Friday, December 28, 2012

Our journey through foster care & adoption... so far.

 Even before Jake and I were married I knew I wanted to adopt someday. Then, we got married and had 3 kids in 3 years and one with a lot of health issues. This pushed the thought of adopting far from my mind. A few years later, some close friends of ours adopted and the thoughts came creeping back in. Then I met a woman who had adopted two children and we became friends. I was seeing first hand the amazing blessing that adoption can be for both the children adopted and for those who adopted them. I started thinking more about it but Jake was not on board. I'll admit that often times I can be pushy to try to get my way but with this I knew I could not push Jake into it, and I didn't want to. So, I prayed about it. And prayed. And prayed. Every so often I would mention something about it to see where he was at but I could tell it was not something he was open to. So, I kept praying. I asked God to either change his heart or mine. One day, I was looking at the profile of a little boy online who was up for adoption and Jake happened to come in the room and ask what I was doing. I told him and, as is usually true of Jake, he didn't say anything.

A few night later we were lying in bed and he started talking. He talked about how this was not something that he felt was on his heart but that he knew it was on mine and he thought he could "grow into the role" of being a foster/adoptive parent. I was shocked. I don't remember saying anything which is VERY unusual for me. :)

We had many more talks before we decided to get licensed through a private agency. I felt very much that we should adopt a child with medical needs. Children with medical needs are very hard to place in foster care and knowing that we'd had experience in dealing with medical needs made me feel like these are the children we should be looking at adopting. So, we started the licensing process which is long and involves a lot of paperwork! Fortunately for us the adoption training that is required(and is only offered twice a year) was coming up just a few weeks after we'd started the process so this expedited things quite a bit for us. We were officially licensed in December 2011, just 3 months after beginning the process(which typically takes about 6 months).

Once we were licensed we started the process of being matched. The way this worked through our private agency was that we had a worker who would send us information on kids that we might be interested in adopting. We had decided we would only look at adopting kids younger than our biological kids since many people advised us to keep the birth order. During this time I was also looking at an online photolisting of kids in foster care who are up for adoption and I came across the profile of a boy, who was much older than our biological kids, and I just kept being drawn to him. I knew he didn't fit at all what we'd said we felt like we could do but there was just something about it him that made me feel like we needed to get more information. Jake was less on board but agreed to meet him. Typically, you do not meet the children before being matched with them but in this situation we were allowed to do so.

We met with this boy and a team of people assigned to him and it was eventually determined that his needs far exceeded what we were capable of. In fact, some people on his team did not feel he could live outside a group home setting.

A week or so later, the worker of this little boy we had just met contacted our worker and told her that there were 2 boys up for adoption and she thought of our family. She knew we were looking for younger kids and kids with medical needs. Our worker said it was very unusual that they would ask for a specific family and so we felt like this was a good sign that maybe this was "meant to be". They said we needed to decide by the next day whether or not we wanted to adopt them.

Four days later we met the boys. We spent an hour with them in their foster home. The worker said the transition process would be different since we lived so far away. Usually transitioning takes a few months at least. I told her that I would be on Spring Break that next week and was willing to stay for a week to slowly transition(ha, slow!) and then bring them home. She thought this would be a good plan!

Exactly one week after meeting them we brought them home. They were 4 months and 15 months. They were in our home for 3 months and we chose to let them go before they were adopted. I could write a novel about those 3 months but suffice it to say they were the most difficult 3 months of our lives. I had friends, who had adopted, who carried me through those months and I am forever grateful for them. Most people didn't know how hard it was because I felt like such a failure if I'd have told them the truth.

After the boys left it was very hard and I don't think many people understood. There was a sense of relief, yes, but a greater sense of sadness, guilt and failure. I very much missed them. I still miss them. I think of them often and wonder how they're doing. I knew I could not be the mother they needed but that did not make the pain of letting them go hurt any less.

After the boys left I started going to counseling. I knew I needed to deal with that loss as well as many other things in my life. I learned a lot about myself, a lot about how to deal with stress, and a lot about not expecting perfection out of myself or others.

I was really angry after the boys left, both at myself and God. I couldn't understand why God would put something on my heart and then we failed. I questioned myself and whether or not this was really something I could do. I felt like maybe I just wasn't a strong enough person for the job.

The boys have been gone nearly 7 months. We are in the process of getting re-licensed through a different agency to look at adopting out of state. There are times when I wonder if we can do this again, if we'll fail again, what people will say, what they'll think but not say. We don't understand why things didn't work out the way but choosing to close the door on foster care & adoption out of fear of the "what if's" doesn't feel right.

A coupe things I have learned through this process:
-Don't worry about what others think. DON'T WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK!
We have had many people, including some very close to us, say hurtful things about our choice to foster/adopt and our choice to continue pursuing this after things didn't work out with the boys. I am not saying you shouldn't listen to what others have to say but often times people just don't understand or they think you'll ruin your life(yes, this has been said to us).

-If you haven't walked in their shoes don't judge!

This one is simple, you just don't know unless you've been there. You might think you know what you'd have done or what they should've done but, you don't.

This is by far long enough for one post, I'll write more in another post sometime and maybe fill in some more of the details.

Thanks for reading, our journey is not over!

From the article below:

"We choose to do what is right because it is RIGHT. For no other reason. Not because it feels good or because it will be so rewarding. Sometimes we may not see that reward until we see The Father’s face and He explains to us why we had to walk that road. But I would rather suffer the heartbreak to be obedient than to run away from pain and miss the joy of loving who God has called me to love. If Christians are too afraid of pain to risk loving children they can’t keep and whose futures they can’t control, who will? If we aren’t willing to do what’s right just because it’s right, what do we expect other people to do? "

 Full article here, read it, it's good:

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed