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...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

If I Only Had Eight Arms...

...just think of what I could accomplish! 4 hugs at once... 4 plates and cups to the table so that everyone has their lunch at the same time... 4 loads of laundry carried to the laundry room in one trip! Doesn't that sound so efficient?

This week has been a huge surprise in so many ways. First, a surprise once more at the faces of foster care - beautiful, talented children who just need a loving family to nurture their God-given abilities. Second, a surprise at just how much work is involved in caring for 5 children under age 7. And finally, the biggest surprise of the week, how much I actually got done around my house.

The last two surprises might seem, at first glance, to be opposite of one another. It would seem that either I could care for 5 or accomplish my housework, not both. Believe it or not, I have been more productive this week than any other week this Summer! I have had my laundry going non-stop, dishes in and out of the dishwasher in a flash and even several special projects completed (one of which was cleaning my closet!).

Now, I cannot take all of the credit... I've had some super helpers. However, this phenomenon shows me overall that, most of the time, I'm lazy! It is almost as if I function better under pressure.

Sigh! God only gave me two arms. And, all joking aside, I'm grateful for only two. Four hugs at once just wouldn't be as special as one hug for one child at a time. And serving lunch one person at a time teaches perseverance and patience. And, who in their right mind would want 4 loads of laundry sitting in their laundry room? Not me!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Coming Up for Air...

I have a brand-new appreciation for Moms with 5 or more kiddos. How do you do it?? It has been a fun-filled, loud, exciting, loud, playful, loud few days. And we have a few more to go. Our kids have had built-in playmates... which accounts for the volume. The only problem - how to bring the decibels down when Little Boy Blue is sleeping??

We anxiously await a date for our 'presentation meeting' for Prince Caspian... what is the 'presentation meeting?' It is a pow-wow between hubby and me, all of the CPS and agency caseworkers, lawyers and Prince Caspian's foster Mommy. We will discuss everything known about Prince Caspian and his family. Then we will establish the transition to our home. Much excitement exists around here! Kids are drawing pictures, with an added stick figure, of course. I'm trying to make a book of our home & family for his foster Mom to read to him.

There are so many loose ends to tie up; so many things to purchase. And, to top it off, I'm nesting. Yes, it happens even to an adoptive Mommy. Here's the problem... there is no way to get this house organized by the time he arrives. Three years of junk can't be undone in under 2 weeks!

For those of you who are interested, here is the information we can share on Prince Caspian. He is 13 months old, 28 lbs., 2 1/2 ft tall, rolled over at 5 months, army crawled at 7 months, fully crawled at 11 months and is navigating furniture very well. He is learning to talk and eats well. He is described as a 'mild-mannered baby' who is redirected by saying no... I love that! He has 7 half-siblings.

That's all for today... my computer is giving me fits and it is excruciating trying to get a post completed! Thank goodness, help is on the way... my hubby ordered me a new Dell computer! Yeeehaaa!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Visitors Are Coming...

We will have 2 new visitors tomorrow... a 3-yr old girl and a 6-yr old boy. Siblings. Their foster parents are flying to California for a funeral. They will be with us for a week. Boy, are our kids happy! They are very close to the same ages... this should work out well for all of us!

And, an update on Prince Caspian... remember him? He is the child available for straight adoption. The file is in! I pick it up tomorrow and we have the weekend to peruse the file and decide if we are 'in' for the next step... an in-person meeting. Words cannot describe the anticipation I have... in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "this is my son." Wow.

My New Friends

It has been a privilege to meet several Christian foster parents who somehow find their way to our blog. Today, I'd like for you to meet them, too.

First, Steve & Christy are early in their journey, but have set up a blog called Love Each Child. They seem like wonderful people; I only wish we lived closer so we could actually meet them. There is a link on their blog to a moving video put together by the Dave Thomas Foundation.

Second, just today we 'met' another couple who is in the thick of it. You really need to visit For of Such is the Kingdom of Heaven and take a peek at the most precious wee one that is their care. And, especially poignant to me, is the poem. If you scroll down to 'A Foster Parent's Dilemma' on April 19, 2007, you can read it for yourself. It so speaks to my heart... and also accurately describes the true dilemma I find myself in daily. I love and I wait... and I struggle to understand the whys.

There have been several other foster parents who have posted comments. For some reason, I've been unable to connect to their blogs. So, if you are reading this and have posted a comment about being a foster parent, I would love to hear your story. Please post again with a link to your blog and I will navigate my non-techie self in that direction.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Little of This & That

* I'm looking out my kitchen window and let me describe to you what I see... Two happy blond-headed kiddos sitting in our mimosa tree; each with a old cell phone cradled between their shoulder & ear. Now, if that isn't the picture of 'cityfied' country folk!

* Last night, hubby and I watched the movie "Antwone Fisher." Anyone see that one at the theaters? We watched it for training hours for our CPS license. It starred Denzel Washington and Derek Luke. The movie was based on the true story of a young man abandoned by his family and then ultimately placed in a horrible foster home setting. The triumph over adversity was beautiful and moving. Words fail me when I think of his story. In the end, he found his deceased father's family and was welcomed with open arms. Until that point, he was a searching, angry young man.

I cannot help but think of Little Boy Blue and his future. If he grows up without his biological Mom & Dad, will he have an emptiness that only knowing them can fill? Someone I love dearly doesn't know one of their biological parents... I cannot imagine the feelings, the ups and downs, the dreams. This I can say - we will never withhold information about our future adoptive child's biological parents. If he or she wants to locate his or her family of origin, when old enough to make a mature decision, we will help in any way we can.

* On a different note, I handled my last court case yesterday. My decision relating to lawyering has come down to this... I will only take referrals from friends and existing clients, that is all. I will not handle probate or guardianship court-appointments for at least a year. It is a freedom, a resolution and a peace. The great thing about this profession is the portability - as long as I'm in Texas, I can begin again full-force, if necessary. Thanks to those of you who have offered great insight the past few months.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Little Boy Blue Has An Attorney...

... and she is really advocating for his best interest! We are so pleased. She came out to our home today and visited with Little Boy Blue. He was charming. She originally met him when he was newborn and knows a great deal about his birth experience.

Honestly, the fact that he has an attorney thrills me. While our legal system is not perfect, it is the best out there. Plus, someone in this ballgame needs to really be watching out for the little one. CPS has an ultimate goal of reunification. His attorney may have a different take.

When a child is placed in CPS custody, they are appointed an Attorney Ad Litem. They are also appointed a Guardian Ad Litem (sometimes known as a CASA worker). In Little Boy Blue's case, his Attorney Ad Litem is also his Guardian Ad Litem. Her job is to represent Little Boy Blue. Since he cannot speak for himself, she will speak for him.

She toured our home, explained her knowledge of the case and gave us an overview of her role. She is a mother, too. And, most importantly, she is no-nonsense. She is not going to allow Little Boy Blue to be placed in a dangerous situation. Praise God! Nor is she going to make it harder than it has to be for Little Boy Blue's Mommy to work her 'plan.' We rest easier tonight knowing that she is on Little Boy Blue's team.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Goats, Spiders & Dogs, Oh My!

True confessions... I'm really not an indoor animal person. I love animals of all sorts when they are outside, in their own environment. It gives me great pause to observe animals out where we live... I just like to love 'em and leave 'em (outside that is).

We have 6 chickens (just lost one), 3 goats (just gained one), one English Mastiff (who is precious, but thankfully lives outside), one outside cat, and one Miniature Schnauzer (who lives indoors, much to my dismay).

Recently, we have adopted as our own a female Yellow Garden Spider, Argiope aurantia, affectionately named by our offspring, Angelina. She first showed up on our kitchen window over three weeks ago. We were all fascinated and researched everything about her. She built several beautiful webs, caught amazing creatures and devoured the same, in a spider way, right before our eyes. This type of spider builds what looks like a zipper into the web.

Several days ago, I was planting some cannas that my friend passed my way. I, inadvertently of course, completely disrupted Angelina's best-laid plans. I knocked her to the ground and felt immediate guilt. Our house was heart-broken. Everyone just knew she was a goner. But no, Angelina is the spider who seems to want to be our pet. She showed back up the next morning, zipper and all. In fact, Budding Author asked "Does she carry that zipper everywhere she goes?"

Why am I writing about a spider and not a child? Because (1) we have not received any additional information about Prince Caspian since I last wrote (almost 3 weeks ago); (2) we anxiously await information about Little Boy Blue's mother and how she is doing; and (3) the spider is the most exciting thing that has recently happened to Little Mommy and Budding Author.

Perhaps I'll have more exciting tales of children next week. We'll see.