Connecting the dots of God’s story

heart connect dots

This morning in my quiet time, I was reading in the book of Psalms and this verse really stuck out for me:

“I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.” Psalm 143:5

It has been on my heart lately to share with you a story of the greatness of God.  Of His mighty power, planning, and goodness.  I’ll be honest, there were times in the middle of the story where it didn’t feel very good.  In fact, it involved one of the lowest times in my life.  But through the almighty grace of my Heavenly Father, I can now look back at the “days of long ago” and see His hand in the story every single step of the way.  I can see all the dots in the story and how God connected them to make a beautiful masterpiece of His love.

Many of you know about our experience as foster parents, and that throughout that process we had many highs and lows.  If you weren’t with me back then, you can read some of my foster parenting blog posts here.  The lowest low of all was when we had to surrender a precious baby boy that we had been led to believe we would get to adopt.  Looking back it seems like we should have known differently based on our timeline.  God placed that precious baby with us just 10 months before we would be moving out of state with the Army.  But, I was hopeful and trusting.  I figured if God wanted us to adopt him, things would move fast.  Well, they didn’t.  Because that wasn’t God’s plan all along.

It turns out that while we were caring for “Little Bear” as we called him, another family was taking classes to become foster parents.  They had no children of their own and wanted to help other children and grow their family through adoption.  They got certified as foster parents just in time for Little Bear to go to their home just as we were getting ready to move and had to find him a new family.  Coincidence? No way!  That, my friends, is our Father’s perfect timing.  His ways are higher than our ways.

Now he is with this wonderful family being loved on, cared for, and CHERISHED every single day.  He knows what it’s like to have family and friends.  He is learning of God’s love and one day he will be able to grasp how deep the Father’s love is for him as he gets to look back and see how God had a plan for him before he was even born.

How do I know all of this?  Because a dream came true!  One of my disappointments when we had to surrender our foster son was that we would not be able to see him again or know how he was doing.  I desperately wanted to be able to talk to the new family, but CPS would not allow it.  It was heartbreaking to say the least, but I already wrote about that in another post.

But God is GOOD!  He is amazing, really.  And just about a month ago, by the grace of God and the wonders of technology – Little Bear’s mom…the one who adopted him and now can call him her own….contacted me via Facebook.  She had been wanting to contact me for a while but wasn’t sure I’d want to hear from her.  I definitely did!

I was so thankful!  I knew I would never find her. I knew her first name because of conversations I had with the birth mom right after he left us (even then I would have never spelled it correctly!), but I didn’t know her last name or where they lived.  I had sent a letter with Little Bear to the adoptive parents that included a DVD full of pictures and some information I thought would be helpful for them to know.  I included my contact information in case they had any questions at all.  Unfortunately, the CPS worker tore off my contact info before giving them the letter.  At least they got the pictures!  Once the adoption was final, the parents got to see his full foster care report and our names were in there.  As a side note – that information shouldn’t have been in there and our personal info should have been kept private for safety reasons.  In this case, I’m glad it was in there.

Now I’ve been able to connect with the woman who has given Little Bear a forever mommy & a daddy.  I’ve been able to see pictures of him and how he’s grown!  He looks so happy and is obviously very well loved and cared for.  And just now, the story has come full circle as this family just accepted their first foster placement since bringing their son into their home.  Now they have a couple more kids to love on for as long as God has planned.

What a blessing that is from God, and one I don’t take lightly, that He has let me see clearly HIS hand in HIS story as a reminder that He is always there – He will never leave us or forsake us.  We just have to trust Him.

God knew all along that this family would adopt Little Bear.  But they weren’t ready when he was born, so God used our family to give him love in the meantime.  In the end, we may not have gotten to adopt him, but our family was blessed by him & this story in a way that will never be forgotten.

Why we won’t be adopting…a revelation

A post of a thousand words begins with a single keystroke.

I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog.  I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time.  I’ve been desperate to sit down and share so many things with you.  The problem is that I have so many words swimming around in my head and I just can’t seem to get them from my brain to the computer screen in a coherent fashion.  I have so much to tell you and I’m afraid that the words just won’t come across the right way, that I’ll leave something out or my words will be misunderstood.

I have started this post a thousand times in my head, and now it’s time to get it out. I will just pray that the Lord gives me the words to explain this to you and that he gives you the heart to understand.  Or maybe you won’t understand, and he will make me ok with that too.  Either way, I’m going to start at the end of the journey – at the revelation God has made clear to me.  Then, in future posts, I will fill you in on parts of the journey God has taken me on to get me to the point where I am now.

The revelation?  We are no longer pursuing foster care or adoption, and we are instead fully embracing our family of three.  We are listening to what the Lord has planned for us and how He wants to use our family, rather than pursuing our own goals.

Some of you are reading this and have no idea we were even currently pursuing adoption.  I haven’t talked about it lately because there wasn’t any progress to speak of.  I debated writing about the struggles we were having, but kept hoping I would be able to tie up the loose ends with a pretty bow before I shared them with you.

That never happened.

Others of you – the VERY few with whom we shared our plans – are wondering why the sudden switch?  Didn’t we just tell you we were starting the process?

Yes, we did just say we thought it was time to start the process again.  Again, I say, because we’ve been here before – without success.  This time, God has once again made it clear to us that this is not the path he has laid out for us.  This time, we are choosing to accept it for good.  Sometimes, God has to tell me things more than once.  Maybe even 3 times because I’m a little hard-headed.  Thankfully, my Heavenly Father made me so he already knows that about me and loves me anyway.

10 years ago, Rob and I first discussed adoption when we found out we were infertile.  When we were told we could not get pregnant.  Before God gave us our miracle.   After having Emily, I just assumed we would have more kids either biologically or through adoption.  We tried for years to have another child on our own first, but growing our family through adoption was always on my heart.   I never meant to view it as a “backup” plan, but rather something I thought would be a great thing to do in its own right.  I knew many families who had adopted and I thought it would be a great way to help a child in need, while also fulfilling my desire to have more children.

Over the years, the adoption issue has taken us on an emotional roller coaster.  After having my hysterectomy in 2007, adoption became the only option for growing our family.  I began to put all my hope into “one day” adopting.  I’m a planner and it gave me something to look forward to.  After all, I had just lost all hope in ever having another miracle child by birth, so my hope now clung to this idea of adopting.  Oh, the lessons I’ve learned about contentment and where to put my hope…but that’s another post for another day.

In 2008, Rob and I became foster parents.  We thought it would be a great way to help kids and possibly grow our family through the foster-to-adopt program.  2 sets of siblings came and went, and then in 2010 we brought home a 7 day old baby boy.  I’ve told his story before, but for those that don’t know, let me recap quickly.  I won’t go into all the details, but we were told from almost day one that we would get to adopt this precious child.  10 months, many court dates, and a whirlwind of events later – we were unable to adopt him.   Heartbroken doesn’t even begin to describe the pain.

A few months later, we moved to North Carolina with the Army.  We assumed we would pick up our shattered hearts off the floor and try again with foster care once we got here, even though part of me wanted to swear off dealing with “the state system” ever again after being lied to, manipulated, and mistreated.   However, the door to being foster parents in NC was slammed shut when we found out Rob was deploying shortly after arriving.  They wouldn’t let me do the foster training classes without him, and said we would have to wait until he returned from deployment.

Ok, fine.  I’ll wait.

At this point in the story I’m still assuming we are going to be foster parents and adopt.  I knew we were called by God to become foster parents when we did it the first time.  Rob and I both felt that was clear.   I naturally just assumed that He wanted us to continue that once we moved.  I heard God’s “NO” when he shut this door, but I interpreted it as “Wait till Rob gets back” because that’s what I wanted to hear.  I’ve had to learn the hard way (and more than once!) that God often calls us to do something for a while, but not forever.  He puts us through seasons.  I also want to talk more soon about my journey to a place called Surrender, but for now, let me keep moving forward with this part of the story.

Once Rob returned from deployment, it took a while for us to settle back in and it seemed like one change after another kept coming up (moving to a new house, work schedules, etc.).  Anytime I would bring up adoption, I felt like Rob and I just weren’t on the same page about it yet.  One way I’ve learned to know if we are hearing from God on something is when we are both on the same page.  If we aren’t on the same page, then it’s best we don’t move forward because it means God isn’t leading us.  If he’s leading us somewhere, he always takes us hand-in-hand, on the same sheet of music.

I kept thinking we just needed to get to the right time.  I even talked about how God’s timing is perfect and it would happen at the right time.  Again, I was assuming it would happen.  That it was just a matter of time.  I just needed to wait until Rob was willing and then we’d make a run for it.

(Or so I foolishly thought)

Then, one day Rob made a comment about wanting a baby.  It was an innocent comment made because he got to hold a friend’s baby and got all mushy, but I took that and ran with it.  I asked him if he was wanting to really grow our family and move forward with adoption.  He agreed that he was (guys get baby fever too!) and the timing seemed to look ok since he wasn’t scheduled to deploy soon (he still isn’t – don’t worry, Mom!)

At this point, I did what I thought was the right thing to do, and I asked Rob to take the lead on the adoption research.  I told him that I wanted to make sure we were going on the right path, so I wanted him to do the research and let me know where he felt led.  Domestic or International?  Which agency?  Which country?  So many questions and paths to take.  I wanted God to tell Rob which way we were to go, and for Rob to tell me.  I was trying to do the Biblical thing and let Rob lead the family while I submitted to his leadership.  I was trying to control my instinct to take the plan and run with it full speed ahead while dragging everyone else behind me hoping they wanted on the ride in the first place.

I knew which way I thought I wanted to go, and when Rob mentioned the same I got excited thinking that must be the path!  Nope….God took us down that path only to show us the closed door.  A door boarded up like it was prepared for a hurricane with a “Do Not Enter” sign on it.

Again, I didn’t accept the “NO” God was giving me, and simply chose another path to take.  “He must be narrowing down our choices for us.”, I (foolishly) thought.

Again, God put us on the same page only to shut another door.  This door hit me in the face when it slammed shut.

This time, after crying out to the Lord, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  All this time we had been praying as a family about the adoption, but we’d been praying the wrong prayer.  We were asking God to show us which agency to use, which country to adopt from, and HOW to do this thing.

What we failed to ask was IF we were supposed to do this thing at all. 

I was telling God MY plan for MY life and then asking him to help me make it come true.  I wanted him to tell me exactly how to make it happen, but that’s not how God works.  He wants to be in charge.

It finally occurred to me that *I* had asked Rob to lead, so he was taking the lead, but I also realized that I had not specifically heard from the Lord that we were to adopt.  I can look back over my life and pinpoint very specific times when I knew what God was calling me to do and this was not one of them.  I wondered (hoped) if maybe God had just told Rob and not me (yet), so I asked him.  I said, “Are you taking the lead on this because I asked you to, or because God asked you to?”.  When my husband replied with, “That’s a great question.”  – I knew.  Suddenly, clear as the morning sun, I could see the answer.  This is not the path we were supposed to be traveling.

Oh, I can be so hard-headed…..and God is so patient! He just repeats himself over and over until we get it.  Until we really listen.

So, we prayed.  We prayed that if we were wrong about this revelation that God would make it clear so we didn’t miss something.  He can do that, you know.  He can protect us from ourselves when we ask.  I also prayed for peace, but I almost didn’t need to.  As soon as I acknowledged this revelation I felt his peace.  I could feel him pulling me into his arms and telling me that this is where he wanted me all along – in that place called Surrender.

 

I have to tell you that writing this post has been hard for a couple reasons…

1) One of the reasons that I’ve had a hard time writing this post is because I’m human and I’m afraid of what some people will say.  I have friends who have known for years that I’ve dreamed of a large family, and who have a large family themselves.  What will they think?  I hope they will see that I’m surrendering to the One who knows best for my life.  I hope they will know that even though we will never have family size in common, that their friendship is so dear to me.

Fear of what people think about you can keep you from accepting God’s plan for you.  For a long time, I’ve worried that if I accept this life as a parent of an only child, my friends with multiple children and I won’t relate to each other any more.  At least when we were planning to have more kids, I felt like I was still in the “club”.  But having an only child really stands out in social settings.  People make assumptions about your child and about you when they find out you only have one.  Especially when your child is past the toddler age.  When I would tell people we hoped to adopt, they would accept us and stop pressuring me to give our daughter a sibling.  When they find out you consider children a blessing and hope to have a big family one day, they stop asking as many questions.  Oh, the painful questions!

 

2) The other reason it has been hard for me to write this is because as a Christian, it has been hard to understand and accept that God would say no to us adopting, or that he would have closed my womb to more children.  After all, he loves children!  The Bible says the man with a quiver full of children is blessed.  Indeed, they are.  I’m learning though, that it doesn’t mean I am not blessed if I do not have a quiver full of children.  It simply means that children are indeed a blessing – a gift from God – a reminder that many people today need.

Yes, I know the Bible commands all followers of Christ to care for the orphans.  I’ve clung to those verses for years as my own “evidence” that we should adopt, but I also know that there are many ways we can care for the orphans.  Some will be absolutely called to adopt them.  Some will be called to pray for them.  Some will be called to go on mission trips and volunteer hands-on time with them.  Some will be called to give money and support others’ efforts.  There are many ways to care for them without doing it ALL.

It IS hard to understand why God would say no to something so good.  However, it’s not meant for me to understand.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

It’s not for me to understand why a good friend of mine is still single when she wants to be married.  Why a beautiful, Christian couple I know can’t have any kids at all.  Why parents I know have to spend countless days in the hospital with their young daughter, not ever knowing exactly what it wrong with her – for years.  There are so many “whys” I could ask about so many things in life, but ultimately what matters is that I surrender my will to HIS will and remember that his ways are not my ways.  He sees the big picture.  He plans my life.

I must recognize and ACCEPT that I am not failing my Heavenly Father by not having more children if that is not his will for me.  I must accept that God is in control of my life and that He knows best.  That whatever he has planned for us is better than anything I could ever imagine.

I must simply surrender and say, “Here I am, Lord.  Use my life as you please.” 

Happy Birthday Little Bear!

I just have to stop for a moment and wish our previous foster son a very Happy Birthday!! I can’t believe that it’s been an entire year since he was born, and only one week shy of a year since I first held him in my arms.  He came into our lives when he was 7 days old, and left when he was 9 months old.

It’s been an amazing journey full of ups and downs, tears of joy and tears of sorrow.  A time of growth – for our family, for Little Bear, and for his mom.  I’m so thankful that we had that time with him, that I’ve gotten to know her, and for all that God taught us through this time.  Even with the heartaches, I wouldn’t trade our time with him last year for anything.  I’m so thankful and blessed that I am still in touch with his mom, for the friendship we’ve formed, and that I am able to get updates on our little man.

God is soooo good!!

Can you believe he went from this….

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to THIS? (He’s got a little head re-shaping going on!)

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Such a cutie!  Happy Birthday, Little Bear!  We love you!

I actually miss the laundry

I probably shouldn’t admit this in public, but I haven’t done laundry in a week and a half!  I re-use my after-shower towel for a few days before I wash it since I’m clean when I use it and I hang it up to dry.  Lovebug has about 50 pairs of panties since her sensory issues often cause her to try on 5 pair before finding one that works for the day.  Evidently I have a sufficient number of my own, although not quite as many as she does, but I have been clean each day, don’t worry.  Lovebug also tends to wear the same outfit over and over and over until it’s visibly dirty, I take it away from her and put it in the laundry, the weather changes, or I need her to wear something specific in which case she goes back to her favorite clothes as soon as possible.

So, today I went to do laundry and I rounded up all the dirty clothes.   After that, I went looking for more.  There MUST be more, where are they?  In the bathroom on the floor? Nope.  In the closet on the floor? Nope.

I only have 1 load of lights, and 1 load of darks.  Plus sheets.

Then it hit me. There just isn’t that much laundry anymore.

Hubby isn’t here, so that cuts down on some, but the biggest reason is that Little Bear isn’t here.  He would go through 2 outfits a day minimum, plus bibs, burp cloths, towels and washcloths.

I never thought I would say I missed the laundry, but I do.

 

On a happier note, I got to spend some time with Little Bear’s mom yesterday! She’s doing well and had visited with LB just the day before.  She got to meet his current foster mom, which is very unusual and he is doing really well! He’s in what seems to be a great home – they took him for pictures with Santa, are continuing his therapy and doctor’s appts.  All good signs that it’s a great foster home that really cares for him.  The foster mom even gave LB’s mom one of the Santa pictures and I took a picture of it with my camera phone.  Isn’t he precious???

AlexSanta

It’s such a blessing to know that he is doing well.  He’s got 2 teeth now (he had one when he left us)!  There is some movement in the case and some options being considered (nothing to do with us), so I just pray that God’s hand be in every detail…and I know it is.  God is good!!

I just had to get this out…

I’ve been wanting to write this for 2 weeks, but I keep wavering back and forth on whether or not I should.  Would writing about it do any good?  Or am I just venting?  If I am just venting, it’s my blog so that’s ok anyway, right?  I finally decided I just want to get it out.  People should know.  I know they say that if you complain about a problem that you should try to be part of the solution. I don’t know HOW to be part of the solution just yet, but I’m thinking about it.

Some of you that are my friends on Facebook know this already, so bear with me.

 

2 weeks ago the CPS caseworker came to my house to pick up Little Bear and transport him to his new foster home.  She arrived in her car with nothing more than a forward facing booster seat. 

First of all, the law in Texas says that children should NOT be turned forward facing until they are 1 year old AND 20 lbs.  BOTH….not one or the other.  Second, booster seats are made for children that are 40+ lbs and 4 years old or more.

But it gets worse.

When I kindly pointed out that “He still needs to be rear facing”, she replied “At HIS age??”.  Like I was telling her to put a 12 year old in a car seat.

Ummm, yes at his age.  His age is 9 months old today (he turned 9 months old the day she picked him up).

That should have been the end of it once she realized her error.  But she just couldn’t stand the thought of being wrong so she argued with me.

CPS: “He’s 20 lbs isn’t he?

Me: “Yes he is barely 20 lbs, but he’s not 1 year old yet

CPS: “So he IS 20 lbs then, that’s good enough

Me: “No, he has to be 20 lbs AND 1 year old to face forward

CPS: “I’m sure he only has to be 20 lbs

At this point, I’m prepared to call the cops if she takes him from me.  After all, we are told in foster parent training that if we see a child not properly restrained that we are supposed to call and report that.  Unfortunately, CPS is who we are supposed to report it to. 

I go back in my house and wait for her to figure out what to do.  She calls her supervisor and is yelling about me on the phone saying “I’m not going to keep arguing with her about this car seat!”.

I told her if she couldn’t get a car seat that I was willing to drive him anywhere she needed him to go. 

She again tried to convince me that she could just take him in that seat.

I finally went inside, got my laptop and pulled up the LAW on the CPS website and took it out to show her.  I told her it was on her own website that the law clearly states “NEVER turn forward-facing before 1 year old AND 20-22 pounds”.

Her response?  Ready? 

She says, “So it DOES say 20 lbs!”.

Are you kidding me??

See the word AND? In all CAPS? And BOLD? It’s there for a reason.

I went back inside again.  I closed the door.

After several minutes, she came to tell me that a co-worker was going to meet her and switch car seats with her.  She was trying to convince me that she could put this BABY in this car seat because she wasn’t going very far and would switch car seats.  I didn’t trust that any further than I could throw her, so I told her I would keep him there with me while she went to change car seats and she could come back and get him whenever she was ready.

 

These are the people that are supposed to keep the kids safe?? They remove kids from dangerous situations and then show such blatant disregard for their personal safety.

 

My venting isn’t over.  I know, you were hopeful!  Just one more story.

In the midst of the car seat issue – before and after – we were dealing with this:

I had TONS of stuff packed up for him to take with him to his new foster home.  Packages of diapers, containers of wipes, several grocery bags of baby food & formula.  A huge box of clothes, another bag of too-big clothes.  A large storage container of toys, a bathtub, a stroller, a pack n play, etc.

She didn’t want to take it.  She kept saying “He probably doesn’t need this”.  “The new foster parents probably have all this”.

Not because she really believed those things, but because she didn’t want to carry it out and put it in her car.

LAZY.

Now, let me tell you something.  I’ve had 5 other foster kids brought into my home and every one of them came in with nothing more than the pajamas they were wearing.  I was not about to send this child without HIS stuff.  These were HIS belongings.  And trust me, the new foster parents would be THRILLED to get his stuff!!! Things he was used to, clothes that fit, diapers that were paid for – why wouldn’t they want it?

But she didn’t want to bother putting it in her car.  Lazy woman.  She kept saying things like “I don’t think that will fit”, and “Are you sure he needs all that?”.

So, with a crying baby on my hip the ENTIRE time (because I assume he could feel the stress and wouldn’t let me put him down), I (and my 6 year old daughter) carried every box, every bag out to her car and loaded it in the car for her.  The CPS worker carried out 2 bags – the diaper bag and one small grocery bag.  Then tried to convince me it wouldn’t all fit in her car. 

It did.

Oh, to give credit, she did put the stroller in her trunk.  Because I could fold it up with one hand, but I couldn’t swing it up into her trunk with one hand without damaging her car, so I had to stand there with her staring at me and I said “You’ll have to pick that up, I can’t do it while holding him”.

So, so irritating!

 

I know there must be caseworkers out there that care.  There just must, must, must be!!  I have to believe that.  I know they are OVERworked and UNDERpaid and UNDERappreciated.  But, these are also CHILDREN we are dealing with.  They need care, love, nurturing.

Every time I have a run-in like this, I want to just walk away from foster parenting just so I don’t have to deal with CPS and issues like this.  But I can’t.  I can’t walk away from the children.

So I will continue.

Reflecting on Little Bear – 2 weeks later

Tomorrow will be 2 weeks since Little Bear left our home.  2 weeks since I’ve heard his sweet laugh or seen his sweet smile.  I miss him terribly.  The crib is still set up in his old room and I find myself avoiding going in that room unless I have to.  Sometimes I find my mind starting to drift toward thinking about him and I force myself to think about something else, afraid to really dwell on it, lest I fall apart.  Yesterday I did just that.  I was alone in the car and listening to Christmas music.  The DJ had asked people to call in with their Christmas wishes.  One lady called in and was hoping to be able to adopt their 3 foster children.  That did it.  I wept…and wept…and wept.  I told God I was sad and that I wanted that little boy to be ours.  I wanted to raise him, to take care of him, to love him forever.  At least I get to do the loving him forever part.

Some days I think I’m moving on and at peace with it.  That I’m truly trusting that God will take care of that little boy and that God’s plan is better than my own.  The truth is, I’m not there yet.  I’m not ready to face the grief. I just can’t let myself go there.  If I avoid thinking about it the I won’t be sad.  Sure, in my head, I know God has him in His sights.  I know God made him and has a plan for him.  I know all that LOGICALLY.  But my heart doesn’t want to hear that just let.  Sometimes “God has a plan for everything”, is not as comforting as we’d like it to be.

It also stinks because so few people understand.  I don’t mean to sound like I’m fishing for comments, because I’m not.  I don’t need pity.  But it is hard going through this mostly alone.  Hubby gets it, but we don’t really have time to talk about it and he didn’t get to be here when Little Bear left.  I have a couple friends that are foster parents that get it.  I have a close circle of amazing friends that get it as much as they can because we communicate daily in spite of being spread out around the country(ies).   But most people, it seems, just don’t know what to say….so they don’t say anything.  It’s like he died and no one is talking about him.  Like he never existed.  I’ve been on the other side – I’ve known foster parents that had kids moved out of their homes.  I’ve known people that lost a child to death.  I’m afraid I was guilty of doing the same thing.  Of thinking it would be easier on the person if I didn’t bring it up at all when I didn’t know what to say.

But it’s not.  And I pray I never make that mistake with someone else again.  You don’t have to know what to say.  Just saying something helps.

I WANT to talk about him.  I want to remember him.  I’m scared to, and I don’t know if it’s the right thing to do or not, but I don’t want to forget.

Some members of my own family haven’t even asked about him, or how I’m doing since he was taken away.  That hurts.  BAD.  My in-laws have been awesome though, so that helps a lot.  I’ve also heard some people say that they guess it’s not that hard because we “knew what we were getting into” or we’ve “done this before”, as if that somehow that keeps the pain away.  If you had warning that your child was going to die, would that make it easier when it happened?

I did have a friend come up to me at church Sunday.  She took care of Little Bear in the nursery each week while I was at Bible study.  She gave me a hug and told me how much they missed him.  Words can’t express how much that meant to me.  To know someone was thinking about him and he wasn’t forgotten.

I’ll never forget.  Ever.

I am trusting God, and I have deep faith that God is in control of all of this.  I really do.  I’m not over it, but each and every day I am trying to surrender it all to my Savior! I am drawing closer to HIM thought this and for that, even if it means I hurt, I am thankful.  I am thankful that He is there for me, and He understands when no one else does.  He gets it.  He gets me.

Jesus loves me this I know.  For the Bible tells me so.  Little ones to Him belong. They are weak, but HE is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me. The Bible tells me so.

He gives and takes away

“The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.” ~ Job 1:21

Our sweet Little Bear left us last Thursday.  It was time.  CPS made it abundantly clear that he was not going to be available for adoption anytime in the foreseeable future.  We are moving in just a couple months, so he needs to transition to a new foster family that can keep him as long as possible.  Unfortunately, like anything else with the system, there is a lot of red tape to go through.  What to us seems like a simple solution is turning out to be not so simple.  For now, Little Bear went to stay with a family that is interested in fostering him as long as he needs.

There is so much more to it, and I doubt you care about all the details, but just pray that God’s will be done and that Little Bear goes to the home and the family where he is supposed to go.  We know with great certainty that we were not meant to be his forever family. We will miss him like crazy and love him forever, but we turn him over to God and trust that He who watches over us is also watching over Little Bear.

The day he left, my heart was breaking.  As I watched him drive off in someone else’s car, a little piece of my heart went with him.  I knew he was in good hands, but he was out of my control and that was scary.  I had let myself hope and even believe that he would be with us forever. You have to in a way, in order to love them completely. But it does make it harder when they leave.  When you finally realize that your child is going away forever.   But I think I’m finally out of tears.  I’ve wept so much that I ran dry, and I realize that the more I truly trust God to take care of him, the more comfortable I feel.  When I start thinking that I’m the only one in charge of his life, that’s when I get the most scared.  God is good! He formed this little life with His hands.  He knew before this baby was even conceived what the plan was for his life.  God knows the number of hairs on his head.  Little Bear is not alone, he is in the palm of his Creator.

God gave us so many blessings by putting Little Bear in our life.  I’ve grown so much and learned so much through this.  I got to cuddle a newborn.  I got to watch a baby learn to sit up and roll over.  I learned and felt compassion for the woman that gave him birth.  That chose to give him life.  For all birth mothers too.  I was able to get a glimpse into their lives and some of the pain and the choices they go through.  I’ve prayed a lot for compassion, and God answered that prayer in a huge way as I was so involved with the birth mom in this case.  I saw Lovebug as a big sister and helper for a helpless baby that couldn’t even return the favor by playing with her.  As he got bigger, I saw the way Little Bear lit up when his big sister walked in the room because he knew she loved him, and he loved her.  That is a gift and a memory that will never fade.

Lovebug, as she always is, was so matter of fact about it all.  She said her goodbye and then was ready to move on.  So, after he left, I took her out to run errands and play.  It helped distract me from the sadness, allowed me to just focus on her, and kept my sadness from messing up her day.  We enjoyed the day together and then we worked together to load up the car so we could leave the next morning to go see Daddy!

We aren’t done helping kids.  We don’t know yet when or where or who, but we know that when God is ready He will show us the next step in this area.  For now, the next step is preparing for our big move!

The Middle Mom

Soon someone else will become the new foster parents of our Little Bear.  This little boy that we’ve raised for all of his almost-9 months will soon be a blessing to another family.  He was never meant to stay with us, even though I let myself believe otherwise for so long.  God has a bigger plan in mind.  I have learned so much through this time.

I wish I could know the new family because I want to be able to hear about how LB is doing.  To know he’s ok.  At the same time, I want to walk away once he leaves us and never look back because it hurts too much.  It hurts to know that after a couple months away from us he won’t have any idea who we are.

All I could think about last night was….”Is this how a birth parent feels when they give up their child?”

Is this how LB’s mom felt that day I sat on her sofa and told her that we would be willing to give him a home while she worked to get him back?  She didn’t want him to go at all, but if he did go, she wanted to pick where he went.  She wanted him with us because she had met me before and we had mutual friends so she knew he’d be safe.  She wanted to love him and raise him herself, but she couldn’t.  While he was away from her she wanted pictures, updates, information and visits with him.  She wanted to know him as much as she could.

I don’t want LB to leave us, I wanted to be his forever mommy.  But since he has to I want him to be with someone that will take good care of him.  As much as I like to think that all foster parents are good, I know they aren’t.

Maybe part of God’s plan all along was for me to get a glimpse into the feelings of a birth mom.  To better understand them, and be able to be truly compassionate for them.  Sure, there are some that give up their children because they don’t care at all.  However, there are SO SO many that give up their children because they love them and want a better life for them.  So many lose the chance to be a good mom because of a bad choice they made.  It doesn’t mean they don’t love their children.  It doesn’t make them a bad person.  God made them and loves them just as much as He loves me.

I just finished reading a book called “The Middle Mom”.  It’s written by a foster mom about how our role as a foster parent is so often just that of the middle mom.  We are in between the birth mom and the adoptive parents.  Sometimes the children are with us for a few days, sometimes several months, and occasionally years before they go to their forever home.  We love them every day as though they are going to be with us forever.  We have to so we can bond with them and give them the love they so desperately need.  All the while, we prepare our heart trying to protect it from the pain that will come when they leave our home.

It is only by God’s grace that I can let go of these children.  People ask me all the time, “How can you give them up?”.  Truth is, I can’t.  But God gives me the strength to put these children back in His hands and trust Him completely with their lives.  He has a plan for each of them, and I’m so thankful for the time they’ve spent in my life.  For all the blessings they’ve brought to my life, and all the ways God has used them to make me a better person.

He knows your name!

stars

A couple nights ago, I wrote this:

Tonight I have peace. God’s peace. I’ve spent the last hour looking through pictures of our previous foster kids. Of the day they arrived in our home. Seeing them grow and learn. A video of a 2.5 year old completing her first puzzle and saying “Mommy I did it!”. Pictures of our current precious baby boy the day he came home from the hospital with us. Seeing him grow, sitting up, rolling over, eating food. Then, I saw a picture of the birth mom of our first girls at the hospital when we took one of them for heart surgery. I remember how scared she was with her daughter’s upcoming surgery. How much she loved those girls.  Then I think about Little Bear’s mom and how much she loves him. How scared she is right now.

This foster care ministry is so much bigger than I am. This goes way beyond me. It’s for “the least of these”.

"The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” ~ Matthew 25:40

Tonight, I stepped outside into the cool, night air and glanced up. I saw an amazing sight. A sky so full of stars that I couldn’t count them. That’s unusual in our backyard. City lights often make it almost impossible to see the stars. Tonight, I was reminded of God telling Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. I realize that I have the opportunity to touch so many lives by being a foster mom. Some for a moment, some for a while, and some forever. Those lives will touch other lives.

God’s giving me a sign. A peace. Just like He did when our first 2 little girls left. Only this was a different sign than the one I received before.  Unique, just like each of these kids.  He made the stars and he knows them by name. By NAME! Can you imagine knowing the names of each and every star without having to look them up? I think about my grandmother and how she used to go through every name in our family just trying to call us by the right name sometimes and there weren’t that many of us. Our Father knows each and every one of us by name.

God made Little Bear and knows him by name, so I can trust that He will take care of him. He knows where this baby is going, and He’s prepared a place for him.

God doesn’t lead you anywhere He hasn’t already been

I gave Hubby a card recently that said that.  I thought it was perfect for this new Army adventure we are going on.  We are in the last 90 days before we will be moving, but we don’t know yet where we are going.

The same applies to our foster baby.  God knows his future, even though we can’t see it.  I came out of court Friday knowing that this little boy that we’ve raised since he was 7 days old was not going to be ours forever.  It’s time to let him go.  The bio-mom now has a chance to come up with someone that she would like to care for Little Bear and pass that on to CPS.  As long as they can pass all the checks and are willing & able, then the mom can pretty much pick where he goes.   If she doesn’t give them anyone that she approves of, then he will go into a random foster home.

That afternoon I met with a dear friend of mine.  She gave me the information about a couple that she has been friends with for years that is just finishing getting licensed as foster parents.  She had talked to them and they were open and very willing to care for Little Bear.  They would be awesome for this, really.  This would be a great, safe, Christian home for him.

So I passed on the info to the bio-mom.  But she’s scared.  Scared of the unknown.  She doesn’t know these people.  She knows me.  She knows we love him and care for him and she’s comfortable with that.  So she starts talking about just relinquishing her rights and just letting us adopt him. Because we’ve always been there for him.  Because we know him.  Because she knows us.  Because it’s comfortable. Another giant hill on the emotional roller coaster.  My heart wants that so badly.  “Yes!”, I thought, “Just let us keep him!”.  But she wasn’t sure.  She couldn’t come to peace with the decision.  The main reason she was seeking that path was because she was afraid to go down the path of the unknown.  But God has already been where she hasn’t, and He will equip her for this.  I can’t let her make this choice just because she’s scared.  That’s not trusting God completely.  We have to give Him room to work.

As easy as I think it would be for me to talk her into it, I just can’t.  I really feel in my heart that it’s time for us to move on.  I think that she’s not done fighting yet and that she would regret making this rash choice.  It’s not something you rush into.  Also, if God intends for this little boy to be ours, then timelines and deadlines will not get in His way.  I feel like the enemy keeps dangling a carrot in front of my nose, but it’s time to stop chasing the carrot.  There is a new adventure for Little Bear to go on now.  It’s new, but it’s not unfamiliar to God.