Foster Care/Adoption · Uncategorized

Juvenile Court

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Photo Credit: www.weisspaarz.com.

Today, I attended our foster child’s first court date.  I honestly had no idea what to expect, or what would occur.  I can’t remember the legal term they used, but basically this hearing was to transfer legal guardianship of our foster child to the county within which we will serve as the resource family for her.  I wasn’t sure who all would be there- birth parents?  Family?  I didn’t know if I would meet any of them, or if there would be an uncomfortable confrontation.

Every case is different.  In our case the most uncomfortable part of the day was the wait- court was running behind so we sat waiting at the court house for almost an hour before our names were finally called.

To protect the privacy of our specific foster child’s case I am not going to share any of those details, but more so about the experience as a whole at Juvenile Court with a foster child.

Sitting in the waiting room was interesting.  The room was filled with people- children, birth parents, foster parents, a couple that I’m guessing was a kinship relationship because they looked to be grandparents age holding a baby.  There was a room filled with social workers who worked for the county representing each of the people sitting in the waiting room.  Attorneys, and security guards were also in the mix.  Our social worker from our foster agency was there for support for me.

I tend to be a very intuitive person.  I can feel emotions from other people across a room in a very heavy way, and I find it hard to sometimes shake off these feelings.  One family came out of the court room after obviously hearing bad news- mom was in almost hysterical tears, her kids running after her, dad (or whom I presumed was dad) was spouting off lots of angry words and eventually had to be removed to go outside.  A father and teenage daughter sat off to one side, and entered the waiting area in somewhat good spirits, but eventually I saw tears and muffled arguing from the daughter, and the rest of their interaction was spent on opposite ends of the couch with backs turned to one another.

When it was our turn to go into the court room, our girl started to get clingy which I have learned is one of her coping mechanisms for when she is anxious or scared.  She started to walk really slowing with me, and was very hesitant to enter the court room.  I had to remind myself that this is the first time she has ever even been in a court room like this unlike a foster child who has been in care for quite sometime and this is now their norm.  Which is another sad story in and of itself…up until about a month ago my kids had never even seen in the inside of a court room because this is not most kids norm…it shouldn’t be any kids norm.  We were only in one at the time because we attended our friends adoption hearing.

As I led her toward the judge, and the large group of people waiting at the front of the room, they were all very encouraging to her, and gave her some candy which seemed to win her over.  As I sat down, I saw her turn to look at me…to make sure I was still there….how can I already be her constant…her source of comfort after only 9 days with me….it’s just messed up.  No one from her family was present.

We were dismissed from the courtroom very shortly after entering.  I was grateful for this….I really didn’t want her to hear all the details, or have to think about all the weighted adult things they were going to talk about.  My social worker came out shortly after to brief me on their discussion.  I didn’t really find out anything new.  There is another date next week we are to attend that will discuss all the details- what the birth parents have to do to regain custody, our role, her progress in our home, etc.  That meeting is called a “Full Disclosure Meeting.” (for anyone here who is trying to educate themselves on the process-  part of my hopes in sharing this is to bring some light to things that are rarely discussed about foster care to make it not seem so scary, since there are so many unknowns to a new foster parent).

As I sat and spoke with my social worker the tears came….the heaviness of the whole thing just came crashing down….not a single person from our foster child’s family showing up, the upset parents in the waiting room whose children ran out after them crying, the broken communication between the dad and teenage daughter….a bunch of kids forced to be in a room that they shouldn’t even know exists due to adults bad choices that they now have to have consequences from for things they didn’t even do.

One of the things I am very grateful for that came out of today is more empathy.

Empathy for these kids who need security, and safe places to be…to have a stable life instead of living in limbo and being in constant fight or flight.

Empathy for our foster child as we try to figure out how to attach to a child backwards than our own biological children…it’s no easy task, and in many ways feels like loving out of duty before actual feelings of love come, but today….today brought more compassion to fight for her.

Fight for her right to just be a kid, and not have the knowledge of grown up problems in a 7 year olds body.

Fight to help her have a voice that she has always deserved to have even if she wasn’t given one before.

This bible verse from Proverbs 31 kept going through my head all day:

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.”

May God give me strength to continue to speak for her, that which she cannot speak herself!
Blessings,
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Uncategorized

Forgotten

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This morning I had a moment of just feeling FORGOTTEN….I know that’s not true, but it is how I feel sometimes in this waiting.
The questions start to come..
“God are you in this? If so then why the stillness? Why this long of a wait?”
I’ve been here before.  Many times in this journey towards adoption, or at other times in my life I’ve been here, and every time I find myself questioning. I am reminded of His faithfulness. He gives me peace to be still in the waiting.
The circumstances may not change, but my heart posture does. The questions and the desire for control turn into trust in His sovereignty, and faithfulness when I fully lean into Him.
He has not forgotten us just the same as He has not forgotten the barren woman, nor the single mother.  He has not forgotten the woman who just received a hard diagnosis or the one who just found out her husband has been having an affair….no He HAS NOT FORGOTTEN YOU!
As I was praying over this this morning I opened my bible to a page that was actually bookmarked, and a verse that I had underlined before stared back at me….
“Yet Jerusalem says, ‘The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.’  ‘Never!  Can a mother forget her nursing child?  Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?  But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!”
Isaiah 49:14-15
His word is true, never changing, and here he promises HE WILL NOT FORGET ME!
I haven’t had the heart to remove the notes and presents Abigail left from us from our foster girl’s room yet, because the truth is, in my heart…it’s still her room right now. I know it won’t be, and I know some other little girl someday will bring so much joy to us, and this will all make sense, but today is not my someday, and for now they are vivid reminders of what I thought would be.
These reminders also help me to remember to pray for a sweet 6 year old girl who is trying to adjust to her new family and has been through so much.
To know that I can pray for her by name even if I never see the results of that…I know it matters, and I pray God uses her story mightily!
He has not forgotten me even if His answers don’t match my plans.
I can trust His plans because I know He is good, and I have seen His faithfulness in my life and so many others.
No friend He has not forgotten you either.  Trust Him in the waiting!  Trust that His plan is good, and focus your heart on His faithfulness.
For His word says:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord.  ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9
Keep on waiting even when the stillness and quiet feels deafening….His plans are good, and worth waiting for!
Blessings,
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Uncategorized

Why In the World Would Someone Choose Foster Care

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So I realized….I haven’t shared this picture with anyone yet, and I figured well…might as well do it!  We took this photo last fall, in anticipation of knowing we were in the process of fostering, knowing someday we hoped to adopt, and as a mom, whether biolgical or adopted children, my heart longed for every single one of my babies….I took pregnancy pictures with my own bio kids in anticipation of welcoming them into our family, so it was important for me to acknowledge this about God’s plans for completing our family as well.

I felt God nudging me this week to share a really raw journal entry I wrote.  It’s something I wrote almost a year and a half ago now….as I was in the midst of wrestling with God about whether or not He was calling us to adopt/foster.  My heart was so raw when I wrote this.  So raw, that I remember it happening right before we went back to IL for Christmas, and it was so fresh that I couldn’t bring myself to speak a word about it to anyone back home…my heart needed time to fully comprehend what this thing really was that God was asking us to do……

December 28th, 2015

By the time anyone reads this, months will probably have passed.  My heart is too raw to share now.

On December 6th 2015 after years of gentle nudges on our heart from God, and pretty intense pressing on us in the last 3 to 4 months, we decided that God was indeed calling us to adopt.  We already had made an appointment a month prior to meet with an adoption agent from a local agency that we knew through mutual friends.  So on December 8th we met.  Something became very clear to us in that meeting…

That adoption is hard.

Adoption isn’t pretty.

Adoption is picking up pieces of brokenness and trying to piece back together what God intended to stay whole.

It’s tears.

It’s battle, and to be quite honest didn’t look like what we had hoped for it to look like.

In my mind adoption was a neatly wrapped up package with a beautiful bow.  Sometimes it can be that way… sometimes not, and so in efforts to prepare ourselves we have to be ready for the worst, and hope for the best.  What was most confusing to me in this whole process, was that we never were quite sure how we would adopt…private domestic, international, foster to adopt.  We had no clue.  The only plan I had in my mind was I don’t think I fully comprehended the hardness that this whole process could be.  The more God revealed, the more we prayed, the more it seemed like Foster to Adopt may very well be what He is calling us to.  As I sit here right now in this moment, I still don’t fully know.  All I know is that fostering really wasn’t in my plan.  I suppose that is what makes it so hard.  My expectations were different.  My plans weren’t His….

As I prayed and wrestled with what I felt God asking us to do, I found myself questioning Him…

“God this is going to hurt.  A lot.  I don’t want to hurt.  I don’t want to suffer.  I don’t want to possibly give of myself 18 or more months of my life, loving another, only to possibly have to hand them back.  We want to complete our family God.  This may not complete it.  We may have to hand them back, and what if we do?  Will we have what it takes to endure another placement?  I am not even a kid person.  God how in the world can you possibly think that, ME, of all people is cut out for this?!”

The questions went on.  There were many more.  There was a lot of arguing, justification of my reasons, and each one He had such gentle responses for….

In response to the fear of suffering-

“It will hurt, but I understand suffering.  No one wants to suffer but my own son asked me to take the cup away from Him if that was my will, but I couldn’t.  This was something He had to do.”

In response to not feeling equipped to do this-

“You aren’t able, but I am.  I will be your source.  I will be your strength, and I will bridge the gap when you have nothing left to give.  Trust me.”

But God we wanted to complete our family?  This isn’t what we had planned!

“I know, and your family isn’t complete yet, but it will be.  It may not be through a first placement.  It may not be through a second, but I will complete it in my timing, in the way I have always planned.  Trust me.”

Since that meeting on December 8th, we have had a lot going on…traveling back to Chicagoland for Christmas, lots of holiday festivities, and now calm after the chaos that is the season.  We left our meeting that night knowing we felt called to adopt, but absolutely terrified of our next steps.  The agency we are working with offers mandatory training every other month that is 3 full days.  It’s a big commitment to do something like that without being fully sure, especially since we would need to find childcare for our kids, but at church yesterday it became very clear, that we need to take the next step.   So we are going to be taking the classes in January along with 2 of our friends from small group who are also pursuing adoption.  The way that all happened is another story for another day, but let’s just say that God doesn’t make mistakes, and we are so blessed to have such great friends already walking this road with us!

To date, we haven’t really talked about this to many.  Very few people know, besides a few of my close friends who have adopted before, and I knew I could trust being very raw and vulnerable with.  You see part of what scares me most, at least at the current time, is people’s response.  Well meaning people who say the wrong things.  I can’t handle negative right now.  I’m too scared out of mind to hear anything negative right now.  In due time, I know I will be able to handle those comments with more grace, but right now, my heart is raw, and needs time to process this thing God is asking us to do, because it doesn’t look like what I wanted it too.  I need time with God for Him to reveal to me His goodness in this, because He is good.  He is always good, even when He asks us to do something hard.

How can you pursue something you know is going to cause suffering?  Because you know to your very core that God is good.  You  know that when He asks you to do something hard you obey.  You know He has a purpose, and a plan for your life.  That his plans are to prosper you.  Not harm you.  To know that whatever the suffering may be, whatever hurts, that God has a greater purpose in it.  That this is part of our story, and He has great blessing in it for us, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to drink from the cup….

Blessings,

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