Wednesday, September 30, 2009

No Drama from the Baby's Mama

Okay so the biggest concern I have for while I'm gone is that MOM would try to take them back or see them or make a fuss about something and I would not be here to say goodbye or to plea for them or to go to battle for them.....Safe Families called today and MOM checked in. She was her nice self this time and just said how hard her life is right now and that she found a place to stay but didn't say where. I am glad she is not out in the cold. She just wanted to know the kids were okay. She obviously still cares about them. I'm glad for them. This call made me feel good about the next two weeks. It brought me peace that she will just stay calm until I get back. Lord, watch over them and help me trust you'll do just that.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Africa or Bust

In 6 short days I will be going on the trip of a lifetime to Nairobi, Kenya. Excitement doesn't even come close to what I'm feeling. It is hard to explain but I have had a heart for Africa since I was a very young girl. I knew God was calling me there from an early age and was just waiting for the right time. I kept putting it off because we didn't have the money and we had small children and the list goes on....I felt like I kept having to put God off on what He was asking me to do. So as you know, this past year I prayed for God to use me and that whatever He asks of me, I would do. Well two kids later and I'm on my way to Africa:) I decided that there is no reason that God would think good enough if I was essentially telling him no. I prayed for a long time about if this was really His will for me to go and not just a dream of my own. I went to church one evening by myself and sat in the dark quiet sanctuary and told Him He was going to have to give me big signs so I would know. Right after walking out of the sanctuary, I saw a book on the counter about Kenya. I opened it up to a random page and it talked about things that are my passions. HMMM i thought. I then went into my bible study where one of the ladies used to be a missionary in Kenya and is helping lead this trip. I told her my prayer and she got very quiet and said, "that's interesting because we were told to pray about one person we would ask to go on this trip and to write that name down, I wrote yours." Tears, chills. Thank you, God. I am going to Kenya!

I am on the team staying in the Mathare Slum which is one of the largest slums in Africa. We will be bringing food to homes and just praying for people. We will put on a VBS for about 200 kids for four days and we are putting plexiglass windows in the roofs of their homes so they have a source of light during the day. We are giving shoes and socks to children who have never had any. We are doing some health screenings and AIDS/HIV education. The area we will be in has 40% of their adult population infected with HIV. We will be visiting the bush area of the Massai people that are very tribal and remote. Part of our team is doing a medical mission their. We are spending the last two days of our trip on a wild animal safari on the plains. It will be a dream come true for me. I still can't believe it is happening.

I am scared in a way of what it will do to me. I am already very passionate about Africa and the struggles it faces. I am already passionate about social justice issues and cry at the drop of a hat for those causes. I am afraid of how much it will haunt me. I am afraid of what God will call me to do about it and just knowing what that will be. I am afraid of the sadness and the hopelessness. I am afraid.

I am not excited about traveling 30 hours one way. I am not excited about the suffering I will see. I am not excited that I won't be able to bring all these children home with me. I am not excited about how small the dent is that we will make. I am not excited about feeling helpless and overindulgent. I am not excited about the trash and the human waste and the thousands of people in a small place and the smells that are a part of all of that. I am not excited about the lack of clean water and electricity and sacrifices I will have to make for just two short weeks. I am not excited.

I am thrilled to be doing what God's will is for my life. I am thrilled to see the beauty that Africa holds. I am thrilled to be able to see the joy and hope in the children's eyes. I am thrilled to bring the love of Jesus to so many. I am thrilled to hold the hand of a woman dying of AIDS. I am thrilled to love on a baby that is malnourished. I am thrilled to provide food and light and hope and love. I am thrilled.

I am sad to leave my family. I am sad to miss a field trip with Noah and Ava. I am sad to miss Grace and Noah's games. I am sad to sleep apart from my husband. I am sad that my kids will be sad. I am sad.

I am joyous that I am showing my children how to love Jesus and others. I am joyous that they will see firsthand how to serve. I am joyous that they are learning that sometimes it is hard and we have to sacrifice to make the right choices in this world. I am joyous that my husband supports me on this journey 100% and that after we brought two more children into our family, he still said go. I am joyous that he can handle our crew and is a wonderful dad. I am joyous that God provided for this trip. I am joyous.

I am going to keep a journal while I'm gone and will post it when I return. I am in charge of the blog for our entire group so we are hoping to have electricity at least part of the time so we can post some. The website for that is below so you can check in there.

I can think of hundreds of words to describe what I'm feeling but none seem to quite measure up. So many thoughts and emotions. So many little worries as a momma leaving her nest. So much thankfulness for the people who have supported this trip in prayer and finances. I am scared and excited and not excited and thrilled and sad and joyous....all of those things. I am going to Africa!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Little glimmer of hope for now...

I spoke with our caseworker late this evening. Our case was transferred back to Marion County and they kept the appointment with MOM for yesterday. She did not show up to it and has not contacted them so they documented that and our caseworker took them all of the documentation they have on what she has done/not done since a part of Safe Families. DCS said they will consider the children a part of the Safe Families program still and not remove them from our home at this time!!! I am so relieved. I've been waiting for them to show up any minute. Nothing will change until MOM makes a move and for awhile, I don't think she will. She doesn't have alot of options right now and is making it harder on herself. We are trying to really live in the present moment and remember that where we are right now is right where God wants us. Who knows why, but we trust He does:) Just trying to learn from it and grow from it and survive it;) Tonight, I am going to bed feeling confident that those little faces will be with me tomorrow and I will be able to take them in again tomorrow night and that is more than I've had for the past 48 hours so I'll take it. Thankful for the glimmer of hope for now!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Not much to report.....

Not much to report but I know you have all been wondering what in the world is happening. So much has changed in the past 24 hours that my head is spinning. I will not even take you through all the twists and turns because it is way to confusing. We are waiting for DCS to call us and if they do not call by tomorrow afternoon I may take a more proactive approach and call them so we are not left spinning until they get around to it. We do not think they will release the children to their mom so we are going to plead with them to let us keep the children in our care while we get licensed as a Foster family. We then would become their foster family and if MOM doesn't jump through the hoops they need her too, then they would become ours through adoption. This is the best case scenario and the one we are praying for even though it will probably take years. If she does complete the requirements we would feel okay about reuniting them with her.

The other option of trying to fight her in court for them is not something we are comfortable doing at this time. It is really important to us to try and love her too and this is allowing her to keep some control and attempt to make herself better. If DCS would decide to give them to her, we will have to worry about that then.

As for now, they are with us and we are loving on them and they have no clue how unstable their little lives are. It is our strongest hope that DCS will see how well they are doing and allow them to stay in our care until the best possible future for them is decided. I think it will depend on who our caseworker is how well they will work with us. We have Safe Families advocating on our behalf and we all know I've documented everything:) We are holding up. The kids are all clueless and Trevor and I are confident that we are square in the middle of God's will for our lives so even though it is painful and hard, it is drawing us closer to HIM. Thank you for the prayers and encouragments. We feel your love. I'm in awe of you.

Our best offer....

As of now, MOM is too irrational and Safe Families will not return them to her. They have filed a complaint with DCS and we wait to see what will happen.

We have offered to continue to keep the children without the hope of adopting them but working with MOM towards reunification. We really feel called to love not only the children, but her, as unloving as she seems at times. We will keep the kids until she has a home, is in school and has a job and childcare for the children. We will support her any way we can. We truly believe that the best possible outcome for them is to live with a healthy biological mom. If we can help her get there, then we have to try. It will give us time to help our family transition and prepare the kids for going back to their other mom. For now, we wait and pray that she will trust us on this offer and agree to walk along side us to give her children the best life possible. Safe Families and there resources are behind this 100%.

I think this is what Jesus would do, that's why we are doing it. I don't think it makes the most earthly sense and many of you may question it but this is the only solution we felt peace about. It is not the easiest, but the right thing isn't hardly ever the easiest.

Returning them both to her seemed impossible but so does splitting them up.

she decides, a DCS complaint against MOM has been filed by Safe Families and they will not return the children to her tomorrow. They cannot in good faith put them in that situation. It is all very up in the air and really out of our hands. I am not sure what, if anything, will change with DCS involvement but for now and tomorrow, they are safe in our home. I am just trying to keep focused on Jesus in this journey He has us on. Things seem to be changing minute to minute so I will update when I can and when it seems like the newest bit of news will stick for a bit. Thank you for your prayers and love.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Waiting for the fallout...

We haven't heard anything yet today. I'll be surprised if we do. Yesterday she was officially on the streets with all the shelters full and she wasn't sure what she was going to do yet. She is being unreasonable and mean to the caseworker that has helped her so much. I really think we are dealing with some kind of psychological issue here. She is really unstable right now. She must be going through so much stress and pain and it is awful feeling so helpless in this.

have been told all of our options in regards to the children and what hers are as well. It is our prayer that she will listen to what, in my heart I know, God is telling her to do and that is to sign P over as well and let us all be a family. My fear is that she isn't really concerned with God's Will and will do her own thing and take P from us. We have decided that we will not let her take L. We are proceeding with his adoption. That is a bit different than we've felt in the past but I just know he will not make it with her. I do not want them to be split up but if she wants P, then I will not also give her L. P has a better chance if she only has one to worry about one and it is apparent she hasn't been able to deal with L for quite some time. I will not let that sweet boy become a statistic. I did not want to be the one responsible for them being apart but our caseworker reminded me that this is not my doing and she will have pushed us to that point if it happens. If she does not have a shelter lined up she won't be able to take P without DCS getting involved but having a child will help her find a shelter so that is working against us.

I don't think it's that healthy to think of all the 'what ifs' usually but we had to prayerfully consider what we would do if she did any number of her options and we'll have to do them right away. The thing we are not sure about is if she shows up at all. Our caseworker seems to think she will. I asked if she takes P to please not pick her up until the kids are home from school so they can say goodbye to her. She couldn't promise that. I can't even begin to think of helping this entire family heal from that loss so I am praying for God to move mountains and allow her heart to be ready to let P go. I cannot even think about saying goodbye to P or what that will be like for me. If you have met her, you know what a presence she has:) I would be rocking back and forth sobbing in a corner if I did and this family still needs me today. Please God don't let me know what that loss will feel like.

I cannot fathom the loss MOM is feeling and how helpless she feels in her own life. I don't know what else to do for her. We have tried and it is rejected. I will pray for her everyday for the rest of my life. This experience of seeing her life so upclose has changed me forever. I am grateful for knowing her children. I am grateful to her for loving them and caring for them as best she could as long as she did with little to no understanding of how to do it.

We have decided not to attend the court appointment and are sending our attorney. I think it will be easier for her to do without us there and am just not giving her the opportunity for this to get ugly. The appointment is at 8:30 so I'll be on my knees storming heaven then. This is all beyond nervewracking. I know in the next day my life will be forever changed one way or the other and I have absolutely no control in how. It has been quite a lesson of trusting God and the role of suffering in our lives. A lesson in just knowing He is present with you when the light is shining bright and when the dark tunnel seems like it is closing in. I know that whatever my family looks like after this day that He will be at the center of our lives and help us deal with the fallout. I have left a lot of burdens at His feet over the last few months and I am not worthy of His all encompassing love for me. None of us are.

One overwhelming theme in all of this has been the importance of relationships....friendships. It has been amazing to see old friends show up at my doorstep with bags of clothes for the children, money to appear in the mail now and then from some generous friend loving on our family, friends bring meals and watch our entire crew and friends that pray with me and for me and this entire community of people cheering us on. I am humbled by the support and uplifted by your encouragement. I am thrilled to have seen Perri and Logan welcomed in and loved on by our friends and family and I have no doubt they know what the love of Jesus looks like because of it. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eviction day

Today is eviction day for MOM. Our caseworker called and said she called in a panic with nowhere to go. I think she has been in survival mode/crisis mode her entire life so she just has no idea how to plan or look to the future. She has known this day is coming and waited til now. All of the shelters in Indy are full. They finally found her one to go to but she is concerned about making it to school because it is not near there. The old shelter won't let her keep anything there so they will probably throw most of her stuff away. We told her if they can hold it for 24 hours, we can pick it up for her. It's easy to see how people get stuck in a cycle.

I feel sick. I feel like there is more we should do. She just really has no lifeskills. Our caseworker thinks this is God's divine timing and it will help her see that she just can't do this parenting thing. It is hard enough for her to care for herself. I feel so conflicted about her. I feel so sorry for her and worry for her life. I know she cannot parent these kids but she just never got a chance. I wish I could undo her life experience. I wish I would have met her when she was a child and taken her into my home. I wish someone somewhere would have loved her and she would have let them. I wish she had the time she needs to get her life together but children don't wait. It could take her 10 could take her forever and who knows what would happen to them in that time. I think there has got to be some kind of mental health issue going on. She won't let us help her. We've been offering it for five months so the only thing I know to do is to love her children and to pray for her everyday. I love these children so much and she is theirs and such a part of who they are that I can't help but have love for her.

I am asking you all to pray for her. She is alone and homeless and I cannot imagine what that feels like. Please pray for her heart, for her decision to be made this coming week, and for hope in this girl's life and future. Pray for these children. I know you do and will. Thanks friends.

Friday, September 4, 2009

overall, not too bad

This morning was spent giving baths and doing hairdos. When I told L he was not happy but he didn't cry. I explained they would be coming home and he seemed okay with it. He proceeded to cling to me the rest of the morning. I washed dishes with him on my leg, gave P her bath with him on my back and felt his little hand on me everywhere I went. P was excited to go and wanted to take her new dolly to show her. I could feel the prayers this morning. Safe Families even sent us an email that said they and the Chicago division prayed for us this morning. I love it when Christians really act like the body of Christ.

I decided to try and stay busy and make it a special day with Ava so I took her to lunch and to get some new shoes. She was so sweet and loved it. On the way to eat she said she was said that L and P had to go and when I asked her why she couldn't explain it, just that her heart felt sad. That coming from a four year old. My heart feels sad for them too, Ava. We talked about how Jesus would be with them even when we couldn't be and they would be home this evening to act silly with. She wanted to get them some Tic Tacs at Target and she thought that would make them feel better in case they are sad when they get back again. I get so touched by how much the 'orginals' think of the new 2!

They pulled in the drive around 5:00 and initially it was a much smoother transition home. They did not cry leaving her and they didn't cry coming here. Noah was in tears because L wouldn't hug him and it's hard for him to understand that it takes L a few minutes to get back to his normal self. My sweet sensitive Noah. A few minutes after Safe Families left L dropped a car he was carrying and it's wheel popped off. He fell to the floor crying so hard. I scooped him up and asked why he was sad and he sad his wheel. I was pretty certain it was not the wheel and asked if he had a hard day or a fun day and he said a fun day. I asked if he missed his other mom and he said yes and I told him it was okay to miss her and okay to love her and I was sorry he was sad. P is crying about a lot this evening but I think it is mostly just being tired. These days exhaust them.

At dinner we asked what they did and what they talked about and L just says I told (his mom's name) that I want to stay with you. I said did she ask you that and he said yes. I asked if she asked P that and he said yes and she said her. It is so frustrating that she would ask a two and three year old a question that she as an adult is having an impossible time answering. I assurred him that that is not a choice for a child and that only grownups should worry about that. The fact that she cannot take responsibility for this decision so much that she would try to put it on a toddler makes me sick. I hope neither of them remember that question or their answers to it. So if she is listening to their opionions, it will not suprise me in the least bit if she separates them.

I am just preparing myself for the the fact that I may be the mom to a very hurting boy in the next few weeks that will not only lose his mom but his sister too. I pray that is not the conclusion to this. I pray they have each other.

MOM told Safe Families she is ready for the 15th and knows what she is doing but once again wouldn't say what that is. Only two more weeks and this will be resolved. God help me to love like you do and to just be able to handle where this journey takes us next. Here I am. Use me.

Trevor took the older three to a party this evening and I decided to stay with these two so that they could just cry if they need to and get some cuddle time. I'm glad I did. They haven't left my side and are just needing that constant reassurance again. They are worn out so it's early to bed. Overall though, it wasn't too bad today. We made it.

Thank you all for the prayers today. I can't explain the peace I had other than that I could feel your love and God with us. Your support and encouragment mean so much to me.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kick in the chest

I just got kicked in the chest. At least that is what it feels like. Safe Families called and MOM wants to have a visit on Friday. Please God, let this be the last time we have to do this. I went back over my post from the last visit and could throw up. But I am not going to let this steal my joy today. I am going to tell my Jesus that He has to take this lump from my throat and allow breath to enter my lungs and take this nausea from me. I will not worry. I am going to spend the next few days in constant prayer for P and L and their Mom. I will not feel bitter. I am going to pray this time is healing in some way and brings her peace in her decision. I am going to pray for these babies and the sadness and grief I know will come, for the anger and the hurt....for their confusion and readjustment into our family once again. I am going to be on my knees in prayer, on my face in prayer, sliding down the shower wall in the ugly cry prayer and through all this God....I hope you shine through, I choose to praise you through this.