Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
I keep telling your Dad that it's as if you became a boy this month. You no longer seem like a baby to me. It is so exciting to watch you develop and learn every day! It also makes me a little sad and long for you to be a baby again. It floors me to think about last Christmas and what you were like then. So tiny and serious, you are a totally different kid!
Food- You still prefer fruit and veggies to meat. You like bread but not like sandwich bread, you like rolls, cheddar biscuits, french bread, muffins. Your new thing that you love is feeding yourself with a spoon. One day you just started doing it ,you are really good at it. You also love chips, if you see one and have food in your mouth you take the food out to make room for the chip.
Activities- I cannot stress this enough...you are BUSY! You mostly run around all day getting into one kind of mischief or another. Your most recent favorite is to take candy canes off the Christmas tree. I find you crouched in the corner with a chewed up candy cane still in the wrapper in your mouth. You still love wrestling and being thrown around. You love playgrounds and have started going down the slide by yourself. You still love books and are starting to get into blocks all though they make you very frustrated. You also love bath time. You have started pretending to talk on the phone also.
Things that make you laugh- Yourself! You crack yourself up! When you do you laugh this deep laugh. I love it. Covering your head with a blanket and walking around running into things
New stuff- TALKING! You say block, ball, book, bath, nana, nono, mama, dada,hi, and bye. You also imitate your foster brother and say "I want milk" (kinda)
I have to pause and say you are a good looking kid!
Stuff that makes me swoon- kisses love 'em, your new found ability to flirt (mostly with your foster brothers speech therapist) you pretend to fall down and roll around and make yourself cute, sometimes when I can get you to lay still and let me hold you, but really your whole self from the fits, to the silliness, to the sweetness. You are the whole package kid. Love you more everyday!
P.S.- All pictures by Mary Beth Sudan. LOVE HER!
Monday, December 5, 2011
I sat in front of the TV, with tears running down my face, listening to the statistics and to the kids retell their stories of being on upwards of 9 heavy duty meds and passed around to more than 20 foster homes. I thought of the two foster children occupying the two rooms at the end of my hallway. I thought: not them. I can stop these terrible things from happening to them.
Sometimes, friends, the burden is unbearable. There are weeks at a time where I am doing nothing but dreaming of orphans or tossing and turning at night thinking of how much the addition to my house would cost in order to fit all 162 million of the world's oprhans. Sometimes I get so caught up in the 162 million, that I forget about the two who are here.
Then, some days (and more, lately, if I'm being honest) I want to completely throw in the towel. Take my baby and run. These kids we have right now are hard. Not their fault, but that doesn't make parenting them any easier. They are not an easy fit. It is an uphill battle. I find myself missing Thomas and Joy, and wondering what exactly God's plan is.
But this special gave me resolve. These kids will not be overmedicated, they will not be moved from home to home. They will be safe, they will stay here, they will not move, I will do my best (by the grace of God) to parent them, they will not be put on meds. I have resolve.
Monday, November 21, 2011
We left Matt's parents house at 6:00am to make the drive into Houston and my heart was beating fast and the tears came and went the whole drive. In just a few hours, Isaiah would have his name changed. He would no longer be a foster child. We got to the courthouse at 7:00am and had an hour to kill. We went and got breakfast tacos from a shack, 'cause what else are you going to do?
We met our family developer, Jessica, in the parking lot and made our way into the courthouse. There were all these families coming in. All these orphans being un-orphaned.
We signed papers. We waited. Isaiah ran up and down the hall crowded with caseworkers and proud families and kids in their Sunday best.
We worked hard to try to keep Isaiah entertained.
Shout out to my husband. He is the best. He is an amazing father. And a world class entertainer.
That boy loves his daddy...and the feeling is mutual.
We waited and waited. Our lawyer kept apologizing. For the wait. For the chaos. I told her I didn't care. I was adopting my son. I would've waited til whenever I had to. I had already waited 20 years. What was a few more hours?
When we finally were moved into the court room, Isaiah busied himself by...
brushing his hair,
climbing in the stroller,
and laying on the floor grunting.
Then it was our turn.
All the praying, the crying, the waiting, the trusting. We were here.
This moment right here. This moment is the one I have been dreaming about for at least twenty years. I never dreamed of the white dress, or the church, or the big wedding. I dreamt of me with my son on my hip in front of a judge. Making promises and claiming the ones that had been made to me.
Then it was over. The adoption petition had been granted by the judge, along with all the other petitions that our hearts had made to the Father for our son. Hallelujuah!
Then we went downstairs and ate cupcakes, took more pictures, and partied Harris-County-National-Adoption-Day style.
Through all this, I was suprisingly composed. Then on the way out of the courthouse I stopped off in the bathroom and when I sat down to use the bathroom, I started sobbing. It hit me like a ton of bricks. He was staying. I did not have to pack him up and stand in my front yard and wave goodbye. God promised and delivered. I thought if I had never known what it was like to say goodbye to a child, then maybe I wouldn't know just how sweet it is to not have to do that. In that moment, crying in a bathroom stall, I was thankful for every stinking piece of the whole puzzle and I wouldn't have taken an ounce of it back.
So there is the story. At least, my version of it. But I do want to take the time to honor the people who God used to bring our son home. Lisa Patterson, who loves orphans and works with God to place the lonely in families. Dale Smith, who runs our agency with humilty and obedience to the Father, and a deep love for the orphan. Kay Whyburn, who is crazy and just knew he belonged with us and broke countless rules to get him home. All his caseworkers: Sharon Love, Deedra Red, and even the one who almost dropped the ball who shall remained unamed. Amy Slaughter and Michelle Teal who helped seal the deal. Finally, Jessica Hall - our family developer, who is really more like a super-hard working, completely-invested auntie and friend. She puts up with my crazy antics and my shrill incessant phone calls with patience and love. You, my friend, are a light in the darkness of this system. A woman of God who loves Jesus and serves His people. We love you so much and cannot thank you enough for all you do!
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
This is one of the only pictures that I took that day. I was too busy staring at him to take pictures.
One year. I have never parented a child for a year they have all left before.
We dedicated Isaiah in a service at our church on Sunday.
Here is what I said (imagine me ugly crying and stopping to sob)
(I am praying in the picture)
6 or so years ago God told me He would give me an African American baby boy and that he would be abandoned and that I would call him Isaiah
2 1/2 years ago God told me he would come to us through foster care
1 year ago we got the call that we were chosen for an African American baby boy named Baby Boy because he has essentially been abandoned at the hospital.
When we went to meet him I asked the caseworker what they had been calling him in his foster home (he was 4 months old)...she said Isaiah.
God had given us our son.
God's promise fulfilled.
Psalm 68:6 says He places the lonely in families. And that is true. But it is not just for the sake of the lonely but for the sake of the families too.
This summer on the day of Isaiah's termination trial I was anxious and praying for a scripture and I felt the Lord leads me to Isaiah 62
"You'll get a brand-new name straight from the mouth of God. You'll be a stunning crown in the palm of God's hand, a jeweled gold cup held high in the hand of your God. No more will anyone call you Rejected"
On November 17th (hopefully) his name will legally change from Baby Boy to Isaiah Michael Clarke. The name God intended for him 5 years before he was ever born.
I was praying Sunday morning asking God what he wanted to highlight about Isaiah's story. I felt like he said" That I am real. I am still relevant. I care. My plan is good. I still intervene. I went into a completely hopeless situation and changed the course of everything. Beauty from ashes, from abandonment to belonging, unnamed to named. Glory to God. That's is Isaiah's story.Happy Gotcha Day Isaiah Michael Clarke! I love you more than I thought I was capable of. We are so thankful, I pray you always know that the God of the universe loves you so much that he did a miraculous work to bring you home. All glory and honor to him. The author of my faith and my family.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
It is lonely and isolating sometimes. Especially in a roomful of moms or families. The truth is, you don't ever feel like you completely belong. Your life is similar in so many ways, you may be in the throes of potty training or sleep training, or any other normal parenting issue, but the differences are glaringly obvious and huge. You maybe doing all that only to send the kiddos home in six months and then to start all over again with the next ones. Even the most sensitive and supportive friends sometimes say hurtful things because the truth is: they do not understand the life you are living and they have no point of reference for it.
Also, with every new placement of kiddos comes the inevitable basic skills that have to be taught. Toilet training almost-four-year-olds. Sleep training children of all ages. Teaching them to eat with a spoon. Trying to teach children to exist on more than chicken nuggets and fries. Every time I get a new placement, I wonder: how many kids will I toilet train in my life? How many will I sleep train?
This is a life where you willingly hand your heart over to be pulvarized time and time again, knowing full well exactly what is going to happen. A life where every other week, I pull a screaming child out of his crying mother's arms, strap him in a car seat and drive 60 miles away from an exchange that was never part of God's design. All the while, there is a chorus in the back seat of "No mama! Mommy!" Meaning: I do not want you mama Rachel! I want my mommy! Or the unending grief over the kids who have come and gone before. The lack of closure. The not knowing how to grieve because how do you grieve the loss of someone who was never intended to stay and who hasn't passed away? There's the knowledge that often times, you are sending kids back to situations that are not much different than the ones they were taken from.
Here is the clincher: The enemy he doesn't want you to be a foster parent. He doesn't want you to adopt. You will come under attack. Your marriage, your career, your finanaces, and any other area he can get to. You see, Satan is already having his way in these children's lives, their families. His mission is to rip them apart. He hates it when you step in and speak Jesus over them. When you start praying and contending for a family that, maybe, no one else is, he hates that. Orphan care foster care...whatever you want to call it, it is not romantic it is war. A necessary war.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
On Halloween, for the past two years, my family has looked almost completely different, save for Matt and I. Although, for two years in a row, I had a Dora. Two different toddler girls, same costume. I am happy to report that this year there will be no Dora.
My niece has had different "cousins" at every birthday party she has had. We carve pumpkins with different kids. We do Thanksgiving with different kids. We decorate the tree. We do Christmas Eve. Christmas morning. Playing in the snow. Then in the new year, or the Spring -- they leave, we rest, mourn, and recover. Then we start all over again. I love introducing kids to new experiences. I love taking them to the Fair when they have never been. I love giving them a completely extravagant Christmas. I love taking them to pumpkin patches and going trick-or-treating. I love loading them up in the car in their pajamas, drinking hot cocoa, and looking at Christmas lights. I love introducing them to who we are and how we do things. I get to make special memories with each of them. I am thankful...and a little bit sad. Because every year when all these things roll around while I am taking my new babies to do all of these things, I remember all my babies who came before. My heart aches a little remembering. Remembering Abby sitting in the back seat of my car holding a pumpkin as big as she was. Thomas's face when he was scooping out pumpkin guts. Joy's delight at her awful Dora wig. How Panda looked in her panda costume. Each of their reactions to Santa.
Each of them handing me ornaments. Each of their faces glowing in the lights of the tree. Each of them on Christmas. Each of them on Santa's lap. Each of them in their Christmas Eve wear.
With every new memory, there is residue from the last and the one before that. There is the haunting question...is it a tradition if no one says, "Remember when?" Is it a tradition if no one giddily anticipates it? Is it a tradition if almost a completely different group participates every year? This year will be the first time that we have a child for two seasons in a row. I am thankful for the permanency of Isaiah and yet, I'm simultaneously considering if next year I will be wondering how Eric and Carolina are doing. If I will be remembering their faces as I take pictures of some different kids.
I remember my first Christmas as a momma, driving to Christmas Eve service and having the harsh realization that most of my first Christmas' with kids in my life will also be my last with them.
I always pray that during these magical times, that even for a second we drop the "foster" and somehow we are just a family. That when, and if, they remember that they can look back on this ultimately scary, sad, and traumatic time in their life and say, "Even though I was away from my family, I was with a family."
Traditions and seasons as a transitional family are messy, ever-changing, and achingly bitter sweet. People, places, things, songs, and activities seasoned with thebitter grief of remembering and the sweet joy of experiencing.