Our crew

Our crew

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.