Bullet point update

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  • We took our first family vacation to the beach and had a blast!  A and H had so much fun digging in the sand and splashing in the water.  We are definitely thinking about making it a summer tradition.
  • We’re starting to settle into our new home.  We love the additional space and that we got to stay in the same neighborhood.  Our new (to us) next door neighbors have so much in common with us!  We know many of the same people through my internship at the School for the Deaf in college, have both adopted out of the foster care system and even became licensed through the same agency!
  • Speaking of our agency, we had intended to go inactive in the system once the adoption was finalized in June, but changed our minds and are staying active.  We are completely content with the size of our family right now, but we have open hearts (and an open home) to whatever (whomever) God has planned for us.   
  • Today would have been my first day back at school if I had continued teaching kindergarten.  It’s bittersweet- to be missing my colleagues and friends at school, but to also be enjoying my last two weeks with A and H before I begin my part-time homeschooling venture… which I’m really excited about!  I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to spend more time with A and H as well as teach a different grade level, different subjects, in a different environment.  
  • A is nearing his 3rd birthday in a few short weeks!  It’s hard to believe that he’ll have been with us the same amount of time he was with his first foster parents.  He’s funny, energetic, sweet, stubborn, and compassionate.  He’s curious, bossy to his little sister, and has yet to meet a stranger.  He cracks me up and melts my heart, especially with his impromptu I love you’s he’s been handing out this week.  
  • H is continuing to develop quite the personality.  She can be very shy and standoffish with strangers, but once she knows you, she loves to plop herself in your lap!  She signs and tries to say “all done” and “more”.  She says Ma-ma and Da-da, and something that sounds like “aw, man!”.  She snatches our phones any chance she gets and walks around the house, holding it to her ear saying, “Hi!”  “Bye-bye,” is another favorite of hers.  She says it a lot to A when he’s pretending to go somewhere in the house (school, grocery store, bank).  She’s an expert walker and has no loss of appetite when it comes to food!  
  • They’re both great sleepers, usually sleeping for 12ish hours at night with a 2 hour nap during the day.  They both love to tickle and be tickled- and it’s so funny to watch H try to tickle her brother!  
  • We’re planning an adoption party this fall to celebrate the finalization.  And that deserves another post by itself! 

 

 

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Les

What’s new?

Moving.  Adopting.  Change of address.  Change of name.  Job change.  Lots of changes happening in our household this summer.  Changes that bring so much joy to our lives!  Changes that I never saw coming, but am so thankful, blessed that they are happening. 

Moving: We learned through a neighbor of a home that was going to be going on the market that was slightly larger than our current home and had an extra bedroom.  We were able to look at the home before it went on the market, fell in love with it, and are closing on it tomorrow (Friday).  The best part?  Our mortgage won’t increase which is nothing short of a miracle, but one stipulation we needed due to…

Job change: I’m changing jobs!  But in a way, I’m really not.  Changing hours might be a better way to describe it.  I’ll be working three days/week next year, homeschooling a 5th grader in our neighborhood.  I’ll have two extra days to spend time with A and H, as well as my hours on the days that I teach will be shorter too!  I’m looking forward to a new challenge as I teach a new level.  I’m thrilled that A and H will both be going to preschools/mother’s day out programs that are Christian-based where they’ll learn about God’s love, His plan, His grace. 

H’s foot in D’s hand shortly after she was placed in our home at 1 month old

Adoption:  We received the date of the adoption proceedings this week and I’m so excited!  There are still times that I feel the need to pinch myself, so as to wake myself up from this dream I’m living in.  As I was packing boxes this week, I came across a plastic tub of clothes labeled Newborn-Girl from our first months with H.  I opened it up and laying on top was the tiny outfit she was wearing when she came to us.  I couldn’t help but pick it up and hold it to my face, smelling this piece of clothing that looks like it could only fit a doll.  And A… there are days that I can’t believe he isn’t our biological child.  He is such a carbon copy of D and has developed quite the sense of humor!  I sometimes wonder if I am talking to a two year-old or a teenager with the things he comes up with!  I find myself speechless when I try to talk about how much adoption day will mean to me.  I can’t find the words to describe my feelings.  Saying that I’ll be the happiest girl in the world on this day still doesn’t capture the true joy behind it all.  I’m overwhelmed with gratitude to God for placing these two in our lives, to the many family and friends who have prayed for us, encouraged us, supported us, and shared in our joy through this journey.  Overwhelmed with a huge dose of humility as I realize daily how much of a blessing being parents to A and H is and how often I come up short on the parenting end.  Feeling totally undeserving to have been given this opportunity.  And more thankful than I could have ever imagined!

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. 

One

We celebrated one year of having A with us in our home today.  It’s hard to believe that D and I became parents to an 18 month-old this time last year.  A has grown and changed so much that we find it difficult to think of what A was like when he came home. 

Since A is still too young to really understand what today is all about, we did the decision-making as far as the festivities were concerned.  I can’t wait for him to be the one doing the planning.  We went to a local pizza place and ate A’s favorite food.  H enjoyed trying some of our food and she loved laughing and talking to those sitting around us.  She eats up the extra attention!  A opened his gift which was this book:

And then he enjoyed his first taste of frozen yogurt.  He loved it!  I think we’ll be frequent customers this summer when the Texas heat wave hits!  On the way to the yogurt shop, A told us in the car, “Mom, I very sick.  I need go see doctor.”  D and I had to laugh at how serious he was when he said that!  Then he said, “Mom, I not tired.  I wake!”  I responded by saying, “Good!  I’m so glad you’re awake!”  A says, “Yeah.  Me too.” 
All in all, we enjoyed the evening together- our little family of four.  
 

February 22, 2012

H’s final court date.  Her case will be transferred to the adoption unit soon and we’ll get to move forward in adopting both A and H together!  I spoke with our adoption attorney today as well as our AFS, and CPS came out for their monthly visit.  It was a busy day- but we’re so anxious to get an adoption date on the docket and finally have our forever family! 

I have no idea when it will happen but I do know that it won’t be before the end of May due to the 90 days that relatives still have to come forward.  Maybe June?  And then we are throwing a PAR-TAY! 
It’s so hard to believe that at this time last year, A hadn’t even been placed in our home yet.  What a difference a year makes! 

As we begin filling out paperwork for the adoption, we have to decide now whether we’re changing their names and what their new names will be.  For A, we’ve decided to only change his middle name and we thought we’d do the same for H, but recently I’ve felt like this might be my only chance to name a child.  Since H is still so young, a name change wouldn’t affect her.  The reason we were thinking to keep her first name is so we can keep that connection to her birth mom so when (not if, but when) she goes through that period in life where she hates us for adopting her, she might find comfort in knowing she had the name her mother gave her.  Does that even make sense?  What are your thoughts?  We need advice!  And if you have a name suggestion, feel free to throw that out too!

Sleepwalking?

Two weeks ago, D’s dad had open heart surgery.  He’s doing really well considering the major surgery he just endured, so this past Friday night we made the trip to go see him.  A and H had fun with their GiGi and Poppy, Uncle D and Aunt J.  We ate dinner, gave them baths, got pjs on, fed H her last bottle of the night and loaded up to come home.  We’ve learned that getting them all ready for bed before a car trip helps so much!  When we get home, we can just put them straight to bed. 

This past time, though, when we were pulling into the garage, A started crying, “Mommy!  Mommy!”  I looked at D and said, “I’ll get him.  You get H.”  I got him out of his car seat and walked him to his room.  He was still crying and screaming, “Mommy!  Mommy!” so I sat down to rock him.  I kept telling him, “It’s okay.  Mommy’s here.”  But he just wouldn’t settle down.  At one point, he was crying out for me and I was responding but it was like he couldn’t see me.  Then his little body started shaking so I put him down on the ground in front of me so that he could see me, cradling his little body.  He continued to scream and cry.  At this point, D comes into the room and thinks A is being a 2 year-old and trying to avoid bedtime, but as soon as he sees the look on my face and A’s little body shaking, he knew something was up.  D walked over, picked him up and just like that, A quieted down, his eyes closed and he was asleep in 30 seconds. 

We walked out of the room, both kinda freaked out about what just happened.  Did A have an episode of night terrors?  Was he sleepwalking?  Whatever it was, it was not fun to watch!