Our First Home Visits

So our weekend ended up quite a bit different than we anticipated at the end of last Thursday.  The plans were to have our half day visit on Friday and then we’d move to an overnight next weekend.  Well, we found out during the visit on Friday they were going to make us do an additional full day visit and we couldn’t do it on Saturday.  We planned to do it on Wednesday of next week. After more discussion, they changed their minds and let us do a full day on Saturday! That means that we can possibly do our overnight on Tuesday night and bump our full weekend to next weekend when Scott is off which will be our last visit before placement!  Which means…it could be as early as next week that he comes home!

And let me tell you, after this weekend, we are full on ready to hit the ground running with him.  The visits really could not have gone any better.

Friday we got on the road and almost immediately out of nowhere he told us he wished he was already with us.  At home, he was ready to hit the pool and thank you, Lord, it wasn’t raining!  But, thanks to the rain the night before, the water was freezing.

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We all suffered through for awhile, buoyed by our enthusiasm.  He’s a great little swimmer, but he was a shivering blue little swimmer by the time we were done.  We all got on the trampoline and later he told Scott no one had ever bounced him like that before.

After we finished swimming, I let the guys play PS3 while I cooked some potato soup for lunch.  Emma set the table and set the game of LIFE up and we played that while we ate. I said grace before dinner and loved being able to thank the Lord for him and his visit so we could hear it.  Around our new table, no less. He gobbled the soup down and asked for seconds.

We had to get him home by then and again, he told us on the way home he wished he was already with us.   As we were leaving his house, he yelled from the front porch, “Bye, Mom and Dad!” He ducked in the house and his foster mom and I shared shocked faces and smiles. Wondering what he would call us was a big question mark for me so to see him already making the transition on his own on our first home visit was just amazing.

We went home Friday not thinking we’d seem him until the next week, but by late Friday evening, we’d gotten approval to get him Saturday as well.

We were all excited!

Saturday went a lot like Friday.  Of course he wanted to go swimming first.  The water was much warmer so we were able to stay in longer.  He laughed when Emma and Lexi did all their silly stuff, we played games and I just about died when he climbed in my float with me without a word and cuddled up since he was cold.  He is very comfortable with affection and I love it.

After swimming, the guys went to Walmart to buy him an extra remote so they could play PS3 together. He scooted up right beside Scott on the couch and the two of them played while the girls played on the computer and I made some salsa.  It was like any other Saturday and yet, better than ever.

After I got the salsa done, we headed outside for a family game of soccer.  Guys against girls and we were clueless. We managed to get the hang of it and had so much fun.  I loved pushing Scott around and running around with the girls too.  I can’t even remember the last time, or any time, we’d actually played a family game like that together. No surprise, but the guys won.

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After soccer, we introduced him to croquet.  He liked that too and was a natural. He didn’t know the game by name, but after I started describing it, he said he’d seen it on Spongebob. Is that not adorable?

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By then, it was time for dinner and I cooked spaghetti while everyone relaxed.  We decided to play Uno while we ate.  We were still playing after dinner and the girls were talking about me and referred to me as Mommy. He followed suit and  in his reply to them, referred to me as Mommy too.  I took it in stride, grinning while we kept playing.

We had to take him back after dinner.  We were able to sit and talk with his foster parents.  I’m telling you, they are AMAZING.  They are a wonderful Christian couple with two grown children.  They’ve been taking him to a great church in the area and she even told me he accepted Christ a few months back. I got chills up and down when she told me.  They’ve been doing devotionals and teaching him how much God loves him.

You can tell even with his manners how well they’ve done. He puts the seat down in the bathroom, helped set the table and put his dirty dishes in the sink without being asked.

I am so, so thankful for all the hard work they have done.  I feel almost too blessed.  Like, it’s supposed to be hard, but you’re making this so easy for us!

Sunday we went shopping for his room.  We got some sports-themed bedding and decorations to go with the blue walls that he already loves.  And oh my goodness, we went into HomeGoods and did you know there was ONE sign with some balls on it and do you know which name was engraved on the bottom of it? His name!  The only one in the whole store like it! Can you believe that?

The girls are both doing amazing with him too.  The three of them even packed in the back row of the van together on the way home on Saturday.

His foster parents told us Saturday they believe God hand-picked our family for him.  I just feel totally blessed and amazed at what God is doing–what he’s done. He’s so good.

 

The Story of the Fifth Seat

After our presentation meeting last Thursday and we knew things were going to move forward, we decided we probably needed to start looking for a new dining room table.  Our current table is  a 42″ round table and holds 6 in a pinch, but forget about having a family style meal.  We keep the 4 chairs around the table and 2 along the wall until we have guests.

 

Round dining room table

 

The girls stayed overnight with Scott’s parents last Friday night so Scott and I decided to take advantage of the kid-free time and drive to a few furniture stores in the area.  We weren’t really planning to buy.  We just wanted to get a feel for what size tables were even out there.  Can you believe we’ve never really bought a proper table in 16 years of marriage?

When we first got married, we bought a glass top table from an outlet store and recovered the chairs.  It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I was still in college and we were broke.  When we moved to an apartment in Columbia, we didn’t even really use the table.  When we moved back home, my parents let us have the round table as they were upgrading their own.

So, there we went shopping, feeling like grown-ups.  Leafs? Side tables? Legs? Distressing?  It was all new.

And unfortunately, we didn’t find anything.

We picked the girls up and then headed to one last furniture store just to see if they had anything different.  “Two minutes, girls, we’ll just cruise through.”

Well, you know where this is going.  We found The Table.  It’s a dark wood with straight legs.  It seats 6 but then has 2 different leafs so we can either seat 8 or 10.

We host small group and a lot of family functions so it’s very normal for us to need even twice that.

So we’re sitting there with the sales lady who is really nice and I start making small talk as she writes the sales receipt.  “We’re adopting a boy so we need more space!” I told her.

Her eyes get as big as saucers and she says, “I adopted a boy!”

I told her ours is an 8 year old from DSS and she says, ” I adopted a 4.5 year old from DSS!”

She slapped her hand down on the table and pointed at me with her other finger and says, “Listen, it is hard work. Don’t ever think it’s not going to be hard, but it’s worth it.  My son is 23 now and he is awesome.  We have 2 grandkids through him. Just rely on the Lord every day and you’ll be fine.” And then she looked back down at the sales receipt and kept writing.

I was teary-eyed and it hit me that was my moment for the day. I knew that was God’s little nudge to say you’re on the right track.

We couldn’t get the table right away, but had to go late Wednesday to get it.

So, Wednesday about lunch when we were talking with The Boy and the DSS case worker about the photo album, she mentioned that he was worried because he noticed in the picture of the dining room we could only sit 4 people around our table (Bless his heart).  I am so thankful I could turn to him and said, “Don’t worry!  We bought a table on Saturday and it fits 10!  We’re going to get it today!”

Isn’t God just awesome?  One little thing he was worried about was the exact thing God led us to get this weekend AND by a woman who had also adopted a son from DSS.

Needless to say, I can’t wait until our first meal, saying grace not just for the meal, but the table too.  Grace, grace and more grace.

 

Due to some issues on DSS’s side we moved our Saturday day visit up to Friday morning!  We’ll pick him and take him home and if the weather cooperates, he wants to swim. Please pray it goes well!

 

 

That Moment You Meet Your Son for the First Time

When Emma was about 3 months old she was hospitalized for RSV.  I was a brand new mom and Scott had been away during the last 8 weeks or so at police academy.  Having your child hospitalized is a big deal no matter what, but I was super new at this mothering thing and had a lot of other added stresses at the time.  I remember going into a room where they were inserting her IV. She was crying uncontrollably and squirming to get away.  I was trying to help the nurse hold her down and eventually the nurse looked at me and said, “Mom, look at her and tell her it’s ok.”   I was so wrapped up in what was going on that I forgot my little girl on the table needed her mother’s comfort.  I held her other arm and looked her in the face and tried to let her know it was ok.

This morning when I woke up and knew it was The Day to meet our son, I was worried about what was going on around me.  My friend Dani said God had put a verse on her heart since early this morning and shared it on Facebook:

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I have a shirt with that verse on it which says Beloved–the meaning of my name, if you don’t know.  And if you haven’t followed this blog for several years you might not know how I’ve struggled to really grasp how much God not just loves me but delights in me.  That verse was something of a thematic verse coming out of the season of my life when I was recovering from my emotional affair.

I walked outside after reading it and saw the blue skies I had prayed for last night where there was supposed to have been rain clouds all day.  I let go and let God love me and calm me. He’s got this.  And I realized my job today was to be that mom again like I was for Emma.  I have a little son who is scared out of his mind about getting a new family and he needs us to be his steady rock. He needs us to look him in the face and say I’m excited to have you here and excited you’ll be here forever.

So I did what all of you mothers and fathers do when we have to do hard things . I put on my momma uniform and determined God was going to cover my uncertainty and I was just to concentrate on loving this little guy and showing him how much we were excited to be with him.

When we met, he was getting out of his car too. He ran around to us and I noticed his soccer ball he brought.  We had bought him one yesterday to give him.  The case worker introduced us and he allowed us to give him hugs. No hesitation whatsoever. He put his soccer ball away and took the new one. We made small talk at the table, asking little things like what’s your favorite color and what time do you eat breakfast. He asked to play soccer with Scott so they had a little match. I’m telling you, there’s an aspect to this whole thing that I hadn’t really thought through totally and that is his and Scott’s relationship.  Watching Scott trying to keep up with him was just the best.

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I wish I could show you the other side of that picture, friends. We talked some more, got on the swings and the play set some.

We didn’t realize it but we were supposed to bring the girls.  About 30 minutes into our meeting she offered to let us go to the house and let him meet the girls. He even rode in the van with us!

He did great with the girls. He had memorized who was who.  He looked around the house for a bit and then played some PS3 with Scott.  Him and Lexi even teased each other a bit and Lexi said, “Yeah, you’re going to fit right in.”

The dogs took to him right away.  Bella scooted up right next to him on the couch.  Tucker was a gentleman.  He didn’t even bark when they came in.

He was anxious to swim and is looking forward to our day visit on Saturday so he can do it all day.  In fact, he didn’t really want to leave today.  I told him we could walk him out and he asked if Scott would carry him on his back.  Sweetest moment ever watching those two walk across the front yard.

I keep smiling when I think of him rolling his eyes at Scott’s silly jokes and how easily he seemed to fit everywhere.

This isn’t going to be easy, but what kind of good story doesn’t have hard parts?

God is so, so good and so faithful. I feel like I’m living in a dream.

 

For When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing

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penywise on freeimages

 

Yesterday after reading my post, the Lord gave my mom this passage from Isaiah 40 and she passed it on to me.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

The point God is trying to make with me yet again is that he’s God and I’m not.  He’s so much bigger than I can even comprehend.  Once again he confirms that he hears my worries and concerns.

The reality is God has allowed this child to come to this point and has clearly directed our family to this point.  For as far as we can tell right now, we are meant to travel together from here.  And I don’t have to figure the whole journey out.  God is clear–I am to hope (or wait) on the Lord and that is how our strength will be renewed.  We will soar and run.  Not hobble along.  God cannot lie and he promises that we will soar like an eagle when we hope in him.

Our pastor this Sunday preached on Psalm 23 and as familiar as that passage is to everyone, it was such a good reminder that we are nothing but sheep.  We have no idea what we’re doing and God knows that. But, he is a gentle Shepherd that is with us at all times and will guide us every step.   Psalm 119 says his word is a light unto my path.  We get to know the next steps, not the whole journey. Today I do not need to worry about our home visit this weekend.  Today, I need to buy him a soccer ball for our visit tomorrow. That’s it.  One day at a time.

I know some of you are facing your own journey that is big and scary and you’re trying to figure out every single step and every single scenario.  Let us all be reminded to hope in him. He’s the one with all the wisdom and power and strength.  I was listening to Logan Wolfram on a podcast this weekend (I know, I’ve been listening to a lot lately) and she said if we’re following God for every step, we will never miss out on what God has for us.  Never.  I love that and I hope it encourages you too.

Adoption and Grief

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Beautiful blue and yellow butterfly I saw after the presentation meeting

 

In the past days, a lot of people have said, “I can’t imagine what you’re feeling.”

I’ve tried my best in my journal to talk about how I’m feeling and why.  I’m so glad I’ve kept journals for many, many years but instead of documenting what I did, I wish I would have documented more often how I felt.  As an individual, I’ve been working on feeling my feelings. I know that sounds strange for a fairly healthy middle-aged woman who writes as a hobby.  I’m in touch with my feelings, no doubt, but through Brene Brown’s work and the Enneagram (personality type system), I’ve realized I’ve also suppressed so many of them.

My Enneagram type (1w9) is all about perfectionism. I’ve realized that’s not so much about having everything perfectly lined up, although it can I think, but doing everything the right–moral–way.  Being angry isn’t one of the “nice” feelings. I realized so many times I’ve tried to explain away those or ignore them. And while I’m all for forgiving one another quickly, I think it’s also wrong to deny the feelings at all.  Being angry isn’t wrong. In fact, feelings aren’t wrong at all.  It’s whether you let it stay, letting them lead to anxiety, bitterness and rage.  All that to say, I’m trying to honor my feelings and I can’t imagine a better time to practice other than walking through an adoption.

Last week before our presentation meeting I was feeling anxious and scared and yet elated and excited.  I walked out with joy bubbling over.  My birthday carried me through Friday. What better gift than to see a picture of your son and know his story?

By Friday evening, though, I began experiencing a feeling I wasn’t expecting.

Grief.

As excited as I have been to welcome him to our family and to watch what God has done on our end, the reality of what is going on with his side started to hit me like a 2×4 right square in the forehead.

Even though I trust 100% this is the way things should go for him,  it is terrible.  A family is losing a member.  What does that feel like to just never see a nephew or grandson again?  A part of me wants to give his family another chance.  I think that Jesus-part of me wants restoration so badly for them.

What will it feel like for him to be handed a photo album on Monday and hear, “Here’s your new family!”  It’s exciting for us and I’m sure in part for him, but also how devastating must that be?  How do you process that at 8?

So, I’m grieving this loss for him and for them.  Adoption is a beautiful tool of redemption, but it’s also messy and unfair and sad first.

I was listening to a podcast with Shaun Groves recently and he was talking about adopting his child.  He said he just sees himself as the second-best parent.  His child deserves to see a face that looks like his tuck him in at night.  I get that right now.

Scott looked at me in the car Friday night and said, “It’s just sad.”  “Yeah,” is all I could say back. We both looked out the window and just sat, feeling all that grief for them.

The Lord, though, knows all of our feelings and pain.  Psalms says he is close to the broken-hearted.

I opened up Instagram today. A few pictures down, I ran into Jennie Allen’s picture.  She’s visiting the first Rwandan home of her adopted children:

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Adoption always begins with loss.  Yes.  I don’t think I really got that until the moment I read her words.  She’s many years into this and still feeling that, so I don’t expect this grief to go away. But to hear it acknowledged felt like God was saying he sees our grief.  He’s right here with me walking through it.

I don’t know the right way to handle this except to respect that part of his life and do the best we can with our new family.  Actually, I’m not sure grief can be handled, only experienced.

So today for me, these are the feelings begging to be felt: joy, excitement, fear, anticipation, love and yes, grief.

 

For those tracking our journey, our 1 hour visit with him will probably occur mid-week at a park.  Only Scott and I will go.  This weekend we’re expecting our first home-visit.  We’ll pick him up as a family at the foster home and then bring him home for several hours.  Another turning point for our journey.  How will he fit in with us? With the kids? In our home?  We covet your prayers.

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