Monday, October 16, 2017

Two Little Lovebirds

Every minute things get a little more real!  I bought a dresser for the boys' room, got all the car seats in the vehicle, and am working through the rest of the garden harvest to get it into the freezer for when the boys are here!  Today the kiddos and I will take pictures of our home and around town to make photo books for the boys to look through as they are waiting to relocate with us.  We are still working through the full transition plan, but will be meeting them this weekend!!!

Today these got delivered in the mail!!


After we switched to the adoption-from-foster-care path back in March, I had the idea to write a book for the children we would adopt.  I knew we would make a photo book, but wanted more of a story book that showed how our family grew through the years to include them.  In a conference I had attended in April called Empowered to Connect, they had mentioned the importance of families "sticking together" and I immediately thought of the phrase "Birds of a feather flock together".  And so, with the help of clip art from Etsy, this book was created. When we heard about the boys, I added their names and pictures to the book so that as they read through it, they would see themselves, and what kid wouldn't love that!!  The night we found out we had been chosen, I placed an order of 4 books (one for each boy and one for the house) and I am so excited to have them now in hand!!

Click HERE to read Two Little Lovebirds.  *Names and pictures have been hidden for privacy*

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Seven

I have 7 children. 
I have 4 sons and 3 daughters. 
I have seven kids, ages 8 and under. 
My 7 kids are all within 6 years of each other. 
My kids are ages 8, 6, 6, 5, 4, 4, and 2.

I've rehearsed how to share our new additions and there is no way to say this that it doesn't sound crazy! 
Crazy awesome, that is! 

The experience of hearing our worker on the phone today telling us that we had been chosen, that we would soon be expanding our family by three, was absolutely indescribable! 

The experience of telling our children that the brothers they have been praying for are actually coming home was even better! Teddy's reaction was literally priceless! Why, oh why, did I not have my phone to video it!?!

So many logistics to coordinate and figure out now, but I am so excited and ready to begin this next chapter! Homme, Party of 9!

Praise God!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Prepared

Yesterday morning, after I got my children ready for school and off on the bus, I had a few moments of peace and quiet to myself. I prayed for the meeting that would begin in a few hours and prayed for God to show me something He wanted me to see when I opened my Bible.  I randomly opened to Ephesians 2 and began reading. After getting through the first few paragraphs, I came to verse 10, a verse I have read before many times, but this time the last words really stood out to me.

God prepared in advance for us to pursue this adoption journey.  As a child, when I watched as my mom's friend brought a little girl, and later her little sister, home from Haiti. As a teen, when I went on a missions trip to Mexico and was able to help with the impoverished children there. Ten years ago, when I met a family at my church in Bemidji that fostered.  When I moved back to Warroad, more families in my church were growing through adoption. When I had my first child, I discovered the MN Adopt website and scoured the list of waiting kids. When we worked in the church nursery in Grand Forks, and we cared for a few foster kiddos during the church service. When we witnessed my sister's family going through their first adoption, and then second and third the following year. Two years ago when a beautiful 11 year old girl on the MN Adopt site stole my heart and we began to seriously discuss adoption. The following year, when we began pursuing a domestic infant adoption. This year, when we changed our path to adoption of a sibling group from foster care. God has been there, stirring our hearts for the needs of children. He has orchestrated every detail that has led us to this point.

Now it was the day we would meet to interview for the placement of the case we have had on our hearts and minds since mid August. The three and a half week communication gap that had happened in September had been the worst. The waiting and wondering were very hard. I had busied myself with cleaning and organizing my house room by room. The inside of every closet, cupboard, fridge, and locker had been emptied and reorganized. Projects we had been putting off got checked off the list. Each room had been thoroughly cleaned, even the exterior windows had been washed. My freezer was filled with meals. I prettied up my menu wall, created my "household helpers" wall, and made nightly bedtime checklists for my kiddos (and yes they are laminated, need you even ask!) Everything that could be labeled got labeled... that laminator really has been working overtime!  All of this to say that God used that window of time that felt excruciatingly long to allow me to physically prepare my home for the visit we were about to have.




My mother, who in case you haven't met her, is nothing short of amazing, took my kids to her house all day Sunday to allow us to finish everything we wanted to prepare and clean, and even fed us supper and bathed our kids there so we wouldn't mess up our freshly cleaned kitchen and bathrooms. All of this led to me sitting down before our interview, peacefully relaxing and reading about how God prepares us in advance for what we are made to do.

At Bible study last week, our pastor shared verses that made you reflect on your purpose: What is your passion; What are your God-given gifts: What are your skills; What breaks your heart?  I left feeling like I needed to "do" something.  Dig into women's ministry, start a youth ministry program, reach out to the community... something.  I knew I couldn't commit to anything with this ongoing adoption process, but it wasn't until I sat down and read this verse that I really understood that this adoption is my purpose.  My God-given gifts are administratively based - hello organization and lamination - as well as compassion.  My skills are organizational and relational.  And it breaks my heart that any child is not living with a family who loves them and is committed to them forever.

The meeting yesterday went very well and time will tell if we will be the family that they move forward with.  Until then, I can rest easy in knowing that God has prepared in advance the path we will walk.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Collateral

Our collateral meeting has been scheduled for this Tuesday!  Their caseworker, along with a county permanency worker and an intern, will come to our home and spend a few hours discussing the case.  There will be opportunity for us to ask questions and for them to ask questions of us as well.  Our worker has been so helpful throughout this process and has given us pointers and things to be prepared to answer.  We did find out that there are two other families interviewing, so they have it narrowed down to the top three candidates.  It is all a bit nerve-wracking, but I have a peace about it and hope that we can convey our interest and dedication to bringing these kiddos home.  

Our kids are getting more excited as this becomes more real.  
Natalie, my mother hen, told me last night, "Mom, what is good about me being the oldest is that if they are sad and you need to be with them, I can help take care of Ingrid and Caroline."  
Teddy is probably the most excited of all the kiddos.  He prays for them every night and brings them up in conversation regularly.

Four and a half days for me to prepare and get my home prepped and ready!!  Can't wait!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Next Step

This morning I woke up especially bummed about the waiting and wondering about what is happening with this adoption.  I called my sister who said, 

"You sound sad, did you get a call?"  

"No," I replied, "just sick and tired of not knowing anything!" 

Later as I was in process of emailing my worker for this week's update, my other sister called and encouraged me to just give her a call.  I hung up, called my worker and left a voicemail, and called my sister back. 

One minute after hanging up with my sister, my phone's display lit up with my worker's number.  I answered it and forced my cheeriest "hello".  She greeted me and then said, 

"You'll never guess what I am looking at..."

"Please, please, please tell me it's an email!?!" I practically begged.  Scratch that, I literally begged.

"Yep! And I am forwarding it on to you right now.  Now let's see, where is your email... man I have a lot of Sarah's in my address book... ok now Justin's email...."

As she gave me this play by play of forwarding the email, I felt like I was a contestant on a competition game where they build up the suspense to say who the winner is.  I wanted to scream... "Just read it to me on the phone!!"

She sent the email and said that their caseworker contacted her to say that they had just finished reviewing home studies and were wondering if we were still interested in pursuing the case.  She wanted to set up a meeting and was asking about our availability.

So just like that, after moping around and feeling sorry for myself all morning, I found out that we are moving onto the next step!  This meeting is called a "collateral" and is where the team working with kids meets with the team working with parents and they share more information about the case.  In some ways, it is kind of like a job interview... except you are interviewing to be parents.

I do not know if there are other families meeting with their team, or if there are, how many.  I don't know if they will like us or if we will end up being the adoptive placement they go with.  But I do know that I haven't wiped the smile off my face all day and am THRILLED to even be moving on to the next step!!

Thank you for your prayers and keep them coming!!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Guarding my Heart

It has officially been one month since we received the call about the placement we are currently pursuing.  In my last post, I shared the timeline of up to the end of August when we had received an email saying that their team was still processing through home studies and would get back to us the following week.  Since that email 3 weeks ago, we have heard nothing.  Nada.  Zip.

Our worker has reached out via email and left voice mails but has not gotten a response.  I am sure that there are more pressing cases on their workload and trying to coordinate schedules to review the home studies as a team is a challenge in and of itself.  Our worker sweetly reassures us that this is not an abnormal timeline and says we should not lose hope yet.  She also encourages us to guard our hearts as nothing is cut and dry in the foster care world and we really won't know what will happen until they say "Let's make a plan to transition them into your home".

The thing is, I know that I shouldn't get attached, but I already have.

When I am making meals for my freezer, I am mentally portioning for the increased household size.

When we tuck our kiddos in at night, they pray for their siblings.

When we sit down to eat a meal together, I envision little bodies in the empty chairs.

When we are having family time watching a movie, roasting marshmallows, or shooting hoops, I can't help but wish they were here to enjoy it with us.

In a conversation with a couple of other adoptive mamas, they referred to cases they had not been selected to pursue and how it really felt like a miscarriage.  They had invested so much energy and thought and prayers into bringing this child home, and when it didn't happen it felt like such a loss.

I know that for the sake of self-protection I should prepare for the worst and mentally prep myself for the call that says we are no longer being considered.  But my glass half-full, optimistic disposition won't allow it.

So for now, I will continue to clean my house with a fine tooth comb, fill my freezer with meals, and organize and label everything in sight.  Prayers accepted!!

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Waiting Game

Last time I wrote on here, we had received what felt like "the call". The call we have been waiting for on this adoption journey.  The call where our case manager shared with us about an adoptive placement and I scribbled furiously on the pages of my notebook trying to dictate every word she spoke.  The call where the kaleidoscope of butterflies in my stomach began swarming and beating their wings at fever pitch. The call that I hung up the phone and then immediately picked it back up and dialed my husband at work to regurgitate every detail and get his confirmation to move forward.

What's ironic in all this is that while this call was good and promising and exciting, it really was just a call. It was our case manager presenting a case to us like she has done before on multiple other occasions.  Yet it felt like so much more. I can compare it to the feeling of when you are trying to get pregnant and you feel the slightest bit of nausea, or tenderness, or even just note that you have a heightened sense of smell.  You don't know yet if you are expecting, but you begin to get excited and think of all the other "symptoms" you've been experiencing. It's too early to take a test, but you cross your fingers and pray that this is really it, that soon you will see those two pink lines on the pregnancy test and confirm what you already know in your heart.

There isn't much to update on since this call, but I want to share the details of this journey with you in the off chance that you have been considering adoption yourself and want to experience it vicariously first! And you know, if you felt like praying on my behalf, I wouldn't turn you down!

The call was received on Monday, August 21st. Our worker had seen a new listing fitting our search parameters on the private listing service they utilize. She had emailed the listing worker expressing she had a family that might be a good fit and requesting more information. Within minutes, the listing worker called her having reviewed the short family bio our worker had attached to her email. She said "This family sounds perfect for this case! Tell more about them! What can I tell you that they would want to know?!" Our worker took down all the information to share with us and requested photos before ending the call and calling me. After we confirmed we wanted to move forward, our worker emailed the listing worker our home study, a formal 14 page document all about our family, and stated we were very interested in moving to the next step. On Tuesday morning, we received photos. They were just candid snapshots taken on the foster home's stairs, but my goodness... all the heart eyes!

Then nothing.

No updates Wednesday. Nothing Thursday. Friday we crossed our fingers that we'd hear something before the weekend, but still nothing. The weekend passed, and with it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday...

This waiting business is for the birds!

Our worker left another voicemail Wednesday, but texted at the end of the business day that she had not heard back.  I began to write a script of what might be happening. Maybe another family was a perfect match and was already lining up placement arrangements. Maybe the current foster family decided to pursue adoption. Maybe the listing worker was too busy and hadn't even had time to review the case.

Meanwhile, we are in limbo. I am vacillating between the hopeful giddiness of awaiting confirmation that I am indeed expecting, and the realistic/pessimistic view that we very well may not be. All the while, the nesting instinct that takes over when you are in the final days of your third trimester has creeped in. "If this is happening, I need to prepare," my mind shouts. I clean out fridges and purge through the deep freeze. I reorganize closets and sort through clothing. I kick the bathroom renovation into high gear. I even sorted my husband's tools in the garage!

Finally our worker forwarded an email from the listing worker yesterday.  It didn't say much, but it was something!! She stated they were still reviewing home studies, but that our family was still on the list. She didn't anticipate calling until next week, but wanted to send an update in the meantime.

So now we wait!