0

Explaining…

As we move through this process reality is setting in for us as well as our family and friends.  Several years ago, while reading one of many books on foster care and adoption I came across a book that suggested that you begin the dialogue with family, friends, bosses, and co-workers early and often.  My husband and I have shared our experiences with those we are close to and we talk often about what is to come.

This weekend we had the opportunity to visit with my husband’s sister, her husband and two beautiful children.  They live about 2 ½ hours away in the neighboring state.  We really enjoy spending time with them.  Their oldest is six and she is extremely bright and inquisitive.

On Saturday we spent the day at a balloon festival and enjoyed the beautiful weather and time together.  The kids enjoyed playing games and riding a few rides.  Both children are always well behaved and a joy to be around!  During our time with them, we often talk about fostering and what it would look like for us.  My brother-in-law even said, well the next time we see you guys it will probably be with children.  I smiled as big as could be at the thought of it and for a moment wondered what it would be like.  One thing is for sure, they have been wonderfully supportive in our decision.

On Sunday, we ventured to the local zoo.  Now, anyone that knows me, knows I am not a zoo person, but we had a wonderful time.  As we walked through the zoo, enjoying the perfect weather and time spent with family, we talked about different things and for whatever reason my new found obsession with strollers.  After we left the zoo, we headed to our favorite pizza place to enjoy dinner and then we were heading home.

We had finished dinner and were saying our good-byes to everyone and our niece hit us with questions.  She wanted to know more and why and how these children would come into our home.  My husband and I became quiet as we watched her mom explain it to her.  I mean after all, how on earth do you explain foster care to a six year old?  My sister-in-law did an amazing job of helping her understand how this works.  She explained that sometimes mommy’s and daddy’s need help in caring for their children and that is what her auntie and uncle were doing.  Without missing a beat, our niece said, “Oh, so they are orphans and they need someone to take care of them, why aren’t they in an orphanage.”  Her mom explained that we do not have orphanages here in the US, but people like her auntie and uncle bring them into their home to live with them and that some of them stay and others go back to their parents.  Without any further thought our niece said, “Well I can’t wait to have new cousins to play with!”

Honestly, it doesn’t get much better than that!  She may not fully understand the concept, but in her mind, they are her cousins and she wants to play with them.  We really couldn’t ask for more than that!  It did however make me wonder a little more about how we were going to explain to our nieces and nephews how things work.  What happens if/when they are reunified and the countless other things we will deal with in our family.

I do know this much.  I am thankful for the family we have been blessed with.  So far, those we are close too have been amazing, supportive and helpful.  We know there will be lots of questions ahead, lots of challenges and explaining to do, but we know we are supported and loved.

Our hope in talking early and often is that others will be more at ease with our decision to become foster parents.  We both agree and feel strongly that we have been called to this ministry and that for this moment in our lives we are to be foster parents.  While many around us may feel that it has to do with fertility or infertility that really is not the case.  As I have mentioned a few times before, our fertility is undetermined at this point and that is perfectly fine with us.  Does my heart ache for a child and do I have days and moments where I am frustrated and upset about the situation… YES, but I have also learned that God’s timing and plans are never ours and His ways are ALWAYS perfect and not for a moment has he forsaken us!  So for this moment in our lives, I will not wish and wonder about what is to come, I will put my full faith in a loving God that knows the plans he has for us!

Psalm 37:4 ~ Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Advertisements
2

Shocked…

On Tuesday evening we had our final pre-service education class.  The class was about children with special needs.  Having worked in special education for the past eleven years, I felt at home with this topic and the materials presented.  It was actually nice to go through and share some of the experiences that we have had over the years.

Once our class was completed we turned in our binder of paperwork.  We were given our binder at our first set of pre-service classes.  My husband jokingly said that I would have this done in a week, and I did.  I was eager to go through this process and strongly believe that when we do our part and honor our commitment, God will honor it as well.  I explained to my husband that if there is a delay or problem, I don’t want it to be because of something we did not complete.  He understands my “Type A” personality and worked alongside me to complete the paperwork and gather any and all documents that we would need to provide to the agency.

As our case worker went through our binder, we signed a few documents that needed to be signed and came to the part where they began to ask about the types of children we would take into our home.  The worksheet looks at race, gender, various types of disabilities/behaviors and the varying degrees of severity we would accept.   It also asked how many children we were willing to take at one time.  It was explained to us, on several occasions that this is the time to be realistic and completely honest with ourselves.

From the day we received the paperwork we have had many soul searching discussions about this section.  We have discussed at great length the various disabilities/ behaviors we are willing to accept.  For that section we have a choice between acceptable, unacceptable and will consider.  Last evening we finalized that section and worked through the various disabilities and behaviors.  Another huge discussion was the number of children we would consider taking.

Of all the things my husband and I have discussed, the number of children has been the one thing we tend to have differing opinions on, and for good reason.  Being perfectly realistic, we came to the conclusion that it would be in our best interest to open our home to one child.  I pushed for two, but relented because my husband had justified his reasoning.  His thoughts were, our home is not big enough, our fertility is not determined as of yet and we would like to try for a baby, we have never been parents before and questioned whether or not we could handle more than one child with differing needs.  All justified responses and I understood his perspective and respected the decision.

So last night, when the case worker asked us how many children we were willing to take, I became very quiet and let my husband answer the question.  He stated our reasons and found that the only real point of contention was the size of the bedroom that was the true determining factor.  So we invited our case worker to look at the bedroom that we have prepared for the child to see if it was in fact appropriate for two children.  He explained that the room, if we used bunk beds, would be appropriate for two children.  We returned to the dining room table to finish that section of the paperwork and again were asked how many children we would take.  My husband responded with TWO!!!  I was caught completely off guard with that and sat there shocked.  All I could do was smile as I looked at him in complete shock!  Two, two, two, two… I kept saying in my head.  Two children… ahhhhhh it sounded awesome to me!  I asked if he was sure because I didn’t want this to be a rash decision or because I had brought it up a million times.  He said he was sure and just smiled back at me.

In our world, we weren’t worried about race, gender or some of the other things as a factor, we were worried about a number.  We wanted to be fair to the children first and foremost, we also wanted to be realistic and fair to ourselves as well.  I think if there is anything you do as you prepare for this journey, the biggest lesson or thing you can do for yourself is to be completely honest, realistic and know your limits.

One thing I know for sure… God is so good and He has blessed us tremendously through our journey thus far.  We are in the home stretch now as we head towards completion and certification.  Our hearts are ready, our minds are open and we are like two children on Christmas Eve waiting with anticipation.  We are realistic and do not expect perfection, we know there will be sleepless nights, huge struggles, behaviors and other hills to climb, but we are also committed to filling our home with lots of love, family fun, and a faith that can move mountains!

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 ~ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths.

 Matthew 17:20 ~ He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

1

Learning to be Content

On Tuesday (5/14) we had our seventh and eighth of the nine classes required for certification as foster parents.  I was excited with anticipation to be one step closer to completing this process. 

Often times in my life, I find myself discontent and always wanting more, and wanting things to happen instantaneously.  I seem to have little time for waiting and little time for enjoying things or being content.  One thing I can say, and have said before… for the first time in my life, I am content with this process.  No, I don’t agree with everything, but I am finally learning that we are exactly where we need to be at this point in our lives.    

As we grow closer to completing this process, I find myself thinking about the things we will “need.”  Lately my thoughts are revolving around the “need” for a larger home.  We really love our home, but there will come a point when we will outgrow it and the fun will begin in finding the next home.  For now, I need to learn to be content with the blessing we have in this home!

As the weekend is coming to a close and it is back to the grind, I can’t help but smile over the past couple of days.  Saturday was just an adventure for us.  My husband and I decided that we would go to yard sales!  This was his first time and I was ready to roll.  With a general idea of what we were looking for in mind, we hit the road and came home with a car full of treasures!  Books, games, a stroller, baby gate and a tee-pee   Yes, I said a tee-pee   My husband’s big find of the day!  He was like a kid with his new toy, and I couldn’t help but smile and imagine him and our child having fun playing in the tee pee some day! 

After our yard sales and a visit with family, we were home to get ready for date night!  It has been a while since we had gone out on a date, and I have to admit… it was nice to get out and have some time for each other!  Dinner and then it was off to see Tarzan downtown.  We took our seats and were excited to watch the show.  What we didn’t expect were the emotions that came with the story line   YES, I know the story of Tarzan, but darn that Phil Collins and the song I Need to Know.  There we sat with tears flowing as young Tarzan sang his heart out about needing to know about his birth family!  I couldn’t help but cry and be taken by the lyrics of the song.  The show was beautiful and it was a perfect evening out! 

Today (Sunday) we attended church as normal.  I was excited for today, during both first and second service I was able to speak briefly about an upcoming foster care awareness event that our orphan’s ministry is hosting.  My prayer was simple, that the congregation saw the need and responded.  I wasn’t nervous about speaking, but was about conveying the message appropriately.  I hope that people were touched, not by my words, but by God, I hope that He spoke to them and that a seed was planted!  We are looking forward to the event and pray that God sends those that He has called and most of all that God is glorified in this journey! 

As we progress in this journey, I find myself “at a loss for words… and the funny thing it’s okay!”  I find myself perfectly content most of the time, and am learning to appreciate things a little more. 

I included the link for this song by Mercy Me.  Word of God Speak – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFbEP9dbZYg

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 (NIV)

2

Nobody’s Momma…

Yesterday, my husband and I spent the morning cleaning and preparing to host lunch for our mothers on Sunday!  It has sort of become tradition for us to host our mom’s for lunch on Mother’s Day.

As I crawled into bed, slightly more exhausted than usual, my mind began to wonder and I found myself restless and full of questions… had things worked out according to “our plan,” I would be a momma and this may have been my first real mother’s day celebration.  Tears flowed down my cheeks as that ping and pain in my heart ached so badly.  I admit, I felt stupid for feeling this way and thought that the fulfillment I have felt these past couple of months in our foster care journey, would have filled the void I was once again feeling.  After all, we are in process and in essence expecting, although we know not what to expect!  There I was in bed and for the first time in a long time I felt my heard break a little more.  I did the only thing I knew to do… I began to pray.  Although I know that some may look down at falling asleep while praying, last night I found comfort in knowing I was talking to my Savior, my constant friend in times of need and would like to think that He held me in His arms and rocked me to sleep.

I awoke this morning with a different attitude and change in thought.  It was not me with the void, rather these children.  Yes, my heart breaks because of my deep desire to be a mom, but that feeling is nothing in comparison to a child in need of a mother!

I can’t imagine growing up without my mom.  She made everything in life special!  She loved, supported, encouraged, and disciplined me when needed.  She had the full support of my father and our home was a place of love.  Looking back, I feel blessed that God chose my parents for me and my two brothers.  I never questioned whether I belonged, if I was loved and where my next meal was coming from.  I never questioned my mother or father’s love for me and never worried that my every need would be met!

This year there are more than 104,000 children in the U.S. who are waiting on forever and there are more than a half a million waiting in the world!  These children have no “permanent” momma.  Those in the US are mainly housed in foster homes and the remaining children are in group homes or facilities that meet their special needs in a better way.  Gone are the days of orphanages in our country and for good reason.  While orphanages served their purpose, they did not entirely meet the individual needs of children.  Rarely if ever did they meet the need for attachment and love within the confines of the orphanage.

Outside of the U.S. waiting children are housed in orphanages and it is often a large child to caregiver ratio, where the most basic of needs beyond food, shelter, and clothing aren’t being met.  I should note, that I do believe that in most cases, these children are cared for by those that work or volunteer at the orphanages and the intentions are really good, but there is power in one and power in meeting needs beyond food, shelter and clothing!

So today, instead of wallowing in my own sorrow of not yet being a mom, I choose to celebrate the amazing strength, love, and care that our moms gave us.  I choose to be grateful that both my husband and I are blessed by the gift of our mothers and that we are privileged to be called into this foster care journey!

Today, we honored all of the children waiting on forever with prayers and an awareness ribbon pinned to our clothing!  We took comfort in the fact that over the next couple of weeks we will continue in our process to becoming foster parents and know, that even if in a small way, we are attempting to make a difference… if for only a moment!

Proverbs 31:26-29 ~ She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches of the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.  

Psalm 46:1 ~ God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.    

0

Rooted!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote how my morning devotion had confirmed our desire to become foster parents.  I was thankful for that and realized that if I am being realistic, I must admit that my devotions stink!   No, not God… but ME!  I do not spend nearly enough time in the word.

Like many, I have become an instant gratification person.  I like things now and not a moment later, but that’s not reality.  Some things in life are a process, or a continual journey of growing.  For the first time in my life, I feel I am learning to enjoy this process of becoming a foster parent.  When I went to college, bought my home, and planned my wedding, I never really enjoyed the process.  I just wanted to get to the good stuff… now, in this stage of my life, while I would love to have a child in my home yesterday, I realize that in this process God is working.  He is revealing to me the type of parent I desire to become.  He is also allowing me to be somewhat realistic and not such a dreamer of this fairytale life I thought I desired.

This week leading up to Mother’s Day has been obviously focused on moms!  Our local Christian radio station has been doing a series on motherhood and there have been countless other things throughout the week that have brought thoughts to mind.  I said earlier that I wanted to be a creative mom.  I wanted to parent my children in a way that respected them as individuals and instilled safety, love and a sense of belonging in our family!

Today, while reading my daily devotion, the writer spoke of how she didn’t want to make life easy for her children by giving them all the answers and providing them with their every need.  I really appreciated this viewpoint.  As an educator, having worked in special education for most of my career, I pride myself on the fact that I do not give answers and that I make my students think for themselves.  As a daughter, I now see why my mom and dad parented me the way they did.  They desired that I be a strong and independent woman.  In essence, they wanted me to think for myself and to make my own choices in life.

My devotional today was reinforced again while listening to our local Christian talk radio station.  The preacher was talking about various mothers in the Bible and said that as moms we need to be rooted in God’s word.  I couldn’t agree more.  Between the radio and the devotional, I realized one very important thing.  If you are rooted in His word, you have a map.  No, not a handbook on parenting, but a map.  As I read it became real that it is my job, our job as parents not to “give them fish” but to teach them to fish!

The other thing that became strongly apparent was that while I feel rooted in the word, I need to become even more rooted.  In the past couple of years, I have learned to draw on the word of God in different circumstances.  For example, if I find myself complaining, I remind myself that the Bible says to do all things without complaint and to count it all joy!  It doesn’t make me perfect, I struggle like everyone else.  I have just found that it helps me to put things in perspective and to deal with things.  So as we move through this journey, my wish is that as I grow in becoming a parent, that I also grow even more deeply rooted!

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NIV):

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many…”

0

Momma Mode…

In preparing for our child or children, I have found myself really starting to think about what it is I would want to accomplish with the children that will be coming into our home.  We have had several conversations over the past couple of months about what our expectations are and what reality might look like.  Truth of the matter is, we are preparing for what I like to call a “beautiful mess.”

When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I felt like everything was a mess.  It also explained a great deal of what was going on in my body and up and to that point, I blamed it on stress of different situations of my life.  In that “mess” I found a great deal of comfort and peace.  There were things I had absolutely no control over.  Now, anyone that knows me, knows that is a problem.  I found myself anxious and anticipating the worst and when that didn’t happen, I was better able to deal with it.  At that point in my life, I felt that I had learned to love my beautiful mess.  No, I didn’t like the circumstances, and no, I didn’t enjoy the process, but I did find a blessing in each day and each stage of the process.  I feel that I really learned how to find the good in each situation, even when you are scared beyond belief.  I also learned that my husband had become the most amazing man I had known.  His love, care and strength was amazing and brought comfort in how he took care of me.  I think it is safe to say that we both learned to love our beautiful mess.

In the past couple of months I have noticed that my thought patterns are changing.  I have begun to think more “like a mom” than ever before.  I have also, in my head, developed the type of mom I would like to become.  In essence, I have switched from wife and teacher mode, to momma mode.  Watching television, cooking meals, activities and other things have new meaning.  Instead of wanting to go out to buy a new outfit, I would rather buy a game that we could play together… and I know, the child isn’t even here yet.

I am also learning to appreciate this time of preparation as well.  I enjoy my freedom a little more, my ability to sleep a little more (although that doesn’t seem to happen often) and am enjoying this process with my husband discovering the dad in himself.  We often talk about the things we would like to do with the children.  We want to expose them to the wonderful city we live in and have family time whether it is put-put golfing, movies, bowling or a trip to the museum, or participating in events with our church.  We are walking in a season in our lives that is a dream transforming into a reality.  It’s real this time… there are no thoughts of having the “perfect child” or being the “perfect parents,” rather an attempt to be realistic as to what we will encounter as foster parents and what our expectations are.

A few things stick out in my mind!  First, I want to be a parent that does not jump down my child’s throat for doing something that is a result of their journey in life.  I will use this as an example because reading this truly helped me to understand things on a different level.  While reading a blog about a former foster child, she explained that she had been hoarding food in her bedroom.  Her foster mom had discovered this because of rotten food.  Now foster mom had a choice in how she reacted and while most would have punished the child and expressed their true anger, this foster mom decided that she would take a bin, place it in her child’s room for her to have a special place to keep her food and they would go through it a couple of times a week.  To me, that was creative and it promoted so many good things for this child.  It also sent a strong message of we love you and accept you just the way you are.

The other thing that has stuck out came from Pinterest.  I found a pin that really caught my eye.  This mom had decided to have Disney family video nights leading up to their trip to the house of the mouse.  Being a big fan of all things Disney, it sung to me and the wheels began turning in my head.  We could do the same in our home with our children.  So I decided to take the ideas from this pin and create my own.  I chose forty of my favorite movies and created a “poster” for each one.  Each poster included pictures found online and a themed dinner menu to go along with it.  I have been working on finishing these up and the last thing to do will be to create some sort of activity to go along with it.  With lots of help from the internet and some really great websites, I am almost finished and am excited about using them.  Even my husband has kicked in a couple of ideas.

I do not desire to be a perfect parent, but I do desire to spend quality time with each child that comes into our home.  I get excited at the thought of planning these things and look forward to actually using them.  I pray that I am a creative mom that is able to pour all of God’s best into each child.  I pray that they know, no matter what, they are loved in this home.  Yes, there are rules, expectations, rewards and consequences, but above all, despite the trials, there is love, and in this home, love covers all!

 

1 Peter 4:8 ~ Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Corinthians 13:4 ~ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

1 Corinthians 13:13 ~ And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

0

A Weekend of Blessings!

Since we have decided to become foster parents, our weekends have been filled with classes and other things all centered on completing this process and being ready to welcome a child into our home.

The first Friday of each month our church offers First Friday services.  We have attempted to attend in the past and have always seemed to have something conflicting with us going.  We were excited to attend service.  The guest speaker was teaching on the five types of ministry and having a calling within the ministry.  This was something we had prayed for several months ago and were excited to learn more.  What was interesting was that God confirmed in my heart what I already knew I had been called too months earlier.  The confirmation came in knowing we were where we belong in becoming involved in our orphan’s ministry.

On Saturday we completed our first aid, CPR and AED training and are now officially certified in those areas.  It was nice to be able to take the class with my husband and learn the changes in CPR.  We were both (separately) trained years ago under the old model.  As we completed the course, I prayed we never needed to use this, but feel better knowing we can do something if needed!  Once we completed our classes and enjoyed our dinner, it was back out to the church for a special service!

Usually, the first Saturday of each month, we go with our Inner-City ministry to serve the homeless downtown and my dad goes with us.  Actually he is the reason we started serving.  No matter when we go, life always seems to get put into perspective when we serve those in need.  This Saturday would be different.  My dad went downtown and my husband and I felt led to attend this special service.  In the beginning they prayed for those in need of a healing miracle.  I cried and prayed for those that stepped out in faith and went to the alter and found myself thanking God for the two miracles in our own family!  The service went on and one of our pastors preached on revival and we were blessed by his message.  At the end of the service, they had special prayer for couples having fertility issues and those wishing to adopt.

My husband and I knew this would happen and so we stepped forward.  We had tried to have a child on our own, and though our fertility is undetermined at this point, we do struggle with it in very deep and real way.  I find that it is not something that people easily talk about and we have chosen to remain very private about it.  Our pastor wanted to know specifically why everyone was at the alter without embarrassing or making everyone feel uncomfortable.  He also knows that we are in the process of becoming foster parents.  A woman at the other end of the line said that she desired to adopt.  I felt led to tell our pastor that we were there because we desired both.  My husband and I do desire biological children as well as adopted children and I have to say that both desires are equally as strong.  I have never believed that a child has to be birthed by you to be your own and believe that we are receptive to how God chooses to build our family.  We know we will find joy in whatever He chooses to bless us with… after all, children are a blessing and a heritage of the Lord!  My husband and I also found it a blessing that my dad returned in time for him to come to the alter and support us in prayer!  We felt so blessed and know that he felt our pain as he prayed over our lives… there is power in a parent’s prayer and we thank God every day for praying parents!

Our weekend rounded out with our usual Sunday morning service, lunch with the family (not without my drama of leaving my iPad at church – LOL) and then home to work around the house.  I took a nap while my husband mowed the lawn, then we finished a few projects together.

All in all, it was a weekend of blessings and we are humbled by God and His presence in our lives.  We know he is in control and his plan is perfect…

Psalm 127:3-5

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.