Thursday, January 2, 2014

Ramblings of a Foster mom...this is L-O-N-G!

I have been so behind on blogging, and honestly it's partly because I don't want to share too much on here, and partly because I don't even know where to start. We just had our 7th foster child go back home this past week and it doesn't get any easier saying goodbye. I decided I needed just to sit down and keep a little trail of all of our foster kids, because I still think and pray for them daily ALL of them and because they were/are part of our family.

Abigail- (May to present)Well we all know we got her in May, and hopefully I can share A LOT more very soon. I am keeping her under wraps for a little while longer :).

Boy N: (4 days)We got a phone call shortly after we were placed with Abbie asking us if we would do respite care for a little boy. His foster parents were going out of town for 4 days and they needed a home for him in the meantime. I was VERY nervous about taking a foster child. I know we were liscensed foster parents but we really only became foster parents because we wanted to adopt, and now that we had Abbie why foster? Well thankfully the Lord pushed us to say Yes! This little boy started it all for us. I picked him up from the office and he was extremly shy. The only reason he came to me was because I had a box full of goldfish, and apple juice. (I learned from then on to ALWAYS bring food, I have never had trouble picking up children because they are all hungry and will go to whoever will feed them!) He immediately stole my heart. He was the cutest blonde hair blue eyed boy and just had the cutest belly laugh. I fell head over heels for him and was dying to know his story. I literally saw our family complete with him and I wanted to keep him forever!

Sadly 4 days later I cried on the ride over to give him back and prayed for him. He smiled the whole time. As soon as I saw his foster family he held onto me tight and I did the same. You could tell he was VERY well taken care of and loved, just a little unsure of what was going on. I said goodbye, and from that day on my love/passion for fostering arose. A few weeks later I found out that N was actually going to be coming up for adoption and our worker had "us" in her mind for getting him if family didn't step forward. I was SO excited, we waited a few months, and then learned his grandparents came forward to adopt him. I was a little dissapointed but I had such a peace about it. I always love when kids can go home to family members, they deserve that. We never saw him again, but I think of him often and how he changed our hearts and minds about this crazy system.

Girl Y and Boy Z: (2 days)This story is just downright INSANE! We already had Abigail and were only approved for 1 more. I got a phone call around 7:00 PM asking us if we would take a 1 year old girl and 6 month boy. They were in desperate need for a house and the supervisor approved us for taking an extra. They were from a country I'm not naming because I don't want to die. (hint hint) Evidently the parents didn't realize that you can't leave your kids alone at home all day while you're gone. It's a cultural thing. Anywho...We said, why not? We're crazy and 4 kids ages 3,2,1, and 6 months sound completely logical. I was also keeping the twins so why not 6??

Well I picked them up from a Bojangles, and both kids were SCREAMING! Did I mention it was 11:30 PM by now? I asked the DSS worker what their names were and he said, "Honestly? I don't know, here are their passports and there are so many letters in their names I have no idea how to pronounce it." They were literally KhahaKihdmckdis IKdhdhd and KDhdhididi LKSIsks. NO LIE. So I was saying don't cry little girl, don't cry little boy, rocking them to sleep and trying to laugh instead of cry myself. Ya'll I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to! They were TERRIFIED of us, you could tell they were just completely out of their elements. Of course they knew nothing of the English language and we were some crazy people who took them from their parents. Thankfully I got a phone call that they had explained over and over to their parents not to leave them alone, and that they agreed they could go back to them the next day. I was so thankful!! We quickly added - must speak/know english to our list of specifications. Lesson learned!

C: (7 weeks)I got a call for a 3 year old boy, when we started this fostering journey I read/heard that it is VERY hard to take kids that are older than your oldest child. We both agreed we would only take 3 years old and younger. Well when we got this call we were told he had just turned 3. When I picked him up I learned he actually was almost 5. This boy had come from EXTREME abuse, you name it, it had happened to him. He was an emotional wreck understandably. He would put himself in time-out for accidental things, for example, he tripped and spilled a DROP of water he would run to time-out and tell me he was bad. He would CONSTANTLY say "I can't have that", "You don't feed me", "Are you going to hit me?" and on and on and on. It was the most emotionally exhausting 6 weeks of our lives. Hearing him tell us stories of things that happened to him took a big tole on us. In addition to all of this, Ryder and C did NOT get a long. It wasn't like fist fighting but it was just constant bickering and it got to a point where Ryder didn't want to sleep in his room. (They shared a room).

First and foremost our family comes first. We feel an extremely strong calling from God to foster and have stepped out in faith to do this. But we also are very aware of our boundaries and are learning as we go. After having C for almost 7 weeks, we had to re-group and set up new boundaries of what worked and what didn't for US.( I know everyone/family is different I'm not saying our way is the right way but this is what was best for us) We know that most children come VERY emotionally/physically hurt and every single one of our children have had issues, some bigger than others,but this age was just too much for us. We  figured out that we do better with younger children. To have to hear all of these stories were so draining, I can't even express the things this poor child went through. It was devestating. We also agreed not to take any more children that are older than Ryder.  This Fostering life is a work in progress. It is the most rewarding thing we have ever done and by far the hardest. And don't get me wrong we LOVED C and gave him all of the love we could. They even asked me if I believed he should go back to his parents and I told them absolutely not. I would have kept him as long as I needed to, to keep him safe. They chose to send him back and I never heard from him or his family again. 

Baby L: (8 weeks)It was a Tuesday, and I was sitting on the floor working with Abbie's therapist and got a phone call from DSS. It was for a 4 WEEK OLD BABY! I immediately said, "OH MY GOODNESS YES YES YES" and then held up the 4 fingers at Eric and he nodded that it was ok. She then told me he was still in the hospital. He was born 8 weeks premature and was only currently 4 pounds. He was on a heart monitor and we would need to come down to the hospital for 6 hours of training, and then to stay overnight. I told her I would work out the details and that we would definetly take him. I immediately got off the phone and started jumping up and down saying, "A baby! A baby! A baby!!!!". Eric stands up from the couch and says, "A baby???!!!" I said, "Uh yea, I held up 4, he's 4 weeks old". Eric's mouth hit the floor and he said, " I THOUGHT YOU MEANT 4 YEARS OLD!". After I had a good laugh and picked him up off the floor we started getting our house ready for a newborn. 

When we got to the hospital we were met by the hospital's social worker and they asked if we would be willing to meet the birthparents. At this point, we had no idea why this child was being taken into care. I should add we have had children whose parents have seriously injured people, abused children, neglected them, drug use, theft etc. We had never and really don't want to meet the parents. The only reason we would want to is of course adoption, or if it is a mild case. It is a safety issue for our family. If it is every necessary we will, or if it is in the best interest of the child and our family we would, but not knowing why we were even taking this child, that was off the table. We told the worker absolutely not and proceeded to continue training. A few minutes later the mom had called back and said, that her lawyer said she had the right to meet us. I immediately said and we have the right to say no. SO no. Feeling frustrated at this point and a little nervous with us being in the same hospital, I just gave Eric a look like OMG! Then of course the phone went off another minute later. This time she asked if we would just stand in the hall so she could "look" at us. UMMM NOOO! Listen, I get that I would want to know who my child/ren were going to, but the whole point of us saying no was because we didn't want them knowing who we were. 

When we walked downstairs after training to meet him and get set up for the night the nurses met us at the locked door and quickly ushered us in. They told us the parents were outside the door. They had told them to leave, but they wouldn't leave the lobby. We had to make up code-names to be called back so we wouldn't use their childs name. Shortly after I got settled Eric left to go get the kids and stay with them at home that night. Not long after he was gone, the security came into our room and said that they were nervous the father would run through the doors if they opened for someone else and go straight to the room we were in, so they moved us to a new room. Ya'll I was scared out of my MIND! I called my SIL Amanda and she came and stayed with me a few hours. Security was amazing and escorted us in and out while we came and went those 2 days. It was just straight up scary. They even had me go out an employee elevator and down through the parking garage while the baby was completely covered so they wouldn't know who had their child. 

Once we got home and got into the routine of having a newborn again (WITHOUT maternity leave!) I was just in heaven. I LOVED every minute with that sweet sweet baby. The kids were in heaven and I have never seen Ryder so helpful before. Abigail was such a sweet Mommy and helped me feed and dress him all the time. He went from 4 pounds 6 ounces to over 7 pounds in the 2 months we had him. I knew the grandparents were trying to get him and the day the grandma came to pick him up I was at peace. Of course I cried saying goodbye like I always do, but she was so sweet. She e-mailed me when they got home and said thanked us for everything we had done for him and she was so thankful he was with us. That made me so happy. In this line of work, you don't get many thank-you's. In fact I ended up eventually meeting baby L's mom because I was the only one trained on the heart monitor and so I had to sit in on a visitation with her. The whole time she just kept saying, "I'm going to get you back, I can't believe they would take you from me, you should be home with me." It would have been nice to hear thank you for taking care of my child and waking up every 3 hours to feed him in the middle of the night. It's sad that to most of these parents we are only a negative side effect to DSS. They only see us as having the child that (most) of them want. 

I still keep in touch with Baby L's grandma and he is doing amazing. They are fighting for custody of him and almost 4 months later he is 10 POUNDS! Its just so awesome when the kids you love and nurture go back to loving homes. 

LittleMan K:(7 weeks) Not even a week after baby L had gone, we got a phone call for a 2 year old boy. We told them we were sorry but we were going out of town that weekend to Nashville, TN for Thanksgiving and just wanted a little break. They reluctantly said ok. About 4 hours later I got a call, again asking if we would take him. They couldn't find a home and he was going to have to go to the local group home/orphanage.( I HATE when they say that! I HATE HATE HATE kids to have to go there)So, I said I was willing but I'd have to call Eric and see how he felt about it. I called Eric and he said, "UGH go get him". So I drove down to the office and picked up the cutest 2 year old boy EVER. He wouldn't talk and they told me he was really shy and didn't talk. Well by the end of the night we had him belly laughing and talking in SENTENCES! He was only 2, like JUST 2! I immediately fell in love (once again) with this little boy. He was so cute. Everynight when we would put him to bed, he would hold out his hands and say, "Hug and kiss mommy, hug and kiss." This boy melted my heart! I was given word that he had been raised by his grandparents and that it was a freak thing that he was taken with his siblings. He just happend to not be at the grandparents house when they came to get the other children. The grandparents were devestated, and I knew he had been well taken care of. He didn't have any major emotional/physical abuse that was noticeable to us. We had always been able to tell almost immediately with the other children. When the guardian ad litem came to our house we even told her we would love to adopt him if things didn't work out with the grandparents. 

I was told about 3 weeks in that they would be going to the grandparents but not for a few more months. You can imagine my surprise a month later, when I got a phone call saying please bring him in 2 hours there was an emergency court hearing and he is going to his grandparents. In my heart I was overjoyed for him. I knew they loved him and would take care of him but this shock caught my heart completly off guard. I immediately started balling. Like uncontrollably crying. I loved this little boy and with just a 2 hour notice I was to pack up boxes and boxes and give him back. I cried and laughed with him while we packed him up and I put a note in his bookbag with our phone number on it and a picture of our family for him. Eric just kept saying, "Alisha, this is what we do, it's ok". I knew I should be used to doing this, after all he was our 7th foster child and our 6th goodbye, but man was it hard.

When I walked into the DSS office with Eric I saw someone wave at us and I knew it was his grandparents. I smiled and walked him over to see them. He held me tight and wouldn't talk to them at first. He had no idea what was going on. The grandma immediately said she could never repay us for all of the love we showed him and she wanted us forever in his life. I of course started crying and she just hugged me and told me not to be sad, because we weren't saying goodbye. We walked back into the visitation room and sat and talked with them for about an hour. We gave them all of his belongings which having him for almost 2 months including Christmas was A LOT of things. When we went to tell them bye she asked us if we would be his God parents. I was boo-hooing at this point and she said that we were stuck with them forever. She told me that she would bring him to see us before the month was over and if we ever wanted him for the weekend or anything he was ours. I felt such a peace leaving that office. I was still crying but it was a happy cry.  His grandma e-mailed me that night and again thanked us for loving him. She said we will see him before this month is over and reassured me that he was in great hands. It was a crazy afternoon.

We have had no "extra" kids for 4 days now and I am just waiting for the call. 

I hear it all the time, "I could never do that! You are a saint". This drives me nuts I know it sounds crazy and I have told so many people but I hate when people think we are such great people. Let me be the first to say we are flawed sinful people that God chose to use for something amazing. I love how in the Bible so many times God chose the people you would NEVER have thought. Just ordinary Joe's who most of the time came from very sinful lives. And just like Jonah we didn't jump into this thrilled, we actually said NO, NO WAY, HECK TO THE NO several times. It wasn't until we said YES that amazing things started happening. We started loving other people's children like they were our own. We watched childrens lives change before our eyes. Kids that didn't want to be touched would eventually hug, kiss and even say "I love you". Kids that would be scared to be in crowds, would run right into a room and be at ease. It's amazing. It's challenging, its downright C-R-A-Z-Y sometimes.I love the book, "Kisses from Katie" and she says this and I would never be able to say it better, 

"My family, adopting (and fostering) these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day, it is not what I am doing to "help these poor kids out." I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. I adopt because whoever finds his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for HIS sake will find it."

 But man, what if we had said no again? What if sweet little Abigail didn't come home to us? What if Little Man K had gone to a group home? What if,what if, what if? All I know is wake up everyday thankful I said yes. Even on the hard days, when I want to run for the hills I'm still thankful I said yes! If God asks you to do something... SAY YES! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Don't Cry, Don't Cry, Ok, Make it to the car!!

These last couple of weeks have been busy. We decided last minute to change Ryder to 5 days a week instead of 3. This was all the hubby's plans because this SAHM wanted to hold him tight as much as I can until I LEGALLY have to let him go next year. (YES I know I could home-school but I dont think either of us would survive it, I am really good at fun and abc's but actually teaching more than 2+2 might be difficult) He was supposed to have his meet the teacher on Friday before Labor Day but Eric couldn't get off and I didn't think they would appreciate 5 kids during his "group" visit. So I talked with his teacher and she GRACIOUSLY (I already LOVE her!) agreed to meet us after church on Sunday in his classroom.
He walked right in and started playing, and I talked with Mrs. Marie and learned a few things about the school year. Ryder loved meeting her and talked about her the whole way home.
On the way, I opened up the folder she gave me that had a few necesities for parents and that's when I saw it, the big yellow sign with numbers, yes folks I have a carpool number hanging from my rearview mirror.
I feel like an old lady (who lives in a shoe, and had so many children she didn't know what to do...). Out of everything that's what made me sad, I've officially moved out of toddler years and into school years, the next time I blink he will be graduating. ( I know, I know I'm exagerating but that's what I do and I am DARN good at it!) My favorite thing about school is school supply shopping, I am sure as they get older and more opionated (Or as their lists start growing and costing us a fortune) I will hate it. But right now I LOVE IT! Thankfully they had about 5 things to get and I gladly took Ryder on a "date" to eat and shop. He picked Mcdonalds to eat, and he was so excited the entire time. I will never forget what he said to me after we ate on the way to the car. We were holding hands and he looked up at me and said, "Mommy I love girl time". I said, "I love boy time". And ya'll the tears almost started flowing but I held back. We then headed to Walmart and went down every isle for his 5 little things and then went home and "packed" his bag.
The night before school, we took a bath, layed out his clothes and shoes and got all ready for the next day. He was so excited about school, but he would always say, "I am going to school!!!!, but Mommy, I am going to miss you." I just kept telling him I was going to miss him more, because I knew it was the truth! My BIL Paul met us at the school and sat in my van, so I could walk him in without four little ducklings in tow :).
I walked him up to his room and Mrs. Marie greeted us and started to tell Ryder what he needed to do and where he needed to go and I just felt the tears coming and as Oprah says, "the ugly cry" was coming. BUT I held it together and made it to the car. Then I cried the whole way home. But thankfully I wasn't the only one who missed him, little Miss Abigail cried the whole way home with me. :) We are two peas in a pod!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Where have the years gone?

I can't believe I am even writing this post. This has been a crazy few weeks for us at the Harris house. Ryder got his name tag in the mail for PRE-SCHOOL! YES, you read that right. I just can't believe it. He is going to our church preschool program 3 days a week and starts on Sept. 4th. I'm sure to most this isn't a big deal, but to this stay-at-home mommy who has snuggled and played 24/7 with this boy it is a BIG DEAL!

Not even a week after his name tag came, which I cried over, he turned 4. Feel free to leave Aug. 17th off of the calendar next year because I don't think my heart can take anymore. I have no idea why 4 seems so old to me but it does. We decided a while back that we weren't going to have a big party for Ryder this year. My dear hubby said, "Who gets a extravagant party every year?". Uhhh who doesn't?!? But I reluctantly agreed. Friday night we invited our family to meet us at McDonald's along with a few close friends to celebrate. Somehow we ended up filling the whole place plus some. This "dinner" ended up feeling like a chaotic big birthday party. I think I convinced the dear hubby to allow me to throw my over-the-top, organized, parties again from now on :). So in a nut-shell I won :) (Happy wife = happy life)

Ryder on the other hand had so much fun! I didn't see my 3, (Ryder, Abigail, and Christopher-foster child) the entire time, except when the cake was cut. Ryder kept telling me he was having fun and that he loved me. It's the small things right?? He got so many fun gifts and I am still trying to figure out how to add 3 stories to our house just to fit them all inside. I'll let y'all know how that works out.

That night Abigail went to my sister-in-law's house for her first SLEEPOVER (yes I missed her terribly and was thankful I was sent pictures throughout the night) and my nephew Ethan switched houses so we had an "all boy" sleepover. The kids stayed up until midnight playing with all of the new toys and watching movies. When we woke up we had chocolate donuts which is a Ryder birthday tradition in my house.

This is Ryder's 1st, 3rd, and 4th donut birthday morning...sadly I couldn't find a picture of his 2nd :(

 We also   opened more presents and went out to lunch. Saturday  night we all headed to the movies to watch Disney Planes. It was a little chilly that day so I decided it would be a good time to break out one of Abigail's fall outfits, she is the cutest little girl in the world! I just can't get enough!!

 The kids were a little restless but ended up making it through the whole thing which was great! We ended the night with some ice cream in our pjs.

Ryder had a great birthday and I am one old mommy, or at least feel like one. He has been the sweetest, craziest boy and I am beyond lucky to be his momma. I love that boy to pieces and am slowly learning/having to let go......well maybe just a "little" :).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Nothing is Wasted

August 15th...this is the day I have been looking forward to the most since we have had Abbie. Today was the day we expected her parental rights to be terminated, which would let us move forward with the adoption process. Eric took a half day so we could go to the court together, and I planned on us going out to eat tonight to celebrate her being "Legally free". I couldn't wait to post a picture of us with our "thumbs up" and smiling from ear to ear saying, "We are ONE BIG step closer!".
But God is in control, and my plans aren't always His. I am not going to go into detail about specifics, but we will have another court date in 3 months to terminate the rights if the parents don't step up. This adoption thing is crazy ya'll. One minute you think it's a done deal, and the next you are crying the whole way back to your house wandering if you will get to watch her grow up. A song that I just can't get enough of, is "Nothing is Wasted" by Elevation Worship. It's pretty amazing stuff...

"Your word inside of me My strength, my everything My hope will always be Jesus Your breath inside my lungs You're worthy of my trust You will forever be Jesus You are loving, You are wise There is nothing in my life You cannot revive You are loving, You are wise There is nothing too hard for our God Nothing is wasted You work all things for good Nothing is wasted Your promise remains Forever You reign

The truth is, whether I like it or not, Abbie doesn't belong to her biological parents, the state, or us. She is HIS and today it felt like a punch in the face. One that I needed. Whether we get to adopt her and love on her forever or whether we get her for these 7 months NOTHING IS WASTED!- HE works ALL things for good. Maybe we can't see them now but even if she isn't better because of us, I can already tell you we are better because of her.

Tonight when I snuck into her room to tell her goodnight, she looked up at me and said, "Mommy I love you THHIIISSS much" and stretched out her arms as far as she could. I just melted. That girl has my heart and always will. I can honestly tell her when she grows up she has kept me on my toes, and on my knees more in these 4 months than I can ever remember. It's a hard thing being torn between biological parents and foster/adoptive parents. The truth is she needs all of us in her life and she SHOULD have all of us. I have said from the beginning, as long as it is safe/loving contact I would love for our adoptive child/ren to have their biological parens in their lives. I couldn't imagine growing up not knowing who my biological parents were. She deserves everyone to be a part of her life and have everyone loving her. I hope we can come to an agreement if it gets that far. After all we are all wanting what is best for her.. right?? I can't imagine her not being with us, and I just don't want to. Right now we are going to take it one day at a time and trust that what is best for her will happen. We are completly in love with that little girl, and that is all we need to show her right now, just more and more love.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What Abigail is teaching me...

I have been so extremely bad about updating the blog lately but life has thrown us so many turns in these last few months that I can barely remember to change out of my pajamas let alone, update my blog. So for my 12 followers :) I am sorry that I slacked off although I am sure you haven't really missed me.

We took so many trips this summer and made so many sweet memories and firsts together that it makes my heart want to burst at how amazing God is and how he changed our lives at just the right moment. But I always feel that a lot of people sugar coat their lives and don't tell you the "real"moments. With that being said adoption/fostering comes with SO many hard times it makes me really stop and remind myself that 6 months ago, I was on my knees praying for Abigail and wandering what was taking so long. Although the transition has been so smooth and so much better than we could have hoped for, a child that has been in foster care for almost all of her life is not a "normal" child no matter how great they raised her.

She still tries to eat so much food that it literally will make her sick. She keeps food in her mouth for at least 15 minutes after we have eaten just to make sure she doesn't go hungry. That is NOT ok. Just typing it makes me want to cry. If I am not giving her attention she acts out and screams and stomps, maybe typical behavior for a 2 year old, but I know its something deeper. She seeks all of the attention I can give her perhaps because she didn't get any. All of this turns my stomach and makes me stay up late at night thinking all of the "what ifs?". But what makes me even more upset, is  how people look at us when we are out in public and she is throwing a fit, or looking for attention by crying for 30 minutes.  They are wandering why I don't just "snatch up that child and woop her" (Yes they said that to me). But wait it gets better, how about the people in the checkout line that see me using her WIC checks and glare and make their assumptions that I am "living off the government", and making their assumptions on how I drive a nice car and are wearing nice clothes. - What is sad, is that when all of these people make their judgements I get embarrassed and want to scream SHES IN FOSTER CARE! WE'VE ONLY HAD HER 2 MONTHS! And anything else I can ramble on to make them understand. But the truth is I don't need to, and I shouldn't feel that way. God has blessed us way more than we could have ever imagined and all of those stares and comments don't matter. Because honestly THEY are the ones missing out. Missing out on how awesome it is to give kids a home when they don't have one. How awesome it is to hold her tight in the middle of a tantrum and tell her how much you love her and that you aren't going anywhere. Or how awesome it is that after 2 months of telling her over and over we love her, she says it back now. That my friends is worth all of the comments, all of the evil stares, and all of the judgements any bystanders have about me or my family. I think what she has taught me the most is that you NEVER know what someone else is going through. You never know if that mom or dad has been up all night or if they just need a break. As mom's we judge others so quickly and jump to think, "If that was my child, I'd ____). Instead of  thinking "You know what, I've been there!". I have definetly been counting my blessings a lot more and thanking God for this challenging time we are in right now. It's hard but the good times outweigh the hard times BY A MILLION!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Adjusting and a Few Firsts

I have to start off by saying we were very "clueless" as to what was to expect the first night, week, weeks, months with Abigail. Don't get me wrong I read several books about fostering, adopting, etc. BUT every child is different. We were prepared to take it very slow and not introduce her to anyone if she needed that to happen. HOWEVER when we got her, she was/is the most outgoing, lovable, little girl in the whole world. She immediately started calling Eric and I mommy and daddy and wanted us to hold her and play with her. She never meets a stranger and is one happy little girl, which we are so thankful for.

Ryder has been THE BEST big brother in the world. That boy has surpassed all of my hopes on how this would be adjusting to another child in the house. He has been so beyond sweet to her, reading books to her, kisses, hugs, you name it! They still have yet to get in a fight- I know, I know its coming but this little transition period has been a breeze so far. They all say though, eventually the honeymoon will end, and I've got to say I hope it doesn't!

We have had a few more firsts in our home lately...

Abigail's first Time-Out :) She was NOT happy, but after her third warning for not digging up Daddy's green beans in the garden, I had to do something!

We had her first Dentist trip on Monday and she had NO cavities! Which is AWESOME because when she came to us she acted like she had never brushed her teeth before, like literally didn't even know what a toothbrush was!

The first time meeting Grandpa Thomas and Grandma Heather -AND Anthony (although I didn't get a picture of them two :(  )

The first time picking strawberries

The first time taking a bath (at our house-of course)

And the best first of all...MY first Mother's Day, as a Mommy to 2! :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Abigail's Story

**For those of you that haven't read my blog before or who didn't know we were fostering and adopting you can click on the tabs above to read about how and why we started this journey**

April 17th started as any normal day would, but I was EXTRA sleepy because the night before I had gone to the Carrie Underwood concert with one of my best friends Claire. I got a phone call around 9 from Eric and it went something like this:

Eric: So I just got off the phone with DSS and we're approved!
(for foster care-side note, we have been approved for adoption through DSS since the beginning of October, but just recently decided to pursue foster care in hopes of eventually adopting a child who did not reunite with their birth parents)!

Eric: And they actually have a little girl that they think would be perfect for us too
Eric: NO I am not lying you need to call her back and say yes, I told her we most likely would but I needed to talk with you first
Me: I can't get over this a little girl this is so awesome are you sure you aren't lying to me?!?!

So that's just what I did, I hung up the phone and called our FOSTER worker, I told her I had just gotten off the phone with Eric and that he said you have a little girl for us and YES we would  LOVE her! Can we get some more information? She then told me that we wouldn't be able to get her until May 2nd because her foster parents had 10 days to change their minds about adopting her. OK GUYS, at this moment I was standing in the kitchen mouth open... "Did you just say ADOPT her?? Like this little girl is not just a foster child but is up for A-D-O-P-T-I-O-N?!?!" Yes, although she is not yet legally free (parents rights haven't been terminated) but we are moving her to an "adoption plan" and the current foster parents have 10 BUSINESS days to change their minds. I immediately said, "Oh my gosh I am so excited I just can't believe it". She was very quick to tell me that ANYTHING could happen in these 10 days and not to be too excited. I got off the phone with her and called Eric and told him about her having an adoption plan. We both just couldn't believe it. When we decided to foster we were told this kind of thing NEVER happens. We could foster for years and not get to adopt any children we have in our home. The main focus of fostering is reunification with the birth parents and that is every ones goal, including DSS. To have them call us with a child the DAY we are approved and for her to already have an ADOPTION plan is just unreal. So what did we do? We text/called our immediate family and let them know that this "might" happen and that we wouldn't know until close to 5 on Wednesday May 1st that we were getting her. All we knew was she was 1, but close to 2 and a girl. AND her name was Abigail :) When I told Ryder that he was going to get his baby sister he had been praying for he grabbed Nick's shirt (a little boy I watch) and said, "Nick go get your shoes on were picking up my baby sister, Mommy go get her car seat WAHOO lets go!!" The poor thing thought I meant that minute, I had to tell him he needed to wait EVEN longer  But that we really might be getting her soon! :)

So, we waited, and waited, and waited. I bought a TON of 18 month-24 month clothes. Amanda and Addison went through her clothes and toys and gave me little girl things for her to play with. And we waited, and I prayed and prayed and prayed and just had to "Give it to God". Those 2 1/2 weeks were unbearable! I had the entire room decked out in girl things and knew at any time we could get a call that they had changed their minds.

Around 3:30 on Wednesday May 1st, Eric got a hold of a supervisor (our caseworker was in training classes) and was told we were to pick her up the next day at 3:00. That was it, we knew nothing more except to pick her up. As soon as he called me to let me know I felt a huge relief, but at the same time I was EXTREMLY anxious. We had no idea what to expect. I didn't know if she was going to come running to us, or kicking and screaming. Suddenly a whole new wave of emotion hit me.

Wednesday night I went to Walmart around 9:00 looking for something to give her when we met her. I was thinking maybe a baby doll, or a toy but I just couldn't think of something good. I walked up and down the toy isles a million times and finally just decided to leave. As I was headed to checkout with a few groceries, I passed the card isle. I saw those Hallmark books that come with a stuffed animal that talks to you while you read the story. I went over to get a closer look at a bunny wearing a pink leotard, and y'all I am NOT making this up. The book was called, "Abigail and the balance beam". SO there I am in Walmart at about 9:30 crying in the hallmark isle. God is so good y'all.

Thursday Eric, Ryder, "Abigail the gymnast", and I headed down to the office to pick her up. At this point we didn't know her race, if she had medical issues, if she was 12 months or 24 months or anything. We had a lot of butterflies needless to say. We met the program manager and walked down a hallway. At the opposite end, there was a lady saying, "Come on Abigail". There we were, just standing and waiting, and here comes this beautiful, bouncy, BIG, blonde hair and blue eyed little girl, with a big smile on her face. I think we all melted at that moment. Ryder went up to her and gave her the bunny and she said thank you. We were put in a room with her while they got her paperwork together for us to sign and right away she was laughing and chasing Ryder around the room and was the sweetest thing in the world. We then learned a "little" about her past, medical issues and things of that nature. I can't go into detail about anything but we are completely at peace that we will be able to adopt her and know its just a matter of time in this SLOW court system of ours. We signed our papers and headed out to get a few things her previous foster parents had left. When we were walking out the door, Ryder was holding my hand and looked up and said, "Mommy I love Abigail". This momma's heart just about burst! That boy is so sweet and I just love him to pieces! When we were outside, I asked how old she was, because there was no way she was a 1 year old, she was as big as Ryder, if not bigger. We were then told she was actually 2 1/2! I sure was glad I have family with little girls who were more than willing to give me some hand-me-downs

After we picked her up, we took her to my mom's school to show her and my grandmother. We then went and bought her some new shoes and headed to Chick-Fil-A for dinner and to meet some more family. By the time we left it was almost bed time, so we took her back to our house for the first time to see her room and things.

We have had SO much fun getting to know her and she is the happiest, little girl and we are so blessed to have her. We have prayed for her for over a year and for her to finally get here is amazing. God had a plan for us that was SO much bigger than the plans we had for ourselves. If you feel God calling you to do something or go somewhere LISTEN! You will not be dissapointed! I can't even begin to write all of the things that "miraculously" fell into place for us to get her. Just like it says in Ephesians 3:20, "God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us."

Here are some pictures!

*We have decided not to show her face until she is officially ours for privacy reasons so please bare with us, this is harder on me than you I promise! I already have over 100 pictures of her sweet face that I am dying to share!**

She loved her doll house Momma-Honey gave her :)
She is already a Daddy's girl and is wrapped around his finger! It is so sweet to see how he acts so different with a girl than with Ryder.

Ryder absolutely LOVES her! Although he does have his moments when he will say something like, "PLEASE stop talking to me Abigail!!" I think he's learning girls talk A LOT! :)

I am having WAY more fun dressing a girl! And thank goodness she likes to wear bows!

They are going to be best friends I can already see it!

I dreamed about the day I would see this!

We enjoyed Abbie's first trip to the zoo this morning and she LOVED it! She kept saying, "Wow!" :) I am so thankful I can still share in some of her "firsts" with her.

These two are my world!


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