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....

1 comment:

gracie :) said...

My husband and I have also taken a "journey" to get to this place of foster/adopt parents. What a strange life we are leading! We kind of got "tricked" into it, in a way (our story is on our blog), but now that we are here, we wouldn't trade it for the world. Our emotions aren't quite sure how to keep up with all of this, but I take comfort in the fact that we are following the path God has laid before our feet. We need only to obey and leave the results in His court, while learning how to plead the cause of the fatherless He has placed into our lives. This is not the life we envisioned for ourselves, but there is certainly a sense of fulfillment in taking value in what He finds value in. I am enjoying reading your blog and finding a "kindred spirit" in your family. Thank you for sharing your lives even with those of us whom you've never met!