Here For You

SONY DSC

 

By the time we started the fostering process we had been married 4 years and had lost 2 babies through miscarriage. We were involved in Children’s Ministry and working with kids all the time. Other people’s kids. We were heartbroken and wanted children in our family.

Soon after we were licensed my husband got a call on his cell phone asking if we would take a 3.5 week old baby girl. Then he called me at work and told we were going to get a little girl who needed a family. I cried…of course. How many husbands get to tell their wives they are going to be a mother?

We consulted caseworkers, case managers, Indian Child Welfare and doctors about any major decision we made for our daughter. We filed reports each week, we had home inspections each month and we filled out forms for each doctor visit and emergency room visit. We advocated for her.

She was ours, but not legally.

Three and a half years later we stood in the courthouse and vowed to take care of her and made her our own.  It took all of 5 minutes. It was so quick that we even missed videoing it!

Our second foster daughter was 11 months old and came to us one late afternoon when a caseworker had to quickly find a home for her. It was the end of the day and he had been make calls searching for someone to take this little girl. She was supposed to stay a week and, well, obviously she stayed longer than that!

Her adoption went quicker, but we still had all the visits and reports like we did for our oldest girl.

One and a half years later we stood in a different courthouse in the judges’ chambers and promised to care for her no matter what.

A few things happened on the days the adoptions took place;

  • We gave each girl a new name including our last name
  • My husband and I were listed on their birth certificates as their mother and father – not adoptive mother or adoptive father –and with it all the rights that parenting entails
  • Our girls became our heirs – they are equal heirs our biological daughters

Society looks at our family and calls 2 of our daughters our “real kids”. They ask about their “real mother and father” like we are a fake family. We look at our daughters and see our children.  And I would like to point out that we do real parenting. They are our real kids and we are a real family.

Adoption means choosing someone. Adoption means accepting someone. Adoption doesn’t mean that all the pain and trauma of the past goes away.

“Children born to another woman call me mom.

The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me.”

Jody Landers

Many will say how lucky our daughters are to have been adopted by us. They haven’t been ‘lucky’ at all. Adoption is only necessary when a child has been or needed to be separated from her birth family;

  • Death of parents
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect
  • Abuse
  • Rape
  • Fear
  • Parents that are too young or mentally not able to care for a child
  • Parents are in prison

When adoption becomes necessary there is always pain involved.  That pain follows into the adoptive family; we take on the pain and trauma that the child has. It becomes a part of us and our family. We work with our daughters and with the consequences of their parent’s decisions.

Adoption is about redemption and taking the broken pieces of many lives and making something good come out despite the pain and misfortune.  It means working through those trials together.

Adoption changes lives…I know our was changed. It was changed for the better.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

What Love Really Means

SONY DSC

“It is a risk to love.

What if it doesn’t work out?

Ah, but what if it does?”

Peter McWilliams

Today is an ordinary day and yet…it isn’t. For our family, it’s the end of a a season. For over 10 years we’ve been licensed as foster parents.  We got licensed in the midst of infertility and miscarriages and grief. We had talked about adopting….after we had biological children…but we jumped into it sooner than we thought because we wanted children in our lives now. It wasn’t Plan B, it was just a part of God’s Plan for our family. We thought it was a win-win situation. We needed children in our life and the children needed a safe family.

It was scary going through the licensing process. I was overwhelmed with the paperwork. The interviews and question on the forms were soul searching. The classes were intimidating with worst case scenario stories shared that made you wonder if you could handle parenting a child who was traumatized. You either walked out of the room saying it was too much or determined more than ever to make a better home for a kid.

Another couple had brought their baby foster daughter to church and I held her…this little precious baby needed a home….we could be a home for a baby like her! That is what really convinced me that I could do this.

I am going to miss the adventure. The phone calls and the hope of a new child coming to share our home.   I really missed our second case manager visiting after we adopted our oldest! I will miss being a part of the special club of people called foster parents. Though not many passed our threshold, we said many were welcome to come. God just brought our kids through the door.

I'm a foster mom, what's your superpower?

As much as we would like to continue, right now we need to focus on the kids we have and meet their needs. Foster and adoptive parents are needed still and I hope some of you may pick up the baton and be a family to a kid.

It will mess up your plans. You will have to make sacrifices and deal with a lot of rules. You will get frustrated with the system, caseworkers and rules. You will feel like a failure. Your life will seem chaotic at times. Your heart will even be broken. But I will tell you that my kids were totally worth it!

 

What Love Really Means Video by JJ Heller;

 

Maybe, Baby

SONY DSC

At my Almost Twins preschool class party, another mother asked how old my youngest was. I told her almost 2 1/2 and her response was that she would be ready to start preschool next fall! I admit my heart sank.

My baby was that old? Where had time gone?  I was ready for my Almost Twins to start preschool, but my baby? Part of me suddenly felt very grateful that she was shy, clingy and that I was always tripping over her.  Maybe she wouldn’t be ready for preschool.  Maybe it would be too much for her to be separated from her mama.

I probably will get signed up on the waiting list.  Her sisters do love going to preschool. The teachers are great and maybe she will be ready then…even if I’m not.

She’s my baby and I just am not ready for her to grow up yet. Maybe next fall I will feel more ready. But not just yet.

Madam Librarian

So these days my hardworking husband is working days. Which means he has the car. Our only car. Now, I could get up with him and drive him 25 miles to work, race home drop off kids at school and then run 25 miles back to his work and pick him up some time after 6 and before 9 PM. But obviously that is a lot of effort, gas and time to try that. So I am home.

I can walk to our little town and go to the drug store, library, or dairy shop and I do. But I often look pretty crazy. With one kid I can do ok and look pretty sane. With 3 or 4 I look well, desperate to get out of the house.  (I probably am!)

I have a double jogging stroller that holds the 2 year old and one 4 year old and the second 4 year old sits on the foot rest. We get our hats, coats boots and mittens on….eventually….and start walking.

We get to the library and the kids slam the button (and fight over who gets to do it!) and run in. I’m sure the librarians cringe when they see me coming. They girls head to the kids section and are happily engaged in the play kitchen they have set up (a lifesaver!). It’s crazy, because my third daughter always, at some point during the visit, runs to the button and whacks it to open both the doors and tries to head into the bathroom. My fourth girl is following her….and the doors are wide open. I head her off.

FREEDOM!!!!

*sigh*

The third heads for the bathroom, more to just inspect it than use it.

I really need a sheepdog. Or get the harnesses out of the car….that my husband has.

Oh, look! A snowman just my size! 2 of 3 kids has to stop and hug it.

I finally wrangle up the girls after getting all their hats, coats and mittens on, and get them in the stroller. I look a little frazzled.

I probably don’t make parenting look easy. I don’t seem to attract people who want to befriend me. But when I get home,  my 9 year old locks herself in her room and reads. My younger 3 sit and watch a new movie.

There is peace….for the moment.

The weight of the words

DSC00020

I’ve experienced many avenues of parenthood. Foster parent, adoptive parent, parenting my biological kids and parent to babies that never took a breath of air.  All have their differences.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being an adoptive parent. It is a bit different than parenting my biological kids. There is a weight of responsibility that comes with adoption. Greater than with the birth of a bio baby, I feel.

We went through hours of classes, background checks and inspections of our home. Physical exams, finger printing, intense home studies.  Oh.…and the paperwork and forms….and the whole time you’re wondering if you’ll be deemed good enough to parent a child….someone else’s child.

I hold my daughters history in my hands. I hold their family tree and biological identity. I have things I need to pass on down to them so they are not left wondering about where they came from. I have binders of records I’ve read through and taken notes of important facts. I memorize details and that I think they will find interesting. I try to remember all the medical histories so they are available  when needed at doctor appointments. I’ve searched for relatives and obituaries and started biological family trees for them. I’ve read books and researched their cultures so I can teach them. It’s been fascinating and frightening at the same time.

There are the scenarios I play through my mind  if  someday I hear the words “You’re not my real mom!” or  “I want to find my biological family” or even a simple “why?”.   I don’t mind that they’ll want to know more, I delight in my daughters and everything about them. There are things I’m excited to tell them and other things that weigh on my heart…things I won’t know how to tell them when the time comes.

I get to worry about the first time they come home with assignments from school that will stir up more questions I may not be ready to answer…or cannot answer….

All our daughters will have a rich heritage with all our families traditions and cultural backgrounds.  We will pass down our heritage to them.

I tell my older daughter little things I think her young mind and heart can handle right now and tuck away other things in my heart till she is ready. It reminds me of a quote from Corrie Ten Boom about something her father said to her;

“Some knowledge is too heavy for children.

When you are older and stronger, you can bear it.

For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

So for now, I carry the knowledge for my girls.

 

The Moment I Wake Up

DSC02328

Today I woke up to the Middles (our almost 3 year old girls) playing in our sun room with all the hair things dumped out. That includes the almost new package of 500 tiny little rubber bands…at least this time I bought colored ones so we could find them easier.  And a stinky wet diaper that had leaked on the bench cushion. Yay! I get to scrub that up! And if you want some fine motor skills work for your kids, make them pick up 500 tiny rubber bands. 😉

This got me to thinking about all the things I’ve woken up to lately. The other day they had found three wayward crayons and decorated the white sun room walls and bench.  I did not know that toothpaste would remove crayon from walls. My sun room was minty fresh after that.

I’ve woken up to baby powder explosions in their room. I’ve woken up to I couldn’t decide what to wear so I emptied all my drawers and took all the clothes off the hangers disasters and splashing in the toilet. I’ve woken up to “MOM! She climbed out the window and is outside (in the unfenced area by the road)!!!!  Running in the yard in pajamas’s, sisterly haircuts, coffee creamer poured out on the floor (I’m drinking coffee, mom-mom!) and chocolate pudding smeared faces. They can be quite sly and quiet when they want to!

And……well, I’ll spare you poop wall smearing stories.

And this happens before I’ve had a chance to get my morning coffee.

I used to get up before they did so I could drink my coffee, catch up on Facebook and emails and generally wake up, but then they started getting up earlier and earlier and I was up with the youngest during the night and up later because I was catching up on folding laundry or dishes.

Sure, it is a bit hard to wake most mornings and feel like you have to put out fires, but then there are those days when I wake up to a little one snuggled up to me in bed (and I have no idea when they snuck in), hugs and kisses and ” I wuf you, mom-mom!” I have woken to many days to flowers, cards, and Mocha’s  from Jeff and pancakes too.  There are those sweet mornings to look forward to.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

I know. It’s July. But I’m already thinking of Christmas.  I start early!

Last year I made the tough decision to not unpack all my boxes of Christmas decorations. Yes, all my garlands, ornaments and the Christmas village stayed in their boxes. The train set was not put under the tree. I just didn’t have the energy to unpack, decorate and then pack it all up again a month later. I couldn’t think about protecting all those things from the hands of two little girls who would un-decorate quicker than I could catch them. I thought if Buddy The Elf could make his home look festive with paper crafts, so could I!

So, all that we took out were the Merry Christmas sign (I made out of an old fence board) and Snowman (my sister made for us out of the same old fence!) for our porch and the Christmas twinkle lights. We did go and cut down a tree….I tried going without that one year when our oldest daughter was a baby and that was too much of a sacrifice! I love the smell of a tree (and no, the evergreen fragrance candle did not work)!

DSC08298

DSC08299_cropThen I got out paper and and my paper cutter! We made the rest of our decorations. I probably spent $10 on paper and cellophane. I used wrapping paper, ribbon, cellophane and toilet paper rolls for the candy ornaments (which could be filled with real candy for Christmas Eve!). The rest were one inch paper strips stapled into shapes of ornaments and hearts. We also made paper chain garlands to hang around the windows and snowflakes out of old rolls of fax paper (it’s nice and thin to cut!).  I remember making the heart decorations in school the winter we spent in Sweden.

Our oldest daughter really enjoyed making the decorations. I had fun as well! She loved helping decorate. I brought out our box of supplies when family came over also.

DSC08251

DSC08254

Here’s what the tree looked like when we were done. You can see some of our snowflakes hanging off the candle holder on the ceiling. I just used mono-filament thread to give it an airy look.

DSC08250

They would move around the ornaments on the tree and redecorate. And after a few days  the girls had ripped and torn apart some of our projects. Oh, well! Notice the bottom half of the tree is bare!

DSC08271

At the end of the season we were able to just toss everything but the lights. The pack rat in me wanted to save them, but I knew that was beside the purpose of having a homemade Christmas!

I got all the festivity without all the stress!

I Never Promised You A Rose Garden

DSC00234

Well, summer is here and I’ve been keeping busy.

First of all, the wire fencing wasn’t keeping our girls in the fenced area and had to be redone with non-climbable boards. They figured out how to climb out when my sister was watching them last summer while I was in the hospital having our youngest.

Secondly, their alternate method of escape, pulling themselves up to unlatch the gate, has now been secured with carabiner clips. I got the scare of my life when the two year olds ran away and down the alley to a  neighbors swing set. My husband had been gone less than two hours on a weekend trip to visit his mother. (sigh) I didn’t want that to happen again!

Thirdly, someone (I’ll give you a hint, she’s 2 1/2 years old) decided that the 4 foot drop from the living room window wasn’t that bad and so she jumped…and landed unharmed and then picked a buttercup while her sister came and got me out of bed (I had forgotten to shut the window the night before while airing out our stuffy house).  We have to keep all un-screened or un-supervised windows closed with the summer heat. She’s been trying this for a year and it also started at the same time as the aforementioned fence climbing.

Fourthly, the garden is now fenced off from offending 3 year olds who have decided that green raspberries taste great and that the carrots are the perfect place to drive their Tonka trucks. I can’t wait till it’s time to harvest the carrots and potatoes and put them to work! And why do chives and parsley taste perfectly fine in the garden but not in any meal I serve?

But, now that these things are under control, we are enjoying our yard much more and with more freedom. What is it they say about boundaries providing security?  I agree, I certainly feel more secure with my kids playing outside now.

Together Forever

DSC09267

When I’m out with our 2 year olds, the inevitable conversation is;

“Are they twins?”

“No” I say.

Then…”How old are they?”

“Two years old”

“Are they both yours?”

“Yes.”

“But they aren’t twins.”

“No, they are a week a part.”

“How does that work?”

“One is biological and one was adopted”.

“Oooohhhh…”

Now sometimes I get asked the first three questions and then I just keep walking… snickering to myself. The confused look on some peoples faces are priceless!

Other times when asked I just say “Almost!” and keep walking….

So far, only one person has caught on after I say that they aren’t twins both are both mine that one was adopted.  I was actually impressed. I guess it’s a hard thing to grasp.

It’s been a fun experience. Having almost twins has made us baby-proof our house to extreme measures, half our furniture and nick-knacks are now in the garage…half their toys too!  They teach each other things! Climbing out of the crib at 16 months made me almost cry since I was pregnant. I had planned for them to stay contained till they were 3 at least!

When I was in the hospital with our littlest one, my sister texted me that they figured out how to climb over the yard fence. They were 21 months old! Last week they just decided it was easier to just unlatch the fence and run across the street and down the ally to the house with the swing-set.  Carabiner  clips now lock the latches. Guess what my husband is doing now? Installing boards on the fence and taking out the wire fencing. Maybe at least that will slow them down!

On the sunny side of the street

DSC09599

I live in Washington…the state. And it’s raining this morning, like it does so many days! We are in the process of enclosing our side porch and turning it into a playroom for the girls. Smokey the cat has already taken to sleeping there on the bench.  We have windows installed and are starting the trim… I say we, but basically it’s my husband and my dad working on it. I’m the designer (don’t tell them that!) if you want to know how I am involved. I look up ideas (I’m told I have too many of those!) and brainstorm and I enjoy it. I can’t wait to paint and pick out flooring and get the door in!  And I may be forced to do a little sewing for cushions or curtains (Yippy!!!).

It will be so nice to have a space for toys, the play kitchen and table, and the Duplos….oh the Duplos….they are everywhere and just like the smaller versions, Legos, they are not fun to step on! I have visions of toys scattered all over the sun room and shutting the door!  Poof! Mess contained and out of sight. I may be a little over-optimistic, but at least there’s hope!

But I also have a little secret of why I am looking forward to having the sun room. I want to sit on the cushioned bench with a cup of coffee and a good book and bask in the light. That is, if Smokey will share it with me.