This continues the story of our journey to have a family. The time frame for this chapter of our story is November 2007-March 2008.
If you continue to read along, you will see first hand the reality of how broken the Foster Care system truly is.
When we first heard about the Foster-To-Adopt Program, it had been our intention to adopt a baby. One baby. I wanted to have the full experience of raising a child from infancy. Since I would not have the experience the actual pregnancy, I wanted to at least experience the infancy process.
We realized very quickly that baby’s are hard to get in the system. There are so many older children who need homes, but there is very often a wait for infants. Not only is there a wait, it is also not guaranteed that you will be able to keep this baby- or any child you are placed with who’s status is still classified as Foster rather than Foster-to-Adopt. The difference in the status is whether or not the parent’s rights have been terminated.
We decided that we would broaden the age range for children we would accept. This is how we came to have the two sets of children we had already been placed with rather than infants.
But I still wanted to have a baby. It was still something my husband wanted as well, but I do not think it was as important to him as it was to me.
We had almost increased our license to four children when we found out the first two boys were back in the system, but I was so unsure of being able to handle four children at one time. But the longing was still there. Though I had children, I still long to have a baby! I did not know at this point whether or not I could handle more than the two children we already had.
One evening I told my husband I needed to spend some time with God. I went into our room and shut the door. I spent a while in prayer, wrestling with God over whether or not I could handle three children, one of which would be an infant. As I lay silently before God, just meditating, I heard a very distinct voice. I sat up very quickly, expecting someone to be there. Who I thought it would be, I do not know. I knew that it had not been my husband’s voice, and there were no other adults in the house. It then occurred to me that I had not heard the voice with my ears but with my heart.
God had spoken to me again. But there was no way that what I had heard could be possible!
I sat for a few moments, just taking in what I knew I had heard. After a few moments, I left our room. When I walked back into the kitchen, my husband asked me if I felt better. I chuckled and he asked what that meant. My exact words were, “God is crazy!” He looked at me as if I had literally lost my mind. I’m sure he was wondering what in the world had caused me to say that!
I told him that God had told me not to be afraid to go ahead with three children, I would be just fine. In fact, He told me to be prepared because we would have a total of five children. When I told my husband this, I laughed. But even then, I knew that God has spoken. And I knew that I would not disobey. I had made that mistake too many times in my life before. I just did not know how in the world I was going to be able to handle five children!
After discussing all of this with my husband, we decided we would increase our license to three children, and hold the spot for an infant. We were not ready to step out in faith at this point and just accept that God had spoken. I believe we were both in shock. My husband knows I do not tell him that God has told me something very often. In fact, I have been frustrated many times in the past because I did not hear God’s voice when I would pray so desperately for answers in various different situations. We just were not quite ready to accept that this would be our reality. And there was the possibility that I was just imagining things. To say that you know God has spoken to you is nothing small!
The next day I made the call. Our license would be increased so that we would be able to have three children in our home.
It was not long before I received a call. There was a baby available. However, they told me right up front it was a definite we would not be able to adopt this baby. She would not be coming to us from the State Foster Care system; she would instead be coming to us through a private adoption agency. There were legal issues that had to be cleared up before she could be given to the adoptive parents. We agreed to take her.
Although we knew from the very beginning that she would not be ours, we loved her as if she were our own as we did all of our kids. We were told before we ever picked her up that we would have her anywhere from one day to one month at the very longest. I went to the hospital and picked her up from the hospital nursery when she was just 3 days old. That was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. To be in the hospital nursery, the nurses giving me instructions on care, feeding her, rocking her… I cannot even tell you the emotions that were going on inside of me!
Over the next month, I got to know the adoptive mom. We talked on the phone every single day, if not several times a day. We built a relationship over that month that still exists today. We are getting to see her grow up, experience her birthday parties and other special events of her life. I am truly honored to have been there the first month of her life. I would not have it any other way, because this little girl is exactly where she is supposed to be! Her life is one of those strange stories you hear where the adopted child looks exactly like one of her adoptive parents. She is literally the spitting image of her Daddy! We know without a doubt he is not her biological father, but it’s one of those strange little quirks that happen in life.
It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to be a part of bringing our friends their child and caring for her the first month of her life. This child is the reason we are all friends today. But, even knowing from the very beginning that we would not have her long, and knowing that she was going to a wonderful, loving family that wanted a child so desperately- just as we did- it still killed my soul to let her go. I had bonded with her. So, I was very happy for the family, but my heart was breaking. There is just no preparing your heart for such a mixture of emotions. I kept my emotions together to be a part of this very special moment in our friends’ lives- laying their new baby in their arms-spending a few minutes with them, and walking back outside to leave the adoption agency office. I made it around the corner- because I knew they could see me through the window. I had the other two kids with us, and of course my husband was with me. As soon as I made it around the corner so I could not be seen, I collapsed and just fell to pieces crying. I did not want to take away from their special day in any way. My husband had to help me to the car. I realize now a lot of my issue was that I was scared- yes, of being a good mother, but also of my heart breaking.
That day, my heart broke. I was so very happy for my new friends. But my heart was breaking, because I still wanted a baby.
A couple of weeks later, we got a call for our next child. He was 9-months-old. I was told that he was foster, not foster-to-adopt, but it was very likely that his biological parents’ rights would be terminated and he would be available for adoption. Of course said yes, and once again, we fell in love. This baby stole my heart from the get go. No, that’s not true. The first day all he did was cry. That was why he was removed from the previous foster home, because they could not deal with his crying.
Between my husband and I, we finally got him calmed down. But it took a couple of days. After that he was the most loving, most beautiful child. And he was a great fit with the other two kids. We began hoping. This was our mistake. The court case was not going that well for the parents, and we were told it was very unlikely they would get him back. In fact, there was a CASA advocate assigned to the case- a non-partial child advocate that talks with all parties involved in the child’s life. She told me that she saw absolutely no way how the biological parents would not lose their rights. There were drugs found in the same room as the child when he was removed from the home, and there was absolutely no remorse from the biological parents. Add that to the fact that they were not attending their classes. After talking with the biological parents it was the recommendateion from the CASA advocate that he not be placed back with the parents.
We were told that there was one other possibility, but it was highly unlikely that this would happen. There was another family member- an aunt- who had said she would take him, so they were pursuing the possibility. However, the CASA advocate told me that there was a person in the home that had a drug conviction, so she would not recommend at all that he be placed in that home.
But, once again, I got a call one day. And just like that, they took him with just a 2 hour notice. Once again, we had no idea there was even a court date scheduled! This time, my husband did not even get to say goodbye. Our other little boy was with me when I had to drop the baby off for visitation. We realize now that this traumatized him more than we could have ever known. I go to drop the baby off, but never go pick him up. we explained to the other two children why I had not gone back to pick him up, but how do you truly explain something like this to a 3 and 4-year-old? There are no words that make sense in a situation like this to an adult, much less a child!
They took him on his first birthday. I cried. I cannot tell you how much I cried. Literally, I cried for 3 solid days. It finally got to the point that I told God, “You have to take this pain and help me to stop crying. I have 2 other children to take care of, and I am not doing a good job of that right now, much less being a good wife.” I finally stopped the continual crying, but the sadness would last much longer.
The Purpose Of This Series: Who Hears The Voice Of The Children?
The next chapter in this series: Fighting For Another Child
The previous chapter in this series: Jumping Head First Into The Fight For My Children