Saturday, November 21, 2009

An (unconventional) Baby Story

I was saving this story. Holding on to it until just the right moment. Now is that moment, I think.

One year ago today, two days after her birth, I met my youngest daughter for the first time. She was round and pink and perfect. The memory of that day is so clear in my mind, I can still remember what I was wearing, not a hospital gown, but boots and a winter coat. She was lovingly placed into my arms, not by a doctor, nurse, or midwife, but by a social worker. She was still wearing her hospital bracelet, but the name on it next the word 'mother' wasn't mine. I was handed a clip board and asked to sign several papers, not birth certificate, or social security, or hospital release forms, but placement papers and case plans. I nervously drove her home, not from the hospital but from Children Services. We had waited for this child, not for nine months, but for exactly 22 hours. We had prepared for her, not with ultrasound appointments and Lamaze classes, but with fire inspections and home studies. Her arrival was announced not by the onset of labor pains, but with a phone call, one that would change our lives forever.

Exactly eight days earlier, before I even knew she existed, I was praying for her. I was walking alone in the park, praying for the child that would be ours. I didn't know if this child would be a boy or a girl, if she would be two days or two years old, whether she would join our family tomorrow or two years from now. Like any other "expectant" mother, I prayed over my "baby" and felt that unique combination of fear, nervousness, and excitement. That day I prayed for the phone call that would come and I prayed something unusually specific. I prayed that God would give us a sign. I prayed that whenever the phone call came, and we were offered placement of a child, that that child's name would be the sign that we should say yes.

Exactly six days after that day in the park I was at the grocery store with Nathan and the kids, looking for cheese danishes and soup (not to be eaten together of course). Sometime during the shopping trip Noah and Lilli had to use the rest room at the exact same moment so we split up, Nate taking Noah, and me taking Lilli. The restrooms were apparently cell phone dead zones, and Nate's phone beeped with a voice mail as he walked out the mens room door. I nonchalantly stood around while he checked it. I'll never forget the look on his face when he made eye contact with me and uttered one excited sentence: "It's CSB, they have a baby."

The next five minutes went by in hyper-speed. Nate began dialing to call them back. I grabbed Lilli and Noah and we all raced out of the grocery store, abandoning our purchases. I don't think the kids had more than one arm each in their coat sleeves. We were certain that we had missed our chance and that CSB had moved down the list to the next foster family. Fortunately, the call went through and Nate began talking to a social worker. He motioned frantically for paper and a pen. At the time I had been been proofreading a book by the fantastic local author, Scott Curtis, and I'm sorry to admit it Scott, but I ripped a page right out of the book for Nate to write on. I did my best to assess the situation based on Nate's side of the conversation and the frantic notes he was writing on the back of page 68. In Nathan's left handed scribble, words began to appear all over the page.... words like baby, jail, girl, one year, hospital, etc.... words that made no sense to me at the moment.

Except one. One word that made all the difference. One word that made all the others fade away. In that one word I could see the hand of Lord. It was the name that He Himself had given her. It was the simple, powerful word FAITH.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


It's 1 am and the four people I live with are sound asleep. And I'm awake. Vacillating between watching reruns of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and unloading the dishwasher, my tiny dog the only other creature awake, nervously pacing around behind me. But eventually all the dishes are put away and the tv turns to infomercials for no-money-down real estate and I find myself sitting here staring at the glow of my monitor. I've checked my email, I've checked my Facebook, I've even checked my (very dusty) Myspace profile and through sheer process of social networking elimination, I've landed here.

Normally when I post a blog I only do so after a topic or situation has been consistently on my mind for a length of time, or only after I've told and retold a story so many times that my friends and family are sick of hearing it, or if a moment in my life is so special, so perfect, so pertinent, or just so darn funny that I absolutely must share it. This is not any of those things, those times. I am unarmed. I am without pre-thought-out humor, wit, emotion, or clever one-liners. I have no occasion, no event. I am truly just sitting here waiting. So I apologize in advance for those of you who read my "mommy blog" and are maybe expecting my typical make-ya-laugh, make-ya-cry style or perhaps you might be expecting another political commentary. I don't think it's about to happen.

I am just sitting here waiting. Not like waiting for the light to change or waiting in traffic. Not like waiting for the server to bring your meal. Not like waiting for your computer to boot, or your car to warm up, or waiting for Friday.

It's not like waiting "with bated breath". I would prefer that. "Waiting with bated breath" implies that you are only waiting for a period of time no longer than you can hold in a breath of air. No longer than the capacity of your lungs, not a second longer than your physical need to inhale. Waiting with bated breath is sitting outside the principal's office, or waiting for the Dr. to read the test results, or waiting to hear your name called when team captains are choosing players. It's waiting for the time to run down in the last seconds of sudden death overtime, it's waiting for an answer when you're down on one knee with a diamond ring in your hand. This is none of those.

This waiting is waiting after your bated breath has been exhaled and you have to go on breathing.

This is waiting for prayer to be answered, yet no answer seems to come. Not an unwanted answer... no answer. This waiting is waiting for provision when your situation seems to have surpassed the "worse" side of the "gone-from-bad-to-worse" scenario. This is the constant waiting that pervades your day-in-day-out life. This is waiting when you fall asleep at night and still waiting when you wake up. Still waiting when you cook dinner. Still waiting when you fold laundry. Still waiting when you drive to soccer practice. And still waiting while you do it all again the next day. Still waiting while you do it all again the next week. Still waiting while you do it all again the next month. Still waiting.

This kind of waiting is like static in the air.... little sparks of nothing that you wish you could pull out of your hair, wrench from your clothes, pluck out of the air and force into something tangible. Like static in the air.... you can feel it all around you but you can't touch it, can't grab a hold of it and make it into something real. Still waiting.

"I wait on the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His Word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. More than watchmen wait for the morning." -Psalm 130:5-6

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Truth about the 9-12 D.C. Teaparty

The 9-12 "Tea Party" in Washington DC has caused such an uproar that I've decided to take a moment away from my typical "mommy blogs" to talk about it. While I am a very politically active citizen, I am not usually inclined to voice such opinions in this venue, and highly doubt I will do so very often. I am not writing this to argue with or insult anyone. I am not going to get into a discussion here about communism, czars, Acorn, Bill Ayers, or Saul Alinsky. Those of you who know me, already know who I am and where I stand. You also know that I have always been respectful and open minded to opposing political views, I appreciate and expect the same in return. I just want to offer you a slightly different take on the tea party than what you might find on CNN or Fox News. I feel that I can paint a relatively adequate picture of what happened in our nation's capitol this past Saturday because unlike most of the journalists, reporters, and facebookers who are giving their opinion of the event... I WAS THERE.

Now, for those of you who don't know me very well, I want to stop you before you get the idea that I'm some middle-age, middle-class, racist, white, soccer mom who has a fear or hatred of our current president and doesn't understand the plight of the poor and is probably writing this blog on my Mac Book at Starbucks, clicking my french-tip nails across the keyboard, sipping my latte and listening to a podcast of Rush Limbaugh in my Iphone. While I am white, and I am a soccer mom, and do love Starbucks, nothing could be further from the truth. I live in a poor, rundown, urban neighborhood with terrible schools. I have three children, the oldest of which was an unexpected baby conceived my junior year of college, and the youngest of which receives Medicaid benefits. I understand what it means to have no car, no money, standing at the bus stop feeling hopeless. I understand why the change President Obama champions seems to be an offer of hope to the downtrodden, because I myself fall into that category even as I write this. However, I also understand a few other things. I understand that the man, any man, democrat or republican, who sits in the oval office does NOT determine MY quality of life. I understand that "free" health care isn't really free. I understand that every time the government gives something to one individual, it must take from another individual in order to do so. I understand that poor people, my neighbors and peers, have been voting for democrats for the last sixty years, and ya know what? They're still poor! And those things are just a snippet of what the tea party was all about.

Was the tea party about health care reform and the conservative opposition to it? Well, it was certainly a highly discussed topic, but it wasn't the only reason we were gathered in Washington last weekend. While some would like to paint us as bigoted hatemongers who would love to watch uninsured children die outside emergency room doors, we are NOT against health care reform! We are however, against the present bill and as American citizens, we have a right to express to the administration in the peaceful forms of petitions, letters, and civil demonstrations that we oppose it. For many of the protesters gathered in DC, we weren't even proposing that the bill be thrown out, just that the members of congress be required to read it! I would encourage you, liberals and conservatives alike, to read it for yourselves before you attack the other side for their opinion of it. DO NOT TRUST what you hear from the mouths of news reporters or politicians, both of which have an agenda of their own. Read it for yourself! Then decide how you feel about it. Don't automatically be for it or against it just because a democratic administration is it's proponent. This blog is about my experience at the tea party not about my opinion of the bill, but I would like to give you a small view into my perspective. I have a daughter who receives medicaid. Because of this, she is supposed to be able to access the best medical care available with no cost to myself. In texting terms, LOL! Sure, she might have access to it, but it certainly will not be in a timely, efficient, or cost effective manner. I cannot tell you how many lines I have had to sit in, how many forms I have had to fill out, how many hours spent on hold, how many documents I've had to present for inspection. One night I spent, quite literally, ALL night driving from pharmacy to pharmacy trying to find someone to fill my daughter's inhaler prescription. I had an infant in the car seat who couldn't breath, and no one would fill her prescription, because no one could verify her freakin' medicaid ID number! And you think conservatives want to see the uninsured suffer??? This same daughter drinks a very specialized formula that costs upwards of $30 a can. I have to have a prescription in order to get it. If that prescription isn't worded EXACTLY right, and I'm talking a matter of even the two letter words on the form, it won't be filled. Do you know who pays for all of that? YOU, the American taxpayer! I see firsthand how the government handles it's current health care programs and what it costs the taxpaying American... maybe they should prove that they can run those efficiently before they start something new. Now, let's talk insurance for a sec... my husband's employer, a small business owner, does not offer insurance benefits. Therefore, we buy our own health insurance. It sucks but it's what we can afford. It is the equivalent of liability insurance for your car and has a deductible of about a zillion dollars, but the care we receive and the manner in which we receive it is far superior to my youngest daughter's medicaid benefits. If the current administration attempts to force my husband's employer to provide heath insurance to his employees, it will drive him out of business, then not only will we have no insurance, we will have no income. The left likes to say that the poor need to be empowered... there is no empowerment in a handout. While I'm ranting, I'd like to turn my attention to my conservative comrades (no communism pun intended). Some, not many, but some of you who marched side by side with me down Pennsylvania Avenue had stickers and signs that said "abortion isn't health care." I'd just like to address that for a second. I totally agree that abortion does not fulfill the second half of the word health CARE. I personally believe that it violates the oath a physician takes to "do no harm." But I just want to make sure that you understand that there is a good chance that your current insurance provider covers elective abortion. Even my crappy insurance that won't cover pregnancy, covers abortion. You need to be consistent. If you are opposing the coverage of abortion in the national health care plan, you sure as heck better be opposing it in the insurance you pay into every month.

There are some in the media who are currently announcing that the "tea party patriots" were plotting the "violent overthrow of the government" last Saturday. I seriously laughed when I heard this. The talking heads making that statement were clearly not there. I was there. The assembly was bursting into "America America" not charging the Capitol Building with guns blazing! Were there a few embarrassing people in attendance? Sure. But the most "violent" thing they did was drink their diet coke and hold a sign that said "Obama is a dictator" or "Impeach Obama" or my personal favorite "No Dancing with the Czars". Nothing near as bad as the signs liberals held when Bush was in office that said "Barbara should have aborted". The majority of people at the demonstration were not offensive and nonviolent. They were not calling for the overthrow of government. They were calling for smaller government. Many of us cried out the for the same thing when Bush 43 was in office. And while I'm at it, the group I was with for the majority of the day made it clear that we would have still been protesting last Saturday if McCain had been elected, because this is about the ISSUES, not about the president. There are some in the media who would say that we marched on Washington last weekend because we were bitter about the election, that couldn't be further from the truth. That was the problem with the whole McCain/Palin ticket. Conservatives weren't really voting FOR McCain, they were voting AGAINST Obama, because we didn't agree with either of them. They were both for cap and trade for example... but I digress.

I would also like to point out that the vast majority of my fellow sign-carrying protesters do not hate President Obama, regardless of how the media might portray us. We respect him as the rightfully elected president of this great nation (a luxury President Bush was not afforded after the 2000 election). Many people on Saturday utilized the phrase "We The People" but it was not without the understanding that "we the people" together as a representative republic, elected President Barack Obama. We marched down one of the most famous streets in the nation not because we think someone else should occupy the most powerful office in the world, but because we want the occupant of that seat to be informed and aware of the feelings, sentiment, and opinion of the people he governs or at least 1.6 million of those people. I do not think the president is evil. I do not think he loves abortion. I do not think he is deliberately trying to destroy these United States. I do not think he is a communist, Nazi, a Manchurian candidate, or the Antichrist. I honestly believe that the president truly, with his whole heart, wants the best for the nation he is responsible for. I honestly think that he believes that his current plan is what is best for the citizens of this country. I am convinced that, with his whole heart, he is trying to do what is best for the United States of America. But I also think, as a citizen of that same country, as a wife, a taxpayer, a mother, a patriot.... that he is wrong.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Call it a confession, call it a rant, I just gotta get this off my chest. I just need a minute to processes my thoughts, my emotions, to let myself vent and ramble. Please don't read too much into this post, don't offer sympathy, don't shake your head and sigh. Please just let me write this down and be done with it.

We got word in May that Faith's biological grandparents were approved to take placement of her. It was a rough day. I called my family to warn them. I poured over her baby pictures, the little mementos of her life here with us. Nate spent most of the day feeling sick to his stomach. We explained to Lilli and Noah that Faith could soon be going to live with her Grandma and Grandpa who love her as much as She-She and Papa love them. At the end of the day I took a deep breath, re-committed my 6th month old baby girl into the Lord's hands and fell asleep at peace. I woke up at peace. Because honestly, this is what we agreed to when we became foster parents. This had been a possibility since day 1, since we brought her home from Children Services.

Three weeks later, we got an email saying that, after meeting Nate, the grandparents were going to leave Faith with us. For now. And so her little room with the Elmo decorations remains inhabited. For now. Our dishwasher remains full of bottles, our cupboard full of baby food. For now. Three carseats remain crammed in the backseat of our Jeep. For now. We remain a family of five. For now.

I've only had one real emotional breakdown over the whole thing. And of course, knowing my luck, it was in the middle of Walmart. It was in May, just after we got the intitial news about the grandparents. I was shopping for Noah's thrid birthday party. I was stressed out about getting everything ready; food, presents, decorations. I had a cart full of party supplies and was reaching for the wrapping paper when it hit me. I may never shop for birthday decorations for Faith. Never order a cake with her name on it, never see her smash her little face into that cake. I might not see her first birthday, let alone her third. I lost it, right there in the middle of the Hudson Drive Walmart. I stood in the card aisle, wrapping paper shaking in my hand and cried. It didn't matter in that moment how irrational I was acting or how ridiculous I looked. What mattered at that moment was the fact that there was a little girl who has been my daughter since the day she was born, and I might not ever get to celebrate that day with her. Might not ever watch her take her first steps. Might not ever watch Nate teach her to ride a two-wheel bike. Might not ever watch her switch her tassle to the other side. Might not ever lift her veil to kiss her cheek on her wedding day. On the drive home from the store, another reality hit me. The fact that my days with Lilli and Noah could be just as numbered as my days with Faith. You see, I'm not gaurenteed one more minute with ANY of my children. Neither are you with yours.

Speaking of your children... Last week in my 3rd - 6th grade Kid's Church class, during prayer request time, I asked, like I do every week, for prayer for Faith. For her birth-parents. For the Social Workers. For the judges and magistrates. One of your kids asked me if I would be sad if she went to live with her birth-parents. Of course I will be, I answered. Will you cry, asked one of the boys. Yes, I'm sure I will, I told him. I told them that God loves Faithie more than I do and that I want His plan for her life to be accomplished no matter what that is. no matter what. I was blatantly honest with my class that morning. More honest than I had been being with myself, truth be told. I told them that letting her go will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to do, if that is God's will for her life. I told them how sad I will be and how much I will need the people who love me to be there for me. I told them that I would need them. It is a humbling and very vulnerable experience to tell a group of ten year olds that you need them. And I was reminded of a similar morning many years ago, when that same group of kids were just preschoolers, some of them barley bigger than toddlers, that God used their tiny hands and huge prayers to move in my life, I fully believe that He can do that again.

That same morning we had sung Here I Am To Worship. If you don't know it, part of the chorus says "You're altogether lovely, altogether worthy, altogether wonderful to me." That morning it was so clear to me in that room full of students, that even if Faith leaves us, God will not be less lovely. He will not be less worthy. And He will not have been less wonderful to me.