Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Call.

Today is the 4th full day that we have had Baby G with us and it has been such a whirlwind!  And what a wonderful whirlwind it has been!  There is so much I want to blog about, so much that I've learned already about myself, the foster system and just fostering in general.  But for today all my sleep deprived mind can handle is that first day.  I want to remember the details so I have to get it down before I start to forget some of it.  

We knew it could be any day that we would get a call.  We were able to meet our support worker and her supervisor last Friday.  They came out to our house to see it and to just get to know us a little better.  And before they left they said, "who knows, you could get the call this weekend or a month from now."  Little did we all know it would be 4 days later. :)

 I had been on high alert constantly and Tuesday was no different.  Monday Tyler had worked a long day.  18 hours to be exact and so he decided to take the morning off and just go in for a little while in the afternoon.  I had planned on going to Y to workout so we all just ended up going together.  We got home, ate lunch, and sent Lincoln off on the bus.  Tyler left for work and I put Caedmon and Dietrich down for naps.  I made myself something for lunch and after doing a load of laundry and picking up around the house I sat down to do my quiet time.  My "first 5" app devotion was on having faith and what faith exactly is.  "Faith is being sure and certain.  It's having complete assurance and trust in something or someone.   It's believing in action first -- even before we experience a hopeful outcome or receive fulfillment of a promise made."  It was exactly what I needed to read as I was trying not to get discouraged while we were waiting.  To have faith in God's perfect timing.  

I had a little extra time after I was done so I opened up my iBooks app and was reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. So I was sitting on my couch just staring at my phone, deep into a book when my screen changed and it started ringing.  It was from our agency.  I jumped right up as I answered and told myself to stay calm, they are probably just calling to talk about something else.  And then I heard the words, "Hi Marie, I'm _________ and I'm calling about a possible placement."

She proceeded to tell me details and I frantically searched for a pen and paper to write down as much as I could.  I was also darting around trying to find my sheet that they gave us with questions to ask about a possible placement.  I finally found it and by this time I'm shaking uncontrollably.  All my writing is hardly legible because I was literally shaking so hard.  At the end of the call I told her it was most likely a yes but I of course had to call Tyler to ask for sure.  

I called him right away and after telling him everything he just said, "so this is really happening?!  ok, tell her yes!  I'll be home ASAP"

He's so even keeled and I'm over here having to change my shirt because I'm sweating so bad from the adrenaline rush LOL.  

I called the agency back and gave our official "yes" and this all happened around 2:45 and she tells me that the social worker will be bringing Baby G to our house sometime between 5-6pm that same evening.  Excited. Nervous.  Scared.  Panicked. Overjoyed.  What do I do first?  I stood in the middle of my kitchen just frozen, trying to organize my scrambled thoughts and making a mental list of what I needed to do to get ready for a newborn to come live with us in 2 HOURS!  The first thing I knew I had to do was get up in our attic and get the newborn tub of clothes down and get them in the washing machine.  So I'm tearing apart our attic looking for it, bringing tubs inside, trying to find all our baby items that we might need.  I broke a light socket in my rushing and almost fell down the stairs but eventually I got everything out that I needed and by that time Lincoln was getting off the bus.  I told the boys what was going on and they were all so excited!  Caedmon's first words out of his mouth are, "do we get to keep him forever?"  Bless his heart, we have been and still are, trying to explain it all the the boys but it's a hard thing to wrap their little minds around, a baby coming to live with us for a short time or possibly could turn into forever.  

Tyler got home around 4:30, I pulled a frozen lasagna out of the freezer and stuck it in the oven so we would have something to eat once the case workers were done with paperwork, and then we just waited.  We all just sat in the front room staring out the window like crazy people.  ha!  And right at 5pm on the dot, our case worker pulls into our driveway.  We aren't sure what to do, do we wait inside for her to bring him in? Do we run out there?  :)  We met her on the front porch and she took us over to her vehicle, opened the door, got this sweet baby out of his carseat, turned to me and said, "are you ready?" and just handed him to me.  Just like that!  Oh my heart.  In that instant our world collided with his and our lives are all changed forever.  He was so tiny and I was told he was super fussy.  I held him from that point on while we did an hour or so of paperwork and he didn't make a peep.  He was perfect.  

It was all a bit overwhelming and it's still kinda crazy but we are so in love with this little boy.  We are adjusting to having four BOYS and I love that I get to do this journey with Tyler.  We are not guaranteed tomorrow with Baby G, but in reality we aren't guaranteed tomorrow with any of our boys.  So for as long as he is with us we will love him fiercely, like he deserves.  


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A letter to our future foster child

The whole process of adoption and then getting licensed in foster care has been a continual marathon of "hurry up" and "wait."  Hurry, hurry, hurry get all that paperwork filled out, notarized, signed, and turned back in, hurry and get all your inspections scheduled and done, hurry and get your classes done.  And now wait for your paperwork to get processed, your inspections to be approved and for your license to come in the mail.  So now we are back in the waiting game.  We have been licensed for 3 weeks now and I'm in such a weird phase of mixed emotions.  We have been told all along that there is a huge need for us and the age range we specified so I was prepared to get a call within the first week.  That obviously hasn't happened and it's weird.  I'm so anxious to get a call that I want it to happen soon BUT the truth remains that if we get a call that means something bad has happened.  Something REALLY bad has happened to this sweet, little child who didn't ask for this.  He/She will be coming to us because the world is broken, THEIR world is broken.  So I'm stuck in this strange place of emotions.  I'm not sure how to feel.  We want to add to our family because we know it's not complete yet but adding to our family through foster care comes only because something has been broken.  There is hurt and pain involved with adoption of any kind.  So we are hear and waiting.  To be ready if/when we are needed to care for a child who has been hurt.  Unfortunately it's going to happen, a child will be traumatized or neglected and we have been on our knees praying for that child.  That whatever is happening to them at this very second, that God would protect them like only He can.  So we wait.  We pray.  And I never let my phone out of my sight or put it on silent! :)

So while I wait to meet you here is a letter I've written to you...

Dear little one(s),

I can't stop thinking about you.  Who you are, what you look like, how old you are, what you are doing at this moment.  Are you 2, 6 months, a newborn or still in your moms womb?  Are you hearing or seeing things that make you scared?  Is a chaotic, scary world all you know so far in your life?  I want so badly for you to know that you are already loved by us.

I'm constantly thinking about how our lives will change once we meet you.  When will the call come?  What will I be doing?  You might be scared of this new place and these strange new people.  We are not scary people and you will soon learn that.  You'll have three protective big brothers who are SO excited to meet you.  They will all fight over who gets to hold you first (even if you are 2, they are going to want to try and hold you) :)  Our routines will change to add you in and I think often about how I will probably be up a lot at night with you and how more coffee will become part of my life.  I've prepared a beautiful room just for you.  This might be the first time you have your own room and I've tried very hard to make it special just for you.

Ours lives will soon be intertwined.  We will learn all sorts of things about each other.  I will learn your favorite toys, your favorite foods etc and you will learn things about me like how I use a soft, soothing voice when you are crying, how I will hold you tight and rock you and hopefully you will learn to trust me as a safe person who really loves you and will care for you like you need.

Maybe we will be together for a lifetime or maybe for just a season but I'm so excited to meet you.











Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Foster Care: getting the room ready

It's been quite awhile since I've blogged over here and I kinda miss it.  I didn't miss it for a long time. Life is so busy that this was one thing that I had to let go of in this season of life.  It's fun for me but it was also just one more thing to do.  But now that we are going to be doing foster care, my goal is to blog along the way not only to document things but also to inform all of you of what foster care really looks like.  The good, bad and the ugly.  Foster care gets such a bad rep and all you ever hear about are all the out of control kids and bad behaving teenagers etc.  I hope to shed some light on the other side of foster care and show you all what it's really like.  I'm not going to sugar coat it though either.  We know it won't be all rainbows and stars.  It's going to be hard.  But it's gonna be worth it.  God has called us to this and even though we know we aren't anything special, we know He will equip us what what we need as we go.  

So I heard from the supervisor that is reviewing our home study and she said she has 3 other home studies to approve before ours so it's looking like we will be approved and then licensed beginning of next week!!!!!  

So since we could potentially get a call the day we get licensed, we've been getting ready for awhile now and the nursery is officially done and ready for our first placement!  So I thought I'd show you all what it looks like.  When trying to figure out how I wanted to decorate it to not only be gender neutral but also for a foster placement and of course cheap or free, so I did a lot of searching for foster rooms on Pinterest to get ideas.   I found quite a few free printables, I used frames that I had on hand and painted them white, changed up the curtains a little, painted a dresser white and used it as the changing table and got creative with storage solutions.  Here is how it turned out...

I love how this collage turned out!  And even better, it was free!  I had all these frames already and the prints I searched high and low on pinterest for and they were all free printables.  But I didn't just find free printables and that was it, I carefully chose each one specifically for this room.  











And here is the finished dresser/changing table, I absolutely love how it turned out.
(the pictures of Dietrich will be replaced with pictures of the child)

Because we live in a split level home, we have a grand total of ZERO storage. So this closet has many functions.  Right now it has all of Dietrichs hanging clothes, a dresser for storage of baby items that we may need on a short notice once we get a placement, several sizes of diapers, extra blankets, and this is even where we have to store our luggage when it's not being used and up on the top shelf is my wedding dress all boxed up! We make it work :)


So there is the room!  All we need is a 0-2 year old to come stay in it!  We truly cannot wait to start this journey and I hope you all follow along as we wade these unknown waters and bring you along for the journey!  

Monday, October 19, 2015

"Because there are kids who need homes. Tonight. In our city."





I wanted to write and update everyone on our latest adoption changes!  We have been officially waiting with our domestic adoption agency for almost a year.  In that year we have had two exciting calls telling us that we were picked by a birth mother.  But so were 2-3 more couples.  We all met with the birth mom, she asked us questions, we asked her questions and we went home and waited to hear if we were matched.  Both times we got the disappointing call that the birth mom did not choose us.  It's a very emotional rollercoaster but our perspective in all of this is that adoption is not about us.  It's about what is best for the child.  So as much as we want to add to our family and wanted those babies, we were happy that these birth mom's were brave enough to choose life for them and the best family that they thought for their unborn babies, even if that family wasn't ours.

But through this whole past year, foster care has been brought to our attention more and more.  I've met tons of families who are foster parents, read so many blog posts about families who have fostered/adopted and their experiences, done tons of research and through it all, God hasn't left me alone about it.  

So we have decided to change directions with our adoption.  We are going to do foster to adopt.  We have started the 9 days (12 classes, 36 hours) of classes and training.  We have completed the first class and we will get the 8 that are left, done in the next 3 weeks.  We also have to have another home study done (our current one doesn't transfer even though it hasn't expired yet) and will hopefully be licensed soon!  

We are very, VERY excited about this change and can't wait to start.

On our mark.....get set.....GO!



But wait Marie, I have so many questions!

Ask away!  Feel free to ask me in person or just keep reading because I've answered some FAQ's down below.....because I'm a mind reader ;) and I know what most of you might be thinking since I had some of these same questions.



Why in the world would you do foster care?

We, as Christians, are told to "look after orphans and widows in their distress" James 1:27.  That looks different for every family.  Some sponsor orphans, some adopt, some financially support those adopting, some do foster care and still some support foster families.
For our family that looked like adopting an orphan.  To give a child a home who needs it.  To help a hurting child.  We initially pursued international adoption but the doors were closed with every country we looked at.  Either we were too young, already had too many children, or because of Tyler's job, we couldn't travel to certain countries.  So then foster care came to mind briefly but I was scared.  We had had a bad experience with not being able to adopt Baby J almost 4 years ago and I made up excuses about why we couldn't do foster care.  So we decided on Domestic Infant adoption.  And as I wrote up above, we've gotten really good at being "rejected." Haha.  We got "rejected" again and again and to us it started to feel like God was closing this door.  We began praying about if we were supposed to change directions and do foster care.  And once we started praying about it, God just kept opening door after door.  I would randomly talk to a friend who was also considering foster care, or stumble upon a blog on foster care, or hear an interview on the radio with social workers in our own COUNTY.  And with the more I talked to people and the more I read the less scary it seemed and the more doable it became.  And the more excited about it I became.

While I was reading all those blog posts I came across one that really stuck with me.  We were passionate about domestic adoption because it was a way to give pregnant women another option instead of abortion.  And it absolutely is but there are also lots of women who chose life for their babies and decide to try and parent that child.  And sometimes that decision doesn't turn out the way she had hoped and her precious babies need to spend some time in a safe foster home while she tries to get her life back to how she had planned.  This particular statement stuck with me, "BE THE SAFETY NET these kids need when their mother's decision to choose life doesn't go the way she hoped it would.  We can't just ring our hands about how our society is going to hell in a handbasket based on the latest revelation from Planned Parenthood.  People, GO GET THE HANDBASKET, THERE'S A CHILD IN IT."  -A Musing Maralee   And the need for foster parents has become greater.  In the past 5 years the number of kids in foster care, in our county alone, has more than doubled.

Are you going to be able to handle it?  Getting emotionally attached and then have to give the child back to their birth parents?

That's a very valid question because yes it will be hard to get attached to a sweet child and then have to let them go back to their parents or relatives.  I know people will tell me that they could never do it because they would get too attached, but that's the point.  These kiddos need someone to attach to them.  In order for them to learn to attach to someone, they have to learn what healthy attachment is.  The reality is, the hard life that these children have had so far is much worse than any grief I will have to work through when they leave.  So I'm not afraid to grieve.  I'm afraid of what would happen to these children if no one took the risk to love them.  So we are willing to take that risk.  :)

But the system is so broken, there's no way I could deal with it.

Yes sometimes the system seems so broken and these kids are held hostage by it moving slowly.  We can use that as an excuse to not get involved or we can be a safe place these kids call home while they wait.

What about your boys? Won't they be exposed to these "damaged kids?"

Our boys are our top priority.  We have talked to them about Foster care and how it looks different then what a domestic adoption was going to be like.  And they are excited too.  As long as it's in the best interest of our boys, we will continue with foster care.  And for our family we have decided that we won't break the birth order.  So we will accept children younger than Dietrich.  I know that breaking the birth order works for some families but we have decided to not do it.

Why are children placed in foster care?

Children who are placed in foster care have either been abused or neglected in some way and foster care is a safe place for them to stay until their parents can make changes and get their life back on track.  If that doesn't happen then other options are explored.

How long will the foster child be in your home?  At what point are you able to adopt them?

I'm still learning it all but a general answer is that for 6 months, the child's case worker is working with mom or dad to get them back on the right track and at 6 months there is a meeting to decide whether or not they will still keep working on reunification with parents or if they are now going to be looking for permanency (meaning adoption)  And I think at that point even if permanency is the route they will be taking, it can take quite a few more months before adoption can be possible.  I think the average time it takes is 12-15 months.


Foster care is a switch in how we view adoption.  We've changed how we think about it.  Because right now as we become foster parents, our goal is to give a loving and safe home to a child for as long as they need it.  Whether that is a couple months or for forever.  We are willing :)

And one last quote to leave you with that hit me hard, "It's scary, right?  Scary to think about letting a child into your life that might leave you, or getting involved with some shady biological families, or letting "the state" into your home.  There are lots of reasons to be intimidated about foster care, but just one BIG reason to do it.

Because there are kids who need homes.  Tonight.  In your city."
-A Musing Maralee.


Here are some great blog posts to read:

http://www.amusingmaralee.com/2015/08/the-system-is-too-broken-is-not-a-good-excuse/

http://www.amusingmaralee.com/2015/07/outraged-at-planned-parenthood-support-foster-kids/

http://www.amusingmaralee.com/2015/02/so-you-want-to-adopt-from-foster-care/

http://www.amusingmaralee.com/2014/04/minimize-the-negative-impact-of-foster-care-on-your-kids/





Sunday, February 8, 2015

Long Overdue Adoption Update!



We are still here!

We are DONE with lots of paperwork!

And we lived to tell about it! :)

It's true.  We are done with our home study.  Actually we've been done since the end of November.  We became "officially waiting" then but how our specific process works with domestic adoption is that once the home study is done, then you create a profile book.  This profile book is all that birth mothers will have to go off of when choosing a family to place their child with.  So no pressure at all to get this book PERFECT!  I may or may not have *freaked* out a little about this whole profile book thing.  It was just a lot of pressure to put the right things in there.  Ya know?  There were certain guidelines that our agency gave us.  Including things like, making it mostly about Tyler and I to begin with - how we met, our love story, when we got married, things we like to do, then just one page per child telling a little about each of the boys (you don't want a whole book about your kids), making sure that Tyler's voice is heard in the book.  A lot of the birth moms are looking for a family where the dad is very involved since that is something they most likely lacked growing up and want for their baby.  Other things to include are what a typical day looks like for our family, some of our traditions, our families (grandparents, aunt's/uncles, cousins) and then also writing a page to the birth mom.

So to get all this into a book that looks appealing and and shows our family without coming off as overwhelming.  Easy Peasy, right?  I had to stop trying to guess what the birth mom is going to be looking for and just write about us.  Our family.  What we are all about.  Needless to say it took me a LONG time to finish this book.

I got it done about 3 weeks ago, it took a little while to get it "approved" and then I got 3 books ordered from shutterfly and shipped to our agency.  EEK!

So in other words we are officially, official!  It's strange not knowing any kind of timeline.  This could literally happen tomorrow or 2 years from now.  We are assuming it'll be more of a longer wait since we have 3 kids and families with multiple kids usually don't get picked right away.  So just preparing our hearts for a longer wait.

BUT since we have a current home study done, we can take that in almost any other direction if something comes up.  Say a friend of a friend is unexpectedly pregnant and is wanting to place the child for adoption, we could pursue adopting that baby.  Or any waiting children here in the US or international (if we meet that countries "rules")  So our plan is to adoption through our agency BUT we are open to pursuing another route with our home study if something comes up that we feel is right for our family. :)

And where do we stand financially?  The total for our adoption is $23,000 and we only have $9,500 left to go until we meet that goal!  $9,500 is a LOT of money but compared to $23,000 it seems much more doable :)

If you are reading this and would like to partner with us to give a child a loving home, there are a couple ways you can help.  :)

I've had a couple people ask if they could donate directly to our adoption fund and yes that is possible!  We've set up an account at youcaring.com where people can donate through paypal.  Here is the link:

http://www.youcaring.com/adoption-fundraiser/help-tyler-and-marie-give-a-child-a-loving-home/304118

*ANOTHER OPTION*

Are you a fan of both Coffee AND adoption?  Well you can get your coffee and help us out with our adoption at the same time!  How?  Well there's this really cool site that sells coffee and then a part of the proceeds come straight back to us for our adoption!  How awesome is that?!

Here is that link:
https://justlovecoffee.com/rfamilyadoption

AND as always if you want to give a gift that gives twice you can shop my Origami Owl website!

http://mariesdesigns.origamiowl.com/

It's so cool to have a front row seat to watch God working through this adoption so far.  Adoption has been on our hearts for so long and we put our "yes" on the table without knowing how in the world we were going to come up with such a huge amount of money.  And each step of the way He has provided and I know that He will continue to provide.

And right now I've traded in all the home study paperwork for Grant paperwork :)



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Garage Sale - Adoption Fundraiser

This past weekend we had an adoption fundraiser garage sale.  What's that, you ask?  Well it's a garage sale where friends donated things they were ready to get rid of but instead of just taking it all to Goodwill, they gave it to us and we sold it at our sale!  We had lots of great items donated!  So thankful to all our friends who dumped err gave us such great stuff to sell!  It was obviously great things because we sold about 90% of it!  We did the sale Thursday, Friday and Saturday and what I had been told about garage sales held true.  You most the most on day 1, then each day following is half of the day before.  Thursday morning was non stop people.  I'm extremely thankful for my friend Meredith and all her help with the boys that day.  Tyler had training at work so he couldn't take either day off of work so if she wouldn't have offered to help I would've been solo.  There's no way I would've been able to do it without her that day.  Day 1 we made $800!  I was blown away.  Day 2 was much, much slower.  My friend Megan was able to help me that morning, but I felt so bad because it was so dead.  Was very thankful for her great company though!  By the end of the day though we still ended up making another almost $400!  Then Saturday was a little busier than Friday but still nothing compared to Thursday.  We ended up at about $200 which put us at a total of $1400! 


Lincoln's first lemonade stand!  
Lucas showed him the ropes :)


I was so overwhelmed with how generous so many people were.  I'd say majority of the people that stopped at the sale said they stopped mostly because the sign said it was an adoption fundraiser.  Lots of people would over pay for their items telling me to just keep it as a donation.  One guy just walked up asked who was adopting, I told him we were and he handed me $10, didn't buy anything just wanted to donate.  My neighbor, who is hardly ever outside and so we haven't talked to her much, walked over to our sale and handed me $100.  Said she's never donated to anything before but really wanted to donate to our adoption.  I was so touched. 

Over and over again things like that happened and I was just blown away.  And I heard story after story of people who stopped by and they themselves have adopted, or they were adopted as a child. 

So we are now $1400 closer to that goal of $24,000.  So far we have raised right at $14,000 so ONLY (haha, only) $10,000 ish left to go!  It's such a great feeling to get over that half way mark.  Feels a little more reachable now. 

I also wanted to update you all where we are in the process.  We are now in the midst of all the homestudy paperwork.  Lots of it.  I remember it all from when we did our homestudy for foster care so at least it's not all new.  A little less confusing :)  This next week we will get fingerprinted, get things ready for the fire inspection and fill out the rest of the papers that are needed for our first homestudy visit.  This coming Friday we have an all day orientation at our adoption agency that will include 5 of the 12 hours of training that we need to complete.  The rest of the training will be completely with online courses. 

So we are little by little chipping away at all this paperwork and getting closer and closer with each day!  Just getting more and more excited about this whole journey to our next child. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Here we go, go, go, go!

....on an adventure! (yes I'm quoting Cat in the Hat) That is what my fills my days so that is what I have to draw from for inspiring titles for blog posts.  It's my fun filled life with preschool aged children.  I love it.  We love it.  We love it so much that we are adding another one to our family!  And I'm not pregnant :)  We are finally (you know, only 18 months and 1 baby later!) starting our adoption! 

So since we are starting I thought I'd update you all on the progress and changes that we've made since announcing that we were adopting a year a a half ago.  Last January we had decided to move forward and start an international adoption.  Shortly after, surprise! I was pregnant with baby boy number 3 and so everything on the adoption front got put on hold.  We were originally going to adopt from the Philippines.  But after Dietrich joined our family we learned that because of the rules that the Philippines has in place, having 3 kiddos already was going to make that difficult.  So we started looking into other countries and agencies.  We didn't qualify for many (for example we both have to be over the age of 30 to adopt from China, and I'm only 28), or others Tyler couldn't go to because of certain things.....so long story short we are now moving ahead with a domestic adoption!

It's funny how God leads to to where you are supposed to be.  It was closed door after closed door until we finally found one open :)  Just like in other countries there is a huge need for adoption here in the US.  Domestic adoption, for those who aren't familiar means that we will be filling out a family profile for birth mothers to look at and will wait to be chosen by a birth mother. 

We chose an agency that's about 2 hours away from here, which was recommended by a friend and so far are really loving this agency.  We did our initial inquiry to be accepted by the agency and finished filling out the application last night and mailed it today with our first payment ($350), yikes!

At the post office, mailing our first round of paperwork!


That part of the process is going to be a real faith builder for both me and Tyler. Our mindset with money is if you don't have it all, don't spend it.  We save until we have the full amount before we buy something.  So to have this huge amount of money that we are going to need (at least $22,895) and we only have $7,000 of it saved/raised, is completely against what we are used to.  But I know my God and I know His heart for the fatherless and adoption.  And I've seen story after story of how He has provided money, sometimes no sooner than the night before it's needed to pay for the next step.  So I know He will provide, one way or another. 

So I'm starting to try and figure out ways I can make some extra income (I've taken a little break but am now starting up Origami Owl again, so if you want to help out and wear pretty jewelry at the same time go shop at mariesdesigns.origamiowl.com) and fund-raiser ideas.  My sister in law has offered to do a Pampered Chef fund-raiser and I'm going to get a garage sale put together to do before the end of the summer but any other ideas are welcome if you have ideas to share! :)

That's our quick update of where we are right now.  We are so excited to finally get started and really anxious to see how God builds our family through adoption!