Sunday, July 31, 2011

See You Soon...Out of the Office

Dear folks -
I will not be here this week.  I will be on vacation with my family.  We're super excited.  I'm not bringing my computer.  Well, maybe I'll bring my work computer justin case.  We'll see.  Even if I do I do not plan to use it.  Have a good week and I'll see you next week.


P.S.  New baby was born last Thursday.  He was perfect at 7lbs. 1 oz and 20inches long.  They named him Zachary.  I spent a lot of time at the hospital with little Miss and various members of her extended family.  And the new adoptive parents.  It was one of the most difficult things I've ever been asked to do.  Sometimes being obedient is not fun.  This felt like it was going to be the death of mie.  I survived.  And now I'm going on vacation with my family.  I did get a lot of pictures.  Maybe I'll be able to share some, I'll have to look at them.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Lesson In Our Experience with "New Baby"

No, we don't have a new baby.  As an update - new baby has not yet arrived outside the womb yet.  He's due tomorrow and if he doesn't come before (i.e., today) then he will be pulled out tomorrow.  That's the plan anyway.  We are still not the chosen adoptive parents.  I say it that way only because this case has been so crazy that though we expect not to adopt him, who knows.

There were many changes that happened in this case even over the past week.  Changes that sent my husband and I back into the craziness we thought was over and definitely changes in the future of little boy.  I have made a solemn vow (or a promise...or a resolve) not to get into the details with anyone besides my husband and a dear friend who has been faithful to mie in this process and in prayer on our behalf.  I am so unbelievably greatful for that.

Sunday night this dear friend let me know that indeed she was still praying for us and gave mie the verse(s) she was praying for us:
  • Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”  I say of the holy people who are in the land, "They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.  I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.  I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16
She specifically gave me the verses I highlighted (6, 11) but I included the whole chapter rather than take it out of context too much.  Nevertheless, these verses were so comforting, especially knowing that I had a friend who was supporting me this way.  I am so unbelievably blessed by that. 

I think my friend was aware that the induction was scheduled the next morning and that Sunday night would be a bit more intense in the wait than other nights - she emphasized the peace and joy needed to get through that night.  Because the induction has been rescheduled to tomorrow, I suppose that night would now be tonight.  So far I've been unexpectedly calm and full of faith this past week.  That is what prompted this post and I honestly believe God has worked in my heart a lot through this.  Of course, when I read these verses I also knew something else was coming - I was nudged to know that I would be instructed in the night. 

If you know me, you know my sleep is oh so precious and very hard for me to break from - last night my husband woke up, got out of bed, called the police on some rowdy behavior (remember those teens I was telling you about...I was only half joking!), and then got back into bed.  I did not wake up.  I slept, at least I did until he woke me up to tell me what he'd done.  As a narcoleptic - I usually sleep hard and have no trouble ignoring environmental factors to do so, therefore I kind of sighed and pulled up my big girl pants so to speak when I realized I would be receiving instruction at night, even though I didn't know what that meant.

Monday night into Tuesday was expected to be a short night.  My mom was in town, I spent a lot of time with her that night (read: stayed up late) and then had to wake up earlier than usual to get all kids ready and take her to the airport before work on Tuesday.  That night I was not allowed to sleep very much.  First the kiddo, then the dogs, then the hubby, then etc.  At one point I found myself awake - it was 2:45 am and I'd probably slept about 90 minutes total the whole night to that point - and I laid there.  I was wide awake and folks, even with medication I am never "wide awake".  So I knew - this was my instruction.

I prayed for a while. I knew what I was supposed to do - open my Bible on the nightstand next to me and read - but instead I prayed. That was great time but I knew I was avoiding what I was supposed to be doing.  I had a ton of excuses - if I got up I'd wake my son (who was in bed with us), my husband, the dogs, my mom - if I turned on the light to read I'd wake everyone up - surely they'd wonder what was wrong and think I was pretty crazy.  It was afterall 3:30ish now and who does that.

I do, apparently.  I used the light from the baby monitor and used that to read a few chapters.  I did the whole "read where the Bible opens thing" and landed myself in Isaiah.  I should have paid attention to the chapter but I'll summarize.  Essentially it was a series of prophecies about the various tribes, cities, clans, etc. of Israel.  The full prophecy for one city was the only one on the page that was "full"...the others trailed into different pages.  I read more than this one, but this one was clearly the one I was to be instructed from.

The city the passage was addressed to had faced a severe hardship.  It went on to provide a detailed description of all the things the city did to fix the problem/prepare/address the situation.  Some of these things were seemingly "right" know, there was a famine coming and they stored up food...they worked hard, etc.  Then there were a few things that were "wrong" - it wasn't in the passage but I'll use the example of making a sacrifice to other gods.  Then it says, at the end, but you didn't seek the assistance of the one who had the path layed out in the beginning - the one in control of the situation and who could actually make a difference.

So it went into my "ears" like this "Mie - you face this challenge of not having this baby in your home.  You have been tossed around in this situation like a ping-pong ball with no escape.  You've done everything in your power to fix it.  You've called attorneys.  You've read every law.  You've begged and pleaded and tried to organize solutions.  You've worked out your budget.  You've worked out several versions of plans.  You've planned for what it would be like if you don't have the baby.  You've done some things that would be righteous and others that may not have been the best approach.  But you didn't seek me.  You didn't trust me.  You didn't follow me.  You lost sight of the one who really does have this all laid out from the beginning.

Thankfully, I had been realizing this over the past week as changes began to unfold so this was more confirmation than anything else.  It's not that I lost sight of God entirely or His plan but I tried to take it all into my control seeing as how it appeared that everyone else had a say and they were somehow going to take the plan away from God and I had to do something about it.  I didn't fully trust.  I didn't understand.  I didn't really honestly seek God through this all.

As I sit facing a call any moment to either let me know labor is occuring or let me know the baby is here (I'm not sure when they are going to call mie), I do so knowing without a doubt that this will work out for the best and for His glory and as things go, I am grateful for the experience and what it has taught mie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Left-Handedness, Mirror Writing, and What?

You probably have seen my recent rant informative post on the educational challenges opportunities we have in our family in which I may or may not have expressed my disdain concern for the nonsensical stupid irritating interesting policies that impact the educational future of my children.  That post started out as this one and then morphed into something different but I wanted to come back to the original topic.  So here it is.

My super cool son writes pretty well. He can spell really well. He can sound things out phonetically and though in the English language that doesn't always work for you he gets pretty close most times.  And as sweet as he is he usually writes things like "Mom(heart)dad(heart)Logan(heart)dad(heart)mom" or similar really sweet things.  He writes in his notebook.  He writes on paper we give him.  He writes on a writing board or even those little magnetic little board things.  He loves to write and now that he's getting the whole spelling/reading thing a little bit better I think he's really starting to enjoy it more.

He's gone through normal stages of childhood writing development.  You know - writing the letters in all sorts of different places on the page, writing some capital some lower case without reason, writing some letters backwards or upside down at times - normal stuff.  But this weekend he threw me through a loop when he wrote in complete mirror image.  Everything.  with perfect writing skills but everything was mirror image.  I realized what he had done right away and it intrigued me.  I didn't even point it out to him...though I have an education background it's not as focused on preschool writing skills so I had to do my research to figure out what's going on.

I'm so glad I did.  For starters, it's probably completely normal and most likely related to his giftedness.  Interestingly, as I read they gave several examples of giftedness that I, as someone identified as gifted early on, never realized weren't "normal".  Mirror writing (and reading) is a great example.  I honestly didn't realize that this wasn't a skill most people had - I just figured that everyone could do it.  And, I can very easily read upside down, backwards, any direction pretty easily, which works out when reading to others. I  can sit like a teacher in front of a group of kids and hold the book at my tummy, then just look down to read the words (upside down and backwards) to the kids while they look at the pictures without hesitation or difficulty.  Apparently this is a challenge to most folks.  Or, another example they used was pictures of hands...there was probably 20 drawn images of hands in different positions and the challenge was to figure out what hand it was (right or left)...apparently most folks have trouble with that or really have to think about it...I didn't need to I could "tell right away".  Very interesting.  It said most people who have "mirror writing abilities" (?) have a parent with the same ability.  Gotcha.

In any case - I was lead to a website about left-handedness which apparently is also highly linked to mirror writing.  Our son is left-handed.  In case you are wondering, I am not though I am left-hand/foot dominant in sports with the exception of throwing and due to a broken right arm in 4th grade I can write with my left-hand.  In any case - this website was fascinating and proposed all sorts of things I never thought of before.  So, I'll be more considerate of my lefty moving forward.

One thing stuck out though - about peeling vegetables or fruitt (scroll down on the link) - seriously? You're supposed to cut toward you and not away? I never knew that...

The Education Challenge

I've expressed my son's intelligence before I'm sure.  He's smart.  And I don't just say that...he really has a high intelligence somewhere up between 140-160 in terms of IQ.  I'm not bragging - it is what it is and comes with it's own challenges, not the least of which is finding an educational option for him at his level even though he's only 4.  The state school systems are often setup better to assist children with learning difficulties or disabilities that place them on the slower end than they are to help the "gifted" children who are highly advanced, and all my mommy friends who have kiddos that struggle in some way with learning can testify how difficult even that can be.  The theory is that children who can be identified as gifted and talented have a leg up on everyone else and therefore they'll be fine - let the resources go to those who need it who happen to be either the lowest common denominator, average, or those who have identified learning challenges.  "Superstars" can fend for themselves.

Of course, they can't actually.  Kids like my son are not only highly gifted intellectually but also, often as a result, struggle emotionally or socially.  They often are intuitive beyond their years and don't fit in with kids their own age.  This is a challenge for the educational system (and for parents) - what do you do with them?  Do you allow them to advance at their own (often rapid) pace - then what?  Do you move them through the grade system faster than others so they end up being years younger than other kids in their classes?  Do you keep them with their own age knowing they will either not fit in or they will limit their own ability to "be like everyone else"?  How can teachers manage them in their classes while helping those who are learning on the "average" pace?  Is it even possible to do that?  Instead should you have special classes or special schools where these children are isolated with others "like them" and then what? 

When you break it down, the challenges are very similar to those experienced by children who have learning challenges or difficulties which is why more and more programs/schools/districts lump giftedness and disabilities into a single department often nicely worded something like "special programs" or "learning differences".  Bottom line, all of these kiddos need special help to develop on their own pace/schedule and according to their own needs and it is very difficult to figure out exactly how to do that in a school system that is designed for the masses.  I don't have a solution here - I unintentionally got off a bit on a ramble.

I too am "gifted" and lived through this growing up and the thing about giftedness is that most often times the kids know what's going on and are very perceptive to how they are different than others and are a bit burdened, even at a young age, with balancing "maximizing your potential" with humility and grace.  So I'm the gifted mother (who happened to pursue a few graduate degrees in education) of a gifted child and though I'm very blessed to be where I am I'm still trying to figure out how to do the right thing for my son.  Mix that in with being a foster parent to children who are often struggling to meet their potential sometimes because of biological learning challenges and the situation that led them to be in foster care and the challenge becomes more complicated.  Each child needs and deserves their own opportunity to thrive which may or may not make their "challenge" more apparent to their siblings.

For example, right now we are placing our son in private Kindergarten.  He is reading a little, writing a ton, and overall is ready for Kindergarten (actually, probably 1st grade but I'm not pushing it).  Unfortunately his birthday is about a month past the cutoff date for school entry which means he should be starting a year from now, not this fall.  Last year, in pre-k 3 (when he was 3 years old and 3 weeks) he passed the kindergarten assessments with flying colors.  Now he's had an additional year of prek and as a former GT student, a current scholar, and least of all his mom know that putting him into another year of preK waiting to join kindergarten "on-time" will not be good for him.  So, either way I have to pay for school, whether pre-K or K, I might as well put him in kindergarten (and his school agrees).  Unfortunately, this quality Kindergarten does not accept state daycare funds so my other kids go to another school, which is fine but whose K program isn't of the quality that my son will need. 

The plan is for him to go into 1st grade in the gifted and talented school in our district.  Of course, this means that he will first start kindergarten there and then 3 weeks after that test and (if passed) move into the 1st grade classroom (3 weeks after everyone else did).  Let me break that down for you from a gifted perspective - remembering that their emotional/social perception is usually much higher.  Not only will he be aware that he's going into kindergarten AGAIN when all his friends in private K will be going into 1st grade, but he'll be going to a different school where he will by hyper sensitive about being the new kid.  That probably would be fine (at that point, kindergarten, they will all be the new kid), until they test him (which can often be fun for GT kiddos) and if he passes now he gets moved to 1st grade, again being the new kid, this time with a group of kiddos who all know each other - even the kiddos who were new to this class in 1st grade have had a chance to get to know others.  You may think I'm overthinking it - I am but that's how GT kiddos do things.  So then he gets in that class and it will be a better class for him and he's ready and challenged and learning with them like he should have been in the first place.  Why put him through all the drama of putting him in K again and provide a way for him to enter K early OR go straight into 1st grade rather than start K and get moved up? 

Ahem...sorry.  I get a little heated about this.

So, assuming we keep our current kiddos - #7 will be rightfully ready to enter kindergarten too.  If you know our kiddos - it is clear that these two should not be in the same grade even though #7 is smart in his own way.  Not even close.  Nevertheless, next August we will start "first day of school" for both of them in two different schools - he wouldn't be qualified or best served in a school that is dedicated to GT.  So, though they are in the same grade (temporarily) he'd be in two different schools.  Which is probably fine early on but will he feel "less than" or Logie "more than" because they are in different schools?  Like one is "better than" or "less than" the other?  I would hope not and we can do what we can do in our family to honor each kiddos own unique specialness, but there's only so much a parent can do.   Let's say we adopt from foster care all of our current kiddos who are not showing signs of giftedness - then we send our biological son to the gifted school (in my most arrogant accent) and our foster kids to the regular school (in my most evil step-mother voice).  Is there not a worse way to separate your kids and make them feel different rather than like one family?  Oh the dilemmas.

This is not the reason I started this post but, seeing as how long this one is now I've decided to change the title and instead write a separate post on the much lighter topic I started writing about.  We'll see how far I can get into that one without getting overly dramatic or heavy on you.  I decided to go ahead and finish writing this out as a way to give it up and let God take control of all of it.  It is my new life theme you know...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mie's Monday Recap

Yo!  (I prefer that greeting).  Sometimes on Mondays I don't have a great Moolah post - so instead I'll share with you sometimes our weekend adventures.  As a working mom I try to make sure weekends are all they can be and maximize the opportunity to be with the kiddos while balancing housework.  I imagine it kind of like the sprint version of what stay-at-home moms do.  (Please note - that was meant to be a compliment to stay-at-home moms who while may not keep up this pace daily, do it everyday and therefore earn marathon status).

Friday Night (...and the weekend's here.  I need to unwind where's the partay....)
  • Left work late (honestly I like working late on Fridays, before kids I used to work really late)
  • Picked up kiddos late
  • Took time to play hopscotch and look at Logie's chalk drawings at school before leaving to pick up the others.  Ran my plans for the evening by him (I almost always do).
  • Picked up the others
  • Headed to Chick-fil-A (just didn't want CiCi's Pizza again) where we learned that this week there is a family event where you get free dinner for dressing up like super heros...just our cup of tea and OH the boys are so excited.
  • Bought dinner.  Sat down.  Began dishing things out.
  • #7 began showing signs of not eating.  Our rule is that you have to eat 2 chicken nuggets (and for crying out loud they are small!) before you can have silly french fries and before you can play.  He threw a fit demanding a ham sandwich.
  • Ignored the fit.  Ate and played with everyone else.  Logie went to play.
  • Cleaned up vomit.  #7 does that when he doesn't want to eat.  He earned himself no playtime and no french fries.  I'm sure everyone thought I was horrible when I calmly explained to him that he vomited over his food and no, now he could not have any fries and no he could not play with the rest of the kids. SOmething about vomiting kids makes everyone around panic.  Not us anymore.
  • Helped all kids get to play area with #7 sitting out.  As #4 started crawling up the ladder noticed her diaper appeared to be leaking.  Play time was over, especially since I didn't have any diapers on hand.
  • Went home, put little kiddos to bed in prep for big kiddos fun night plans - MOVIE NIGHT!
  • I don't remember why now, but #7 didn't get to enjoy movie night, he went to bed too.
  • Watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the original!) with my son - it was his first time.  Had popcorn and bean bags.  Too much fun.  Actually, he did that while I folded all the laundry.  I folded laundry diligently through the entire movie and finished just minutes before it was over.  That was how much laundry I had to fold. 
  • Went to bed - it was about 11 or 11:30.
  • Slept in past 8am - seriously!  Loved that kiddos.  I think I'll reward you.  And keep you quiet while daddy sleeps...
  • Decided to take kids to the museum
  • Finally left the house around 9:15 - headed to get donuts for breakfast.
  • Realized in the chaos I left the diapers (not the bag, just the diapers) in the I stopped at Target where I bought the diapers, donuts, and a chai tea from the inside Starbucks before we got back on the road
  • Stopped five minutes later to clean up vomit.  #8 gets really car sick.  I hadn't even driven 3 miles yet but she vomited up her whole donut.  We now travel with those catchy bib things on her so it's easy to clean up.
  • Got back on the road - it's now about 9:50
  • Drove to the museum and arrived at about 10:40 - I know that because when I got inside apparently it was kids day and because of our membership we got into that part free and she said we had 20 minutes left before it was closed. SCORE!  Did arts and crafts before heading to the children's area
  • Spent about an hour through the kids area.  Had to make a bathroom trip once and only lost one kiddo once for about 30 seconds. That's when I knew it was getting too crowded and it was time to go home.
  • Drove home.  Daddy was awake and wanted to spend time with us!  He suggested CiCi's before shopping. 
  • Which we did - all was pretty much without a hitch except for daddy spilling Logie's drink on everyone.  With 4 kids around surely it was teh parent that knocked over the drink.  The bottom of my shoe was sticky. Which was great because at the store someone left an open can of fruit on the shelf and when I picked it up the juice spilled all over my foot.  Now the top was sticky - I was wearing sandals - oh joy.
  • Drove home again - nap time for everyone but mie and Logie.  We watched Netflix (it's what we do!) but I don't remember what, and I cleaned the house and did more laundry.  I also cooked 2 dinners, one for that night and one for the next/leftovers.  Before the kids woke up I also started cleaning out the craft drawers in the island.  Kids woke up, I wasn't done.
  • Cleaned the house for the next 2 hours while kiddos played.  While I was fixing the mop, the kids pushed over the mop bucket - no need for a fixed mop now I was mopping by hand.  Thankfully I use vinegar as an all purpose cleaner...
  • Auntie K showed up right as the bucket was spilled.  Kids played with their cousins.  I hand mopped.  By this time we had eaten dinner - well some had others had not.  Cousins decided to spend the night.  They also got to clean up the playroom, but not until after I cleaned up Logie's urine from the girl's closet - turns out they were playing baby and he didn't realize they were telling him to pretend...
  • Babies went to bed.  #7 went to bed too because he refused to listen (and it was 8:30)
  • Other kids were able to watch a movie - Cheaper by the Dozen.  Logie insists he wants 100 brothers and sisters.
  • Went to bed at 11:00ish.
Sunday -
  • Woke up at 7:15 to get ready for church.  Got all kids ready for church
  • Went to church - bought donuts on the way.  Had a great church service.
  • Mom flew in over night - skipped Costco and went to the baseball game to see her...drove 45 minutes to get there.  Stayed for 20 minutes and then left back home - it was nap time again.  Drove another 45 minutes desperately trying to keep the kids awake before we got home.  This meant singing "Old MacDonald" as loud as I could the entire way home.  Yep.
  • Arrived home.  Put all little kids and hubby to bed.  Turned on "Cop and a half" for the older kiddos while I watched "napped" on the floor with them...was woken up every 5 minutes for some sort of snack or craft materials and then 30 minutes later doorbell rang.  Another cousin arrived and I decided to just get up.
  • Cleaned for the rest of nap time.
  • Cleaned more after naptime was over.  Played cars memory with #7.  He "won". 
  • Got the kiddos ready to go to the splashpark.  It was about 5:45 when we left.  That's me and 6 kids.
  • Were headed to meet mom & baseball crew at dinner before splashpark. The game went long. I stopped to get gas to kill some time. Then they said they hadn't left yet and it would be another 45 minutes. Broke the news to the kids that we would not be going to the splash park - it would be too late. Took the kids to Red RObin instead of the original dinner location so that they could play games while they waited.
  • Baseball crew arrived at 7. 7 o'clock was the agreed time to call #7s biodad on the phone - we went fine. They all sat down while waiting for us and we had a relatively smooth dinner.  I mean - relatively smooth for 10 people, 7 of whom were children, 6 of whom are under 10.
  • During dinner decided to take the kids to lazer tag that night.  Mom stayed home with babies in bed and watched "Night at the Museum" the second one with the older littles.  I took the oldest two nephews to lazer tag.  I had been talking about doing something "big kiddish" with them for a while because they always have to do babier things with me now that we have little kids and I wanted to do something their age with them.
  • We left at 9pm and arrived at 9:25 - just in time to miss the next lazer tag and had to wait until 10:15.  (!!!)  Waited by bowling for "an hour" which was really 30 minutes.  Played lazer tag.  Had a blast doing it all. 
  • Arrived home at around 11pm.  Little kids were still up (no surprise).  Took a shower and got ready for bed.  Said goodnight to the bigs.  Put Logie to sleep in my room in the sleeping bag on the floor with the caveat that he could sleep with me if he got scared.  I laid down for 2 seconds and he joined me in bed.  "Seriously mom.  I was scared!".  Right. 
And now, here I am. This morning wasn't without adventure of course.  Couldn't find my computer and realized on Saturday when my sister stopped by she had borrowed it. I needed it for work.  So, scurried to go pick it up, then dropped the kiddos off, then realized I had my nieces car seat so went back home and dropped it off before finally heading into work.  Thankfully there wasn't any traffic today. 

Now it's time to work for a few more hours (like you know, 8) before heading home and having another rousing night.  GrandmaMom is still in town tonight but leaves tomorrow, so I expect a late night. 

Phew - How was your weekend?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Life is Crazy - But That's OK! (???)

I am continuously amazed at how my life is going.  You know, it's not as I planned it would be.  I'd be lying if I said I was neutral on the subject - rather the ambivolence is overwhelming.  Some things are much better than I thought they'd be.  Some experiences I certainly wouldn't have chosen and wouldn't have wished for anyone else. 

I have to stop and mention that my son Logie, remember that super cool 4 year old, used the word rather this week.  It made me smile...

6 Almost 8 months ago now I changed the name of my blog from "Life of Auntie Mie" to "Letting Go of Mie".  At that point I had been being pulled apart from the plans I'd had for my life for a couple years and it took that long for me to realize the theme.  My life is not mine.  I've given it up for use by the one who created mie.  I got the theme.  I frequently reference it by mentioning "my plans"...every time I start to talk about or write that down I kind of roll my eyes and chuckle and smile...I get it...even though I keep trying to live my life the way I think I want it to go there are bigger and better things planned for me.  Plans that I didn't make and sometimes those plans are in direct conflict with my plans.  Yet I still keep planning and guessing about what is going to happen next.  I keep trying to figure out God's plans, but really all I'm doing is trying to plan.

Maybe I really do belong in Strategic Planning.  Apparently it's engrained in mie.

Over the past few days there have been more developments in the saga of my life.  Normally I would fret and worry and try to figure it out so I could make a plan.  But this time it's been different.  I've given it up.  Really.  And in doing so I've found that peace that I know comes from God.  I'm not perfect, but I think I've learned a new lesson.

You know I've mentioned several times that I don't know what to hope for.  It's been a struggle in our infertility and then foster/adopt journey.  The situation we've faced with adoption is no different and I believe has magnified that struggle.  Take a generic adoption - what are you going to hope for?  Hope that the birth mother is able to raise the baby?  Hope that the baby comes to you?  Hope that it goes to another family who has been wanting to adopt?

What about my situation?  Should we hope to adopt?  Should we hope to not adopt?  Should we hope to have more biological kiddos and adopt and keep fostering?  What should we hope for? 

I get it.  All of those are the wrong things to hope for. 

Here's what I now hope for:
  • I hope that I can actively choose each day to rejoice in the everlasting life I've been given as a blessing.
  • I hope that God's will is done in my life and those of my family and friends and that He, in His infinite wisdom, will work all the details out.
  • I hope that every child that comes across my life, whether they are placed or not, whether they stay or not, whatever the situation - that they are put in the situation that will help them to know Christ and therefore the hope is that we can be supportive of the path that God has for each of them, whatever that is so that they too can receive the living water I've been blessed to receive.
Really...that's it.  Do I still wonder?  YES!  Do I still agonize?  YES!  Do I fear and get frustrated and get anxious and do the mood swing thing based on whether things are going my way or not?  YES!  Because I'm not perfect and if I've learned anything it's that as soon as I learn one lesson it's on to the next.  And I will be tested...that's what happens with learning right?  What's the point of learning if not to be applied?

But now I know where my hope lies.  I should have known before and intellectually I probably did, but not internally - I may have "known" but I didn't "get it"...there's a big difference. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Foster Parent Friday - Our History and Future in Fostering

As I looked back through my posts I realized I had made a promise to you here to cover a topic "next week".  Well that was in March and "next week" is now today.  Yes I realize that next week should in fact be 7 days away and not 4 months, but forgive me please, life got crazy as it seems to do around here.

Question: What made you decide to get into fostering?

This initial question is pretty simple to answer and that's good because we get asked that ALL the time.  Unfortunately it appears as if the assumed answer is something more altruistic than our honest answer - people seem to expect that we have had this life-long desire to be foster parents or maybe we come from a long-line of foster parents or we were adopted and want to give back or something like that.

Nope, none of that is true.  In my very large family I would have to say that officially there were no foster parents or adoptive parents that I knew of.  Fostering and adoption were not foreign concepts but they certainly weren't familiar to me either.  That being said, when I look back I would have to say that we had A LOT of what I now know as kinship foster arrangements, many long-term.  Both of my parents have 7 living siblings and my number of first-cousins is right around 60.  On both sides I grew up with cousins who were being raised by my grandparents or their own aunts and uncles.  I did have a cousin who was not biologically related at all but was taken in when her own parents couldn't care for her.  I myself had a cousin who lived with my family on and off for 6 years and he was more my brother than my cousin.  And yet I never considered this all being "foster-care" - it was just being a family.  That's what families do (or so I thought...).  I'm just now coming to the realization that God did indeed plant foster-care in my heart when I wasn't even thinking of it.

Nevertheless, when my husband and I dated and then married, we never discussed foster care or adoption as something we wanted to do.  We never really talked about it at all actually.  I do remember before we decided to start trying to have children and my husband wasn't quite ready yet to take that plunge but I was, I would see the news stories about foster care and suggest that maybe we do that while we're waiting to have our own.  It wasn't so much out of a desire to be a foster or adoptive parent but just to begin the process of being parents at all on a more temporary basis.  My husband decided to start trying shortly after that suggestion.

As you know by now (described here, here, and here), after giving birth to a biological son conceived slowly but nonetheless without other intervention, we learned that we were infertile and that being of the severe male-factor variety.  We're technically sterile according to fertility standards and therefore the chances of us having one not to mention multiple children biologically are virtually zero.

So, we went through our options and decided to be foster parents.  Our desire was to foster-to-adopt, most likely a sibling group, this way we could grow our family larger, qualify for adoption assistance (which would help us to pay for the expenses related to growing our family larger), AND give children who needed a home a good family to live in.  When we talked about this decision we (my husband mostly) said that we'd do the foster-care piece 2 or 3 times and if those placements didn't work out for whatever reason, then we'd decide to do a straight adoption from foster-care.  He didn't think that he could handle the pain of losing the children.  Our primary goal was to adopt.  We chose to go through the state for a variety of reasons, but one of them was that the state homes were told they'd get first chance at fostering the younger kiddos, including infants, and therefore we had a chance to have children that were younger than our own who was just 3 at the time.

Since then you know we've had 5 placements and 8 children.  5 of the 8 children have gone home and we can now add 2 return-to care's where we couldn't take the kiddos back into our home and 2 failed adoptions to our foster/adopt belt.  We've also been considered to straight-adopt 3 sibling groups, all of which we were not chosen for during the staffing. 

Looking back from where we started we realize that God has definitely changed our path.  We no longer believe that we are going to be headed for adoptions, have a full house, and then be done with the foster care world.  We have the strong suspicion now (and have since our first placement) that we will be doing foster care for a long-time.  We quickly felt that we'd be one of those families that 10 years from now will say we've fostered  80-100 kids.  We were ok with that until recently.

With the pending adoption of baby, #4, and #1 and #2, that would have put our family at a total of 5.  At this point in our lives we're not feeling that God has called to have us have more than 5 kiddos, so that would mean that our home would be full and we'd be done fostering.  When my husband and I talked about that potential, though we weren't eager to turn any of it down for the sake of future opportunities to foster, we did feel that we weren't done fostering yet.  We honestly knew in our hearts that our home would not yet be closed to fostering, which either meant one or more of the adoptions would fall through or that God would call us to have more children.

And now here we are...we still have 3 foster children, one of which is a pending adoption and 2 of which are still very much foster-care at least until more case decisions are made in August.  We don't really expect them to go home any time soon and though we don't expect #7 & #8 to turn into an adoption (the case is just too crazy) we do expect them to be in our home at least through October and into November, at which point we will probably end up opening our home again for more placements. 

We (I) still have the desire to be pregnant again and give birth to a biological child again someday.  I don't know if that will happen and the longer time goes by the less and less I think that will happen.  I do believe God will take away that desire one day if He doesn't intend for us to have more.  That being said, I also know without a shadow of a doubt that God intends for us to keep fostering, at least for now, with or without the potential for adoption.

It seems we have been molded into folks who, despite our original intentions, will be foster parents for a while.  Flexibility is key - we don't know what's coming next ever and the day we decide to give up trying to guess will be a great day indeed.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fun Picture Project

So, my recent Thankful Thursday post sent me on a mission to find pictures for all of my kids.  This was SO fun.  All of these pictures were taken "naturally" in our attempts to get good pictures.  This tells you a couple things - even though we have a great camera it's hard to get good shots of our kiddos and as you can see I haven't taken the time to get rid of junky pictures in a LONG time.  And I probably won't - because obviously you never know when you're going to need them!  Enjoy - I certainly did!

#1, playing in our backyard sprinklers
#1 again in what we call the "front 9"'s the front half of our backyard looking through the fence toward the "back 9"

Our son Logie & #2 - see the matching?  this is 1 wk after we got them and I took full advantage of having multiple kids
This is me, Logie, and #1 & #2 at the baseball park after winning a trophy.  Amazing how none are looking (and equally amazing how little Logie looks.  It's 7 days after my best friend died.  Her son was there with Granny to pick up his trophy.  My son was the only one there without his uniform on (Hey!  My first time - I didn't know!)
I wish I had one like this for all foster kids - just the perfect cover!  Alas, this is Logie.

A going home picture - we take a family picture shortly before all kids go home.  This one is the day #1 & #2 left our house.  You can kind of see my boot on my leg and definitely the boxes from moving.

This is #3 - his 1st birthday was 3 weeks from the day he came to us.  Planning a 1st bday for a child you've never met before with 3 weeks lead time is interesting at best.  But we pulled it off because that's what foster parents do - no kiddo should ever have to miss his first birthday!  Thanks to all our friends and family who were there.

I loved his interaction with the cake.  It was just great - #3 still.

In here are mie, #3 (way back there) and #4.  Perfect shot for confidentiality! 

Gotta love red eye! 

I love this picture purely because her hair is so cute with that bow.  I quickly learned that ponytails of some sort are absolutely necesary for messiness and bows are absolutely banned because she rips them out (well, now she's better)

This is Logie again - have to have pictures of him in here.  This is him smiling for the camera but keeping an eye on that goat.  I just love that expression - he's an expressive boy and to capture it on camera is priceless.

More goat feeding - mie, Logie, and #4.  Where's #3?  He couldn't come with us to the fair that day.  It was for Logie's birthday but #3 had a visit so caseworker dropped him off at my house with my sister who cared for him until came home.

Us and Big Tex.  Shades and shade plus a non-looking baby make it all perfect.
 This series of pictures makes me just laugh...there were more too...Logie's birthday party and #4 is on my lap.  #4 manages to hide herself from the camera the whole series!

Here my hair is covering her.

Here my arm is covering her
And here my arm is really covering her.

At Logie's birthday in the bouncehouse after everyone left - this is just a perfect picture.  #3 & #4

Right on cue #4 - this was her chuckEcheese birthday party with her cousin who's birthday is the next day.  The rest of us followed directions and smiled but she followed her own directions.

I throw this one in here because it's another perfect example of what it's like to try to take a family picture - Logie's not looking, we're smiling, notice hubby is trying to keep Logie still, #4 is trying to crawl away from mie, and #3 isn't looking either.  Add the blur and perfect!

Daddy, Logie, Cousin A, #3 and #4

Logie is taking the picture.  He did pretty good keeping it still for non-blur but neither baby is looking. Cousin A, #3, #4, Mie, & Daddy

Trying to take Halloween pictures.  The costumes make for great cover but so do bigger kids who entertain. #3, #4, Cousin A, Logie

Then there's this.  I LOVED this picture.  This was the last in a series of 4 attempts trying to get a good one.  Then this happened and I'm sure I dropped the camera to help. (Cousin A, Logie, #3 & #4)

We can use a halloween bucket (#3)

Logie again - he took a series of probably 20 of these...he just kept reposing and asking me to take was cute.

We can hide our face #3

Here's what Christmas morning looked like at some points...Logie & #4.  #3 spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day with his parents.

We try to take a lot of "all family" pictures - so every once in a while we make sure we get "core family" pictures too.

The snowy weather provides good opportunities for cover Logie.

See, snow is great cover!  Unfortunately, it doesn't cover the snot running down her nose #4.

But I still managed to smile at the camera Mie & #4.
And here's one just for fun - It's my nephew in the act of being hit by a snowball by one of his sibilings.  Perfect shot.
A hat can work as cover...Logie and Mie
or you can let the 4 year old take pictures.  This one's mommy.
This one's daddy.
And this is the back of this guy's head.  No joke...I had 58 pictures of the back of this guy's head.  I think Logie was trying to take pictures of all the monster truck action or the big screen.  Not sure which but it ended up with this 58 times.

And here's what it's like to try to take pictures of 3 kids (#3, #4, Logie).  It doesn't work...I tried several several times and each was a version like this.

See...even with me trying to hold them from behind and hide myself it didn't work.  #3, #4, Logie

These pictures above are from #3's going away party...they include #3, Logie, Mie, and guests.  #3 was having nothing to do with taking goodbye pictures.  To be fair he wasn't feeling well.

We actually did manage to get a good version of this one - we were home by ourselves so we had to use the timer which proved challenging for sure.  At least we all were matching!  That of course was totally good fortune as it was st. patricks day and we happened to be wearing our st. patty's day shirts...daddy just had boxers so I'll spare you that.  This also happens to be one of only 3-4 pictures I have total of #5 & #6.  Not sure how I numbered them in the "My Kids" page, but the one I'm holding is probably #6 and the one daddy is holding is probably #5.  Sitting behind mie is #4 and in front is Logie.
I just love this really is just like us - we're pretty connected so when we can't be together we still try.  Logie & Mie

This is actually a good family picture action shot - we only had Logie and #4 at this moment - and she managed not to look at the camera...perfect!  Apparently it is pretty difficult to get a toddler to say cheese at the camera on time.

We didn't stay a family of 4 for long.  First #5 & #6 joined us (see st. patrick's day pic above) then they went home and we were blessed with #8 and her brother (#7).  An Easter basket works to cover the face.

So does blur - Logie and #7. 

#4 (left) & #8 (right) totally taking advantage of the matching...notice the previous pic - the boys match too and so do all of their Easter baskets.  I'm one cool momma.

#7's hair can hide his face as can looking for Easter eggs - but even that egg isn't hiding as well as #7's face!

And more blur...funny how in most pictures Logie is fairly clear but the others aren't.  Either the camera knows which kiddos are already "forever kiddos" or he is much more still than the others.  I could probably argue either point.  This is definitely Logie and #7, but the blur on the far left I'm not quite sure...either it's my friend's son or #8.  Could be either and is probably #8. 

And here's daddy and Logie - just because it's cute.  Notice the laundry next to his hand on the top of the couch. 

Hope you've enjoyed this photo tour of our family and how it's changed over the past year.  I certainly did!