Friday, November 21, 2014

the first day with our new addition ..

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Phew, here we are, almost 3 months in with our new little peanut.

There is so much to update, so much to remember, so much to share, so much I dont feel like I can share.. and so on. The transition to 4 has been just fine but my "free time" is out the window and gone so its a lot harder to find the time to sit down and write all this out. At least while we are deep in newborn-hood ... once she sleeps longer than 30 minutes during the day I know it will be better.

But I finally have a moment to sit down at the computer so I thought I would update our little blog. This has actually taken weeks sitting here and there to write.

Thank you to those of you who have prayed, reached out, celebrated, listened, interceded, called, texted, sent cards, sent meals and loved us so well in so many different ways. We've needed it. I love running in to people and them begging to see her picture and wanting to hear all about her. It thrills me to know she is adored all over!

I feel like there is a fine line of what Im "allowed" to share and what I can not share. Im not sure I know where or what the line is. But I do feel deeply convicted to respect her birth mom as I share details. I also feel deeply convicted that her, our foster-daughter's, story isnt completely ours to share. Its her story to share. (it PAINS me to type out foster daughter.. that is not what she is to us.. so I wont ever say that again. Just so you know. Regardless of what happens.. right now she is our daughter in this house. She is a sister to 3 siblings. I dont say that with a dramatic undertone, I promise. I just wanted to throw it out there.)

So, here is some of the story. Forgive me if I share too much or dont share enough.

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(blurry because someone else took it - but it works)

We got a phone call on Wednesday afternoon, September 3rd, letting us know there was a baby who had been born and needed a home. A girl? A boy? I had no idea - just a baby is all I knew. Freeland was at work. I got the phone call from our resource manager first. She thought I had already received the news so she was calling to check how I felt. I had no idea what she was talking about because I actually had not received a phone call. So it was a little anti-climatic in that sense.

I immediately called Freeland and told him to keep his phone by him at work because we'd be getting a call and I had no idea when.

Around 5:00 I received a phone call from the case worker with more information. I sat in the backyard while all the kids played and got some details on what the history was and what we could expect and I was able to ask questions as well. In hindsight - it was basically a 10th of the story. But, I told the case worker yes - before I talked to Freeland.. knowing Freeland would say yes too.

And he did.

We sent out texts to family letting them know "ITS A GIRL" and within the next 24 hours we would have a little girl in our home once again.

And then we waited. I immediately wanted run to the hospital to get her. I mean I already said yes - why couldn't I be there? The thought of a little innocent baby spending another night in the hospital alone without a parent by her bedside was a lot. (not to worry, I later learned she was never alone at the hospital! Which made me cry big alligator tears of joy too. Also, her birth mother was there with her as well and even when the birth mom was discharged from the hospital she did come to see her) The baby wouldnt be discharged from the hospital until the next day and they had to get the legal work done for us to be able to come and be there with her. At least, thats my understanding of why we had to wait?

The way I felt after receiving the phone call and knowing a baby would be placed in our house was definitely not how I expected.  Of course I was thrilled and couldn't wait to see her and have her with us. We were ready and excited! But it also just felt heavy. The minute I was on the phone with the case worker hearing the details and knowing what we were doing .. I just felt the weight of it all. The reality that our celebrating was at the expense of another mothers pain was a lot.  Of course, I knew this going in to it. As a foster parent this is how it would look. A child is being taken from a home and from parents and being put in to yours. They arent asking to have their child removed. Yes, you could say their decisions led to this and analyze it a hundred different ways but it doesnt change that its still painful for everyone involved. So even though I knew this going in to it .. living it out feels so much more messy and complex. I found myself so excited one minute and so grieved the next.

The conclusion that Ive come to so far is that our response and our feelings are just a realistic response.  Adoption and foster care feel really glorified when its far off and something we're dreaming about and reading about but the reality of it doesnt "feel" as glorified. Its a person you are dealing with. Its heartbreaking and there are a lot of unknowns and even though its been WONDERFUL (seriously) that doesnt mean it hasnt been without an ache too.

okay.. moving on.

So, on Thursday morning I dropped River off at school and ran around town like a mad woman/hot mess grabbing diapers, formula, preemie clothes, bottles etc. It was so so fun. It helped a ton for me to wrap my head around all of it. I loved spending the morning gathering things for her and praying and calling people to let them know. The funny thing is I always thought we'd be placed with a little boy. I never imagined an infant girl! It was such a surprise. I loved spending those hours wondering what she looked like and what her little personality would be like.

Freeland had the afternoon off (even though he was on call.. raise those hands up yall .. that was the Lord. He actually never once got paged the entire night either) so he got home and we pulled out the swing and all the baby items and got them set up in her room. It was a sweet time of expectation and the kids were precious.

We watched the clock like crazy waiting until it was time for us to go. Finally it arrived and we make our way to the hospital! (actually we still left early because - we're impatient) We took the kids over to my friend Te'sheba's house and then we headed to the hospital to meet our daughter. Wylder cried because he was so sad he couldn't come with us. Which I just love his sweet heart.

Freeland and I spent the drive praying together. Praying over the baby, praying over the birth mom and her family, praying over the case workers and our own family too. Its hard to describe what it felt like pulling in to the hospital and waiting for the case worker to come get us with no idea what was about to happen or how to prepare ourselves. Being a first time placement was strange. There was so much unknown for us. But there we were - waiting. Nervous, excited, grieving for her birth mom, it was somber and exciting all at the same time. The case worker came and found us and walked us up to her room.

All eyes were on us as we walked through the hallway (this may not have been true but its how it felt) Then we turned the corner and right across from the nurses station was her room. It was dark and there was this little itty itty bitty baby bundled up that I could barely see.

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She was in her little bed just sleeping. (which is hard to believe because she rarely did that again once we got home! ha) She was perfect and beautiful and peaceful and so so so adored by everyone there.

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Freeland & I sat trying to take it all in. I picked her up first and got to hold her. It was overwhelming and sweet. But at the same time there was a ton of information being thrown our way and papers that needed to be signed and staff coming in and out of the room. So while I wish I could say it was such a dreamy moment - it was just a really realistic moment of the fact that we were foster parents too. In hindsight I would have just asked for a moment to sit and see her and wait to do all the logistics after. Actually, if I had it my way, Id ask them to let me just stay at the hospital with her for 2-4 days bonding .. but we all know this already, right? I love the hospital! ;)

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After we got as much information as we could and signed all the paperwork and hugged the nurses and the social worker and the case workers and thanked them for all they had done and were doing and for adoring this sweet little girl and standing in the gap for her - we walked out.

Officially as a family of 6 for the first time.

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I got in the car and sat in the back with her because I just wanted to sit and stare at her. She was the tiniest thing I had ever seen. (she was about 4lbs and 15 ounces when she left the hospital which I know isnt THAT little in comparison really but to me it was so little).

On the way home we found out that our friends had ordered pizza for all the kids to celebrate and pray together so we headed back to the Olivers so the kids could meet their sister for the first time and so we could spend some time in prayer with friends.

There is a picture of all the kids (ours, the carlisles and the olivers) all standing at their window from inside the house trying to see her as we pulled up. I love it! Then they all ran out to greet her!

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We didnt make it home until almost 8:30 or 9:00 that night. And there we were putting 4 kids to bed.

It was crazy and its still all so surreal to me. Life didnt stop or slow down. That was the strangest part. Having a newborn in the home but your husband going back to work the next morning at 5:45 and still needing to get the other 3 kids up and out the door for school. Ha. I mean I just have to laugh at that. But the Lord has so graciously sustained us in the midst of a very busy season.

So there is the story of the first day with our little nugget. The kids are HEAD OVER HEELS in love with her. I keep saying that if anything - all of this was worth it just to see their love for her. Ive never seen River react this way to a baby and be so affectionate and enamored. Its so sweet. Wylder of course loves her deeply. That boy cant get enough of babies and he tells EVERYONE about her all the time. Chapel, oh my goodness, she was my biggest concern. You may not know, but Chapel was basically attached to my hip for the first 18 months of her life. Rarely even letting her dad hold her if I was in the room (if I was gone - no problem) and she even freaked out if her own brothers were sitting in my lap. What was she going to do with a new baby? As you can see in the pictures above she immediately took to her. I stood there in shock and couldnt believe my eyes. I was prepared to have to have Freeland hold the baby all night while I held Chapel. But its like from that day on Chapel has been fine. The first thing she wants to do each morning and after her nap is go kiss and hug baby sister (and say "its okay sister I got you") if anything she loves her a little too much and Im constantly supervising how much affection is shown. I still, 3 months later, cant believe how well all the kids transitioned to having another baby in the home. Dont worry, theyre already asking for another one too!

I hear a baby crying so thats all I got for now. Excuse the typos and rambling. I didnt have time to even pretend to check any of this. (as if Ive ever cared about grammar) Thank you again for always celebrating with us and letting us share our journey with you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

God writes a good story .. we're officially done and waiting

The other weekend after texting my friend Sarah back and forth all morning after a series of crazy things she responded by saying "God writes a good story" and I laughed.. its so true.

The funny thing is I feel like we're just still in the forward and haven't even reached the first chapter.

I want to write this out so I can always come back and see it and remember it and most importantly so I can share it with our children .. but I also want to write out this story as it happens to share it with all of you. I understand that we are in the midst of it and our hearts are tender right now so we have more emotion invested in the story and I'm sure that will be clear as I write it out (today and I'm sure as we move forward too)

As you know, we had our final training August 16th to officially be certified as foster parents and have our name on the list of "open beds" who could bring children in to our home.

Our case worker let us know, about 2 weeks before it, the 8 hour course was happening and we had to be there. This course only happens every 3 months so if we couldn't make it we would be waiting another 3 months. (I know this probably doesn't make sense.. how could they only offer it every 3 months when there are children waiting for homes? It is because they don't have enough families willing become foster parents to offer it every month. So sad)

So, the bad news was, Freeland was already on call August 16th - the day of the training. He tried to change his call day and couldn't but thankfully his friend (and the other resident with him) graciously offered to cover his call during those 8 hours so we could both make it to the class.

I found a sitter and asked our friends down the street to help watch the kids for 8 hours while we were gone. Freeland had work covered.. the kids were covered.. we were good to go and by 4:00 that afternoon we would officially be done and ready.

Freeland still had to round Saturday morning at the hospital since he was the one on call so he was going to do that and meet me back at the house at 7:45 so we could leave once the sitter arrived. (bless her heart for coming so early to take care of the kids)

and then at 7:30 I got a text from Freeland that some things had come up and he was going to have to go in to surgery at 8:00 ... therefore he would probably be missing the training unless something changed in the next 15 minutes.

I got in the car and started driving towards the class. I texted my friends and told them the situation and that we had 10 minutes for something to change and to be praying. Its a 30 minute drive for me so the entire time I spent praying knowing that whatever happened was the Lords will... if Freeland didn't make it - we'd just wait another 3 months.

But I didn't want to wait another 3 months. I was balling crying.

Fifteen minutes went by and Freeland texted me that it wasn't going to happen. He was stuck at the hospital and couldn't leave. The surgery he had to do was going to take 2-3 hours and there was no way he could get out of it or get it covered so he couldn't make it. I sat there balling crying the rest of the drive. I couldn't believe that here we were thinking a child could be in our home any day now and instead it wouldn't be until November or December.

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As I pulled up to the building I had come to a peace about it (umm, I know, from balling crying to having a peace - that was fast. I cant explain it except that I feel like we're on a roller coaster).

I knew this wasn't a surprise to the Lord.. only to us. I knew if He wanted Freeland to be there - He could get him there. (the surgery could be canceled, the crazy stuff that came up could have been resolved, someone else could have stepped in.. etc.) I knew the Lords timing was perfect and His plan is always perfect .. and that the disappointment I felt was only because of my own expectations.. it wasn't a disappointment in the Lord. My friends had all sent me texts reminding me of these things and as I walked in the building my 'mourning' from the drive turned into dancing.  In my spirit I had a peace and just kept praying over the Lords plans. I started remembering how much joy there is in waiting. I started thinking about what the Lord could be up to by having us wait and felt a peace again.

Our class started and Freeland texted me that he was going in to the O.R. and the surgery was about to start... and that was that.

I even posted this onto Instagram (this is a variation of what I posted .. since 2 minutes later I deleted it):


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Right as I posted that and set my phone down I asked our instructor, just to clarify, when the next course would be and explained why my husband wasn't there. She told me it would actually be 4 months because they wouldn't offer it until December this time.

Sad.

and right then my phone started buzzing.

It was Freeland texting me saying "surgery is finished".

WHAT???

the 2-3 hour surgery was done that fast?

I jumped up and blurted out "wait! His surgery just finished.. if he left now can he still come to the training"?

You should know, this is not okay. You normally have a 15 minute window and if you are later than 15 minutes you can not come in to the building or and even if they did let you up to the class - you would never get credit for finishing the class. It was crazy that I even thought to ask knowing the answer was a big.fat.no since it had already been an hour.

Every person in the class stared responding "let him come. Tell him the answer was yes and just to get in the car and start driving.. come on .. let him come... " and then the instructor responded and said "okay, tell him to start driving and I will go work out the details" I explained that he was still 30 minutes away so it would take even longer for him to get here.. she was fine with that and went to let the man who was in charge know.

WHAT???

YOU GUYS. I cant even explain that. It may not make complete sense to you .. but THAT WAS A MIRACLE. let me try to break this down:

-Freeland's 2 - 3 hour surgery is done in 30 minutes. (the patient was okay! No worries)
-his attending tells him not only to go and try to make it to the class.. but that he (the attending) will close the surgery for him so that he can make it. (THIS IS UNHEARD OF) Freeland said okay, still thinking at the time it was impossible for him to make it but he would try since the attending was offering.
-I somehow take the risk to ask if after an hour he can still come to the class
-the instructor and entire 'system' says yes that he can come.. and they will meet him at security and work out all the details.
-Freeland makes it to the class ridiculously late when normally there are no exceptions to get into the building.. much less the training.. if its more than 15 minutes after the class starts. (I'm not sure if its this way in all counties - but in ours its that way)

so many details... all just worked out... right then and there. An hour and a half later Freeland was sitting next to me finishing his training.

I deleted that instagram post (2 minutes after I posted it) and replaced it with this later that day:

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And by 4:00 that afternoon we were both done and done with all our certifications and training and home study and the whole shebang.

Freeland & I were crying on and off the entire day. I don't always realize how tender my heart is in this season because it doesn't feel that way day in and day out. Until I realize that I'm crying off and on during conversations with Freeland .. and he is doing the same. So I realize this entire post may seem like "big deal it worked out and he made it. you could have just written that at the last minute he made it" but we see it as much more than that. I understand that a huge reason why we see it as more than that is because our hearts are so tender right now and also because we're in the middle of all this so our eyes are opened to whats happening.

And just to add cherries to the top .. I also got this text from my friend on Sunday:

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How amazing is that? I mean. I just love all of this. I love how people around us are joining in to this story. I love how the Lord just keeps surprising us. I love how even when it feels like there are so many things not working out - in the end - it works out. (this isn't the first hiccup we have had. Add it to the ever growing list of stories I could share)

So that was 2 weeks ago. Here is a new update.

We finished all the work. Got assigned our new resource manager (case worker) and she came to our house this last week for a final visit and to add our names to the list of waiting families. When she showed up she explained that all the sudden, after 9 months of doing this, our drivers license's were going to be an issue. We still have our Pennsylvania ones and they wanted us to have Ohio ones. This makes sense. Except I had a long lengthy conversation about it 6 months ago with our case worker during our home study and it wasn't an issue. We were surprised. Again. But it was obviously fine and we were happy to update them.

And update them we did. Within 24 hours Freeland had his updated and after loosing mine for a few minutes and driving around town to find it - I was up at the DMV updating mine.

And what do you know - RIGHT THEN AND THERE WE GOT A PHONE CALL.

A 3 day old child was needing placement.

I'm not joking. Is your heart racing? Mine was! And my dear dear dear friend Camille was with me and hers was too.

But here I am writing this .. and there is not a child in our home. Did I say this was a roller coaster? Ha. seriously. By the time I got home the child had actually already been placed with someone else. It was totally fine. I really truly want whatever the Lord has for us and if it wasn't that I truly believe that child is in the home that best fits his needs. It was of course exciting.. I mean the timing of everything was just a little too perfect. ha. So once I stepped back down from cloud nine.. it was fine.

And that leaves us here.. we are officially *still* waiting. The Ohio Drivers Licenses we're updated in the system on Tuesday (august 26th) and as of that moment we were cleared to be added to the list of families who have an open bed in their home to take in foster kids.

I carry my phone everywhere. Ive never answered so many phone calls before in my life. I normally ignore numbers I don't know and wait for voicemails. Not anymore. I feel like I'm waiting to go in to labor and I have no idea when its coming. Although there are days I forget we're waiting and then there are days I feel like I'm just sitting and watching my phone too!

So stay tuned. It could happen fast or we could be waiting for a long time. Some case workers told us it would happen within days and others said it would happen more within 30 days. It just depends on the case loads they have which is an ebb & flow as you can imagine. We have a trip we planned mid September so that may cause another hiccup. But we trust it will all work out. I, of course, little miss over sharer-novel writer-cant make short blog updates- will be posting it as we go!

Now.. go grab another coffee .. or glass of wine .. if you made it through this whole thing!

stay tuned.