Monday, December 13, 2010

Sweet Baby James

If you look back at my calendar for 2009 you will see that Wednesday December 2nd was scheduled to be a very busy day. Faith had an early visit with her birth-mom and had to be dropped off at 8:30am. Lilli and Noah had to be at preschool at 9. Faith would have to be picked up at 10:30, Lilli & Noah at noon. I was scheduled to work 1-6 and then handle Kids Church services at 7 for Nate who was on a business trip in San Antonio.

Everything was going smoothly. We were up-and-at-em bright and early. Everyone made it to their morning appointments without a hitch. I picked Faith up from her visit and headed home feeling very much like super-mom. I remember the moment so clearly. I was standing at the rear passenger door of our van getting Faith out of her car seat when my phone rang. I almost missed the call because I couldn't successfully fish the phone out of my purse with Faithie on my hip. I picked it up on the last ring and the voice on the other end would bring my ultra-busy day to a halt, wipe my over-scheduled agenda clean of all previous engagements. I was going to be a mom.... again.

If you are the mother of biological children, imagine all the important moments of pregnancy rolled into one.... seeing two lines on a pregnancy test, hearing your child's heartbeat on the doppler at week 12, seeing their tiny form at week 20 on the sonogram, hearing the doctor say "congratulations, it's a boy" at delivery. Taking a phone call like the one I took on December 2nd of 2009, is like feeling all those emotions, all that excitement, in a matter of minutes instead of 9 months.

I ran into the house, plopped Faith down in the living room, and grabbed something to write on... the back of a bank-statement envelope (I still have it and laugh every time I see it). For those of you who know his first name (which is not, in fact, James) I have his actual first name written on that envelope in the feminine form of the name, and I must confess that for the first part of the conversation I thought he was a girl.

I hung up with the social worker and did what any expectant mother would do when she finds out that she's going to have a baby in four hours. I called the baby's father.... who did not answer the phone. So I called him again.... and again he didn't answer. I gave up and called my mom... who did not answer. I called my dad.... who did not answer. I called Nate again... no answer. I called my pastor.... no answer. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?!

At this point, my cousin Val, who drove an hour to babysit while I was at work, pulled in the driveway and I literally DASHED out the front door in excitement. What do I yell to her as she comes up the walk? Not "We're getting a baby!" Nope, not me. I blurt out "I don't need you to babysit after all! I called off work!" She stops halfway to the house and kinda glares at me with a look that says "And you couldn't have called me BEFORE I drove all the way here?!" After a little bit of back peddaling and speed talk on my part, Val and I screamed and jumped up and down and did a happy girlie dance on the front porch. She was gracious enough to stay with me the rest of the day, (for the next two weeks really) and help me as I adjusted to life with four kids. I am more grateful to her than I can adequately express, and my memories of the beginning of Sweet Baby's life will always be inter-connected with her kindness.

The rest of the day went by in hyper-speed. The big kids were picked up from school. I told Nate from 1400 miles away that he was going to be coming home to an infant son. Crib bedding was washed. A carseat was added to my van. I was almost hit by a pickup truck running a stop sign. Bottles and formula were purchased. Family and close friends were called. (Or called me back is more accurate).

And before I knew it, I was standing in the lobby of Children Services holding a tiny,beautiful, perfect, 5 pound baby boy. And in that moment more than just my busy day was changed. My universe shifted... expanded just a little.... and suddenly I was the mother of four.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pray for Faith

We need you to pray. Again. I know that we've come to you, our family, friends, and church on so many occasions over the last two years with prayer requests for our daughter Faith. We asked you to pray when children services was making their final decision about weather or not they would send Faith home... God granted us favor. We asked again for prayer when the case went to trial for permanent custody... again, God granted us favor. Well, here I am again asking you to pray one more time.

This is the end. Faith's case goes tomorrow (Tuesday Nov. 23) before the 9th district court of appeals. They will make the final decision about weather or not we will adopt the child that we've raised since her birth two years ago. The court is made up of three judges, Carla Moore, Clair Dickinson, and Beth Witmore. Please pray for them by name. There will be no oral arguments, no lawyers, no testimony, no witnesses. These three people will read the transcript of the original permanent custody trial and the briefs filed by both sides, and then they will make a decision. We will be notified of their decision in 60-90 days. Please pray that once more, God grants us favor. I am begging you to understand the finality of the situation. This is it. Aside from the supreme court, there is no further court to appeal to, there will be no further motions to file. This is truly the end of Faith's journey as a foster child, one way or the other. Please fast and pray with us today and tomorrow, and as we wait.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"There's no way I could do that."

"I don't know how you do it."

"I could never do that."

These are responses that Nate and I get all the time. Not about the fact that I just ran a full marathon. Not about the fact that we manage two jobs, one ministry and four children. It's the response we often get when people find out that two of those four children are neither biologically ours or adopted... To the simple fact that we are foster parents.

"I could never do it."

Imagine if everyone felt that way. What would happen to the most vulnerable among us? Abused, neglected, and endangered children. Little ones who have been hurt by the very person that was supposed to protect them. Neglected by the person who was supposed to provide. Put at risk by the one who was supposed to keep them safe. What would happen?

As Christians, I want to ask you what your response is to the fact that kids in your very own neighborhood, classmates of your children, are being abused by the people who gave them life? As much as I cringe at the cliche, I have to ask, what would Jesus do? The Bible makes it pretty clear what our response should be.

James 1:27
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Isaiah 1:17
Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow.

Matthew 18:5

And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.

"I could never do it, I'd get too attached."

Yes, you would. You would get attached. You would fall in love with a child who belongs to someone else. Who you have absolutely no legal right to. Who could be taken from your home at the end of a year or possibly two and sent to live with their abuser. Again, Christians, I want to point out that you were not called to a life of self-protection. You were called to give your life away. God is your protector, you need only to be obedient. Let me gently remind you that God loved you, even at great expense. He loved you enough to let his only child die for you even given the risk that you could reject Him. He loved you and suffered for you even when there was the possibility that he might not get to spend forever with you.... just like I might not get to spend the next 18 years with my youngest son or daughter.

"I still couldn't do it."

Maybe not. Even having said all of the above, I realize that not everyone can do this, or should do this. Not everyone can parent through the red tape and bureaucracy. Not everyone can deal with a legal system that is abuser-centered instead of child-centered. Not everyone can handle dealing with birth-parents, who are in our case, drug addicted, violent, convicted felons. Not everyone can raise children who's lives are dictated by social workers and magistrates. But everyone can do something. You can do something.

It is often said that a foster child is everyone's child. Your tax dollars fund the entire child welfare system. You elect the judges, you pass the levies that determine the very lives of these children. My children. Get involved. Get educated. Hold the system that you pay for accountable. If you, like me, disagree with the STATED NUMBER ONE GOAL of Children Services being to reunite children with the people who abused them, then stand up and SAY SO! If you disagree with their policy that the best place for a child is always with their biological family then speak up! I am begging you. Do what the Bible says and plead the cause of the orphan.

When you walk in the main door of Summit County Children Services you will see puzzle pieces all over the walls. The life of a foster child is like a broken puzzle. Nate and I can be this part of the puzzle. We can do this. We can bring them home, put a roof over their head, love them literally like our own, and give our hearts away. But we can't do it alone. We need support. We need your prayers. We need your shoulders to cry on and your hands to help. We need people to step in and be the other parts of the puzzle.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Midnight Confession

I have a confession to make...

I've been keeping a secret...

A weird, nonsensical, silly secret....

No, I'm not an addict, a CIA agent, or a superhero...

I don't have a cape or a mask....

but I do have a secret identity....

Click HERE to find out more...