adoption update 4.0

I can’t believe that its been over 4 years since we began this journey. It’s had surprising twists and turns, many delays – both perfectly timed ones and ones we don’t understand. We really thought back in September something was finally going to happen, but after 5 months of silence since then from the Haiti social services department, we and our agency have concluded something got lost in translation and we didn’t get the referral we were hoping for and anticipating based on the payment requested and given.

It’s been hard to keep hoping and dreaming of our family being complete with our kid(s) home. It’s been difficult to keep trusting that God knows what’s best for us and knows the timing that’s perfect as well. But its been good for us to keep looking to Jesus, reading His promises that He is working for our good and His glory, and for us to keep loving the kids God has brought to our home through foster care.

We hope that 2017 will bring us a match with the kid(s) God has for us, and maybe even see our child(ren) come home. In the meantime, we’re going to: keep practicing Creole (I’m about to label everything in our house with it’s Creole word), pray for our kid(s), update our home study, ask God to move mountains, get to know more Haitian adoptive families here in MN, continue learning about adoption and attachment, and love the people and live this life God has put right in front of us.

We also still have more money to raise, especially if Haiti does match us with siblings. You can go check out our Adopt a Love Story page!

adoption-header

2016 Year in Review

The Year that Was – 2016

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before? Took the kids on a road trip by myself. Set foot on the African continent, specifically Morocco! Took an epic westward road trip with our family. Saw my little brother get married!

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I made goals again, (not resolutions) and made headway on many. Several will move over into this year’s goals, and others will fall into the crevice of unmet hopes and good intentions. 😛

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? yes! Several good friends and my sister-in-law.

4. Did anyone close to you die? No.

5. What countries did you visit? Morocco! It was incredible. I also made layovers in Spain and the U.K., but those hardly count. And new states for me: Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and North Dakota on our epic Last Great Adventure of the Summer Road Trip.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016? I repeat from last year and the year before: our yet unknown, but very loved already, child home from Haiti. More patience and time (use what I have more wisely).

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Sept. 1 – because its the day we left on our big road trip that we’d planned for months.

8. What was your biggest achievements of the year? Taking the kids on our spring break road trip to TN. planning and going on our family vacation out west with Kyle. And homeschooling again this year. We also helped several families with their foster babies while they went out of town and had a couple sweet kiddos that stayed for weeks or a couple months this year.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not setting my phone down enough.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I didn’t, but we had a CRAZY October with an emergency room visit with Grant for croup, followed by a foot infection that went berserk and landed Kyle in the hospital for five days for treatment.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Tickets to Morocco. (Plane tickets often make it into this slot.)

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Jackson’s. He grew up so much this year and is such a great kid. I’m constantly blessed by his sweetness, his helpfulness, and his excitement for life. He took off in reading, he plays so nicely with his siblings, and he has a heart for other people to know God and love Him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Donald Trump. Hillary Clinton. All politicians everywhere.

14. Where did most of your money go? housing, food, church/missions and gasoline.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to Morocco! Our trip west. My brother’s wedding.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016? She’s My Wife – Josh Garrels, The Dark Before the Dawn – Andrew Peterson, Hallelujah – Andy Grammer, What Would I Do Without You? – Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? happier. less stressed!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? writing. I have no idea where my writing self has gone…she took a hike and I need her to come back to me.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? aimless Facebook scrolling. Being short with my kids.

20. How did you spend Christmas? we opened gifts at our house on Christmas Eve, then went to church Christmas morning, and left Kyle home to sleep/work. I took the kids to my parent’s to open gifts and eat dinner, then on to Kyle’s parent’s to open gifts with his family. Grant had a minor cold that went into full blown miserable mode by the end of the day, so I ended up taking him to the ER to get meds for an ear infection and didn’t get home until nearly midnight.

21. How did you spend New Years? We went to a friend’s house and had pizza. Our kids played, we grown-ups talked – it was nice! Then we tucked the kids in here at home, and Kyle and I prayed and kissed at midnight.

22. What were your favorite TV programs? This is Us, The Great British Baking Show, and Grantchester.

23. What were the best books you read? Secrets of a Charmed Life, a fascinating and riveting novel about life choices and their impact on others, set in WW2.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Hamilton: the Musical (MIND BLOWN) and Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

25. What did you want and got? A trip to Haiti.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? I can hardly remember which movies I’ve seen over the year…I’ll come back to it if I remember.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 34 and it was a lovely ordinary day. We had a little family celebration with dinner and cake before rushing off to coach Jack’s soccer team and play a soccer game. The next day we went up to Two Harbors to camp while Kyle ran Grandma’s Marathon. Later in the month we went to dinner and a Josh Garrels concert and that was kind of my birthday date. It was great!

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Like I said last year – the adoption process being over and a child home in our arms.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016? Dialed in. I know what I like and I have found my groove. Classic with my own twist.

31. What kept you sane? Working out at the kettlebell gym, good music, my husband, and God’s Word.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Nope. Nobody.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? The election. Mostly just depressed me though.

34. Who did you miss? my friends that live far away.

35. Who was the best new person you met? a beautiful soul in Morocco named Kaltoom. She is a friend of my friend and she welcomed me into her home and life with open arms and a generous heart. I was blessed so much by her.

36. Tell us some valuable life lessons you learned in 2016: I can road trip with three kids and survive just fine! Being consistent in exercise/working out at the gym makes me more disciplined in other areas and helps maintain my mental health. I LOVE lifting heavy kettlebells. Kyle and I make an amazing road tripping team and our kids are road trip warriors. I love supporting the global workers we know and want to make visiting them and seeing their lives up close a regular event for us and our family.

And here is 2017 already!  Welcome to a new year – I am excited to see what miracles and beauty you hold and what challenges you bring our way, all under the mighty hand of God.

overheard 2.0

when the kids say something funny or cute, i try to write it down immediately on my phone and/or when I post it on Facebook, then dump them all here. It’s been more than a year since I last unloaded the hilarity onto these pages, and a lot of funny things have come out of kid’s mouths since then.

Taylor keeps us on our toes, and is always talking, so there is ample opportunity for something hilarious to pop out. So the following are things she’s said in the past year:

  • I told Taylor to please go to her room to find a happy heart and to quit whining. Moments later I heard a mournful cry from her room, “I can’t FIND ONE! It’s LOST…forever.” Oh the drama with this one.
  • “You have to be so so so quiet, ’cause you don’t want to unsurprise it!”
  • “I got a letter cut!” (a paper cut.)
  • Said to her brother, Jack, when he wasn’t sharing with her: “YOU’RE SINNING!”
  • As I tucked Taylor into bed one night, and was getting ready to walk out,she grabbed me and declared, “I’m never letting you go…I’m PHAROAH!” We both laughed!
  • While taking care of her bathroom business: “I’m gonna stink this place up!” (And boy, does she!)
  • One night she asked if God would please give us another girl so we could have three girls in our family to play princesses. So sweet.
  • She heard sirens while driving somewhere with her Grandm Meri. Grandma tried to explain why the sirens were on: to go help someone who is hurt. Taylor retorted, “Yeah, Grandma is called an EMERGENCY.”
  • Water leaked out of her sippy cup on to her dress: “Water! It’s so, so, so…wet.”
  • After eating Grandma’s birthday cake (probably mostly frosting): “My tummy hurts because I LOVE cake!”
  • Talking to her daddy one evening: “Daddy, can I kiss you? Because I love you. I miss you so much when you’re at work, and when you go places by yourself. But when you’re here, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. So I kiss you.”
  • We let Taylor participate in the communion service around Thanksgiving. Taylor leaned over and stage-whispered to me, “Is this the blood? Because Jesus had blood in him. I need to drink more blood.”
  • After hearing me tell Grant, “I love you, fat baby!” Taylor said to me, “I love you, mama fat!” Later she came by and said, “I love you, but I won’t say chubby mama, ’cause that’s RUDE.”
  • One warm summer day, she was convinced she was sick. “I’m so dehydrated and I think I have a beaver.” (Fever. And no, she didn’t.) LOL.
  • Taylor was out with her aunties at a softball game and was getting tired. Auntie Anna held her and Taylor got incredulous. “Where’s GRANDMA. This is NOT how Grandma holds me.” well!
  • She was very pleased with her outfit one day: “This is soooo FAB-LEE-US! Isn’t it, mom?”
  • At a lake: “Don’t step on the allergy!” (Algae.)
  • When her throat hurts, “I have a throw neck.” (that’s a combo word: sore and throat = throw.)
  • She thought something she heard was funny: “That’s HILARIOUS. Is hilarious a bad word, mom?”
  • Telling me a story: “Yeah, I LUsually do it too.”

 

Grant

  • Oh-KAI. (How he says okay.)
  • In November 2015, after seeing his dad and big brother play lots of football, he wanted to play too and would say, ” SET. HIKE. CHUCHDOOOOOWWWWWNNNNNN!”
  • Singing Twinkle, Twinkle: “Winkle winkle yillll taaaaar.”

four years, sixteen kids

Today Facebook reminded me that four years ago we were first licensed to provide foster care in our county. It was several more months before a child was placed in our home – siblings, actually. I’ve kept each name written in a little notebook, and I have a picture of most of the sweet kiddos who have stayed with us. Some only stayed hours. Others days. Two teeny tiny babies stayed months.

We’ve had great experiences, and terrible, total breakdown moments. Our hearts have been broken over the pain and suffering these little ones have endured. I have been desperate to know how to help more than one screaming baby find comfort, since their mommy couldn’t help.

We have worked with social workers and birth families. We’ve seen kids who have stayed with us join forever families that loved them fiercely. It’s been a joy to see children return to their families who are more ready and equipped to properly care for and parent their kids. We have known that kids were going back into a situation where they could quite probably be hurt again.

It’s been so good, and so hard. Fostering is full of these strange marriages of bitter and sweet, good and bad, hard and easy. It’s good to provide a place for a child who needs a safe home. It’s bad that any child can’t stay with their first family. It’s hard to say good-bye, but it’s easy to hold a tiny infant.

It’s bitter sometimes to put aside what I want to do and what I want my life to look like to care for another child, to lose sleep because a toddler can’t rest in a strange bed…but it’s so very, very sweet to earn the trust and love of a small person who has been hurt so often by the people they should be able to count on always. It’s sweet to see them smile shyly and lean in for a hug. It’s sweet to hear them tell a silly story and laugh together. It’s sweet to see the way God provides for us, physically and emotionally as we soldier through this hard and good thing to which He has called us.

We’re taking a break from (as I’ve called it) “the fosterhood” for awhile. Back to back placements from July-January and very unique circumstances around both of them were taxing. A recharge and regroup was in order. It’s been a crazy adventure, this foster parent thing. But I can definitely say I’m glad we’ve done it and I’m glad we can do it again. Kids need love and people who will care for their souls and bodies. I can do that! We can do that. I’m so glad we can do that.

2015 Year in Review

The Year that Was – 2015

1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? went to Haiti, vacationed with girlfriends in Denver, started learning a new language (Creole), and became a (foster) mommy to preemie girls.

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I made goals again, (not resolutions) and only accomplished a few. It was kind of a depressing year for unmet goals, but i also have to take into account that I had surprise foster babies twice in the past six months.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? yes! Several good friends. No new nieces or nephews this year, though.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit? HAITI! and I also visited Colorado for the first time beyond the Denver airport. And we did our epic road trip to FL and back over New Years 2015.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015? I repeat from last year: our yet unknown, but very loved already, child home from Haiti. More patience and time (use what I have more wisely).

7. What date from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? helping to raise two tiny preemie girl babies that came to our home through foster care. Most of the second half of 2015 was consumed by caring for their precious, tiny selves. That I survived this year and didn’t completely self-destruct is a miracle from heaven above.

9. What was your biggest failure? not losing these stubborn pounds, in spite of my not-small efforts. I guess being the ripe old age of 33 and stress worked against me like a dynamic duo. 😛

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? 

11. What was the best thing you bought? 

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? This one goes again to KYLE. He encourages me, plays with and loves our kids, is a kick-butt deputy/sergeant, loves Jesus and His people well, serves others, makes the important things a priority and is just a really awesome guy. I love him.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Donald Trump. The Republican party that spoke out against accepting refugees from Syria.

14. Where did most of your money go? housing, food, church/missions and gasoline.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Going to HAITI! it was so amazing and I cannot wait to go back.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015? Rend Collective’s whole “As Family We Go” album,

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier or sadder? about the same –

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Praying. Reading. Writing. Playing with my kids.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Stressing out. Being short with my kids.

20. How did you spend Christmas? we opened gifts at our house on Christmas morning, then went to my parent’s to open gifts with the whole family, then on to Kyle’s parent’s to open gifts with his family! It was a full, full day.

21. How will you spend New Years? With my people, maybe at a church party, then at home. I probably will go to bed early and welcome 2016 the following morning.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Sherlock and Parenthood. 

23. What was the best book you read? 

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? New music by Rend Collective

25. What did you want and got? A trip to Haiti.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? 

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 33 and had a really nice getaway with Kyle overnight. We went for a run by the Mississippi, drank coffee on the deck at my parent’s house,  ate lunch outdoors at Sea Salt, and then went back to our crazy kids. So kind of my parent’s to watch them so we could enjoy a little break.

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? the adoption process being over and a child home in our arms.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015? Basic and colorful.

31. What kept you sane? my husband, my friends, coffee, and the Word.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? 

33. What political issue stirred you the most? The refugee crisis.

34. Who did you miss? my best friends that live far away. and my Grandma Alice.

35. Who was the best new person you met? 

36. Tell us some valuable life lessons you learned in 2014:
Life with three kids is insanity. I developed a deep love for SILENCE this year. 🙂
The journey of adoption rarely goes the way you anticipate. And the road is long…
I love throwing parties and I’m good at it.
My heart language is music and drama and performance. If I don’t sing, I die.

And here comes 2016!  Welcome to a new year – I am excited to see what miracles and beauty you hold and what challenges you bring our way, all under the mighty hand of God.

fostering in real life

If Kyle’s post about “not having it all figured out” didn’t come across plain as day, here’s some more “real life” from me about fostering. Warning: I’m about to get reeaaaaaallly vulnerable/honest here.

You guys, I NEVER, in a million years would have imagined, planned, or dreamed that I would become a foster parent. When I was a kid, I never said, “When I grow up, I want to be a foster mom and adopt all the kids in the world and have a huge family.” You wouldn’t have even heard me say, “I think maybe I’ll be a foster parent someday,” when Kyle and I got married.

When Kyle brought up the idea of becoming foster parents, I didn’t think twice about it before I said yes, but not because I LOVE kids and imagined a houseful of them. Not because I am super nurturing and really affectionate and want to cuddle every neglected baby either. But because I knew it had to be done.

If not us, then who? There was a need, and we could meet it. There were kids who needed parents who wouldn’t hurt them, and we would be safe and loving. There were kids who needed a place to sleep, and we had beds.

Let me tell you a secret (okay, it’s not really a secret): I don’t LOVE being a foster mom. It’s freaking hard to be a parent, and it’s even harder to parent a little person you’ve never met and have to figure out and sometimes don’t understand at all. It’s exhausting to figure out each baby and wake up with them every night. I turn into a monster version of myself with little sleep. I go into survival mode and it’s really hard for me to deal with the new “normal”. The past two months with our latest tiny have been some of the hardest of my life.

But I do LOVE obeying Jesus and I feel strongly that He made it plain how we should live – for others. For the glory of God. And the fact that He DID call us to this, means that He also makes me able to do it. I’m still not necessarily GOOD at it, by my standards anyway, but I am able. I can love this baby. I can feed this kid and read them books. I can take this baby to dozens of doctor’s appointments and meetings and therapy sessions. I can do this while we are asked to do it. But I’m just not amazing. I’m doing it, and I’m trying to keep my head above water.

That’s not to say I’m not INCREDIBLY proud of what the little babies that have been in our care have accomplished. Or how they’ve changed from when they joined our family to when they’ve gone to be with family. Our latest little peanut has gained three and a half pounds! and is cooing and smiling and doing all the things she should. We packed the pounds on the previous kiddo too and saw her happy personality emerge and crack the shell of insecurity she had when she came to us.

I have to also give so much thanks and tons of credit to the many, many people that come along side us and make it possible for us to DO this, as imperfectly as we do. We have been overwhelmed with support – gifts and babysitting and friends who come to fold our laundry and pizza delivered and clothes and diapers and most of all, prayers. Many times when I’ve been at the end of myself, someone messages and reminds me they have my back in prayer, and oh go get yourself a latte with this coffee gift card. (Amen and thank you, Jesus.)

And yes, it’s hard to say goodbye. In some ways, there’s a sigh of relief, if we know the child is going to a place where they will continue to be loved and cared for. It’s always amazing how “easy” it is to go back to just our belly babies (bio kids) after a long time with a bonus baby. But I grieve. I hold my kids tight and we talk about the babies and the kids that were in our home most recently. I peek at her daddy’s Facebook profile and see if there’s a new picture of her. When our current sweetie goes with her family in a few weeks, I hope and I think that we’ll have the privilege of staying in touch with her family and seeing her sometimes

I just had to make it clear, again, that I am human and not a saint. I have my terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days as a parent. And as a foster parent. This is hard and I’m not good at it, but God’s grace, some high nutrition, and snuggles make up for my shortcomings most of the time.

 

 

Don’t You Want to Thank Someone For This?

Life has been more than a little intense/crazy/full lately. We’ve had a teeny, tiny foster baby in our home for just over a month, and somehow late September and October’s calendar got cram-jam packed with events and hosting people for meals and going places and and and.

I’ve barely had a moment to myself, and haven’t been doing a good job of staying in the Word in this time when I so very desperately need Jesus to help me carry on. In this place of my own slackness, God has used music, mostly from Andrew Peterson, to speak to my heart and bring His truth to my fraying at the edges heart/mind.

About three weeks ago, I was particularly weary of soul. As I walked down the stairs to move the laundry over, with a tiny dirty diaper in my hand, I saw my husband reading to our younger two on our bed. It was a sweet moment, and something touched my heart – a deep gratitude welled up and I had lyrics from “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone” dance through my head. I sank to the step, tears falling, and just thanked the Lord Jesus for all the things. All the hard, all the good, all the sweet, all the bitter that is makes up this season in my life.

There’s so much that’s broken here – I wouldn’t be a foster mom if it wasn’t broken. Babies are supposed to live with the mamas that gave birth to them. We wouldn’t be adopting from a hurting country like Haiti where so many parents can’t even afford to feed their kids, if the world was as it should be. As it will be someday.

But then there are moments that just take my breath away with beauty and love and light. When the baby smiles in her sleep, or when the chubby cub of an almost two year-old leans in for a hug and a slobbery kiss. Or when the sassy little four year old girl in my house tells me, “Mom, I just want to be with you.” And the time my big, almost-grown-up boy climbs up onto the couch and snuggles in as close as he can for the few short minutes before breakfast must be eaten and lunches made for school and clothes put on and the van loaded with all the small people in our house and he’s dropped off for another day of school.

  
I want to thank someone. And I know Who to thank. Jesus, thank you. Heavenly Father, thank you. Thank you for your redemptive work that is taking place. Thank you for making all things new again someday when you return. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Come soon. Hallelujah.

Can’t you feel it in your bones
Something isn’t right here
Something that you’ve always known
But you don’t know why

‘Cause every time the sun goes down
We face another night here
Waiting for the world to spin around
Just to survive

But when you see the morning sun
Burning through a silver mist
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

Don’t you ever wonder why
In spite of all that’s wrong here
There’s still so much that goes so right
And beauty abounds?

‘Cause sometimes when you walk outside
The air is full of song here
The thunder rolls and the baby sighs
And the rain comes down

And when you see the spring has come
And it warms you like a mother’s kiss
Don’t you want to thank someone?
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

I used to be a little boy
As golden as a sunrise
Breaking over Illinois
When the corn was tall

Yeah, but every little boy grows up
And he’s haunted by the heart that died
Longing for the world that was
Before the Fall

Oh, but then forgiveness comes
A grace that I cannot resist
And I just want to thank someone
I just want to thank someone for this

Now I can see the world is charged
It’s glimmering with promises
Written in a script of stars
Dripping from prophets’ lips

But still, my thirst is never slaked
I am hounded by a restlessness
Eaten by this endless ache
But still I will give thanks for this

‘Cause I can see it in the seas of wheat
I can feel it when the horses run
It’s howling in the snowy peaks
It’s blazing in the midnight sun

Just behind a veil of wind
A million angels waiting in the wings
A swirling storm of cherubim
Making ready for the Reckoning

Oh, how long, how long?
Oh, sing on, sing on

And when the world is new again
And the children of the King
Are ancient in their youth again
Maybe it’s a better thing
A better thing

To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken then redeemed by love
Maybe this old world is bent
But it’s waking up
And I’m waking up

‘Cause I can hear the voice of one
He’s crying in the wilderness
“Make ready for the Kingdom Come”
Don’t you want to thank someone for this?

Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Hallalujah! Hallelujah!
Come back soon
Come back soon