the end?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We are told by our case worker that we likely only have two or three more weeks with our kids. Their aunt has petitioned for custody, and children's services doesn't seem to have any objections. I find myself feeling a little panicky about them leaving. Sure, it's inconvenient to foster and there are eight thousand appointments you have to take them to (thus some of the reason for the lack of blog updates), and I know that it will be way better for them to be with family....but we are attached! I like the challenge of making progress with Miss R, and Mr. R is just so charming and lovey. I'll miss them for sure. All of that said - we're not holding our breath b/c the case has not been excessively speedy so far. At least they'll be here for VBS next week, and hopefully to finish out the next two weeks of swim lessons.

In other news, there's only a month and a half until Katie's wedding! Yay weddings! I still don't have all of my outfit ready, and Maggie and Ben don't have outfits yet either. One thing convenient about men being in weddings is that their outfit is completely taken care of, so we don't have to worry about Wendell. Any leads on little girl dresses? In gold or brown?

embarrassing delays

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Apparently ALL of June is a bad month for me. In between adjusting to the new additions, trying not to kill my own children, and all the appointments we have, it's just so busy all the time. I dislike being this busy and am now really looking forward to school because then two of them will be gone at least some of the time. It'll build a little more structure into our days, I think.

Our experience thus far has not been anything to really brag about. It seems like every week there's another court date where the kids might go home. Then court keeps getting postponed. And the dad is mad at the children's services. And we are mad at Children's Services. Lots of anger going around.

Part of the problem is that we switched case workers, and we have not clicked with this new case worker. She doesn't really contact us in a timely fashion (or at all in some instances). When we met her, we felt like she was disrespectful to us and she just doesn't seem to care very much about the children. In some respects this is good because it makes us just that much more invested in these kids. If no one is going to care about them, then I guess that job is up to us!

So, right now, we're still in a holding pattern. The kids still might go home in a couple weeks (whenever court is scheduled again). If they don't go home at that court date, we expect them to be with us long-term since the mom will likely be serving 8 months or so, and the dad will have to do 3-4 months of his own case plan. They have settled in pretty well at this point. All the kids are pretty attached to each other. That part of it makes me feel unsettled because the more they attach, the harder it will be when they go home. I know it's healthy for them to develop strong attachments, but because I know the pain that is coming, it hurts to see them so close to Ben and Maggie and to Wendell and me.

I think I'll try to start blogging more again and just build this little bit of respite into my life... Wendell is probably tired of hearing me process through all of my feelings (and boy are there a LOT of them right now). :)

the first three weeks

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

well, we are now three weeks into this. It doesn't seem like that long when I think about children being in foster care for months, but when we are living it, it seems very long. :)

The kids have settled in fairly well. The first week and a half went pretty smoothly, but that was before we started visitation with the dad. Well...first let me back up...

Day 1: We get the call and go to pick up the kids at the doctor's office where the social worker had taken them to have an initial exam. They were just waiting in the waiting room with about 30 other people who were waiting to be seen. We sat down at a little kids' table in front of everybody, signed a paper for each child, and then we took them home. That was it. It was very strange and a little creepy. I guess I was just hoping there would be more to it. We wrote down about twenty questions on the way to get them, but it was obvious when we got there that it was neither the time nor the place, and the social worker really didn't know the answers anyway. We brought them home, realized we had no where for the oldest to sleep, and so Wendell went out to get bunk beds for Maggie's room. He put them up, and it took until 11 pm to get everyone to bed. Our oldest little girl was pretty sad, but quiet. The youngest was much more fussy, so Wendell sat with him downstairs while he watched Dora and eventually fell asleep.

Following Days: I was really unprepared for the emotional part of this. I cried a lot for the first three days, I was sick to my stomach, couldn't eat, and I think Wendell was ready to have me committed. The information we were getting from the county was conflicting depending on who we talked to. We had no idea what was going on or what was normal for this situation since this was our first placement. I began to get very uncomfortable about the little girl's age (4 and a half). I had wanted three and under, and couldn't figure out why I had said yes to this old of a child. We really felt like they would go home pretty quickly, but the info was once again slow to come and conflicting in nature.

On Sunday, we had my birthday party, which frankly, I didn't really enjoy because I was so emotionally exhausted. Maggie was unbearable for most of the first week...well, she's still pretty unbearable. Every negative behavior that she had before increased ten-fold, plus we were extra-sensitive to negative behaviors because we were having to spend so much energy on the new children in our family. Part of the problem is that she will have to adjust to not being the youngest and the only child at home during the day. Another part of the problem is that by taking an older child, we negated her ability to become the big sister/helper. Miss R is incapable of playing alone, and Maggie is very used to playing alone so it is causing conflict. I am unwilling to displace her in birth order right now in case these kids go home, but I am also unwilling to keep her as second-born in case they stay because Miss R will go to kindergarten next year. Maggie will still be at home, and therefore the pecking order will clearly change come fall.

Recently, however, we did discover some information about the case that leads us to think that the kids will probably go home with their dad mid-June. This case was unusual in a lot of aspects, but one of the things was that the dad, who did not have custody, wants these kids. There was a conflict of interest in the first hearing (which occurred within 24 hours), so they had to reschedule a second hearing. But they couldn't fit it in until June 12th. Which is ridiculous, I think. The kids' case worker told us this week that Children's Services has no objection to the dad. Which, assuming that the judge agrees, means that these kids will have be in care for a little over 5 weeks for nothing. I feel frustrated on this dad's behalf. It's a terrible situation.

More on the first few weeks later...I'll share more of how the system is working (at least in this particular case) then.

well...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Apparently licensing is less of a hassle than they make it out to be - at least when we really need it. On Tuesday, I received a call about our first placement. I said, "But we're not licensed!" And the case worker says, "well, you will be in twenty minutes!"

So right now I have Miss R (girl, 4) and Mr. R (boy, 2). They also have a little brother in the hospital. He is supposed to come home next week sometime - he's about three weeks old.

I have way too many things going on in my head to write down right now. I'm not sure I want to write all of them down at all. I am so emotional about what's occurring...just not sure what I think about everything. These little kids are really sweet. Well-behaved, polite, and clearly they have been fairly well-cared for. Not to say that they shouldn't have been removed at all - the reasoning behind the removal is obvious. I just have a lot of mixed feelings about them being here. More on that later, I think...

national foster care month

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May is National Foster Care Month. I find this significant (in a way that it's probably not) because we will be licensed in the month of May. Maybe we'll even get our first placement in May - at least it will be easy to remember this way. We've been done with the home study for quite awhile; it just takes time for the case worker to get everything entered in the computer and for the state to license us. I'm praying for this week. It will likely not be before next week though.

There was a great message on Focus on the Family's radio broadcast last week about Caring For America's Orphans. I highly recommend it. I hope that's not the last that we hear about foster care from Christian culture sources this month. I also read a challenging message about caring for orphans last week - I think I may try to post some of it later.

Lately, Wendell and I have been praying and discussing what being so close to the finish line of certification means for us and our family. One of the things that it means is that we are not truly prepared for any age of child. A lot of our things for Maggie were borrowed - some of them by us and some of them we loaned out/gave away. Plus it's been four years, and storage has not been kind to all of our belongings. We finally have an appropriate crib though. As long as there's a bed and a bottle, we should be good for a baby for at least one night.


The other thing that has been very sobering for me is that we've realized that whatever is happening to our children is probably happening right now. I need to be vigilant in prayer for protection for our not-yet-here children and preparation for our current family. If you have any inclination, I request your prayers for our family and our children as well.

next to last official visit

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

we're just waiting to be certified now...

Our case worker will come out one more time to give us our ID badges and get us started with our training schedule since we have to take 20 hours of training a year. Then we'll just wait for the first call! I'm so excited and nervous and scared and just very, very relieved! Our case worker estimates 2-3 weeks for the certification to go through.

We did find out that our crib wasn't up to safety standards like we thought. So now we have to buy a new crib. They are expensive!! Now that most cribs are convertible into different types of beds, people aren't getting rid of them either. I looked on Craig's List last night, and there was nothing in our area at all.

Today I feel very good about everything since we're done with everything we need to do. Also, we're going to plant the rest of the baby trees (hopefully) today. We did 1100 over the weekend, but the remaining 300 need to be planted by hand. I'm praying that it will go quickly. Maybe the cold and the extra rain made the ground a little better for hand planting. It was really easy when we spot-planted in between existing trees, but when we hand plant in the plowed ground, it's a little more difficult. I love planting trees. So, so, so much. It's my favorite part of tree-farming. Wish I enjoyed the other parts this much...

thankfulness

Thursday, April 2, 2009

After our individual meetings with the case worker this week, I am so very thankful for how this process has gone. It's been slow at times, but I am grateful for small blessings along the way. The biggest one for me this week was that our case worker has gone through the same thyroid problems that I have. This is a true blessing because she really understood me and what I had been through. Not only that, but what we had been through as a family. I just so appreciated her perspective and understanding of that given that most people do not understand how much of your physical, emotional, and mental health is affected by a thyroid problem.

This individual meeting, we mainly just discussed things that she wanted further clarification on in regards to my life story questions that we filled out as part of the application process. The life story part of the application is SO involved, and it took forever to fill out. I'm grateful we spent as much time with it as we did though, since there wasn't a whole lot that we needed to discuss further in our interviews. We talked mostly about my strengths as an individual, our strengths as a family, and how we deal with grief, loss, difficult situations, trauma, etc. She did ask if there were things we thought we couldn't handle in a foster placement. That was difficult for me because I honestly don't know! I mean I know how much medical trauma and involvement I feel that we are prepared for, but the emotional stuff, I have no idea about. Maybe I can't handle a child who has difficulty attaching to maternal figures, but there's no way for me to know that at this point. I think I just need to rest in the fact that God has called us to this journey at this particular point in time...so I trust that He will give us the strength and resources to make it through whatever is ahead.

first home study visit

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Our first home study visit was on Thursday this week. I'm very glad to have finally met the lady that we will be dealing with from now on. Not only will she complete our home study, but she will also be one of only two people who make placements in the agency. So we'll be in contact with her quite a bit given the placement thing and the yearly reviews. Beyond my initial amusement when she explained both her daughter's and granddaughter's personality traits based on their astrological signs, we thought she was really nice. She seems very down-to-earth; I was afraid we would get someone who was really attached to the idea of the "rules" working in the same way for everyone...idealistic about how the system works...harsh regarding practical life situations. Not sure why that's what I expected, I guess we've just heard so many horror stories at this point that we don't tend to expect the best. We've been pleasantly surprised throughout this whole process with the people that we've worked with.

This visit mainly consisted of confirmations of some of the info in our application - work, birth dates, what college majors we had declared, etc. We did have the distinct honor of being on record as Spanish-speaking. Even though we don't speak fluently, both of us have a little skill and speak enough that we are confident we could communicate with a young child. Toddlers won't have as much language anyway, so we might actually speak the same amount of Spanish as a child we may get in our home. :)

She did a home safety audit. Most of the stuff we are fine on; we have a few things to complete yet. We can't have hook and eye closures on our doors, so we have to take those out. We also have to safely secure all of our hazardous cleaning supplies and such. Amusingly, they are not safely secured right now. We've just never had a problem with our kids getting into that stuff. Scissors, yes. Can't leave scissors unattended in our home. But bleach? disinfectant? They could care less. However, we need to secure them to be approved for fostering. Also, our guns. We have to have them locked up separately from ammunition - right now they're just packed away in the garage attic, but we need to make sure they get locked up...

So in the next week, we'll be finishing up the minor stuff we have to secure for the safety audit. She is meeting with Wendell on Monday and me on Wednesday to finish up our individual appointments. Then the following Tuesday, we'll meet as a family so she can talk to Ben as well a little. And that's it! We'll have to wait for her to finish getting all the paperwork complete and send it off to the state for approval. Marsha (the case worker) said that could take up to six weeks depending on her caseload. Apparently right now they're in kind of a lull so maybe it won't take that long. I hope it won't take that long!

One weird thing that we have to complete for the home study is this 6-or-so page thing about what characteristics we will and won't accept in a placement. This ranges from medical stuff to emotional stuff to personality traits to familial background; it's really odd to think about. I have such weirdness regarding the whole packet because I feel like we're saying that we couldn't love a child who had certain issues or that we only want this specially-ordered perfect child or something. At the same time, I know it's a practical thing we have to deal with, especially because given our family make-up, home situation, and family life, we couldn't take a child with severe medical needs. Still...it feels wrong to be able to choose that when so many people have no choice with the children that are born to them.

I came away feeling a tad ambivalent about our appointment as well because one of the things that Marsha told us was they've placed a LOT of babies lately. Drug-addicted babies, which means extra care at first. In fact, she told us that when they have babies, they look hard for stay-at-home moms which puts us at an advantage. They've also apparently placed enough babies that she could not think of ONE open foster home in their system for babies. That sounds well and good, but I've been preparing myself for not receiving a baby. I just assumed it would be really unlikely, and I didn't want to be disappointed. So I'm a little disappointed that she told us this stuff about the babies because I feel hopeful again about it. Not that I just love babies more than anything, but I love the idea that it opens up the possibility that if we get to adopt any particular child, they will never know or remember any home or any family other than ours. Not sure if that's the right attitude to have, but I do know that the idea appeals to me greatly.

This ended up being a little longer than expected. I better write what I can now though, because there might be quite a few weeks of waiting with not much to write about ahead for us.

in expectation of thursday...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Thursday is our first meeting with our home study case worker. Which means we are finally almost done with all this. I am ready.

Random thoughts this morning:
  • If you live in our area and you haven't come to eat at the church on Monday nights, you should. It's a lot of fun. While everyone is down in the dumps about the economy, government, etc...I have never been more excited about being the church. Not to completely brag on the church we belong to, but if wherever you are feels a little less than exciting, come to visit Huber, and see what the people of God are doing in this small area of Ohio. It is inspiring. (Now that I think about it, maybe I can post a slide show of some of our activities; I'll have to research that a little)
  • If you're friends with my cousin Jeanne on facebook, I recommend you read her note posted today. It's worth your time. I'll see if she'll give me permission to post it...
  • A close friend of ours begins chemo tomorrow for ovarian cancer. My heart is hopeful for her recovery and heavy for her family. Her son is nine months older than Ben, and knowing how difficult my thyroid problems have been for Ben, I know that this eight-year-old probably has some hard times with his mama ahead.
  • Wendell's home community lost a firefighter yesterday and a few more were injured. While I am sad for the families' and community's loss, I am overwhelmingly grateful that it doesn't really cause me to live in fear of Wendell doing his job. I could live that way (especially when we are touched by these types of tragedies), and when he began, I thought that maybe I would be a lot more fearful, but I think there is something about knowing that he is called to this job that makes me rest a little easier.

finally! a case worker

Friday, March 13, 2009

We finally have a caseworker assigned to complete our home study. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks, we'll be working on that. We also found out about some more paperwork that we have to send in -new requirements by the state. Of course, I asked about this paperwork quite awhile ago since we know people being licensed in another county that had to do it. We were told we didn't need it, but Clark County is apparently just a little behind.... Not that it's hard stuff to do; I was just amused because she explicitly told me we didn't need it.

Now's the time for us (and you, if you are willing) to be in prayer regarding our home study. I am praying that we click with our case worker, that things go quickly and smoothly, that God gives us and our case worker wisdom on how to fill out our file so that we are set-up to receive the kids that will fit best in our family.

In other news, I made a foster-parent friend this week - a lady my dad works with. I am excited to know someone else who is committed to this ministry and who has experience with the system. A lot of the things that she's gone through won't be as applicable to us because we will be accepting different types of placements, but nevertheless, the support is invaluable. We're excited, but still cautiously because until this home study is done, nothing can really happen. Government is SO SLOW!

waiting, waiting, waiting

Monday, March 2, 2009

So we are done with all of the things that we need to do to be approved...well, with the exception of some child-proofing. We want to be sure that the latches we have will be acceptable to the case worker before we install them. Our crib is (thank goodness!) up to code. I think we will need to buy a high chair because ours is wood and doesn't have straps. But we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. I don't want one of those giant pieces of furniture taking up room in the house...

Anyway, we are waiting. Waiting for the county to call us and set up our last couple home study visits. Depending on their workload, I guess it could be a couple more weeks yet. I hope not!

While we're waiting, I'm trying to prepare myself. I'm doing a bible study on Esther, albeit rather slowly. Such is the benefit of doing a bible study by yourself! Wendell and I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. A couple that we benefit greatly from are Foster Parenting (www.fosterpodcast.com) and Creating a Family (www.creatingafamily.com). I also have been so blessed by a blog I read by Kerry Hasenbalg, a well-known speaker and advocate in the national adoption community. Her website is http://kerryhasenbalg.typepad.com/

We'll keep you posted...

private vs. public

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quite a few people have spoken with us or we've read/heard general advice about going with a private agency vs. going with the county direct. I thought for awhile that maybe we had made a mistake going with the county instead. Maybe we have still, I don't know. But there are several reasons why I feel good about our decision to go directly with the county. The first is that the county is the only agency that is non-profit. Private foster agencies, private adoption agencies, even adoption lawyers - all of these people are for-profit organizations. The second reason is that the county will go to private foster agencies ONLY if there is no available placement among their own homes or homes in surrounding counties. So, just as in foster-adopt vs. straight adoption licensing, if we are licensed directly with the county, we will get first priority when it comes to placing kids. The third reason why I have an initial level of reticence with private foster care is that it costs 3-4 times as much to place a child through private foster care. Whereas the payment for a child placed through the county would be about $20/day, when they place through private agencies, they are paying something more like $80/day. This doesn't sit tremendously well with me when we're looking at a system already strapped, a bad economy, and the possibility that funding will lessen depending on the financial direction of the government.

There are some advantages to going with private foster care. The most important that I can see is that you get a higher level of personal care. You will have your own case worker in addition to the child's case worker. You may be much more likely to get personal visits, prompt call-backs, etc. That extra money the county is paying to the agency is clearly going to pay for extra services which are provided to the families. Also, one of the primary places that I see private foster care playing a tremendously beneficial role in is with children who have more special needs - emotional, medical, whatever. In that case, the families who agree to take on the really hard cases will definitely need any extra support they can get. But in my case, at least the way I'm feeling right now - I'm more willing to fight with the system and take less personal service if that means that the county can save some money and hopefully provide needed services to the families that they care for. We'll see if my opinion changes as we continue this... :)

further on fost-to-adopt and adoption

Monday, February 2, 2009

In response to some questions, I thought I would clarify a little for the record why we made the decision to foster-to-adopt instead of just straight adoption through the state. Ohio offers an option to strictly be licensed to adopt through the state. Apparently not all states offer this option, which I find curious. Anyway, we decided not to go that route under counsel from the agency.

One of the reasons is that when kids come into the system, they are immediately placed with a foster family. It then takes a year or more for them to enter permanent custody. They are not eligible for adoption until they are in permanent custody. So in that year, these children have lived with one or more foster families, all of which have first 'dibs' when it comes time that the kids enter permanent custody of the state. We, at this point, feel strongly about not upsetting our birth order of the children we already have, plus we were counseled to stick with younger kids while we have young kids in the home still. As you can imagine though, it is very rare for toddlers and infants to enter permanent custody without an already identified foster home. Most of the time, if they are not adopted by relatives, the foster family that they are already living with adopts them. It is very difficult to get a very young child through adoption-only. I'm sure that there are instances where it has been done, but by and large, it's not really how the system works. (At least as far as our research and what we've been told....once again - we are NOT experts on all parts of the child welfare system)

We realize that choosing to foster first opens us up to some risk. In fact, they used to call foster-to-adopt "legal risk". The social workers may have a very good sense of where the case is heading, as in the one mom they have right now who is pregnant with her eighth child and all previous seven children have already been removed. Chances are high that this mom will not retain custody of this baby. But they cannot guarantee that...thus the 'risk'.

The thing that we are currently reminding ourselves of is that there are no guarantees in any section of life. I cannot guarantee that Ben and Maggie will live to reach tomorrow. They could have died at birth, even days, weeks, or months later. The fact is, they aren't MINE. They belong to God. I get to love them and live with them, but I'm not in control of their lives...or their deaths. So when I think about how much 'risk' we will accept in this process, or when I start to push to minimize all risk, I am taking things out of God's hands and trying to take control. We will have to make tough decisions in this arena when we start to get calls for placements, but we have to not try to control all parts of this situation. We're not in control. There is a huge possibility for pain, just as there is with having biological children. We could accept a child only to have them reunify with their families weeks or months later. I hope and pray that we will not have to experience that, but I don't know for sure where this journey will lead us. I have mixed emotions anyway because I very strongly believe that the absolute best place for any child is with their biological parents in a healthy family. So I expect some emotional conflict regarding the hope for healing and reunification with children's birth families vs. our desire to grow our own family through adoption.

I'm sure there will be much more to say about this portion of our journey later...many more hard decisions to come...we would definitely appreciate prayer for this aspect.

back to the beginning

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Ok, back to the first class. We've had quite a few distractions lately, not the least of which involves a lot of struggle with Ben. It's understandable because we've had such upheaval in our lives lately with babysitting Hailey, my thyroid troubles, and all the adoption classes and discussions. If anyone knows someone who adopted or fostered after having children of their own, we would appreciate any advice on how that affects the current children. Or any resources to help us involve the children while keeping them secure and less fearful.

Anyway...our first class was awhile ago, but we've only had 4 total because we had a snow day for one of our classes. The first class we talked about the differences between foster care and foster-to-adopt and straight adoption. This is information we found EXTREMELY useful since some of it we didn't know at all. It was nice to hear some myths dispelled and confirmation of some of the instincts we had about the whole process. We talk more about differences between foster care and adoption in several of the classes, but this was a nice overview.

The basic difference, which seems like common-sense but has a lot of different aspects you don't think about, is that a foster child is not legally your child and an adopted child is. This means that you don't make decisions about your foster child's future, health, travel plans, schooling, etc. without the consent of the biological parent/s. For instance, we would not be permitted to cut a child's hair without their parent's prior permission (beyond just maintenance trims, that is). Also, we have to inform the parents of all scheduled doctor, therapy, dentist visits. We cannot take the child out of state without the permission of the parents. It seems like a lot of questions and rules, but according to our instructor, it works very smoothly and without incident most of the time. There are rules that are common to all foster parents regarding the care of foster children, but there will also be individual agreements between the biological family and the foster family regarding care as well.

Once the child is adopted, then all the decisions are legally yours as if the child were your own biologically. Adoption usually can take place within 2 years of placement. Two years is pretty much the maximum allowed by the state barring any court actions. Different counties tend to view this in different ways. Apparently the smaller counties tend to be a little more strict on the deadlines, but Montgomery County has a TERRIBLE reputation for not terminating parental rights in a timely manner. Ohio has a House Bill that designates 1 year as the deadline for terminating parental rights. There can be two 6-month extensions based on evidence of the parents' compliance with the requirements to regain custody of their child/children. Thus, the 2-year thing for adoption. However, a child could be placed with us that is further along in the process, so legal adoption could occur as soon as 6 months if we would get a child who is in the custody of the state already. That probably won't be what we choose to do because it makes it much more difficult to get a child. We will probably weigh the 'risk' of reunification with the parents when we are presented with the opportunity to take a child. The county usually has a pretty good sense of whether or not the children will reunify with the parents when they do a removal. And frankly, the rates of reunification are not all that high in general.

There's obviously a lot more to all of this, and we would be glad to answer questions if anyone has any...not that we're experts by any means; we only know what we've learned in class and from our research. But it basically comes down to this - adopting through the system is the absolute safest way to adopt period. (This does not include the risk of children reunifying with their parents during the foster care portion because you do not absolutely have to foster in order to adopt through the system.) The reason it's the safest is because all legal requirements are already fulfilled through the state. Once parental rights are terminated, then that is the end. (At least in Ohio) Private adoption in the US is probably the riskiest of all scenarios, but I know of several people who have had/are having problems adopting overseas as well. There's a lot of deception that occurs in both of those situations. Private adoption, especially, runs a big risk of the birth mom/dad changing his or her mind or lying about things on the agreements, etc. This reassures me about the process. I'm a little scared of the foster portion because we will be choosing to accept some risk of family reunification when we foster. (which I am so conflicted about because OBVIOUSLY the best choice is for biological families to reunify and heal, but we really want to adopt as well...) The adoption portion, however, does not scare me in the slightest because of how secure it is.

hope and disappointment

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I haven't blogged in awhile; I've been feeling pretty run-down and blogging seems to take so much emotional energy for me. I had high hopes for increasing my blog posts, but now I feel like I've let myself down. I've been reminded lately of how much I set myself up to be disappointed...last week I received some disappointing news regarding one of the aspects of our foster care paperwork. It wasn't that big of a deal and was easily fixed, but I just felt so let down. It was something that I was depending on someone else for, and it just didn't pan out in the way I expected.

This week, I received disappointing news about my health. I thought things were in a really different place regarding my thyroid issues...well, I knew I was still sick, but for some reason, I had put it in my head that when I visited the doctor this week that he would make me well again. I'm not sure why I've been believing this; it's not like he's magic...nevertheless, there it was, that hope I had for him. Once again, I left feeling tremendously discouraged and let down. I had really pinned all my hopes and plans on this one doctor's visit, kind of just ignoring what was actually going on in my body.

I know the reason for all this disappointment - it's misplaced hope. I had hope in other people for my application, I had hope in the doctor for my health, I had hope in myself for accomplishing my lists...all that hope that I'm placing everything and anywhere but in God. So the only thing on my list this week (and forever, really) is to put my hope in God and Him only. Yes, I know he uses other people and medicine and my abilities to get things done, but if I rely on those things without really seeking Him about those things, then I'm missing the point. I think I tend to compartmentalize, thinking, 'hey, God gave me medicine, it will eventually make me better and thus, I do not need to bother Him with this issue anymore., Or...'God called me to do this job, He gave me these specific abilities, and thus, I do not need to ask Him about it anymore.'

Now that I write this stuff out, I realize how ridiculous I sound. It's not like I stopped seeking God or spending time with Him, it's just like I have made my life a list of problems/needs and solutions. I have a pattern:
1) I consult God about these issues.
2) As soon as I feel He's given some sort of answer, I mark it down in the "solution" column. Even if it's not solved completely, I take what He's shown me as the final solution.
3) I mark it off the list completely, never to bother Him with it again.

Clearly this a pattern that is not working in my life. And the only way I'm going to make it through life, and especially this adoption journey, intact is to establish new thinking patterns.

New pattern:
1) Lay down my pride (thanks Jeremy Camp). It's embarrassing to admit that maybe what I thought God was telling me wasn't His final word to me in those situations. It's embarrassing to admit that I only sought His input to a certain point. It's embarrassing to admit my health weaknesses. I hate being weak or wrong. But now I have this step:
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

2) Seek God about ALL my needs, problems, life...continually...remembering this step:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5
Side note: it doesn't say "look to me, find your answer, and then go merrily along your way"...it says, "remain in me".

3) Put my hope for my solutions in God and God alone.
Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past.
Psalm 25:4-6

one training session and two psa's

Monday, January 5, 2009

Tonight was our first night of training, which we did in Greene County since they are apparently sharing training sessions now so that each session can be fuller. There was a full house tonight, about 16-17 people or so. Most of them were couples, although there was a single older lady and a younger (25-ish is my best guess) single girl as well. I'm excited about doing the rest of our training, since our teacher (Maggie) was very personable and quite funny. I was expecting something much more dry and clinical than what we got tonight, and I was really thankful to be wrong. Another couple there, also going through Clark county, is at an almost identical point in their process as we are. I was encouraged that we have people to talk to while we do this process. If all goes well, we'll be ready and licensed by the end of February, maybe even a little sooner.

I came away still fairly nervous about the process...not the licensing process, but what happens when we actually accept a child. I have SO many questions still about how it will work in a very practical sense. I feel like we understand the legal and red-tape aspect of it ok, but the one thing that we don't know (and I'm not even sure that anyone will be able to tell us) is how it will work when we actually bring a child home. Hopefully the next few weeks will give us some help with that though.

We also got an answer to prayer today as Wendell does not have to go on the business trip that would have caused him to miss one of the sessions. That would have potentially put us 2-3 months behind in the process. We could use continued prayer that nothing will come up that will cause us to have to wait for the next session to complete our training.

A couple of lessons from this evening...public service announcements, if you will.
1) The iphone GPS/navigational app is very very poor. That, and I don't know how to use an iphone very well. It doesn't have any directional capabilities, so if you want the directions to be going in the same direction you are, you have to continually rotate the phone around so it looks like you are going the right way. Fortunately, we made it there ok. Also, if you are using said application and it asks you if you want to drop a pin, say no! It is not going to do what you think it is. I'm not sure what it means or why it dropped pins all over (probably had something to do with me clicking yes, yes, yes), but DO NOT drop the pin.

2) If you are a man, live in Ohio, and are prone to having sex...you should register with the Putative Father Registry. If you do not register, yet somehow father a child with someone who is not your wife, this registry will protect your paternal rights. Apparently, after every "encounter", shall we say, you should just go ahead and register with this government database. It will require that you put your name and the name of the woman with whom you have had relations, as well as the date of said relations. If you do not register and at some point wish to prove paternity or take custody of your child, the courts will apparently not look favorably upon this failure to document your relations.

To summarize your responsibilities...say you've had sex. With a woman capable of childbearing.
Ask yourself these questions:
  • Am I married to the woman I just had sex with?
  • Am I certain that I am going to be with this woman forever?
  • Did we use birth control correctly (or at all)?
If the answers to any of these questions are no, then I encourage you to visit the Putative Father Registry of Ohio at http://jfs.ohio.gov/pfr/. Your children may depend on it. This concludes my public service announcement.

Quite Good

Saturday, January 3, 2009

I was watching an episode of Mad Men this week where one of the characters is thinking of adoption (and apparently - well at least according to this particular TV show - in the sixties, adoption was not all that common), and someone says to him "well, it's just not natural!" That particular conversation really stuck with me because of some verses that I've been meditating on. What is more natural than adoption? It's exactly what God intended from the start. It is His plan.

"Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved." Romans 8:23-24a

"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will..." Ephesians 1:4-5

Six years ago, I received my first adoption information packet from Family Life. Just basic stuff, but what struck me most was all the scripture included with it. It had never occurred to me before how much the orphan was mentioned in the Bible. I never took seriously the verse in James about the true religion that God accepts being that which cares for the orphan and the widow (James 1:27-28). And when I got to the verses about our adoption into God's family, it was humbling to realize that I never even paid attention to what the Bible actually SAID about this issue.

Adoption always seemed like some far away issue for me. I knew people who had adopted, but it was only overseas and only infertile couples. It took a couple years past that first packet before I started really hearing about and listening to options that weren't international. International adoption seems (still) a little glamorous to me. Plus, there are so many horrific stories about failed domestic adoptions. International adoption is touted as a "safer" option. That appealed to me for awhile, until I started learning about how many children are waiting for adoption right here. Our conversations about adoption took a different turn about 4 years ago or so when Wendell and I realized that it wasn't a far-away issue...it was a next door issue. We decided that we couldn't justify thousands of dollars and work for an overseas adoption when children in our own area needed a family to love them. We can't deny the child we see at the store a loving home in favor of our own personal "safety" when it comes having a child become a part of our family.

We need a continual reminder of the oft-used (perhaps over-used) quote from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe where the children ask the beaver if Aslan the Lion is 'quite safe'. The beaver replies, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe, but he's good. He's the King, I tell you." This path, it involves risk to be sure, but there are no guarantees with any child. Ben or Maggie could have died a day, a week, a month after they were born...they still could be taken from us at any moment. Fortunately, our children are not our OWN. They are God's. They (and us, too) belong to a King who most definitely is not 'quite safe'...but He is quite good.
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