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.