Did we really just send that email?

3 years ago I could never have imagined where we would be tonight. The thought seemed unfathomable to me.

We had spent the better part of our 4 1/2 year marriage struggling with unexplained infertility. 4 years of a constant no when we would take monthly pregnancy tests, 4 years of people telling us it would happen in God’s time. 4 years of bitterness and anger growing inside my soul while I sought God’s wisdom. 4 years of tears. 4 years of feeling like I was failing at life. January 2012 we did two things that would forever change our lives: we began the process to obtain our foster license as well as we had an IUI performed. Both of these things that would forever change our lives.

We received our very first positive pregnant test on Valentine’s Day of 2012 and March 2012 our fostering license was approved and we were placed with two six month old twins. The years of bitterness and questioning finally all started to make sense. My heart was healing and my bitterness was a distant memory.

After I had my c-section with A in 2012 I felt this overwhelming feeling of grief. In my simple way of not seeing the big picture I never thought I would ever be able to conceive again. A was and is my miracle baby. I felt grief that I had to have a c-section and sad that I would never experience birth the way I wanted to experience birth.

A and the twins grew over the next year and our hearts began longing for another child. A longing that we assumed would mean another foster child OR more fertility treatments. When A was barely 3 months old, we decided the following summer, June of 2014, would be the moment that we would accept another child into our home and we would begin the process for having more fertility treatments.

Very few people know that we began trying for another child when A was six months old (April 2013) and we took a pregnancy test(s) every month. Every month that pregnancy test was a negative. I ignored the questioning from people asking if we would have another child–even from people who know our story. I was disturbed people would have the audacity to ask a question when they knew how long it took for us to have A. I knew we would have another child, I just didn’t know how that child would come into our home.

On Valentine’s Day 2014 we took another pregnancy test and it was positive, it turned out no fertility treatment was necessary. I was terrified and beyond excited.

September 2014 we went to court where the parental rights of the twin’s biological parents were terminated. It would only be a matter of time before they would officially be a part of our family.

J was born in October of 2014 and it was that birth that we both had always wanted and dreamed of with him being born at home. It was an amazing experience to know what my body was capable of doing.

December 2014 is when we officially adopted the twins. We had officially added 3 new members to our family in a matter of seven weeks. Our family felt complete.

My family still feels complete. I have 4 kids under 4, my house is a nutty place. I am an overwhelmed and exhausted mother of 4 children.

So what does all that have to do with the email we sent today? Everything.

I knew since I was a little girl that I would adopt. It was something I dreamed of doing and am so blessed to have had the opportunity. Fostering became something we were called to do with our lives.

Tonight after much consideration and heartache we have decided not to renew our fostering license. We need a break, probably for a few years. My life is so chaotic and I honestly don’t believe we would be able to focus on the demanding needs of a foster child.

H bug is a difficult child with many issues that we are working through nearly 3 years later. I have 4 children that need my attention and my love. I have 4 children who deserve for me to focus on them right now. My heart aches that tonight a child may not be placed in a foster home and may be sent to a children’s home because we are deciding not to foster anymore. My heart aches and prays for these children. I also know that it wouldn’t be fair to that child to come into our home where I would be unable to give them the full attention needed.

I know my family isn’t done with fostering forever. We are done right now and my heart aches for that decision. I know it is the right choice yet tears run down my cheeks.

Did we really just send that email?

If only….

If only I could express to you with a realization that would hit you smack in the heart and mind to make you aware of the reprucssions of your choices.

If only I could express the heartache for 5 people you are causing.

If only I could express how much your choice could destroy everything we have built up.

If only I could express how much I pray for you daily.

If only I could express how much I wish I could hug you and shake you at the same time.

If only I could express the words to your face.

If only I could demonstrate the love we have.

If only I could demonstrate the bond we have forged.

If only I could demonstrate the bond between 3 innocent souls.

If only I could make you understand we don’t back down from our word.

If only I could make you understand what you are about to do.

If only I could find a way to manage to convince you to change your mind.

If only I could change the laws in the state of Florida.

If only I could convince you to not be selfish.

If only I could find a way to be able to convince 3 innocent souls (and myself) that God has this under control.

If only I could find an articulate way to express how I actually feel.

If only I could find a way to not feel like I have failed them.

If only I could find a way to make this up to A.

If only I could find a way to take this heartache away.

If only  could find a way to not cry myself to sleep.

If only I could make Wednesday come faster.

If only I could make this pain you have felt go away.

If only I could talk to you mother to mother.

If only I could find a way to function.

If only….

That is the thing with if only…we have no control.

Limbo

One of the most common questions when people find out the twins are in foster care is: “so are you going to adopt them?”

The goal of foster care is not for adoption, the goal of foster care is reunification. Adoption happens when parental rights are terminated. It is not an easy process, bio parents deserve a chance to complete their case plan and be reunified with their child(ren). We went into foster care knowing this and trying to find some way to prepare our hearts for this–we made the choice. We also went into foster care knowing if we could adopt that we would adopt. Adoption has always been something I knew God called me to do for as long as I can remember.

Florida law calls for some time of permanency within a year of a case being open. Lets be honest folks, there are so many loop holes that this rarely happens. I know many foster care parents that have foster children that have been in this limbo for well over 2 years. It is an oddity but it definitely happens.

The twins case is over 2 years old. They have dual goals (reunification and adoption) and these goals have been in place ever since there was a case plan. Generally in foster care (well at least I have been told) 2 goals are usually the norm to prepare for the worst and best case scenario.

So are we going to adopt them?

Well if parental rights are terminated, we desperately want to do just that. I am also just  trying to desperately seek God and ask Him to prepare my heart if that is not His plan.

I really cannot talk about their case, I cannot tell you where in the process we are or what is really going on with aspects to that.

I can tell you that my heart worries about how Adalynn will handle if the twins go back.

I wonder if the twins will meet baby boy.

I wonder and worry if Adalynn will have a brother and sister in the twins in that permanent sense.

I worry about the bond that exists between those three children (and will exist once baby boy gets here and if they are still here).

I worry did we make the right choice to expose our biological children to heartache and heartbreak. 

My heart is full of worry.

I do know, right now, we are in limbo with the case. I do know, June 2nd is a pretty big deal in our house. I do know we need prayer over this date.

Strangers think it’s so great that we foster  but I don’t think that it makes us special. This is my life and I cannot imagine it any different.

 

Life changing dates

January 31st is a day that I don’t think I can ever forget. It was a day that was a last ditch effort before truly just resigning myself to never being able to have a biological child.

2012…

The prior 4 years of trying to conceive a child were filled with heartache, questioning, and worthlessness. It was painful.

I remember a couple of weeks before while I was on Winter Break at my friend’s house where she told me she was pregnant with her second child and my heart dropping just a little more. I was beyond thrilled for her but at that same moment I was trying to swallow the idea of never having a biological child.

The prior week I had been to see the doctor to monitor my ovulation and to see if I would finally be able to an IUI. January 30th I woke up and tested and it was positive. I called the doctor and they wanted me to come in on the morning of the 31st for my IUI.

I clearly remember waiting in the waiting room and I was wrecked with nervousness. My bitterness started to seep to the surface and the begging/pleading for this to work. I went home after receiving the IUI and thinking this has to work.

The next two weeks were beyond slow moving. I had random signs that made both Jer and me hopeful but at the same time I didn’t want to become too hopeful.

I remember going to my friend’s daughter 1st birthday party and I was actually starting to believe I was pregnant (hopeful) on February 12.

On February 14th I woke up and tested. I remember screaming to Jer that there were two lines. Two lines..two lines. Beyond excitement as I called that same friend at 6am and practically shouted the news on her voicemail.

Pregnant..finally.

January 31st and February 14th have amazing meaning to me. Those dates came so long after so much heartache and pain. Those dates are joyous to me.

So here I sit two years later and the question that pains my heart in new ways is the question if we will have anymore biological children.

Seriously?

It took us 4 years to finally conceive Adalynn and you want to know if we want more?

Seriously?

Well the answer is YES.

Is it possible?

Anything is possible with God. At the same time I am trying to prepare my heart that may not be my story. It may not be my story to ever have another biological child. I don’t think I am okay with that yet, and honestly I am not sure I will ever be.

I loved being pregnant–loved it.

I didn’t have my ideal birth with the need for an emergency c-section. I would love the opportunity to have VBAC.

However, I also am realistic that these things may never happen.

Jeremy and I both want more biological children, it is still a painful subject. It still hurts.

So I beg of you to never ask if we want another biological child when we accept more foster children into our home. Honestly, you will just be breaking another piece of my heart away. I cannot have children at the drop of the hat and I am heartbroken over it.

I don’t think I am resentful anymore. I don’t think I am angry anymore. I just know this is my story.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am thankful for my precious Adalynn and the twins. I love them and wouldn’t want it any other way. I know I will love whatever future foster children come into our house. I will and I am not sorry for my story. My story is my story and it has made me the way I am.

I am lucky because I do have a biological child. I have foster children. I have a full life.

Gift giving

As a parent there is a brand new level of excitement over Christmas time when you have toddlers in the house. Last year was A’s first Christmas and it was wonderful don’t get me wrong. This year is a whole new world.

Little man, H bug, and A are precocious toddlers who are wandering around and get excited over the littlest things. This year Christmas morning is bringing such excitement that I can barely wait until it comes.

The hubs and I decided last year after going a bit over board on Christmas that we wanted to become very purposeful in our gift giving at Christmas.

The hubs bought A a Dr. Seuss book last year and wrote a beautiful inscription inside the cover of the book. He has decided that he would buy her a Dr. Seuss book each year and write inside the cover for her a little note. It is a beginning of a tradition.

I had a slightly harder time coming up with my special gift to A, I just bought her an ornament. As I spent the past year thinking what could my gift each year be, it  hit me. I have decided to make a photo book documenting each year of A’s life. Her first photo book is from birth to her first birthday.

We are doing the same sentimental presents for the twins as well for however long we have them. I made H bug and little man a book documenting the moment they came in our lives at 6 months until their 2nd birthday. The hubs bought the twins their own Dr. Seuss book and wrote beautiful inscriptions to them.

We decided those are our sentimental gifts to the kids.

We decided last year that we would buy the kids one big gift (or three smaller gifts that would cost the same as a big gift). The twins are only 13 months older than A and we decided if we did purchase a big gift all 3 would have great use out of it. We ended up getting 3 smaller gifts for the kids–toddler quads.

We also have stockings that just have some randomness inside them. That is it.

Boy, oh boy, has it been hard. I want to buy more. It has been very difficult to restrain ourselves but so far so good.

This is how we choose to celebrate….

I remember when I first was married and my husband worked at a church in Brooksville something very profound struck me. It was Christmas time and we were talking about Santa Claus with some of the other adults. This one woman stated she wished she never told her children about Santa because when her daughter found out he wasn’t real the little girl asked, “Since you lied about Santa were you lying about God?”

This really struck me inside and stuck with me–I was convicted. It was in that instant we decided we would not teach Santa to our future children. It was a very personal decision and one that  I know many people do not agree with in any shape or form. Many people think we are robbing our children out of the magic of Christmas. I disagree.

I don’t mind Santa. I don’t mind him in the same instance that I don’t mind cartoons. My children watch Disney Jr. and love Walt Disney World. I just don’t want my children to be taught that some fictional character is who brings them their Christmas presents under the tree.

My husband and I are very purposeful with the gifts underneath our tree, we spend a lot of time and thought behind the gifts. I want my children to know that we picked them out. 

I don’t want my children to agonize over being on the naughty or good list. I want my children to experience Christmas with joy and not wondering if they will be getting coal in their stocking. I want my children to be taught the story behind Christmas and learn about Jesus. I want my children to learn about a Savior who forgives unconditionally regardless of a naughty list.

I know I cannot escape Santa at Christmas and I have no intention of escaping it. At the same time you won’t see my children making up a letter for Santa Claus. Do I have all the details worked out yet? Nope, not in the least bit. Who does though?

Do I think your a bad parent or a bad Christian for doing Santa Claus? Absolutely not. Who am I to judge you? Will I tell your children there is no Santa? Absolutely not.

This is how I choose to celebrate Christmas with my children. This is my family’s very personal choice. A choice that I am well aware many do not make (or agree) with for their family.

1st Birthday Party

Today I celebrated my beautiful daughter’s first birthday! It was exciting, bittersweet, and lovely.

We decided to have her party at Gymboree–its one of her favorite places to play at. We kept with an owl theme. I have fallen in love with the website Birthday Express for my party decorations. We ordered the twins decorations as well as Adalynn’s from the website. Since the party at Gymboree was to only be 90 minutes long and with 30 minutes in the party room, I chose to do light snacks (veggies and fruit) and cake pops to keep the eating to a minimum and to ensure time to open presents. I found the 90 minutes went by quickly and the party didn’t drag on.

Underneath Adalynn’s birthday banner was the food table. Also under her banner I placed her monthly pictures on the wire string in the party room. I am so glad that I did this because it really captured how she has changed over the past year.

Adalynn's Collage