Friday, October 8

Some Pictures

This little girl has started climbing ALL over the place. Three weeks ago, she couldn't pull herself up on to anything, and in the last 10 days she has started pulling herself up on to our new couches, our bed (once) and the kitchen chairs. She has also figured out how to move the chairs so that she can pull herself up to get a better view of what's on the table. So now NOTHING is safe to leave on the top of the table anymore! She is such a smart little monkey!
I was cleaning the kitchen while our little monkey was playing with her fairly new Mrs. Potato Head in focused silence. She came in to see me, and when I walked her back in to the family room, I found the toy as pictured above. I couldn't resist taking a fun picture and laughing! Silly monkey!

On a side note, I have tried to keep with my commitment to blog on more of a regular basis, but blogger has been making it a little difficult. If I try to post more than 3 pictures, it won't let me do it! So until blogger has an attitude adjustment, I will have to try to get caught up some time soon...hopefully!

Friday, October 1

Miracles and the Most Tender of Mercies

God in Heaven works some mighty miracles. As I sit here, I am feeling humbled, overwhelmed at His works in our lives. I have witnessed miracles in people's lives. I have cried with them at the joy of their situations and blessings. I have read of the mighty and powerful miracles in the scriptures. But now it has become my turn to experience one of those miracles. This last Wednesday we attended a critical court hearing in our foster daughter's case. Her parents willingly relinquished their parental rights in order for us to adopt her. We are not going to be only "foster" parents, but we are going to be REAL parents when we adopt her in the middle of December. I'm in awe at the very idea. There are not words to describe how I have felt these past couple of days. Two words keep floating around both in my heart and my mind: MIRACLE & GRATITUDE.

For those of you not familiar with our story over the past several months, I will try to keep things brief, but informational.

As many of you know, we had to think long and hard when it came to deciding to be foster parents again. I guess you could compare it to touching a hot stove and getting seriously burned. You're never in too much of a hurry to want to do the same thing again especially when it comes to the pain and heartache that are very REAL when it comes to foster care.

Earlier in the year, there occurred a turn of events that put us back on the foster care road of emotions running high, stress, worrying, falling in love, joy, and everything else you experience when doing foster care. So when we called our Resource Family Consultant (RFC- meaning the person who gets wind there's a child in need of a home and calls to ask if you'll take him or her) and said we were ready to bring children into our home once again, she was thrilled. (I don't know why, because we are a couple of nuts ourselves, but I digress...get used to it!) But we had some requirements this time. Our stipulations at that time were that we only wanted one child, it had to be under the age of 1 year old, and that we were open to any race or ethnicity. We were told that it was fine to have those conditions, but that we would probably be waiting quite a long time due to the fact that most foster care homes want the younger children, the babies. We were also told that we would wait due also to the fact that most of the time little ones come in groups of two or more. So we accepted our fate due to our self-imposed conditions and decided to sit back and wait..............for 3 weeks! Our RFC called and there was a little girl in need of a home. She explained the weary conditions from which she would have come from, and decided to let us think about it. Brandon and I knelt down and prayed that evening praying hard we weren't signing ourselves up for more heartache, and instantly felt this was the right thing to do.

A day or two later, we drove over to the DCFS office here in Ogden, and for the first time we met and laid our eyes on this tiny, gorgeous, red-haired, blue eyed, long eyelashed baby girl. On the day we got her, she was just 4 days shy of being 11 months old. The day was March 4th.

We walked into a room where she sat in the arm of her great-grandmother. She peered up at us and studied us intently. I got chills from head to toe. Little did I know at the time, but I was meeting my daughter for the first time. It was explained to us when her twice-a-week visits were going to happen, who her pediatrician was, what formula she was on, and which of the baby foods she favored at the time. It felt a little overwhelming, and we were a little nervous, but it felt good. During this brief meeting, she sat in Brandon's arms and studied him. It was a moment I will never forget.

So we brought her home and played with her, trying to get to know her. When she came to us, she was this little serious thing. She didn't often smile, it took some effort to make her laugh, and she was quiet. Her intelligence shined through her ability to study things around her. She was wearing 6 months size clothes, and a size 2 shoe. She weighed 14.5 pounds. (to this day she is still tiny, due to genetics!)

Over the next several months, we had her first birthday, she got 8 teeth (all within about 5 weeks!), started crawling more, learning sign language (her first sign was PUPPY), she learned her animal signs and sounds, developed a love for books, bath time, blankies, stuffed animals, cuddling, first words, walking, imitating our actions and words, smiling more, even laughing more. She is now climbing up on to things, nearly running, loves to be tickled, points to things, tells us she's hungry and what she is hungry for, tries to sing along with songs, exploring, loves blowing bubbles on the back porch, calls us "Mama, Mommy, Dada", etc. She is now about 18 pounds, wears a size 3 shoe, and is 27 inches tall!

During all of these developmental milestones, the case with her parents went up and down, left and right and everywhere in between (as did my stress levels and emotions). There were times when just the very thought of losing her felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest.

But always in the background of my mind and heart, was a feeling of peace. During the entire case, we prayed for the welfare of her parents, the case worker, etc. We learned to recognize the Lord's hand in the case. At one point during the case, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed with things that were happening, and I knelt down and prayed my heart out, expressing the desire for a miracle. I told God that I would honor Him, no matter what happened. If she was sent back to one of her parents I would honor Him...if she became ours, I would honor Him. I would be thankful for the experience/blessing of just knowing this baby girl, and seeing her grow. I promised that I would love her forever, no matter what. She had already taught me so much, I have been more patient with her than I have been in the past, I haven't freaked out over the small things like I did in the past, I haven't stressed as much as I did in the past, she taught me to love like I have never loved before, and in some ways, that was enough. If she was sent back for whatever reason, the residual blessings were something I was humbled by, and in awe of.

Then the last few weeks happened. We had what is known as a permanency hearing, where the State of Utah (DCFS) recommended to our judge that she remain with us and not be returned to the parents. This was not a done deal though. The parents decided to go for something known as mediation. The dates for mediation and another court hearing were scheduled. Then our sweet judge passed away, thus having our case transferred to a new judge, and new dates being set up, more waiting to be done. Then mediation happened. Then the court hearing happened, and the parents decided selflessly what was best for their daughter. They did a very brave thing, they signed her over to us to be adopted.

I'm going to pause here for a second. Now it no longer matters to me what these parents have done in the past, what decisions they have made, but I know what does matter to me. It matters to me, that in spite of the kinds of lives they lead, in spite of decisions they have made that I could never even being to understand the reasoning behind, in spite of some of the things I have witnessed from them, they stood in a court of law, and made a courageous, trusting, and selfless decision to give their daughter something they couldn't give. They loved her enough to do what they knew was best for her. Her biological father stood in court and told the judge "I have realized that this is no longer about me, it's about my daughter and what is best for her. I have gotten to know the foster parents a little better, and I trust them, I respect them. I know that loving her is not enough. This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

In my mind, if that saying or concept of doing a good deed, and in exchange having it erase a not so good deed is true. What these parents did in my eyes supersedes a thousand misdeeds.

The Lord performs miracles. He changes hearts. Not only did He change the hearts of these parents, but He has changed mine. So not only did He bestow what I consider to be a great and powerful miracle upon me, He has shown me a great deal of some of His truest and most tender of mercies. I will be eternally indebted to Him, and grateful.