Thursday, May 7, 2015

Our Adoption Timeline

I can't believe that it's actually official!  She's adopted.  Name changed.  Party over.  On to "normal" life as a family.

I just wanted to share a snapshot of our adoption timeline because only God could have made all these pieces fall into place.  The story He is writing in our lives is so much better than anything I could have come up with-- and I know that ups and downs He's there.

We were married in July of 2010 and I know that we talked about adoption even before we were married.  It was something we both wanted to be a part of, how or when we didn't know. I (Holly) had spent some time in Nigeria in College and it opened my eyes to the many kids throughout the world who really need parents.

Oct 2010- I went to a bridal shower of a friend and I remember walking inside to use the restroom and meeting the hostess' mother in law.  She was canning with her kids and foster kids and I asked her if we could ever get together to talk about fostering and what it was like.  She introduced me to the kids she had there at the time and I recently realized that one of them was Annie... Woah.

Summer 2011- We were working at a Christian camp and I specifically remember driving down the long hill and talking about the Royal family kids camp that was meeting there and if we could ever adopt. Ephesians 2 was really impacting us at that time.  We asked outloud, "What if we adopted one of the kids who are here."

>>> Super strange but true story-- We discovered a picture in Annie's scrapbook from Royal Family Kids Camp and my husband was in the picture driving the bus.  We were there. 

October 2012- We went to a dessert put on by a local church highlighting the many different ways to be involved in caring for children through fostercare or adoption.  When we got home that night we prayed on our knees in the living room and came upon the realization that while we could wait until we "had it together" or until the "right" moment, children who are legally free for adoption in foster care can't wait.  They need parents now.  We started making phonecalls.

Feb 2013- Foundations Training-  We finally got in to the required training for anyone who adopts in the state of Oregon.  It is offered locally for several weeks or you can do it all in a weekend if you are ok with waiting to get into the class (which only happens quarterly).  We walked away slightly scared but feeling like we were on the right path.

I also started listening to all the time!  It was so helpful to us as we thought about the various topics related to foster care.  Now that I've heard them all I really miss Tim and Wendy and their intro and outro music :)

March-September Homestudy and pursuing infant adoption.  This was a whirlwind confusing time.  You can read about it if you scroll back through our blog.  Now I see that we got our homestudy done MUCH faster than we would have otherwise.  It really hurt.  We thought we would be waiting years from this point.

September - It all fell through.  You can read about that a bit if you want to scroll back through...

Mid September- Call our DHS certifier Somehow on facebook I heard about a terrible situation where a teen girl needed a home so that she wouldn't be in an area where she had previously been trafficked.  We decided that we'd make a phone call and if it worked out we would love her for a little while and help out.  I'm so glad that it didn't.... It would have been rough.  BUT, that conversation opened up a possibility.  "How long would it take to get us certified for Foster Care?"  "Oh, like 2 days" 

Late September- She asks us about Annie. I got a call.  "I never do this, but would you be willing?"  I love the DHS staff we've interacted with.  This particular one is a Christian and later told us she felt that it would be disobedient not to call us.  Even though she was "out of our age range" and we weren't actually planning on being foster parents, but were working on adopting through foster care we said yes.  I had more peace in that scary decision than anything else in my life.    The first yes took a lot of faith but after that we just kept walking forward.  I always look back at how I really heard from the Holy Spirit in that time and am encouraged that God is working in our lives.

Oct 2nd 2013- We're Instant parents of a 12 1/2 year old
This time is going to get its own post at some point.  BIG CHANGE.  Big hurts. Lots of tears.  Lots of growth.
She had been in an adoptive placement and was not told she was leaving until a few hours before she showed up on our doorstep. What did we do that first night?  Got limeberry. 

When did we know?
We knew that our daughter was legally free for adoption (everything with birthparents had been finished up long ago.)  She had been in an adoptive placement.  We decided that we were going to love her like she was never leaving even if she eventually would.  However, the moment that stands out to me was after a really hard day.  A day she was fighting lies about who she was and I had no idea what to do.  I was laying on the floor in her bedroom making sure she was safe even if she was mad or didn't want to talk to me.  I remember thinking, " I never want you to have to start over again."  It wasn't up to us in the end, but we decided that we would do whatever we could to keep her stable and with us.  We told her over and over again that we would never send her away.  We  couldn't promise yet that we could adopt her (and at that point she asked us daily if we would), but we could say that we would never be the cause of her having to move again.

November 2014- Current caretaker Status
After being foster parents for a year in Oregon you are eligible to be considered "current caretakers" and be the first choice as an adoptive resource.  This was a crazy experience because it was like a job interview.  There were 12 people in the room and we were asked a bunch of questions about our daughter.  Her heritage and how we encourage her connection to it.  How does she respond to discipline?  What happened at this Dr's apt?  When was the last time she was in to the dentist?  Is she bonded to your family? 
Afterwards we were asked to leave the room while they deliberated to decide if we could be her parents, or if they would look elsewhere and recruit other options.  They came back about 15 minutes later and said that they unanimously decided that we were the only option they would consider for her adoption.

March 2015- All paper work is done, waiting for a court date
There is a lot of paperwork.  Some of it I think I filled out 4 times by the end.  One important one got lost in the mail.

April 28th, 2015  Adoption day!
Her adoption day was so special!  It was a long time coming for her and for us.  She had been in fostercare for over 5 years.  1891 days exactly.

Part of what made the day so special was all of the people who came.  ALL of her caseworkers from DHS came.  She had 4 caseworkers who were there with her through all of the changes over the past 5 years.  They brought her flowers and told her how proud of her they are.  Some she hadn't seen since she was little.  Her caseworker's supervisor even came! 

Her lawyer, and her lawyer's assistant were there representing us.  They had been with her longer than anyone.  All 5 years.  When we went in to sign the paperwork for her name change a few weeks before, she showed me a few little gifts she had given them that were still there on his bookshelf.  A pen, a bookmark and some kind of small stuffed animal (I think). A few days later while we were driving she asked me if he is still her lawyer.  I told her that she doesn't need a lawyer anymore, but if she did I'm sure he would say yes.

We took pictures and said goodbye to all these special people.  One of the caseworkers commented on how she just loved her "huge" family.  We didn't tell her that we were missing a bunch of us!

She had 4 grandparents, 2 great grandmas, her new parents, her mentor, my friend Robin (who was my official instagrammer for the day) and some family friends to take photos!

And now we are on to the rest of life.  Graduating 8th grade and moving to highschool.  Just being able to be a kid.

I'm so excited that she doesn't have the huge uncertainty hanging over her head anymore.  Early on she once told me that she had "bigger priorities" than being in choir or other normal kid afterschool clubs.  When I asked what her priorities were she said, "Getting out of Foster care."  Done!  Now the plan is for her to possibly do Band and Choir next year and learn an instrument over the summer :)  I'm glad she can have kid priorities again.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Over Hashtagged

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:31

I plead guilty.  I totally missed the point.

At one point (a few years ago) I was riding a wave of emotion related to our adoption progress and hashtagged #ifGodisforuswhocanbeagainstus.  Guess what?  Exactly what I thought would happen is exactly what fell apart.  That instance rocked us and I still feel the residual effects of my misguided ideas.  It wasn't that God was wrong, it was that I did a little origami with what I thought He was saying and that whole thing crashed and burned.

Over the last bit as God has pointed out to me what my issue was I've come to realize a few things:

1- Hashtagging entire sentences should be outlawed #justsayin #whydowedothat #wewilllaughatourselveswhenweareold

2- I never Hashtag unless I'm being opinionated or oversimplifying and I probably shouldn't do either one.#justsayno

In this case I just forgot that the entire rest of Romans 8  has a theme of suffering.  I totally oversimplified and in the end got the exact wrong message.  If I would have read the rest of the chapter I would have seen that the point is that God loved me and saved me and is with me despite suffering that may happen in life.  He is near.  He is for me even if the entire world is against me. Nothing can separate me from Jesus.  The point was NOT God is for you, so you'll get your way. The verse I opened to was not a crystal ball to tell me the future. #badtheology

3- I took what was going on in my life + a verse that goes on lots of coffee mugs = things will happen like I think they will. #Goddoesn'tworkonmytimeframe #hurtswhenyoufalldown

4- What the verse ACTUALLY says is what I needed to hear the most for the next season of life.  When a whole bunch of stuff is disappointing, feels hopeless, or just plain hurts what I need to know is that nothing can separate me from the love of Jesus. #verse39 #preachtoyourself

5- God's actual plan (that He hadn't filled me in on yet) was so much better!  I wouldn't have ever guessed it.  I would have probably been scared and run away. #yourthoughtsarehigher #adoptateen #Godwritesabetterstory

He is so much more complex that I can understand.  And I'm glad for that.