Tag Archives: Adoption

Bring Thalia Home

Some friends of mine are adopting a beautiful girl with Down’s Syndrome who currently lives in a Chinese orphanage. They have worked their tails off in raising all the funds for her adoption, but are still quite a bit short.

Anyone who has ever adopted internationally knows how expensive it can be. I’ve done it three times and each time wondered how we managed to pull it off, but then was reminded that if it is the Lord’s will, the money will come through.

The Whickers are moving forward in faith with their adoption, knowing that the money will happen, but need your help in making it happen. They are having an incredible giveaway at this website where you can win some amazing prizes.

Please find it in your heart to give, even if it is only 10 or 20 dollars. My family spends far more than that if we order take out from a restaurant, so think of it as giving up just one take out meal this month. Cook that meal at home instead and you will never even miss the money from your budget. But you will have a great feeling inside knowing that you have helped a child find her forever family.

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It’s alive!

Well it isn’t Easter Sunday, but this blog is being resurrected after being in the blogworld grave for the past year. I refrained from blogging last year as it just seemed impossible. How do you write about your life when you aren’t allowed to write about your foster children or post any pictures of them? Not to mention the pain in your heart at having some removed from your home against all of your wishes! I didn’t want to blog a year of whining, so I chose to write nothing at all.

Thankfully that problem is being resolved. We adopted one of our sweethearts last month, and the other will be adopted by us this month, leaving me free to post and write just about anything I dang please without the state stepping in and shaking their finger at me. The one who is being adopted this month? Peanut! Yes, she indeed came back to us!

For Christmas a few years ago, my daughter scrapbooked my entire year of blogging for me. It is a gift that I treasure. Just last week, she gave me a few last pages from that year that she had not finished, and as I read over them, they inspired me to start writing again. So, I guess I’m back. As my kids are my favorite topic, they just might want to run for cover while they still can. 🙂

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My baby girl is coming home!

The Sunday before Easter my phone rang at 6 a.m. I was not amused since weekends are my only time to sleep past 5:45, and my alarm was not due to go off for another hour. I groggily answered it only to hear, “Are you awake? I know it’s early still out there but I need to talk to you.”

It was Peanut’s cousin and she told me she had been up all night with Peanut who had a tummy ache and who had cried all night. She had also thrown a two hour tantrum the evening before and her cousin said, “I have been trying to tell myself that I can do this, but I can’t. I just can’t. Besides that, she loves you, you love her, and she needs to come back to you.”

With those words, I was suddenly wide awake. Did I actually hear what I thought I heard? Yep, she said she was sending her back. I wanted to shout “Hallelujah! Thank you God!”, and a variety of other praises of gratitude, but instead I just tried to calmly listen and empathize with how she was feeling. After all, she was hurting inside and it took alot for her to call me and tell me honestly what she was feeling. She said she had not told anyone else yet, but that just by telling me the weight of the world felt like it had been lifted off of her shoulders.

I have hesitated to post anything for fear things would not work out. After all, the agency handling the out of state adoption could still place her with someone else if they insist on keeping Peanut with her brother. I cannot take him. I have pondered and prayed about it and he is just not meant to come to our home.

This week, however, a plethora of prayers have been answered as we found it is pretty much set that she will be rejoining our family in early July. Her brother’s previous foster mother has consented to take him back as well so both children will return home to familiar places and routines.

Six months ago I wrote this as my heart was breaking:
Tonight at dinner she said, “Mama,I will miss you when I am gone. After I have stayed there for a very long time will you come get me?” Oh my dear one, if you only knew how very much I wish I could.

If the caseworker doesn’t end up flying to get the kids, there is a chance that I might be flying them home. So yes, my dear Peanut, after you have stayed there for a very long time, I would be willing to do almost anything to get on a plane and come get you. Thank you, God, for allowing my baby girl to come back home!

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Talking in the Dark

One of my children was really acting out tonight. I know that all the leavetakings that are happening soon are going to be very hard on her so I tried to talk to her tonight about what she was feeling. This is a child who has walls 10 feet high and 7 feet thick when it comes to discussing feelings. She very seldom gets angry and almost never cries. At least not where anyone can see. Not surprisingly, she refused to talk. So I turned off the bedroom light. Not having to look at someone always makes it a bit easier when my kids need to discuss the pain in their lives.

She still refused to answer any questions I asked, so I said a prayer and dove in. I have been reading a book on stories that help children heal from trauma and loss, and so I told her a claiming story. I spoke of my awareness of her pain of being abandoned as a baby; of not looking like the rest of her adoptive family; of knowing how her heart aches to see her birth mother again but not knowing if she is even alive after the earthquake in Haiti took so many lives.

But then I also shared how I KNOW…and I mean I truly KNOW that she was meant to come here. She was meant to be a part of our family and I knew that before she ever arrived. I prayed for her and dreamed about her before I ever even found her and once I did, all it took was a look at her photo to have God whisper to my heart, “There is your daughter. Go get her.” God has a way of making sure that children end up in the families where they are supposed to be. I told her all of this.

Lest those of you doubters blast me about children being born to abusive parents or into Third World countries where they die of starvation or disease, I do not know what God’s plan is for every child on this earth, but I do know that He does indeed have a plan whether we understand it or not. I know in my heart that the foster children who have been placed in my care came to our home–and not another foster home–for a reason. I know that in spite of the pain and anguish my foster children have experienced, that they have angels watching over them. I also know that no matter how badly it hurts to have them leave, perhaps staying in my home is not part of God’s plan for their life and they need to move on to gain the life experiences they need.

With this one, however, I told her that God wanted her to be here. Yes, it hurts to have to experience so much loss at such a young age, but without the loss, she would not be here today. The loss was part of her journey here and something that can contribute to her growth and strength, or something that can attempt to break her. The viewpoint is all up to her. Does it take away the pain? No. Does it give her a stronger sense of “rightness” –for lack of a better word–about why she lives here in this family? I think it did.

Part of the walls around her started to crumble a bit tonight. In a good way. Usually when her feelings rise to the surface, no one is allowed to share them. Tonight she let me in and even allowed physical touch that she usually resists when she is feeling defensive. She fell asleep in my arms with contented sighs. It’s only the first leg of a long road ahead of us, but at least for the moment, we are sharing the journey together.

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What would it take to make me blog again?

I have pondered that question for over a year now. Every time I think I will blog again I hesitate for two reasons. First, I don’t want to share too many private details about my family on the internet and I worry that perhaps I have shared too much in the past.

Second, I am a foster mom, currently to 3 little ones. Confidentiality rules say that I can’t share their photos or any real identifying information about them on the internet. Since so much of what they do fills my daily life, it doesn’t leave me much to say without sounding like a soundtrack that has words bleeped out.

Since I last blogged, we have celebrated many birthdays, the return of my son from his mission in Texas, the marriage of that same son, the birth of a granddaughter, and many other fun and exciting events. I chose to write about each of those in my private journal instead of blog about them, because that is where I can share the true feelings of my heart. After all, by the time my kids and grandkids read what is in my journals I hopefully will be dead and gone. If they want to kill me after what they read, it will be too late. 🙂

There IS something that has caused me to want to start blogging again, however…Child Protective Services. Why they are called that is beyond me. They should be renamed Parent Protective Services because with them it never really was about the kids. All of the caseplans are parent driven and/or money driven. If the parent succeeds, the children go back whether they want to or not. If the parent fails, CPS often looks for an adoptive home with extended family even if the child is firmly attached to their foster family and begs to stay. Don’t forget the money factor. Yes, foster care costs money. But so do adoption stipends to extended family members who often were not interested in the children until they hear a stipend is involved.

It’s pretty much what we are going through right now and it is ripping my heart out. How do you tell a child you love with all your heart that you wish she could stay when she sobs on your shoulder that she doesn’t want to leave? You do just that. You tell her how much you love her and how you always will and then you go in a private room and sob into a pillow so she doesn’t hear how much it hurts you. You tell her you will never forget her, and you won’t. And then you pray to God that she will never forget you and the love and laughter you have shared for almost two years.

Trust me that she has given us her fair share of grief. She came non-verbal, with angry fire in her eyes at times as she spit, bit and kicked, but it only took me a little while to realize that more of that venting came from fear rather than anger. Now that she will be leaving soon, we are seeing many of those same behaviors again, and they are very clearly fear based.

She comes in each night to my room by midnight and crawls in bed with me. She tosses and turns and cries out in her own bed, but once she is snuggled up in mine she goes into a deep, deep sleep. She feels safe. And loved. And CPS is taking all of that away. They are ripping a child out of my home whom I dearly love and who dearly loves me. All because of what they call “family.” A cousin who hardly knows my foster daughter and her sibling says she wants to adopt them. She lives 3,000 miles away.

The kids visited her in October and thought it was just a great vacation. No one told them that they were testing the waters on how they would do permanently there, but that’s a joke anyway. Kids on vacation are nothing like kids who are permanently moved to a new home. The cousin said they were wonderful and couldn’t understand why the other foster mother and I have ever had any trouble. Does she know what “honeymooning” is? Has she ever raised kids with ADHD, PTSD, ODD? Nope. But she will be soon.

Will she let my little one crawl into her bed in the middle of the night when she is frightened? Will she sing her the songs we sing before we go to bed each night so at least her bedtime routine is familiar? Probably not. Everything I have suggested to ease this transition has been openly rejected.

When our little one leaves in a few weeks it will be like a death in our family. And CPS didn’t even have the heart to allow her to stay through Christmas as we had pleaded. Nope, she needs to leave beforehand. CHILD Protective Services indeed. Just don’t ask them to ever protect a child’s emotional health. They see the case as a success because they are placing a child with “family.” Ugh.

Meanwhile, our little one doesn’t understand the permanency of this move at all. She still thinks she is coming back even though I have tried to gently tell her that she will be staying there for a very long time and that she will have a new mama to take care of her. She tells me she doesn’t want this cousin as her new mama and that she doesn’t want to go. Does CPS care? Nope. Does her worthless, court-appointed attorney care or do anything? Nope. He doesn’t even have the decency to return any of my phone calls.

She asked recently if she can have a Dora cake for her birthday and I reminded her that she won’t be living here when her birthday rolls around. Because she found that so upsetting, I gave up on trying to reinforce the idea. Now when she asks if she can be a cat next year for Halloween, I just say “We’ll see.” She seems happier with that answer. Tonight at dinner she said, “Mama,I will miss you when I am gone. After I have stayed there for a very long time will you come get me?” Oh my dear one, if you only knew how very much I wish I could.

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Reviewed by the state

When we started our foster care licensing journey, I inwardly laughed at those who told me it took them over 6 months to become licensed. I scoffed when our agency told us it would be at least 4 months and maybe closer to 6. After all, I was the dossier queen. I could put an entire dossier together for an international adoption in well under four months. This included a homestudy update, physicals, police clearances, a bazillion documents such as birth certificates and our marriage license, immigration applications, and being fingerprinted for clearance by the FBI. I also had all of my documents certified by the state and then authenticated by the Haitian consulate in Chicago and got the entire dossier translated into French before I sent it via DHL to Haiti. I was convinced I would show these people how it was done and how fast we could actually become licensed foster parents.

A Haitian adoption, unlike a Chinese one, also requires a psychological evaluation of both parents. Had we received the eval after our arduous foster care process, we probably would not have passed as I am convinced that this journey is making me crazy.

We received an email from the state today informing us that our file has finally been submitted for review…9 months after we started this journey. Our first required parenting classes were canceled, leaving us to wait for the next session. “No problem…they can do our homestudy update while we wait”, I thought. Ha! Shows my ignorance. Our agency doesn’t do homestudy updates until you have finished the entire 10 week MAPP classes in case you decide to change your mind about foster care.

So we put in our 30 hours and had our little graduation celebration, believe it or not last June. Only problem was, Jeff missed two classes due to Boy Scout camp, so he had to make them up in yet the next session of classes. Meanwhile, no one was in a rush to update our homestudy, and our licensing worker quit without informing us. After a month of no contact from her, we got a call from a new licensing worker telling us that our previous worker no longer worked for the agency. She started requesting paperwork that we had submitted once already, but we dutifully faxed it off yet a second time.

In the meantime, we waited and waited for the state to contact us for our home inspection. They came and we passed and then they told us we could only be approved for ages 7 and up because our spa wasn’t fenced. This is a spa that has a safety cover and is empty. No matter; we could fill it after he left, the inspector said, so fencing the spa became the next project.

After fencing it, we of course had to wait for the state to set another appointment with us to check that it truly was fenced to regulation standards. Since the inspectors come from a larger city 100 miles to the north, they don’t just show up two days after being contacted. One must wait until they are coming to do other home inspections which is usually at least 4 weeks after the initial contact.

To add insult to injury, on our second appointment date the inspector showed up two hours early when I had just stepped out of the shower. There was no way I was going to miss him and have to set up yet another date, so I hollered out for him to wait and then threw on some clothes, put a towel on my head and let him through the house to see the spa in the backyard. No apologies for showing up early. Rather, he seemed a bit perturbed that he had to wait for me to get to the door.

Our licensing worker let me know this week that she was passing our homestudy on to her supervisor and that the supervisor review was the last step before it was submitted to the state. “Oh…and could you resend your dog’s proof of rabies and car registration and proof of car insurance, since I don’t seem to have the documentation of those.” No matter that I had faxed all of them months ago. I am beginning to believe their fax machine eats more documents than my dryer eats socks. Either that, or the faxes print and drop into a wastebasket below the machine.

I’m really not complaining about our licensing worker. She has been great. I fear the previous worker never took the time to pass on our documents to the new one and somehow papers got lost.
Believe it or not, the supervisor called today and said everything looked good and was a go. Within an hour I had an email from the state saying that our foster care application is now under review.

The state has 60 days to review the application, but most other foster parents in our state said that theirs was approved within two weeks. Judging from how the rest of the process has gone, I’m not holding my breath, but it is so nice to know that we are in the home stretch.

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Shopping on the Great Wall of China

This week Micheline was the VIP in her kindergarten class, and I went up this morning to videotape her while she shared her presentation with the rest of the class. One of her photos was this one of our family on the Great Wall last year when we were in China to adopt her brother Caleb.

She held up the photo and said, “This is our family on the Great Mall.” Now I know there are vendors out there. Very pushy ones, as a matter of fact, but I don’t think that China is quite ready to change the name from the Great Wall to the Great Mall. 🙂

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