Our crew

Our crew

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.