Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Faith and Joy!

The year has come to an end and as I look back, I am thankful for so many things the last year has brought. I obediently stepped out in faith on the adoption journey and my faith has been strengthened. I am learning to trust God more. Walking down this path without knowing how it will all fall into place, I know that He is control. I am so thankful for all the fellow bloggers I have “met” who are traveling or have traveled down this same adoption path. I am humbled by their faith and their walk encourages me to fully lean on Jesus. In my blissful ignorance, when I actually started the process at the beginning of this year, I really thought a child would have been placed in our home by the end of the year. But all in God’s timing! Our foster care agency social worker has still not written up our home study (10 months after we started the process), but somehow, I have managed not to lose heart. On the international adoption front, we have 20% of the necessary funds required, but again, I have not lost heart and instead I am joyful that we reached this milestone. I still fervently believe God has called us to open our hearts and home for some of His own, and I just as fervently believe that He will make a way.

I have grown some and there is still plenty of room for growth. While I have always been floored at the ineptitude of our local child welfare agency, it had never occurred to me to pray for the workers there. This next year, I am praying for an extra measure of grace that I may remember to pray for them daily and all the hurting children they are charged with protecting.

As things stand, it still seems likely that our first adopted child will come to us through International Adoption from Ethiopia and the second adopted child will be placed in our home from the foster care system.

God’s blessings to all in the coming year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

We have a calendar where we have been crossing off the days before Christmas and it was precious to see my son this morning when he woke up and realized that today was the day! He had been trying to see if he could open just one present before Christmas Day. His reasoning: though it was not yet Christmas Day, it was the Christmas Season! I wish I had been able to capture his excitement when he was jumping up and down and shouting in glee when he opened a present from Santa and found a train he had been wanting for his collection. He is still at the innocent age where he is able to get so much joy from a $5 present. Actually, I am so thankful that he has such a heart of gratitude. He is always so appreciative when he receives a gift and always hugs the gift giver and remembers who gave him almost each and every toy (the few he does not remember, he always remembers to asks mommy or daddy who gave it to him when he is playing with it).

We enjoyed the simplicity I had been wanting by focusing on Him whose birthday we were celebrating. After gift opening, scripture reading and breakfast, we headed off to my father-in-law’s house and had a good time with family. Because they did not grow up in a Christian family, there is no religious connotation to the celebration of Christmas. However, my brother in law “accidentally” held a Study Bible my sister-in-law received for Christmas. This is major, considering for years he never celebrated Christmas with the family. Instead, he and his family always went to Alcatraz Island to demand the government return it to the Native Americans. Think Berkeley types and their families having a wonderful bar-be-cue in the guise of a protest! This has changed within the last three years and we even celebrated Christmas at his house 2 years ago! Now that is huge! Of course, there were only winter solstice decorations, but that is progress! There is hope after all. Maybe next year, he may even open up the Bible??? We had a good time teasing him about it! On our way home, we spent a couple hours with my side of the family. All in all, a wonderful Christmas Season. My husband even adhered to his plan to par down this year. Just one unplanned gift! And he even agreed that we had a wonderful Christmas this year.

Praying that next Christmas, we will be making new memories with the other child or children that God will have placed in our home.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Traditions.

What are some of your favorite Christmas memories and what are your family traditions? As a child, I loved going caroling on Christmas Eve and all the carolers would be carrying lanterns and we would all end up in Church for the midnight service. For Christmas, we always got new clothes and shoes and we could hardly wait for Christmas day so that we could wear our new clothes, go to church and then go back home for the biggest party ever. My parents always had an open house on Christmas day and we were never sure who would turn up. We always had over 50 people at my parent’s house on Christmas Day and we had fun playing, playing, playing and eating, eating, eating. When most people always remember a favorite dessert they always had during Christmas, my family remembers that antacids were always the fi rst item on the shopping list when preparing for our big feast!

Traditions that my husband, son and I have include getting and decorating our Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving, playing Christmas music thoughout the month of December, going to see Christmas lights the weekend before Christmas, watching Charlie Brown ‘s Christmas Story and making a special appetizer pastry that takes four to five hours to make! Actually, I have done this 3 years out of the last six and wiggled out of it the rest of the time because it is so labor intensive. However, I have decided to make this a yearly tradition. My husband helped me make the pastries last night and they are in the freezer ready to be deep fried on Christmas Day. It was a wonderful time of fellowship listening to Christmas music, watching my son look at the Christmas Tree lights and folding those pastries with my husband. He is the most playful, funny and kind hearted man I know! We also stay up late and open one present each on Christmas Eve. On Christmas morning, we have a good breakfast before loading up and going to spend Christmas with either my family or my husband’s family. Now that my son is older, we will be reading one of the Gospel accounts of the Christmas story.

I have been trying to get a protestant church that does a midnight service on Christmas Eve, but so far I have not been so successful. The first protestant church we found about 5 years ago, had an open invitation for communion and they clearly stated on their invitation that Holy communion was open to all irrespective of your religion. They said it did not matter if you were Muslim, Jewish or Hindu to please join in taking communion. Okay, so even if you do not believe in the deity of Christ or that He is the messiah, you are to partake in communion in remembrance of Him who you do not believe in? So what is the meaning of communion again? No return visit. Last year, we went to a catholic church and it was standing room only. We may have theological differences, but the service was beautiful and there was such a sense of reverence. I think the protestant church tried so hard to emphasis grace and do away with legalism that the end by-product is services that most times seem so flippant and irreverent. Some sweet old lady fell in love with my son and gave him a statue of Jesus and a Rosary at the end of the service! So we soldier on looking for a protestant church with a midnight service. This year we are going for a candlelight service at 6:00 p.m. Next year, we will return to the catholic church if no protestant church takes up the challenge. I am determined to share this tradition with my son.

I so desperately wish that my adoptive child or children were here this Christmas as we make new memories. But all in God’s timing. It is tough wondering if my child/ren know that they are loved, wondering if they have warm clothes to wear, or if they will have enough food. I really don't think this year I will be gorging myself as the children God will place in our home and hearts have been so much on my mind lately.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jesus, The Reason for the Season

I love, love Christmas. And it is made even more special watching my four year old son and husband get into all the Christmas festivities with gusto. In the last few years, I have felt commercialism seep more into my observance of Christmas. I am driven by empathy for others and I never adhere to my list for the people I will buy gifts for. My heart is always drawn to others who do not have families to celebrate Christmas with and once I start on this road, things quickly go out of control. I also get suckered by all the wonderfully wrapped gifts at the stores and I quickly start thinking who would love a particular wonderfully wrapped box of chocolate! But of course, since they do not have much family, I need to get them something else! While it gives me great pleasure giving to others, I find myself at the stores on the 23rd of December in long lines because I have thought of yet one more person. My family has some Christmas traditions, but I have been feeling more and more that my husband and I focus more on gift giving. I will do my Christmas shopping for family on both sides and for our friends and then my husband goes to do his last minute Christmas Shopping (he likes living on the edge)! He ends up buying another gift for most of the people I had already shopped. I do not like to take the joy he gets from doing this, but I have always wished we could write down a list and stick to it! This year, I have been yearning for my observance of Christmas to have more meaning than gift buying. And God is good. When I asked my husband to let me know who he was shopping for so that we would not duplicate efforts, he said that this year he is scaling back. What! Never in a million years would I have expected this. My husband’s dad raised 5 kids as a single parent and toys and gifts were few and far between during the year. However, on each of the children’s birthdays and on Christmas, my father-in-law would go overboard. Hence my husband’s love for Christmas and “going overboard” too!

Most of my Christmas shopping was done in November. I have been successful in sticking to my list this year and my husband has surely cut back! This year, he only shopped for four people (a huge improvement from his normal list of 13-15 people)! He only shopped my son, the family member for whom he is playing Secret Santa, and a friend from church who will join us for Christmas. There is hope after all!

This year, rather than thinking of which gift I should get a friend or family member, I am more concerned that they have the greatest gift of all – Salvation. Of what value is my getting them their 100th shirt or sweater if I have never shared the gospel message with them. The earthly things will all pass away, but the gift of salvation will last for all eternity (and the consequence of rejecting that free gift). Church has been wonderful this Christmas season. Each of the last four Sundays was strictly on the Christmas message with readings from the Old and New Testament and lots of Christmas Carols. Sometimes I always feel that the church treats Christmas and Easter as an interruption to their program instead of a time to slow done and be reflective. As a child, Christmas and Easter were such "Holy" holidays and I am so full of Joy this Christmas season that I got both the simplicity I have been yearning for and church services that have been drawing me to center my observance of Christmas on Him whose birth we celebrate.

In all our preparations to make this Christmas the best one yet, May we look back to the best one of all 2,000 years ago and really spend time reflecting on the “Reason for the Season”!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not Me! Monday

I so totally did not have a busy week and had enough time to get present for my son’s friend's birthday. Being so good at multi-tasking, I had good intentions to get a present on the way to the birthday party. Of course, I did leave enough time for my husband to get an attack of the vanities and he so totally did not squander the time allocated to get a gift by taking an extra looong shower and changing clothes numerous times! I mean, we do have to look our best when going to a five year old’s birthday party! Being the good mommy I am, I so totally did not re-gift a present my son got for his birthday and which he had been saving to open later. Of course, being a good mommy, I so did not hide the wrapped present from my son and rush us all out of the house. I also did not change the topic a million times and turn up the radio in the car because my son is aware we always go present shopping together and he was curious to know what I got for his friend’s birthday. No, not me, because good mommies don't do things like that :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Not me! Monday

Since we are in the wait mode on the adoption front and it is not like we have had not had numerous adoption- related classes, this Saturday, so that we can feel as though we are being proactive and doing something and for the heck of it, we took another adoption class. We met another pre-adoptive couple and the husband told us that he worked in a group home with 6 -13 years old who were very disturbed and on serious psychotropic medications. Think fascination with setting fires, fascination with knives and scissors and hurting dogs and children. Miniature Jeffery Dahmers (not my words – but the gentleman who had worked with the children).

For a little levity on a very serious discussion on what we would do if that was one of our children, I so totally did not start joking on barricading ourselves in the bedroom at night. I also so totally did not encourage my husband and the other couple, by laughing uncontrollable when they were coming up with different suggestions on what they would do. I mean it is not funny hearing someone laugh when telling you they would tie a bell around the child’s ankle to herald the child's approach and warm them of imminent danger. Nor is it funny to suggest training the dogs to bark and let you know that a child is approaching your bedroom when you are asleep. I also so totally did not re-tell my sister the story in the evening and laugh once again until my sides hurt. Because, lets face, I am a serious child advocate and it just is not nice laughing at things like that. Also, my husband does not have a quick wit and a warped sense of humor and is able to provide comedic relief in most serious situations. I am not even telling whose bright ideas they were: bell or trained dogs. I think that my husband actually met his twin because I am not sure whose idea was worse, my husband’s or the other gentleman’s.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hair and Adoptions!

Okay, so I know I have posted before on all the “chance” meetings I have had with adoptive parents, but I still get a kick every time it happens! In keeping with my new resolve to cut costs everywhere I can so that we can save for our adoption, I made an appointment to get my hair done at a Beauty College. They charge 1/3 what I normally pay at a regular salon, but the downside is that you get a student to do your hair, and you are never quite sure how far along they are in the program! Anyway, that was my second visit and I have been pleased with the results both times! (could this be due to the fact I have become less vain the older I got hence my standards may have lowered? Hmm :) I was a bit late because, I get lost—I am the girl who gets lost going home and I sometimes second guess the GPS system that I got as a Christmas present last year and still manage to get lost! By God’s providence, someone else got to do my hair and of course, she is an adoptive mom to a four year old boy! She adopted a child who was exposed to alcohol and drugs in utero from the foster care system when the child was 3 months old. She just answered God’s calling to adopt this child as a single 25 year old and just trusted God. My hair dresser is now married and has a second child who is one and both her children are the best of friends. More likely than not, if an infant gets placed in our home from the foster care system, statistically, the child will most likely to have been exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero. This is the primary reason most infants are removed from their parents care (alcohol is actually more damaging to a child in the womb than any other illegal drug, but since alcohol is a legal beverage, they do not test for alcohol exposure once a child is born. However, it is safe to assume that the child will have fetal alcohol syndrome though their file may not mention this). My hair dresser shared that her son is well adjusted, loving, attached, and does extremely well in school. She does not see any lasting damage from the drug and alcolol exposure, though as an infant, she told me he cried a lot. I normally tend to prepare my mind for the worst case scenario and it was no different when I read about all the ill effects of alcohol and drug exposure to an unborn baby. This “chance” meeting could not have been more timely. I was feeling a little discouraged on the adoption front, because my 10 year old car would not start and we had just heard the verdict from the mechanic: $603 in repairs! Ouch! Oh car, do you know how far back you just set us on our international adoption? Oh, well, I guess the car does not care – probably thinks I should be grateful that it has ran for 10 years relatively problem free. Yeah, yeah, more than 130, 000 miles later, I guess I should not be complaining!. Anyway, God is good and I did get encouragment just when I needed it!

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Chance" Meetings.

It still amazes me all the chance meetings we have had with adoptive parents since we started our adoption journey. This weekend we went to a friend’s birthday party and were introduced to the adoptive parents of an outgoing, friendly, loving, handsome and precious seven year old boy. The parents are wonderful people and were happy to share their story. The boy was adopted at 3 years old from the foster care system and this was his 15th placement! The parents had talked about adoption before, but never really started the process. The child’s parental rights had already been terminated and the child was available for adoption. Within one month, the boy was already in their home and the adoption was completed within six months. The mom shared that God in His infinite wisdom made the process go so fast, because she may have started second guessing herself if the process was longer. She knows without a doubt that God intended for the little boy to be their son. The downside to the speed of the process was because they got licensed right away and did not take any pre-adoptive classes. They were totally swimming on their own. When they were in crisis mode, their social worker only gave them a list of people to call, but in true “child welfare agency” form, no-one would ever return their calls. This has always been our major concern in adopting from the foster system: no-one seems to ever talk about post-adoption services. It appears that you jump hoops to get licensed to adopt, but once the child is in your home, you are on your own. I am not sure what the rational is, because it seems logical to expect that child adopted from the foster care system are more likely than not to present special challenges considering their history of abuse, neglect and multiple placements.

God has blessed them with really supportive family and they shared they have been a life saver. After such a traumatic start, the little boy has major issues, which has totally transformed this family’s lives. However, I have never seen such love and commitment as I saw on the parents’ faces when talking to us about their son. After a four year journey of heartbreak and totally feeling like the only one going through this, she feels they are making a breakthrough. Her son is in a school that is equipped to meet his needs, and they no longer get daily calls to pick him up from school. He is starting to become attached to them and they are also amazed at the love and compassion their older son has for his little brother.

The family generously offered to keep in touch and be a resource to us once we have our child/ren home. I am amazed at how God is orchestrating things and putting people in our lives who are either walking our walk or who have been there and have a wealth of information and are a great resource.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

3 Days, 3 Weeks, 3 Months, 3 Years, 3 Decades?

The ever interesting twists to get a copy of our home-study report from our local Child Welfare Agency! Our social worker had informed us that she was a fast typist and usually completed the home-study report three days after the last home-study visit. Well, more than a month later, we still do not have a copy. When I called the social worker, she had not even started typing the home-study report! Rather than be a little embarrassed at having stretched the truth earlier on, she instead proceeded to give me a lecture on what we can and cannot use the home-study report for! Okay, can we at least have the report before worrying about its uses! Its primary purpose is to ensure that we are licensed to adopt a child. Sans the report, no license to adopt! This is the epitome of government efficiency! And we wonder where our tax dollars go? 8 months of jumping though hoops trying to get a simple home-study report! And our lives are pretty boring – what if we had some skeletons in our closets? Oh, I forgot, the agency told us they would be more than happy to make an exception if we had criminal histories!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Me! Monday!

  1. I so totally did not spend tax payer dollars watching the clock all day because our database at work is down for three days and they won't let us take the time off.

  2. I so totally did not spend valuable work hours daydreaming that I have employed a cleaning service because I did not clean my house this weekend like I had intended to. For those in the know, do cleaning services attack the dust bunnies hiding behind your refrigerators?

  3. I so totally did not spend valuable work hours planning things to do with my son tomorrow, because I have the day off.

And that my friends, is your tax dollars at work! Okay, my cubicle has never gotten such a good scrubbing, I have spent hours making sure that I am a totally 21st Century government employee -- I have made sure there is not a scrap of paper that has dared find its way into my cubicle in keeping with our paperless office policy. My Lotus Notes are organized and I only have two more hours to figure out appropriate uses of your tax dollars!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

And now..............

So, what is the status of our adoption plans? We are done with the requirements for the foster care adoption, now we just wait. Oh yeah--I still need to contact the social worker to give us a copy of the homestudy report. I had asked the social worker if we would get a draft copy before the typed the final copy. She advised that she does not do draft copies--just the final copy. You really get what you pay for! It will cost us $500 for the home study once we get and accept a referral from the foster care agency. The private homestudy will cost us about $3,300, but we at least get to see a draft report and can make corrections if the social worker even infers we are less than supper mommy and supper daddy:) Our social worker told us she normally takes three days after the last home study visit to write up the report. It has been more than three weeks since that auspicious event, so I had better get on the phone! On the International adoption end, we have a homestudy agency, the adoption agency application fees, the Immigration Services fees and faith that God will make a way for us to raise the rest of the money.

When there seems to be a lull in the process and nothing seems to be moving, God orchestrates circumstances to remind me of His Heart for orphans and that we are on the right track. On Thursday, we had training at work and I sat with a co-worker who is pursuing adoption and another co-worker who is looking at adoption, but who did not know where to start. It was a blessing to talk about adoption with people who "get it" and share my passion and enthusiasm. I was able to share my story and we really had a wonderful sense of community! On Friday, I was at a breakfast hosted by a local christian radio station, and when the general manager was introduced, you will not guess what she talked about! Yes, adoption! Her 3 year old son just arrived home from Rwanda 1 1/2 months ago! Their journey took 2 years and they were true pioneers in adopting from Rwanda. They got the adoption decree from the court 1 1/2 years ago, but had to wait 1 1/2 years for a document from the Rwandan government allowing their son to leave the country. The GM relocated from Colorado to California six months ago, leaving her extended family, friends and church family. She was totally not expecting to get the call 1 1/2 months ago to get her son because of the timing. A lesson I am having to learn--not in my time, but Yours Lord!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Streeeeeeeeeeeeetching Heart!

My arms are still outstretched waiting for the child God will place in our arms. In the meanwhile, my prayer life has totally been transformed. I have "met" so many wonderful fellow adoptive mom on the blogosphere. My prayers are no longer an outward spiral with me and my needs at the center. Instead, I find myself praying earnestly and fervently for perfect strangers, their children and husbands. I am consumed with other people's needs and continually petition God throughout the day on their behalf. I pray for a little girl adopted from Guatemala who is sick in the hospital with Leukemia. I pray for a little boy who in the hospital after a horrific accident five weeks after arriving home from Ethiopia-he lost his legs, and they are not sure if his hand will work. I pray for a wonderful lady whose family is going through the grief of an adoption disruption. I pray for several wonderful families waiting for their children to come home or whose children are already home and are going through the adjustments of creating a new family. I pray for wonderful lady bloggers whose faith and walk in Christ are an inspiration and who force me to step out of my comfort zone and seek to do and be all that God intends me to do and be. Oh, yeah, when I am done with praying, I have totally forgotten to ask for my "wants" that a few months ago I was convinced were "needs".

Throughout this journey, my faith is being strengthened, my passion for those with no voice is being renewed daily and I am constantly praying to have the heart for orphans and widows that our Heavenly father has commanded us to have.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


We graduated!! We finally finished our three Saturdays of pre-adoption classes. We even got nice certificates to prove it! I have tons of notes and references for when baby finally comes home! We have our physicals next week and that should be it. Our social worker told us she normally takes three days after the last home visit to write the home-study report, so hopefully we should be good to go by end of next week. It seems surreal!

We had both prospective foster and adoptive parents in the class and the emphasis of the classes seemed to be on foster parenting. I guess this is to be expected—there are approximately 8,000 children in foster care in my county and last year, only 200 adoptions were completed from the foster care system. The downside to this is that they did not cover some important adoption topics like attachment issues.

The group dynamics continued to keep the classes interesting and lively. Our “class rep” was going on and on about a teen she knows who is currently homeless, but is doing very well and taking college classes. The “class rep” was trying to find out how the system could help her teenage friend, but one person finally put the responsibility on our class rep’s lap! She jokingly told her since she was there to get licensed to foster teenage children, and she was so concerned for her friend, maybe she could open up her home to the teenager! That took the wind out of our “class rep” and she was quiet for the rest of the afternoon! I never thought there was anything that could keep her quiet!

We had a visit from a mom and dad whose baby was taken from them when the baby was born prematurely and both child and mom tested positive for meth exposure. It put a face to the drug problem—most of the children in foster care have been exposed to alcohol and/or drugs in utero. The family looked like your bank employees or high school teachers. They took about a year before they cleaned up their act and went into residential drug treatment programs. For them, it is a story of redemption and hope which unfortunately is not the norm for most other parents whose children are in the foster care system. The family currently works with the Child Welfare Agency mentoring other parents whose children have been removed from their care. They help them navigate the system, get to the point of taking responsibility for their actions and encourage them to take advantage of all the resources provided so that they can clean up their act and get their children back. It was refreshing to hear the couple take full ownership of their actions that led to their child being placed in foster care. They shared their journey from anger and rage at the “system” and trying to blame everyone for their problems once their child was removed from their home to finally looking at themselves in the mirror and deciding the problem would not go away until they faced their demons and took advantage of all the resources they were being offered.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pastors and Flying Plates!

This weekend, we met a pastor who spent time bragging talking about how many churches he has planted. He is currently planting a new church and was inviting us to the opening service. I am not sure why he feels led to plant churches in an area where there is no shortage of churches and where only 6% of the population actually attends church regularly! There is no problem yet of churches that are full to capacity—most have more than enough room to quadruple their attendance without the need to expand or start another church. Maybe we should be encouraging people to attend the existing Bible Believing churches? But I digress--that is another matter altogether. I guess if I had not had the following conversation with him, I would have been more charitable. The pastor asked my husband and me how many children we had and I told him one and shared that we were being led by God to adopt. His unsolicited advice: adoption is a wonderful thing, but we should first have at least three biological children and then consider adopting another one! What!!!!!! My husband was inwardly cracking up waiting to see what his formerly introverted wife who is a newly minted fierce activist would say. I was quickly praying for grace and an appropriate response while at the same time wondering at the velocity of a paper plate full of food that I was holding if I "accidentally" dropped it and if I was in the path of danger! Thankfully God is full of grace and someone interrupted our conversation and took the pastor away from imminent danger! Needless to say, if I had been looking for a new church home, his new church would not be the choice for our adopted child/ren! It is obvious that he believes bio children have more worth or value than adopted children.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Cry from a child's Heart

During our preadoptive class today, we watched a video titled, "A Young Child's Point of View on Foster Care and Adoption" by The Infant-Parent Institute. The video has no pictures, just sound and words, but it has to be the most profound and moving video I have ever watched. It is narrated by children giving their view of foster care and adoption and there was not a dry face in the room after we finished watching it. It really makes you face the reality of adoption related behaviors (like bed wetting, defecating outside the parents rooms everyday for weeks, control through food, harming pets or even children in the home, etc). The video did an excellent job of showing how the children get to these behaviors, what the behaviors mean and what it means if a parent is not in there for the long haul. It really forces one to have to examine if they have what it takes to be there through all these behaviors. If one does not have what it takes to be able to deal with these behaviors, it does more harm to take in the child either as a foster or adoptive parent only to bail ship once the behaviors arise.

The social worker did keep her promise and give us a copy of the adoptive parents' rights that she had promised last week. The list is lengthy so brace yourselves! I will reprint word for word the rights:

  • Familes have the right to apply for and to be considered for adoption. If a decision is made not to approve a family for adoption they have the right to appeal the decision.

Yes my friends, that is the total extent of the rights of the adoptive parents! I turned the page over and over again to make sure I was not missing something. I even clarified with the social worker that I had gotten the right printout. Nothing about the right to services for our foster care adoptive children, nothing about the right to get all information about our children available to the foster care agency, nothing about a right to decline a placement of a chid whose needs a parent feels they cannot possibly meet, etc, etc.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Magic Number 8

Yep, we finally had our 8th attempt to complete what should have been a four meeting homestudy (social worker interrupted the first meeting so that we could be transferred to another county's Child Welfare Agency; social worker missed 2 appointments; we had 1 visit with a social worker from the state before our local Child Welfare Agency decided we did not need to be licensed by the state after all. Finally, we had the mandated 4 visits with our current social worker)! I had been so looking forward to finally completing the home-study that I had not really been stressing much about the home walk through (the final part of the home-study process). Since we have a four year old, the home is already child-proofed so we did not really to worry about that. It was a pretty strange feeling having someone walk through your home as they go through the process of determining if you will be fit parents!

This final visit lasted for 2 1/2 hours. The social worker had insisted on having our son there for the final visit, but pretty much ignored him and asked if we could send him to another room once she got here! How does a four year old entertain himself in another room when mommy and daddy are home? He normally does not watch any T.V or movies during the weekdays and he did not know what to do with himself after being allowed to watch T.V. on a Thursday! He must have thought mommy and daddy finally lost their marbles! He finally took a nap after he figured mom and dad were not going to be too much fun to have around—no playing horsie, trains or hide and seek with dad today!

The social worker brought up open and closed adoptions. We discussed some of the pros and cons of the amount of openness based on the research I have done on the subject. I felt there were legitimate concerns and more so considering that the children in the foster care system have been forcibly removed from sometimes really dysfunctional birth families. There are issues like the child’s sense of rejection if the birth family stops contact, reduced ability to assimilate into the adoptive family, power struggles with the child possibly playing the birth and adoptive family against each other, identity confusion during the teen years, unreasonable expectations from both families etc, etc. However, the social worker really seemed to minimize these concerns and actually stated that only people on the fringe feel that open adoptions are not beneficial for all parties concerned! Now this is a social worker who works for the local child welfare system and most of the children come from really dysfunctional families and require supervised visits with the birth families! I think she has buried her head in the sand if she does not think there are legitimate concerns and considers everyone who has a differing opinion as being on the fringe! For me, this is an issue to be looked at on a case by case basis and one should not make a decision blindly without fully educating themselves on all the pros and cons.

To keep things ever more interesting, the social worker advised that she had been re-thinking her decision not to follow state guidelines in approving us to adopt either a girl or boy. California guidelines state that parents can be licensed to foster or adopt a boy or girl to share a bedroom if both are under the age of five. I thought this matter was closed and we were going to be approved to only adopt a boy. However, she said she had been re-thinking this matter and wanted to see what she could do to get a waiver for us and another family. She said it was actually not a County policy not to allow boys and girls under 5 years to share a room (which is what they had advised previously), but just general unwritten guidelines! I think the social worker was a tad disappointed that I was not overjoyed that she was making an exception for us! The one thing I have learnt through out this journey with the foster care system is to always expect the unexpected and that what we are told in one meeting will likely change in the next!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Finally Excited to take a class!

After our false start 4 months ago, we finally started our Foster/Adoption classes today. We will have classes from 9-4 for the next three Saturdays. The class consists of prospective foster and adoptive parents. There are 4 facilitators in the class--2 social workers from our local Child Welfare Agency, a foster and adoptive mom, and a college professor in Early Childhood Education who is also an adoptive mom to three sons. In keeping with the place where we live, the social workers spent the majority of the morning talking about the rights of children. Needless to say, the “right” that was most emphasized was the right of the foster and adopted children to have the foster or adoptive parents provide access to images, movies, books and magazines with different types of gender and sexual identities that the children may decide to take on. They really hammered this point and finally one prospective foster parent asked what the rights of the foster and adoptive parents were! It was unspoken but clear to all that she meant the rights to have religious or personal convictions about bringing materials in their home depicting lifestyles that they may not agree with. One social worker really stammered through the answer and finally said she would bring a list of the rights of parents to the next class. am really curious what is emphasized in the pre-foster and adoptive classes in the Midwest!

I am always fascinated by group dynamics and it never fails that in every class I have ever attended, there is always one student who answers almost all the questions, tries to finish the teacher/professor’s sentences, as well as tries to clarify for the teacher/professor and the class what the teacher/professor meant! This class is not much different. We had tons of moments of comedic relief with our class “representative”. Our representative is taking college classes in Early Childhood Education and she took such pains to let the class and professor know that she is a good student and remembers all the terminology from her ECE classes! At almost any given moment, you could see people’s shoulders shaking or tears streaming down their faces as they tried to suppress their laughter—the four given speakers each used different techniques to try to ignore our class’s spokersperson so that they could move the class along. The techniques had varying degrees of success!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Green-eyed monsters?

I just love, love, love my son’s pediatrician. He genuinely loves children and the practice of medicine. He is knowledgeable, patient, and never hurries you and constantly asks if you have any other questions. He has the ability to make you feel as though your child is the only child he has to see that day! He truly understands the angst of new parents and if you call with a minor problem such as a child throwing up, he will advise you what you need to do to keep the child hydrated. However, if he still hears any inkling of worry on the parents’ part, he will promptly make time to see your child and reassure the parents before sending them home with the same instructions as he had given them on the phone—usually pedialyte! He never makes you feel like a dork for worrying unnecessarily—his maxim is that a worried parent does not make a very good caregiver, so he believes in treating the child and making sure the parents are reassured! He totally believes in patient-centered medicine, and sees the practice of medicine as a partnership between the patient and the physician. He gives you all the different options about resolving a medical issue, and then his recommendation based on his experiences, but then totally lets the parents choose the option that works for them. Knowing that he has your child’s best interest at heart, it is so easy to follow his recommendations! We have never chosen an option that was not his recommendation!

Our son had his well-baby check up today and we discussed the adoption. He took time to ask us about our adoption and also gave us input from a pediatrician's point of view. He advised that most times when a new child comes into the home, parents tend to attribute the older child's acting out to jealousy of the new sibling. However, he told us that jealousy requires abstract thinking and a child has not yet mastered this skill. A child acts out to get attention because he or she understands that mom and dad are not spending the same amount of time with them as before. It would require abstract thinking to connect the arrival of the new child to the less attention and then going the next step to squarely place the blame on the new state of affairs on the new child. He said it would be the same as a parent spending a lot of time planning a family reunion. When the child acts out to get mom or dad's attention, the parent instinctively knows that the child is acting out because mom and dad are spending more time on the phone and less time with them. The parents never say the child is jealous of family reunions! He advised that the parents spend time trying to solve a problem that does not exist—“jealousy of the new child” instead of trying to solve the actual problem--carving out time to spend with the older child and reassuring the child of mom and dad’s love for them.

We talked about my son’s eating patterns, and while my son was playing with my husband and reading a book on trains, I told the pediatrician we are still trying to get new ways for my son to eat his vegetables. I did not even think that my son heard our conversation, but later when the pediatrician was examining him, he asked him what his favorite food was. My son promptly replied, “Vegetables”! Of course, I will be reminding him of this!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Life from a Four Year Old's Perspective.

Our dear friends had their first baby and she is three weeks old today. My girlfriend is the first person my son knows personally who has been pregnant and these are some of his thoughts as my friend progressed in her pregnancy:

  1. Early in the pregnancy when my friend was not showing and my son was trying to figure out how a baby could be in her tummy: "Your baby is mashed up in your tummy."

  2. Farther along in her pregnancy to explain her expanding waistline: "You are eating too much."

  3. After not seeing her for three weeks and she now being considerably bigger: "You have too many babies in your tummy."

  4. Farther along in her pregnancy: "Your tummy looks like a garbage truck." Mommy's reaction--major embarrassment and wanting the earth to swallow her up. My pregnant friend's reaction--major laughter and repeatedly asking my son to repeat what he just said. Oh dear!

  5. On our way to the hospital to see the baby after the baby was born: "Why does she need to go to see the doctor?" Mom: "So that the doctor can remove the baby from her mommy's tummy so that her mommy and daddy can hold her and love her and raiser her to be a big girl". Son: hysterical laughter for 15 minutes and saying I was kidding! I wish I knew the image he had or why he thought this was so hilarious!

  6. After baby is born and he totally falls in love with her: "Marley's mom should not eat her baby and keep her in her tummy for a long time. That is not okay. We only eat food, not babies." He thought she ate the baby, hence the reason why her baby was in her tummy all this time! Okay mommy, how else would anything get into a tummy? :)

I am so thankful these are very good friends who know my son well and know he does not have a mean bone in his body! Of course it helps that he says these things with great concern, an endearing smile and when he is giving my friend a hug. Oh how a child's mind processes information and tries to figure out the whys of things!!!

He really loves their beautiful daughter and he keeps saying all the things she will be able to do when she is a little older. At one week old he was already trying to show her his train collection and is always thinking of toys they will be able to play with when she is older! My baby is not a baby anymore--he keeps reminding me that he is a big boy now and Marley is the baby.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Apologetics and Adoption!

It is interesting that since we started our adoption journey, we have been having chance meetings with adoptive parents and also reading adoption articles in some of the magazines we subscribe to. This weekend, my husband and I went to an apologetics (a conscious, articulated defense of the claims of the Christian Faith ) conference and the topic of adoption is not quite the topic you expect to be addressed at such a conference. However, one of the speakers (Voddie Baucham) is an adoptive parent who is passionate about families. In one of the sessions, he was discussing a biblical view on love as opposed to the greco-roman myth we have regarding love. I cannot do justice to what he said, so I will excerpt his summary:

Myth 1: Love is a Random Force: "We don't choose who we fall in love with."
Myth 2: Love is an Overwhelming Force: "Love, according to the Greco-Roman myth, is an overwhelming force against which we mere mortals cannot hope to prevail.'"
Myth 3: Love is an Uncontrollable Force: "Love sometimes goes away as quickly and mysteriously as it came."
Myth 4: Love is a Sensual Force: "Love is equated with sex."

According to Baucham, the result of our culture largely buying into these myths is that "this kind of love. . . doesn't translate into other relationships. If love is a random, uncontrollable, overwhelming, sensual force, how do I love my kids?" It also makes love very tenous. Baucham points out that with this kind of notion of love, "Can we blame children of divorce for wondering when Mom or Dad is going to stop loving them the same way that they stopped loving each other?"

In contrast to the Greco-Roman myth, Baucham defines Christian love as "an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object."

If Christians had a biblical view on love, then they would never ask if adoptive parents love their adopted children as much as they love their biological children!

I had never heard of him, but he is a man after my own heart. For a sample of this thoughts, you can visit his website at:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friends and Coffee!

Today, I had a coffee date with a friend and she totally got the adoption thing! Most times when I share that we are planning on adopting, people are accepting, but I never get many questions! On the one hand, this is cool since everyone has taken the news in stride, but sometimes, I really want questions about our adoption journey. My friend specifically made the coffee date so that we could talk about the adoption, she asked lots of questions as well as specifically what she could do to help. Her enthusiasm was infectious! Thank you God for good friends and coffee!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Homestudy meeting number???

(yes, 6th attempt--1 visit interrupted by social worker, social worker missed 2, had 2 meetings with dh and 6th one by myself. If all goes as planned 2 more meetings to go--one with dh and final one with whole family).

Today I had my meeting with the social worker and it was primarily gathering biographic information—where I was born, where I went to school, where I have worked etc, as well as my parents’ relationship, their parenting style, my relationship with my siblings and my dreams for the future. It felt strange spending about 1 ½ hours talking about myself! The social worker did ask some questions where she seemed to have already formed her own opinion. The answer was no to all presumptions, but I guess it was at the end of the day, we were both tired and something must have been lost in translation! All in all, the meeting was good. My husband meets with the social worker on Thursday, so we are moving along with the homestudy slowly, but surely.


Today we received a voicemail message from the lady we meet at the ‘Birthright’ booth during the People Fest. She left us the number to the adoption agency they work with. Okay, we had only been looking at foster/adopt and international adoption and now here is another option! Like we are not already confused enough!!! I know we cannot control the adoption process and really want to be receptive to the direction that God leads us. I don't want to go with the path of least resistance, but really want to follow God's leading. We need prayers for clarity!

Monday, September 8, 2008


People F.E.S.T. was good. We went both days. My husband volunteered at the Good News Jail ministry booth on Sunday afternoon, while my son and I enjoyed sampling all the goodies—kettle corn, corn dogs and multiple flavors of shaved ice! There was a nice kid zone and my son enjoyed playing in all the inflatable astro jumps. My sister and her kids joined us on Sunday afternoon and I think the kids enjoyed the Christian bands.

The gentleman from Uganda who spearheaded the festival shared with my husband and I that a pastor had advised him not to use the name of Jesus Christ, nor give an altar call as this would put people off! Now, this was billed as an ashamedly Christian evangelistic event—from their posters, to their website, to their press releases, to the radio commercials. And a pastor would discourage the mention of the name of Christ???? And America is sending out missionaries to other countries??? Thankfully, the main organizer and the bands did not heed this advice—they relied on God’s Word. The main organizer clearly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ on Saturday and Sunday and relied on the Holy Spirit to prepare the hearts of the hearers. Joseph Rojas, front man and songwriter for Seventh Day Slumber also gave a moving testimony of his transformation from a former criminal and drug addict to a redeemed husband and father. Praise God for the people who came forward to make a public confession in a public park during the altar call—and in California, no less!

On the adoption front, during the festival, we meet a couple who adopted 2 boys. I love hearing how God directs people to their children. The couple had started the adoption process through the foster system and had also informed friends and family of their adoption plans. They ended up doing private adoptions for both boys as people led them to two mothers who were making adoption plans for their unborn children. They also have an infant bio son and all three boys are gorgeous. We also got to speak to two wonderful ladies at a “Birthright” booth, which is a Pregnancy Ministry that seeks to counsel women to choose life for their unborn babies when faced with an unplanned pregnancy as well as offering counseling to women going through psychological trauma of abortion. One of the volunteers at the booth said one of the main reasons people choose abortion is because they cannot bear the thought of giving up their baby for adoption. So it is easier to allow your unborn baby to be cut up into pieces during an abortion or have a doctor partially deliver the baby, crack open the skull and suck out the brain before delivering the fully formed baby. If the baby survives the abortion, the baby is left in a sink to die. This is the better choice? Anyhoo, the lady advised she would keep us in mind if she met someone who was making a choice for life for their unborn baby and wanted to make an adoption plan.

Our local Child Welfare Agency also had a booth at the festival. I never saw a solitary soul go to their booth and the two social workers manning the booth were not making any effort to talk to anyone. I almost went to volunteer there!!! Come on people!!! Children in my County and State are in crises, they need good foster and adoptive parents and the outreach social workers are not making any effort? I think the social workers are so apathetic and they all seem so jaded. I have yet to meet a social worker who works with the Child Welfare Agency who seems to have any passion for the children they are charged with protecting. I think the two social workers only wanted to put in their overtime and then go back to the office and complain that people are not willing to step up to the plate to foster or adopt children from the foster care system. Boy, am I starting to sound like an activist!!! I am convinced that the system is not doing enough to ensure that the hurting children who have had to be removed from abusive or neglected homes go into loving homes. Instead, they are herded into group homes where nobody cares. It does not help that just this week in my county, a 15 year old girl died from abuse and tortue at the hands of her foster parent--her paternal aunt. The autopsy revealed that she had been burned with hot irons and whipped with belts and electrical cords over a long period of time. Her twin brother also suffered from long-term abuse and he is in protective custody. The children had not attended school since September 2007 and after the fact, people now report seeing black eyes and signs of physical abuse, but no-one did anything! The Child Welfare Agency was supposed to be making regular visits to the home, but the last visit made was in September 2007! If only they would have done their jobs, maybe this child would be alive today and her brother would not have to deal with lifelong issues from the torture he has had to endure and losing his sister in such a horrendous way.

I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase (1st Corinthians 3: 6-7, KJV).

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Today is the first day of the festival and it started on a very somber note—a police officer was gunned down trying to protect the lives of six people trapped in a house with a gunman who was intent on killing. The officer had responded to a domestic violence call at a place of business. The gunman had gone looking for his wife and when he did not find her (she had hidden in a bathroom), he followed her cousin (who also worked at the same place) to her friend’s house. Inside the house were six people including three very frightened children. The gunman then shot and killed his wife’s cousin before killing the police officer. It was a very sad day and it was made more mournful by a Messianic Jew playing taps on his Shofar (ram’s horn blown during Yom Kippur-Day of Atonement and Rosh Hashanah-Jewish New Year). The last officer killed in the line of duty in my town was in 1973. The police unit in my town is very close knit and the neighboring cities were very helpful in covering their shifts as they mourn the loss of a colleague. The crazy thing is that all this was happening less than a quarter mile from church where we were having a meeting and totally oblivious to the tragedy unfolding. It was not until we were at the People Festival that the Vice-Mayor informed us what had transpired that morning. Please pray for the police officer’s family—he lives behind a wife and three young children. Please also pray for his other victim’s family—she leaves behind two children.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thanks Doc--it worked!

This morning, my son specifically requested to have veggies for breakfast so that his “bump” from last Friday’s mishap could go away! He ate up all his veggies—now I need ideas on how to make the bump go away! How cool it would be if our prospective child was around so that my son could encourage him to eat his veggies too!

Friday, August 29, 2008

ER and Veggies

My son had a play date with his 17 month old cousin whom he adores--and she adores him right back. I had forgotten what a work out it is with a 17 month old! When my son was that age, he was totally into everything and we had to take turns eating whenever my husband and I went out to a restaurant! I always imagined girls were more laid back and could quietly sit for hours entertaining themselves with books. But, oh no--she keeps up with the best of them!

The kids had a wonderful time and when it was time for my niece to leave, my son in all his excitement ran like he was preparing for the 100m in the olympics and fall head long into the leg of a chair. He immediately got a huge bump and an ice pack was not doing the trick. We took him to the ER and the doctor was a doctor after my own heart. After checking out my son, she reassured us that God (now this is California where eveyone is afraid to mention God) made the forehead one of the hardest bones because He knew little boys would always fall on their foreheads and drunk adults too! She sent us off with another icepack and instructed my son to eat his veggies so that his ouchie could go away! My son is "allergic" veggies, but is now eating and asking for veggies so that his bump can go away! We left minus our deductible to do just what we had been doing (icepack), but with peace of mind and something else that was priceless--a veggie eating 4 year old!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Does it ever get better?

When we had our first meeting in early June with the social worker from the Child Welfare Agency, we got Live Scan fingerprinting for the FBI and Child Abuse Registry clearance. However, when our first home-study visit was interrupted, the social worker requested the Fingerprint clerk to cancel the fingerprinting request since we were going to be working with a different county and our local Child Welfare Agency no longer had a right to know. In August, when we got bounced back to our local Child Welfare Agency, the social worker advised us that the clerk never removed the FBI and Child Abuse Registry clearance requests, and the social worker had received our clearance reports. She advised she would request copies and we did not need to be fingerprinted again. Well, today, she called me and even she had to laugh when informing me that the Fingerprint Clerk forgot to sign off on the FBI clearance. So, we will have to make another appointment to get finger-printed again!!! They do the live scan fingerprinting at the Child Welfare Agency and we could have avoided the inconvenience by getting fingerprinted the last time we met our social worker (August 14, 2008). Sweet!!!

The upside to our experience so far with the foster care agency is that God is giving me patience and grace—I did not even get annoyed after she told me we would have to come in and get re-fingerprinted. One of my biggest pet peeves is government ineptitude. I firmly believe that as public servants who are paid with tax dollars, we have a moral obligation to serve our customers with professionalism, efficiency and a true heart for public service. I am still amazed that both the social worker and I were heartily laughing after the call!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Status of our Adoption plans

So what is the progress on our adoption? We are definitely going with International Adoption. So far, we have sold 7 pairs of sandals, and as soon as we have $500, we will send in our application. We had been set to send in our application and then our heater broke down on us. It was a 20-year old heater, so it had served its usefulness! We thought we could rough it, but after a week of heating water on the stove so that we could have a few inches of warm water in the tub for a bath, there went our resolve and with it, the money we had saved for the Adoption Agency application! So how are we coming up with the other funds for the homestudy? By relying on faith! We are doing a lot of praying and brainstorming for other fundraising ideas, praying some more and letting people know our plans, and then praying some more! We hope to be able to borrow $3,000 for our homestudy and once that is completed, we can apply for adoption loans and grants. Hopefully, we can soon come up with the $830 fee for the Citizen and Immigration Service application, so that we can start that process.

Our game plan is to move forward with the International Adoption and continue the process with the Child Welfare Agency as well. From the look of things, it may take two to three years to get a referral from the foster care system. So our second child will be an international adoption and our third from the foster care system. That is our plan, but we are laying all our plans at God's feet and will just be obedient to His leading.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

People Fest.

I met someone at the Park today from Uganda and he is a strong advocate of children in the foster care system. He knows the dismal outcomes of children aging out of the foster care system in California and rightly feels that the church does not reach out to the youth in group homes. His vision is to sensitize churches of this need and hope that the church would respond by coordinating with the group homes and picking up the children for youth night and/or sunday worship. Most of the children have never been to church and are only exposed to humanistic teaching in our public schools. He is organizing a "People Fest" at the park and so far 39 churches have shown interest. He is really challenging the local church to have compassion for the children in their neighborhoods. Last year, he led a mission group with 29 Americans to Uganda and his challenge is for people to have the same compassion for the local mission field.

Ironically, he plans to have the Child Welfare Agency have a booth at the "People Fest" to try and recruit foster and adoptive parents. From his interactions with social workers in the foster care system, he had the same misconception that I had that people are not willing to step up to the plate to adopt or foster children from the Child Welfare System. I think this is the line that the Child Welfare Agency keeps feeding people, but they sure put a lot of barries once people express an interest. In my office alone (and it is not a large office), 2 people are interested in adoption from the foster care system and 1 is interested in fostering. All of us started the process about six months ago, and none of us have a homestudy yet (not for lack of trying on our part)! Anyway, I plan on going to the "People Fest" and I pray for courage to talk to people about adoption. I am normally pretty shy, but I am asking God for blodness to be able to speak to pastors about the need to support christians who are adopting.

Friday, August 22, 2008

From the mouth of babes!

Most nights, as soon as I put my four year old to bed, he suddenly remembers all the things he really must do or have before he can sleep. It will range from needing some water, saying his bedtime prayers again because he forgot to pray for someone or something (mostly his toy trains), or because he needs to use the bathroom for the 10th time! I normally rub his back and head when he says his prayers, and tonight after I had put him down to sleep, he called me back to his room requesting that I pet him! It was too cute I did not have the heart to correct him!


If only 7% of Christians chose to adopt there would be no more orphans! Not everyone has been called to adopt, but all can help bring home the orphans to those who have been called to adopt. When was the last time you prayed for orphans to be adopted? When was the last time you supported a family that was adopting? It is very easy for christians to send money to "sponsor" an orphan but a very different matter to get that same christian to commit to help a prospective adoptive parent adopt the "sponsored" child. Please prayerfully open your heart to the voiceless orphans--and pray that the Lord may stretch you to consider adoption or to help a family that has been called to adopt, but whose main obstacle is finances.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kiddo, we will get you home!

We have kids', men's and women's leather hand-made sandals for sale. All proceeds go towards our International Adoption fund. Kids' sandals are $15, Women's $22 and men's $25. Of course, you are welcome to pay more which will to go towards our adoption expenses! Please consider getting a pair--not only will you have unique and good looking sandals, but you will also have the satisfaction of supporting the small business of the African vendors who sold me the sandals as well as helping an African orphan get home to America to their forever hamily!

Kiss the mailman?

I received a parcel today and I am really excited. It means I can now start fundraising for the International Adoption. The Lord knows I needed some good news on the adoption front. I had ordered some sandals from Africa and they were mailed 2 1/2 weeks ago and I has not yet received them. With all that has not been going well lately, I was beginning to get worried that they got lost in the mail. I was just beaming at the mailman and he must have thought I had a few loose marbles--he came when I was taking a nap, and he was greeted by a barefoot lady with dishevled hair and who could not stop smiling! I must have been a sight to behold! I was so excited to receive the package, I almost hugged the mailman.

16 Kids Anyone?

I had a wonderful morning today at my son's preschool. I enjoy spending a few hours in his class when I have a chance and it just makes me miss teaching! The kids are so joyful and still full of wonder. The kids just hang onto me because I let them chase me around the playground during outside play! They also love having me read them their favorite books and I normally have a line of kids waiting their turn so we can read the book they have chosen! My son just loves having me in his class and you should just see the spring in his step as he proudly announces to his classmates that his mom is in the house! Parents, if you can make some time to spend time in your child's class, the rewards are innumerable. Even half an hour makes a difference. It communicates to your child that you really care about the place they spend most of their waking hours, the teachers who shape them and the friends who are so important to their little growing selves.

Last night, dh said we would go ahead and move to a bigger place so that we can still have the opportunity to invite a daughter into our lives if that is God's plan. I am the more pragmatic one, but last night I just had to bite my tongue and start exercising the faith we will need to go through our adoption journey! God will make it clear if we need to move right now, or in 10 months time like we had planned.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's a Boy!

Okay, so today we had our first meeting for the homestudy with the Child Welfare Agency social worker (actually 4th attempt--first one interupted by social worker due to conflict of interest concerns, next 2 cancelled by social worker--guess 4th time was the charm). All seemed to be going well despite our rocky start--but as you probably have come to expect with our foster care adoption attempt, there was just one little issue. We were discussing the gender of the child and said we were open to both sexes, but it would be nice to get a daughter to balance our family. The social worker then asked if we would be open to a sibling group and we advised her of the space limitations—we currenlty own a two bedroom condominium. At this point, the social worker said that she could only license us to adopt a boy because we already have a son. Now the state regulations state that you can place two opposite sex children under the age of five in the same bedroom. We were even advised of this regulation during our orientation and when I pointed this out to the social worker, she said that it is a county policy to license adoptive parents based on their current situation--i.e our two bedroom condo. She advised that the state regulations re: opposite sex children under five in the same room only cover foster parenting and not adoption! We had indicated our openness to either sex but it still upset me to think that we don’t even have this choice! The agency has had our application for almost five months and could have saved me from daydreaming of a girl by letting us know that we would not be eligible to adopt a girl. We had planned on renting out our place and moving to a larger place once the adoption was finalized. The social worker did suggest that if we moved now, she could license us to adopt both sexes! With the glacial pace this foster care agency has been moving, I am not ready to move and then still be in limbo three years from now waiting for a referral!

I requested clarification and she got someone “higher up”. The "higher up" advised us that they would not make an exception unless it was for criminal issues. WHAT!!! They won’t follow the State regulations on space, but will make exceptions for criminals? Am I missing something? The lady “higher up” in the chain then shook our hands and thanked us for wanting to serve our community and said if we decided that we did not want to go forward with the adoption plans, she hoped the Child Welfare Agency could be of assistance to us!!!!! Outside of adoption, the Child Welfare Agency can not be of assistance to us since we are not planning on abusing or neglecting our child/ren and we are not adopting so that we can serve our community! Arghhhhh!

That did throw a kink to a meeting that had been going surprisingly well. Anyway the social worker felt that she had been the bearer of bad news for the last two months and wanted to verify if we would be more comfortable working with a different social worker. Most of the bureaucracy has not been our social worker’s fault so we cannot hold this against her! Additionally, we would have to re-schedule and I have already taken time off four times already trying to get our home study started! So no, we will work with what we have. The rest of the two hour meeting went extremely well and it seems the social worker at least has some empathy for all the obstacles that have been thrown our way by the Child Welfare Agency. International Adoption is looking so appealing right about now. I turn in our application next week to the placement agency and I think I have decided on a homestudy agency. Please pray for us for patience and grace as we wait for our child.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

Boy or Girl?

Last night, hubby and I were discussing if our baby has been born yet and if born, what the baby might be doing at this time. It was interesting that I was envisioning an infant or toddler, while my husband said he always envisions a four year old! I am not sure if that is because we already have a four year old, or because we are requesting for a 0-24 month old child and with the way things have been going, he feels we are not likely to get what we asked for? I don’t know. But anyway, we prayed for our baby. It is delicious to just wonder whether it will be a boy or a girl. I have a son and when I was pregnant, I did not care about the sex, but now that I have my son, I cannot imagine life my life without a son in it. My son is very playful and full of energy and at the same time so loving. If I am sick, he will come and lie down with me and just gently rub my face and kiss me and tell my ouchie to go away! It would be nice for him to have a brother to wrestle with and share his love of trains and planes with. However, it would be just as nice for him to have a sister to protect and just love on! He has a 16-month old niece and he is just incredibly gentle, protective and loving with her. He is also really good around his boy cousins and friends in pre-school and loves to just play chase for hours! We have not yet talked to him yet about the adoption—it would be good to have his input, but the process is so long, it is hard to explain to a four year old why his sister or brother is not coming home tomorrow or next week!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Here Goes Nothing!

I was on vacation for a week and today when I came back to the office, I found a voicemail message that the supervisor from my local child welfare agency left on 7/31/08. She advised that she had rescinded the referral to the other child welfare agency and that my local agency would be doing the home-study and placement. This is the same person who was not returning my previous calls. This explains why the social worker from the other agency did not come over to start our home-study yesterday. I am a bit upset that the supervisor did not let the social worker who I spoke to yesterday know that the application to the other agency had been rescinded. The social worker told me I had the option of working with my local child welfare agency or the one I was referred to. So, five months later, we are back to square one! No homestudy, no classes, nothing--we even toss the tons of paperwork that we had completed earlier on, since our local agency had advised that we would be transferred to a different child welfare agency! Who was it again that said there are so many children waiting for adoptive parents in the foster care system and no parents willing to adopt them?

I called the social worker from my local child welfare agency to schedule our first home-study meeting and she told me she was expecting my call. She said she found out after our conversation yesterday that I had to work with my local child welfare agency and it was not up to us which agency to work with after all. I wish she had had the courtesy to call me and let me know that yesterday. She is the one who led me to believe that we had a choice re: which agency to use and we would not have been waiting yesterday for the social worker from the other agency to come yesterday to commence our home-study! Our social worker just kept saying how happy we will be working with our local child welfare agency!!! No kidding!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Another low for the Foster Care System

We had rescheduled our first homestudy meeting with the Child Welfare Agency for today after our social worker cancelled the last meeting. It is now three hours after our scheduled meeting time, but he has not yet showed up or even had the decency to call us! With the dismal outcomes for children who emancipate from foster care in California, is anybody trying to get a permanent placement with loving parents for these children?

A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation (Psalms 68:5)

Another Monkey Wrench

So, last week while we were on vacation, the original social worker from our county child welfare agency called us and left us a message that she would do our homestudy after all! She requested that we call her back for more details. I called her today and she said that someone higher up in the agency had decided that since I had access to a statewide system, it made no difference being referred to another county! I had already told them this two months ago--I am not sure why it did not make a difference then, and why they revisited the issue! It may have to do with the fact that my co-worker is also trying to get licensed to be a foster parent and raised the same issue. Anyway, we are scheduled to begin our homestudy tonight with the other child welfare agency we were referred to. I hate to cancel it and then next week my county advises that they won't be able to do the placement after all!!! The social worker suggested I contact her immediate supervisor to verify that we can indeed get licensed to adopt friom my county. However, this was the same person I had been calling for weeks and she was not returning my calls. She has not inspired my confidence in her--she still has not responded to my inquires from almost 2 months ago.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Foster care, Domestic or International Adoption.

A lot of Prospective Adoptive Parents go through a lot of soul searching when trying to figure out whether to do a private domestic adoption, adopt from the foster system or adopt internationally. All have their pros and cons and everyone has to make the decision that is best for their family. We are still struggling with the decision of where to adopt from and are praying that God would make it clear to us the direction in which to go. Please join us in our journey as God reveals where our child is!

We had initially committed to adopting through California's Child Welfare System, but I am not sure if my State's foster care system is committed to placing children with adoptive parents! We are still early in the process--4 months with nothing tangible to show for it except bureaucracy and many calls that are not returned. A few friends who have tried adopting through the foster care system have had to wait 2-5 years for a child. In the interim, they have had foster children placed in their homes only to go through heartbreak when children they thought they were going to adopt were placed with biological relatives. In their opinion, prospective adoptive parents in the foster care system in California have no voice.

Foster care adoptions involve alot or risk and we are struggling with just how much risk we are wiling to take. We understand that families hoping to adopt through foster-adoption should prepare themselves mentally before taking the plunge--and our experience so far with the foster care system makes one ready to give up! Adoption is really not for the faint hearted!

The primary goal of the foster care program is reunification with the birth family. In California, they do what is called concurrent placement, which means that you first get a foster child who you hope you will be able to adopt. While the foster/adoptive parent is raising the child, there are parenting specialists, crisis workers, case managers, social workers, rehab specialists and the like, all working with the birth family with the goal of putting Humpty Dumpty together again. Ideally, this is how it should be. But foster parents are often at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to weighing permanency placement options; social workers, the birth family, and even the courts often prefer kinship care if reunification isn’t possible. Families hoping to adopt from the foster care system have to steel themselves for the ups and downs and frequent heartbreaks when children they thought they were going to adopt are suddenly taken away to be placed back with either the birth family that abused them in the first place or with relatives. We have to take into consideration the best interests of our four year old child in the home-- how do we explain to him why a child he has viewed as his brother or sister for 2-3 years is suddenly not in the home because the foster system has decided to place the back with the birth family or other relatives? Children in foster care invariably come from less than ideal backgrounds. Some children have been voluntarily relinquished, but most have been removed from their birthparent’s care because of abuse or neglect. Some have been exposed to drug and alcohol in their mother’s womb and these children have special challenges. Others have been sexually abused and others have had food withheld from them and suffer from malnutrition (yes, even in the world’s richest country), and 65% of all mothers whose children are either placed for adoption or taken by the foster care system smoked during pregnancy . Often children have been in multiple foster placements, increasing the chances that they will exhibit some degree of difficulty attaching to others. It requires a lot of mental preparation and prayers!

We had also looked at private domestic adoption, but the price is prohibitive. Private domestic adoptions primary involve infants and can cost up to $40,000 depending on the race of the child. Yes, as despicable as that sounds, children of certain races command higher fees and prospective adoptive parents go to extraordinary lengths so that the birthparent/s can choose them to adopt their child. Some prospective adoptive parents pay consultants thousands of dollars to prepare their profile--this is their life story and tells the birth mother why she should place the child with that particular family. There are approximately 40 prospective parents for each infant in private domestic adoptions--we do not feel that this is where God is leading us.

In California, the birth family has 6 months to change their mind about placing the child for adoption and both domestic and foster care adoptions carry this additional risk.

The other option is International adoption. We are drawn to Africa and it costs approximately $25,000 to adopt a child from Africa. Financially for us, it will require a tremendous amount of faith--right now we are not sure how to pay the $250-$500 application fee to the adoption agency let alone coming up with the remaining $24,500! We are sure that God has called us to adopt a child and if international adoption is where the Lord is leading us, and then we will just have to trust him to make a way!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Rock City!

This week, we were in Georgia for my husband's family reunion and we had an amazing time with family. My husband's maternal grandmother had 9 children and so there were lots and lots of cousins from around the country. We were also able to spend sometime with a friend who re-located from California to Georgia. He has a lovely wife, a four year old son (whom we had not seen since he was seven months old) and a soon to be one year old daughter(whom we had not yet met). It was amazing how the boys took to each other and played like they had known each other all their lives. My son is normally shy and needs a few minutes to warm up to people he is not familiar with. However, he jumped right into playing with my friend's son and they had a blast. They both had fun playing with our cameras and took some really goofy pictures. The next day, we picked up my friend's son and took the boys to the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum for a train ride! Is it a universal thing that boys just love trains? My son loves all things trains and will watch train documentaries endlessly (he is a good teacher and I am learning some train terminology! His new buddy also loves trains and they had a blast on the train ride and we also got to step off the train to watch a real train turning on a turntable.

We also went to Rock City and which is located atop Lookout Mountain in Lookout Mountain, GA (6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, TN). You can see seven states from the top and one is awed at the magnificence and beauty of God's creation! I had forgotten that I was afraid of heights until I was halfway across a rickety bridge taking me from one giant rock boulder to the next! It was so cute having 2 four year olds encouraging me from the other end of the bridge not to be afraid! They kept saying," it's okay, don't be afraid, just one foot at a time". As I was making slow progress keeping my eyes heavenward, they kept asking if they could come back and hold my hands! Please see the link below for some awesome sights.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

state licensing

Today we had our first meeting with the social worker who will be working to license us as foster parents through the state of California. In order to adopt through California's foster care system, one needs to be concurrently licensed as a fost/adopt parent. It was a painless meeting, though it seemed to focus more on foster parenting! We had to keep reminding the social worker we were there to start the process to adopt! Anyway, we got a bunch of paperwork and once we complete and return it, then she will do a homevisit. The last time she did licensing through the State was three years ago, so she had to dust off her manuals!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sandals for Baby!!!

As I had stated in an earlier post, we have to totally rely on faith if it is God's plan that we are to complete our family by adopting internationally. I am trying to brainstorm how to raise $25,000 and one of the ideas is to sell sandals from Africa. I went to a bar-b-que today and I told my niece about my adoption plans and selling sandals to raise funds, and she promised to buy 2 pairs! Praise God! I know that is $40 down and $24,960 to go, but I am on cloud nine. With so many valleys in adoption, you quickly learn to stop and thank God any time you are on a hill--big and small! The sandals are not even here--I have ordered 25 pairs from Africa and hope they are mailed soon, but already I have made a sale! As soon as they arrive, I will post some pictures--as soon as I figure how to do that on a post. I am not techy at all, I got my first digital camera last december and I am still trying to figure it out! So, any techies out there, please give me tips on how to add pictures on a blog :)