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Room Ready

In the midst of starting our pre-service classes, working on our paperwork and completing the million other tasks it takes to become foster parents, we have decided that we would do a makeover of what will become our child’s room.  For the last 8 ½ years the room has been a guest room and an office.

When I bought the home I had always dreamt of having a red room and now that we are preparing it for a child, my husband and I agreed that we would leave the room red and design around it… after all, red is kid friendly.  With new carpet on the way, we have completely gutted and reorganized the room.  Over the years I have collected many things and memories.  As I went through the boxes, pulling out pictures and packing away the items I wanted to keep, I found myself very emotional.

My hopes and dreams of preparing a room for a child were here.  Letting go of some of the past, carefully boxing away treasured items and memories, I realized our lives were about to change.  Soon there will be a child in this room, soon there will be prayers, laughter, and bedtime stories and possibly tantrums and tears.  Soon there would be a child looking for safety and love in this room.  For a moment I closed my eyes and imagined it all finished and ready, for a moment, I imagined a child reading a book, playing on the floor, I imagined my family for the first time.

Mark 10:14 – “When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them ” Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

 

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Anger, Love, & Action

There are many routes to parenthood.  Some are blessed with the ability to birth children and others go through countless rounds of fertility treatments, while others seek babies through a surrogate or birth mother, and some choose adoption of some kind.  No matter the journey to become a parent, there are challenges, obstacles, joys and sorrows, but in the end, most will say – every step of the journey was worth it.

Yesterday we began our first pre-service class.  It was an all-day training from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm and involved three separate classes.  It was an exciting, overwhelming and informative experience to say the least.  It raised questions, concerns and rocked us to the core in so many ways.

Our first class was entitled Who Are the Children?  We talked about the different types of children in the foster care system, why and how they come into the system, how to build attachment with a “broken” child and the various issues or concerns that arise from being removed from the home.  We also looked at what happens to most of these children when they age out of the system.  It was eye opening, raw and made my husband and I want to drop to our knees in prayer for these babies.  It was overwhelming, but in the end, it reinforced our desire to be foster parents.

Our second class focused on the birth parents.  This was as equally a difficult class as the first.  Knowing that addictions are stronger than love and often, brokenness leads to brokenness with their children.  We learned of three mothers, the fathers were either unknown or nowhere to be found.    All three mothers dealt with several issues, anything from being crack addicted, nicotine addiction, prostitution, alcohol use, and mental health issues.  All three had their children removed and two had parental rights terminated.  I found myself shaking my head and could feel a sense of anger growing within.  These beautiful innocent children do not deserve this start in life; they deserve a happy, healthy environment in which they can grow.  Unfortunately, these addictions often over power the good intent and their wanting to get better and be better for their children.  I found myself struggling as did my husband.  Here we were sitting with several others and we were seeking children and were willing to do anything for them to help them grow and to love them unconditionally.

Our third class was about child development.  It took me back to my college courses and reminded me of what we are going to encounter.  This was one class I felt completely comfortable with and it was nice to have the information refreshed in my mind.

Often when I get angry, I recall various scriptures to help me cope with the pain that is felt from the anger and wanting to change the circumstances.  The verse that came to mind today as I write this is from 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”  Today I choose to love and pray for these parents in distress, because HIS LOVE covers a multitude of sins… including my own!  I have no right to be judgmental, but to love them, and care for their children when they cannot and that is sufficient for me.

Our whirlwind of a day was rounded out with an evening spent with two of the most wonderful people and their beautiful family!  They are in process for their second international adoption.  It is exciting to watch their story unfold and have someone going through similar things.  We spent some time going through an upcoming adoption event to be held at our church, and were able to share and just spend quality time laughing, talking and sharing.  Leaving their home late in the evening with the biggest smile on our faces, we knew that God has brought us to this point, for HIS purpose and HIS timing.

There is a song that I have been able to relate heavily too lately.  It is by Matthew West and is entitled Do Something.  It has been a really powerful song in our home!  Remember, HE created you… you are HIS hands and feet, and when HE calls you, it is time to DO SOMETHING!

I woke up this morning

Saw a world full of trouble now

Thought, how’d we ever get so far down

How’s it ever gonna turn around

So I turned my eyes to Heaven

I thought, “God, why don’t You do something?

“Well, I just couldn’t bear the thought of

People living in poverty

Children sold into slavery

The thought disgusted me

So, I shook my fist at Heaven

Said, “God, why don’t You do something?”

He said, “I did, I created you”

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Preparation…

After last evening there was a moment of “reality” that really set in.  For me, this was that step I had been waiting for since feeling that calling six years earlier.  For my husband, this is not only exciting, but overwhelming and rather quick.  There are so many questions swirling in our minds.  Will we be good parents, will we be enough for them, will we be able to meet their every need, how many can we handle at once, do we consider more than one child, is it time to put our home up for sale and look at a bigger home… and the list goes on, as I am sure it does with anyone that becomes a parent!

Several months ago, I purchased a little desk calendar for Jason for his office at work.  Each day it offers a scripture verse.  Yesterday’s verse offered encouragement and reassurance to Jason as did today’s verse.  He took a picture of it and sent it to me.  It was my life verse Jeremiah 29:11.  For him, it was confirmation that we are in God’s will, for me it was additional reinforcement that brought a smile to my face.

My devotional today was all child centered as well.  In Proverbs 22:6 the Bible tells us to “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  The author of the devotional was talking about taking her daughter college and leaving her to face her faith on her own.  I can only imagine being given eighteen short years to pour out your best into your children, to love them and guide them in their faith and then like an eagle, allow them to soar.  I long for that opportunity, and remember… we may not have 18 years; we may have less, quite possibly only a moment! 

Today’s power verse hit me pretty hard, it is from Lamentations 2:19.  It is a wonderful reminder that in all things we must prayerfully petition the Lord.  That HE is the author and finisher of our faith, our redeemer, savior, our Jehovah Jireh, He is a way maker and path guider, even when we are not obedient.  He is, the great I AM, the one from whom all blessings flow!  So today, as we have in the past, we continue to pray for the children in our lives, the ones known and unknown to us.  We fully understand that this will not be an easy journey and that our future children will come with challenges, but we know that we serve a God greater than any of these circumstances.  God knows these children and He knows we may only have a moment and that is sufficient for HIS purpose.           

Lamentations 2:19 “Prayerfully ask the Lord how you can pray for the children in your life.

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Ready, Set, Go!!!

Our morning started much like any other typical work day, Jason and I went through our normal morning “routine” in getting ready for work.  He always tells me he loves me and kisses me before he leaves.  It was at that point I noticed the anticipation and smile in his eyes.  I can always tell exactly how my husband feels by looking into his eyes.

My morning devotional was just further confirmation of God’s plan.  I have to be perfectly honest here and say, I have been slacking in my morning devotionals.  Today when I opened the website (Proverbs 31) I began to read… wouldn’t you know it, it was about making your life your mission field.  The first paragraph was about adoption, and I smiled, because I knew that wasn’t a coincidence… rather what I call a Godincidence.  His timing is perfect and His ways are just… Ahhhh – I love when I can feel His presence.

Now we are home and we can officially say – IT IS OFFICIAL, we have started the process!  Words cannot express our feelings this evening during the orientation.  While questions are swirling in our heads and new dreams are beginning to form, we were drawn back to a saying that has become our mantra… If only for a moment!  If only for a moment, we are given the privilege to pour into their lives, to love them, offer them consistency and stability, it will be worth it!  At the end of the orientation, without hesitation, our application was officially submitted.  We left with smiles on our faces and gratitude in our heart, gratitude for a Savior that called us to this “mission field.”  There were two phone calls made on the way home.  The first call was to my mom, she is so over the moon with excitement for us!  The second call was to a dear friend that has walked this journey herself.  Her words of support and love only added to the excitement.  A final text would round out the night in sharing this journey.  I was asked what the best part of the night was and my answer was simple… “Honestly, knowing we are doing the will of God.”  We are feeling so thankful and blessed.  It is simply overwhelming… in a good way!!!

Today’s scripture verse is from Galatians 5:13 ~ You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

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Anticipation, Hesitation and Scheduling OH MY!

I wasn’t going to post until after our orientation meeting, but my husband wrote about a couple of things on his mind and of course it triggered in my mind as well!  Not to mention the anticipation and excitement of officially starting this process tomorrow!  We are like two children on Christmas Eve filled with anticipation!

This past Sunday we saw our first bit of hesitation from our family. My niece, who is six, told us “No girls! I’m the only girl and if you get one, ship ‘em back!”  She also told us she has too many cousins, about a million of them.  I comforted her and explained to her that she will always have a huge and special place in her Auntie’s heart. That seemed to be all she needed to hear.  She is my god-daughter and I understood her sentiment.  I also welcomed the opportunity to help her process this journey and see it through her eyes.  One thing is for sure, she is a special little girl and she stole my heart the moment she was born!

Scheduling abounds… as an educator; we are in the season of scheduling our students for classes for the next school year.  At home we are busy scheduling all of the classes and requirements to become foster parents.  We are overjoyed with our agency and are excited to move forward and complete everything!  I mentioned earlier that we would have our orientation meeting this coming Thursday at which time we plan to turn in our official application!

As of today, our calendar is filled up with the three full day pre-service education courses, CPR/First Aid training and I am sure the rest of our days will be filled with room/ home preparations, our home study, medical health checks paperwork and anything else needed to be ready!   We are so excited, and I have to admit, this is where I become impatient… I long for that moment when we receive our first call!

Today I am reminded of, what has become my “life-verse”  Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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God’s Plan…

There is a saying that goes… make a plan and God laughs!  How true those words have been for us!  From the beginning we wanted to start a family immediately… that was our plan.  Being a little older than most newlyweds and having established careers, it seemed logical and right for us.

Having been married a little over a year, we have had what you would call a whirlwind of events during our first year of marriage!  It went a little something like this… marriage, job promotion for the husband, difficulty getting pregnant, job change for the wife, routine check-up, unusual finding, thyroid cancer diagnosis for the wife, and treatment!  By the time we reached our first year anniversary, which was eventful in itself, we knew that God was certainly in control and his plan was greater than ours!

About six years ago, while still single, I (Bridgette) sat in the pew at my church and listened to a woman give her testimony about her adoption journey.  I knew in that moment, that God had called me to adoption.  While I was eager to answer the call, I was apprehensive because I was single at the time.  Seeking out an agency and exploring my options, I was still ready to move forward.  Then, in the blink of an eye, my family’s lives would be forever changed.  My beautiful niece and god-daughter had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at seven months old.  It was then that I had quietly decided to not mention it any further and simply support my family in this journey.  As my niece finished her journey, I had begun to think about starting the process again… once again, God had another plan.  This time we would walk a journey of cancer with my mother.  Nearly six months out of treatment and here we were, hearing those words again.  Needless to say, that calling was put on hold!

In September of 2010, I would meet my husband for the first time.  From the beginning we both knew that we would be married and again, life had changed… We were married on a perfect, sunny, 80 degree day on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012.  We knew we wanted a family and being older we knew that if we wanted children we would need to try to start a family right away!  When that didn’t happen in the first six months of marriage we decided to see a fertility specialist.  Routine check-ups led to a cancer diagnosis.  Once again, that word entered our world, and this time, it was said to me.  I was never more thankful that it was contained, and extremely treatable.  Being given a clean bill of health and having everything go according to the protocol, we were blessed and we knew it!  We were instructed to wait until July of 2013 before starting a family!  In the meantime, God had other plans…

In February of 2013, Jason and I found ourselves looking for ways to give back, pay it forward, to get involved in our church and to be a positive change in our community.  In one text and follow-up phone call, our lives had changed.  We had expressed interest in becoming involved in the Empty Chair Orphan’s Ministry at our church.  It was then that I was asked to step up as the educational coordinator for the group.  Without hesitation, I wanted to say yes, but I knew I needed to talk to my husband about it.  Needless to say, his response was YES!!!

Within two months’ time, while preparing educational materials and researching we had made the decision to become foster parents!  For us, we simply could not ignore the statistics.  We decided that even if only for a moment we could pour into their lives, love them, keep them safe and give them a nurturing place to grow, we would be that change or that chance in their lives.

So here we are today, our home is being re-organized to prepare for a child!  We are excited to start our orientation class this week and our training classes this weekend.  In the meantime, our home is full of a lot of hustle and bustle of getting a room ready for a child we don’t know… WE ARE EXPECTING!!!  We are not sure how old, what gender, what needs, or anything else we should be expecting, but we are thrilled.  We have new carpet on the way, new boy bedding (we already have girl bedding), toy box, dresser, and neutral decorative items have been purchased.  Our goal was to prepare a room that would be inviting, nurturing, empowering and safe for a child.

I think we are ready; we are open to God’s plan and realize that HE is in complete control.  Our fears, concerns and anything else we “worry” about are in his hands!  We know one thing for sure… we want to carry out God’s mandate in James 1:27 ~ “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”