wife to Jake, mommy to my 3 crazy munchkins, Lily (7), Jonah (5.5) and Kate (4). Taking this crazy blessed life one day at a time.

9.20.2016

From homeschooling to public school

I have had quite a few people ask me about our school year this year, so I thought I'd give a little update. 

As most of you know by now, we had 2 foster children, 7 and 9, come to live with us over the summer. Before they came, we were fully committed to homeschooling Lily, Jonah and Kate again this year. Curriculum was already bought and organized in our homeschool room and Lily  had even  started her new math book already; she was too excited to wait until the start of the school year! ( I still have it if anyone is interested in a grade 4 math curriculum....)

C and S came to us as an emergency placement. We were not expecting to have any more children come to live with us for a while, if at all, because of where we were in the process with Sam. C and S coming was completely unexpected, and even though we were very slow to say 'yes' to them, we felt God's hand in the situation and knew that they were meant to be with us for this time. 

Foster children can not be homeschooled, so saying yes to them meant that we needed to have a discussion about schooling and that we had to be open to possibly changing the plans we had for the school year. 

After being a family of 8 for a couple of weeks, we decided that it would be best to send all of the kids to public school for this year. 

I was relieved, because the thought of homeschooling the 3, and then having Sam at home when he is becoming more mobile by the day, and then having 2 in school, was really stressing me out. But I was also really really disappointed. Our school year last year was really difficult, but it was also really great and the kids LOVED being homeschooled. 

We told the kids our decision about school and Lily and Jonah both cried. A lot. Kate on the other hand, was thrilled, since she's the only one that has never been to public school before. 

We talked to the kids about it throughout the summer and little by little they were becoming more okay with the idea. 

Meanwhile, I was having doubts and was feeling really sad about sending them to school, especially about Kate since she's been home with me for so long. I was really questioning whether or not this was the best choice for us. 

We all went to 'new student night' at the school and that really sparked a lot of excitement in the kids. They saw their classrooms and their desks and cubbies. They saw their friends names and who was in their class. They toured the school and met the principal. For me, it was so strange to be back in that setting and especially to see Kate's name on the desk in her classroom. But after that night, the kids couldn't wait to start! 

This week is their 4th week in school and so far, it has been GREAT! I really didn't know what to expect, having 2 kids that were starting a brand new school (after joining our family less than 2 months before),  2 kids going back to public after being homeschooled, and 1 that had never been to public school before. 

All of the kids love their teachers (and so do I!), Kate is thrilled to be in school, C and S are making friends and Lily and Jonah are enjoying seeing their old friends again. 

Even up until the first day of school, I was still feeling really sad about not homeschooling and was praying hard that this year would be a positive year for all of them. But after that first day, I have felt so much better. The kids are all happy, they are getting a break from each other and get to be around new and old friends, Jake and I are getting lots of time with Sam which has been just awesome, and Jake and I are getting time together, which has really made a huge difference in our days, our weeks and in our marriage! We have even started going out on weekly breakfast or lunch dates with Sam and it has been wonderful. 

So, for now, I can say that this year, sending the kids back has been the right choice for us. We will see how much the kids are still loving school once the homework starts coming home, but for now, I am thankful that we are off to a great start and I feel peace about sending them off to school instead of guilt.

I don't know what we will do next year, but we will see how this year goes and we will take it year by year. I am thankful that we do live in a town with a great school system and that we have the choice to do what is best for our kids each year. 




8.02.2016

One Step Closer

I don't remember a time in my life where I have cried happy tears and sad tears at the same time. 

Today was a big day for us. 

Today, our baby boy became legally free for adoption. 

When I got the call from the social worker, I cried. When she called a second time, I cried again. 

At first they were only happy tears. 

From our perspective, we have been waiting 357 days for this. We have loved this boy as our own from day one and each day we love him even more. He is a part of our family and we can't wait for him to be ours forever. 

But then they became sad tears.

From their perspective, they are about to lose their son. Even though he has us, our boy has lost his mom and dad. Despite the good that comes from adoption, there is so much loss and heartache. No matter what happened to his mom and dad, whether they willing gave him up or tried their hardest to get him back, that family is losing their son, their grandson, their nephew, their brother. And he is losing them. 

Yes, he is gaining a lot (and so are we!!), but there is no denying the loss that accompanies adoption.

So, today there were happy tears and there were sad tears. 

But we are one step closer to adoption day. 

What is next?

30 days. 

Birth mom has 30 days to appeal. 

If she does, it bumps the adoption out a while, maybe a long while (think 2 years).

If she does not, he will be ours this fall. 

30 days. This is our last major hurdle. 

Part of me really can't believe it. 

I am so thankful. 

Even though this process is incredibly difficult, I am so thankful for that little boy and who he is and what he  brings to our family. I'm thankful for a faithful God that has been with us every step of the way. I am thankful for the outpouring of love and support from all of you. 

Stay tuned- 30 days is going to go by in the blink of an eye!

(and for those of you that saw my post on facebook, don't get too attached to his name- even though we like it, it will  be changing soon :)  )








7.02.2016

...and then there were six. {our third foster care experince}


As of yesterday afternoon, we are now a family of 8. 

Last week, we got a desperate email from DCF, asking if we would be able to take in a pair of siblings; an emergency placement. 

Our first thought was "no way". 

We were not looking to take on more kids just yet, especially because of where we are in the process with baby J. But we asked for some more information on the kids. 

After learning a bit of their story and their background, Jake and I were feeling very conflicted. We wanted to take them, but we were (okay, mostly I was) really scared about taking on 6 kids. I mean, 6 kids is a lot of kids! 

All week last week I had a knot in my stomach and was feeling nervous every day. We were praying and praying about it and decided that we couldn't make a decision without meeting them first. We needed to see them in person, see how they acted around each other and around our kids. 

So we arranged a playdate for Sunday. All of the kids thought we were just meeting to play with new friends. We spent 3+ hours playing and talking and it could not have gone any better. As soon as I saw them, the nerves and the knot in my stomach were gone.

Jake and I weren't even home from the playdate before we knew what our decision was. 

We told our 3 that night and their reaction was priceless. They all gasped while covering their mouths  with their hands, and were grinning and giggling like crazy. The way they open their hearts and love so easily is just incredible.

We spent last week prepping the house for 2 more kids, rearranging kids rooms, building beds, buying towels and toothbrushes and journals (among other things). 

Yesterday, Jake went down with the social worker to pick them up. It was not easy waiting those few hours for them to come! 

S and C finally came and so far things have gone so much better than I expected. 

We are all quickly falling in love with these two. 

I know that we are going to have rough days. I am sure after a couple of weeks here, when they start to feel more comfortable, we will see things that we aren't seeing now. And that's okay, we expect that. 

We went into this with the mindset that this is just temporary- until they are matched with a pre-adoptive family. But I have a feeling what we thought would be just temporary, just might end up being forever. 

I love God's sense of humor. We started this whole adoption journey looking for a sibling group between age 0-5. And what do we end up with? A newborn boy and a boy/girl sibling group age 9 and 6! 

So for now, we have:
Lily-9
S-9
Jonah-8
C-6.5
Kate-6.5
Baby J-11 months  

Life has just gotten much crazier but so far, we are loving it. 


Our first meeting

 I always loved this table but now I am really thankful for it!!

4.25.2016

adoption update

Well, since my last post, quite a bit has happened. 

For the past 8 months, DCF has been working to reunite J with his birth family. 

It was 8 months of uncertainty about whether he would stay with us or be reunited, but it was also 8 months of loving on the sweetest little boy. 

A few weeks ago we found out that J's goal changed from reunification to adoption. 

This means that they are no longer trying to reunite him with his birth family and are instead working to find him a forever family. 

Since this change, I have had a lot of questions about what's next for us and for him. 

So, here's what has to happen before we would be able to adopt him:

- J is assigned an adoption worker
- lots of paperwork needs to be filled out
- DCF is searching for other members of J's family that could possibly adopt him. (Biological family comes before foster family)
- If they find possible family members for J, that family would need to go through and pass everything that we went through to become a pre-adoptive home.
-If no family is found, then we would be named the pre-adoptive family for J. 
- We work with social workers to see if we can agree on open adoption terms with birth family (if it's looking like an open adoption case.)
- Then lawyers and social workers go to court to try to terminate parental rights. 
- If everyone has agreed to open adoption terms, then after rights are terminated, we schedule the court date for the adoption finalization. 
- If terms were not agreed on for the open adoption or if judge wants a closed adoption, birth family has 30 days to appeal. 
- An appeal would prolong this entire process 1.5-2 years (!!!!)

So, right now, that is what we are facing. It is quite the process! But it is worth every second we get to spend with J. 

So many people tell us and other foster/adoptive parents that they "couldn't do it." That they'd "get too attached." 

While it has been hard falling in love with this baby and not knowing his future with us, can't we say the same thing about our biological children? We don't know how long we have with them or what their future holds. But we love them unconditionally, provide for them, meet their needs, have fun with them and live each day not knowing what the next day holds. 

Same with foster care. These kids need a family that will just love them and provide for them and keep them safe. They need you to get attached! And they need to attach to you! Even if you don't know how long they will be with you.
If J were to leave our family, I imagine I would feel the same as if one of my biological children suddenly left our family. Foster child, adoptive child, biological child- it doesn't matter- you don't know what God has in store, so don't let that stop you if you feel led to pursue foster care or adoption.

This process, although very hard, has been life changing for us and we have grown as a family and individually in so many ways. 

Not once have I regretted taking J into our home. 

And even if we all end up heartbroken at the end of this, I can guarantee all 6 of us wouldn't trade these months with J for anything. 

That being said, in our situation, things are looking promising that he will end up with us. We won't know for sure for a few months still, but we are very hopeful. 

Thank you to everyone that has been praying for us and supporting us through this journey- we are so very thankful for you! 


3.18.2016

"Trust Me"

Everyone knows that the foster care/adoption process is not easy.

We knew that going into it. We heard it in our training classes, from our friends, from our family, from our social worker and from strangers.

But I can tell you, it's harder than you think. It's harder than I thought it would be.

It's hard filling out all the paperwork and going through the training classes and meetings, but you get through it and move on to the next step.

It's hard waiting and waiting for an email or phone call about a potential placement. It's even harder saying "no" when you know in your heart it isn't the right fit.

It's hard when you say "yes", but then they pick a different family.

It's hard when you finally get that call and the answer is yes and suddenly your world has changed.

It's hard, so so hard, when every Thursday, reality smacks you in the face when you talk to his social worker about visits with birth parents.

It's hard not yet knowing what will happen.

This journey is so much more difficult than I thought it would be. And I'm not sure you can fully understand it until you are experiencing it.

A few months ago, I was feeling very anxious about everything. It was a really rough visit with birth mom for me and I was feeling really discouraged when I heard a voice say, "Trust Me."

That was it.

"Trust Me."

And since then, I have felt peace.

This is the only time in my life where I am certain it was God speaking to me and I have never questioned that.

"Trust Me."

Things are starting to happen in J's case and over the next few months, more of his future will be decided. Will he stay or will he go?

"Trust Me."

The thing that I realize about these words, trust me, is that God is not telling me that J will stay. He is not telling me that he will go.

He is telling me through two simple words, that whatever happens with J, He is in control. He loves me, He loves J, He loves my family, and whatever happens in the end, will bring Him glory.

"Trust Me."

Knowing that we will be finding out in the coming months about J's future, I have felt myself begin to get anxious again. But remembering "Trust Me" and how I felt when I first heard those words, I feel at peace again, but it is still so hard.

We love this baby more than words can express. Please pray for his future, the next few months with meetings and court dates coming up, pray for us, for patience, for understand, for wisdom, and to continue to trust.




11.09.2015

all in.

As we first began going through the steps to become a pre-adoptive home, there were many things about adoption that scared me. 

" Are we doing the right thing? Is this going to be too much? Can we afford more kids? Are we crazy?! How will our biological kids feel/act/behave? What if they don't like us? What if this is too hard?"

As we moved through the process, slowly those fears began to fade away. A few remained, but I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing. 

When we finished our training classes, even though they were terrifying and heartbreaking and scary and hard, I felt oddly peaceful and the excitement really began to grow. 

But even as my excitement grew, there was still one real fear in my heart. 

" Will I love them? Will they feel like mine? Will I want to smother their little faces with kisses like I do with my other kids? Will it feel like babysitting? Will it feel the same as my other three?"

These thoughts and fears were very real for me and made me second guess our path once or twice. 

Then we got D for one week. Respite care. We knew he couldn't stay. He already had a family trying to adopt him.

But we got a glimpse. A little peak at what it would someday be like for us. When we wouldn't have to send them back once we all started to get attached. 

And that little glimpse made us all excited for the future and a little of that fear began to fade. 

But I was still unsure. Still some of that fear lingered in my heart. I wasn't all in with D because we knew he wasn't ours. 

And then came J. 

A baby. 12 days old. 

The first couple of weeks and months were hard. Suddenly having a newborn again is not the easiest transition in the world. 

But life was good. We were all soaking in life with new baby. Well, as much as we could with construction and schooling and soccer and so on. 

Once we had J, that fear I had was no longer.

It is amazing to me how quickly he felt like mine. Like a part of our family. Like he had a piece of my heart all along. 

But now that J is about 3 1/2 months old, things are changing. 

He is sleeping better, he is happier during the day, he is showering us with the most precious smiles and coos you have ever heard. 

I suddenly find myself head over heels for this boy. 

I think I was not all in the first couple of months because, let's face it, life with a newborn is hard hard work. 

But now that he is moving out of newborn and moving into baby, I realized today, that I am all in. 

I love this boy more than I was expecting. 

I love him like he is my son. Like he always was my son.

I think it is so beautiful how God can grow this bond between people and how they can become yours even if you don't share the same blood. It is incredible what the human heart is capable of.

Now, the only fear that I am left with is J's future. 

We pray that he will end up wherever is best for him. Wherever he needs to be to learn the love of Jesus and to share the love of Jesus, let him be there. Whether that's with us, or with his birth family, let it be. 

The only thing is, all 6 of us are all in. 

But that's just what J needs. He needs us to be all in. And we are.

I am so happy and relieved to say that the fear I had in my heart about loving a child that I didn't give birth to has vanished. God works in wondrous ways and just as He has adopted us and loves us and gives orphans a home, He has given us the ability to do the same. It brings tears to my eyes thinking about how much I love J and how incredible it is to love someone this way. 

Blood doesn't make you a family. You make your family. You choose to love. Always choose love. 


10.26.2015

An update and some Q&A.

Well, it's been nearly two months since my last post so I thought it was time for an update.

J turns 3 months old this week. It's crazy to me how quickly he's becoming a baby and not a tiny newborn. 

The BEST thing about J right now are his smiles and coos. Seriously, is there anything better?! I think not. 

Life has been stabilizing a bit since he is getting bigger and is on more of a schedule now, however life is still completely crazy with baby, house construction, grad school, homeschooling, and all of J's visits and appointments. It's all going fairly well, but it's been the busiest time in our lives hands down. 

I have been getting a ton of questions about everything going on, especially with J, so I thought I would answer some:

Q: So, did you guys adopt J yet? 
A: No. And if we are able to, it won't happen for a long time.Like years. He is not on the adoption track yet, as pretty much the first year of his life, his goal is to be reunified with his birth family. 

Q: So, what do you know about his birth mom?
A: We know little bits, and are learning a bit more as time goes on. But we are not really able to share any of that info publicly. 

Q: Did you name him? 
A: We did not! If you know him, you know that his name actually fits in well with the rest of our names, which is fun. But birth mom named him and gave him a pretty good one, if I do say so myself :) 

Q: Did you expect/Did you want a baby?
A: NO! We did not expect a baby at all! If you've read any of my other posts about our adoption journey, you know that we were looking at 1-3 kids from ages 0-5. Honestly, Jake and I thought we would get a sibling group of 2 with one closer to age 4-5 and one maybe age 1-2. Everyone knows that the wait list for babies is always really long, so we just assumed that we would never get a baby. But we got the call, said yes, and we are so happy to have J with us. 

Q: So when is your house going to be done?
A: Well, there is no real timetable since Jake is doing most of the work himself, with help from my awesome father-in-law. He is thinking we will be able to move up into the new bedrooms in the spring. But it really just depends on how quickly Jake works :) 

Q: How is homeschooling going?
A: Honestly, not as well as I was envisioning. It is going pretty well- the kids are enjoying it and doing well at their work, but I am not loving it as much as I thought I would. But we are still getting started and finding our way and there is still plenty of time for things to improve. 

Q: How is J sleeping at night?
A: Much better! He's up once or twice for a bottle and usually goes back to sleep easily. I'm still always tired because life right now is just so exhausting that I don't think any amount of sleep will feel like enough! 

Q: How are the kids doing with J?
A: The kids are amazing with J. They love him so so much and it has been so awesome to see them love and care for this baby. They want to hug, kiss and hold him all the time (unless he's crying....) and are quick to help out when I need it. They even change some diapers and give him a bottle! 

That's all I can think of for now. Please continue to keep us in prayer as I do not foresee things slowing down for us anytime soon. 

We are so thankful for the prayers and support from all of you!