A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it.
Frank A. Clark

Our family

Our family
October 2011

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas in rewind

We finally got all our Christmas stuff out of the attic. We've been debating what to do with the tree now that we have a full-blown toddler on our hands...especially a toddler that sees anything round-ish as a ball and proceeds to throw it. We had the thought that maybe if he helped put things on the tree and we praised him for leaving them there that maybe that would help...we'll see how this goes. I'll keep you posted.

When we took Christmas down last year it was...heavy for me. That's the only word I can use to describe it. As I packed away his 'Baby's first Christmas' ornament, his picture with Santa and other things I couldn't help but feel that finding these things again the next year would either be fun and joyful, or emotional and hard.

It was the not knowing that weighed me down...the complete and utter vacant future...atleast what I thought looked vacant.

Even though I knew Who held my tomorrows, and I knew that same Being had led us to foster care for the good of the children not necessarily for the good of Kris & Karis...it's the trusting that HIS plan is greater than mine that I hadn't quite grasped yet. What if's consumed my thoughts and paralyzed my actions. I remember living moment to moment...breathing in every second with him...knowing that next Christmas would be completely different, with or without him.

So this year there was one thing that I had to find in those boxes of stuff. The one thing that was my favorite thing from last year, the thing I had thought about all of this year. The one thing that we had made last year that I had the hardest time packing away and the one thing that I knew would be the hardest to unpack if he wasn't with us this year.

his little hand print.

It's still emotional for me to think about. But that little chubby hand print, frozen in time in that white plaster stuff was the first thing I had to find this year. We had all made it together. It took both of us to hold him still and press that little hand into the goo. The first time he giggled and curled his hand into a fist, so we had to smooth it out and start over. I carved his name and the date on the side. And when it dried we tied a festive ribbon thru it and added a bell and hung in on the mantle.

My favorite thing.

More than my nativity.
More than my super cool star tree topper.
More than my Waterford Crystal ornament.

I took it out and showed it to Hank. He sat in my lap and put his hand over the mold and I told him how we made it. I'm not sure he really grasped the concept, but I think he knew it was special.

Every Christmas this will be a sweet and simple reminder of how small my plans are and how BIG my God is.

Thank you Lord for this baby and for Your baby who came to save the world. Your plans are so much better than mine.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

court room play by play

A month over due...but better late than never is kind of a theme for my life. ha! For those of you who couldn't be in the courtroom here is your play-by-play. Enjoy!

It was like a wedding.

The amount of preparation. The nerves. The family and friends. The new clothes. The photographer. The planning.

I was jittery. Past anxious, past excited...just jittery.

We missed our exit due to construction and had to u-turn and find it coming from the other direction. (I think Kris was jittery too) When I get nervous/anxious I tend to fidgit, tap on things, ask questions and apply lip gloss over and over again. When Kris gets nervous he gets quiet and speaks in quick short answers. Yeah, we're a great pair.

I remember wanting to sprint up the steps of the courthouse, burst thru the doors and announce to all the people waiting in line at security "Today is our adoption day!". (very monica-esque for you Friends devotees, except without the whole tripping and falling bit.)
I didn't do it, but I sure wanted to.

Our case was put at the beginning of the docket for the day. And since our group was so big they asked us to wait outside until the judge was ready. After we walked in, they allowed our whole group to stand behind us in front of the judge.

I started crying right as we got up to the table. Of course. (Thank you Maybelline for your waterproof mascara.)

The judge looked at everyone and said, "are you all adopting this child?" and because they are awesome, our group all said "Yes!" I love you guys!

He then followed that up with "this is a good way to start off the day. Adoptions are the only good thing that happens in a courthouse."

Hank was wiggly. He wanted mama, wanted dada, wanted crackers, wanted milk. But overall he did really well for a toddler.

This judge took his time. Looked through the file, asked questions and asked for paperwork. I was just praying that it was all there.

He asked our lawyer questions and asked Hank's workers questions. They all stated that they felt this was the best placement for this child. I finally breathed, for I think the first time in 15 months.

The judge approved the name change and the adoption and said "if this child turns out half as well as another man, Steve Jobs, who was also adopted. Then we will all be in good shape."

And there it was. Done. He's ours. Everyone cheered and cried. And we all hugged.

Perfect moment.

Everyone asks the same question now. "So are you so relieved it's done?" And at first I didn't know how to explain what I was feeling, so I just said yes. But I realize that relief isn't the right word for it.

It's validation.

We have finally been validated, stamped and approved.

What we have been feeling for this child since day one has finally been recognized and counted as real.

Up to this point we have been a holding place for this child until a more suitable placement was found. All the while we were jumping up and down, waving our arms wildly yelling, "look at us, look at us. I think we could be suitable. My mom thinks I'm suitable. We already love him, could you consider us."

Through this whole process it has just really brought home for me the picture of God's relationship to us. I don't have to be validated before he'll accept me. I don't have to be suitable first.

He accepts me just as I am.
in the middle of my mess.

And I am so grateful.
so humbled.

My prayer is that I will always be that way for my children. I know they will not always be perfect...and neither will I. But I hope that they will always know that even in the middle of their mess, even when I might not love their actions or their words; that they are always my child, they can always come to me with anything, my door will always be open and that I will always love them for the person they are and for the person I know they can be.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Count down!

Dear Hank-
Happy adoption week. It feels so overwhelming to finally be saying those words. I seem to have trouble coming to grips with the fact that we are actually at this place. It all seems so surreal, I have to pinch myself a lot.

I had a hard time coming up with something to write in the month of September. I hated to miss a month(New Years resolutions and all), but I just had no more words to write other than joyful. That was and still is the best word to describe us right now. When your cup is overflowing, sometimes words just don't do it justice.

On Friday we will change your name. You will be a Jones. I'm hoping that I don't turn into a blubbering mess in the court room, but be prepared that I probably will. We'll have video.

I hope you know that this blog is my love letter to you.
The good, bad and ugly.
It's my fight, my struggle, my tears, my heart and my love.

But I've come to terms with the fact that Love isn't always beautiful. Sometimes Love is hard and sometimes you have to fight for it. But Love is always worth it.

Someday I'll give you these pages. This thing that I started as something to keep friends and family updated on you and the status of your case turned into something very personal and theraputic. I hope you will read it and discover how beautifully God orchestrated your life. I also want you to know our heart and know how much you are loved.

I made these 'Wishes for Hank' cards for your adoption party. I'm hoping to make a book of them for you after everyone has filled them out.
Something else for you to read someday...

So here is mine:

I hope you learn... to be adventerous. There is a big world outside, and it's just waiting for you to rock it.

I hope you aren't afraid... to be different. Be a Joshua, be a Caleb, be a Daniel. Be someone that's different not to rebel, but b/c it's right.

I hope you love... Jesus, your momma!, to laugh, to be silly, to go to ballgames. I hope you love life.

I hope you get... your daddy's math skills b/c he's soo much better at it than me!

I hope you laugh... all the time b/c your laugh can light up a room.

I hope you never forget... that God has such HUGE plans for your life, and that we love you more today than yesterday.

I hope you become... the kid who includes the guy who sits alone at lunch. The kind of person who stands up for people who are being mis-treated, hurt or abused.

I hope you ignore... people who say "you can't." (except if you're grounded don't ignore that.)

I hope you respect... authority.

I hope you grow... into a man with a calm mind, a sweet spirit, and a heart that loves the Lord.

Those are my wishes for you my sweet boy. Someday you might look at me and roll your eyes at this b/c it's soo cheesy. But you'll never have to wonder how we feel about you.

You are a dream come true.
An answered prayer.
A living miracle.

I found this little verse, it seems fitting for this week:
This is the start of your sweet little story, the part where your page meets mine.
No matter where your tale takes you tomorrow our story will always read LOVE.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

beating the odds

So, as we enter into the final phases of the adoption process...which moves way slower than you would like, so just pack your patience...we were given three huge stacks of paper.

His file.

This file contains every scrap of information that has been said, written or investigated on behalf of this child or his case. Seriously, 3 mountains of information...and he's only been in foster care for a year. Just imagine the file of a child who has been in the system for a while.

Everyone had told us to prepare ourselves for what we would read in the file. Parent's history, family history...the good, bad and the ugly. It was never a question of if we were going to read it, but I guess the question was more "do we want to know?"

Do we want to know all the little details?
Do we want to know what happened before he was our baby?
Will this change our view of his parents?

I was prepared for the details. But what I wasn't prepared for was how close we came to losing him.

As we read through and touched every piece of paper we discovered many extended family members had been contacted, several had expressed interest in baby H...my baby.
A few even said they wanted him placed in their home.
One was listed as the best option.

We weren't even considered.

I started getting anxious just reading through all the emails and phone records and realizing how close we came...how he could have been taken so early on.

And then you start seeing God move.

It was like I could read it in the file. Some of the families were not approved. Some lost interest, some stopped returning phone calls. And then just in May the family that had been listed as the best option took their name off the list.

It was hard to read, even though I knew how it ended. Knowing how hard it was for us, and how we cried and prayed and agonized over our uncertain future with this baby...and now reading what was happening on the other side as well...just makes me even more grateful, more thankful, more humbled.

We have already been asked what we're gonna do with the file. Are we going to keep it? The whole thing? Will we tell him what's in it, or let him read it for himself?

And the answer to those questions is I dont' know.
I mean, yes we will keep it. I think I'll weed out some of the non-sense. There is a lot of jargon and randomness in it as well...but maybe not.

I'm kinda a cross that bridge when I get there kind of girl.
While I think it's important for him to know where he came from, I also think it's important that it not come from us. I want him to someday read it for himself. Come to conclusions the same way we did...by reading the facts.

I want him to know how much he was/is wanted...by so many people. I also want him to read how God orchestrated the whole thing. I think it will be a beautiful picture of Jeremiah 29:11 for him someday.

As we get closer to our final adoption date I become more and more humbled that we were chosen to be this baby's parents.

There are many times of the day I find myself at a loss for words.
In awe of God's wisdom and timing.
So thankful for this gift, but even more thankful for the Giver.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

90 days

Today begins the process that we have been waiting for...for over a year.

I think I would have adopted you the first nite if they had let me. But alas, we had a year of growing, learning and praying to do to arrive at this day.

All the fears of this last year have melted. They are now memories of growth, prayers, tears and learning to enjoy the moments.

We arrive gratefully, humbly & joyfully.

We are grateful that we were chosen to be your parents. Literally chosen. Chosen by God and chosen by a team of CPS workers. *big sigh of relief*

We are grateful & humbled that we were chosen to walk through this emotional, trying, challenging and spirit-growing last year. And we would do it all over again because you are worth it...every bit.

We are humbled everyday that the grace of God allows us to be apart of the big plans He has for your life. You are going to do some amazing things, I can feel it.

We are so joyful.
Just overwhelmingly joyful.
Happy beyond words.
Thank you Lord.

"The Lord has done great things for us, and our hearts are filled with Joy." Psalm 126:3

Saturday, June 11, 2011

June 11, 2010

There are days in our lives that we just never forget.
Wedding day
graduation day
days with grandparents
and for some people the birth of their children.

But for us, it it's a little different. We weren't there when you were born. While your birth day is so important b/c without it we wouldn't have you...the day I'll always hold close to my heart is the day you came into our lives.

One year ago today you arrived.
4pm, tiny & asleep.
We were scared, excited and scared.

I remember that afternoon & evening like it was in slow motion and one big blur all at the same time. From the phone call to them bringing you to our door....It was surreal, like a dream. What size diapers do 28 day-old baby's wear? How much of a bottle should he take? The poor social workers were younger than we were...they didn't know either. Lots of phone calls...mom, help.

That first week, I remember being afraid to love you too much. Knowing that any day they could call and come pick you up. I would kiss your little feet, your little hands and the top of your little head...but for some reason I couldn't kiss your little face. It somehow felt too personal...too motherly. I think that lasted about 3 days, and I caved. I realized that it didn't matter how I felt. You deserved, needed & craved love. 110% love. Holding back because I was afraid of myself getting hurt was doing you a disservice. You needed a mother right then, not when I felt it was ok.

A year ago if someone had asked me if we were prepared to have an infant at our house, I would have said no. We wanted one, but didn't think we were actually ready.
Funny how I now realize that this role is something I have been preparing for my whole life...unknowingly, innate, instinctive.

I always make a wish before I blow out my birthday candles, just silly, never expecting it to actually come true. When I turned 30 I wished that I could become a mother before my 31st birthday. My wish came true. You made me a mother.

You are my wish, my prayer, my hope.
You are fearfully & wonderfully made.
You are a blessing & a joy.
A dream come true.

Grateful that we have been chosen to be your parents.
Thankful for the last year, hopeful for 100 more.

Monday, May 16, 2011

One singular sensation

...every little step he takes...

Happy birthday to my little love.

In not quite a year you have completely rocked our world and given me the best on-the-job-training I've ever had.

Busy doesn't seem to adequately describe you...hell-bent would be a better description, but I know my mom wouldn't appreciate me saying hell in a blog so we'll just call you determined.

You laugh, alot. You smile, alot. You eat, alot. You are ALL BOY!
You chatter.
You sing when you get sleepy and you clap your hands when you're proud of yourself.

You are joyful.

You love bathtime. You love Harley. You love music. You love books.
You love your dada.
You love to snuggle. You love faces. You are affectionate.

You are opinionated.
You are curious.
You are messy.
You are funny.

Because of you I have learned:
how to fight the good fight.
how to live; faith, hope & love simultaneously.
.............that faith is more than just belief, it's a call to action
.............to hold out hope against all odds
.............that love never fails, even on the unloveable.
that love is a choice. not always the easy choice, but the necessary choice.
that God hears my prayers.

You are more than we could have asked for or imagined.

We couldn't be more happy to be your parents for this time in your life. Reminds me of my favorite story..."for you have come to this position for such a time as this."(karis paraphrase) Even if it was just for this year, you are/have been a joy & a blessing.

Praying for forever, but grateful for the now.

For this child I have prayed, and the Lord has granted my request.
~happy birthday my little love.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Love Wins.

Everyday i learn that when it comes to this whole process of foster care & adoption there's really no set playbook. No one can say 'this is what happens everytime & this is what happens next' b/c every case is different. It's all just speculation and assumption of what has happened before...

ha! kinda like life i guess.

all that to say, decisions were made today at the mediation, some decisions were good for us...but most of the decisions just result in more waiting on our part. tomorrow's trial will just be a formality of paperwork, unfortunately.

In a perfect world, every party involved in the mediation today would have agreed that we are the absolute best choice for this child. That plan would be taken to court tomorrow, the judge would think it was a great plan, bang the gavel & dismiss court...cut, print, end of story & we all live happily ever after.

But I guess my version is a little too pie-in-the-sky for real life.

In real life there's a lot of red tape.
In real life they like to exhaust all other possibilities.
In real life not everything goes as planned the first time around.
In real life you have to listen to a lot of other opinions that don't make much sense.

disappointed, yes.
pressed, but not crushed.

Hopeful, always.

We have to hold out hope that love wins.
Love always protects
Love always trusts
Love always hopes
Love always perseveres
Love never fails.

it doesn't say that love always gets its way. but i refuse to doubt that love isn't the right decision.

Friday, April 8, 2011

...like a polaroid picture

Tonite was one of those nites that you know you'll remember forever. It wasn't a special occasion and nothing particularly unusual happened. It was just one of those times where you catch yourself in a moment and you realize...something.

My mind is like a polaroid sometimes.

Like the first time I realized that I was in love with Kris. I mean for real in love...not just I really-really like you. I can replay it in my mind and remember everything down to what I was wearing(including the shoes).

It was a perfect spring Sunday afternoon, we were driving w/the windows down...of course, b/c it's oh so much more romantic than if I said and 'we were driving w/the a.c. on'...but seriously, I remember looking over at him as he was driving and it just hit me...THIS IS IT, HE'S THE ONE...and then I laughed out loud.
For some reason I found realizing that this was the real deal amusing. He then asked what I was laughing about and of course I said "nothing".
I knew at that moment that I didn't want to go anywhere or be anywhere if he wasn't going with me. I wanted to ride in the car forever with him...in the passenger seat. (b/c everyone knows the passenger controls the radio)

Tonite was like that...but in a different way. This was the first time I realized(or let myself realize) that this could be it forever.
Soon it could be the 3 of us...

Yep, filing that polaroid away.

I think for the past 10 months we have hoped for the future, but never let ourselves think of or dream about the future. I think tonite was the first time I felt free enough to let myself dream about the possibility...possibilities.

a lefty?
1st baseman?
When do you start T-ball?
and play the drums.
or the guitar.
another musician in the family would be so much fun.

I almost hate to post this one b/c I don't want to jinx anything...b/c I know that just b/c something has potential perform a certain way doesn't mean that it always lives up to it.

But I can't help but think that fostering love would also be fostering hope.

And my hope is in the Lord and He has has already done immeasurably more than all I could ask or imagine, so right now I'm letting my imagination run wild. The possibilities are endless and the potential is good...I won't say great, yet...but good.

Fostering Hope...i like the sound of that.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

get in and hang on

knowing I need to update...but not sure where to begin.

It was this way all month long. March was hard. Wouldn't want to repeat it.

I've heard the old saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. And that couldn't be more true for us this month. There's a lot I can't share, but what I can say is that for as difficult as the first 3 weeks in March were, this last week has made up for them.

This was one of those times in my life where I know that God was/is growing me to be something more. It's hard, growing pains aren't easy...but necessary.

With April 20th still being the big day, most of the last month felt like a count down to how many days we had left with him. It's hard to even think about now. Everything is completely out of our control...our future with H is literally in the hands of strangers.

Kris and I basically had to come to the conclusion that we needed to be grateful for the time that we had been given with H and not be mad if we weren't given more. We weren't even guaranteed that he was going to be with us 3 months let alone 10.

We had to be thankful for what we already had. Praying for the child we love & praying for his future, but thankful that we atleast had been able to have him this long.

I think God led us to this place so that we wouldn't love the gift more than the giver. We are blessed to have this sweet baby, but we are more thankful to God that He chose to bless us with H for this time.

So talk about roller coaster, by last week everything had changed...and in our opinion for the better. Nothing is definite, we still have no control, and we know it could all change again, but we see God working.

As of right now H will atleast be with us thru his birthday in mid-May. I couldn't be more happy to know that we get to celebrate his first birthday. It just makes my heart happy.

Alot can happen between now and April 20th(all prayers appreciated) but right now my heart & mind are at peace. I don't know if it's the calm before the storm or the peace that passes all understanding...but right now it doesn't matter.

The countdown clock seems to have slowed down and for that I'm grateful...even though I am still waiting on it to break down completely :) ...one thing at a time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

theme songs

Maybe it's because I watched too many musicals as a kid. Or maybe it's because I was obsessed with this Disney songs record I had as a little girl...(yes I said record, I was 5 and records were still around. Like today's DVDs, someday my kids will say DVwhat?)
Anyways, I find that in different points in my life I seem to have theme songs. It's not like a theme song for each day, it's more like a theme song for a season or something. Mostly big moments/decisions and such seem to have a song that I obsess over while I'm in that time.

When I graduated highschool the song that was the re-occuring theme in my life was How Could I ask for More, by Cindy Morgan. I remeber feeling overwhelmed with the thought of growing up, going to college and leaving the safety of my parents house. And that I had so much to be thankful for. I listen to that song and I'm right back on the stage crying my eyes out at Senior Recital...yeah, probably not my best performance.

My senior year of college our little group of friends was obsessed with this unknown guy Matthew Perryman Jones. We all passed this burned copy of his cd around and my roommate and I just left it playing in our apartment ALL THE TIME. no seriously, we left it on repeat all day and all nite...like i said...obsessed. Kris and I even had some friends of ours play this song in our wedding. And everytime I hear Lead me to the Waters, it takes me back to that apartment with those hardwood floors and big windows that we left open all the time and me just waiting on Kris to get out of class so we could go drive around.

When we moved to Austin it was, to say the least, traumatic for my mom, sis & I. 6.5 hrs apart was not easy. It was a hard decision for kris and i and a hard move. But we knew that following God was more important than being comfortable. During this time I prayed and sang and cried to Jenny Owens, If you want me to. I heard it tonite in the car on the way home, Kris was trying to talk to me and I was completely lost in the song and the emotions that it brings back everytime.

Getting to the point...I haven't had/needed a theme song for a while. I guess you could say the last 5 years have been relatively calm, consistant, uneventful, happy. Until this last May. When we left our church home and steady job of 5 years and became foster parents all in 2 weeks. I guess you could say that for the 4-5 months leading up to this big change God was really working on my heart and the song that He gave me was Britt Nicole's Walk on Water. There's one part of the song that seemed to be asking the same questions that were swirling around in my mind:

What if I'm overtaken? What if I never make it?
What if no one's there? Will You hear my prayer?

The whole foster care licensing process was/is daunting. And at various points I just told Kris that this was too hard. They were asking for too much information and we didn't know how to get it or where to send it and couldn't they just take our word for it that we were good people and that we just wanted to take care of kids that needed a home and, and.... (Lets just say lots of tears were involved) And on top of all of that I knew that we were going to have to say goodbye to our youth kids and our church that we had grown to love and depend on for 5 years. This was our support system and I was scared and nervous about leaving it. But the chorus just echoed what I heard my husband and the Lord telling me:

So what are you waiting for? What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities, they try to alter you.
But you know you're made for more, so don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all it takes, and you can walk on the water, too

This became my heart song. It became what I sang to myself to help me take the steps I needed to take. To help me trust that this was/is the plan that God had for my life. I just needed to be faithful and rely on Him. (i learned there's a big difference in trust & rely, but that's another blog for another time)

This past Christmas a song came on the radio that made me have to stop the car and pull over. I had heard it the previous Christmas and thought it was a nice song, kinda cheezy, but good message. But it hadn't really grabbed me until this year. A Baby Changes Everything, by Faith Hill. I think I started to realize what Mary went thru being the mother of Christ. And yes, I know baby H is not the Christ child...even though he is pretty amazing. But still...I know that at this point, even though he's not ours, I wouldn't give this child up for anyone in the world.
And yet, she had to resign herself to the Lord daily knowing that this child was meant for something more than she could imagine.

That baby changed everything for her....and me.

And baby H has changed us too. changed our world. changed our dog's world...poor Harley. changed the way we see the world. changed the way people react to us. changed our conversations, changed our choices.

And I know that when the time comes, and it gets closer every day, that we have to be faced with the uncertain future of our little family, we will leave no stone unturned in order to find out how to fight for this child. Am I ready...no. Will I be ready...no. There's no way to prepare yourself for that...I've tried. We just love. At times, I almost think we're lucky because we know our future with H is uncertain and so we soak in every moment.

I don't have just one song that I've latched on to yet for this...season(for lack of a better word). When I find one I'll let you know. I guess it depends on what mood I'm in. Lately it's been a lot of Miranda Lambert...so I guess I've been in a kick butt and taking names kinda mood.
Interesting...many of the songs from my past seem to apply to our current situation. Listening to If you want me to made me realize how well those words fit on my heart, especially now. I like how God recycles things like that.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

mom knows best

How is it that moms know everything? And how is it that my mom always knows what I'm gonna need before I do? It's like espn or something. ;)

This past weekend when my mom & sis were here we went shopping & running around. We were in this bookstore when mom picked up this book and started telling me how great it was. It was a daily devotional book. I've seen lots of them, I have lots of them. The small, one-page daily reads...as you can tell I was real impressed...
But mom kept on about this book, saying that each one spoke to her and it was as if God was speaking to her heart. I admit I was intrigued. She said, "If you're interested I'll buy it for you." Now, I've never been one to turn down a gift, so I said 'sure'.

Ever since we got baby H my bible studies have slowed down to a crawl. And when I have found time to sit down...either b/c the baby is asleep or entertained...I find myself getting distracted with my mental list making of things I need to get done while he's occupied....focusing isn't my strong suit. So I thought, 'yeah I'll give this little book a try.'

I have had this book since Saturday and today(wednesday) was the first day I picked it up. Let me just say...this chick packed a lot of good stuff into a little book!
Kris and I had a hard afternoon yesterday after getting an progress update from H's lawyer, and so today I opened the book needing words to calm my fears and bring rest to my crazy thoughts...and this is what I read:

Come to Me with all your weaknesses: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Rest in the comfort of My Presence, remembering that nothing is impossible with Me. Pry your mind away from your problems so you can focus your attention on Me. Recall that I am able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine. Instead of trying to direct Me to do this and that, seek to attune yourself to what I am already doing. When anxiety attempts to wedge its way into your thoughts, remind yourself that I am your Shepherd. The bottom line is that I am taking care of you; therefore, you needn't be afraid of anything. Rather than trying to maintain control over your life, abandon yourself to My will. Though this may feel frightening--even dangerous, the safest place to be is in My will.
Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
...yep, not much left to say after that...Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What I love...

Bear with me, I'm going to do a little bragging.

Kris did not grow up around babies or small children for that matter. He was the youngest kid in his family and for a long time the youngest grandchild. He was naturally good with kids, but any age younger than 4yrs made him nervous, and just forget about babies. He had never babysat, changed a diaper, made a bottle and definitely never let anyone or anything puke on him.

Enter baby H...

This baby has changed him. I think his insides actually turned to mush when he held H that first nite...it was all over. Kris said from that moment he knew that he was supposed to do everything in his power to protect and provide for this child.

From the very beginning this has been a team effort. There has not been a moment that we have not shared. Kris has not shied(shy-d, not sure how to spell that one) away from the mess that just comes with babies. And oh my the mess. But thank the Lord, I was not home for the first big blow-out diaper. It was all Kris...all by himself. But I got the text and laughed. Someday I hope to be able to post the video of the second big one...it was Kris' turn then too(yes we took turns) and it was greatness.

He has dressed the baby, even picking out outfits...learning that buttons go in the back.(even though I've been told that boys don't wear outfits.)

But I think my favorite thing has been watching him become a father. Not having a real solid father figure in his own childhood/teenage years I think he was concerned about the kind of father he was going to be...but let me just say...he's wonderful. It's amazing what comes naturally to mothers and fathers alike. Instinct just kicks in right when it's supposed to.

It's amazing what love does.
It's amazing what God does.

I love seeing H light up when Kris walks in the room. I love watching him love on H and kiss that little bald head. I love seeing them on the floor playing together and I love when he says "let me take him" and "where's my boy?."

Correct me if I'm wrong girls, but seeing your husband(or your boyfriend) love on and care for a baby might just be the sexiest thing a man can do...can I say sexy on a blog?

Anyways...I say all that b/c I thought there might be some soon-to-be dad's or soon-to-be foster dad's that are anxious about being a father or having doubts that they're even ready. And to that I say...you'll never be ready. If you wait until you're ready, you won't do it. Just trust that God has made you for this purpose and will give you the skills you need when you need them. You'll be wonderful. Do what comes naturally. Sleep when you can. Pray over that sweet baby. And love more everyday.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

holding pattern

We are in the last 5 months of H's case. Up to this point everything has been a big hurry-up and wait. Like getting to the airport 2 hrs before your flight only to find out it's been delayed. But now things are starting to move...lot of conflicting emotions happening lately. I'm excited about the possibility of the parental rights being terminated and we can move fwd with adoption, but I(we) are also very aware of the fact that nothing is decided yet and that we still have to be chosen to be the parents of this child. Sometimes the uncertainty of it all is paralyzing....How many more months/days to we have with him? Should we start saving for his college? What happens if a distant relative shows up and wants to be considered in his permanent placement?
A couple of weeks ago it all really got to me. The count down, info overload, the complete and utter lack of control that we have in this situation...I had to take a few days and just cry about it, all of it. Good thing I have an understanding husband.

April 20th is the big date...we've been told. This is the date the parental rights will be terminated(if all goes as planned). After that we have to wait 90 days from termination until we can file for adoption...seriously? excruciating! That will be the most critical time of the entire case...and the part I'm dreading the most. From what I understand during that time we will be reviewed(again) and any family members or other parties that the parents bring to the caseworkers will also have to be reviewed & considered just like us. That's the sticky part. Now I'm sure you all understand why I had to take a few days to cry about all of this.

With having an official date to mark on the calendar it feels like the count down is on. Good or bad...not sure how I feel about it...guess it depends on what day you catch me on.

We knew going into foster care that this was not going to be easy. We've heard the scary stories and the success stories. We just have to hold on to the fact that God has a plan for this baby's life. Our prayer is that His plan includes us getting to be H's parents. Right now we are cherishing every moment, even the waking up at 4am moments....yes, we're back to waking up at night, but I don't mind. It's those sweet moments that remind me why I wanted to become a foster parent, why I'm so attached to this baby and why I was put here on this Earth.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

soul searching

It goes without saying that we love this baby. The walk across glass, lay down in traffic for this person kind of love. I tried to put up a brave front for a long time and say that we were just doing it for the good of the child...which is true. But almost from the beginning, we became bonded to this child. I say almost b/c it took me about 1 week to admit to myself that I was completely attached. But after that, it was all down hill. For me this transition from young married couple(yes, I still consider ourselves to be young married's)to parents was as natural as breathing. Kris might have a little different version of our transition but he's already asleep tonite. :)
I know some people would worry that they would not love an adopted/foster child as much as they would a biological child. And I guess if you aren't familiar with the concept I can understand.

For me, I grew up with this being a natural part of family lives. We knew many families who were foster parents and even more that had adopted children. I knew from a young age that I wanted to adopt children..more than one. I remember watching those 20/20 specials when they would go into the orphanages in Romania & Russia and show all those kids packed into beds and rooms. I remember telling my mom that I wanted to adopt a child from Romania back then...I think I was 10. In fact when Kris and I were dating, we had the typical discussion of how many kids do you want someday, and so on. I informed him that I was going to adopt and if that wasn't ok with him then maybe we shouldn't continue dating...ha!

I think this is something that God had stamped on my heart from an early age. I'm not sure why...but I do believe all those influences helped me be ok with not having biological children first/or right now/or maybe not at all.

Maybe that's why.

And...or maybe it's because this child at this time needed a good home, and that home needed to be mine. And that's perfectly fine with me.

I feel like I've known about him and loved him forever. And truthfully, I have. I've loved this baby since I was 10. And...I guess I just answered my own why.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

a common theme

Before baby H came into our lives, our only child was our black pug, Harley. Pugs are people pleasers and are known for having curious little expressions when you talk to them. Harley tilts his head and just stares at you like he's listening intently and knows exactly what I'm saying to him.

That's the way people look at us when they first find out we're foster parents. It's funny once you know what to look for. Most everyone will tilt their head and then touch their hand their chest and say, "oh that's so great. Good for you." Then their next sentence is always one of the following:

"I could never be a foster parent. It would be too hard on me, I'd never be able to let them go."
"I would love to be a foster parent, but what if you get a kid that has...issues? I just couldn't handle that."

Our answer to the first statement is this: It's not about I/me/you/us.
We had to decide that this is not about us. This is about doing what is best for the child. It's about giving them a safe place to land for however long they need it. It's about pouring Jesus into their lives, b/c they might not have that opportunity again.
Kris is alot better about this than I am. Especially in the beginning, I was constantly reminding myself that this was not about me, it's about baby H. He needs to bond, he needs to learn to cry, he needs consistancy, he needs love. But I wanted it to be about me so bad, I wanted everyone to know that our home was the best place for him. Is it hard?...absolutely. Do you get attached?...how can you not. If you are going to love these kids the way they should be loved, then attachment is inevitable.

Our answer to the second statement usually looks something like this:
Isn't that the point? I mean, we are not guaranteed that our own biological child would be born without problems or issues. Why should this child be rejected based on something he/she had no control of? Someone has to be the person brave enough to say, "Enough! I will help you no matter what you're going thru." ...isn't that a picture of what God did for us anyways?

My friend Joan did exactly this. She took in an older child(7+ is considered an older child) that had been bounced around from home to home. Labled as too hard, moody and difficult. She made the decision that no matter what this child would not see another foster home, except for hers, until he was adopted. It was hard, and sometimes I know she thought she had made a mistake. But slowly this child opened up and became a different kid. He needed someone who would stay and not push him away. He needed someone who would set the boundaries and not give in. He needed someone to love him no matter what and teach him how to be loved. He needed someone to get him ready for his forever home. And when he was ready, he was adopted. Yeah, Joan's a rockstar.

Somewhere along the line, those fears went away. I'm not sure when or how, but I came to a point where they just didn't matter anymore. I knew that what was more important was that the child in my house was loved, safe and being cared for better than he/she had been cared for previously.

Sometimes that old fear still creeps in...that one day this baby, that we have loved for 7 of his 8 months of life, won't be with us.

Sometimes that fear is paralizing.

But if I let it over take me, then I wouldn't be doing my job as his foster mom.

Even as I write the last sentence, I had to stop and re-read it to make sure it was me saying it... Sometimes I feel my brain says things that my heart just doesn't believe yet...just add that to the list of things I'm working on.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We're All In This Together

Found this video on Hillsong United's site. It beautifully puts pictures to the words that I fail to express. My favorite line is about the widow & orphans. Kris and I have a vision for our church...that we will be outward minded, not expecting people to come to a building...to an event. but that we would care enough to meet their basic needs and take Jesus to them...where they are...this moment.
Are we perfect?...no. Do I still buy bottled water?...yes. Are we working to change?...yes.
A change that starts with the 2 people in our home. Foster care is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg...tomorrow I'll work on tackling the world. :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

everyone loves a re-run...

This is the note I first posted on facebook back in June(2010) about our very first placement. It actually preceeds the previous blog and should catch you up to speed with everything before Baby H. So technically this is blog #2, but really it's the one that started it all. For some of you it's a repeat, for everyone else...Enjoy!
so here's the story, or atleast the parts I can tell you...
We got a call last nite(monday) at 830pm about two girls needing an emergency placement. We said we'd take them and were notified that we were chosen at 9ish. Our case worker arrived at 930, and the girls arrived at 1045. Two sweet sleeping girls, bi-racial w/a big mop of curly hair.(I knew kiki & raven would love this) We were told that we were getting a 3 yr old and a 17 mth old...which we did, but our case worker didn't know that the 3 yr old was special needs. In our classes they always told us to be prepared to be flexible, so that's what we did.

After briefing us on the situation and the girls all 3 caseworkers left around 1130 and the 3 yr old decided she wanted to read book, watch movies and generally be awake. The caseworkers had said to be ready to keep these girls long term, atleast thru the starting of school, so as I sat and watched Monsters Inc. and fed her puffs(which are the greatest thing ever!) I started re-arranging our daily lives, our summer, our finances, etc... Soo, no one told me that watching movies does not put a child to sleep, it puts kris jones to sleep, but not a 3 yr old. So I told her we were going to go lay down in her bed, I sat down besider her and rubbed her back and she was out in just moments. That might be one of my greatest accomplishments yet. :)

At 430 the baby woke up. Not used to hearing cried in the middle of the night, I jumped up and went to get her. We rocked, and rocked and rocked and after about 30 min when I thought she was asleep I started making my way back to their room when she lifted her head off my shoulder and said "HI." I knew she was not going back to sleep anytime soon. At 6am Kris woke up and came in to the living room. She went right to him w/out hesitation. And for those of you who know kris well, he does not do slobber, snot or sticky. So for him to reach out and take this baby, sticky and all, just did my heart good.

The more we watched these girls we realized that they have been loved. They were not the neglected type. They were very affectionate with us, with each other, baby dolls and Harley. The 3 yr old, even with being special needs, knew sign language(see Ashley it does come in handy!) and would tell me when she wanted more and such. So we were not surprised when the social worker called and said that she was on her way to pick them up. We don't know the whole story, but somewhere/sometime during the nite the judge decided to give the parent(s) another chance. We were sad to see them go, but relieved to know that their situation was being worked out...and selfishly I was relieved to know that I was getting a shower today. ha!

We now know that we can handle this whole parenting thing, and that we will work at this as a team...and that kris can do sticky. :)

Thanks to all of you who texted, prayed, called, offered help and brought clothes. You know who you are and you all are rockstars! (You should have seen us before the kids got there...running around like crazy people.)

Thanks for being our support system, we love ya'll!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Beginnings and such...

According to my New Year's resolution, I'm supposed to start a blog on foster care and adoption and our experiences with that world. So here it goes...Blog #1.

My Husband is big on change. I am not. It's funny how God puts completely different people together. Kris loves change and thrives in it, it's almost like he's good at it. Usually change happens to me. I don't choose it, it chooses me(kinda like a tornado chooses a trailer park). It makes me feel like I'm walking through mud or have an elephant sitting on my chest...but I am getting better. And after this last year, I would almost have to say that I like it and am getting used to it...almost.

In the summer of 2009, Kris and I came to a conclusion that maybe we were going about this baby thing all wrong. Having a baby the old fashioned way didn't seem to be working for us. We always knew we wanted to adopt kids and even be foster parents, but it was always something we had talked about doing down the road. In our minds our first child would be a biological child and then maybe our 2nd one would be adopted and so on. This was big change #1. I think God is amused by my plans for my life. I also think he gets a little giggle out of changing them for me. I however grieved this change like I had lost a loved one. And theoretically I had. I was grieving the loss of the way I thought things should happen and the loss of the plans I had made for this unknown child...the one I thought should come first. I got to the point where I even told Kris that I just wanted someone to leave a baby in a basket at my door with a note saying, "Please take good care of my baby. I am not able to care for it anymore. I've watched you and I know you'll be great parents." Yeah, I think I was delusional.

Anyways, with that hurdle behind us and after deciding that the whole infertility route wasn't for us at this time, we began looking for other possibilities. It was really Kris that posed the whole "what are we waiting on" question. This was big change #2. We always knew that foster care was in our future. The more we prayed about it the more it was just confirmed in our minds and hearts that we weren't supposed to wait. We were supposed to do it NOW!
You know that verse in the bible that says, "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few..." that verse paints the perfect picture of foster care in America. The more we learned about the need, the more we wanted to take as many kids as possible into our home(all you experienced parents can laugh here).

We were licensed at the end of May of this year. Our first phone call for possible placement was 3 days later...and the calls came steadily(8 in all) until we were finally placed with 2 little girls, exactly 2 weeks after we were licensed(that's another blog for another day, I posted it on FB and will re-post it here). The girls did not stay long, as can be the case with emergency placements. When the caseworkers saw our home and met us they complimented us on how nice our home was and how kid-friendly it seemed(for those of you who have not seen our home...it is cute, small, warm and ours, but definitely small) They said we seemed very ready for a placement. We assumed that every house was ready for a placement...I mean when you're licensed isn't that the point? We found out that not all homes are ready for kids, or nice or even clean.

Anyways, because of that first placement we were called by the caseworker 3 days later on Friday, June 11th. We were told that they had a 3 month old infant who they would like to place in our home. She mentioned she was specifically calling us because she was impressed with us and wanted to place this child in a good home,(Yea us!) would we take him? Now, let me preface my answer with this...Kris was leaving the next day for a week at youth camp and I had 2 open houses scheduled for the weekend. But without thinking or even stopping to call Kris(sorry babe) I said "of course".
Really, she didn't even have to finish her sentence, she had me at 3 months and infant. She said, "great, I"ll see you in and hour". They were at our house in an hour with a 28 day old baby boy.(yes, sometimes caseworkers mess up on ages, race and even the sex of the child. They are busy people!) He was small and a little under-weight, but other than that he was perfect and it was love at first sight.

The scary part was when they left him with us. We hadn't had 9 months to plan and prepare. We hadn't read all the books on what to do, when to do it and how to do it. The miracle is that we did what came naturally. God is amazing at the peace he gives us in normally stressful situations. We also have amazing friends who upon receiving our text about the baby started showing up with clothes, diapers, a swing(which save my sanity), wipes, blankets, etc...stuff we didn't even know we needed. Big change #'s 3-200 follow in the next 6 months. ha!

So, this first blog ended up being a long one...and I didn't even put in all the stories that I could have. But I think it gives a good picture of what we went through and how we got there.

I have many hopes and prayers for this blog, but today my prayer is that this blog will open the eyes of Christians to the huge need of good, Christian foster/adoptive homes.

Is there risk?
Yes, but there is also risk in driving your car down the highway in the morning.
But this reward out weighs the risk by so much...I can't even count that high.

This world of forgotten children is one that we seldom mention in our churches today.

That needs to change.

And in our family, church and city, that change will begin with Kris and I.