Tag Archives: parenting

Baby H

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John 11:35 Jesus wept

Last summer, on my way home from target, I answered the phone.  It was our licensing counselor.  There was a baby girl, born five days before, that needed a place to go.  We said yes.  Three hours later I drove to the back of the office building to meet a case worker holding a tiny little baby wrapped in a hospital blanket wearing only a onesie that looked to be two sizes too big.  She handed her to me. Then Kaitlyn and I put her into a car seat. I signed papers and grabbed the hospital bag and a suitcase and we left.  Just like that our world changed forever again.

I don’t think that you ever get used to the feeling when a new child is handed over to you. The weight of the world is placed in your hands wrapped in a beautiful human gift.  You are excited and terrified.  Falling in love is easy. The case will have you feeling raw and like your insides are hanging outside your body with no protection.  You will fight hard for the child who can’t fight for themselves.  You love them as your own even knowing they aren’t. It’s how it goes. Every time it is the same, every time it is immensely different.  

This time we had it on good authority that this baby wouldn’t be with us much longer than six weeks. She was supposed to go to her paternal grandmother and then very quickly back to the parents who loved her, wanted her, and were going to fight hard to be able to bring her home.Through the course of the next few months we soon realized that none of that would  happen.

Meanwhile she grew and developed and got fatter and fatter and cuter and cuter! We loved her and she loved us.  It was so much fun to dress her up and I carried her everywhere wrapped to my body. She was safe and warm and loved beyond measure on our side. On the other side of the case was feelings of abandonment and frustration with the way everything was being handled. We had very little say in any of it.  Being home and in our every day world was a sanctuary to bury ourselves in to rest after venturing over to the other side fighting hard for the protection and rights of this child we loved. 

Three months in we began to believe that she would eventually be able to be ours forever.  Even though we knew things could change at any moment. They did.

We learned that her maternal grandparents had been searching for her, begging anyone that would listen to help them connect with her.  They would complete their home study and we would see what would happen. 

We were encouraged to get to know them and to keep in contact with them during the process.  I was petrified.  As we began to get to know them, their love and care for her was glaringly evident.   We began falling in love with them too, just like we did with our Baby H.  We sent pictures and updates and facilitated visitations.  We formed quite a bond with them. Soon we were fighting for all of us not just the baby. Fighting for a chance to know she was safe. We knew she would be safe with them and loved and she would have everything she could possibly need.  

She was seven months old the day I packed all the little things for her that she would be taking to her new forever home.  She looked up at me and smiled as I changed and dressed her.  For all she knew it was just another day.  I knew better. I fought tears all morning. I didn’t want to upset her. I was glad for the preparations that needed to be made. At least there was work to focus on.  Every snuggle and kiss meant more than ever before that morning.  My world was shattering, there would be no more sanctuary.  I dreaded coming home knowing she wouldn’t be there. 

John asked to feed her before work that day. We just wanted to savor every precious moment we had left.  I’ll never forget him sitting there silent tears stealthily inching down his face as she reached up and grabbed his finger while he held her bottle for her.  

Two hours later I handed her to her grandparents. After hugging all together and kissing her good bye I walked out of the DCF office empty handed. I sobbed all the way to the car and all the way home.  Memories flooding my mind from the past seven months. Pushing back the fear that she would feel abandoned by me and that she would need me and I wouldn’t be there for her. That I would never see her again.  

“You signed up for this Rach….you have no right to hurt like this…suck it up and move on….you knew she wasn’t yours…this is your job…no one is going to feel sorry for you…you chose the foster parent life.”

Then I read John 11:35 Jesus wept. In that passage we learn about Jesus finally going to where Lazerous had lived and been sick. He came knowing Lazerous was dead.  He stood at the tomb and prepared to perform a miracle. Before he did so, he wept.  He wept for the pain of loosing a friend. He wept for the pain that his friends felt who had been left behind. He wept for the betrayal his inaction had caused Lazerous’ sisters to feel.  He wept.  HE WEPT? He knew that Lazerous’ death was temporary.  He knew it because he was God and he would be the one to raise him from the dead.  But in his love for his friends and in his humanness, he felt the pain that death caused and he didn’t want that for anyone, including himself.   When I read that I realized: we all make choices in life out of love for others and love for ourselves.  Just because I signed up to be a foster parent doesn’t take away the pain of saying goodbye. I didn’t weep because of the injustice of it all or out of surprise that my baby was taken from me.  I wept because I miss her. I wept because I would have given anything to be with her. I wept because of the pain I saw in her grandparents eyes as they watched their family be torn apart and the joy when she was brought home to them safely. I wept because she was mine and because she wasn’t. I wept for the pain in my husbands eyes when he held her that last time and for my children who would miss her too.  I wept. And it is ok because Jesus wept too.  

Since then we have gotten updates and pictures from her grandparents. They let us know how she is. She is doing great!! Growing and so loved.  It is such a blessing!! 

#beafosterparent #youcantdoit #icantdoit #Godcan

Shape-sorting

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Adoption is much more than I ever thought it could be.  Especially adoption from foster care.  Through the whole process, all I could think about was getting through the next hoop nessecary to make this baby safely ours forever.  We loved him, we wanted to make sure we could keep him safe.

We stood before the judge and with our hands raised we promised to love, protect, and take care of him for the rest of his life and ours as if he was naturally born to us.  That is huge to me!  

Now that it is all over, the ramifications of the choices we made along the way are sinking in. Also the anger that I pushed back throughout the entire process is rearing it’s ugly head.  Now it is bigger.  Not only am I angry that all the things these kids went through happened to them, but now it’s anger that this was done to MY kid.  I am angry that he wasn’t protected and that he will have to live with the reprocussions of this pain for life.  

I began to panic about what all this will mean to him someday.  Will he understand why things were done? Will he be angry with us? Will he be angry at her?  Will he believe the facts of the case? If he does, will he feel hurt at what transpired to bring him to us?  How can we ever truly fill the void in his little heart?  
No, we won’t.  We can’t.  That is not a mommy and daddy shaped hole.  If we try to fill that void for him we only reinforce what Satan will already be working on, which is attempting to make him believe he needs something from his past to return or be accounted for, to make him whole.  This isn’t  a bio family shaped hole, or an answer shaped hole–it is a God shaped hole.  

While needing answers is valid, some answers can be skewed. Years and time can make deep wounds heal faster when the perceived medicine is given. What if in 20 years he believes lies that undermine all we told him his whole life? 

God has reiterated to me that our job in his life is not to help him get what he needs to fill the void or to keep his options open. Our job is to point him always to the only one who can safely fill that void for him. God may choose to use others, us included, to help him, but we have to teach him how to see people as instruments in his life. Either used by God or not.  All experiences in our lives good and bad right and wrong , our sin or others’ sin, as a giant neon sign pointing us back to Christ. 

“…she laughs at the things to come.”It’s not with sarcasm or blind carelessness a woman of God does this. It is with the knowledge that the one we depend on is worthy of our trust and our future is secure no matter what.  We must walk in truth.  We must rely on the Holy Spirit (the only one who knows he mind of God) who intercedes for us to impart wisdom in our circumstances based on the facts that we have.  

We are not the Shape sorter or the shape identifiers. We are all framework, filled with different shaped holes, waiting for God to put the pieces together.  

Beating the odds

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I am the kind of person who tends to be rebellious.  I don’t buck the system in the typical ways though.  I like order. I love organization, though you would never know it to look into ANY of my spaces at the moment. I appreciate rules and regulations if for no other reason then it keeps others in line while I dance across the line and do what I want.  I like to know where my boundaries are so I can push them as much as is comfortable for me, then run back to safety whenever I want.  One of my biggest motivations in life is prooving someone wrong when they warn me not to do something, or tell me I can’t.  I like to be the one that beat the odds.

This can be a matter, usually is, of pride with me.  I tend to think I can take something that I view as a mess and fix it like no one else has been able to fix it.  I like to be prepared when no one else is, in ways that no one else thought of.  I don’t like needing help,but I want to be surrounded by people who will help me.  My pride says “You can do it better. You can delegate this and this and orchestrate this.  Everyone will see that you did it good” those are the times I end up hurting others and looking up at those I looked down on, before I fell.

Sometimes this is a matter of believing in something and wanting it to succeed.  Sometimes it is about believing in someone that no one else believes in.  Sometimes it is about caring and trying and hope.  Sometimes it is about wanting to be used by God in a unique way in someone’s life.  Those are the times I risk getting hurt. 

Being teachable is an important life skill. When others, more qualified, or in a position of authority tell me what I should do, I usually listen.  The times I don’t are when I feel like I have a vision for where I want to go, and I don’t see how doing it their way can get me there.  I realize that if I do it my way and it succeeds then I have beaten the odds.  It is a temptation too great.  

One example I experienced in the last few months is my journey with Owen’s birth mother.  She is the woman who gave him life. This is not to be taken lightly. SHE.CHOSE.LIFE.  In the world in which we live the choice to abort or sustain a pregnancy is so freely given.  In her situation she could have easily chosen not to continue.  Instead she chose to give her best shot at parenting him.  Although the circumstances and choices that followed resulted in him being removed from her custody, the fact that she tried is a monumental thing.  I will be forever grateful to her for that.  

Since the day that I met her we have been in regular contact.  There have been ups and downs and times when I wanted to pull my hair out and times when I am sure she did too.

Through it all the recommendation across the board from the people in charge of this case was: cut all contact.  However, my personal dealings with her were pleasant and I felt I could give her a chance.  I had a fantasy of us growing old still texting away. I knew there were hard decisions to be made and boundaries put into place.  I just felt that even if all her bridges were burned with everyone else, I could be the one to build something special with her.  Truth is, it meant a lot to me to have her in our lives.  I just wanted it to be on my terms. 

It doesn’t work that way. You cannot control other people.  You can reach out to them, set boundaries in your relationships, but you cannot control what they can and cannot do or will or will not do.  In the end all you have left is a partnership or nothing.

I’m not sure what we will end up with at the end, but I do know this is a situation where I need to put aside all pride, put aside my desire to beat the odds and prove the authority wrong.  I have to take into consideration they could be right.  I have to decide where my boundaries are and take the responsibly to guard them. If the choice is made by the other person to breach them, there needs to be a plan B.  This is where we are.  Some things are cut and dried, others have to have the flexibility to change, expand, and shrink over time to accommodate needs of all parties.  “Do your best to be at peace with all men!” “Pride goes before a fall” be yea kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake as forgiven you”.  Sometimes we have to do things for the sake of others.  My son takes priority and should be my only motivation outside of Christ. Now I need to figure out how to do that.  Maybe God will beat the odds through me! Maybe I will discover that the odds I thought needed to be beat are different from the ones God is going to beat with me. I may never know.  So here I go, pursuing a dream.  We will see where God directs the chase. 

Bathing in the Jordan River

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I waited with them, the little one on my lap, my nine year old in the chair, and Jalah with her nose to the door anxiously anticipating the arrival of her sisters and brothers who she hasn’t seen in weeks. They were separated from their family and taken one by one from her all day long before she got to me.  She was so excited to see them!  When they burst through the door the reunion joy exploded as they all hugged each other and talking at once began to attempt to fill each other in on their time apart. The baby lunged for his brother and just snuggled him in relief.  It was clear, no matter their ages that they had worried about each other and their love was evident.  The limited visit lasted just over an hour and a half before the time came to say goodbye.  I have never witnessed anything ,in real life, that traumatic and heartbreaking.  First, the hugging and sobbing and picture taking, followed by begging across the parking lot for just a little more time. When we finally were strapped into the car Jalah’s greaf had given way to anger and despair and she screamed for her mother and kicked and threw herself back against the seat.  She didn’t even see her mother, but the trauma of being separated from her siblings again brings it all back to the surface.  

Have you ever been in a situation that seemed absolutely hopeless and the only viable option you are given does not make sense, seems complety distainful, or just absolutely out of the question?  This is where these kids are.  This is where we, as foster parents, are.  It seems ludacris to continue in this system where kids are separated from parents who have neglected, abused, or sat back and watched as someone else did this to them. Then for us to take them in against their will and begin to help, then rip the bandaide off with visits just when they are beginning to heal.  We are pouring everything into these kids who don’t even want us.  I don’t know how to reconcile this in my mind.  It is an impossible situation. 

I woke up this morning thinking about this and immediately my mind wandered to the story of Naman in the bible.  He was wealthy, respected, married, and served.  Then he was stricken with lepperousy.  Everything he knew and loved was probably going to be taken from him. The only help that came his way was the advice from the prophet of God to dip into the dirty Jordan river seven times.  Not the solution he was looking for.

This was not what I signed up for when the overwhelming desire to grow our family came upon us. When we began to follow the Lord on this journey, I didn’t see this coming.  Now that it is here, so many times I look forward with fear to the future and what we are doing now just seems barbaric.  What they have gone through, what we are doing for them, what we are doing to ourselves in order to be there for them seems insane.  An aquaintence of mine, when she found out what we were doing, asked me why we would do that to ourselves.  I didn’t know how to respond.  Now I do.

We are bathing in the Jordan. It doesn’t make sense–unless you know God’s hand and call on your life.  It is barbaric–unless you can see the value of rescuing these kids whether they see it as a rescue or not.  

Bathing in the Jordan was not the solution to Naman’s problem.  Overcoming the uncomfortable nature of someone of his “stature” getting into that water was not the point.  The point was submission without understanding.  The point was trusting God,not self, and acting against the fear and disgust.  Choosing to move forward and trust God for the result.  And look what happend–Naman’s health was restored. But it didn’t happen after the first dunk or the second or the third. It happened when his obedience was complete.  Then came the miracle and the healing.  

I don’t know how many times God has asked us to “dunk”. I feel like I spent a good deal under the water just today.  But I am choosing to keep on “dunking” until the healing comes and we know the end result.  For me, my husband, and children (how ever many God gives us or for how long) 

It’s like this

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You dream about the day you meet your little ones.  You gather as many clothes and diapers and baby things as you can, you buy crib sheets and diaper bags, and you prepare as much as you can. You have in your mind that these kids will come to you in neat little,slightly damaged,packages and you will be the answer to all their problems.  It isn’t like that.  You know that there will be bumps in the road and you do all the classes and the training.  The simulations of “what would you do in this situation, and study the stories of kids in care and you analyze what they need and what you would do for them.  It isn’t like that. That is like a scripted sitcom where the stories reveal plot lines that are easily solved via loving parenting and creative solutions.  It.isnt.like.that

It’s like this: you think you know what you want and God takes you on a roller coaster ride and brings you everything you ever wanted in a package that is in a million pieces and you know immediately that you can never EVER put it back together whole and like new. You also don’t know what to do for your family who has suddenly lost everything they have ever known and been given more than they dreamed…but it doesn’t look like it.  

You hit the ground running and you start feeling like things are falling through the cracks because you can’t seem to organize your thoughts long enough to remember what you probably forgot.

You sit by the bedside of the one who needs you most and feel guilty that you aren’t with your little girl and haven’t spent much time at her bedside in the past year and now the new kid is taking the small amount of time she had with you to begin with. Then you see the tears coming down silently while the new one watches a slide show of her mom and brothers and sisters on repeat till she falls asleep. Because no matter how much you care for her and how much fun you had that day and how great she is doing, you are not her mom, and all she really wants is her family back together.  But that family may never be put back together and you have signed on for the long hual no matter what.  You mourn the loss with her while encouraging her that her Mama loves her and wishes she could be with her too.  You stay strong until you can finally leave her then you fall apart while you clean up the things you could’nt clean during the extremely busy day you had.  

It’s like this: you worry every day that you are short changing the kids who are watching you deal with an unruly child in ways that you never dealt with them. They wonder which way is right–so do you.

You struggle to find time with the two that have been with you since before they were born.  Those who carry a part of you with them always, and wonder if that part is worth it to them in the end.  Will they be bitter? Will they be resentful?
You knew it wouldn’t be like one big happy family right away, but you were pretty sure it would be like having friends stay the night or go on vacation–it isn’t.  There is no instant, just add water or toys or books or fun, friendships.  It is like two foreign countries merging suddenly after one of them has spent years in war.  Trust must be built and friendships grow very slowly.  

You realize very quickly that you are in way over your head.  You sit by her bed and she tells you terrible heart wrenching things about her previous life and you see the effects it has had on her and it scares you to death. You don’t know if you can handle it.  You don’t know if you can really give her what she needs, let alone care for the others at the same time. But you already told her she could stay and you already want her to.  

So you sit by her bed every night listening and waiting for her to fall asleep while she tells you all she wants is to go home to the people who abused her and watched her be abused by others while they did nothing, instead of staying in your home full of real love.  You do bed time routines and pack lunch boxes and deal with violent tantrums all while juggling your house and the family of your own-including her and her brother.  You try to find room In your heart for the monsters who did this to a precious little girl that will likely be scarred for the rest of her life. Scars that they don’t have to see played out every day like you do.  Knowing that a judge at any time could say they have to go back to that life.  

Then they look at you and smile or say “I love you” back and somehow it is all worth it. These children who have no attachment to you (even the baby after a week of being his primary caretaker. ). The ice begins to melt and the light shines through the darkness and the first rays of hope warm your heart and home and you pray God’s protection and blessing over this new family he created and you know all you can do is trust that he will provide.  

This is what it is like.  Just in case you were wondering. 

When God says no

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I have been meditating on John chapter 11 for the past couple of days. I want to share some thoughts I have with you. First let’s read some of the chapter.

John 11 New International Version (NIV)

The Death of Lazarus
11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.”Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.”But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

An interesting thing to me is what Martha said to Jesus. She believed who he was, she believed he could have prevented her brother’s death and that he could raise him if he wanted. But here is the thing: she didn’t believe he would. When Jesus said her brother would rise again, she thought he meant at the last day, during the rapture.
How many times do we do this in our walk with God? We know he can do anything, we believe he can, but we put him in an earthly box and base our belief of what he will do on what we can see is possible. Why? The deciples, who lived with him thought the same way. I believe part of Jesus’ sorrow that day included sadness for the ones he loved not having faith in him, for their human limitations. He wanted them to see his power and the love and caring of his father. Every explanation he gave for his actions or lack thereof in this chapter had to do with wanting them to believe.

Have you ever been sad because you could see something that would help someone else, if they could only see it? Have you ever had your heart broken for your child who is devastated by something that you know will bring good things later if they could only understand? Have you ever struggled with being mad at God for saying no? Martha was, but she surrendered to him and look what happened.

John and I want a baby. I have had my tubes tied and I know God could still allow me to get pregnant if that is what he wants, but we have been pursuing other options. I don’t want to put God in a box. I don’t want to doubt what he will do in our lives based on what I deem possible. I want to continue to hope and have faith that God will use whatever means he sees fit for us and that he will give us the desires of our hearts. My challenge for you is to do the same. Is there something impossible that you long to see God do for you? A financial burden? A relationship mended? A new member of your family? Victory over sin in your life? Whatever it is ask Him, have faith in what he can do and trust in what he will do!
Isaiah 64:4 says: Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived,no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Happy New year!