Tag Archive: foster care


We have gone from zero to five children in less than two years through adopting from foster care and that has been amazing and crazy in equal measures. It has also resulted in a life of crisis management, where I basically live crisis to crisis as our kiddos work through some very difficult challenges. I rarely have time to think too hard about tomorrow, let alone process all the big emotions I feel during the foster to adopt journey. Last Christmas Eve we were blessed to be able to adopt our first little one, who is now our middle child at 21 months old. We are now preparing to finalize the adoptions of three of our other children next month.

I recently went to complete all the entrance paperwork for our oldest child to start full time pre-school in the fall. The meeting started off as expected, lots of mind numbing repetition of “sign here”, “initial here and sign here”.  The school employee then nonchalantly told me that parent-teacher conferences happen three times a year. I felt like someone had suddenly plunged me into cold water- taking me out of the repetition and crisis management mode to give me a glimpse of the enormity of what is happening. Three times during this next year there will be parent-teacher conferences and I will be attending them as the parent. Wow. We really are becoming his forever parents- no prefix just his parents. It was not a foster parent-teacher conference but a parent-teacher conference. Suddenly the paperwork I was breezing through mindlessly took on new meaning.

We have felt they were all our children from the moment we met them but to know that soon they will be our children forever, legally, is huge. You would think that all the diaper changes, behavior talks, monster in the corner checks, snacks and cups made, boogers wiped and accomplishments cheered would make the parent word stick. Apparently it hasn’t sunk in yet. Thankfully, I have these glimpses that show me how much it hasn’t all sunk in and I can laugh at myself for being thrown by such simple phrase as “parent-teacher conference”. 

Years ago I worried we would never be parents. I was terrified of never getting the chance to see my husband tickling a squirming boy laughing and yelling “Daddy you’re getting me”. I thought I would never have small hands reaching up and eyes alight with cries of “Mama” as I entered a room. I prayed I would experience those things and part of me always felt sure I would but fear is sneaky. Fear will worm in to all of your hopes and dreams if you let it. 

We have one child’s case still up in the air and if these glimpses have taught me anything it is to not doubt the promises of The Lord. All things will work together for our good and the good of our children. I hope to soon to able to say we are preparing for our final adoption but I know if things turn out differently and our youngest leaves our home that as painful as that will be, Heavenly Father will have a plan for greater things for him and for us all. I am not letting fear worm into my hopes and prayers for an amazing future for any of our children, including the ones who don’t share our last name yet and I am reminding myself that I am for real and forever a parent now. Wow. Still seems too good to be true. 

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Dreams of Insanity

I remember the day I told my husband that I wanted eight children, we had just started dating and he looked panicked at the mere thought. He was quick to tell me he thought one, maybe two children was plenty. I knew having children biologically was going to be a challenge for me so I did not give our different numbers too much thought. Fast forward six years and here we are awaiting the birth of our fifth child, another boy. We now have three boys and a girl; ages three, two, seventeen months and one year. Our birth mom is cooking our new little boy and he should be welcomed into our home and the world this April.

Six years ago when I envisioned eight children I can honestly say I had no clue what that life would look like. For example, it was a hard adjustment for me when I realized I would be driving a cargo van for most of my life now. I did not realize how many everyday task like washing dishes or planning dinner would change with so many children. I did not realize how having such a large family immediately sets one apart from the majority of America, where three children seems like a lot. I did not realize how little I would sleep or how rare a moment alone with my husband would become. I did not realize that doctor and therapy appointments would rule every week’s schedule. Most of all I did not realize how full my heart could be.

Our large family has some unique qualities due to the fashion in which it was stitched together. All of our children have joined our family through the miracle and tragedy of adoption through the Foster Care System. This has meant that two years ago we had zero children in our home. Let that thought sink in, in two years we went from zero to five. I read an article once, that I cannot find to reference unfortunately, that stated that parents need roughly a year to adjust to adding a child to their family. I am wondering how long it takes then for a family to adjust to the addition of five miracles at almost the same time? Another unique challenge for our family is that ALL five of our children have experienced loss, trauma and have higher needs than their peers.

We are slowly finding our way as parents to so many beautiful souls. The biggest lessons we have learned so far are; to embrace the insanity because there is beauty in that insanity and to remember we are learning how our family works right along with our children. We all need grace, love and hugs when hard days come.

God’s Plans Amaze

 I have not had a moment to spare lately to update everyone following our journey. Here is a warning ahead of time: hang on to your hats (it has been a crazy ride) and grab some tissues (it has been miraculous and beautiful). As I write this I am listening to my beautiful and miraculous nine week old son cooing in his bassinet as he takes a nap. If you had to stop and reread the last sentence a few times to be sure it was real you have a rough idea how surprised we are that this is actually happening. To ease understanding while we fill everyone in here are some notes ahead of time; we cannot and will not be releasing our son’s name so for now he will be known as Miracle Man, his case is a legal risk fost-to-adopt case, he was our first placement, our agency almost never has infants.

Last I updated the blogosphere about our progress in the fost-to-adopt process we were waiting to finally have our safety check complete so we could begin the matching process. Getting licensed was an unexpected ordeal with many pitfalls, false starts and errors along the way. I now know why each one happened and by the end of this tale you will as well. As our Friday appointment approached to finalize our certification as a foster care and adoption home we were so nervous that yet another issue would crop up and disturb the process. For this reason we were trying hard not to get our hopes up about having children in the house anytime this year even. The day before our safety check my friend and neighbor calls to tell me that her five year old daughter came downstairs that morning with interesting news to report about our certification. Addy informed her Mom that the night before she had prayed that our safety check would go well and after her prayers she talked to Santa (she apparently has direct contact with Santa) and he informed her that because we had our Christmas Tree up and we had been good that we “for sure” were getting a kid by Christmas. The sweet innocence of this statement lifted our hearts but we informed Addy that you never know when it could happen but we hoped Santa was right. We did not think Santa was telling Addy the truth but it did not prevent it from being a cute tale.  The big day arrived and everything (for once) went smoothly, we were certified and we could begin the matching process. We jumped into matching with both feet. The first week and a half after we were certified we were following up on potential matches and getting calls about new possible matches multiple times a day, every day. We knew there were a lot of children in the foster care system looking for forever homes, however we did not fully grasp how many there really are until we began the matching process. It was overwhelming at the beginning to be discussing so many possible options but we were trusting God to lead us to the right child(ren). With all these possibilities nothing was really moving forward with any speed and we still thought it would be months before our house had little souls within its walls.

It was at this time that our lives took off in an entirely new direction. Our Case Worker told me that when she did our safety check it broke her heart to see the crib in our bedroom because she was fairly certain she would never be able to match us with a little one to go in that crib. Then a week and a half after our certification she was in her office working on another family profile when she felt the need to stop and go for a walk around the office to stretch her legs and clear her mind. On her travels she passed the desk of the Placement Specialist at our agency who was on the phone doing the intake process to place a child into foster care. Something about the call caught our Case Worker’s attention and she went to stand in the doorway to hear what was needed. The Placement Specialist waved her over and told her the situation. They were getting a six week old infant who had been born ten weeks early and was currently in NICU. Our Case Worker said as soon as she heard this part she knew he was meant for us, they instantly suggested us to County (during the intake call) and we were chosen for Miracle Man before his intake was even completed. Had she not decided to go for a walk who knows how things would have played out in this case, we may never have even made it to consideration for his case since we were so newly certified. The court hearing to make it official was two days later and that night Tyler and I were finally able to go to NICU and meet our little miracle.

The moment I laid eyes on Miracle Man I knew he belonged with us and he had found his way home. The next week was a long haul as we were basically living in NICU watching our little guy get stronger by the moment. Out of sheer curiosity Tyler and I decided to look back and see if we could figure out what we were doing while our Miracle Man was being born. As soon as we did this God’s hand in this match was undeniable to anyone involved in our case. Miracle Man was born on the morning of October 7th, literally one minute before he was born we received the call that our background checks had been miscoded and that our certification would be delayed. I was in tears when I saw the hand of God holding us off to ensure we were available to welcome our son home. As always, though we often forget, God’s plans trumps our plans every time.

Now to get to the bragging about our perfect little Miracle Man.  He has a beautiful buttercream complexion, strawberry blonde hair and deep blue eyes. As I stated he was born ten weeks premature and he was only 3lbs. 4oz. when he was born. Due to how much he had to fight to stay alive those first days his weight dropped down to a little over 2lbs. Due to his prematurity he was born severely anemic, with a hole in his heart and pretty significant RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome). Most, if not all of, these issue are things that will improve with time. By the time we left NICU he was up to 6lbs. 6oz., his anemia was improving, the hole in his heart had closed (although he still has a murmur), he was down to only ¼ liter of oxygen needed and he had gone five days with no serious incidents of Apnea (where he forgets to breath) or Bradycardia (his heart rate dropping way too low).  He came home still on his oxygen and an Apnea monitor that alarms if he stops breathing or if his heart rate goes too low or high. He has been doing amazingly well at home, he has few alarms and often is able to self-correct and begin breathing on his own. We are still in for a long road with doctors, therapies, case workers and early intervention services but we are sure he will continue to get stronger. He is surprising everyone with his strength and ability to improve by leaps and bounds.

As for the legal risks involved with his case, that has fewer clear cut answers and plans. Miracle Man has five other siblings out in the world, none of whom his biological parents were able to retain custody of or parental rights.  Given the biological parent’s long and storied history with the county the case worker wanted to ensure she found a placement for Miracle Man that could work as an adoption resource (where we are headed). Nothing is for sure until we go through the process but every case worker involved in this case is very confident that this will quickly begin moving in the direction of Adoption. We knew he was ours from day one and while we know there are no guarantees that is no different than parenting any other way. We are never promised a tomorrow with our children and all any of us can do is love them every day we are given with them. We are looking at a long process of 15-22 months before any adoption would be complete. It is a beautiful and tragic miracle that we are able to welcome him into our family and we are thankful for his biological parents and their love for him. They are just not equipped to care for him as he needs. This little Miracle Man has a lot of love in his life.

Well, now that we are all on the same page with our newest fost-to-adopt adventure I am going to put this laptop down so I can return to my favorite activity, snuggling with our Miracle Man and watching him grow and thrive. God bless you all.

Changing Our Perspective

Expectations not being met; that is the main source of frustration we feel going through most experiences in life. The tricky part is we sometimes do not consciously know what we are expecting until it does not happen. Unmet expectations have been the main source of the pain and frustration we have felt during our certification process to allow us to adopt through the foster care system. Some of those expectations originate with us and our desire to be parents. Some of those expectations were set by the information provided to us by different representatives of the agency we are working with to complete our certification. Not to minimize the many errors that have occurred during our process; lost paperwork, mis-coded background checks, delays, etc. however; most of our pain is rooted in expecting things to move smoother and faster than they have. We have been working through our frustrations and trying to view this situation from the right perspective so we can appreciate what is happening. It has not been easy, when you have expectations deeply engrained in your mind it can be hard to let those things go. Letting your expectations go is key to being able to approach the reality of a situation and find the good within what you initially see as only bad.

Our case worker (with good intentions) has repeatedly been giving us unrealistic expectations only to let us down when reality came crashing down and she was not able to deliver what she promised us. This has happened so many times it left us angry, hurt and wanting to lash out and fix the problem. I have been very conscious of not wanting to make a decision out of that anger and because of that we decided to explore our options but hold off on any permanent decisions. It was easy to say we just need to change agencies and that would solve everything. That may solve some problems but it would undoubtedly bring new problems into the mix. No matter how you approach something as complex as adoption you will be relying on other people to get through the process and those people are just like we are; they are wonderfully and humanly flawed. Therefore mistakes are going to happen and you are going to be let down. That is the nature of the world and nothing worth going after will come without some scars. We did our research though and we spoke to other agencies and other foster families. The biggest difference we found was that it appears that our agency focuses more on waiting to place children in our home because their goal is more geared towards adoption while other agencies are more focused on getting children in the home immediately and worrying about adoption later. This is not to say that the different types of agencies do not do things on a case by case basis, this is a gross generalization to make the differences more apparent. With that knowledge we had to decide which direction to head in next. Stick with our agency and their approach or make a change?

The first step to making that decision was letting go of our anger and expectations long enough to make a clear headed decision. I was so excited for every step of this process and after all of the let downs I became numb to the situation. When we were told our certification could be completed this week I could not find my joy at the progress, it seemed to be missing. This was the hardest part for me. I felt like I had let the pain rob me of my hope and joy. I spent a lot of time yesterday praying and soul searching to find my joy again. Most importantly, I reminded myself I have zero control over how things are meant to work out. God has a plan and I need to remember that. I needed a new perspective of the situation in order to not lose myself to the pain of the process.  After we discussed it all we went back to the fact that everything happens for a reason and maybe these delays forcing us to be patient have happened to slow us down. Parenthood is our goal but it is a marathon and not a sprint. Perhaps the reasons have been for us to discover what makes our agency different and to truly take the time to ask ourselves which would be the better route for us. We have decided that for the time being we think that struggling through the wait to find a more permanent match is the best route. We want to be someone’s forever family and perhaps this is how we are meant to get there. We do not know what the future will hold or where God will lead us next. All we know is that both of us, despite the countless reasons to feel differently, feel that we should stay with our current agency and see where that leads us.

Our safety check is scheduled for Friday and there is a matching event on the 19th that we are planning on attending. We hope God leads us to our children soon but we have again found our joy and faith in the knowledge that He does had it all worked out. Someday He will lead us to them, when they need us and we are ready for them.

To say the journey towards parenthood has been a challenge for us would be putting it mildly. After all of the challenges we faced when we were completing fertility treatments, all the loses and all the close calls it seemed like the foster care to adopt process was so straight forward that things would finally go smoothly for us. Apparently to become parents we are meant to fight and crawl our way there. This week started with us waiting to hear from our case worker who was on vacation last week. We were waiting for her to finish our profile and then set up our final home safety check to open our home up as foster and adoption resource. While she was on vacation our out of state background clearances were processed. The two additional states (Michigan and West Virginia) processed our background checks and sent the State of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Works (DPW) the forms showing we both had no criminal record. DPW was in the process of training new employees who were tasked with coding our paperwork and sending it back to our agency. The forms were coded incorrectly and the State of Pennsylvania sent our agency an official letter stating we both had previously been charged with child abuse. Our agency then trusting the state knows what they are doing had to call and tell us that it appeared we had lied on our application and we would not be permitted to adopt. I instantly knew something had to be wrong but that did not prevent me from falling apart. To be told our dreams could never come true and that I would also probably lose any chance of working with children (my career goal) was the worst news I have ever gotten. I am so SO thankful that our case worker believed me when I told her that either of us having a record was impossible and that DPW must have made a mistake. The Case Worker’s job is to protect the children within the system and she would have been completely following procedure to assume I was lying to her and to leave us on our own to fix this disaster. I am so thankful she trusted me and trusted that she knew our hearts and that this was not possible. It took a painful two days to work it out but the Director of DPW personally got involved and fixed our records to reflect reality. Since we decided to pursue Adoption through Foster Care we have been overwhelmed with a feeling of peace and certainty that this is what we are meant to do with our lives. However, it has not been easy by any stretch. We have had paperwork get lost, changed case workers three times, had to correct mis-filed paperwork, multiple delays, injuries and now we had to endure being falsely accused of something awful all due to a trainee putting the wrong code on our paperwork. I really find it hard to put into words how painful this experience has been. In the 3 years, 4 months and 1 day since we officially decided we were ready to become parents we have been put through some intense challenges. I know that every single heart break has been worth it and will allow us to appreciate the miracle of our children more. I feel like I can finally breathe again now that this has been settled. Our case worker is now hoping to finish our profile in the next week. As soon as that step is done she can come out to the house to do our safety check and we will be open that day. I am just so thankful today that everything was fixed, our case worker is on our side and most importantly I am so thankful to have God walking us down this difficult path to making our dreams come true. 

Parenthood in 3, 2, 1……

When you have been dreaming of something for years it can seem crazy to have those dreams come true. We have dreamt of having a family for so long and come close so many times that it seems insane that it is actually happening.  Last week we had our final interview with our case worker at our Foster Care & Adoption Agency.  The interview went great and we really like our case worker. She is honest, open, and hardworking and she herself has adopted through the foster care system more than once. She said our openness will make us easy to place children with and that since she cannot always find people interested in sibling groups she will call us first with large families. 🙂 The only steps left to be completed are our family profile being fully written based on our answers during our interview and our final home safety check. Our case worker is out of town this week on a vacation but said she was taking our profile with her to finish at the beach.  As soon as she is finished writing our profile she will come out to do our safety check and get our sign off on the profile. That day we will officially be open as a foster/adoption resource family. WOWZA. So, if all goes as planned sometime in the next two weeks we will be open and welcoming little ones into our hearts and home.  With all of the delays and false starts I was starting to think it would never happen for us and suddenly it is right around the corner and moving fast. We are so excited and to be honest a bit nervous about the huge changes coming our way. Send us prayers as we navigate the waters of new parents. ❤

We all have our weaknesses, things we never seem to master or do well. Waiting patiently is something I am not sure I will ever master. In certain situations I have more patience than is reasonable, however those situations almost always involve me trying to keep the peace or a situation where my impatience will hurt someone else. When it comes to being patient with myself or with my own life, well now that is a whole other kettle of vegetables (the vegetarian version of a kettle of fish). I think I need to accomplish things instantly or I become frustrated with myself and when I feel ready for something new to happen in my life I want it to happen on my timeline. Oh what a silly human I am sometimes. I know and truly believe that everything happens in the right time for God’s grand plan and that His plans are always so much better than my own. I cannot seem to remember this fact when I am expected to wait for something though. I am never sure what to do while waiting. I just get antsy and that is a feeling I do not enjoy. I am currently very antsy because I am being forced to wait on a number of fronts.

“The Wait”; that is where we currently find ourselves in our family building journey. We have completed all of our paperwork (some of it more than once because it got lost) and now we have to wait for our final background checks before we can complete our interview and home study. After those steps are completed we are certified and our adoption/foster care can finally truly begin. Unfortunately we are a month in to the wait for our out of state background checks. In Pennsylvania if you have lived in any other state in the last five years you then need to do a background check for each of those states as well. The process for those background checks has a lot of steps.

  • Step 1: We fill out the forms
  • Step 2: The forms are checked by our agency
  • Step 3: The agency sends the forms to the state of PA
  • Step 4: PA sends the forms to the necessary states
  • Step 5: That state then begins the process of the background check
  • Step 6: Once the background check is complete the approval has to follow  the same path back  to our agency

That is a lot of people to trust not to lose the paperwork and a lot of bureaucratic hoops for one set of forms to jump through. The most frustrating part is that nothing can move forward with our adoption/foster care until this process is over and there is nothing we can do to speed it up. So the house is ready and the paperwork is done, we have made a family flyer and we are all ready to go. As soon as we are allowed to proceed we are ready to finalize our certification.

We are now experiencing the worst part of the adoption process “The Wait”, it is enough to drive a person crazy. When you are expecting a child naturally you know roughly when the child will arrive, how many children there will be and in this day and age most people even know the gender of the baby. Most importantly, you know the child will arrive as an infant. When adopting through foster care and leaving your options open you do not know when the child(ren) will arrive, how many children there will be, the age of the child(ren), or the gender of the child(ren). That leaves your mind with no way to mentally prepare for your new child(ren) to come into your heart and home.  Oh the variables. Our plan to survive the wait was to stay busy and prepare our home as much as possible. I deep cleaned, baby proofed and organized every room in our house and I prepared every kids room as much as possible until we know the age and or gender of the children that will be living in those rooms.

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The next step to surviving the wait was going to be painting all the rooms of our home. I do not like white walls and every room in our new home has white walls or old fashioned wallpaper. I was able to begin the painting and then there was apparently another plan in the works. In the middle of the fun wait period life threw us another curve ball just to keep things interesting.

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 I have been training to run The Color Run 5K in DC next month and I have been enjoying living in the mountains by hiking whenever possible. Last week while hiking I tripped over a rock and hurt my knee. The Urgent Care Doctor said I may have torn some cartilage in my knee and that it was probably badly sprained as well. He said I should see an Orthopedic Surgeon if it did not improve with rest while using the crutches. I have had knee surgery twice before (I am klutzy) and I know what various types of knee pain typically mean. My knee is not improving and it looks like I will need surgery to repair the damage. This may add another delay in our adoption, not to mention I am not a person who sits and rests well. I go see the Orthopedic on Tuesday and I am hoping we can resolve this as quickly as possible to inflict minimal disruption to our adoption process.

I am still trying to stay busy, as much as possible while unable to walk without crutches. I am also using this time to remind myself that God has a plan in mind and whenever our hoop jumping (or crutching) days are over we will welcome the most amazing little miracles into our family. In the meantime I guess I will sit here and wait as there are not many other options available. The quickest way to somewhere you want to be is to travel the path in front of you.  I guess I will just be traveling that path on crutches for a while. 

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We have all heard it: It takes a village. That is especially true when adopting or doing foster care. When we decided to adopt through foster care we were happy to start our training and to learn anything and everything we could to prepare us for this huge step. As we finish our paperwork, and prepare for the home study and final certification we cannot help but notice what for us is a big hole in the training process. We have been given countless resources to prepare us as a couple for the realities of adopting a child through foster care. To include the trauma the child has been through, emotions the child will be feeling, the adjustment period for us all and the experience of a child being with us for an undetermined amount of time and then returning to their birth family. After all of our preparation we feel as prepared as one can be until we actually have the experiences, experience is always the best teacher. However, there has been no mention in our training and little in our own research on how to prepare the close knit group of friends and family we have for the realities of foster care and our subsequent adoption. Yes we will be welcoming new miracles into our hearts and home, however these kiddos will have experienced things that many of us never have and they will therefore be approaching life differently than the children already in the family. So this raises the question how do you prepare your friends and family for the outbursts, the anger, the mistrust the child feels and the chance that once they all fall in love with your new addition the kiddo may return to their biological family? Here is how we have approached preparing our friends and family:

1.      Overly share all the information in your training and your own research. Anything that surprised us or made us re-think how we always imagined parenting we shared with those closest to us. This allows everyone to be on the same page and to know why we will be doing things differently than one might expect.

2.      Communication: Tell your loved ones your concerns, expectations and plans for coping with the losses. The more information everyone has the better.

3.      Remind your friends and family that although they may be hurt by a child leaving our home, the child returning to their family is great. When the next child comes into your home your new addition will need your family’s hearts to be open again. All of these kiddos deserve all the love we can give them for however long we have them.

4.      Suggest any informational books on the subject that you can. Most will not have the time to read them but there are many great resources for them to have on hand if they ever need them.

5. Surround yourself with people who have completed adoption or Foster Care before. Experts always help.

It really does take a village and in the case of foster care and adoption through foster care our village needs to be prepared for a slightly different road than traditional parenthood, grandparenthood, Aunt/Unlce-hood, cousinhood, etc. It is going to be different and amazing for sure. Let the adventure begin. 

Made For a Reason

I am a writer, not just for the blog, I am also in the process of writing a novel for young adults. As a writer I know how difficult it is to tie all these seemingly small events and decisions to the end path for a character. It can be hard to get a character from where they started to where they are meant to be, doing what they were written for all along. Knowing this small struggle makes me all the more amazed by how God molds us and guides us to finding our path, ensuring we are doing what we were made to do. Often, as humans with a limited view of any situation we are in, we cannot see the connections between events and the end result. Then one day an epiphany hits us and we finally know what we have been headed towards our entire life. I just had such an epiphany the other day and I finally feel as if I know what I was put on this earth to do.

Here are the twists my story has taken, all leading me to this moment:

Growing up all kids have a long list of careers in mind for when they “grow up”. The only thing I have ever consistently wanted to be as an adult was a Mom. I did not know how or when that would happen but I did know that at the end of my life I wanted my greatest accomplishments to be my children.

This next twist is not something I generally discuss because it is in the past and is not something I define my life by, however it has affected my outlook on abused children and therefore bears some importance to this topic. My parents did an amazing job raising and educating me about the possible dangers of the world. When I was ten years old an adult male began having inappropriate conversations with me, conversations that were clearly heading in a traditional sexual predator direction. This predator was very close to me and ensured we spent a lot of time together. In retrospect he had been working things towards his goal for a long time before starting to make his initial move with a conversation. I was raised with a lot of information about what to do in such a situation and I immediately told my parents what had occurred. The police were called, the offender was legal bared from contacting me or being in the same state and my parents ensured I received counseling to deal with any residual issues. This was the best possible outcome for such a situation and has left me with a desire to help anyone impacted by the pain and trauma of sexual abuse in all the various forms it can occur.

As a teenager an amazing person came into my life and changed it forever. That person was my beautiful baby cousin Abby. Abby was born with Trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome), a ventricular septal defect, pulmonary hypertension, swallowing dysfunction, GERD, hypothyroidism, and cerebral palsy. From the moment Abby was born my plans for my life shifted. Abby and I have always shared a very special bond and she opened my eyes to the magical world of children who have disabilities. This began my interest in working with children with disabilities, beginning a close to eight year trek of educating myself (on my own and through college work) about children with special needs of various types.

During my education about Special Education I completed a round of student teaching at a juvenile detention center school. I was not looking forward to this rotation when I heard about it, it seemed like it had no relationship to working with young children with developmental delays, which was my original goal. From the moment I met the first class in the detention center I was enthralled. These kids were such a challenge and so fun to work with. This was a whole new side of working with children with special needs. These student’s needs were wide spread, some were educational, some were physical but all of them had mental and emotional special needs. This spread my interest to children with less obvious special needs, the children who can be missed in the systems of our world and may not receive what they need to succeed in life.

Then comes the time in my life when my husband and I decide to build our family, which was not as easy as we had hoped. We then turned to adoption as a way to build our family. This was wonderful but never left me with a sense of peace. We continued to explore our options and then discovered the foster care/adoption process. The minute we decided to pursue this route to build our family I felt a wave of peace wash over me. We then began our training for the foster care system and began educating ourselves about the very unique needs of children within the foster care system.

I had this feeling I could not put my finger on; it has been building in me since our classes began. There was something going on and I had no idea what that something was. What could be going on exactly? The other day I was meeting a friend from church for coffee and I arrived early. I pulled out my latest book on parenting adopted children to pass the time while I waited. I was reading a chapter devoted to the special needs of older adopted children when I suddenly knew what this new feeling was and exactly what I was meant to do with my life.  The combination of purposes I have felt in life, it all finally fits to me. I am meant to be the mother I always wanted to be and to work with children who have unique or special needs. The amazing children in the foster care system have been through a lot in their short lives and will have completely different emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs than children who have never experienced such traumas. All the education I have been pursuing and the fields that have interested me will tie into the needs our children will have as we welcome them into our hearts, family and home.

Well done God, way to tie a million tiny moments together to lead me to this miraculous way of having my dreams come true. 😉 I am off to run down this path before me with a heart full and aware that this is truly what I was made for.

Our last day of our foster/adopt classes included a short video called  Multiple Transitions:  “A Young Child’s Point of View on Foster Care and Adoption”. The video was simply text on a blank screen, but it was so moving and eye opening. I have been unable to find the video online but I do have the text. Please read and consider the following:

I want to talk to you about what it feels like getting ready to be adopted, when you are a little kid who has already had about a hundred mothers.

 

When you can barely remember what your first mother smelled like.

 

When everyone spoke a different language in the place where you were born than in the place you are now.

 

When some of the people who took care of you were called “foster parents” and you didn’t know what that meant except something about they weren’t going to stick around.

 

When, in the process of being moved all over the place, you lost some of your brothers and your sisters and a particular pair of shoes that felt just right and your absolutely most favorite cuddly, and a certain place on the inside of your last crib where you used to scratch with your fingernail to help yourself go to sleep.

 

Kids like me, see, don’t have families of our own.

 

Because there’s something wrong about us. (I guess) Or because there aren’t enough to go around. Or something.

 

And I probably won’t get one, either.

 

Or if I do, will it be too late for me to believe that they love me, and are going to stay with me?

 

So I want to talk to you, Big People, about these things, even though I am not sure you are real interested.

 

Are you the same Big People who keep doing these things to me in the first place? (Please don’t get offended if I talk to all of you at once: caseworkers, foster parents, judges, adoptive parents. I just need to say how it all feels to me, and sometimes I can’t get the cast of characters straight.)

 

Some people say that my first parents shook me until my eyeballs got loosened up, or they left me alone, or they gave me away, or they just ran away.

 

I guess you think, because of that, I am supposed to not miss them? (Because if I did it would sure make me lots more cooperative with all the plans you keep making for me.)

 

Should I just say, “They did the best they could” so I am not so ticked off and lonely and worried all the time about what the Big People are going to do next?

 

The truth is, I can’t do any of these things: I can’t forget. (Even when my brain does, my body won’t.) I can’t stop myself from yearning (even though later I will get quite good at playing games about this).

 

I’m not saying I was some cherished treasure or anything in my family. But what were you thinking when you sent big men in uniforms to grab me out of my screaming father’s arms at eleven o’clock at night, scaring me to death? Or when you sent me to a foster home without telling them about the special ways I needed to be handled because I had never stayed anywhere long enough to get attached to anybody?

 

Or when you then took me from those people who were so disappointed in me after a few weeks that they said I would have to be “disrupted” (whatever that means).

So you sent me to a family with an older foster child who was mean to little kids because they were weak and small. And so he punched me a lot in secret. And pulled real hard on my penis in the middle of the night.

 

And when that family got rid of me, and the next, and the next, did you think I was going to take it all lying down? Did you think I was supposed to just be sweet and adorable and ready to connect to yet another family who were going to throw me away? (Could you have done that?)

 

After a while, I had just lost too many people that I might have cared about. I had been with too many “parents” who really weren’t, because they couldn’t hold me tightly in their hearts at all.

 

None of you got how I was being changed by all these losses, (in my heart and in my behavior).

 

After a while, I began to get some pretty bad ideas about how things work. And mostly those ideas said that I was, by that time, in deep doo-doo.

 

I wasn’t going to let anybody like me. Not even me.

 

And so, now, I won’t let you imagine even for a minute that I like you. That I need you, desperately. That I might ever grow to trust you. I am not, after all, a complete moron.

 

Are you ready to have me not believe you?

 

Are you ready for me to fight you for control?

 

Are you ready to hold me, and then hold me some more (when all the time I act like I don’t want you to at all?)

 

Are you ready to really stay with me, through a battle that might last almost my whole growing up? Are you willing to feel as powerless as I do?

 

What will you think when I say I don’t care a bit whether you go on vacation and leave me with Aunt Harriet, who I hardly know at all? Then, when you come back, are you ready to deal with me taking a dump in front of your bedroom door every single day for three whole weeks?

 

You see, it is like this, Big People: I’m not stupid. I was not blind. I do pay attention, because it matters lots to me.

 

And so when my first parents knocked me around or acted like I was invisible, or gave me to someone else to raise, or stood there screaming while you took me away from them, I noticed.

 

And when no one came to take their place, I noticed that too.

 

And when the orphanage didn’t last, and the first half-dozen foster families didn’t last, something started happening to me.

 

A little bit of my spirit started to die.

 

For some reason, then, I started pulling out my eyebrows. (I’m not sure what that has to do with my spirit dying.) I agree that it doesn’t make much sense for me to join in with all the other people that have hurt me, by hurting myself. But I do it anyway.

 

So I bite on my hand, or dig at my face, or make a real bad sore on the top of my head from scratching myself.

 

I pull out clumps of my hair, and so the kids at preschool laugh, and Big People have an odd look on their faces when they see me.

 

I masturbate a lot to comfort myself. (I even let a dog lick me down there.) They say that sometimes I try to touch other kids down there.

 

Sometimes I run into the arms of strangers, like I have known them forever, and like I don’t actually care anymore who I am safe with or not.

 

(Am I safe with anybody? Does it matter any more?)

 

Did I mention how much I am growing to hate smallness, and weakness and defenselessness? It’s getting so the only thing I know how to do is to just be as tough as I can, and to try to rub out smallness and weakness wherever I see them:

In the kittens that get hung by the clothesline in the backyard and squished with a tennis racquet.

 

In the babies in my recent foster homes who turned up scratched.

 

In my own Self, which I attack, particularly when I am feeling small or scared, and I need to beat myself into more toughness.

 

And as little parts of my spirit keep dying, will it surprise you that I’m not exactly going to be overjoyed when you finally say you have permanent parents for me? Do you honestly think I am going to say, “Oh, I get it. You were just kidding all those other times, but this time you really mean it”?

 

And, so, do you want to hear something funny? Just about the time I am ready to get what everybody thought I needed (parents who are actually never going to leave me) I’m going to get just a tad weird. I’m going to start banging my head more than I did before. I might start acting like a baby again and, even if I had gotten a little bit comfortable with my latest “parents” I’m going to go back to stiffening my body, and screaming at night, and doing everything I can to tell you that I don’t want you to love me.

 

I can’t stand all this talk about “permanence” and “adoption”.

 

I will make you sorry you ever thought about trying to get close to me. I will make you feel almost as helpless and small as I have usually felt.

 

So are you wondering what I need? Are you wondering what I would do about all of this if I had the power?

 

First of all, it would help a lot if you would start with one simple, clear commandment to yourself:

Never forget that I am watching. Never forget that every single thing you do matters immensely to me (even when I work like crazy to make you think that it does not). And I will remember.

You may be able to get away with treating me as if I am invisible for a while (perhaps long enough to “disrupt” me or move yourself to a different casework job). I was there, watching, I was having deep feelings about what was happening to me and I needed someone to act as if it mattered, hugely.

 

Second, don’t imagine that I will ever stop yearning for my birthfamily (even though, as in other things, I will pretend otherwise). Help me find some way to keep a connection with them, even if I never see them again. Bring out pictures, or a Life Book and hold me while I rage or sob or stare, or all of these at once. And understand that none of this is a reflection on you.

 

Don’t be surprised when I come back from a visit with them peeing my pants or throwing tantrums in the bath that night.

 

I told you: things matter to me. So I am going to have feelings about things that matter to me.

 

Third, it would help a lot if you would make the decisions that you need to make and stick with them.

 

Some days I think my mind is going to explode because I know something is going on in my life but I can’t tell what it is; later I’ll learn that there was a court hearing that day and everybody in my life was wrought up and then it was “continued” (whatever that means – except mostly that nothing is getting decided, and I still don’t have a family).

 

I don’t get to make the decisions. You do. So have the courage to make them. So that I can get a life.

 

Fourth, it would mean a lot to me if you would take good care of my foster family. They have their hands full. Sometimes they don’t know what to do with me. So make sure someone is there to answer their questions, to encourage them, to help them understand me better. You won’t like what will happen if I keep getting disrupted, and the only way I can think of to prevent that is to take extra good care of the people that are taking care of me.

 

So have I told you anything that you wanted to know? Have I helped you to understand how we feel – all of us kids who fell into the world of foster care and adoption?

 

I know it is a burden for you to think so carefully about me, and I know you might get a little nervous to realize that I am watching, and affected by all that you do.

 

But you won’t be sorry if you take me seriously. Someday, see, I will be Big People.