Sunday, March 31, 2013

Facing Easter, in sweatpants.

I just could not shake the discomfort I felt last night on my way to bed, and, again this morning when I woke...we were not attending an Easter service today...there was just too much against it...without going into a ton of detail,  hubby's shoulder surgery and the fact that I am still recovering from a long illness myself just made the whole thing too,  we decided against it...thing is, it had never occurred to me that we would do anything else...Of course we would be there!   I have a pretty little Easter dress for my girly...and a dress shirt and vest for my sweet boy...bought em just for the occasion! But,  last night when we actually discussed the plans for the next morning...and faced the reality that trying to take two toddlers to a completely unfamiliar place(we were planning to make this the first sunday in a church we had decided to visit...don't ask why, I don't know why we mentally picked *this* Sunday...we just did) where we would not be comfortable just leaving them in the offered childcare(had *not* really thought that one through we have been planning to spend at least part of the first Sunday in the nursery with the kids while they get familiar and comfortable...and this service wasn't being held in the regular church building, but at the local convention center.) and, where I was going to be either pushing them around in a stroller for two hours...hoping they were content, or trying to corral both of them on my own(think herding cats!)...bottom line, it was simply not going to work...and just like that, we were not going to service on Easter morning. 

I've been thinking about why that bothered me so first thoughts were simple "It's tradition"..."it's what  we always do"..."I miss the boys, we always took the boys"(referring, of course, to my older sons, none of whom live in the same town we do anymore. Holidays look different now.) "it's where we belong on Easter morning"...ok... really? Why???(Bear with me's not that we *don't* belong with the body of Christ on Easter...but, I would argue that it is not any more true today than on any other day of the week!)  Is it because we feel more comfortable if we show up and "do the right thing" and participate in a big once a year, formal "Thank you" to the Most High?  Am I worried about what people will think? Or, am I worried about missing my annual photo op with the kids dressed in their Easter best? In the end, I'm not proud to admit it...but, I finally realized that I am a lot more comfortable facing Easter...facing what Jesus did for me on that cross, when I am dressed up in my Sunday best, showing off my beautiful babies and singing beautiful music with everyone else...caught up in the tradition and emotion of it all. Doing what we are *supposed* to do. What we *always* do.   Sitting here in sweats, feeling wretched and *so* aware of how broken I am, and crabby to boot... the whole thing only highlighted, to a painful degree, my continued need for standing in harsh, direct sunlight... it accentuated the depth of the shadows in and around me... it is so clear to me right now just how desperately I need the gift He gave us...there is no chance of me missing that point because I am not sitting with hundreds of other people focusing together on the same reality.

We moved throughout our morning...struggled with fussing children, who suddenly seemed more interested in hitting and biting than usual...cleaned up the daily mess, pummeled by the usual *mild* level of chaos...and, the truth is, I have never been more aware of my need...or experienced more gratitude for the reality of the Cross in my life. I have never had a more profound moment to stand back, look at my life and just take that in.  No service. no music. No shining faces, full of wonder. No pretty outfits and photo ops. None of that could have made me any more powerfully aware of my reality...any more grateful for the evidence of redemption in my life, or helped me to reflect on all of that with any more impact than Jesus did today, standing in the middle of my messy kitchen on Easter my sweatpants. 

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Ha! Success is moving a previous blog, started back when we were first called to adopt, to the new blog, started just before we adopted(because, for whatever reason, at that point, I lost the ability to get back into the original blog!) I am SO happy now to have the whole story in one place...eventually, I hope to write a post to sort of bridge the two...but, at least those of you who are dreaming of adoption can look back at our beginnings and all of the uncertainty we felt...see how blind we were to God's final plans...and know you are not alone in all of that...this is a blind journey of faith. All you have to do is continue to put one foot in front of the other and walk through the doors that God opens for you...just do the next right the next 30 seconds. I will get there!

Confessions of a mom with a noisy brain!

Confession #1. 

 I am *SO* not a soccer mom...never have been..never will be...I am not the mom who is running through the fold up chairs on the side of the field passing out invites to the end of the year team party...and, I can't imagine taking time out of my day to take up a collection, place an order and pick up trophies for everyone X2. I know, I know *gasp*...but, I'm just not.

But, you wanna know what's worse?

Confession #2.  

I'd rather stick a fork in my eye than scrapbook...yes, really! I'm a photographer, so obviously capturing moments and treasuring them is a passion of mine...but, sitting down with bits of cute paper and lacy stuff and (ok, I'm going blank, what else do you use?) and glueing it all down in a, no. My photos are doing good to get printed and put in a photo box. In fact, I don't remember the last time they actually made it to a box. Which brings me to...

Confession #3.

I am not as organized as I have always thought I should be...but, I'm telling ya, if my house were as bad as my'd be a whole lot worse! lol In fact, I am not sure if I am a recovering perfectionist...or a very relaxed/lazy person who always felt she *should* be able to do it better, neater, nicer, faster. Ok, and here is as close as I get to truly organized...this just lead me to my next thought!!(wow, two in a row!)

You remember that moment in kindergarten...the one when you first started to look around at everyone elses drawings...and noticed that quite a few of them could stay in the lines...and felt like you probably couldn't it if were going to save your life? Yeah...that's me. Creative, yes...neat, no...I can't even "stay in the lines" painting my house...but, I'm *just* enough of a perfectionist to be driven crazy by that fact in the aftermath...I *am* very, while I will make the mistakes in the doing...I will struggle to live with them in every day life from then on. A living Pinterest photo I am not.

So...if I'm not those things...who am I? 

Confession #4. 

I'm the mom who wanted children desperately, but spends entirely too much time in her own head...the mom who has to work at entering the moment and engaging with her family actively..every day...the mom who still cries when thinking of all I missed in the lives of my older kids because I was SO focused on my own pain and stuck in my own head that I may as well have been swimming in oatmeal.  

Confession #5.

I'm the mom who has a hard time tracking a single thought through her own head these days...let alone remembering where she was standing the last time she set down her phone(keys, coffee, name it, I am the only person I know who can LOSE something without moving!)...

Confession #6.

I am a mom who is increasingly responding to perfectionistic urges by deliberately doing it imperfectly...and making myself leave it alone(and still being driven crazy by it...)

(note the mattress still under the bed that I was going to take apart and put away after we replaced it with the new one ON the bed...yup, saw this *after* taking the photo...not waiting to redo the dang photo...the mattress stays!lol)

I'm just me...messy...profoundly messy. But, I love with all I am...and I hope that by sharing who I really am, I can let others know it is totally ok to be who *they* truly are...whatever that looks like!

My Sugar Bear Boy....

His eyes are captivating...his smile is intoxicating...I can't even tell you what his laugh does to my boy...Isaiah. Sometimes I watch him and I wish I could just climb inside his little head and see through his eyes...listen to his thought processes. Sometimes so serious...other times SO goofy...he is the most wonderful "surprise" that I have ever been gifted with! (When we set out to adopt all of our paperwork said "Girl, 0-2 years old"...we had no idea that God had a little boy out there on his way to our hearts!

And, what a boy he is!

One of my favorite shots of Isaiah, at about 4 months old...

Those soulful eyes of his...I am going to be in SO much trouble when he is a teenager!

This is how Isaiah "winks" at you...squeezing both eyes shut and then...

Looking at your through his lashes!! 

So, *who* is Isaiah? Isaiah is a quiet boy...with a lot going on inside. He is playful and joyful, but also has a definite idea of what he wants and does not want!(duh...he's going on two!) He *loves* cuddles with Daddy(and Mama, too)and monkeys and singing with Barney!LOL! And, his mama LOVES him!

You are my sunshine...

I stand over my daughters crib in the dim light of her room tonight...charcoal lashes on silken cheeks...she is so beautiful...who could have known what a miracle God had in store of us? (She is only ONE of the miracles...if you're new here...look for my Sugar Bear Boy, Isaiah, too!)So many many fears. I just remind myself that none of this would have happened without God's Hand...and He will continue to carry us through it all.  She makes me want to be more...a better mother...a stronger woman...tender, compassionate...and faithful.  When those blue eyes flutter open and her ready smile is right there waiting...I can feel my heart squeeze...such a Zoe girl. She is so appropriately named...a girl full of life...with Heaven in her eyes. 

One of the things that I want most is to take advantage of having this blog to remember *who* my children that later in life, they can look back and see the joy in our hearts because of them!

So, who is Zoe? Zoe is a sweet little girl with sparkling eyes and a contagious laugh...sometimes the only way you can tell she is "running" is that she starts breathing really fast, even if her little legs are still just moving at the speed of "walk"! cute...and she loves to dance

...and sing. Adores music. She is living, breathing, pure ray of sunshine. 

And, there is not a single day that goes by that I do not just stare at her in amazement...still trying to wrap my mind around the reality that *I* get to be her Mama!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

First days, and the miracle of forever children coming home!

So, tonight, I have decided to tell the stories of the day each of our children came home...perhaps it will bring hope to those who are longing for *their* child to will definitely show you what lengths God can go to in order to bring the child that He intended for you to raise into your world. 

Some of this I have said before...I will try to be more concise this time around.  

Years ago, I experienced the loss of a child...she was the daughter I had longed for...lost between my youngest two sons(by birth). I always felt I was meant to be the mama of boys...I took great delight in caring for my guys...but, I still longed for a daughter...and that desire was, at least in part, the impetus for my DH and I adopting(of course, we just plain wanted to have children of our own...together...but, I know that initially DH wanted me to experience my dream come true...little did he know, he would be finding himself in the middle of some pretty wonderful things that he never even let himself dream of having!) ...that desire would not leave me would not go away. Now, when I look back over the years we have been together...I believe God placed that desire in my heart for a the means to get us to even look at fact, if that had not been true...if we  had not both experienced loss in one way or another...we would not have our children today....*these*children...the children made for our hearts...and these are *our* every way. I never would have believed there would come a day that I could say these words...let alone mean them...but, I would not trade either of my children by adoption for the chance to experience carrying my husbands biological child. Why? Because, I know me...if I could have *just* done it myself, I would have missed what a miracle it was!! And, because it all happened the way that it did...there is simply no way for me to miss the miracles here...without them, we would never have experienced raising a family together like this(and, let me just say that, in my experience, blending a family is entirely different than raising your *own* children together. NO two ways about it!)

So, in the end, Kelly thought we would *just* adopt a little girl...for me...because the empty place never filled up...the dream I lost all of those years ago never dissipated.  We went about filling out the paperwork, having no idea if we would adopt overseas...or domestically...never occurred to me that we would adopt through the foster care system!! I was convinced that in order to adopt through the system, we had to be willing to take a child 3 years or older...and even that young would be a miracle! What I was dreaming of was a baby...I wanted to raise a child from, I simply looked away from foster care...and never intended to look back. But, God had other plans...and they most definitely involved foster care!  Once I finally realized that He*was* in fact, calling us to the foster care system...I went about filling out the paperwork and we followed the process. We were told time and again that the reality(and it IS the reality, make no mistake!) is that the entire goal of foster care is to get these kids home...and if we got an infant...the child would not stay with us. Either the parent would complete the plan and the child would be reunified...or, a relative would take the child. It was with a heavy heart that I obeyed the call and followed God's lead into all of this...all along, I kept stumbling over reminders that He is the giver of dreams...He is the maker of miracles and not limited by any mans rules or statistics. Still...I was afraid...

When filling out that paperwork, everything we filled out said "Female child 0-2 years old".  We marched forward believing that God had a specific child He was calling us to parent...we didn't know if it would be months, or years of foster parenting before we found the child who needed *us*. 

Kelly was convinced(sometimes even more than I was) that there was a little girl coming, just for us...little did he know, there was a son out there, too! He had wanted one(what man doesn't) but, never thought he would actually have fact, he was pretty sure he was too old for this nonsense anyway! ;-) Ha...this is where I will insert a recent photo I like to call "Daddy's home!"...

We had one "failed" attempt at taking in a newborn girl...she was being fostered by a friend of ours and seemed like the perfect "fast track to adoption" kind of the end, previous adoptive parents of her siblings surfaced(had been trying to find her, but ran into red tape and the insanity of a case that involved four different counties!)...and we kissed her goodbye.  I was stunned...we both were...all I could think about was how *sure* I had been that God was going to give me a newborn daughter! (Never occurred to me, while we had our eyes on her, that He was...but, not her!)  That weekend I sat in church next to my hubby and cried silently...longing for the little girl I had already grown *so* attached to(certainty will do that to you...that and four weeks of respite off and on over time...and being over at my friends place helping with her care anytime she wasn't at home with us!)  Up front, there was a group of children singing, and signing a song(whew! Unintentional tongue twister!)...and I noticed one of the children...a little hispanic boy, standing off to the side, by himself...he looked shy, I was guessing he did not speak english...but, he was giving everything he had to signing that song right along with the rest of the kids...I was startled to find that the mere sight of him moved me to tears...a different kind of tears. He was so sweet...and so shy...he looked like he felt keenly out of place...and yet, he was giving it all he had! It was one of those moments when you find yourself praying something...and you don't know where the prayer came from, cause it sure wasn't inspired by *your* self will! "Lord...if you have a little boy for us to love...I am open to that. I don't even know why I am praying this...I have been SO sure that You were sending a daughter to our family! But, I am willing, none the less."  

The next day...Monday morning, I was in the nursery putting away the baby girl clothing(blankets, etc) that I had used for our first respite girl...straightening things up, and my cell phone was the placement office...there was a newborn baby boy, just 24 hours old, born exposed to Methamphetamine and Marijuana(what a mix)...and he needed a safe place to live. We had quite a bit of training in handling drug exposed infants(one of the reasons we knew God was leading us into foster care)...I remember thinking "Oh! A boy!" and at the same time, my heart started racing...and I just knew...I knew we should take the placement. So, I called Kelly and asked him what he thought...and he said "Well, then I think we better take him!"  Three hours later, our son came into our home and our hearts for the first time...

That summer was primarily consumed with caring for our sweet little boy(he was SO tiny)...we fell SO hard for him...the fit was perfect. It was hard to imagine him ever leaving...but, there were no guarantees he would stay.  We went through two different workers that summer...we found out, much later on, that the second worker was the reason we ended up adopting our son! You see, he had older siblings in another foster family...a family who didn't want to take him at birth because they were sure they would lose him(the older sibs had been pulled from their home and moved to their grandparent...later on, the kids were returned to the foster home when the grandparent turned out not to be the safest resource). Apparently, there was an impressive amount of pressure on our caseworker to move our little boy to this other foster family...policy dictated it...but, she went to bat for us, and for our bond with him...she latched on to things like him being unable to go to daycare, etc.(due to sensory issues) and insisted we were the best home for him. We are *forever* grateful to her for that!  However, in the moment...we were just plain afraid...we went back and forth between being terrified of losing him...and feeling like maybe we should just ask for him to be moved to try to spare ourselves (and him) the pain of losing the bond, as it was growing stronger ever day. (In reality, the bond happened so early on...there was no escaping it!) 

 (as you can see...Daddy was bonded with Isaiah from the moment he arrived in our home!)

(Mommy was quite smitten as well!)

In early November(the 9th, I believe), when Isaiah was nearly four months old, I sat in a meeting where they discussed moving him to this other family. The foster parents of the older siblings didn't seem so keen on it...they are both respected professionals in mental health care and felt that breaking the bond would be damaging to our foster son. But, his birthmother was saying she wanted all of the kids together...and she was going to do everything she could to make it end up that way.  It got very intense...and I fell apart in the meeting...I was very embarrassed...but, there was nothing I could do to keep the tears from falling. I left that meeting convinced that we would lose our son, not to reunification(which we knew could have happened) but, to another set of foster parents who didn't even know him and had turned down the placement when he was born!  I felt like I was losing the ability to breathe...

It was at that point when I really started to question all God was doing...I had not even gotten into this to adopt a son...but, here he was and I was SO in love with him that I could not imagine my life without him!!  Yet we were facing this possible loss of "our boy" to another foster family. 

I ended up speaking with the caseworker in the placement office(who had been very supportive and also acted as a foster parent advocate during the meeting)...she sent us an email about a little girl who was 18 months old that was needing an adoptive family...I saw the photos, she was beautiful! I had SO wanted a newborn daughter...but, at this point I was starting to think that nothing I had hoped for was really going to happen, we submitted our home study for her...and I began to pack away the newborn clothing. (Little did we know, our daughter had been born two days prior to that meeting, right there in our city...but, more on that later!)  November moved on...and things began to quiet down...our caseworker assured us that she was NOT in the least bit interested in moving Isaiah to the other foster family...she simply wanted the kids to all stay put where they were at that time. We settled back into our routine again...dealing with visits and therapy and appointments.  We were not selected as a placement for the beautiful little 18 month old girl...and I was profoundly disappointed...ready to just let go of that dream entirely.   As they's always darkest right before the dawn! On November 18, 2011, we got a phone call from the placement office...they had a 10 day old baby girl...she had been placed in another foster home a week prior, but they were "being forced" to disrupt the placement...and we were the next family they thought of!(we found out later on that the day she came into care, the choice was between us and this other family...and they had been waiting longer for a baby girl, so they got her! Obviously, she was meant to come to us...they chose wrong!) The story was that there was a conflict of interest as the foster mom worked in a shelter that the birth mom had stayed in right before she delivered (We know now that was not true...more on that in a future post...sometimes foster parents will make up stories about why they have to disrupt...because they are afraid that if they just say they don't want this child because she screams 20 hours a day(and she did), that they won't ever get another call!)...needless to say, we said YES...and I RAN to the store to buy her a blankey of her own and a few other "essentials" (never mind the bags and bags of clothing I had at home for her!LOL!) I picked her up that evening at 6pm...she was so peaceful...and so sweet. She weighed in at 8 pounds, 6 ounces at birth...and was about there when we got her 10 days later. That night was just amazing...we were stunned...dazed, really...our foster son was  just four months old...and now we had a 10 day old foster daughter, too! 

(hard to believe she was ever that tiny...such a big girl now!)

(already Daddy's girl! Always perked up when he was holding her!)

(Tired, but happy, Mama!)

The story of her arrival is incredible...we didn't realize at the time just how intricate her path had been...but, her mom and dad were both from another state! In fact, her birthmother had fled from her birthfather, two states away,  and landed on the West side of the mountains here in Washington(we live in Central Washington, they were in a train station 4 hours away from us, they could have gone in any direction from there)...only to find the person who was supposed to be meeting her was not going to show up! It all came down to a single telephone conversation, that was apparently overheard by a specific bystander...who, when Zoe's birth mom hung up the phone, offered to call friends she knew in Wenatchee, who might have a safe place for the birth mom to stay! I don't even know exactly how they got her over here...but, that single overheard phone conversation, was the thing God used to bring Zoe to our a result of that phone call, she was born in a hospital 3 minutes up the road from us! Even then...there was a temporary derail when the placement workers chose the other foster family over us...but, it was short lived. In the end...she was meant to be our daughter...and God made sure she found her way into our home and our hearts!  

Ok, so I said concise...perhaps this isn't exactly concise, but compared to my usual "novels"'s pretty short and to the point. Allow me to wrap it year later, on November 17th, 2012...just one day prior to the one year anniversary of our girl coming home, we finalized adoption on BOTH children at our local National Adoption Day celebration!  

My one piece of advice would be not decide that you know what God is doing...or how He will accomplish Him...commit to walking through opened doors...and watch the miracles unfold. The children who are meant to be a part of your family *will* find you! It is only a matter of God's timing...for all you know, right now...your child is being formed...and on the road to your heart.