Saturday, May 28, 2016

"That was SO much fun!"

We had a couple of friends over this afternoon for a few hours and after enjoying some snacks, the boys managed to convince the dads to join them in a massive game of Monkey in the Middle. Each kid teamed up with a dad and each kid/dad team strove valiantly to keep themselves of out the dreaded "middle." There was much laughter, yelling, diving for the ball, leaping to block shots, and apparently even some wrestling the ball out of little hands. *ahem*

Nothing spectacular really. Just an hour of simple craziness. But it meant the world to our Batman.

"It was so awesome," he began and then spent the next few minutes regaling me with tales of their game.

I thought about how something that my kiddos take for granted --of course dad's friends join in our games-- could be such a sweet blessing to our Batman.

There have been plenty of other moments like this as well. Our neighbors' son, home from college, has spent more than a few hours playing basketball with the boys in the driveway. Some friends kept the kiddos for an evening so Jared and I could go out, and they organized an in-house egg hunt. Our homeschool family welcomed Batman on a field trip while his school was off for spring break. And I could go on.

None of these things are particularly spectacular but all of them are incredibly meaningful because Batman is being loved.  He's experiencing a community of people who are safe, giving him a soft place to heal and to rest.

Here's the point: you don't have to be a foster parent to be involved in foster care. There are so, so many ways you can be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurting child. You could just spend part of your afternoon playing Monkey in the Middle.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

On today...

I tried to keep from getting all somber and introspective on what is supposed to be a warm, fuzzy, celebratory kind of day. Really, I did. I failed miserably. I guess that's understandable since this year I'm sharing this day with two other mommas. One who placed her baby girl willingly forever into our arms. The other who definitely did not. Sobering thoughts indeed.

Today brought with it so many intense emotions that are just impossible to articulate. How do you describe what happens to your heart when a bio mom hands you a Mother's Day Card? Or when you hold her as she grieves being separated from her little boy? Or when you watch them share the sweet innocence of swinging together on a beautiful afternoon? Or when you literally ache for her to know and trust how much she is treasured by Jesus?

 These truly must be "groanings too deep for words."

And the hardest part is that there is no life-changing, heart-warming resolution to these emotions. Not now anyway.

And that's ok.

Because sometimes life is hard. Sometimes life brings you into situations that seem irreparably broken. But, to quote Jason Johnson, "Broken things don't have to be final things. This is our hope in foster care. It has to be."

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Grace for Spilled Grits

It was just supposed to be an emergency placement. 

He came to us last Thursday afternoon scared, in shock, and almost visibly trembling. His social worker had picked him up from school and brought him to our home. He had no idea when he went to school that morning that he wouldn't be going back home. 

We agreed to keep our new friend, Batman, through Tuesday until a long-term foster home could be found. We've been doing respite care for the past year and a half, and it's been the perfect set-up. A weekend here, a weekend there, loving kiddos, being the "fun" house. Some have been a little stressful, but there was always the comfort of knowing that there was a definite end date. Sure, with each child, there was always a soft, subtle tug on our hearts to jump back into long-term care. But it was a tug that was easy to stuff back down after each friend went back home. 

But then along came Batman. 

The longer he was here with us, and the more we learned of his story and that of his precious momma, the more Jared and I just knew that we couldn't let him experience any more transition. Jared called his worker Monday morning and asked if Batman could stay with us throughout his journey. 

I had forgotten, or perhaps buried would be the better word, all the visceral emotions that accompany children coming into care. There simply aren't words to accurately depict the suffering and brokenness of these children, the confusion, the shock, the paralyzing fear. Watching a child struggle to process the unthinkable and knowing that there isn't a whole lot you can do to help him is just tough. Remembering that our calling is to love this child fiercely just as we do our own children all the while knowing that at the end of it all we have to hand him (and a huge piece of our hearts) over to his family....It's a hard, hard road to walk. 

But God.

Our heavenly Father is so very faithful. In these last 36-48 hours since stepping back into long-term care, we've encountered lice for the first time ever. Confession: I just might have thrown an adult tantrum over that one. We've had a first visit with mom that thankfully went very well. We're struggling with allergies. We're battling traumatic fears of all flying insects which makes playing outside without multiple meltdowns nearly impossible. And yes, we've even cleaned up spilled grits in the laundry room and a delightful concoction of various toiletry items off the bathroom floor. Bio kids don't stop their crazy just because a new friend joins the family. And yet, there has been grace for each and every moment. 

The Lord continues to grant us & Batman His love and peace. He continues to love us through His word and through His people. We don't know how long Batman's journey will be, nor do we know all the twists and turns that we will surely walk with him. But we do know Jesus. And we do know that He's walked this road before us. And we do know that He will never leave us nor Batman, not even for one moment.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Princess Petunia

I forgot to include a pretty significant update in my last blog post. Rarely does a day go by that I don't think about our sweet Princess Petunia. Rarely does a day go by when one of the children don't talk about her. She was such a huge part of our lives and our story. I pray that she will continue to be in some way. God has been so gracious as to allow us to maintain a relationship with PP's social worker, so we are at least able to follow her case and receive updates ever so often even if we are not able to actually see her. 

Last month, the kids and I decided that we would buy her school supplies when we bought our own. We took them to DHR and were able to talk with Sabrina for a little while.... Princess Petunia is doing well...a few steps forward, a couple of steps back which is pretty much on par. She no longer has visits with her bio mom for now, although she does get to visit her brothers. Sabrina has also filed for TPR (termination of parental rights) and at least at this point, PP's current foster mom is not interested in adopting her.  

Please pray along with us for Princess Petunia and her future. TPR can take a really, really long time and at least for the mean time, it looks as though she's in a stable home. I know that God is sovereign over her little life and I know He is working all things to His glory. I also would be lying if I said that there wasn't this huge part of my heart that cries for her to be back with our family. At this point though, it doesn't look as though that would be recommended just based on the circumstances surrounding her removal from our home. My heart battles with that logic often. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Been a while

Whew! I feel as though we are finally beginning to come out of the newborn fog we've been stumbling through over the past few months. Tallie is finally sleeping through the night, for real this time. She's faked us out a few times, but I'm pretty sure this is the real thing. And oh my goodness, once they start sleeping through the night, the world looks like an entirely different place. I'm remembering things again. My mind can form complete thoughts again. It is amazing! :-)

So where are we now? Well, as far as adoption goes, we have a finalization (is that the right term?) date set for October 3rd. Hoorah! I have to be honest...I teared up just reading the letter from our attorney. I know I'm going to be a bucket of tears on the actual day. Hopefully the judge won't think I'm certifiably insane. ;) But oh my goodness....she's almost officially ours!

We've also started the process of transferring to Lifeline. We had our first home study home visit this past Friday. *Love to Kara Leigh!* There are a lot more steps involved in transferring than either Jared or I thought that there would be. It has not been the 'just sign a form or so here and we're good' type process I had envisioned. To be completely honest, there have been more than a few times when we've wondered if all this extra work is worth it. I just keep preaching to myself that we were not created and put here on this earth to be comfortable. And really, what is a few extra hours of my time compared to what we're working towards, sharing the love of Christ with 'the least of these.'  Anyway, so, the goal is to have all our ducks in a row and be re-licensed and *hopefully* open for respite care by the end of October. Let the fun begin! :-)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Letters to Tallie, one month

Dear Tallie,

Sometimes feelings are just plain too big for words. That has been the case for me a lot over the past 4 to 5 weeks. But I have to try and write all this down for you so that when the time comes, you will be able to look back and trace the hand of God throughout your sweet precious life, even from the very beginning. 

More than anything, I want you to know these two things, our God is great and our God is good. He is mighty enough to hold the universe in place in the palm of His hand and loving enough to redeem our little lives and bring us to Himself. He brought you to us (a year to the day after we were officially licensed as foster/adoptive parents) and we are forever grateful.

I remember the moment I received the text from Aunt Jessie that you had been born. She sent your first picture along with these words: 
    "She's here!!! 7 lbs 9 oz...head full of brown hair"
We were all in the hotel room watching Veggie Tales, the bunny episode, and Daddy was trying unsuccessfully to take a nap. I just stared at your big, beautiful blue eyes, and time seemed to stand still. You were here. And even though I didn't carry you, you were ours. And I could NOT wait to actually meet you. 

Your Momma J had some serious, scary complications a short while after you were born. I was told that the waiting room that day was very crowded. Lots of families welcoming new little ones. When the rapid response alert for Momma J was issued, everyone in that waiting room, though they didn't know her,  joined hands and prayed for her while the doctors worked to save her. Daddy & I as well as many, many others across town and back home here in B'ham prayed for her as well. And God kept her strong and preserved her life. Always remember that there is power in prayer, sweet Tallie, because we pray to an Almighty, loving heavenly Father. 

You're beginning to settle into a nice routine during the day and waking up only once at night...thank you for that, by the way. :) You're recognizing our voices and starting to smile those sweet newborn smiles. Dr Amy says they're real and I definitely believe her! You've met so many friends and family and they all say how pretty you are. I, of course, agree with them wholeheartedly. 

Daddy & I and all your sweet siblings love you more than words, 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Tale of Two Mommas

As I'm eagerly anticipating the birth of Baby Tallie, I find myself thinking about Momma J. A lot. More and more the closer we get to the big day. I try to put myself in her place and find that it is simply too painful. The closer we draw to meeting Tallie and taking her into our arms and our hearts, the closer Momma J draws to saying goodbye to this tiny one that she's cared for for the past nine months and handing over an enormous piece of her heart. What utter selfless love it must take to take a long, serious look at your life and decide that  your child should be with another family.

There is a lot of talk about heroes these days, and it seems as though it doesn't take too much to earn such a label. Toss a ball around a court or field better than the other guys, or make a public statement about your private life, or simply do what you're supposed to do and bam, you're slapped with a big ole hero sticker on your chest.

At least for me, whenever the word hero is mentioned, I'll forever think of a sweet, quiet young momma in Georgia who chose life and a home for her baby girl and who, though I may never meet her, will always be woven inextricably into the heart of our family.