Our Heartbeat

Months ago, my friend and kindred spirit (fellow INFJ/introvert raising and extrovert/lover of Jesus, of learning, and of Jane Austen), Melissa Droegmueller, from Rolling Prairie Readers asked me to share my heart for fostering and adopting. The mission of fostering as a family has become the heartbeat of my life, or more accurately, my family’s life. We’ve been at it for almost four years now! In that time, we have fostered four little ones; one went home to Grandma, one joined our family forever, and two are currently teaching us a thing or two about the unbreakable bond of sisters. Speaking of currently, this what our family looks like today: one mama, one papa, one miracle brought to us biologically, one miracle brought to us through adoption, two miracles brought to us through foster care, and two dogs – by far the most needy of our children. Then there are the extensions…more miracles: our beloved Randee (Denver’s biological mamacita – we love her like a daughter) and Sugar Pea (our foster daughters’ brand new baby sister.) Yep, fostering makes like messy…deliciously messy…like a HUGE chunk of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Messy. But I digress…mmmm, chocolate.

When Phil and I started this fostering journey, we jumped in blindly, simply following a tug that we both felt on our hearts. Through the support and help of our church and its outstanding foster/adopt support group, we have grown and learned from the best. It is no doubt the influence of other folks on the front lines of fostering who have shaped and focused our vision. Our vision has shifted from loving on children to loving on families and helping them heal.

Now, before you get the wrong idea about me, know this…my heart and my parenting is as imperfect as the next person’s. In fact, I am not what one would call “a kid person.” As a people, they are noisy and messy…and they get in my introvert space. My methods of parenting are not always stellar, like that one time I banged a sippy cup of milk on the table yelling, “Stop screaming! Stop screaming! Stop screaming!” So, there’s that. Nonetheless, the beauty of fostering is, I am enough. Full of faults. I am enough to change a life.

Every family story is unique, and our is no exception. I have documented so much of our journey right here on my blog. And since it’s summer, I’m taking it easy and simply linking the heck out of this article. You may read as much or as little as you desire, by clicking on your topic of interest.

Thank you for your interest in fostering! I pray you are blessed by what you discover here. If you have questions, contact me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

That time we knew we could not NOT foster.

That time we decided to risk Eden’s heart in order to foster.

That time we realized fostering was not safe for our hearts, but it was good.

That time I dropped off Denver for her first visitation with Randee.

That time I fell in love with Randee.

That time Denver was relinquished to us.

That time our hearts melted with the beauty of watching Denver interact with Randee.

That time we realized we were the second choice.

That time we realized we had a heart for bio moms.

That time we expanded our family from four to six…overnight.

That time we counted the cost of fostering for the third time and how it could affect Eden and Denver.

That time we saw the Pea’s mom for the first time.

That time we realized God was growing us up a bit…shaping and humbling us.

 

How Did You Get Me?

Denver’s questions come in waves. From the beginning, we have been open with her about her adoption. She sees her birth mom regularly, and just this year, she fell head over heels in love with Randee. She knows that she grew in Randee’s tummy. The thing is though…that the knowing comes in waves…followed by the questions.

So tonight at dinner, as I was passing her the raspberries, she asked, “How did you get me?” Honestly, in our home of little people, where games of chase and the like are BIG, “get me” could me any  number of things. And I was hoping she wasn’t asking what I thought she was asking…but she was.

“What do you mean, Denver?”

“I mean how did you get me?”

Eden, always ready to lend a helping hand, said, “Randee left you here,” which is totally not the way it went down. Seems someone watches way too much TV.

My heart fluttered and I just opened my mouth…praying, Jesus, make this good. Please.

“Randee loved you so much, but she was having a hard time being a mama. And she needed help. So some people called me and your daddy and asked if we’d take care of a sweet little girl. And we said YES. And these people brought you to us. Right to our front door.”

She was unfazed. “And Eden? How did you get Eden?”

“She grew in my tummy. And I went to the hospital to get her out, and brought her home. Right to our front door.”

Again, “How about Sweet Pea? How did you get her?”

“Well, you remember this part. Her mama needed help, so someone called me and your daddy to see if we would take care of a little baby girl. And we said yes. And you were here when she came, right to our front door.”

I guess she kind of petered out after that, because she did not ask about Chick Pea. Curiosity satisfied. Whew! That wasn’t too bad. We can totally do this. Right????

Our Heartbeat

Months ago, my friend and kindred spirit (fellow INFJ/introvert raising and extrovert/lover of Jesus, of learning, and of Jane Austen), Melissa Droegmueller, from Rolling Prairie Readers asked me to share my heart for fostering and adopting. The mission of fostering as a family has become the heartbeat of my life, or more accurately, my family’s life. We’ve been at it for almost four years now! In that time, we have fostered four little ones; one went home to Grandma, one joined our family forever, and two are currently teaching us a thing or two about the unbreakable bond of sisters. Speaking of currently, this what our family looks like today: one mama, one papa, one miracle brought to us biologically, one miracle brought to us through adoption, two miracles brought to us through foster care, and two dogs – by far the most needy of our children. Then there are the extensions…more miracles: our beloved Randee (Denver’s biological mamacita – we love her like a daughter) and Sugar Pea (our foster daughters’ brand new baby sister.) Yep, fostering makes like messy…deliciously messy…like a HUGE chunk of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Mmmmm. Messy. But I digress…mmmm, chocolate.

When Phil and I started this fostering journey, we jumped in blindly, simply following a tug that we both felt on our hearts. Through the support and help of our church and its outstanding foster/adopt support group, we have grown and learned from the best. It is no doubt the influence of other folks on the front lines of fostering who have shaped and focused our vision. Our vision has shifted from loving on children to loving on families and helping them heal.

Now, before you get the wrong idea about me, know this…my heart and my parenting is as imperfect as the next person’s. In fact, I am not what one would call “a kid person.” As a people, they are noisy and messy…and they get in my introvert space. My methods of parenting are not always stellar, like that one time I banged a sippy cup of milk on the table yelling, “Stop screaming! Stop screaming! Stop screaming!” So, there’s that. Nonetheless, the beauty of fostering is, I am enough. Full of faults. I am enough to change a life.

Every family story is unique, and our is no exception. I have documented so much of our journey right here on my blog. And since it’s summer, I’m taking it easy and simply linking the heck out of this article. You may read as much or as little as you desire, by clicking on your topic of interest.

Thank you for your interest in fostering! I pray you are blessed by what you discover here. If you have questions, contact me. Looking forward to hearing from you.

That time we knew we could not NOT foster.

That time we decided to risk Eden’s heart in order to foster.

That time we realized fostering was not safe for our hearts, but it was good.

That time I dropped off Denver for her first visitation with Randee.

That time I fell in love with Randee.

That time Denver was relinquished to us.

That time our hearts melted with the beauty of watching Denver interact with Randee.

That time we realized we were the second choice.

That time we realized we had a heart for bio moms.

That time we expanded our family from four to six…overnight.

That time we counted the cost of fostering for the third time and how it could affect Eden and Denver.

That time we saw the Pea’s mom for the first time.

That time we realized God was growing us up a bit…shaping and humbling us.

 

 

 

Our New Happy Place

I am a planner…a five-year plan is my happy place. Well, it used to be. Life has a way of humbling us…and the thought of mapping out where I think we should be in five years has become a bit comical. Take the month of May, for example. Today is April 22. Within the next thirty days we will either say goodbye to our Peas; say hello forever to our Peas; just hang out with the Peas a bit longer (til the next court date); perhaps take on a additional Pea…as one is cooking and is due in May; AND welcome a new family member for a spell. So, uh, plans are really…not…ummm…conducive to our current way of life.

This kind of “uncertainty” is our new normal. And though it is true for all of us, we are keenly aware that we have no idea what the future holds. But our hope for our future is secure…because it now rests on the unchangeable shoulders of a good God. And that space of faith is our new happy place. Trusting the One who is immovable, unchangeable…and good. We feel such certainty that all will be well. All will be well. This place of peace beats the pants off a five-year plan.

We Promise…

People get into fostering for a variety of reasons. My husband and I simultaneously felt “the call.” We simply wanted to help children. We didn’t have a clear picture of what that meant. But, as we were educated through fostering classes, we learned that the best thing for a child is to get into a stable living situation as soon as possible. Fostering-to-adopt fits that bill. A child is brought into a stable home until his or her fate is determined by a judge. This takes over a year = at least 365 days. If the rights of the bio parent/s are terminated or the parent/s relinquish their rights, then bingo, bango, the child is already in their forever home. The child already knows and has attached to caregivers…no more moving…no additional trauma. And then the healing begins. And continues. Throughout the child’s life.

And so, Phil and I signed up to foster-to-adopt. We wanted to help children. We were pretty clueless. We thought the children we were helping were…you know…children. Ah, but I am 44. Phil is 56. So, uh, turns out that the children our hearts bleed for are the parents. Let’s face it, an “older” mom in foster care is about 25. Yep, I so could easily have a 25-year-old daughter. But truly, most of the mammas are in their teens. So, yeah, our hearts bleed for these children who are having children…and are in desperate situations.

Granted, it took me a good 20 years of adulthood to shed MOST of my self-righteousness. Yeah, yeah, I still have hanger-on-er issues. But for the most part, I KNOW what I can do or say in desperate situations. And it ain’t purdy. I can be abusive. I have been abusive. To those I love so dearly. So I know, these young mammas love their babies. And hurt their babies. And make terrible decisions that leave lasting scars. And my heart breaks for the mammas and for the victims of their desperation.

And so Phil and I promise this…to these young parents…we promise:

  • We will love your baby with all our hearts.
  • We will hold and comfort your child when he or she cries for you.
  • We will bring your child for visits and pray you have a wonderful time together.
  • We will pray this precious child can come home to you.
  • We will pray for you…we will pray you find forgiveness and peace and redemption.
  • We will make sure to honor you and to encourage your child to do so as well…for as long as we care for your child.
  • We will do whatever we can to help you reconcile this situation.
  • We will hope for you!
  • We will believe you can change.
  • We will love you and fight for you…through fierce prayers and spiritual warfare.
  • If the time comes, we will return your child with broken, happy hearts.
  • If the time comes, we will love your baby as our very own…with broken, happy hearts.

Schedule the Inspections

Phil sent me a text yesterday, “We are ready to schedule our inspections. Will you take care of that?”

WHAT??? This text was code for…we are almost ready…classes done, paperwork done, we need our fire and safety inspections…then a walk through…then….A KID. That’s a good thing, right? Yet, the text filled me with apprehension and fear. I’M NOT READY!!!!

I’m not ready. I’m not ready. I’m not ready.

But you  know what? I’ve been ready for about 10 years. I am ready. I am.

And so, ready, set, JUMP!

Our Paper Pregnancy

The rumors are true. We are expecting baby number two! Looks like we will welcome a new one to our fold in October, or November…but certainly by December.

This pregnancy is quite different than the first. Quite. The first, because it was high risk, involved weekly doctor appointments, multiple sonograms, and guarding my blood sugar like a Doberman. This one involves just as much time, effort, work and prayer, but little of the physical wear and tear. Many refer to our experience as a paper pregnancy. You see, we are becoming foster parents.

The amount of work is astonishing, a true labor of love. We never would have passed muster with our preparations for Eden. For our next child we’ve endured classes on the very worst that people can do to precious babies, people questioning every intimate aspect of our lives, locking away our medications, posting daily schedules and menus, inviting people into our home to poke and prod and pry. Whew. I guess the poking and prodding and prying does remind me a bit of our first pregnancy.

Of course, the end result will be just as rewarding, if not more so. This time, we are linking our arms as a family to take care of a baby in need, a baby we may not get to keep forever.  We are okay with that. We are okay with the potential heartbreak…and this is why. For as long or as little as we get to love on our new baby, for one moment in time, the world will be right for that precious one. And we are honored to be the ones to bring a moment of light into a child’s life.

We love you, Baby Number Two. Whoever you are! We look forward to meeting you, as does your big sister.