, Jr. - Written by a Harvard professor comparing the philosophical arguments of both men. The author presents the writings and letters of both men and allows them to 'speak' for themselves.

Love Your God With All Your Mind by J. P. Moreland - Interesting book detailing the importance the mind plays in our Christian faith.

Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich - To read for our local library book club. Illustrative novel about Native American life.

The Foxfire Book - Recommended by my Dad, who owns a rare and used book store called The Book Gallery in McKinney, Texas. In the late 1960s, Eliot Wigginton and his students created the magazine Foxfire in an effort to record and preserve the traditional folk culture of the Southern Appalachians. This is the original book compilation of Foxfire material which introduces Aunt Arie and her contemporaries and includes log cabin building, hog dressing, snake lore, mountain crafts and food, and "other affairs of plain living." My Dad obviously sees us heading in this direction.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

A Quiet Peace

It is a quiet Sunday. Quiet, yet lovely. I look out upon the beautiful sunshine dappling our woods and wonder what the upcoming week holds in store for our family. Will the call come? Or will we celebrate Budding Author's 7th birthday and a dear friend's wedding with the original 4?

Yesterday, I dropped off the tiny duo with whom we shared the last 3 days. Caring for these 2 was just what we needed. Our family was able to see the precious faces of 2 other children. Our hearts were able to love another child. That may sound very funny to you… even ridiculous. But, the truth is, we have doubted our ability to love another after the depth of emotion we felt for our first foster baby girl.

I watched my husband's face staring at these 2 we've had for respite care. I was relieved to see the same intensity, the same depth, the same love. Thank you, God. Thank you for allowing flawed people the ability to let Your love flow through us. It is all You. You fulfill Your promise to be a Father to the fatherless; and yet You allow us to participate in our small ways. Incredible.