A Room for Baby… or Whoever Arrives Next

09/23/2014

I call it “the next kid’s room” when it’s not in use. It’s our foster kid’s bedroom and it will most likely be our baby’s room. Much like our next kid, it is in a state of flux. Meaning: I’m not sure if our next kid will be the one I’m carrying or if we’ll get a call for another foster placement before then. I suspect we will get a placement soon since the longest we’ve ever waited between placements was 4.5 months. (We’re just shy of 3 months now.) We have a twin bed in here that I want to move into Ali’s room, a dresser I want to replace, and a crib we don’t need anymore. I plan to move a couple pieces of furniture (dresser and night stand) in from Ali’s room when I move the twin bed frame into her room. I want to replace the current curtain with a light blocking one. Jason and I decided that we’re going to put a double bed in the next kid’s room so that it can be a more suitable guest room option. All of these changes are so fun for my planning addiction and my interior design hobby. I’ve pinned everything I plan to purchase to the Nursery board on my Pinterest. I put together a mood board last week to help visualize all the pieces are parts coming together.

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I’ve also been planning where to put the furniture to make it all fit. I have a plan that I’m pretty excited about.

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Now to plan our next IKEA shopping trip…

RELATED POSTS:

Room to Grow: Making a Bedroom for Foster Kids (this room a year and a half ago before it was occupied by Buzz and then later Bee and Firefly.)

Preparing a Bedroom for Foster Kids: Furniture & Decor (planning our first bedroom for foster children at our last house)

Preparing for Foster Kids: Bedroom Tour (photos of the above mentioned room that ended up generating a lot of interest on Apartment Therapy)

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Where are all the adoptable toddlers?

09/15/2014

I recently read this blog post from Attempting Agape and said, yes, yes, yes. These are questions I was wondering about 4 years ago and the investigation is part of what lead me to foster parenting. (Also, it was seeds God had planted in my heart from my childhood and a timely comment from a fellow blogger who was a foster mom.) Often people who are interested in adopting domestically look through the waiting child lists that are posted by most states and also through the U.S. program AdoptUSkids.org. When I was doing that years ago I was curious why there weren’t any babies or young kids on the lists. In a nutshell, it’s because—if they come into care that young—they’re stuck in the limbo of the foster care system for several years before they end up on a waiting list. And most never make it to the waiting lists (thankfully!) because they’re adopted by their foster parents or a community member before that point. Jason and I realized that as foster parents we could be on the front lines of helping kids in need, rather than coming in right at the end of their exhausting, traumatic foster care journeys.

If you are are wondering what you can do to help even one child, consider becoming a concurrent foster placement for a child or sibling group.
Yes, its risky for your heart. Oh so risky. I understand, I do. I’ve done it. I’ve lived it. I’ve cried over kids returned to birth parents, I’ve ached. But, I also know that it is worth it. It is so worth it.
Read the whole post Why Can’t I Adopt a Young Child From Foster Care?? | Where are all the toddlers??.

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March 11

03/11/2014

One evening Jason and I had a tearful conversation over dinner that ended with him saying, “Make the call. Find out what we need to do to become foster parents.” I had been feeling a strong pull in the direction of foster care and potentially adoption for a while but I was praying that if God wanted us to go down that twisted, scary road that He would bring Jason on board quickly. I wanted to be completely unified in our decision and God answered my prayer—bringing Jason to equal passion to parent kids who are not ours by birth, kids who are living their worst nightmares, kids who have troubling pasts and bad behaviors.

Within hours of making that decision together, I started feeling completely inadequate for the role of foster motherhood. I tossed and turned all night, wrestling with my fears and insecurities. The next morning, on March 11, I read this passage in Jesus Calling and it changed my life forever:

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Walk by faith, not by sight.
As you take steps of faith, depending on Me,
I will show you how much I can do for you.
If you live your life too safely,
you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you.
When I gave you My spirit,
I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength.
Thats why it is wrong to measure your energy level
against the challenges ahead of you.
The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless.
By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.

Here we are on March 11, 2014. In the past three years since I read that passage I’ve been mama to four kids, each with a painful past and a broken heart. Three of those babies have gone on to live with their biological families. We had the great privilege of adopting one of them, our precious Alianna Mae. Today we’re going to court, pursuing a temporary custody placement of her biological baby sister who is six and a half months old. I’ve nicknamed her Trust here to maintain her confidentiality and to remind myself that I need only trust God with this situation. He is worthy of my trust. He moved a mountain for Alianna to be put into our custody 2.5 years ago and if He wants to put Trust into our custody today, He can do it. These last 6 months have been emotionally taxing as we moved from concern about her safety to concern about her long-term placement and connections with her biological family. She’s been in a safe and loving place (as far as we know) since she was two weeks old but we feel strongly that if there is any way to preserve her connection to her biological siblings—especially since she’s already separated from her biological parents—it should be pursued. And that is why we’ve been fighting for her since before she was born. Not because we deserve her or because she deserves us—we have no right to her. We love her because she is our daughter’s sister. We care deeply about her biological mother because she’s our daughter’s biological mother. If she’s lost, someday we’re going to have to answer our daughter when she asks, “Where is my little sister? Why didn’t you fight for her the way you fought for me?”

So we fight. We fight for what we believe is best for her. This afternoon we anticipate the magistrate will make the decision: will she stay where she is now or move into our home with her sister Alianna.


Where is her Real Mommy?

03/06/2014

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Where is her real mommy?

I knew questions like this would come but it still caught me off guard. The three year old girl didn’t ask me directly; it was a question for her mom who was telling me later—and perhaps also asking. We’re loose acquaintances so she doesn’t know our story. That mom had suggested to her daughter that she ask Alianna. I told her Ali wouldn’t know how to answer that question. I left it at that. I could have said so much more and I’ve been mulling over what I should have or could have said for hours now.

The question bothers me partly because of the word real. Anyone who knows about adoption etiquette knows that’s a buzz word. I’m her real mom. Her biological mom is her real mom. Neither of us is fake or pretend. We’ve both very real and we’ve both very mom. Alianna is my real daughter and we’re a real family. It also bothers me a bit that this mother and daughter discussed the possible reasons for Ali’s adoption… “Maybe her real mom was sick.” The answer to this question is too complicated for a three year old and too personal for a loose acquaintance.

I’m pretty gracious with adoption questions and I don’t expect everyone to have the right words to use. However, the reason this poorly-worded, intrusive question made me sick to my stomach was the thought of a three year old peer asking it to my two year old daughter. Ali is confident and out-going but she would have no idea how to answer this question in 2.5 year old terms. I hate to think that it would give her a moment of panic… Is my mom not real? Is she not my real mom? Is she lost?

The three year old girl must be observing that often families match skin and hair colors. (Or has someone pointed it out to her?) We were in a fairly diverse setting but apparently transracial families and adoptive families are not common in her circles. I asked Ali later if she’s noticed that we don’t look alike—that she has brown skin and black curly hair and mommy has lighter skin—I stopped myself there because the look she was giving me said, No kidding. Why would or should we look alike?  I might as well have been asking if she’s noticed the sky is blue and the grass is green. Then I realized that adoptive and transracial families are very common in our lives. It’s probably never crossed her might that we “should” look alike. There is nothing unusual about her family from her perspective at this point in her life.

Since I’ve been over-analyzing this conversation, I’ve come up with a response for this three year old girl in preschool terms. Here it goes:

I am Ali’s real mommy. She had a different mommy before me. She grew in her first mommy’s tummy. Her birth mommy loved Ali very much but she wasn’t able to take care of her so some helpers found Ali new parents—us. We adopted Ali into our family and we’ve been her parents ever since.

If she wants to know why her birth mom couldn’t take care of her: She was dealing with some really big grown-up problems and she needed to learn how to take better care of herself.

If she wants to know who the helpers were: They’re social workers who work for agencies—Child Protective Services and the Department of Childrens Services—that watch out for kids to make sure that they’re safe and their needs are met.

If she wants to know what adoption is: It’s when a judge decrees that we’re a real, official family—real parents and a real child—forever and ever.

If she wants to know where her birth mom is now: I don’t know for sure. She still lives in Nashville but we don’t see her very often.

(Picture at the top is Alianna with her birth mommy—her other real mommy. Blurred for her privacy.)


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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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.


Foster Care Ch. 4 Prep: Looking Forward, Looking Back

11/06/2013

As I spent the month of October preparing for our fourth child, I thought a lot about our first three. I’ve had this idea for a while but finally did it: an 8×10 photo, an initial and a shadow box of significant items for each child. It’s the start of our hallway gallery wall that might one day be full of difference faces and memories.

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I also make a necklace in honor of my motherhood to these three sweethearts.

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I made a CD of my “songs for the foster mama’s heart.”

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I got our next kid’s room ready, including setting up the pack n play in case we get a baby. (And if we do, I’ll probably end up buying a second crib because Ali is still using hers.)

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Lots of time was spent reading and praying, usually right in this spot on the couch in the morning before anyone else is up.

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I spent half of a Saturday cooking several gallons of soup and stocking it in the freezer.

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Sometimes I feel like the house is ready and other times I feel like I need a day to clean and organize. I know it’s ready enough and we have everything childproofed to DCS standards but I guess it’s just a nesting thing.

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Then I rearranged the next kid’s room a little bit. This bed seems to only work in this one spot in this room and it kind of drives me nuts. I’m thinking I’ll eventually move it into Ali’s room and get some regular bunk beds that can be switched into twin beds for maximum flexibility.

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Then more time has been spent resting, waiting, preparing, breathing deep in the now. A cup of tea on a sunny afternoon is balm to my soul.

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