Monday, April 27, 2015

Moving Forward with Faith to Build our Family

Now that we’ve recently adopted after a very long wait many are wondering and a few have even come out and directly asked us, more or less,  “What’s next for your family?” which I basically interpret to mean “Are you done with foster care?  Is your family complete now?”

Our public answer to that very personal question has been: “We’re not exactly sure.”  Wouldn’t life be easy if each of us could look through a magic eight ball and know with perfect certainty what lies ahead for us, though?

Here’s what I do know: 

-God gives us direction and inspiration in our lives but he never forces us to do anything. 

-Many times that inspiration may just be a small thought in the back of our head or a feeling we get.  The impression I had a few years ago to make room for more is an example.

-It’s up to us to act upon those thoughts and feelings. 

-When we do act upon those impressions we are often given further light and knowledge, and if we’re lucky enough, some clarity.

I also know that:

-Many of the experiences we go through in life prepare us for future experiences. 

For example, over 2 years ago we took our first sibling group of two young children and it was a pretty big deal for our family to go from one child to three children overnight- but we did it.  That experience couldn’t help but prepare us for our next sibling group of two young children close in age who ended up joining our family permanently.

 I have also learned through past experiences that:

            -We can’t just sit back and wait for things to happen or fall into our laps but we have to make a conscious effort and move forward with faith

Months ago when we learned of the possibility of another baby being placed in our home through the foster care system (namely, Jack & Jill’s baby brother) I wrote:

Do we keep fostering if we get to adopt Jack and Jill?  Should we continue to pursue a private adoption?  Should we be content with the three children we have even though we have room for more?   

When I apply the things I’ve learned (which I’ve mentioned above) with our particular situation right now I’ve come to the conclusion that although my husband and I don’t know for certain what lies in store for our family I do know that we have room for at least one more child and despite our recent adoption, the feeling I have to make room for more hasn’t completely gone away.   Therefore, we need to act.

At this point in time we’ve decided to do what we can on our end to make it possible for another child to join our family- if that’s what is supposed to happen.  The reason I say “if that’s supposed to happen” is not necessarily because of a lack of faith on my part, but rather because of my recognition that:

-Just because we receive a prompting and act on it doesn’t necessarily mean things will turn out the way we figure they should. 

Sometimes we got so caught up in the ends or result that we lose sight of being faithful to the means.  Does that make sense?

Moving forward with faith for us means that we’re keeping our foster license open.  It means staying with one of the adoption agencies we’ve invested our time, money, and efforts with over the last couple of years- at least until our Home Study expires-and updating all of our paperwork and profiles.   It means spreading the word that we are available to welcome another child into our family through social media such as and  

Moving forward with faith also means continuing to search through profiles of waiting children online because babies aren’t the only ones who need homes.  

There is much room for speculation about what the future holds for my family and I could analyze the pros and cons all day of adopting a newborn through a private agency versus adopting a child through the foster care system versus fostering with no intention of adopting versus simply enjoying our time with the three children we do have in our family and taking a breather from fostering or the adoption process altogether because neither are easy.  But fostering has most certainly taught me some significant lessons, including:

-Worthwhile endeavors are not always easy and seldom do they come at the most convenient times. 

- Life isn’t just about ‘What’s in it for me?’ but rather ‘How can God use me to help someone else?’.

Having said that, perhaps there is another child out there who is meant to be in our family- or there is a birthmother searching for the right family for her child- but in either case, we won’t be able to find each other if we don’t first open our hearts and minds, decide to take action, and move forward with faith.

I’m very fond of this quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that emphasizes how important it is to take the first step even when we don’t know exactly what the outcome will be:

Here’s to moving forward with faith towards whatever is in store for our family.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Positive Adoption Quotes By Celebrities

Years ago I wrote very briefly about celebrities who adopt.  I guess this could be considered a continuation of that post.

Just today in my Facebook feed I came across two quotes from celebrities who have adopted and after I read them I thought, "That's actually pretty noteworthy."  So here they are:

"There's a lot of children out there who don't have the good fortune that our biological children do, so it's wonderful to welcome a little girl into our fold." 
-Cate Blanchett

"It's not a humanitarian thing . . . It's a gift.  We're all lucky to have each other." -Angelina Jolie

Then, just for fun, I googled some other positive quotes by a few other celebrities who have adopted:

(I reviewed Jamie Lee Curtis's children's book about adoption here.)

Props to Nia Vardalos for advocating for adoption from FOSTER CARE!

Katherine Heigl posing with her sister who was adopted from South Korea (which is where one of Heigl's daughters was adopted from):

"Adoption has been a part of my life and a part of my family, so it was how I wanted to start.  It felt natural and right to me." -Katherine Heigl

I LOVE that one- AMEN!

 I also quoted Hugh Jackman back in this post:

"I don't think of them as adopted- they're our children.  Deb and I are believers in . . . I suppose you could call it destiny.  We feel things happened the way they are meant to.  Obviously, biologically wasn't the way we were meant to have children.  Now as we go through life together, sure there are challenges, but everyone's in the right place with the right people."

Continued Contact with Birthparents in Foster Adoption

The circumstances surrounding our recent adoption compared to our first adoption (and more specifically, the birthmothers of our children in each case) are so vastly different that it is like comparing apples to oranges.  

I suppose that open adoption in any case can be tricky to navigate but in cases of foster adoption if your children’s first parents have severe mental illness, criminal records, ties to drugs and gangs, or a history of neglecting, endangering, or abandoning their children it doesn’t exactly make you want to embrace continued contact with them with open arms.  The safety and privacy of your children and family trump all else. 

However, despite the fact that Jack and Jill’s first mother is ____________ (fill in the blank): a drug addict or mentally ill or homeless or not capable of parenting [she is not all of those things, by the way, but those are some very common conditions of the parents of children we’ve fostered, to use as examples] doesn’t negate her place as first mother in their lives nor do such unsavory facts or labels negate the role or influence- be it good or bad- that she or any of the parents of the children we’ve ever fostered have on their children.  Not acknowledging their birthmother would not only be disrespectful to her but dishonest as well- it would be hiding part of our children’s story, even if that story did not start out under the best of circumstances.

After Jack and Jill’s birthmother relinquished her parental rights two months ago DCFS allowed her one final “goodbye visit” with her children at the DCFS Office.   I was grateful that the caseworker supervising the visit took the time to record the visit and made copies for us and for her. 

Although we are under no legal obligation whatsoever to keep in contact with Jack and Jill’s first mother, we have decided to let her have continued, yet limited, contact with Jack and Jill based on what is in their best interest.   Herein lies the dilemma: it’s really not in their best interest (at this point in time, at least) for them to have continued contact with her.  And yet, we know that their first mother is having a hard time losing two children.  Because of this, between the time of her “official” goodbye visit and the adoption we all met at a third-party location (that sounds so secretive- but it was just a McDonalds) where she visited with Jack and Jill for an hour.  We took lots of pictures and it was amusing to see Jack interact with his baby brother whom the children have met at least once before at one of their supervised visits where their birth grandma was able to lend a hand.  Jack has always had a gentle nature and couldn’t give the baby enough hugs.  Jill, however, didn’t want to share any attention so she was totally ignoring the baby and doing her own thing.

At the end of the visit after watching their mother interact with the kids it was just confirmed to my husband and I what we already suspected:  Although it was fun for Jack to see the baby, the visit wasn’t so much for our children’s benefit as it was for their first mom’s sake.   In truth, Jill much preferred to have “Daddy” chase her around and play with her each time her birthmother tried to pick her up and hold her.

So that’s where we’re at with continued contact at this point in time.  Over the past several weeks we’ve been trying to set up some boundaries between our children’s first mother and ourselves which can be tricky and somewhat awkward.  The hardest part for us has been trying to find a balance between being sensitive to her loss and feelings while simultaneously helping her to understand that she is no longer their parent and because of that, Jack and Jill need some time (and space) to bond with us as their full-time parents. 

Not only would such space give Jack and Jill a better sense of permanency but hopefully such space will give us some breathing room as foster parents coming to the close of a year and a half long emotionally exhausting case which has been full of weekly required visits.  We also think that such space and temporary separation, although understandably hard on her, would be beneficial for their first mom and her healing.  At this point so close after relinquishment and adoption any personal contact she has with Jack and Jill will just make things harder.

One option I’m considering to help Jack and Jill differentiate between their first mother and myself, now that I am their official mom and she no longer is, is to refer to her as Mama ________ (her first name).  That way we still both retain the “mother” status but there is a difference for them between “the woman who used to be my mother” (somewhat less formal by attaching her first name in back of “Mama”) and “my current mother” (simply “Mama”).

As for Jack and Jill’s birthfather, he hasn’t had any contact with them since last summer and they thus haven’t been faced with the dilemma of having to differentiate between two daddies.  I envy my husband for not having to deal with any of that parenting drama/competition because sometimes it’s hard to share such a crucial role- especially when most parents don’t have to share their child with another mom or dad when they welcome a child into their family (step-parenting is certainly one exception.)

Although Jack and Jill’s birthfather expressed the desire to relinquish his parental rights last year he never actually showed up to any of the court hearings to officially do so and therefore, at the recent pre-trial hearing where Jack and Jill’s mother relinquished her rights, their birthfather’s rights were officially terminated in his absence after having been given advanced notice.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

75 Months of Anticipation

I've taken down the "Waiting to Adopt" ticker from the sidebar of my blog.

My Facebook Status explains why:

After over six years of waiting to adopt again including three different agencies and nine foster children (seven of whom have come and gone), THIS WEEK WE WERE ABLE TO ADOPT TWO OF OUR FOSTER CHILDREN (siblings) who have been in our care for over a year and a half, which means, among other things, that they are no longer our foster children but simply OUR CHILDREN! And I can finally show pictures of their faces now!
"Trust God and believe in good things to come." - Jeffrey R Holland

Our recent adoption brings with it some updated stats: 9:11:2.

9 refers to the number of years we've been doing foster care.
12 refers to the number of children we've fostered.
2 refers to the number of foster children we've been able to adopt.