Phone Photo Friday

01/31/2014

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Jason and I got a Bee’s handprint made for her shadow box the other day. Nineteen more days with Bee before she heads back to Wisconsin. That’s the plan at this point. If you know much about foster care you know that getting 3 weeks notice before a big change is such a gift. Most everything happens suddenly and can change at any moment. We had 1 hour notice of her initial arrival and 1 day notice of her holiday pass to leave the state for Christmas. That’s more typical. I’m not even going to think about sorting and packing for at least two weeks.

Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!

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The Good/Bad News

01/27/2014

I’ve had so much going on lately that I’m not even sure where to start with blogging. I haven’t had time to mentally pre-write any posts. Busy at work. Busy with family. Busy at home. I know: Everyone is busy. Blah blah blah.

The title of my post is in reference to this news: We got official word that Bee’s ICPC has been approved by both states. At this point we’re just waiting for the court date where the judge here will sign off on the transfer. I’m guessing it’ll be pretty quick.

It’s good news. Bee is 8 months old and hitting new milestones as fast as she can pull off her socks. She got her first two teeth while she was visiting her family over the holidays and I was happy they got that gift. She’s been THISCLOSE to crawling for a couple weeks now and I’m hoping they’ll get the gift of seeing her crawl for the first time. They’ll get to witness her first pulling up to a stand, her first steps, her 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th etc. words. She has a family that loves her and is able to care for her. It’s where she belongs. I’m grateful that it’s only been two months—for her sake, for her family’s sake, for our sake. Because, dang, we’ve fallen in love hard and fast.

It’s bad news because we’re going to miss her a lot. Bee is sweet, cuddly and easy to love. She’s been calling us Mama and Dada, which melts our hearts. Her family is kind but I’m not confident that they’ll stay in touch considering they’re 8 hours away and we’ve only had minimal phone conversations related to pick up and drop off in the past 2 months. Alianna has been such a wonderful big sister to her and I know this goodbye is going to be hard for her. She still prays for Buzz and his mom everyday. As soon as I got the news, Jason explained to Ali that Bee will be leaving soon to go back home with her family. “Why?” Because we’ve just been taking care of her for a little while. Remember why we do what we do? Just like for [Buzz], when kids need a safe place to stay and live while their family gets ready for them, we take care of them here. “Awe…” as she hugged her. “I love [Bee].” Then he reminded Ali that she’ll be staying here because she’s part of our family forever.

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Phone Photo Friday

01/17/2014

2014-1-17

Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!


Bee is Back

01/15/2014

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We spent most of our afternoon Monday at a hearing for baby Bee’s case. I expected it to be quick and straightforward but it was not. The magistrate was slow and careful; very impressive actually. His concern about Bee and what is best for her was very evident. The short story is that she can’t leave the state of Tennessee to go with her family until the ICPC paperwork is approved. (ICPC=Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children) Her grandma in Wisconsin has had her homestudy done and the papers have been sent off. From my understanding the papers sit on someone’s desk until they’re signed and approved at the county level, regional level, state level and then are sent back to Tennessee. It commonly takes about 6 months. It’s been 2 months. In four months Bee will be turning one.

Bee was handed back to us on Monday after the hearing. She had a bit of a bumpy transition but now seems comfortable with us and our home again. She’s really a sweetheart and so easy to love. I’m happy to have her back. She is a joy.

Tuesday morning we got up before the sun to drop Bee off at daycare and then head to the courthouse again, this time with Ali, for a trial related to her baby sister Trust’s case. (Not her real name.) We brought Ali because her biological mom invited us to the trial and asked us to bring her since they haven’t seen each other in over two years. However, she didn’t show up. We did get to meet baby Trust and speak with her biological father, however not about our desire to have Trust with us. Those who are aware of our desire to have baby Trust with us so that the sisters can be together don’t really seem to care what we think or want (case workers, attorneys, etc.) The girls’ biological mom has more say than anyone else but if she doesn’t come to court that doesn’t help. I can’t give too much detail but suffice it to say, she’s staying with her dad’s friend—where she’s been since she was 2 weeks old—for now. There is a follow up trial in March and we’re planning to express our interest in legal custody through the court’s official process.

So…just one baby for now. I’m relieved to have only one baby but also disappointed that nothing really happened with Trust’s case on Tuesday. We didn’t even get to visit with Ali’s bio family as we had hoped. I did get a photo of the little girls together and it was a blessing to finally see Trust in person. I read this online yesterday and I’m clinging to it: “God is at work in your life right now. He is directing your steps. What you thought was a setback is going to turn out to be a setup.”

Bee is easy to love and I’m happy we can take care of her and meet her needs. We’ve formed a good relationship with her family so far and I know the Lord is using us and that Bee is right where she’s supposed to be for this season. I can hardly explain the ache and longing I feel for Trust, though. I have cared so deeply for her since I knew she existed and we all pray daily for her safety, for her needs to be met and for her to end up in the home where the Lord wants her to grow up. Her story is far from over.


Phone Photo Friday

01/10/2014

2014-1-9

Most of my Phone Photo Friday pictures are from my Instagram feed. Follow me @mahlbrandt if you’d like!


Homestead (Not Child-Related) Happenings

01/09/2014

We’re building a privacy fence in our backyard. It’ll be a modern wood fence very similar to our last house. I did an extensive tutorial on that fence three years ago, as well as the process of enclosing our courtyard at this house, so I will not be documenting our process this time. We managed to get all 23 posts set in the ground just before the great Flash Freeze of 2014. Now Jason’s touring schedule is rolling again so we’ll have to wait for some warmer days to line up with the days we’re both off work so we can start on the pickets.

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We’re getting chickens! Two years ago Nashville passed a new law allowing backyard hens to be raised for eggs. Jason was interested right away but it took me a while to get on board. Now that we have the fence started and Jason got this new book for Christmas, I’m all in. I’m so excited. We’ll be getting our chicks in the next month or two to start raising them inside until we have the coop done and it’s warm enough for them to move into their new house. We’re allowed to have up to 6. We’re planning to start out with 3 or 4. We eat a ton of eggs around here (18-24/week) so I’m excited to start getting them fresh from our own backyard.

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The foster kids’ room (which I’m tempted to call the little girl’s room…or is it the little girls’ room…) is getting a mini makeover. We’re repainting the walls. We got some new art and moved art in from a different room and I’ve moved some furniture around. Bee is gone for 25 days and with the possibility of baby Trust coming, well, I guess I’m nesting. We decided to paint Sherwin Williams Ellie Gray just like the first foster kids’ bedroom at our last house, which ended up being Ali’s nursery. We were very happy with that color and we’re not so happy with the neon green I chose for this house.

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Our master bedroom has been slowly getting designed. We realized one day that it’s sad how neglected it’s been design-wise. Last June we celebrated 10 years of marriage and decided that it’s time for a properly designed room. I’ll share more about it when it’s finished. We started out with a dresser and curtains. We added some art. New bedding. A new bed frame and lamps. Still to go: paint and wall/headboard treatment. Rugs. More art.

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Ali’s room got a mini-makeover too. She mastered climbing out of a pack-n-play while we were staying at my brother’s house for a few days and quickly transferred her skills to her crib at home. She’s now in a big girl bed again (side off her crib for now…eventually that KURA bed in the foster kids’ room will be hers). I’ll post more about that transition later. It’s going so much better this time around. She got a new lamp, owl poster and hot pink dog-butt hooks for hanging her dress-up clothes from IKEA.

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Family Life Update

01/08/2014

One of these days I’ll get around to editing photos and posting about Christmas. We had a lovely Christmas and New Years. Did you?

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Before I get to covering Christmas, I think a little family life update is in order…mainly because I hope you’ll pray about these situations.

Bee
She has been up in Wisconsin visiting with her extended family since December 20. They’re bringing her back on Monday for her permanency plan hearing. It’s likely that she’ll return to our home that day. There is a chance that the judge will give custody back to her mom at the hearing. I think this would be best for Bee, but I’m not really positive. I don’t know enough about her bio mom to say whether or not I think she’s ready to have her child back. She does however, have a healthy and large family support network. Her family in Wisconsin is trying to get placement transferred to them through the Interstate Compact on Placement of Children. ICPC is a paperwork nightmare and is necessary when a child who is in the custody of one state (Tennessee in this case) is transferred to the custody of another state. They’ve already had their home visit done up there and now we’re just waiting for the papers to move to all the right places. It can take months. I really don’t think it’s in Bee’s best interest to stay with us during those formative months of the first year of her life if it’s inevitable that she will be moving with her family eventually—and I’m certain that is the case. It’s going to be hard on her family who would be missing out on a bunch of her firsts, hard on us as we all fell in love with her after only 1 month, and hard on her because she’s not old enough to remember people she’s away from for long periods of time or understand what’s happening. So, if you would, pray that she’s moved to her family very soon, maybe even at the hearing on Monday.

Trust
Alianna has a biological baby sister that was born at the end of August. I’m not sure if her official nickname on my blog will be Trust but that’s what I was calling her in my prayer journal before she was born. I chose that as a reminder to trust God with her future, her safety and her forever family. Without going into much detail here because it’s still a very sensitive case, I ask that you would pray for her custody trial on Tuesday morning. We were invited to attend by Ali and Trust’s bio mom. The girls’ oldest biological sister is also seeking custody and will be there. The baby girl is currently with a relative of her biological father. We have a good relationship with their oldest bio sister and I don’t feel like we’re fighting against her or anyone else here…we just want what is best for Trust. I’m not sure what to expect on Tuesday but I know that God can do anything and if He wants Trust to end up in our home, in our family, so that she and Alianna can grow up together—He will do it. He moved a mountain for Alianna to stay with us and I fully believe that He can move a mountain for Trust to join our family.

Based on the above two situations, you might have noticed that there is a chance we will have one, two or no baby girls in our home next week. Having one is good. Having none is OK. Having two is…? LOL! I know we could handle it, especially knowing that Bee’s placement with us is short term. Monday and Tuesday are very big days for our family. I greatly appreciate your prayers.