Tuesday, July 12, 2011

In other news....

We have some other exciting news....we adopted! Obviously we did not adopt J or R, although we would have loved to. Let me start near the beginning....

We live in Upstate NY. Since our 9 year old daughter was just a year old, we have hosted "Fresh Air" kids. The Fresh Air Fund originates out of NY city. They take kids from NY city, especially high rise apartment buildings, and send them to neighboring states for a "fresh air" break. Its usually a 2 week trip, but the kids can stay longer if you invite them back the following summer. For a couple of years we had just one girl coming up, then about 7 years ago we started having 2 girls come up.

Maria first came to us as a spur of the moment thing...basically, we got a call on a Monday AM to tell us our regular Fresh Air child had failed to show up to catch the bus, and would we be willing to take a replacement child that was ready and waiting to come. How could we say no? Maria was such a sweet and polite 10 year old. We fell in love and have invited her back year after year, lengthening her stays until she was with us almost the whole summer. The last 2 years she even spent Christmas with us. In January she moved in and started school a week later. In April we finalized a formal adoption, and a week later she turned 16! Wow.

Maria's story is her own to tell. Without going in to detail I will tell you that she has wonderful and loving biological parents who are still involved in her life.

While I have always envisioned us adopting, I thought it would be through the foster care system, not someone we already knew! I couldn't be happier to have her join our family. So, in case you are keeping count, we are now up to 3 biological kids, 1 adopted, and 2 foster children....grand total of 6 kids. Yes, you should see the looks we get when we go out in public. I have now come to a place in my life that I truly don't care! I'm happy as can be, doing what we were made to do (that's not to say that there are not bumps in the road), and I'm not going to allow someone's opinion of me matter more than my Heavenly Father's!

17 months and counting...

A very kind anonymous comment was left asking for an update. How sad that it has been so very long!! I honestly didn't think anyone read this thing, so why update, LOL?! (By the way, I'd love to know who commented, if you feel like revealing yourself!)

Where to begin? Little "J" and big sister "R" are still with us! I'm sad to say that last Friday we received notification that they are going home in 6 weeks, towards the end of August. So much has happened. The kids have had 2 birthdays while living with us (including their first birthday party). They are now 4 and 6 years old. R started Kindergarten at the local public school (I homeschool 2 of our biological children that are school aged). She loved school and caught up so much to where she should be. She's almost there! Little J started speech and OT and has made lots of progress.

For almost a year we facilitated visits ourselves, and even acted as visit supervisors...something that I have since learned is not very typical. I think we were asked to do this for 2 reasons.
1) We were asked to mentor the family. Both parents came from not very great home lives, so we were asked to model good parenting.
2) We had a good relationship with the parents and were able to communicate as well as can be expected.
While handling visits took a lot of time, I was glad for the chance to get to know the kids parents more. I learned a lot...sometimes learning things that were not so great and being required to pass that info on to the kids caseworker. Unfortunately, the more we learned, the more obvious it was that the parents, although extremely nice and loving, were very mentally ill.

Fast forward a bit and the parents have taken parenting classes and are seeing their therapists. Fast forward even more to recently, where the judge feels like the parents are stable enough to get the children back.

Hubby and I have so many doubts about the ability of the parents to successfully parent and raise their children, but we don't really get much say. We truly desire to remain in contact with the kids once they go home, but that will largely depend on their parents.

Would I do this again? In a heartbeat. Does it hurt to know that a child you have loved and parented for a year and a half will no longer be here? Absolutely. Right now, knowing that they are leaving in 6 weeks feels like a band aid is being ripped off in slow motion. The selfish part of me wishes to get it done and over with even though I don't truly even want to say goodbye.

What was the hardest part of this? Several things pop in my mind, but I would have to say that it was frustrating to not be able to do things the way WE felt they should be done, but rather what the parents, the county, the state, etc deem right. Everything from how to discipline a child who is misbehaving to having to ask permission to have a child's hair cut. A few times recently (I believe out of frustration), the kids Dad has mentioned a few things he doesn't like about us or our family, or something he thinks isn't being handled correctly (nothing major, all very minor, even silly things), and having to feel like you have to explain yourself. Really, in the grand scheme of things, the "bad" parts are so minor. If I'm being completely honest here, I will tell you that the temper tantrums that came from little "J" were unlike anything I had ever seen. They would sometimes last 90 minutes and involve screaming, kicking, hitting, etc. I have been punched, kicked, hit, scratched and spit on more than I would like to say. Its infuriating at times, but I would remind myself over and over that this is what we are called to...serving God even when its hard. Very hard.

The best times? Hearing over and over "I love you", hearing the kiddo's say, "I've never done that before...that is so cool!" Seeing all the children interact lovingly together. Feeling the hugs and the love pouring from these little ones, and knowing that in some way we are making a difference to them.

There is even more to share, but I'll have to update later. I have a living room full of little ones waiting to go swimming : )

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Review...

I found out recently, from a friend, that I can receive free books from Thomas Nelson publishers if I am willing to post a blog review, via www.booksneeze.com. You bet I'm on board with that. It combines two of my favorites...books and free/cheap things!

I read the book "Love on a Dime", by a new author named Cara Lynn James. The book would be considered Christian Romance/Fiction. Its about a young woman of wealth, Lilly, in the late 1800's, who begins writing dime novels. She writes under a "nom de plume" as its considered improper for ladies of her class to write fiction. Her first love comes back in her life as the new owner of her publishing company, disrupting her current beau. Her secret identity is in jeopardy, as is her family's reputation, not to mention her relationship with her current beau.

This book kept my interest, even if it moved a bit slow for my taste. At times, things seemed a bit drawn out. The characters were well developed. The plot did hold my interest to the end, and had me wondering how things would be resolved. I think I would have appreciated a bit more interaction between Lilly and her first love, Jack. It seemed as if every conversation they had, she ran off. Overall, it was a decent first book for Ms. James. I'm curious to see how her future books compare to this one.

I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Thomas Nelson publishing company.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Now that we are on our journey...

Blogging took a backseat to life. Sadly, Facebook is also to blame...too much immediate gratification, LOL! Three months ago we welcomed our first foster children into our home. I have been hesitant to blog about them as I feel its important to keep any details about them or their family from cyberspace. I can certainly speak about them in less personal ways, without divulging personal info. Sweet little "J", who is 2 1/2 and his fun older sister, "R", who is 4 1/2, have joined our family and adjusted beautifully.

They will be with us for several more months, minimum. We have a great, albeit unusual relationship with their parents. At times, we even drive the parents to their bi-weekly visits with the kids. We exchange letters, and I call on occasion. They are very nice and gracious folks who just need some time to work on some issues. To say that I feel God's hand on this whole case would be an understatement. Not only were we assigned a Christian case worker, but even the family mentor assigned to the family is also a Christian.

Just a few hours after "R" and "J" were dropped off at our house, Matt and I turned to each other and said, "This is exactly what we are called to do...no doubt! There is such a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction." Sometimes there are times in your life when you just *know* in your *knower* that something was "meant to be". This is one of those times...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My delayed response...

When Matt and I first decided this past summer to pursue becoming foster parents and eventually adopt through the foster care system, we received tons of feedback from people. I would say about 75% of the people we shared our information with were genuinely excited for us and thought it was a good thing. About another 15% said, "well, God bless ya...". You could tell they were happy about it only because we were excited, yet at the same time it was obvious they were scratching their heads trying to figure us out. The remaining 10% think we are certifiably insane. We've had responses like, "why would you want to do that?" or, "aren't 3 kids enough?". One such person drilled us with questions (which is actually OK, because we are friends with this person and I would rather have the chance to answer questions rather than have people continue on with their misconceptions). He said, "why in the world would you ever want to do that and invite those type of kids into your home?". I tried my best at the time to share our reasoning. How do you share your heart with someone like that? How do you explain to a non believer that you feel like this is what God called you to do and He has given you the peace to carry it out? For months I have thought back to that day. If I had been given a while to form my true answer, this is what I would have said....

"If I know I have the chance to make a difference in someone's life, especially a child, and I choose instead to remain "comfortable", then SHAME ON ME! How do you look at a need, know that you can help fill that need, then walk away because, after all, the "problem" is not yours?"

Does that mean I think every person who call themselves Christian should be doing something about the orphan problem that exists in the world today? ABSOLUTELY!! Does that mean every Christian should adopt? No, sadly there are circumstances that make adoption not a good option for some people. That being said, I think that the majority of Christians have become blind to the orphan situation. If you cannot adopt, then support those who can. Whether that be financially, emotionally, or with just plain old help.

The Bible says that "to him who knows to do right and does it not, to him it is sin". To know that I can do something positive for a child, and not do it, would be nothing short of sin. If God calls you to do something, he gives you the strength and peace to carry it out.

I could go off on another tangent about how God did not grant us life so that we could be surrounded by every luxury and live "comfortably". Sometimes I think comfort is our enemy because it makes us lazy and complacent. God did not put me on this earth so I could live comfortably with my 2.2 children, in a large home with more money than I know what to do with (note to those who do not know me personally: I have three children, a small house, and definitely NOT more money than I know what to do with!). He called me to love and serve. Yup, love and serve. Not acquire a huge 401K. Not travel the world. Those things would be great, but they are not the truly important things.

Ok, I'll step down off my soapbox and stop "preaching", but since so many have asked us about our choice to foster and adopt, I felt it was high time I gave my true opinions. Feedback and criticism are certainly welcome...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Things I am learning...

We have sat through 6 of the 10 classes required to become certified foster parents. They started off rather slow and have become more and more insightful and helpful in understanding the needs of the children in the system and how to deal with those children in the most effective manner. At times, the classes have been downright sad and disturbing; talking about giving back children to their birth family that have been with you for years, or talking about sexual abuse and protecting your own biological children. This is what I know now:

~ This (being a foster parent) will likely be the hardest thing we ever do.

~ It will require much time, energy and fortitude to be successful.

~ Foster children deserve so much more than the life they have been dealt thus far.

~ We are ABSOLUTELY meant to do this! Everything in me tells me that this is right time and the right thing.

After a great meeting with our case worker a week ago, we learned that we may be certified earlier than we originally thought. Perhaps as early as December, but definitely by January. Its even possible that we could have children in our home by Christmas.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Is it springtime?

It almost feels like it should be spring. You know, a time of new beginnings. Monday we will begin our foster care training classes. I could not be happier or more excited about the path that God has led us down. Did I ever expect in a million years to be doing foster care? I thought we would only walk that path for the necessary few months in order to foster "our kids" until their adoption was legal. However, when God does a huge work on your heart and the heart of your husband, simultaneously whispering to you both that this is the path He would like you to walk...you don't argue. You scratch your head and wonder at the new way of thinking. You marvel at it, but then you just revel in the peace that comes with knowing God's will for your life and doing it.

Today, I'm busy organizing and cleaning. So far I have yet to make it out of the living room, but I've dusted the ceiling (trust me, it really needed it), made a few spiders homeless, and just gave the room a very necessary cleaning. I'm not done yet. I couldn't help but think of the symbolism. Out with the old, in with the new. Get rid of the stuff that slows you down, the old stuff, the broken. Make way for the functional and fresh. Make way for a different type of "broken". Children. Broken children who are starving for love and affection. Shake off what slows you down, so that you can do what you need to do. Literally and figuratively.

I am on the edge of major change in my life. But its a wonderful, God breathed change. I'm sure there will be hurts and tears along the way, but I also know that God does not call us to do anything that He does not equip us to do. God has poured into my life so many blessings, and I think its the time that he is placing a demand on those blessings. To whom much has been given, much is required...

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