The Upcoming Court Date

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I have some very good news today in case you didn’t see it on Facebook yesterday.  (Like the Facebook page if you’re on there–I post the latest news first over there)! I got a call yesterday afternoon from the attorney that our court date has been set for December 18th! 29 days and counting!

Originally they told us we’d likely be with a grouping of other adoption cases on the 29th, but we asked for a date before Christmas.  Jacob has put a lot of stock in this date and I feel like a lot of his angst will settle down once we get through that. I really wanted that stability for Christmas.  Holidays are hard enough.

I had prayed that the date would hold some significance, particularly around the number 7. It certainly wasn’t required, but I wanted to see God’s hand in this once again.  I think he answered.  The date is exactly 7 days before Christmas.  The verse from Isaiah “Unto us a child is born” has been on my heart since we adopted. I’m hoping to use that on our Christmas card with our new family picture.  It’s not that I see Jacob as the Messiah, but it does hold a double significance to us this year.

So, it just seems appropriate that even though we can’t have the court date on Christmas, we’re having it 7 days before.  Also, if you flip back exactly 19 weeks, that’s the Thursday he was placed with us in August (19 x 7) and if you flip back another 3 weeks (3 x7), that’s the Thursday we met him for the first time and if you flip back another 2 weeks (2×7), that’s the Thursday we got the call about being matched with him.  Call my crazy, but it doesn’t seem like an accident to me that all of these multiples of 7 lands us on different significant Thursdays.

The date also worked out perfectly because I had already taken the day off since we’re headed out of town the next day to visit family for Christmas.  That’s also the kids’ first day of Christmas break so they won’t miss school either.  Scott easily got the day off.  They really couldn’t have picked a better day.

When I told Jacob, the poor thing barely cracked a smile. I had to ask if he was even excited and he said yes.  I’ve been thinking on it and there have been other times I’ve expected him to be more excited–even on his birthday–and I am beginning to believe that he really doesn’t know how to celebrate.  I imagine he’s had so many disappointments that it’s hard for him to get excited.  Why get excited when you doubt it will happen anyway?

And maybe it’s because, as we talked about a few posts ago, that this is bittersweet for him.  Yes, he’s getting a new family, but it’s also the day he loses his identity legally with his birth family.  And maybe he’s just playing tough guy and if he lets too much emotion out, it’s just too much to handle. I’m sure it’s a combination of all of that.

I asked Scott if I could do family T-shirts for the court date and he was not into that at all. If you know Scott, you know that’s way too cheesy for him. I’m not sure yet how to celebrate the day yet, but I’d love to hear how other families have handled it.

So, 29 days.  It will be here before we know it and I couldn’t be more excited.

 

Sponges, Narratives and Nets and a Few Bad Days

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I’ve spent the last 7 days or so in a bad place mentally. Which really, is kind of bad because the kids actually had one of the best, if not the best, weekends together. They didn’t have any friends over or didn’t play with any of the neighborhood kids. They basically were on lockdown together at home by choice and they played and played and played.  Very little arguing and lots of bonding and it was oh so good.  We had family pictures and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to see those. I even took them all out to eat and shoe shopping by myself Saturday night and it was actually fun.  I’m telling you, things were good around here externally this weekend.

But internally, things were brewing in my mind. I got a random phone call last Tuesday. It was Jacob’s Guardian Ad Litem that I didn’t even know he had. She needed to visit.

The visit went fine, wonderful, even. It turns out his GAL is a wonderful Christian woman who really, really cares about Jacob and fought like a mama bear for him. Once again, I saw God’s hand in Jacob’s life. And yet, I also saw more glimpses of his life with his birth family. I’ve figured out that this is always a trigger for me. My mind begins changing the narrative of this adoption.

My mind begins playing this story on repeat: this poor boy has endured so much and now he has been taken from his family.His family probably misses him so much and has no idea where he is. I am sure they are beside themselves in worry. Who are we to have their son/nephew/grandson? No wonder Jacob hurts so badly. I want to fix the family and Jacob and make it all right for them and we’ll just step out of the way. This is so depressing! I cannot fix any of this and it is so, so sad! It will always be sad and there is nothing that can be done to change the awful things.

I begin soaking up everyone’s emotions and then instead of being grateful and in awe of what has happened, I’m deeply sad and depressed.

Kay Bruner calls this being spongey.

It’s another boundaries issues. It’s a big one because I actually don’t know what their emotions are. And even though I do have an inkling of what Jacob’s emotions are, that narrative is no good.

And not only is the narrative no good, once I’m sad and depressed about one thing, I begin being sad and depressed about so many other things.  I had emails from teachers and texts from my kids with issues and no dinner on the table last night and all the sudden not only is this adoption sad and depressing, but I’m a terrible, absent mom and the whole world is falling apart.  It’s no good!

As Glennon at Momastery explains, when we get into these head spaces, we have to change our narrative.

I feel like a lot of us get stuck in all sorts of bad narratives. We could be single or sick or hating our job or scared for our kids or hating our marriage. We tell stories about ourselves to ourselves and these narratives get stuck on replay and then infect all of our thinking. We need new narratives. Thank you, Glennon, for teaching us that.

The narrative I should be telling myself is something like this: bad things happened. His family didn’t care for him like they should have and no one stepped up to take care of him. But God knew in advance and began setting things in place for him to be rescued years and years ago. God was not taken surprise by this. He called us to adoption and he took Jacob out of that family and has set him in a new family. We are a gift to each other. We should live gratefully and joyfully, making the most of what has been given to each of us. Just as God rescued him, the story is not over and God will continue to redeem.

That narrative is so much better because it recognizes that yes, bad things happened, but God is involved and there is so much hope already for what has been done and so much more hope for the future.

So here’s what I learned this week.  I need to wring myself of others’ emotions. I am responsible for my emotions and that’s it. And I need to make sure my narratives focus on the positives of the present and the hope for tomorrow, all and only available through God’s love and plans.

So I’m back on track this time and being in awe and grateful and getting back to joyful. Thank you Glennon and Kay and Richelle and Mom and Heather for helping me get there.

What’s the narrative in your head right now that needs to change?

 

The Yearbooks

We did it, guys, we did it!

Friday after posting about Jacob’s yearbooks, I made some phone calls and guess what? All the schools which produced yearbooks had a yearbook for him!!  Everyone was extremely nice and accomodating and it really made me believe that there are still good people in the world and not everything is buckled down under eight layers of red tape.

Like a Christmas miracle, both Scott and I were off work today while the kids had school so we spent the morning making the trips to the schools to get them. It was a beautiful day, very warm and the trees are just gorgeous right now. Scott and I were able to talk through some things and really, just relax.

At the second school, the one he attended when he was taken into foster care, we were able to talk to some of the admins that knew him. They were so gracious and very thankful that he was in a stable environment.  I wasn’t expecting it, but it was a good moment for me to hear that he’s in the right place.

After the kids got home from school, we told him we had a surprise for him and then showed him the yearbooks. He got a shocked look on his face and then started giggling when Scott started telling him how cute his picture was and chasing him around the dining room.  I mean, y’all, look at this face.

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Can you see those squishable, kissable cheeks? Even the girls were fawning over him.

My heart hurts a bit more, though, picturing him like that experiencing the things he did. As we’ve heard about his past, I’ve only had him as he is to try to imagine it. But with this picture, he’s younger and smaller and a bit more vulnerable. My compassion for him has grown. Yes, he’s in the right place.

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We sat in the recliner and we flipped through the pages as he pointed to this friend and that friend and he told me which teachers he liked and which he thought were mean and which ones knew him and which taught him math.  It was good to bridge that gap and bring his old life into our new life, even if it’s just in pictures.

If there has been a heartwarming moment, this is my favorite so far.

The Broken and Beautiful: My Biggest Misconception About Adoption

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Friday was a wonderful day. We signed the final papers as planned, without a hitch. Scott and Jacob went on their first camping trip Friday night. He initiated a hug with me to tell me goodbye and it all felt so very right.

It’s looking like our court date will be December 29th with a bunch of other adoption cases before the end of the year, but we’ve requested something before Christmas.

We really want him to feel secure going into the holidays as it’s an expectedly emotional time.

As wonderful and happy as we were to sign the final papers on Friday, I have to tell you I’m feeling quite torn and sad about the whole thing right now.

My biggest misconception about adopting from foster care is that it would be a happy event all around.

I thought the situation at home would be so terrible that he would be happy for us to “save him” from his family and even, the parents would be glad to be rid of the burden of a child, and of course, we would be very happy to do the saving and to bring a child into our family. How terribly inaccurate, at least in our case.

The truth is a child will likely love his parent no matter how terrible their decisions were. And mostly, a parent loves their child and does the best they can, even if that best is not good enough. And yes, we are more than happy to bring Jacob into our family, but it’s very bittersweet right now. I was not expecting this, but there’s a part of me that wants to make everything right for Jacob and his family.

As a mother, I simply cannot imagine my kids taken from me and as a daughter, I cannot imagine my parents being taken out of my life. My heart hurts in both ways for Jacob and his family and I know he is feeling a lot of sadness mixed with happiness too.

So while we are celebrating, we have to be very careful to honor the broken pieces of this story. While adoption creates a new family, it also must destroy another family. Our case worker likened his experience to the death of a parent, except worse because the parent is still alive and well. It’s truly heartbreaking.

So I guess amidst all this happiness as we stare down finalization, I’m feeling the heaviness of that truth. I’m trying to grieve, but also remember that things really weren’t enough in his home. He is in a much safer, more stable family where he can flourish—and he is.

I am very sure in years to come we will see all and only the beautiful in its glory, but right now I’m holding vigil for the broken.

It’s all a tricky balance I wasn’t expecting to have to strike. So, if he doesn’t seem as happy as you think he should be or maybe we don’t celebrate like you think we ought to, please know we are doing the best we can with all the pieces. It’s both broken and beautiful. And that’s ok.  Only the best things are.

The Yearbook and the Yes

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Jacob with my parents’ dog. He loves animals.

This morning on the drive to school with Jacob and Lexi, Jacob asks me if I signed his Tuesday folder. Mind you, it’s Friday. “No”, I tell him, “you didn’t show it to me. Get it out now and I’ll sign it.”

He gets it out and passes it to me in the driver’s seat. I sign my name as I lean it against the steering wheel. I flip through the papers and see it’s time for yearbook orders.

“Order my yearbook! I want a yearbook!” Jacob says from the back seat.

“OK, we always order yearbooks, so I’ll definitely do that.”

“Order it now! My teacher will be mad if I don’t take the form today.”

“Jacob, it has a due date of the 21st. I have plenty of time. I promise I’ll order the yearbook.”

“Do it or you’ll forget. You ALWAYS forget.”

“Jacob, no I don’t. I do what I say.”

“Well, Daddy doesn’t.”

“Yes, he does, Jacob. Daddy does what he says. Can you think of a time when Daddy didn’t?”

His silence is the answer.

“We do what we say, Jacob. I’ve bought yearbooks every single year for the girls. I promise I’ll get you one.”

He seems satisfied and then says, “I’ve never had a yearbook. Lexi, will you sign my yearbook?”

And there it is between the lines. Unmet promises, trust broken. He doesn’t explain, but I know he’s wanted a yearbook before and someone didn’t come through.

My heart breaks thinking of him in class when they’re passing yearbooks between friends. Someone let him down. He’s helpless and left out and hurt. No one is signing his yearbook because he doesn’t have one. He has no pictures to look back at, to remember. My girls flip through theirs constantly. They talk about their friends and their teachers and all their favorite memories.

I decide I’ll not only order this yearbook, but I want to call all his previous schools and see if I can gather his past yearbooks for him.

 

Today they come. It’s the 7th. Ninety days since his first day with us. We sign our final adoption papers at lunchtime. The one where we can take it to the attorney and make it all legal. And after the conversation this morning, I cannot sign that paper fast enough. I want to be the one that fights for him. The one that keeps promises and makes connections to his past and see his face light up when it’s redeemed. I want to be his advocate and his number one fan.

I want to be his mom.

Today is another yes to make that happen. It’s taken so many to get here, but we’re here and I’m so ready.