navigating this road

Beau has been home 14 weeks today. This has been an interesting journey. You would think adopting a young infant would not pose any issues in attaching and bonding, but it has certainly been a process and quite different from the other three. That is not to say that I think or feel any different about Beau than my other three children. It just means that those almost 5 months I wasn’t his mother do matter. We are starting from a different place – we are walking a different road – and I know we will get to where we need to be. I see progress every single week and every month he is more and more mine.

I’ve had to navigate this road basically blind as I don’t really know what I am doing! I have tried to learn along the way and I believe we have done the necessary things to promote healthy bonding and attachment between a baby and parents. I believe he is learning this is permanent, as much as a young infant can learn that.

Time is our best friend. Every day is one more day that I am his mother. One day, the number of days I have been his mother will far out number the days I was not his mother. Right now we are at 143 days to 98. I know the 143 days I was not his mother can never be erased and we will never live as if they are. There are so many theories out there about how those days affect a child, but I have to believe that God was there in those days and He has lead Beau and us to this place and He will continue to fill in those gaps as we continue to walk this road together…forever. Ultimately, I have to trust God in those 143 days, knowing He is omnipresent.

As with all of our children, we will talk about their adoptions freely, holding nothing back. One day all of my children will know their full stories. There are some tough things all of my children will have to one day learn about their beginnings and their biological families. They will have a lot to process when they are old enough to know their complete stories, but I pray all four of them will fix their eyes on God’s intervention in their lives because of their adoptions. Adoption changed all of our lives forever. All 6 of us. There is deep pain but also deep beauty wrapped up in each of their stories and I pray all four of them see their whole story one day. Not just the hard parts and not just the happy parts, but every part that has been woven together intricately by their Creator to proclaim that He is redeemer, He is faithful and He is good.

 

7 weeks home

Beau has been home 7 weeks, which means he has now been with us longer than he was with any of his other caretakers. It is crazy to think that just 9 weeks ago, we didn’t even know of Beau and we just two days away from that phone call that would, once again, change everything.

We have fallen into a good rhythm with four children. Things are often chaotic in sound (4 little children are LOUD), but it is organized chaos all around. I have quickly learned that being organized is key in managing the needs of four little ones.

Clothes laid out for our first family photo shoot as a family of 6!

I have to constantly think ahead, plan ahead and make sure everything is prepared ahead. Being prepared makes things go so much smoother.

Beau is adjusting well. We continue to cocoon him, keeping his world very small and very predictable. He is alert and engaged with his world around him and has the sweetest disposition. The other children are enamored with him, especially Sarge. He holds “his baby” every day for approximately 3.5 seconds. When I am feeding Beau, Sarge will climb up in the chair and want to hold him. It doesn’t last long, but he holds his baby every day! The girls adore their baby brothers even though they sometimes get frustrated with Sarge and his 2 year old antics! I love the dynamics of my children and I pray we can continue to foster a love that will only grow and deepen as the four of them grow up together.

I am hoping to get back to Through the Lens of Grace soon as things are settling down and we are finding our new normal as a family of six!

One Month Home

Little Beau has been home for nearly a month now. We are still adjusting to the new dynamics of a family of six, but, overall, things are going very well.

Beau is a sweet baby, and although he is my youngest, he is my biggest baby by a landslide! At 5 months old, Beau is tipping the scales at 17 pounds and already scooting around our living room floor!

We are in the “cocooning phase” with Beau. I knew Beau’s adoption was different than our other adoptions but I didn’t exactly know how until I started researching by talking to other adoptive moms and professionals.

Beau has had multiple caregivers in his short life that he has seen come and then go. Over and over again. I thought surely we were in the clear considering Beau had been cared for and never abused, but then I was told that it’s not just about care but about security in WHO. All Beau knows is that things change and caregivers change. He doesn’t know how to trust yet. He truly doesn’t understand that we will come back.

Attachment issues happen due to disruptions in bonding. If Beau never gets the chance to bond without worry that we will disappear too, he can’t learn to trust.

To give Beau the opportunity to learn to trust that we won’t disappear too, we have to be there and allow no disruption in OUR care for him. This is where cocooning comes in to play.  We are keeping Beau’s world very small, predictable and simple, and, for now, we are doing all of Beau’s care.

The time period for all of this is a bit foggy to me as I have heard a variety of recommendations. So, we are cocooning for at least 10 weeks because that will be double the amount of time Beau has ever had the same caregiver and then we will reevaluate after that time period.

We were told to expect Beau to be fussy the first couple of weeks he was home, but we have not seen any of that at all over the past 4 weeks he has been home. Some have told me he is in a “honeymoon phase” and others have told me that our home environment is so ideal for babies and children that Beau is truly at peace.

This is new territory to me. I feel somewhat like I did when Little Bug was born and I was having to learn about how to best care for a baby exposed to substances in the womb. That was scary learning, but I know God guided me every step of the way as I cared for Little Bug and then Sweet Pea and Sarge. As I now navigate this path, He is there leading me again. Of that I am certain.

He hadn’t been home an hour and once his foster mother left, I held him where I could look into his eyes and I told him, “Beau, you are home now. You aren’t going anywhere else. I am your Mommy.” I have told him that every day since at least once a day, if not more, and I will continue to speak that truth into his little heart every day.

A friend from church gave me this double-stroller this summer and it has come in handy so many times already. The boys love going on walks in the neighborhood in their stroller while the girls are riding their bikes.

I need Dave to write the next post for Through the Lens of Grace and then I should be able to get back to finishing writing this story!

 

I’ll Be Home for Christmas

I won’t be able to finish writing Through the Lens of Grace by the end of this month as I had hoped because….God has written another chapter!

December 7th we got a phone call from our adoption agency about this little guy. The next 9 days saw his mother signing her consent to terminate her parental rights, us meeting this woman, a court hearing to put a motion to intervene in his case (he was in the state’s care) and then another hearing where the Judge ruled that it is in the best interest of this baby to be placed in our family. He came home on December 17th, eight days before Christmas!

Once again, our lives have been uprooted with the sudden and quick addition of another child into our family, but we are confident that God orchestrated everything to bring this child to our family and He will give us what we need to meet his needs. He was born the day the adoption from this past summer officially failed. God is a Redeeming God and we trust Him to redeem the brokenness he has already experienced in his short life and we give God all the glory for what He has done and will continue to do!

A Season of Waiting

We are coming up on one month since our failed adoption. July and August have dragged by and I am ready to welcome a new season. The beginning of our 4th year of homeschooling has been a great distraction but these last 4 weeks can be defined by a constant nagging question in my heart and mind: What is God up to now?

While I cannot see the Big Picture today, I know with every fiber of my being that God is at work even now and in His time He will reveal our next step and perhaps even shed some light on the whys over this past month. In the meantime, I must wait on the Lord.

We waited 16 weeks for the birth of that baby which was the longest we had ever waited during an adoption process! The waiting was challenging and despite having three wild and crazy children to keep up with, there were weeks that drug by and days when July seemed an eternity away instead of just a few months away.

During that season of waiting God revealed to me the beauty of living in the present. The here. The now. I didn’t need to think about 10 weeks from then; I needed to focus on that day.

That was a valuable lesson to learn considering I have now entered an even longer waiting period and my focus needs to be on the present as we seek the Lord and pray about where God is leading us in the future.

I have packed away the baby items and turned my focus on my present tasks.

Little Bug is a snaggle-toothed 2nd grader who is excelling in reading! It has been my pleasure to watch her turn into a bookworm over the past six months or so. Watching Little Bug’s reading skills blossom has made me even more grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my children. She was not ready to read at age five. This was convenient since that was the year Sarge was born and it was easy to put off phonics for another day. Another day came when Little Bug was around 6.5 years old and within a few months, she went from painfully sounding out each and every word on the page to reading beginner’s chapter books fluently. And now, she has already read 29 chapter books since June 1st!

Sweet Pea is a big Kindergartener this year! She is very proud of the fact that she is now five years old. She is very enthusiastic about school, especially math. I pulled out a math workbook for Sweet Pea to see how she would take to it and she did 7 lessons on the first day! She has also read the first two BOB books on her own accord. My plan has been to ease into Kindergarten with no pressure to learn to read but I may have a little girl begging me to teach her soon. Again, homeschooling gives me the freedom to teach her to read when she is ready so I will follow her lead on this.

Sarge will be two years old next week! The sweet little baby boy that stole my heart before he was officially even mine has turned into a class-clown toddler. At not even 2, he has already become ta comedian. That boy is hilarious every single day. He’s not quite to the degree of “gets into everything” as Little Bug was, but he is a close second. That boy can run fast and when he has something he knows he shouldn’t have, he takes off running like he is running for gold in Rio against Bolt! He certainly makes homeschooling interesting but we have a pretty good routine established that allows us to do the majority of our school work while he is playing in his bedroom and napping. Little Bug is also responsible for playing with Sarge for about 30 minutes while I do Kindergarten with Sweet Pea. Little Bug does an excellent job of keeping Sarge entertained while I am working with Sweet Pea.

In this season of waiting, I am going to enjoy a phase of all my children over age two! There is much freedom schedule-wise once you hit age two and I plan to enjoy it. Might as well since it is my reality right now!

Dave and I will get back to writing Through the Lens of Grace soon so check back to hear the next part of this story. I am especially looking forward to finally sharing Sarge’s story.

I would appreciate prayers as we continue to seek the Lord about what our next step will be.

It is well with my soul

I wrote this on July 29th.

Today, one thought rings true in my head…..I am so glad it is not this time last week!!!

The safety of that baby, the deception of the mother all these months, and the loss of the dream of “Baby 4” are heavy on our hearts.

I almost feel like I should be mourning longer, but ultimately and honestly, our hearts are filled with tremendous peace as we look to moving forward from all that has transpired over the past 2 weeks.

The peace we feel can ONLY be a direct result of our absolute trust and faith in God and confidence in His Sovereignty – even when He does not.

To our human minds, it is extremely hard to comprehend the outcome of this situation, but this is exactly why we are all called to live by faith and trust in the Lord, especially when things don’t make sense! It is there, and only there, true peace lies.

Dave & I look to our future with great expectation. We are open to where the Lord leads and, right now, in this season, it is a time of seeking Him and allowing Him to lead us to where He would have us go. It is both scary and exciting to think about, and we ask your continued prayers on our family as we seek the Lord about what is next.

We do worry about that sweet innocent baby boy, but ultimately we have to remember that he is God’s first and foremost. We have to rest in the knowledge that we did everything we could to be available to have that baby join our family. And the rest we trust to the Sovereignty of God even though we can’t understand it all.

With each adoption, God has given us a verse to claim and this time the verse was Psalm 118:23, The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.

He’s just still DOING and, at this time, we don’t know what exactly He is doing….but I can guarantee you that it is going to be marvelous in our eyes – whether we remain a family of 5 or whether God does have plans for another child to join our family at some point.

It is well with my soul.

Loss of a dream

This is something I wrote on July 28th.

Ok – one more thing heavy on my heart & then I think it will be time for me to begin taking action in moving forward by moving through the motions of each day until the grief passes & life again feels normal. I have no idea how long that will take but I do have 3 children who need me & I need to be there for them.

What hurts me the most is just another loss of a dream.

I’ve shared before how since childhood I have desired to mother 4 children. To me, this baby was my dream come true and I was in awe of the way God had chosen to build my family. I still am in awe, obviously, because each of my children have come to me in ways that only God could have orchestrated.

Just like my children didn’t think of this baby as THEIR baby, I didn’t think of this child as MY baby. With every adoption I have kept myself guarded until TPR is signed at least 48 hours after birth. (Except for Sarge.) So because of this, I feel more of a loss of a dream than the loss of a particular child. I am not sure if that makes any sense whatsoever, but that is my thought process and guarding my heart certainly was wise in this particular situation.

On the flip side, as soon as I would have heard that she had signed her rights to us, the flood gates would have been let down and that baby would have been wholly and completely MINE. I could not wait to look at those 4 children and just stand in awe of all GOD had done! It was going to be beautiful – but it was not God’s ultimate plan.

So, in many ways, all this takes me emotionally right back to where I was in March 2009 when I was told my dream of pregnancy & childbirth was not likely at all, which is a huge blow & a lot to process! Except then, it was obvious where God was leading: to adoption. Right now, we just don’t know where God is leading our family after this.

All the options are scary, but we are left with both feeling like our family isn’t quite complete yet. (Perfect stage for for God to perform another miracle!)

Which again brings me to the S-word. Surrender.

That’s where I ultimately need to get to with this situation & it’s just going to take some time to get there.

I KNOW in my head, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God WILL lead us through these deep waters. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we WILL have a 4th child at some point, but it also doesn’t necessarily mean that He is saying “no” to a 4th either. It’s just going to take time to seek the Lord and walk in the direction He leads.

We want immediate answers! But that isn’t how God works most of the time. As Dave keeps saying, “We will walk through whatever opportunities God presents to us, just like we walked into this opportunity by faith back in March.”

We have no regrets in saying yes to this baby, when God eventually said no. (Isn’t that ironic? This time we said yes and God said no. With Sarge, we said no and God said yes!) His ways are higher than our own and in simple child-like faith, we just simply need to trust Him with this.

We will get there, eventually. Each new day puts us a little further away from all the pain and heartache of this and a little bit closer to discovering God’s plan for us next.

We will persevere & push forward. We refuse to have a “victim mentality” here because that only hurts us and our family. In the meantime, we will feel deeply what we feel, work through it together, and…just keep walking by faith because that’s all any of us can do when we find ourselves in deep waters.

I do wish I could snap my fingers and be “over it” all today. Haha, wouldn’t that be nice, but that isn’t reality. God made emotions and we are pretty much feeling them all right now.

 

Daniel 3: But even if he does not

Daniel 3 has brought us much peace through this.

This is something I wrote on July 27th and I wanted to share it here too.

This continues to be a very difficult day for our family. I think most of us are just confused as to why God has chosen, as far as what it looks like right now, to not place this baby in our family, especially when the options of where he is going or will end up are not very promising situations.

I wish I had a concrete answer, but I do believe Daniel 3 speaks to this situation very well. And, in times like this, it is ONLY in the Word of God that we can find peace.

Daniel 3 is about King Nebuchadnezzar who had made an image of gold that was ninety feet high and nine feet wide. He set it up and then everyone was commanded to fall down and worship this image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

Verse 6 tells us that “Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”

Verse 7, everyone is falling down in worship to this image, and in verse 12 it is brought to the King’s attention that there are some Jews – Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – who are paying no attention to this command to worship this golden image.

Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the 3 men were brought before the King. In verse 14, the King says to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold that I have set up?” The next verse, they are directly warned that if they choose to not worship, they will be thrown into a blazing fire.

It is their response that grabbed my attention.

Daniel 3:17-18, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

What tremendous faith in the face of adversary!

We’ve been in a “blazing furnace” over the past week. We have all prayed and prayed and prayed – many of you have even told me how you have weeped before the Lord on behalf of this child – that God would rescue this situation and place this baby in our arms. We have believed that He can do it.

The next six words are so incredibly powerful: But even if he does not.

But even if God did not rescue them from the fiery furnace Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego told the King that they will STILL worship God and not the king’s false god that he had created out of gold.

At this time, it appears that God is NOT going to place this baby with us. We’ve all been waiting for that moment where I get a phone call and Charlene tells me that by a miracle of God she just showed up at the office and wanted to sign. But, that is not the direction it looks like God is moving in at this time, even though we all know He still could (and many of you have told me you are still praying to that end).

But even if God does not place this child in my arms, I cannot turn away from God and feel abandoned or forgotten or even worse…feel like there is no God.

I must rise above it all and know that God is still God and even though I do not understand what He is doing at this time, He is good and He will reveal His plan for our family in His time.

God is still worthy to be praised and glorified and the best way I can do that today in my grief is to, once again, surrender my life, my current circumstances, my broken heart AND this child that I so desperately wanted to love and by my son, to Him.

It’s all too big for me to handle on my own and I don’t have to handle it on my own. Knowing this child is out there, alive and living and not with me is a hard pill to swallow but ultimately I have rest in the knowledge that God created this child and loves this child more than I ever possibly could.

The waters surrounding me today are turbulent and deep, but I am not sinking. I am firmly anchored to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The waves can crash around me and on me, but I will stand firm in the promises found in His Word.

To walk away from God for not acting in the way that we thought and prayed He would, is pointless. Even though today hurts very badly and I wish God had spared our family from these circumstances, we have hope tonight.

Our hope is in the Lord. We live in a fallen world full of sin and darkness. It is everywhere we look. But my God offers hope to anyone who is ready to receive it. I hope every single person that has been following this and praying for this situation KNOWS the God of Hope I am speaking about right now. If you do not, I would be glad to tell you all about Him. Just call, text or message me!

I would love to bypass the grieving phase and move right on in to what God has next for us. We both firmly believe our family is not complete, but at this time, we have no clue where God is going to take us next.

God’s got this…we just don’t know what that looks like yet. 

Outcome

She did not place.

While this has been a very difficult week, our hope and trust is in the Lord.

We both feel tremendous peace that can only come from God.

Thank you for your faithful prayers.

URGENT Prayers

This situation continues to become so dark. Her actions aren’t making sense….until this morning and it is going to take an act of God to turn her heart.

We believe we are dealing with a case of human trafficking. Based on her actions & responses to our solutions to her “problems”, this is the only thing that makes sense.

There is a spiritual war over the soul of this innocent child and all we can do is plead the blood of Jesus over this child for his safety. Plead the blood of Jesus over this woman & that she would not be able to go through with this.

Please pray and get every prayer warrior you know to pray.