I’ll Still Be Singing When the Evening Comes

04/10/2014

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me, I’ll still be singing when the evening comes.
From “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman

Seven months and 14 days ago she was born. I had been waiting for the announcement, which came the next day. I had already contacted DCS to make sure our contact info was updated in her mom’s file…just in case. Two weeks later I heard that CPS was trying to track her down. I called DCS again. I waited for a call. No call came. A few weeks later, I found out she’d been placed with a friend of her parents, a woman who could care for her. I was relieved but still a bit concerned…what about the family preservation that we, her siblings, her grandmother and her mother all wanted? Another string of phone calls and more waiting. I wrote a letter to her mom and waited. She wrote back with her heart and gave us more numbers to call and an invitation to court. More phone calls. More waiting. We went to court in January but her mom didn’t show up. (The two littlest sisters met for the first and so-far-only time that day.) We filed a petition for custody. Waited a month. Went to our prelim hearing. Waited a month. Went to the next hearing date where the judge review the petitions and case status but didn’t have time for a custody trial with witnesses. Waited a month. Today is the day. The custody trial is this morning bright and early.

So much waiting. I hope we finally get our answer today. Baby girl has 4 people who want custody of her—it’s a good problem for a little girl. No matter what happens today, I know she is provided for, loved and wanted. These months of so many small steps with so much waiting in between have been trying. If we get temporary custody it’s only the beginning of a greater journey of many small steps and so much waiting. It’s worth it.

I will wait. I will wait for you.


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.


And…

06/15/2013

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Court on Friday ended up being the anticlimactic: hearing is rescheduled for next Friday.

Buzz’s mom was extremely disappointed because she’s really hopeful that she’s going to get him back. I was disappointed for her too, but mostly irritated that we all went down there and had our time wasted for no reason. Buzz got pretty emotional after saying goodbye to her and I ended up taking him back home for a temper-tantrum induced nap.

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I didn’t expect to get emotional.

06/14/2013

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The past 6 weeks have been so incredibly difficult that I’ve only had positive feelings when considering Buzz’s reunification with his mom—happiness for them, relief for the other three of us, peace.

Last night I was continually aware… This may be that last time the four of us sit down for dinner. This may be the last time these kids get to play together. This may be the last time I give Buzz a bath and put his pjs on for bed. I gave him a little more playtime and attention than usual. I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies for a bedtime snack. All the while, I wasn’t emotional. Until…

As I was about to put Ali down to bed, I asked if she could say goodnight to Buzz. I looked at one kid and then the other and said, “What if this was the last time you saw each other, what would you say? ‘Thank you for all the good times? I love you?'”

Buzz said, “Thank you!”

Ali said, “I love you!” And then I started to choke up. I took a few minutes putting Ali to bed.

When I walked back into Buzz’s room he said, “Thank you!”

I was never asking or expecting him to thank me. It certainly wasn’t his choice to come live with us. Foster parents are trained from the beginning to never expect gratitude from a child and I haven’t. But in that moment I could feel that it was so much bigger than just a little boy parroting back what I said. He meant it.

As usual, I let him pick a book for me to read. He chose one of my favorites, Sleep, Baby, Sleep. By the time I got to this page, I was a blubbering mess…

Soar, baby, soar.
The whole world you’ll explore.
Fly like the goose who climbs and roams
yet always knows his way back home.
Soar, baby, soar. 

Oh how I want to see that boy succeed and go places in his life. My time of influence may be abruptly ending and I may never hear anything about him again. I love him more than I realized.

Grow, baby, grow.
From our arms you’ll go,
unfurling like a butterfly,
cocoon opening to the sky.
Grow, baby, grow.

In that moment, praying over him and hugging him with tears streaming down my cheeks, I knew all of the struggles of the past six weeks were worth it. He is worth it.


Sour Cream

06/13/2013

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I might be tucking this condiment-loving boy in bed tonight for the last time. In other words, there is a hearing scheduled for tomorrow that could change who he’s living with from now on. I started to type “there is a hearing tomorrow” and changed it to scheduled for because it sounds fairly likely that it will get rescheduled, although his guardian ad litem (court-appointed attorney) confirmed that it’s scheduled. Don’t get me started on that… 

His mom is so hopeful. I’m trying not to get my hopes up either way. I can honestly say that I would be happy and relieved if Buzz gets to return home to his mom tomorrow. A part of it is selfish—we could go back to our old comfortable “normal” lives again—but the main reason is because I know how happy it would make Buzz and his mom. They love and miss each other desperately. Based on what I know and have experienced (admittedly limited), I am fully in favor of reunification. I would also be sad and miss him—I’m not mentally ready to go there yet.

Because foster care can be extremely unpredictable and anything run by the government can be horribly inefficient, I’m doing my best to stay in the now. I’m planning and proceeding as though he’ll be continuing to live with us beyond tomorrow. I will do my best to love him, meet his needs and make his stay with us fun and memorable. I’m writing all of this to solicit your prayers:

• for the hearing tomorrow, if it happens, that actions are taken that are indeed in Buzz’s best interest

• for peace for his mom’s heart if it doesn’t happen or if it doesn’t go as she’s hoping

• for Buzz’s heart and mind to sort out all of these complicated feelings and to make sense of it as best as he can; that he would feel safe and loved and secure whether he’s with us or his mom

Note: The picture above is from our absolute favorite Mexican restaurant last weekend. That is a bowl of sour cream—yes, sour cream—Buzz is licking clean. I ordered him a side of sour cream with his meal because he LOVES condiments of all kinds. He pretty much ate chips and salsa and sour cream for dinner. I don’t even care how unhealthy it was because it made him so happy.


Documenting an Adoption

05/03/2012

A sweet commenter suggested that we hire a photographer to document our adoption day. I had thought about getting a photographer to get some family pictures of us around the time of the finalization but it didn’t occur to me to have someone document the actual day. She sent a link to the video that was put together celebrating their family’s adoption day. The audio from the courthouse really gets me because it stirs up memories from being in court with Ladybug and Precious. This brief documentary is so beautiful. I’ve cried every time I’ve watched it. (Fair warning.)

I am so looking forward to our adoption finalization day!


Her Testimony

01/03/2012

I debated about whether or not to share this because I know not everyone will get it. If you’re not a Christ-follower, it might sound totally random. I still wanted to share. The word testimony is thrown around a lot in Christian circles. Basically, it’s my story—who I was and how I got to who I am today. But when God gets ahold of a life, it’s really His story. Sharing my testimony brings glory to who God is and how He has turned my life around. It reflects His character, His power, His goodness and faithfulness.

Jump to the surrender day. Right before we were called back to the judge’s quarters I took Precious to the restroom for a diaper change. On the way there, someone stopped me.

“Excuse me! Excuse me, ma’am?” I turned towards a heavy black woman with a kind face, expecting her to say Precious was about to lose her sock or something along those lines.

“Oh! Look at her!” she said. “I’m just here with my sister,” she patted the woman next to her, “but we saw her from across the room and I said, ‘I have got to touch that baby!'”

And that point, I had turned toward her and I was thinking, wait—touch?

She reached out and put her right and on Precious’ right thigh. “Oh, she is a blessing!” she squealed.

I smiled. “She sure is. She’s like this all the time; she’s the happiest, most content baby we’ve ever seen.”

“That’s going to be her testimony!” the woman declared back.

And that was that. I went on with the diaper change and the rest of the court process but what she said kept resonating. She didn’t know who we were or anything about our situation. For a stranger to call my daughter a blessing would not be terribly uncommon but to use the word testimony. Her joy is going to be her testimony. We’ve seen it already. I’ve been telling people, even at just a few months old Precious already has a great testimony. She has been through so much yet she has been protected, she’s right on track developmentally, she’s beautiful and healthy, and she’s truly joyful and content. We believe God has great plans for her and none of what she has come through has been random or by accident.

Her joy is going to be her testimony.