Category Archives: gratitude

Foster Parent Conference 2017

We were able to knock out a ton of training hours this past weekend. Now we have until next June to get one last hour and we can do that online! It’s one less DCS induced stressor that won’t be hanging over my head. (Still need to get the dog’s shot records up-to-date…shh…)

The best thing about the weekend was just getting to be with Chris. He is rarely the only person I need to pay attention to and it’s a luxury when that can happen. We spent 14 hours in training or listening to keynote speakers, so there wasn’t a ton of free time. We did get to hang out with another foster parent couple from our neck of the woods on Saturday night. Sunday we cut out early so we could go visit some family at their church.

I had been holding my breath waiting for September. I needed this trip and I needed for our little foster baby, Pipsqueak, to get some good news about going home to her forever family. Her first birthday is this month. I was wrestling with God trying to push and push and getting frustrated at His lack of compliance. (I’m not sure why the ruler of the universe won’t just do what makes my life easier…but He doesn’t.)

What was making things harder for me, personally, was that every day I was feeling more like I can’t let this human go. If she starts walking, if she starts calling me “mommy”, if she cries when I leave her in the nursery, I’m not going to be able to do it. I felt like I was ready to let her go. And I had accepted her being adopted by her forever family 6 months ago. So she needed to just go NOW. Which is when I like things done.

God is so gracious. Patient with my impatience. He had worked it all out ahead of time and I just needed to trust this is all in His timing. But, man, foster care will take you through the ringer. Two months before we were to leave for the weekend conference, Pipsqueak’s family had planned to come and keep her over the weekend, then hopefully take her home right after her first birthday. Speaking about this and not divulging too much is a fine line. Basically, they live FAR away. They can’t just pop in and get her when they want to, or be here at the drop of a hat for court or visits.

Then just a few days before we were to leave, I get a text from her forever mommy that says that a certain DCS office has still not sent some extremely important paperwork to the licensing office. At that point, I had to just give it to God. I had to accept that His plan was greater than mine. That she would take her first steps with us. That it could be another month or three before they finally got to take her home.

Have you ever had one of those experiences where you wanted something so badly and you are praying and waiting and thinking it’s never going to happen and then you finally let go and it does? That’s what this was like.

Literally 42 hours before we left (I was counting down, don’t judge), I got a text saying that licensing had received the packet and was coming to visit their home 2 hours before they needed to leave their state and head to ours. It was a miracle. THEN the next day, shortly after we arrived at the conference I got a call from Pipsqueak’s caseworker, letting me know that ON HER BIRTHDAY we were going to have her last CFTM (big important meeting) and that she would be placed with her forever family.

You guys, God. I just sit in awe and wonder of His GRACE, MERCY, LOVE.

Because I got that call, I was able to relax and enjoy the time with my husband. And we were able to begin to talk about what it will be like to let our little Pipsqueak go. We were able to start processing together the changes it will make in our family and for the big kids.

God is so good. 21368707_10212821857768999_2279935667135562710_o

I’m 41, he’s 37

I guess we didn’t get any birthday cake with number candles for ourselves this year. We need to do a better job with that in 2018.

We do our best to make each other feel loved and special. With this busy life, we tend to put ourselves and our marriage on the back burner. But we listen to one another. He gets me special chocolate that I love or sends me an Amazon wish list item just because. I try to surprise him with concert tickets and make sure he gets his *gross* sushi.

Most of all, we count ourselves blessed every birthday that we have together. Couples aren’t guaranteed any time together. Our anniversary is March, my birthday April and his is in May. Then we spend the rest of the year focused on everyone else.

I love you sweetheart! You’re my handsome baby-daddy that I love so, so much.

15 years and counting

Since it was our FIFTEENTH wedding anniversary. We decided to skip town for a weekend. It was one of my favorite trips we’ve taken together. It was simple and slow, with a little historical sight-seeing and antique store shopping. A few good meals out. A nice hotel. An amazing concert in a cave. And best of all? Zero children.

Parker turns 8

This boy! He is so, so smart. He still loves to cuddle, crack a good joke and stay where the temperature and activity level are regulated. He has fallen in love with reading, which makes this momma’s heart happy. He is passionate about what he believes, which can lead to some temper outbursts that he’s working on controlling. Parker is very sensitive to what others say to him and think of him and he’s just as sensitive to another’s pain and trying to comfort them. He loves to eat. He usually eats as much as an adult. He likes to have all of the information and will become frustrated if plans change without warning. He is a good student and actually enjoys school work but struggles to own that fact because he has 3 brothers who vocalize their distaste for anything school work related. We are thankful that he is a healthy, active, kind boy.

Pipsqueak arrives

We were on our way home from our family vacation when we received the call that a baby girl needed a home. We said yes. This is our first foster care placement and we’ve learned A LOT. Mostly the “newborn” thing is old hat for our family, this is our 6th time going through that (7th if you count the brief month with our newborn cousin last year). Chris and I become a little like drowning strangers, we are sleep deprived and on edge. I pray more in the first few months of my babies lives than I ever do because I constantly feel overjoyed and stressed to the max. I can’t share her story but I brought her home from the hospital and she’s been here since she was 12 days old. The kids fell in love with her immediately. September 2016 we went from a family of 7 to a family of 8 in the span of one phone call.

First call (calls, actually)

Yesterday it finally happened. I was enjoying time with my children and a couple of great friends at my parents’ pool. We were just about to pack up and come home and get ready for church and my phone rang with a local number I didn’t have listed in my contacts. It was DCS Placement! I quickly walked to a quiet spot and held my breath while the lady gave me the details. I told her that I needed to talk with my husband and I would call back as soon as I could. The catch? Chris is in Guam. That’s a HUGE time difference (14 hours to be exact) and he was trying to sleep. It was early morning hours there. She told me that she would continue to try and find a home and then she would call me back if/when she did. I told her I would call her back as soon as I was able to speak with him.

Chris and I had agreed that we would not take a placement without first discussing it and getting a “yes” from both of us. While I waited the 3 or so hours for us to be able to communicate, I prayed like crazy. For any placement, I want our family to be THE place that God would have the child be for the time they need us. I am not so concerned that the child will be a good fit for us, rather the other way around. I want God to be able to use our family, church family, friends to minister to that child. He has to be in control or this whole thing will be a train wreck.

Before I could get Chris on FaceTime or via text, DCS called back. They had found the little girl a home. I was so thankful. Thankful that she would have a place to sleep and more than thankful that God handled the situation better than I would have. In fact, if Chris had been a phone call away, which he almost always is, I would have probably relied on my own logic and arguing to get him to say yes. I don’t know that he would have. We’ve prayed and planned and know that 0-3 years is the age range we feel equipped for right now. But I am a good debater. And Chris, well, he’s a big, ole teddy bear.

That first call came at 3:30pm. When she called me back about 5pm and said “we found her a home,” she was sure to reassure me that they would be calling again. At 8pm, as we pulled into the garage from church, they did call again. This time for a boy, the same age as Foster. I knew I had to say “no”. But that “no” was more heartbreaking than the first call. Thinking of my amazing 12 year old and his friends. The ones who are so full of life, humor, confidence, ideas and insecurities being taken out of their home and placed with strangers? It’s enough to keep you awake at night. Foster said, “I need to start building a room on the house so we could take kids like that. It’s not fair.”

I completely agree with him.

Approved

Our journey to foster parenting has reached the next step. Along with the many hours of training classes, we had to gather what felt like a thousand documents, medical records, financial information, shot records (for the dog and the kids), references, insurance documentation and more. I am thankful that I have the history of working with foster care kids and agencies because I really didn’t feel put out by all of this. We had to jump through many other hoops (have a fire extinguisher handy, lock up the medications, etc.). If you are interested in what all we had to do, ask me and I’ll be glad to tell you!

On July 7, 2016 we received an official letter stating that we have been approved as a foster home for the State of Tennessee. I texted my closest people and shared the good news with them. I was thinking that we could get a call at any time. Then, I got a text from our foster parent support worker (social workers are texting these days). He said that we’re NOW fully approved and he wanted to stop by and chat, show me some things on the DCS website and he was giving our names to placement TODAY. That was yesterday. Right before my friend and I were heading out of town for a retreat with some monks (more on that later).

So NOW we are fully approved and even though our parameters are very small (single baby 0-3 years old) and we probably won’t get a call soon, we are ready and we are available!