The next two months

Things have really picked up with the adoption of A and H in the past two weeks.  We’ve read and signed off for H’s case file, the other paperwork we recently sent has been received and filed, dates have been set, and our attorney has been contacted.  Here’s what the next two months will look like:

Now-May 22nd: we’re still in the 90 day period where relatives can appeal the termination of rights, so waiting is the name of the game!
May 31st: Date of adoptive placement- basically, this is the day where we sign paperwork stating our intent to adopt and A and H’s cases become adoptive and not foster.
June 28th: Our hopeful date of adoption- nothing has been set in stone yet, but this was our adoption attorney’s guess as to when the likely date would be.  And he knows his stuff!  Have I mentioned how grateful we are to have an attorney like him?  He’s so knowledgeable because he does foster care adoptions every. day. For the past 10 years.  In addition to his professional knowledge, he has adopted five children from the foster care system, so he knows what it’s like from both angles. 

Other foster families continually remark about how smoothly things are going in A and H’s case.  And it’s true- our agency has nicknamed our story “The Fairy Tale.”  Things don’t happen this way in foster care- and if they do, it’s truly very rare.  Many families face heartbreak after heartbreak as they see children they have invested in, loved on, opened their hearts to, return to broken, dysfunctional homes.  Yes, there are success stories in foster care- when families are reunited and they stay that way, praise God!  But the truth is, that only happens 10% of the time.  Sadly, the other 90% return to the foster care system after being reunited with their family, to start the lengthy process over again, to deal with the hurts, the brokenness, the mistrust, the loneliness.

I’ve written before about the months leading up to A’s placement in our home: my struggle with trusting God with our family, my unwillingness to give God control over the family I desired so much, the darkness that I let into my life as I stood between the One who gives light and life.  January of 2011 was a time of turning over a new stone in my life- or rather, taking that stone out of my clenched fist and giving it to God, realizing (finally understanding and believing) that nothing is as important as my relationship with God.  And I had allowed my desire to be a mother to get in the way of my relationship, replace my priorities, and removed myself from those around me who cared so much about me.  I knew that if I ever took that back from God and gripped it in my fist, then I would be back where I started.  And I never want to go down that road again.

So as I prayed for those making the decision about A’s placement, I kept my palms open.  And as I waited (so anxiously) for A to be placed in our home, I kept my palms open.  As things didn’t go as planned in A’s first court date after his placement, I battled with the same desire of control and would struggle to keep my hands open to God’s will.  With H’s placement in our home, my hands were too exhausted to struggle.  I needed God’s strength as I became a mother to a toddler and a newborn in the span of two months.  Even as the decision was made to move H to foster home in a city closer to her biological parents, I trusted that this was part of God’s plan.  I cried tears of joy when the decision was reversed and she was to remain in our home.  Throughout the past year, there have been many times where my hands search for that stone, to grasp control, to hold strongly to my desire of being the forever family for these two children that I already considered to be mine.  When the future didn’t look like I imagined, when the circumstances of the case clouded my ability to see God acting according to His plan.  But each time, something would remind me to give my family to God.  Maybe it was a verse I came across during my quiet time, or a song on the radio, or the wise advice of a friend- whatever it was, I was reminded that my joy was not to depend on the circumstances of life but rather on the Giver of Life and His continued faithfulness. 

In writing this, I don’t mean to give the impression that when one trusts in God, their life is made easier.  That is certainly not the case.  I also don’t want anyone to walk away from reading this thinking that this fairy tale is due to anything I have done.  It’s not.  If anything, it’s in spite of me.  I give all the praise to God anytime someone asks about our story.  What I do want to communicate is that because I learned to trust God with the little things in life, before A’s placement, I wanted to trust Him with the big things, too.  And putting my trust in Him changed my perspective.  Sure there were situations that came up during this past year that I could have chosen to be defeated by, and honestly, there were times I found myself sliding down that slope, but in the end, this was no longer about me.  See, when I opened my hands and gave my future family to God, it was no longer my future family, but His.  It would be His children that were placed in our home, His children that we would love and care for, and His children (if this had been the case) to be reunited with their family.  And I would trust Him every step of the way.  And I would find joy in every day.  And I would love Him all the more for allowing me to play a part in the life story of these children.

Adoption

Things with the adoption of A and H are moving right along!  We received word on Tuesday that H’s redacted file is on its way to our agency’s office, and once it’s there, we’ll read it and sign it.  When we read through A’s back in December, it looked like this:

…so we’re preparing ourselves for another heavy reading!

We’ve submitted other paperwork that has to do with A and H receiving extra benefits since they’re siblings, and that paperwork should be filed and complete in the next 30 days.  Once that’s complete, the date of adoptive placement can be scheduled… and once that’s scheduled, our attorney can schedule the court date! 

We’re also getting closer to H’s gotcha day- it’s so hard to believe it’s been a year since she came into our lives!  Celebrating H’s first birthday a few weeks ago left me feeling like an outsider.  I wasn’t there when she was born.  I didn’t hear the first cry to escape her lungs.  I didn’t hold and rock her as her tiny body tried to gain weight so she could be released from the hospital.  There’s so much about her beginning that I may never know.  But that doesn’t diminish her birthday.  April 7th, 2011 was the beginning of H’s story.  May 3rd, 2011 was the beginning of our story.  The first time I held her, rocked her, fed her, laid eyes on her.  It is the beginning of my story as a mother to a daughter.  It is the beginning of us.  And so while I have many emotions and memories tied to that day in May, we wouldn’t have this day without the 7th of April- the day H entered the world!

H’s birthday and Easter

This past weekend we celebrated Easter as well as H’s first birthday.  The theme of the party was taken from Eric Carle’s book,  “Very Hungry Caterpillar.”  I had so much fun decorating, coming up with ways that the food the caterpillar ate could be modified as party food, and just making the day festive and fun.  I had every intention of snapping pictures of the party set-up before guests arrived, but sadly it didn’t happen.  Such is life with two kids two and under! We kept the invite list to family and a few close friends.  Even limiting it that way, we still had about 25 people who came to share in the joy of the day.  H loved her cake (of course!) and she was more interested in trying to climb on A’s four wheeler toy than opening her gifts. 

Easter Sunday we were up early to attend our church’s 8:30 service.  A and H each had a basket waiting for them on the table when they woke up.  A was so cute looking through his goodies.  One of the items in his basket was a small Longhorn football.  A asks, “Mama, what’s that?” 
“A football,” I said. 
“It’s mines?”
 “Yes, A.  It’s yours.” 
“Not Mama’s?  Not Daddy’s?” 
“No, A, it’s all yours.” 
“Oh!  Thanks Mama!” 

He also got a kite, a Thomas bubble set, a Bible for boys (really cute!  The stories rhyme!), a book about Easter, and of course, a chocolate bunny. 

H wasn’t quite as animated as A, but she showed her excitement as well.  She loved her miniature bunny rabbit and her push-and-go jaguar that she already chases around the house.  She also got a Bible (for girls) and a little Spring shirt. 

After church, we came home for an egg hunt in the backyard and we even took some family pictures.  We are the worst at remembering to document events so this was big!  Then we had some close friends over for lunch and A and H went down for a nap.  Later that afternoon, we met up with D’s family to hang out and eat dinner.  A even got to fly his kite with his uncle! 

Celebrating Easter with A and H was all that I hoped it would be.  We had a quiet morning/afternoon, just the four of us.  Sometimes I get caught up in all the hoopla and miss out on the memory-making that comes with being still.  Observing.   Enjoying the moment.  And we got to do just that Sunday morning.  An amazing Easter service, celebrating the gift of life we are given through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, how humbled I am when I think that God loves us so much that he would send his son to die for my failures.  My shortcomings.  My mess-ups.  My filthy sinner’s heart.  And when we sang “Happy Day”, I couldn’t help but tear up when we spoke the words:
“Oh!  Happy Day!  Happy Day! You washed my sin away!
Oh!  Happy Day!  Happy Day!  I’ll never be the same!”

I know that in His eyes, I’m not the same.  I’m a new creation, transformed by his grace and mercy that allows my sin to be washed away.  Every day is a happy day! 

God’s grace and mercy, His faithfulness and trustworthiness, have become so real to me this past year.  He constantly uses the questions, doubts, fears that pop up in the mind of a foster parent to teach me to have faith.  To trust in his plan.  To rest in his promises.  Not promises that he will give me everything I want.  But that He will give me all that I need.