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Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

Dear Lady in the Tweed Skirt,

I know it was probably awkward for you and your business partners and that realtor lady to deal with me and a one-year-old boy while you were trying to tour office space to rent this morning. Let me assure you, it was more awkward for me to have to peel my son off of the realtor’s leg, only to discover he had also squeezed his pureed fruit all over the floor right by where you were standing. I’ve never actually scrubbed the floor in a public place with baby wipes before, so it was especially disconcerting to do so on my knees right in front of you, but I want you to know that I do understand that it seemed like Julius and I were a bit of an annoyance. I especially understand how you could feel that way after he mowed you over with the stroller. I really did try to stop him. If I hadn’t turned my back for just a second to discard all of the fruit-puree/foot-traffic-covered baby wipes, I probably would have caught him before he took off pushing that stroller right at your back. I’m sure it both startled you and hurt quite a bit when he slammed into you. Please know that I appreciate that you constrained yourself to merely glaring at me when I apologized profusely, rather than saying anything snarky. I recognize that you could have been much more unpleasant toward me than you were and I’m grateful.

I just want you to know, I really am a decent human being.

I’m sure it seemed to you like I think I rule the world, and especially that little indoor courtyard where Julius and I had camped out for coffee with my new friend. Please believe me when I say, I don’t think I rule the world. I’m really just trying to figure out where I fit in it.  I was hoping that my time at the coffee shop with a friend would ease my transition into this new town and back into being a mom of a baby again after a ten year hiatus–I’m desperate to feel a little bit less like a fish out of water. And, trust me, I don’t think it’s okay for children to disrupt the business world – until very recently I worked in an office and I totally get it – but, the truth is, it’s really hard for me to get mad at Julius over stuff like that. See, he’s been my foster son since he was two months old and I accidentally fell in love with him. I say accidentally because I knew all along that by the time Julius was a year old our family would be moving across the country and we would have to leave him behind with another foster family, so I kind of wanted to protect my heart.

Unfortunately, he’s pretty amazing and hard not to love so that didn’t happen.

I know you probably don’t really want to hear all of this, but I didn’t get to explain it to you this morning during our short interchange and I need you to know: until this past June I thought I was going to lose him.

For months I grieved heavily as I anticipated our impending separation, even as I trusted God to take care of him. And then, the miraculous happened. Julius’ sweet, but very young mother, decided she wanted us to raise him.  The day we went to court with her and heard her say that before a judge was so bittersweet. Our hearts were overflowing with joy and breaking for her at the same time. It was confusing and difficult and beautiful. We felt the same way when Julius’ father made a similar decision two weeks later. It felt like a privilege to be able to be a part of these birth families’ lives and we began to understand our responsibility to keep Julius connected to them.

Five short, miracle-filled weeks later, Julius was officially declared by a judge to be ours. We drove straight from the courthouse to the highway and moved our family to this beautiful state that you call home.

So, again, I know it probably doesn’t matter to you, but I need to say it anyway: I treasure this little boy.

When I look at him sometimes I feel like I’m looking over a giant cliff that I almost, but didn’t, fall over, and I am overcome with gratitude. It gives a girl perspective, you know? I will never get over the fact that we didn’t have to leave him behind. I will never stop thanking God that Julius calls me “Mama.” So, though I know we were a train wreck this morning, and it was truly pretty humiliating to kneel before you and then have him run you over, I am grateful that it happened. What a joy to be the mama who had to apologize for this amazing little boy’s ridiculous antics. What a privilege to clean up his messes and help him navigate this life. I wish with everything in me that I’d had the same perspective when my daughters were little and I’m determined to treasure all four of my kids in this way for the rest of their lives. So, dear Lady in the Tweed Skirt, please accept my sincere apology for the way my chaos affected you this morning. I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that I didn’t pee my pants while laughing hysterically on the way home—and that is the biggest miracle of all.

Julius

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A Surprising Turn Of Events

There’s been a slight change of plans.  And by slight I mean kind of huge.

We’ve been approved to adopt foster children since August 24th, but as we’ve been waiting for a match, God has been slowly but very steadily nudging us toward becoming foster parents before adopting. It’s been a rather unexpected turn of events, because I’ve never had a desire to foster. And now I do. Now I am so excited about it that I can hardly sit still. And Brooke feels the same way. We think and talk about it constantly and we are even more excited about this than we were about straight adoption. It’s just the weirdest thing.

At our last adoption training class in August we had the pleasure of hearing a personal account of being foster parents from an awesome couple who’ve been doing it for five years. They are just ordinary people who shared with our class that they are providing a safe and loving home for kids whose families are in distress because that’s what God says to do. Someone asked them how they handle having to give up the kids when they go home and I will never forget how the guy responded. He said that their motto is, “It’s not about us.” He said that they constantly remind themselves of that fact and they believe that if they ever get to the point of not weeping over children leaving their home then it is time to call it a day as foster parents. Brooke and I were so moved and inspired by them that we were both crying by the end of the class.  What they said reeked of faith, unselfishness and hope. It resonated deeply in our souls.

After that class we began to seriously discuss the possibility of fostering after Brooke graduates and we move to our next location. We said over and over to ourselves and to others that we’d be glad to foster but can’t do it before we move in two years because we don’t want to end up causing another unnecessary transition in a child’s life when we can’t take them with us. But God kept quietly nudging.

Now, two and a half months later, we’ve been nudged off the cliff and we are yelling “Weeeeeeee!” all the way down.

The need is HUGE. There are so few foster families available that children who’ve been removed from their parents in our area are at times being shipped to homes two hours away. This doesn’t exactly enable the kids to stay connected to their siblings and extended family or to have visitation with their parents. Some children are being put in shelters or group homes instead of with families and our caseworker told us she has been just inches away from having to have a DHS worker sleep at the office with children in the past. And it is common knowledge that some children end up even more damaged by their foster parents than they were by their birth parents. The need isn’t just for foster families…it is for loving, safe places of refuge.

We know that there is a great likelihood that we will get hurt by having to let go of children we’ve grown to love. We know that we will probably have to fight fear and anxiety on their behalf when the parents to whom they’ve returned are less than responsible or loving or safe.  We know that this will be time-consuming and require difficult sacrifices. But we are constantly faced with this question:

Whose distress is most important to prevent? Ours or theirs?

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. James 1:27

So, this is where we stand now:

We met with the foster care caseworker last Tuesday and she made an addendum to our home study indicating our desire to foster. We spent Wednesday and Thursday evening moving bedrooms around—which was no easy task, but the results are super fun. We’ve turned the master bedroom into a girls’ dorm room for all three of our daughters and with room for one more sister. Brooke and I are in a cozy nook of a room and the third bedroom is awaiting a bunk bed for two more brothers or sisters. We will sign the contracts (whatever that means) on Tuesday evening. After that, we could get a call and kids at anytime. Apparently 2am is a popular time to receive such phone calls. The primary goal of foster care is to give the birthparents the time to get their stuff together and reunite their family. As a family that really values family ties, we will support this wholeheartedly—and lean on God to help us when it is hard. However, if our foster children end up becoming available for adoption we will also pursue making them a permanent part of our family.

Yes, we could use your prayers. We could also use a sturdy wood bunk bed if you happen to have one lying around. Thank you for caring about us. We are very grateful for a community of friends and family who are willing to ride along and encourage us as we follow God on His adventure. Love to you all!

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A New Story

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families… Psalm 68:5,6a

I’ve always felt like the main character in the story of life. I’m not saying that I’ve always thought I was the most important person in the world, but just that I’ve unconsciously run all events and thoughts through the filter of my own experience and evaluated them according to my own feelings.  Sometimes I like to people watch and think about the fact that each person that walks by, whether they intend to or not, think that they are the main character in the story. It blows my mind. We are all so in our own brains.

It is very possible that some of you are going to read this and say, “Nope, that’s just you, Sarah,” and I’ll end up feeling like the most self-centered shmuck on the planet, but I’m going to go out on a limb and hypothesize that we are all seeing the world this way.  Even when we have compassion on others and step out of our comfort zone to help, those experiences are still written up in our minds as a story about us.

Lately, God has been telling me that He is writing a story in which I am not the main character. I’m a supporting character, I’m privileged to be a part of it, and I’ll forever be changed by it, but I’m not the main character. You see, He has some kids out there that He has big plans for, whom He wants to use to change this world for good, grow up in His Word, and show His love to. He wants to heal their pain, give them hope and prepare them for the world.

They are not a charity case.

They are precious little people.

They are not foster kids.

They are His kids.

Jesus loves them not as an afterthought, but as a primary thought.

He has called Brooke and I to make them a part of our family. Full-fledged sonship. Give them our name, a share in our (small) inheritance, and a place at our table. Pay for their college, their weddings and their tennis shoes. Pray for their hearts, their concerns, and their futures. We don’t know who they are yet, but as we move closer and closer to possibly finding them I am growing more sure that while my role is a supporting one, it is an essential, God-given one. This will not be a story about how much I gave up to rearrange my life for them or the effort that I will now have to put into parenting, as I was so focused on in the beginning. This will be a story about God and His kids and how He protected them and cared for them. It will be a story about all of our children, biological and adopted, and the way God worked to bring them together. It will be joyously about His provision and the way He puts the lonely in families.

Our home study is complete. We are one class away from finishing our 27 hours of training. We are awaiting approval from the Department of Human Services and will shortly, if God wills it, be on a list of families to be considered for adopting children in the foster system whose parents have permanently lost their parental rights. It might be one child or it could be two or three siblings.

As my three biological daughters are preparing to start school this fall and I am trying to figure out all of the uncertainties that accompany that, my heart is burdened for our other children as well. Who is helping them pick out their school supplies and make sure they have friends to sit by at lunch? Who is making sure they go to bed early this week so they can get up early for school on Friday? I hope that they have fantastic foster parents who are caring for them in this way, but I am beginning to long to be the one to do so. I know I won’t always get it right, but with God’s help I will love them as my own. I don’t know how long it will take for Him to bring them home, or how He will provide all we need to care for them in this small, small home, but I am excited to see how this story plays out. I am so excited to meet the little people who will change our family forever.

I would be so blessed if you would join me in praying for them.

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