Our crew

Our crew

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


2013 was a great year for our family.  We lived in the same house a whole year!  We've now lived in this house longer than we've ever lived in one place in the almost 9 years of our marriage.  2013 is also the first full calendar year of our marriage that I haven't been pregnant.  I am sure that both of these things contributed to making our year so pleasant.  We took our first real family vacation that didn't involve a wedding or a holiday and visiting family.  Those other things aren't bad, but this was still a first for us.  We traveled far less than we have in past years and I'm sure our car thanks us (I know our gas bill does!)  We all grew another year older, closer to one another, and stronger in our faith.  We've developed new relationships, strengthened others, and even let go of a few.

In 2013 we also began this adoption journey that will drastically change our lives and the lives of our children.  All of our children.  Each child that has been born to us has changed our lives and our family dynamic.  It has changed our extended family and our friends' lives too.  When we adopt though, it's going to change even more.  Our family will change inside and out.  Our home life will change, our life in our church and school community will change and the lives of those IN our community will change.  And most of all, I think, the life of the children we adopt will change.  This year has likely been a big struggle for them.  Their whole, short lives, have likely been a struggle.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again, but we are praying that wherever they are right now, that they are loved and connected to the people that are caring for them.    I'd love to think that they are in a loving, Christian foster home.  That their foster parents are meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.  That they are being taken to church, and sung to, and prayed over.  That they will come to us knowing what love is and hoe wonderful a family can be.  But this is all highly unlikely.  That is probably not the world they are living in.  I doubt that I can even imagine what their little world is like.  And I doubt that they can imagine what it will be like when they come home to us.

As Christians, all of our lives were changed and saved by adoption.  Not one of us would be here today without the adoption we received through Christ.  In 2014, our lives will change and ALL of our children's lives will change.  Our friends' and family's, who are most of the readers here,  lives will change because of another adoption.  Though I sometimes worry about the future and what a big impact this decision will have on our family, I know without a doubt that "all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord, who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)  We trust that God is preparing our children for us, and us for them.

Please pray for us in 2014.

That our children, wherever they are right now, are loved and nurtured.

That our home study and final steps to licensing will go smoothly.

That our current children will adapt well to the changes that are in store.

That bonding and love will come naturally between us and our future children and amongst the children.

That we are able to provide for all of our children's needs.

That the Lord would give us wisdom and discretion when it comes time for submitting our home study and accepting children.

That we are able to sort out the bedroom and sleeping arrangement to suit everyone's needs.

That we are able to find and purchase a large van.

That I would be able to actually cut back on commitments and volunteering for additional things in anticipation of pouring more time into more children, and that I would be happy about cutting back, even if we don't get a placement right away.

That God would give us patience and peace as we wait for His timing.


Currently there are three ways you can support us financially though this process.

Send checks, and all money goes directly into our adoption fund.
(you can comment or email to request the address)

We are also working on a t-shirt design for a fundraiser.

We give thanks for the prayers and financial support that have already been offered and we sincerely appreciate each one of you.  May you all be blessed in 2014.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ahh, Panic!

I've just realized how much gathering and educating and organizing and purchasing and and and......before January 7th.   I suppose some of the purchasing can wait until we have the home study scheduled, but we need to have our designated bed and storage for each child for the home study.  Hopefully we can plan a quick trip up or down to Ikea for dressers soon.
We've still got several online trainings to complete.  We need to gather a few more documents, schedule the fire inspection, and get the dog into the vet for updated shots.
It's a little overwhelming right now and I don't even know where to start.  But we've got to start checking things off the list soon!

Sunday, December 22, 2013


I've delayed writing this since my computer is currently down, but I want to write while it's still fresh, so I'm slowing pecking this out on the iPad.  I may short you a few details.

Andrew and I both felt like Orientation was much more informative than the class. We covered a lot of the procedural stuff and paper work.  I didn't count how many things we signed,  but it was a lot. We still have several online trainings to do and one other adoption class at Buckner. Between now and January 7th.  We need to schedule our fire inspection, buy a fire extinguisher and mount it in the kitchen, get the dog updated on shots, draw our floor plan, plan and draw our evacuation route, write and post our house rules, make a home schedule (thankfully this doesn't have to be very detailed),  and make a specific plan for where our future children will sleep. We will also need to go ahead and get them dressers. Each kid needs their own bed and their own storage space.  I see a trip to Ikea in our near future.  We already have enough beds, we just have to figure out which kids are going where. And of course it's hard to know those details until we know the age and gender of any kids we will be getting. I think for now we will plan on moving our current kids around to leave an empty room. It looks like Andrew will have another building project soon!

We will also need to get background checks run on any potential babysitters and anyone that visits our home more than three times in a month. It think we will just have a few people do that (like my parents) and just limit other friends coming over for those six months from placement to adoption finalization. Also, any babysitters under 18 have to be CPR certified.  I'm not sure if we will pay to do that or just plan on no teenage babysitters during that time.

At the next class in January, we will schedule our home study.  During the home study, either the home developer or the case worker will come to our home and interview all of us together and separately. She will also do the health inspection to check for basic things like running water, working toilets, etc. After the home study is complete and all the paper work is turned in, we will be licensed!  From there we could have a placement at any time.

Andrew and dad have been building us a new dining room table that will seat our whole family.   Here's our new table decked out for Christmas dinner.

Here s a list of things we need to do around the house and another list of things we need to pay for.  Would you consider donating to help with these expenses and bring our kids home?

1. Make a designated sleeping space for future children.
2. Schedule the first inspection.
3. Lock up guns and amo.
4. Lock up medicines.
5. Make and post rules and consequences.
6. Clean our room :)
7. Build a loft for the additional bed in the boys' room.

Things to buy/pay for

1. Get the dog updated on shots ($70)
2. Fire extinguisher ($100+)
3. Background checks for regular visitors   ($200+)
4. Dressers ($300)
5. Extra car seat ($150)
6. Fire inspection ($100)
7. Buckner fees ($1,000)
8. TB skin tests for all  ($250)
9. Get a bigger vehicle  (???)

Please continue to pray for us.  Please pray for that all of our children would feel loved and blessed this Christmas season. Please pray for us as we gather all the paperwork and do the work around the house. Pray that the Lord would give us strength and faith as we prepare our family for more children.  Pray for guidance and financial provision as we make purchases towards our adoption and as we seek to purchase a larger vehicle.  Also ,please pray about how the Lord can use you to help in the life of children without parents and a loving home.

May the Lord bless you and your family this Advent and Christmas season.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Another class

Tomorrow we have another class.  This one is called "Orientation."  I think we will be going over what all the required paper work is and what the remaining steps look like.  I could be completely wrong though and it be something entirely different.

Each step we take is in faith.  We trust in our Great God to lead, guide, and direct our steps through this process.  It's not an easy process to get licensed and I'm sure that the actual placement and adoption will be even more challenging.  Praying for His guidance.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Bake Sale and other musings

We had our first official fund raising event this weekend at a local craft and vendor fair.  I was very pleased with our success, especially considering what a small crowd ended up being there.  Gabe and Jonah came to help me set up in the morning and then left with their Gran.  Andrew spent the day with my dad working on a new (bigger) dining room table.

Many many thanks to those that baked goodies and to those that purchased.  Each time someone chose their treat and put a donation in the box I nearly teared up.  I also had the opportunity to talk with many people about the foster care system and adoption.  I had a wonderful chat with an older lady who was adopted herself.  It was very touching.  The whole day was a great treat for me.


Tonight I got to talk to a dear friend that is expecting her first child any day.  I reminisced with her about my own anticipation of having my first and the anxiety and worry over becoming a mother and not knowing when it was going to happen.  Trusting the Lord and waiting patiently, or not so patiently, was so hard!  It was hard every time.  And it's hard this time too.  I'm doing every thing I can to prepare, but there's no labor for me this time.  It's just waiting.  And I don't know what's coming at the end of my wait.  


Today at church we had a guest speaker for the Sunday school hour.  Pastor Richard from the Glory Gang, and ministry to inner city kids, came to share with us about the work Glory Gang does.  Several people from our church have gotten involved in this ministry recently and I loved hearing about their work.  His stories brought tears to my eyes several times.  He told us about his own father referring to the kids he was working with as "throw away kids" and how that really bothered him at first.  Then he realized that we were ALL "throw away kids" without Christ.  We were worthless.  But in Christ, God adopted us and we became worth something!  

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.                        I John 3:1a

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.     I Cor. 6:11


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What's new?

There's not really a whole lot to report right now.  We are in another holding pattern until December 19th.  Between now and then we have a couple of online trainings to complete and some more paper work to gather.  For those that are interested in the details, here's a list of some of the documents required by Buckner.

  1. Drivers License
  2. Marriage Certificate (if applicable)
  3. Divorce Decree (if applicable)
  4. Death certificate of spouse (if applicable)
  5. Birth certificates
  6. Diploma or GED (all of them)
  7. Current liability insurance (auto)
  8. paycheck stubs or tax return
  9. 10 year residency form
  10. background check release
  11. FBI fingerprint criminal history clearance
  12. DFPS history clearance
  13. DPS criminal history clearance
  14. TB skin test for all household members over age 1
  15. pet vaccinations
  16. house rules (including rewards and consequences)
  17. health inspection (done by Buckner)
  18. fire inspection (done by Buckner)
  19. Floor plan
  20. pictures of home exterior and surrounding areas
  21. home child-care plan
  22. home schedule (summer and the school year)
  23. evacuation plan
  24. tax return
  25. verification of health insurance
  26. will
  27. proof of life insurance on husband and wife (50K minimum)
We have a lot of leg work to do in the next couple of weeks!  I think we've completed the first 10 or so on this list.

The online classes we have to complete are:

  1. Medical consent training
  2. Psychotropic Medication
  3. Trauma Informed Care

There are more classes for Foster parents that we don't have to take like CPR/First aid and a few others.

This Saturday we will have a fund raiser bake sale at a local vendor fair.  We've asked several friends from church and community to help by baking items and have had great responses.  Thank you to all who are helping!   If you'd like more information about this event, please let me know.  There will be lots of great vendors there.  I know I plan on doing a little Christmas shopping too, if I can break away from my booth.  I'd love to see you there!  I'm very hopeful that this will be a great starting place for our fundraising efforts.

Monday, November 25, 2013


As we anticipate the start of the Holiday season, specifically with Thanksgiving this week, I am thinking a lot about what the next year holds.  Our family will likely look very different next year!  While I'm very much looking forward to our family gathering this week, I can't help but be a little sad that our whole family isn't together yet.  I don't get to shower ALL of my kids with love and gifts this year.  Next year will be so sweet though!

This year I'm thankful for all the wonderful people the Lord has put in my life.  Grandparents that love the Lord.  Parents that taught us to love continue in that faith.  And now my children are growing up knowing that Jesus loves them and they are His children.  We are living out many generations of gospel love.  We have all been adopted into Christ's family.  I eagerly await the day that we add to that kingdom.

I looked through the TARE website today at the Waiting Texas children (http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/Adoption/update.asp) .  It breaks my heart to see all those children waiting for their forever families.  Consider what you can do to help them.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Second PRIDE class

Today we completed our PRIDE training.  This class was much more informative than the last.   Today's topics included discipline and sexual abuse.  Did you know that 1 in 5 kids are sexually abused in some way?  I was absolutely shocked at that number!   We talked a lot about how to deal with the effects of this type of abuse and some of the reactions. attitudes, and acting out that kids do as a result of such trauma.  It was a difficult day!  We pray that wherever our future children are that they are safe from this and loved.

In all likelihood, the child/ren we will get are already in foster care.  The only children that will come into our home are children that are already available for adoption.  Birth parents typically get an absolute minimum of 6 months before their case turns towards termination and ultimately it takes at least a year before parental right termination.  That means that our kids will be in foster care for at least a year before they come to us. I hope and pray that the foster family they are with is loving, affectionate, and Godly.  I pray that God is protecting them.

The next step is "Orientation."  I told the PRIDE teacher that it seems like each step is just the beginning.  We thought the informational meeting was getting started.  Then we thought this class was REALLY getting started.  But with the next class being called "Orientation" it seems that we aren't even started yet.  We are though.  Getting through this class was a big deal.  This may have been the biggest hurdle.  After talking to the ladies at Buckner, I'm not really worried about the rest of the training and licensing.

Orientation will be December 19th.  I'm not sure yet if we can schedule our health and fire inspections before that or if we have to wait, but I should find out next week from the case worker.  After that will be an adoption class and the home study.  Before the home study though we will have to make our first payment to Buckner.  Hopefully some of our fundraisers will be successful before that is due.

In the mean time, we are gathering more documents such as life insurance, health insurance, a floor plan for our house, and photos of the outside of our house. We are also discussing names.  We would like to give our adopted children names that mark them as Shipps.  Just as we have been marked with our Heavenly Father's name when we were adopted by Him, we would like to set our children apart.  We want to be prepared for this change when they come home to us.  We have had an extra boy name for a few years, but no girl names.  And we may need more than one girl or boy name, so we've got some thinking to do.

I am thankful for how far we have come in this process.  I am thankful that our friends and family have come alongside us in prayer and support.  I am thankful for the Lord's provision for our family and the grace He has given us thus far.  Please continue to pray for us, for our current children, and our future children.  Please pray that God would protect us all through this process and bring us together into one BIG HAPPY family.  Please also pray that the Lord would provide the means to this end.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The first PRIDE class

I finally found out what PRIDE stands for.  Parent Resource for Information Development Education.  I'm thinking they could have come up with a more memorable title for the class, but that's what it is.    Here's what the book says:

For people like you, who wish to become foster parents and adoptive parents, Foster PRIDE/Adopt PRIDE is a resource, or a support.  Its goal is to share essential information for your development into a successful new adoptive family or foster family.
This process includes education for all of us.  We'll help you learn the knowledge and skills you need to make an informed decision about fostering or adopting, and to get off to a healthy start. You need to educate us about you and your ideas about adopting or fostering. 
 I must say I was a little disappointed with our first class.  I thought we would walk away feeling much more informed than we did.  Maybe it's because we've been preparing for this for a while and had many friends walk this road before us.  There wasn't anything really *new* to us.  Some of what they presented did make us think more about origins and beginnings for the children in foster care.  We have homework to complete before the next class.  We have to fill out information about our own families and history and tell how we were nurtured and by whom, how we nurture those in our lives, and how we would nurture a child placed with us.  Then we have to make a family genogram, or basically a family tree.  (I have a feeling ours is going to look a little boring compared to many.)  This will include births, deaths, marriages, divorces, "cut off" relationships.  There's even a symbol for listing someone who's gender you don't know...Like I said, ours may look pretty boring.  Then we have to make an Ecomap.  Again, this is similar to a family tree but it also shows people outside the family that you interact with.  This one will be a bit more.  In fact, I may need a poster board for this one.

One thing that the instructor/trainer said really stuck with me.  She said that Buckner is in the business of finding families for children, not children for families.  That really got the point of CPS Foster/Adopt across well.  Of course we knew that already, but it still hit home.

We talked about emotions, connections, developmental delays, etc.  We also talked about general child care, fetal alcohol syndrome, SIDS, and behavior issues.  Next week will be the most challenging portion I think, when we talk about sexual abuse and discipline.  From what she told us, these will be the most heated discussions as people generally have the strongest feelings about these topics.

After the class I asked her what we could be working on now in anticipation of the home study.  She told us that while there are things that will need to be done, there really isn't any reason to start on them now.  I wanted to schedule our inspections and such but they told me to wait.  This is me though.  I want to know what needs to be done so I can do it.  I don't like waiting.  I guess I'm going to learn to wait.  We also will have to be ready to write the first check before we start the home study process, so hopefully our first fundraising efforts will go well.  (If you would like to be a part of this, please let me know!)

I've also recently started reading the book The Well Connected Child.  It's been sitting on my night stand for weeks and I've kind of been dreading reading it.   Many friends have recommended it and one even sent me a copy.  I've been afraid to read it because I'm afraid it's going to change my preconceived notions.  And it already has.  It's a good thing, and I suspected it would be.  But I wasn't ready for it until now.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Tomorrow it all starts.  We turn in our official application and we start PRIDE.  I'm sure I'll come back with a wealth of information.  I'm already tired from a long and busy day today.  Here's hoping for a good night of sleep, no back pain, and an attentive mind tomorrow.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Getting Started

In just a few days we will start our PRIDE training.  This is getting very real.  We've made an official announcement at church about our plans to adopt, and we've told most of the people we need to tell in person.  We have a few remaining calls to make before we make it completely public, or "facebook official." Ready or not, here we go!

We are working on a few fundraising ideas to ease the financial burden.  The first will be a bake sale table at a local vendor fair in a few weeks.  I've already asked several friends to donate to this and have had great response.  I hope that many others will purchase baked goods and make this a success.  We are also working on an idea for t-shirts.  I'm really excited about this one and hope to market them well.  I'm not really sure how this one will work out as far as doing a pre-sale or just buying them and hoping we can sell them all.  Any thoughts on this are appreciated!  We've also started a GoFundMe page (http://www.gofundme.com/56ut9o).  This is the first I'm advertising this, so there aren't any donations yet.  I did see on that page many other families with a common goal.  I even found another bigger family that is going the same route we are and is trying to raise money for the same purpose.

That brings me to our purpose.  While the costs for Waiting Texas Children/CPS adoptions are not huge, we will have a few other expenses that we would like to cover.  The biggest cost will be to purchase a 12-15 passenger van.  With 5 kids under 8, we still have everyone in some type of child restraint.  Since we are planning to adopt young children, we will have even more car seats.  Our expedition technically seats 9, but only 6 are in the back and it's tight with 5.  Plus there's NO extra space for strollers or suitcases.  It's time to move up!  We have no intentions of buying anything new, but we need to raise some money to help towards that investment.

If you have any other suggestions for fundraisers, please let me know.

I hesitate to say this "out loud", but right now, we think that best case scenario is that we are licensed by April or May.  That doesn't mean that we will have a placement right away by any means.  But if all goes well, our home will be open in the Spring.  Then the real waiting game begins.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

What to expect when you're...expecting?

We are expecting.  We don't know how many, or how old, or what gender.  We are expecting great things though.  And we really are expecting.  It's not different than if we had announced a pregnancy.  We may (and likely will) wait longer than 9 months to meet our kids.  And then we will wait even longer to finalize the adoption.  But WE ARE EXPECTING.  We are expecting the Lord to bless us with more children.  We are expecting Him to bless us through those children, to bless them through us and our community, to bless the world through them.  When God told Abraham he would have as many descendants as the stars, He was talking about us and our descendants after us.  We were adopted into His family.  We were engrafted in.  We aren't less a part of the family because we were adopted.  We are 100% part of His family.  Why would we want to look back at where we came from?  And so too, when we adopt, and when it's finalized, that child will be a Shipp.  They won't just bear our name.  They really will be Shipps.  We are expecting more Shipps.  And they will be the people God has ordained for our family.  Chances are, they are already born.  Someone else has them now.  Maybe they're in the womb, maybe they're in foster care now.  But they really are our children and they are God's children.  We are expecting them, we just don't know who they are.  Pregnancy is the same way though.  Of course there's the bonding between mother and baby before they are born, but you don't really know them.  You can speculate on what they may look like, or which character traits they will get from each parent, but you don't know that until they're in your arms.  And while I can't even make an educated guess on what our adopted children will look or act like, they will still be my children.  So I say this again, we are expecting.  We've made the announcement.  We're taking all the steps and headed down this road.  God could shut this door, but we have every reason to believe that this will come to fruition.  Maybe we're announcing in our first trimester, but we want our friends and family to pray for us, just as we would with another pregnancy.  The Lord is growing our family in His timing.  He has laid this on our hearts now because he is preparing our children for us.  It's all in His timing, not ours.  If this door closes next month, it's because of Him.  If it takes 6 months, it's because of Him.  If it takes 2 years, it's because of Him.  He will direct our path.  Our cup runneth over.


I'm not sure if this is something that everyone that considers adoption thinks or worries about, but it's been on my mind lately.  I've been a little afraid that I'd have a hard time "falling in love" or feeling attached to a child when they are placed in my arms and in my family.  Does that sound mean?  Maybe some of my friends that have fostered and adopted can share with me on this., but I've been afraid that I wouldn't be able to instantly love them.   I knew that I could care for them immediately and that I WOULD fall in love with them.  I've just been afraid that it wouldn't be instant.  Does that even make sense?

This week I had a friend tell me that she knew I would be able to love and welcome another child into my life.  She didn't know this was on my mind, but she told me she knew I would be great at it.  That helped.
Tonight though I got to hold a dear friend's infant.  I got to stare at her and smell that intoxicating new baby smell.  I'm a baby person (if you didn't know that), but all babies don't make me melt like that.  I love that little baby, because I love her parents.  But somehow, in that moment, I realized that I could absolutely love another baby/child as my own.  As I'm typing this I know it sounds bizarre.    But it was another ah-ha moment for me.  My fears are gone in this regard.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Good news!

We had a great meeting at Buckner (http://www.buckner.org/) last night.  The worker we met with was very friendly and very accommodating.  She even made a special informational meeting just for us since we couldn't make next week's meeting.  It's a small local office with only 3 employees and they are all involved with each case.  She answered all of our questions that she could and assured us she would get back with us promptly on the ones she couldn't answer.  It was great timing too since their Pride training is mid November and we can get in on that and not have to wait until February like we would have with CPS.  Another great thing is that their training class is only two Saturdays instead of 4-6 weeks of classes at various times.

This morning I got an email from Danielle (the lady we met with last night.)  She said she talked to her supervisor and she wasn't 100% sure about our question on the number of children but that she would talk to the regional director and get back with us.  About two hours later I got an email with the subject line "Good News!".  If we go with the "Waiting Texas Children" program, which means straight adoption, we can adopt as many as our home space will allow.  We expect this to be 2-3.  Now it feels like we're actually getting somewhere!

So here's the time line now.

We are working on the 17 page application for Buckner.  We've got to try to remember every house we've lived in for the last ten years!  That should prove rather challenging.  It asks all sorts of questions.  They want to know where our parents and siblings live, go to church, went to college, etc.  They want to know what age, gender, and ethnicity of children we are interested in.  Tons of information to fill in and this will just barely scratch the surface.

Next we will attend Pride training in November.  We will have two Saturdays of classes in Lufkin.  Anybody want to babysit?

After that we will start the home study.  Jessica, the third lady that works at this office, will come to our home and interview us and the children.  They will inspect various aspects of the home and make sure we've got all our ducks in a row.  This will also be the time when they determine how many children we can open our home to.

Then there will be a few more classes like CPR, first aid, and an adoption prep type class.  These are all offered at Buckner.

Last night and today were very encouraging.  It feels like we are actually getting somewhere!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Spreading the Word and a Leap of Faith

This was a big week for us in telling people our "news".  We had several really good talks with close family and friends, and made it a little more public knowledge at church (with only a small group present, but still.) The word is out (for the most part.)  And again, most of the feedback we've gotten has been really positive.  It made my heart glad to hear someone close to me use the word "excited."
For those of you that are following this because you're interested in doing this one day, here are some of the questions we've gotten and our answers to them.

1.  Why do you want to adopt?
The biggest reason is because "the Bible tells me so."  God commands Christians to care for widows and     orphans.  It's pretty clear.  Now, do I think that means that every Christian should adopt?  No.  But all         Christians should be CARING for orphans.  Praying, supporting, encouraging, giving monetarily towards     orphan care and adoption, and so on.  We want to adopt because we feel called to do so.

2.  How do you know you're "called"?  Or what makes you think that you're "called"?
Through much prayer, years of discussion amongst ourselves and those close to us, we see God's               direction in this.  We feel very strongly that God has laid this upon our hearts and put us on this path.             Could we be wrong?  Of course we could.  But if we are, then God will direct us and change our plans.

3.  How long have you been talking about this?  And why NOW?
We have talked about adopting since we were dating.  I don't know which of us brought it up, but we both agreed that we could see ourselves adopting at some point.  We both thought that point would be later in our marriage and family, but our plans and ideas changed.  We want more kids.  We don't think our quiver is full.  We feel that God has given us the ability to love, care, and train many children.  Part of it IS not wanting to be pregnant again, but part of it us just plain faith.  We want to do it now because we want any children we adopt to be a part of this family.  And this family has kids close in age.  I don't want any more reasons for an adopted child to feel different, there will be enough already.

4.  How will you care for and provide for them?

By the grace of God.  How do you do anything?  If we are waiting to be 100% financially confident before we add to our family then we would never add to our family.  We would never have had children to begin with.  You can't be truly ready for something until it's necessary and in your lap.  We trust that God will provide for us as He always has.  We trust that God will give us the grace, patience, understanding, wisdom, and peace to handle whatever children He has ordained for our family.  And we trust that faithfulness to Him will be rewarded.

5.  You already have 5 little kids...how can you even think of taking on more?

People with one or two children are busy.  People with 5 (or more) aren't really any busier.  Life is busy. There's always laundry, and cooking, and cleaning, and grocery shopping.  Doing it for 7 people may take a little more time, but it's not exponential.  Shopping for 8 doesn't take twice the time as shopping for 4.  And feeding 8 doesn't cost twice as much.  We already hand everything down.  Handing down even more just makes it a better value!

6.  Aren't you afraid of getting a kid with special needs?

Each one of my five children is different.  They are who they are because God made them that way and He put them in our family.  Adopting is no different.  God will place children in our family and equip us to handle whatever needs they have.  We don't treat all of our children the same way anyway.  Some are better at one thing, some are worse at another.  We treat them according to age and ability.  And we will do the same with any adopted children.  Does that mean we are seeking out a child with severe special needs?  No.  With 5 other children already in our home, we don't think it wise to jump into caring for a child who can't care for themselves at all.  But the reality is that many children in CPS custody will have some form of "special need".  Some form of therapy will likely be needed.  And we will cross that bridge when we get to it.  Adoption is no different than pregnancy in this way.  I could just as easily give birth to a child with a wide array of special needs.  I've always refused the triple screen test for one reason.  It wouldn't change anything.  Me knowing that my child was going to be born with down syndrome wouldn't change the fact that it's my child and that he is made in the image of God.  And if I gave birth to that child, God would equip me to handle all that it entails.  And likewise with adoption.  If anything, we will be more prepared.

I'll answer more questions later.  But for now suffice it to say that we are taking a leap of faith.   A BIG leap of faith.  We have made this decision.   We are following our faith in this.  We are trusting the Lord for our family. God doesn't call us to do what's easy.  He calls us to follow Him.   From where we sit and from the view we've got, we are following Him.  We pray that He will direct our path and lead us in righteousness.

Tonight we are meeting with a lady from Buckner, a Christian foster care and adoption agency.  Please pray that our meeting would go well and that we would have a clear path to follow.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Another hurdle

Last week I got another call from Ms. J at the CPS office.  She wanted to be sure that everything was clear to us.  (It wasn't.)  She wanted to be sure I knew that if we go through CPS we can only have one child placed in our home.  She said that even though it's within the law to place more, it is not something that the CPS agency typically does.  All that to say, if we want to pursue more than one child, we need to go to a private agency.  She also informed me that the next PRIDE class would be in Jasper, which is about an hour and a half away.  That's not something we can do several times in a month.  The next class in a reasonable distance won't be until February probably.

I had already requested some information from Buckner, a private Christian foster and adopt agency that is located about 30 miles away.  I was initially turned off by the fees, but later discovered that the fees are refundable once the adoption is finalized.  I called the lady that was emailing me information to ask a few questions.  The biggest one of course was to do with the number of children we already have and could have.  She said that is not a problem.  She said something about there being a 1 to 5 ratio and since we have two parents in the home it would work.  They have an informational meeting in a couple of weeks but we had a conflict so she said we could come any time and have a private informational meeting.  We are scheduled to do that next Monday, the 21st.  I'm assuming that the private agencies schedule their own PRIDE classes, but I'm not sure.  I hope so.  I don't really want to wait until February.

I'm not really surprised.  Once I read the number "six" on the TARE website and elsewhere, I knew we would have a challenge ahead of us.  But I know that the Lord will direct our steps in this.  I pray that our eyes are open to see His will for us.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pray for us

I remember several years ago when close friends of ours were going through this process and they asked us to pray for them.  They asked us to pray for them and for their future children, but we didn't really know how.  And now I find myself in the same position.  We want you to pray for us, and we want to pray for ourselves, but we don't know how.
We've always prayed for our children, even before they were conceived.  We pray that God will bless us with children in His timing and that He will prepare us to meet their needs.  We pray that our children will be healthy and faithful.  In this situation we can still pray for those things.  But there's more to pray for too.  We are praying for children that are already born and are in a bad situation.  Children in CPS have been hurt.  The word we've heard most often in books and from friends who have adopted is "trauma."  Kids in the foster care system have had emotional and/or physical TRAUMA.  They're hurt.  They're hurting now, and they're going to hurt for a long time because of it.  We want to pray for them and we want them to be safe and loved.  But if they're in THAT home, the home they are ultimately going to be removed from and their parents' rights are going to be terminated, then they're not safe and loved right now.  How do you pray for them?  I don't know.  But we do pray for them.
I think that's why this waiting period is so hard.  Our child/ren are hurting right now.  God will bring them into our lives at the right point in time.  And I know that His timing is perfect.  But that means that while we are waiting for the child God has ordained to be a part of our family, that child is experiencing trauma RIGHT NOW.  And I'm doing nothing about it.  Or at least it seems that way.  I am praying though.  And hopefully our friends and family are praying too.
I ask you to pray for us.  Pray that we would be prepared to deal with the trauma our child bring with them.  Pray that we would be strong in our faith and that all areas of our lives would be building in preparation for our adoption.  Pray for the children we already have, that they would be equipped to process and adjust to a new sibling that doesn't come to us in the traditional way.  And pray for the children currently in the foster care system and children that are being neglected in their own homes.  Pray that God would bring the right child to our home in His timing and that we, as a family and as a church, would be able to meet the needs of that child.


I've said before that writing this has been very cathartic.   Now that I've shared this with a few people though I'm much more aware of what I'm writing.  It's as though you're all reading my diary.  You all know what's going through my head in regards to adoption, but since it's out there in internet-land, it's not quite real.  You're getting to know the "internet-me".  If you're reading along though, I'm glad you are here.  I hope that you'll take the time to ask me questions and talk about it.  It really is on my mind all the time.

I'd also like to recommend a book to you.  Several friends recommended it to me, and even recently someone I greatly respect sent me a copy of Adopted For Life (along with others that I'll mention later after I've read them.)  She didn't know I had already read this book and have even passed copies along to a few people.  When Andrew and I read that book we both had the "ah-ha" moment.  It puts into words a lot of our views and thoughts about adoption and was very helpful to us in making the decision to go forward with it now.  If you're here in town and would like to borrow it I'd be happy to share.

I've asked Andrew to consider writing a guest post on our Theology of adoption.  Hopefully he will do this soon.

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Today things look up.  Today I had several conversations with people close to me that were very encouraging on the adoption front.  It's always nice to get affirmation that we're doing the right thing.  So thank you to those that encouraged me today.

We know that there are going to be many many challenges ahead of us.  The training process will be hard.  The home study and licensing portion will be difficult.  The initial placement is going to push us to a place we've never been.  And then the adoption itself is going to be unknown territory.  But we aren't doing this alone.  Not only do we have a network of friends and family to turn to, but our Heavenly Father is going to give us the grace we need to handle each step.  He's not going to give it to us a minute sooner than we need it though.  It's not like we can put this off and wait until we're "ready".  We're not going to know all the answers or know how we're going to handle each situation until we get there.  And God's going to lead the way as He always does.

I know the biggest question to many people is the financial responsibility.  Here's my answer.  As with planning for a pregnancy, if you're waiting until you're comfortable financially, you'll be waiting forever.  There's never enough money to take the leap.  But for us, when it comes to having another child we trust in the Lord's provision for our family.  He has always provided for us.  It may not be the way we expected or hoped, but His provision is perfect.  We already have a big family.  There are already sacrifices we make and more sacrifices we are willing to make if necessary.  Adding to our family a little more isn't going to change that.  For example, Christian education is a priority for us but if at some point we can't afford to put them all in Regents then we will home school as many as we need to.  And God will give me the grace to do that too.  It's not the desire of my heart right now to home school and thankfully we can afford to send the two school aged children to a fantastic school, but at some point we may have to re-evaluate.

We don't mind using hand-me-downs.  We don't have to do all the extra-curriculars that our friends with 1 or 2 kids do.  We don't have to take fancy vacations.  Our kids will be just fine if they never go to Disney World.  Of course it's fun, but it's not ultimately going to change the person they become.  Our goal is to raise faithful Christian men and women.  Of course we want them to be well rounded and hard working.  They can learn those things without trips and sports teams though.  (This is in no way meant to bash those that can do those things.  I'd love to provide those things if we can.  It's just not a necessity as I'm sure you would agree.)

What matters now is that we are faithful.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

We have been called to be fruitful and multiply and take dominion over the earth.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:28

We are called to defend the fatherless
Give justice to the weak and the fatherless.
Psalm 82:3a 

We are called to trust in the Lord.
Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.  
Psalm 37:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

We know that children are a blessing from the Lord.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.  
Psalm 127:3

And so, for us, we are called to adopt.  We are called now.  He will give us the grace to go through this journey.  He will give us the support we need.  He will give us everything as He always has.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Phillippians 4:19

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A bump in the road

Today we hit our first hurdle.  Just a little more icing on the cake after a couple of days of extra crazy.  (This too shall pass, but it was still crazy.)

While I was at the car shop picking up the newly repaired car that we dropped off when we picked up the first car from repairs, I got a call from an unknown number.  Since I was in the midst of juggling my younger three while trying to pay for said repairs, I didn't answer the call.  Once I got everything situated and kids safely loaded in their seats and the air conditioner cranked way up, I listened to the message.  I must admit, when she said the words, "calling from CPS" I had a moment of concern.  What in the world is this about?!!  I quickly calmed down though when she mentioned my application.  I called her right back.

She was calling to ask me about the application.  Since we had filled in both the foster and adoptive boxes, had specified under age 3, and that we were open to a sibling set, she had some concerns.  She said that if we want to do straight adoption through CPS we would need to look on the TARE website and that it would pretty much come down to kids over 6 or with very special needs.  But if we want to foster to adopt we could go younger but that we would only be able to do one since we already have an almost "full" home and that we would likely have several kids in and out of our home before someone came available.  She said that if we want younger siblings for adopt only that we should go through a private agency.  I was confused since this is not what the first case worker told me.  So I wrote him an email stating what she had told me and asking him if that's what he had told me or if I was in fact getting different reports.  He said that this lady has been doing it longer than him, but that what she said is not exactly the case.  He said we could still go through CPS and do adoption only and just wait.  He also said that if we decide to go with a private agency we may have an easier time.  He suggested Buckner because that's who he and his wife used when they adopted their three children.  He also told me that if we decide to use Buckner to let him know and he will let us/our case worker know when he sees a young sibling set.

I looked at the two private agencies that are near us.  Bair Foundation and Buckner are the closest to us, though neither is in Nacogdoches.  I didn't really find the information I was looking for on their websites so I plan to call someone in the next day or two.  I'm not really eager to go through a private agency.  I wont go into that now though.

Before I got off the phone with the lady from CPS I told her to keep us on the list and send us information about PRIDE training.  She confirmed that it will be in November.

I don't really see this as a dead end.  Just a hurdle.  Another challenge and decision to make.  I'm sure there will be many more.


On another note:  While our car was in the shop we borrowed a friends BIG van.  We've been talking for a while about resolving ourselves to the fact that this is what we will have to get if we have any more children.  After just a short time in that van I must agree with my kids when they said, "This is AWESOME!"  It's exactly what we need.  I just wish we didn't have to pour money into the current vehicle, but we do have to be able to transport everyone.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Elephant in the Room

I have to admit, my 9th grade English teacher, Mrs. Lemley,  was right.  Journaling CAN be fun.  Writing about this has already proven to be helpful for me.  Thanks for following along and being part of this. Please feel free to comment.

This is kind of a follow up on the previous post about when to tell and how.

Now that we've told a few people, including close family members, that we plan to adopt it seems weird when we spend time together and it doesn't come up.  I'm guessing it's not as weird to them but for me it's almost like I'm 8 months pregnant and no one is asking if I'm having twins or if I'm sleeping ok.  I know it's not the same thing at all, but it definitely feels like it.  Maybe they just don't know what to say?

Here's the deal though.  I DO want to talk about it.  It's on my mind constantly.  I want to talk about the things that I'm excited about, the things that I'm concerned about, and the things I just don't know about yet. We are likely at minimum of nine months away from anything happening.  We've got a lot of "t"s to cross before we get there.  It's like a REALLY long pregnancy and I don't know what I'm having, or how many I'm having, or even when my due date is.  So nothing like pregnancy.  But I still want to talk about it.  If I've already shared this blog with you then chances are you know me well.  And that means you know I like to talk.  I don't want to make you or anyone else uncomfortable though by sharing too much too soon.

With all this wondering about when to tell others though we have spent some time talking with the kids about it.  So far their reactions have been about what I expected.  G has lots of questions.  When he and I first talked about it I asked him if he knew what adoption was.  He didn't.  I tried to explain to him that sometimes there are parents that can't take care of their kids and that other parents then decide that they can love and care for those kids.  Then I asked him what he thought about our family doing that.  He hesitated for a minute and had a concerned look on his face.  Then it hit me.  He thought we were going to be the ones giving up kids!  I wonder who he thought we were going to get rid of?  I quickly assured him that wasn't the case but rather that we were thinking (at that point) about adopting ourselves.  He seemed much happier with that idea.  We have since had many more conversations about it.  One of his concerns was that we would kick him out of first place.  Again, I assured him that we have no intention of adopting anyone older than him.  He will always be our oldest.  Relief.  He really wants another baby but I'm pretty sure that's because he doesn't want to lose having his own room.  I've broken it to him though that when the time comes Jonah will be moving in with him.  He's enjoying it while he can.

Just this morning I got to have a chat with L and M about it.  We've already had the "what is adoption" chat so they knew what I was talking about.  I asked them what they thought about it.  They both grinned and said that they thought it was a good idea.  I told them that when we adopt our new kids probably wont look like us.  L asked if they would have brown skin and I told him maybe they would.  He thought that was pretty cool.  I also asked them how they would feel about adopting someone that isn't a baby, maybe close to their age.  L told me we need a 5 year old boy and a 2 year old girl because we don't have anybody that age.  He said then we would have all the numbers.  Of course, L will probably be 5 by the time we get a placement, but I thought that was really sweet of him.  He sees an empty space and he's happy to fill it.

J is the one I'm most worried about.  He's not real fond of change.  He likes his routine and his space.  We haven't had a one on one conversation yet but I'm sure he will have a lot of questions.  I also know though that when he accepts it, he's going to love like no one else.  When he loves, he loves with his whole self.  And it's intense!  So while it may take him a little longer to get used to the idea or to a new sibling, when he gets it he will be their best friend and protector.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How do you tell people? And when?

This is something I don't know the answer to.  How do you tell friends, family, and acquaintances that you plan to adopt?  We've already told close family and friends.  We've asked their opinions and genuinely care what they think.  Do they think we're crazy?  (Some certainly do!)  Do they think this is bad timing?  Do they think we're foolish?  I'm sure the answer to all of these varies according to who we ask.  So far though, the overwhelming majority has been supportive.  "Oh, wow!", "That's awesome", and "I'm so excited" have all been said.  I'm also sure that there have been thoughts that friends and family don't want to say because they're afraid of confrontation or of hurting our feelings.

I realize though that if we were "trying" to get pregnant we wouldn't be having these conversations with friends and family.  We wouldn't be asking them if they think we're ready or if we're crazy.  (By the way, we already know we're crazy.)  When it comes to the marriage bed it's not really anyone else's business.  But for some reason with adoption it seems like people should know.

I recently had this conversation with a friend that is expecting.  I told her I thought it was easier to announce pregnancy than intentions to adopt.  I told her it felt weird to bring it up, to tell people that we want more kids when we already have five.  She disagreed.  She said that when you announce a pregnancy, especially if you already have a larger than average sized family, people generally respond with, "don't you know what causes that?" or something of that sort.  On the other hand, she pointed out, if you tell people you're planning to adopt their response is, "that's so sweet!"   I see her point.

The answer to the question of prevention of course is "yes", we all know what causes that.  The assumption though from both Believers and unbelievers is that surely you would have prevented pregnancy if you had known how.  It's as if even a pregnancy, whether planned or unplanned is a problem or a condition.  It's not though.  God says that children are a blessing.  That should be enough, shouldn't it?

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD.
Psalm 127

So now we have brought this up with close friends and family.  We've decided to move forward but we're still on hold.  Now what?  When do we tell our general church population (that we're very close to compared to many congregations?)  When do we make it "facebook official"?  I don't think it's now, but when is it?  Is it when we start the PRIDE training class?  Is it when we complete it and start our homestudy?  Or do we wait until we are licensed?  Or wait even longer until we get a placement and just spring it on everyone?

Again, I don't know the answer.  For now though we wait a little longer.  We talk to a few more friends here and there.  We talk to our kids.

Here's what I do know though.  In the small amount of time we've been talking about this outside of our home we've had many friends tell us they are interested in our journey.  They want to watch us and learn from us.  They want to see what it's like because they too are interested in adoption...someday.  If/when we adopt it will not only change our lives, the lives of our current children, and the lives of the children we adopt. It will change our extended families.  It will change our church family.  It will change our friends.  It will certainly change our grandchildren, and many many generations to come.  Bringing in one lost sheep will change the world.

Even when we had our first child and friends asked why we wanted kids so soon or why we wanted so many we always answered that our goal was to evangelize, one little Christian at a time.  If the birth of one child into a family can change the world, how much more so the adoption of a child into a believing family?

God saved us.  He ADOPTED us.  We are no longer Gentiles.  We are His sons and daughters.

He predestined us to be adopted as his sons
through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—
Ephesians 1:5 

Andrew and I were just talking after I read him this post.  He pointed out that through adoption we are actually evangelizing even more effectively.  When we give birth to a child we are adding one to our "team", but when we adopt we are not only adding one to our team but we are taking one away from the enemy.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let's start at the very beginning

Let me start by saying, "I'm not a writer."  I never have been.  And I doubt I ever will be.  I'm sure I will use lots of poor grammar.  I'll make loads of comma splices.  I'll even misspell things from time to time when spell check doesn't catch it for me.  But several friends have asked me to document every step of this journey and so I will try.  This is for you dear, supportive friends.

We want to adopt. Even though we already have what some would call a quiver full, we aren't full yet.

We've always talked about adoption from the time we were dating.  We always assumed it would be something God would call us to later in life when our first batch of kids were older and in high school or college.  But recently we realized that we don't want two families.  We want one.  And since all of our kids are close in age it seems to make the most sense to start this now.  Now, when we don't have a lot of money.  When we don't own our own home.  When we don't have all our ducks in a row.  But we will.  And God will give us the grace to handle whatever and whomever He puts into our lives and family.  So we start this journey now.

We've chosen to go through CPS for one primary reason--financial.  While international adoption does appeal to me, I just don't see it being realistic for this point in our lives.  After all, we do have 5 kids already that we plan to feed, clothe, and educate etc etc.  The idea of spending $40,000+ on an adoption just isn't a good idea right now.

We went to a CPS foster/adopt informational meeting in August.  This was the first step.  The man that lead it was very helpful and we were excited to learn that he is a Christian too and he and his wife have adopted three children through the state of Texas.  We had a few questions that he didn't know the answers to so we held off on filling out the initial paper work.  Our biggest question was, "is there a limit on the number of children in a home?"  We told him that we already have five children and his response was, "and why are you here?"  He told us that typically the answer is 6 total, but that he would check with his supervisor to see if we could do a group home or what other options were available.  Andrew also wanted to know if there are regulations on homeschooling.

About a week later after researching and much prayer, we decided to go ahead and fill out the first set of paper work.  We had not heard back from the case worker on the answer to our questions, but we decided we would get started and see where it took us.  The day after we turned in the application we heard back from the case worker.  He said that if we want to foster we could only have one more in our home, but that if we go straight adopt we could have more.  He said they don't typically "allow people to collect children" but that the case worker in our case would evaluate our desire and ability to parent a large number of children.    He also said that while in foster care, children of school age must be in the public school system.  We didn't ask about private school, but since we are mainly interested in adopting children under the age of three, we don't think this is a concern.

So now we wait.  The next step is PRIDE training classes.  The next one in our area doesn't start until November (2 months away.)  All foster/adoptive parents have to go to (I think) 30 hours of training before starting the home study.  I guess this is a way to weed out people that really aren't committed or aren't cut out for this.  I know it's going to be hard.  And I don't want to be naive.  But we are ready to start this and provide a loving, nurturing, Christian home for a child/children in need.

James 1:27
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

A waiter once asked us,  "did you save room for dessert" and as we were about to answer "no thanks", a three year old Gabe scooted all the empty dishes aside and said, "yes, there's room right here!"  If we can make room for dessert on a crowded table, we can certainly make room in our lives and around our home table for more Olive plants.