Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A job more thankless than Mom.....

So everyone always says parenting is the biggest job in the world and the most underpaid and underappreciated. Today I figured out what is even less of a thankless job than Mom....being Mom to someone else's child:)

I started out the day feeling sorry for myself and these babies, truth be told. It wasn't pretty but it's true. I got P and L up this morning and gave them baths and redid hair and tried to talk about how fun it would be and reassured them they would come home to us by dinner and we could go get ice cream together as a family. P was excited to go and wanted to take the 2 day old flowers sitting on our table. L cried and clung to me and as soon as I would get him comforted and distracted by something else, I would hear him crying again. He didn't want to go and he didn't want to see her. I'm sure he is mad. I'm sure he is confused and I'm sure he is sad. I have come to figure out that I think L was the target of many of the frustrations and brunt of the punishments. P smiled and was cute enough and little enough and L was always in trouble. He shuts down when he is stressed because of it or acts out behaviorly. P just smiles and talks about how much she loves you.

I met Safe Families to drop off the kids around 11:30 and that went pretty smoothly. They were excited to see our caseworker and ride in her convertible!! I took the other 3 on a picnic to see Papaw at work and it was a really nice little treat. Went to the park to kill some time and the day just seemed to drag on. I finally got the call that they were on their way back around 2:45. It had not gone that great.

L barely said a word the entire time and just kind of stared off in space so instead of seeing how painful this is for him, MOM is afraid he is like that all the time and we've done it to him. I would give anything for her to see him playing and laughing and acting silly and loving on his brother and sisters. P cried hysterically when leaving MOM and our caseworker had to literally pry her off of her. MOM was upset the visit was so short and was reminded that it was short because we were squeezing it in for her because she failed to show up this weekend. She wants a longer visit so I'm sure that will come up soon. I could not wait for them to pull up in the driveway and was hoping if I prayed hard enough they would come running to my arms and all would be well with the world.

But their pain runs deeper than that.

I got a smile from L but he was very quiet and reminded me much of the boy we first met two months ago. I worried about how long this would last. How much silence it would take and how many fits and tears.....P woke up crying and reached for me but continued crying and crying and crying. This beautiful little girl was inconsolable for about twenty minutes. She just held on to me crying and I just held her back. She was calling out for her other mommy and when I asked if I could care for her today she said no and wanted her other mommmy. She was heartbroken and so was I. So I held her on the porch and we both cried. I told her how sorry I was that she couldn't be with her and she asked me to love her and care for her and I was so happy to do that. I worried how many more tears would fall this evening and in the days to come....thought about how many would fall over this lady I feel so far away from for the rest of their lives. I wished that I could fill that spot and that her journey had been different. I wished that I could take all that hurt and heal her where I know only God can.

I was finally able to calm her and we all had popscicles. By the time the last popscicle wrapper was sitting empty, L was off and playing with Noah and talking. P was smiling again and touching my face and saying I love you, Mommy. I know she was trying to reassure me, don't take it personally...it's not you. I told her that I know she loves me and I love her and I know she loves her other mommy and that is fine, that there is room in her heart for both of us and I am fine with that.

They were able to tell Trevor about their day and didn't seem upset about it. They carried on laughing and playing and it was like a little miracle in our house....they were just right back where they left off and I am so thankful. I was sure there would be tears at bedtime but there werent'. There were big huge hugs and sweet prayers and lots of I love yous.

This is what struck me the most today. Grace, Noah and Ava are really the finest kids I know. They were called to do this too and it was so evident today. I just sat back and watched Jesus working through their little hearts and I've never felt so proud. Ava ran to them at the car right away and she just sat on the porch next to L in his silence as if she knew he just needed that. She put her little hand on his leg and just sat there. For those of you who know Ava at all, she doesn't just sit and she is never quiet:) Noah just walked over while I was gently rocking P\on the porch and he kissed her forehead and said P I'm sorry you are sad, Bubby is glad you are home. Grace just kept giving me this look like she knew that this moment, this time in our lives is so much bigger than we are. They all just kept engaging them and loving on them and hugging on them and accepting them until L and P were just part of the landscape around here again. It was beautiful. It is my greatest joy to see.

I am so thankful that I have my children to remind me that we have nothing to feel sorry about for us or them, that we are blessed more abundantly than we could ever dream.We went and got the ice cream I'd promised and danced in the fountain by the store. Then the storm came and a rainbow followed. My friend called to tell me there was one and we all ran to the porch to see. I saw these five little faces looking up and saw the older ones pointing it out to the younger ones and the jumped and giggled and clapped. I know there will be so many more days that the tears and the pain will seem overwhelming and will bring along the worries that it will never end. But today reminded me that their is also healing and a reason for suffering...even the suffering we can't begin to imagine. Today reminded me that we can do all things when Christ is at the center of our relationships, especially our familiies. Today reminded me that our family will make it through no matter what and that is what will make us great. Not the fact that their won't be drama or struggle or suffering but for the fact that we will be in it together and we will hold each other and kiss each other's head and pat each other's legs and engage each other. We will dance in the storm and at the sight of the rainbow.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Testing.

Last night I tried to prepare L and P for seeing MOM today. I reassured them I would be back and it was just for a short time. L did not want to go and was very clear about it. P was up for it. L has not had nightmares since his first week here. Last night he cried out in his sleep several times and I had to go in and comfort him.

This morning I got up early and packed a picnic lunch for MOM and the kiddos. I ironed their clothes and redid hair and wrapped a beautiful journal I bought for her to keep her thoughts or prayers in. We all got ready and the entire way their I was talking about how fun it would be to see her and to play and how I would be picking them back up to go their new cousin's birthday party. We stopped and bought flowers for her so they could greet her with them.

I pulled into the parking lot of the park about 15 minutes early and literally scared off a prostitute and her john.....don't ask me how I know but it was obvious. So I sat in this park with these kids on this gloomy rainy day and waited and waited. We sang songs and counted and said our ABC's and waited. I got frustrated and felt angry and sad and worried. I went to the shelter and sat there waiting. Went back to the park and waited some more. Shelter, waiting more. Called her cell, not working. Called another cell, voice mail full can't leave message. Called Safe Families to make sure she had'nt called. All the while these two litte babies are holding tight to these flowers and just unaward of the why behind her no show. I tell the kids I must have messed up the time or day and I'm sorry we will have to do it another time. They are fine with it as long as we can still go to Eli's party. Thank you, Jesus, that their age protects them from this hurt. For now.

Finally, two hours after we are supposed to meet, she calls Safe Families and says she overslept and is furious with me for not waiting and just knew I did not want her to see her kids. She was completely irrational and in a rage I guess. I feel scared that she will call and want them back immediately. I feel angry that she will not take responsibility for this mess. I feel so unbelievably sad for these kids that that is the reason she missed their time together. I struggled today.....alot. With my feelings towards her. With my fears and anxieties and irritations. I struggled with what God could possible want me to do.

I think this new sister and aunt are feeding her fears that I will take her children and run and never let her hear from or see them again. I think that she has never had someone she can trust in her life or who is who they say they are. I think that she is jealous of the life I've had and have. I think she is scared senseless....literally. She doesn't know the God I know or have the faith I have. She doesn't have the friends I have or family. It is only normal that her fear, overreaction, irrationality would be directed at me. I knew since the meeting with the therapist she was looking for something. Her tone with me had changed and she is looking for an out I think. Or if she can find something wrong with me, rationally or not, maybe it will make this easier in some way.

Today was my test. I'm sure there will be more. Will you love me still? Will you show me this love that you say your Jesus has even when I act like this? Will you love me if I act unloving? Her children have done the same in their own toddler test the limits way. And Jen, will you love this girl like I want you to? Will you show her the ME in you? Will you be MY hands and feet to this girl? Even if...... Can I still use you if it gets this hard? What will she learn about ME from you?

Yes, to you, Lord. Here I am. Rid me of myself. I belong to YOU. Please let this girl feel your love through us. Please let this girl heal someday. Please protect these children. And I know you are stretching me and I know it is to make me more like YOU but I hope you are finished soon because this hurts.

Crying for Nothing? what?!!

this post was writtent Thursday the 23rd of July, 2009


I don't even know where to start about today. I am still processing. I honestly just want to sit and cry but can't until my children are in bed. Tears keep creeping up so I am just wearing my sunglasses inside and hoping they think I'm cool:)

MOM said she is ready to sign papers and doesn't want to drag it out. She also said she just found a sister and her auntie and they are very against this. She said they would not change her mind, but it scares the heck out of me. I feel uncertain about how they will change the dynamics in all of this. She asked me how I feel about all of this, if I'm sure. When I answered her tears rolled down my face and I told her how much we loved them and felt like they are a part of our family. She replied that my emotions confuse her and that she doesn't understand how I cry for no reason. I tried to explain that I was brought up in a home where it was safe to talk about my feelings and my emotions and that when I talk about my children or family, it is an emotional subject for me, especially knowing that these two are not 'mine' yet. She completely didn't get it. She cries when someone dies. Period.

After my initial frustration, it just makes me so sad. How can you sit there and talk about placing your children for adoption and NOT cry? How can you sit there and have gone through all you've gone through and NOT cry? I told her that our experiences have been different and I realize she sees emotion as a weakness but that I do not. She looked at me like I was so rediculous to be crying over these kids I hardly knew. She does not understand how I can love them and feel so attached to them in such a short time. Her actual words. I wanted to shout, Don't you know how flippin' great these kids are? Don't you know how bright and smart and funny and loving? Don't you know how much joy they bring to our lives? Don't you see what a blessing they are? How could I not love them? How could I not feel attached? She made me feel a bit crazy to be honest.

The only thing she seemed concerned about in how they will be raised was the fact that I want to cut L's hair. Because he has 'good hair.' Of all the worries one may have when handing her children over to a stranger to raise, you would think to cut or not cut one's hair might not even make the list much less be at the top of it. So bizarre. Maybe that is how she can do this. To think of the little things. I don't know. I'm at a loss.

I am haunted by how broken she is. Haunted. What has this world brought her that she can sit there and not cry? What has this world and the people in it done to her that she can so expertly push her feelings into a place far away. How many hurts make someone this hard and this cold? How much pain does one person hold inside that they can no longer feel anything? Haunted.Part of me wanted to shake this girl and say I am not the crazy one. The other part wanted to take her into my arms and say only God can heal this. Only God can mend your soul and I will pray everyday for the rest of your life that He does so. That you let HIM.

She wants to see the kids on Sat. morning. She wants me to just drop them off and play at the park and the fear that gives me almost takes my breath away. I told her I thought they would be afraid if I left and I would hang back and let them play but she didn't seem to keen on that. I am going to try to do that though. I do not want them to feel like I am leaving them there. I do not want them to be confused. I do not want them to be scared.

We left the therapist office with these steps in place. He will draft an agreement this week that he thinks will work best for this situtation and we can respond with what we agree with and don't. as will Mom. Then we will take the final agreement to the attorney and she will sign papers. She insist she is still going through with it. She wants this to take no more than a few weeks time. She doesn't want it to drag out.

Just really raw emotion right now. Just a heavy sadness for her and a thankfulness that these two beautiful children found us and will be raised in a home where they can feel their emotions and be able to be whole....A fear for what might not happen or what might and a overwhelming sense of grief over the brokeness of our world. Trusting in God's goodness and mercy. Trusting in His sovereignty for our lives. Trusting in His protection for P and L. Just trusting.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

New to this blog thing...

I have been writing notes on Facebook and then adding them here but have decided to try to do a blog. As you can see, I haven't quite figured it out yet. Still learning how to add pics and make it pretty so the basics will have to do for now. But it turns out there are people who don't Facebook and wanted to be updated on our crazy life. So this is for them:)

I think there is a way you can subscribe to my blog and then when I update, it will send you an email. Don't ask me how, but I think it's possible.

Safe Families and what it means to me....

Last night we went to the fundraiser for Safe Families, the program that brought P and L into our lives. They are trying to raise $40,000. In their first year, they received 17 referrals for families in crisis. In May and June, 17 referrals in each of those months and yesterday, 17 referrals alone. They are growing immensely and the need is great. They need families to volunteer. They played a segment that CBS news with Katie Couric did on the program and I sat there and cried. My hair was cute, my dress looked good, toes done and I sat there crying thinking of our kids. Our kids were homeless and on the street. Our kids were in a shelter. Our kids. I thought about where they would be without Safe Families. I thought about where we would be without them. So I cried.

The goal of the program is to reunite the family back together and to be a mentor and support for the entire family...to figure out what got them in this place of crisis in the first place and to help them ensure it doesn't happen again. It made me sad for our kids. It made me sad that we can't help their mom. That she doesn't want our support and doesn't take the initiative to make changes in her life. 98% of their families are reunified. We are the ones that aren't. I wish that I could make their mother love them more than she loves herself. I wish I could give them her. I feel like I am getting this huge gift and am doing nothing to help her but I have to remind myself that you can only help someone if they want the help and then you just have to love them and pray for them from a distance. Limits in life are hard.

I came home and checked on our sleeping crew and my heart broke thinking of them homeless somewhere and sitting in a shelter and how scary that must have been. I felt so blessed to know them, to be in a position to give them shelter and food and love and encouragment and safety. I felt so protective of them and so angry that we live in a world where this could happen to my kids. That's the thing. We live in a world where it could happen to any of us and it really is our responsibility to care for and love one another. I don't think Jesus cares if I know every scripture if I don't live a life that looks like His. I don't think it matters if I never miss a single service on Sunday if I don't take the opportunity around me to serve others. I don't think it matters how big my house is or how new my car is if I don't give of my blessings to others. I felt sad looking at my babies. Sad that in this failed world things like this happen. over and over and over again they happen. 17 times yesterday it happened.

I wish we all looked more like Jesus. We need Jesus. Our world is hurting and people are hurting. Mothers are hurting and babies, our babies, are hurting. There will be sin. There will be recession and bad luck and poor choices and all of that but if each of us tried tomorrow to look a little bit more like Jesus than we do today, just think of what could happen. I would encourage you to look into Safe Families. They need volunteers to help in other ways besides being a full time family. They need all kinds of help so give them a call and see what you can do. Send them a check. There are so many other ways to get involved and I know that and am thankful for that. Just step outside of your box. What makes you cry? What makes you stop and think if only I had the time to do that? What makes you think I wish I had money to send there? Find your passion and your calling and just start doing it.

Okay, sorry. My German heritage is showing through and I'm getting all fired up:) I talk with my hands too so you should see how I'm typing this thing. LOL

We are continuing to see adjustments around here. L had a hard time falling asleep last night because our Noah had his first sleep over and wasn't here. It was the first time L had been in the room without him. He loves his brother. When he wakes in the night, he often climbs up in Noah's bed and in the morning I find them both there asleep. I am often awakened by L's LOUD giggle and he and Noah will be talking in the top bunk together. Something I am so blessed that they both have.

Ava is really trying to help out and she loves picking out P's clothes and telling her when she isn't supposed to be doing something;) P says Hi Mommy and smiles big when she is up to something. Trevor has started calling her the silent assassin!! LOL

Grace continues to be a huge help but is falling into that phase where sometimes she is heading up the fun and others, so above these little kids:) I am blessed beyond measure. We are meeting with the therapist on Thursday. Hoping to have the contract agreed on and ready to take to the attorney. Lots of emotions. Lots of prayer.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The phone call I've been waiting for...

Today. Ten minutes ago, my phone rang and it is was Safe Families. Krista, our social worker, says M-O-M called and said she is ready to sign. Enter crying. Lots and lots of crying.

I don't want to get my hopes up but the plan is for all of us to meet with the therapist sometime next week and have him mediate an agreement of just how open this adoption will be, to define the terms that we can all live with. Then the following week, we will meet with the attorney and sign papers. We are going to need your prayers, y'all. I am going to really ask God what is best for these children and allow me to be open to what that looks like. I am hoping for no visits but do not think she will agree to that. I don't think she will stick around to follow through with any type of agreement anyway but I am not going to sign away my rights hoping that happens so I have to be prepared for something. I am thinking maybe she would agree to a couple visits this first year and then none or something......who knows. That is why the therapist will be good....to be objective and his emotions are not involved.

She also gave me her email address and said she would like to communicate that way and I could send pics, etc. I am totally receptive and willing to do that. Can the average person find out someone's home address with their email? She doesn't have our last name or anything like that. She isn't even certain the town we live in or any details. I just don't want her on my doorstep if I"m not expecting it. I love a surprise and for people just to stop by and all but I gotta draw the line somewhere:)

These two little loves could be my children! My forever children and I am blessed beyond measure. Please, Lord, let this work. Please Lord, let this arrangement be the best possible way for these two babies to heal and grow and develop and feel loved all around.

I am making a list of questions for M-O-M to answer. Things I think P and L will want to know someday. Any suggestions? What time of day was I born? Did I have a blankie or paci? What was my first word? all of that. When I think of all the empty blanks that I can't fill for them it takes my breath. I want to be able to give them as much as I possibly can about their lives until now. I want pictures and information and I am hoping to get even a hint of those things. All you adoptive families out there and adoptees have anything else I should try to record for them for when they are older and the flood of questions come? This is an opportunity that most families do not get and it could be a huge blessing to our children someday and I am thankful, so thankful that we might be able to get some answers for them.

Pray she sticks with the plan. Pray for her well being. She is getting kicked out of her current shelter and will probably bounce around from shelter to shelter and the streets for awhile. Pray for what our response to that should be. Pray for my family, that it be complete with the addition of P and L. Pray D-A-D isn't an issue.

Sorry for the endless babble but my mind is racing and all these emotions are just pouring out. Thank you, God, for putting me in the heart of Your will for my life. Thank you for stretching me. Thank you for this call.

Facing my Fears

written July 12th

So in all honestly one of the main reasons we were adopting internationally was the fear I had of dealing with a living birth relative, in particular a birthmom. Well, I guess the good Lord wants me to get over that.

This was the second weekend in a row she has had the opportunity to see her children. Not only to see her children but to see them with us interacting as a family and she has not been able to either time. I'm sorry, but you don't have a job so what could be keeping you from your children? And you want to put ridiculous stipulations on an adoption and you can't even see them on a regular basis now?! My heart breaks for these children. I sat in church today and filled out our updated information card and felt so strange not putting their names down as our children. It was a feeling that wasn't expected and there aren't really words to describe it. My feelings have definitely crossed that line and I am now in protective mode and I am realizing their M-O-M is who I feel like i have to protect them from.

Trevor and I took all the kids suit shopping for him this weekend and then we all went out to eat and we had so much fun and L was giggling his great loud giggle and P was acting silly and Trevor just looked at me and said, "She's missing this. I am so sad for them that she makes the choices she makes." Breaks my heart. I love these children. I feel like these are my babies and I know they will always long for their mom's love and I will always be second best but how can you love yourself more than these two beautiful little souls? How can you not visit? How can you not sign the papers yet then so these kids know what their future is and we can make plans for our life? I feel like this lady has my life in her hands and that is a bit unnerving to say the least.

I know that there is only ONE who has my life in HIS hands and HE loves me and these kids more than I could ever begin too but it is scary stuff. These kids are really fantastic kids. Really loving and funny and spirited and they are little survivors and I look at them after less than two months time and I cannot imagine the thought of walking away from them. No matter my circumstance. I would be huddled under a bridge with my arms spread wide and protecting my children the best I could. I am so sad for P and L. So sad that the one thing they will probably always want in their lives, I will not be able to give them.

I will not be able to fill that void or heal that place in their hearts but I will do my best to give these two a sense of security and unconditional love. I will give them a safe place to grow their interests and dream their dreams and I will love them and encourage them and give them the best dad and brothers and sisters a child could want. I will give them this huge support system and faith family that loves them and is rooting for them and this crazy loud and big extended family that is completely in love with them. I will give them me, this flawed, struggling, bright white mama that will act silly and teach them and invest all my energy and love into them and I will sing and dance around the house and embarrass them in front of their friends and I will take care of them when they are sick and comfort them when their feelings are hurt or they are grieving and I will love their daddy and give them a stable home that they can test the limits and learn about life and how it works. I will teach them all about Jesus and our Sovereign God that brought our familiy together. I will plant the seed and watch it grow.

I pray I have the chance to do this. I pray I have the opportunity to be their mommy. Their real life Mommy.

I thought it was interesting that today we were singing a Wiggles song and L said, " I used to watch that at (birthmom's first name) house." He didn't call her Mommy or even Mommy ______. He used her first name to reference her and I think that says alot about where this little guys security is. It was the first time either of them mentioned her in a week or more.

Our life just seems so up in the air. I 'feel' like their mom. I am the one caring for them and doing their hair and kissing and cuddling and feeding and wiping and all of that but I cannot make the decision to cut their hair and they don't go to our doctor or our dentist and they don't have my name and it is just weird to me. It is all just a strange little place we find ourselves and I feel like we are making so many changes in our lives and need to make more and we are banking it all on this one lady's decision. I want what's best for P and L and I truly believe now, that it is us. I know she loves them and I am trusting that will guide her choice and I am praying for her and for her clarity. I am praying for my babies and that they always feel God's love for them and ours.

Church camp

written July 6th....

I haven't updated in awhile because my attitude hasn't been the greatest. A 'poor me' mood snuck up on me and I have just been very emotional. Someone said that shingles can make you a bit emotional and not quite yourself so I'm hoping that is what this is because I have not been the most pleasant person to be around. My 'poor me' mood is not attractive:)

It looks like this weekend, we, our entire family, will be spending part of Saturday with birthmom. She would like to see our family interacting I think. I actually wanted her to go to the zoo with us last week for the same reason. I want her to see that we are a family and that it works and is good and just fits. I am hoping it will help her come to peace with her decision. My concern is that she will think this is how it will always be...and we will all live happily ever after. I wish I could but it's just not in me. These visits make me nervous...sad for her, sad for the kids, anxious for the aftermath of behaviors...I just know it is not best for any of us.

The kids did great with a very busy latenight filled weekend. Ls self defense mechanism is to be tough and Ps has been harder to realize but she thinks she can charm and smile her way out of anything!! If she has a really big smile when I walk in the room, I know she is doing something she isn't supposed to be doing. The bigger the smile, the worse the offense:)

Yesterday I took Grace to camp Allendale for the week and it made me feel so strange. This girl has been under my wing for 9 years and really has spent very little time away from me. It was hard. Today felt weird without her and I have thought about her a hundred times. What is she doing? Is she homesick? Laughing now? Swimming? Is she growing in God? I would be lying though if I didn't have a little daydream about what it will be like when all my kids can go to camp:)

I redid her room today and get to surprise her with it when she gets home. It looks great. My friend came over and we let our 7 kids run all around and painted it. We got it all done and she will flip.

Our amazing God is still providing for us. We recieved another anonymous card with money that made me drop to my knees and cry. Someone is blessing us so much and it is completely overwhelming. It is cool to be able to explain to our children that God uses ordinary people to be HIS hands and feet and that may look like taking a friend dinner or going on a mission trip or babysitting for a friend that needs help or financially blessing others when you've been blessed. I am humbled and grateful for the love God has shown us through all of you.So I am trying to snap out of my bad attitude once again and count my many many blessings. I cannot wait to pick up my Gracer on Friday. The kids were all asking for her today and Logan asked God to let Grace have fun at 'camp church' in his prayers tonight. Perri thanked him for Grace's painted room:) Pray for my attitude. You all encourage me.