Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Now all we have to do is wait...

Brian and I did our last set of finger prints today!  This was a huge thing hanging over our head because it's not cheap.  This is the second time we've done prints.  The last set was for the foster care part and this part was for the adoption part.  So about 30 minutes and $212 later we finally got our LAST set of finger prints done. (for now anyway, i'm sure at some point or another we may have to do them again.. like years from now?)   The forms went straight into the mail along with the last few forms we needed to submit, our tax return and Brians DMV record that for some reason came a good week after mine even though we submitted the request for them the very same day!

So now we just have to wait... wait for Koinonia to get the papers, wait for the finger prints to clear and wait to be assigned a social worker!  It feels so good to get done with this first step and it feels good for the ball to be in the other court for now.  The next step will be to schedule a time the social worker can come out and start our home study.  We were told this may take a few different meetings to complete and we are looking forward to it.

In other news: I (Mary) got to go on a scrapbooking retreat this weekend.  I left Friday afternoon and came back on Sunday evening.   While I was there I got to get two families pics edited and I did 37 pages in Camden's scrap book.  By sat night I realized this was the first time I felt actually relaxed since we've had kids.  It was really weird to have THREE days and two nights to do nothing but be crafty in the company of other ladies.  I didn't even have to cook for myself because all of the meals were provided.  I came back so refreshed and recharged, ready to be a better mommy and wife. Brian had the boys all weekend.  When I came home everyone looked great and my house was immaculate!  I felt very spoiled and totally completely blessed.

The scrap book retreat is definitely something I'll be doing every year and I'll be making sure Brian gets to do something similar.  For him this year it was meeting his college guys up in the Bay area for a live Fantasy football draft.  Sometimes we all just need a break, not because we don't love what we do every single day, because in the end I wouldn't have it any other way, but because we all need a little refresher sometimes.

I also started Bible study last week and we are studying Hosea.  The title of the study is "A call to commitment"  I don't think I've ever read much of Hosea before although one of my favorite books, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is based on the book Hosea.  I'm excited to do this study and think by the title it won't be hard to apply it to this chapter in our lives. 

The first lesson is on Forgiveness.  The verse for the week is 2 Chronicles 7:14 "Then if My people, who are called by My Name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek Me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven.  I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land."

In our last adoption training we spent a lot of time talking about how this process has an impact on three different parties.  The foster parents and foster children, but also the birth parents.  I'm sure we will experiences a bunch of different kinds of birth parents and i'm sure it's not always going to be easy to trust that it will be best for the kids to go back to them.  We will have to trust that God is in control and I pray that the families we will eventually come in contact with will come to know God,  pray and seek Him and stop whatever it was they were doing that made them get their children taken from them.  If they do God WILL hear them from heaven, He will forgive their sin and heal their land. (Family perhaps?)

God, you are awesome and mighty.  I pray that we will remember to always trust you and be thankful that we have already turned to you to carry our sins.  Please give us the strength to know you are in control of even these situations and let us remember that you have the power to transform these broken families and make them whole.   Amen.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

These are the most common questions we've been asked so far.. we figure you might be wondering the same thing so here's our answers. =)

Why did you choose to go with a private agency instead of the county?
The county social workers are on overload and are very busy.  The private agency we're going through offers a great deal of support to the families and the foster kids.  We have been told already several times to call them for anything at anytime and they'll be there to help us.  Also our agency, Koinonia Family Services, takes the time to match families with kids based on your home study and what they know about you.  So the simple answer- We're going to need a lot of advice and a lot of support and we are more likely to get that through the private agency.

Why did you choose Koinonia Family Services instead one of the other private agencies?
We came in contact with a family that was currently doing foster care through them.  They had so many great things to say about them.  Once we got involved with them we knew exactly what they were talking about.  The simple answer- they're awesome.

How do the private agencies get their kids?
When the county has kids they can not place, or want help placing, they use the private agencies to find families to place them.

How many foster kids do you want at a time?
Initially we were thinking just one.  Then we realized many foster kids often get removed from their home with a sibling.  Of course we would want them to be together.  So one or two foster kids would work for us right now.  However two would be a bit difficult because we wouldn't have a car big enough for the whole family... We aren't too worried about it though, we know God's in control.

What ages of kids are you willing to take?
For now we are open to taking kids preschool and under.  This is what our home is equipped for and this is the age we have experience with.  As our kids get older we'll take older kids.

Do you want to have more of your own kids?
 Yes!  We're thinking two more at some point.

You can have foster kids even though you both work?
Yes.  If you both work long days and don't get home until it's time for the kids to go to bed  it's probably not the best idea.  However since Mary just works half days its not a problem at all.

Are you worried about how Camden and Andersen will be affected?
Of course we can't help but think about this from time to time.  They are our top priority. As long as we communicate well with them and are in tune with their feelings it shouldn't be a problem.  We are also going to make sure we give them all the quality time they need. We are excited to give them the opportunity to be raised in a home that shows continued love for others.   Camden is so social he's going to love having extra play mates around the house. We have asked Camden if he wants other kids to come live with us and he always says, "Yes." We'll see how he feels when some actually show up.

Are you finally going to keep your blog up to date?
We are going to do our best.  We're really excited to share with everyone how God is working in our family.  However, due to privacy laws and confidentiality laws you won't hear much detail about the kids.  We also won't be posting pictures of them.  This is going to be hard for us not want to show off the little cuties that come through our home, but we know the kids and their families deserve this privacy.  You will hear about how our family is adjusting to this new adventure.  I'm sure there will be plenty of stories to share. =)

There's obviously more but these are what we are asked the most.  If you have any more questions just ask and we'll tell you!

Friday, September 10, 2010

How we got to here...

Since we got married in 2006 adoption and foster care was a topic that crossed our conversation often.  We both felt it was something that we wanted to eventually do.  Eventually, as in we would have our biological children first, and then when they were in high school we would start foster care.  It was easy to talk about it like that because it was something that was in our distant future, didn't require any immediate action, just conversation.

Now that we have Camden and Andersen the idea of parenthood isn't an idea... it's a reality.  We also realized that everything we do is revolved around the boys and we love it.  We're great at changing diapers, giving baths, making bottles, reading books, playing trains, singing songs and the list goes on and on.  We love being parents.

When I was pregnant with Andersen I had a conversation with a friend from church about foster care.  In that short conversation I learned a lot.  I learned there were private organizations you could go through to do foster care rather than going straight through the county.  I learned you could be specific as to the ages you would be willing to take.  This friend's cousin only took infants.  I couldn't stop thinking about getting started in foster care.  This is the moment God really put foster care on my heart.  I started thinking about what it would be like to have even more little ones in our home and seemed like it could be a reality... I talked to Brian and we decided we needed to wait until I had Andersen before we got started on anything, maybe it would be "safe" to start when Andersen was a year old... maybe.  That made sense so again the foster care topic was put into the back of our minds.

Every time it would cross my thoughts I would feel so convicted to get involved.  The idea made my stomach turn and I often found myself thinking things like, "I have two babies under the age of two, there's no way this is a good idea".  There were so many reasons I gave myself for it NOT being a good idea.  The main one was, "People will think we are crazy!"

Last spring in my Wednesday evening bible study group we were asked to come prepared to share how we plan to use our God-given gifts, time and talents until Jesus returns or God takes us Home.  As I was thinking about this I wrote down the easy obvious answer on my paper.  Working at the preschool both during the week and on Sunday mornings I get to share God's love with the little ones all the time and I love that.  So I wrote what I was currently doing - teaching preschool.  My stomach was turning again and I knew that that what I wrote was true and I was using my spitiutal gifts on a daily basis... but deep down I knew I was called to foster care as well.  That evening in class when it came time to share I gave my written answer and lead into how much I loved children, not just my own children but every one else's too.  Half jokingly I said something like, "One day i'd like to open up an orphanage or something so I can give kids that need it a great home". 

Quite a few weeks later Brian and I seriously started talking about what foster care would look like in our lives.. not our future lives but our immediate lives.  We realized that having little ones in the house requires a lot of "stuff" and that our house was well equipped.   We both agreed that we are loving these stages now but once our boys are in high school there's a good chance we wont want to go back to the "baby" stage.  We both felt like we were being moved to start seriously thinking and praying about foster care sooner rather than later.

About the same time I went to my last Bible study of the semester.  It was at one of our group leaders house.  After dinner we were sitting around her dinning room table and some how the foster care idea came up.  I expressed how much God had put it on my heart and how I was nervous and scared.  I acknowledged the fact that I was worried about everyone thinking we were crazy and that was one of our biggest hesitations.  Of course at this point I was tearing up, it didn't help that my mom was sitting right across from me and she was tearing up too. One of my Bible study partners told me about her cousins (we'll call them the "B" family) who were doing foster care through a private organization.  They started it when their kids were very young and even continued to do it while she was pregnant with their third.  When I got home that night I started looking up several organizations in our area.  Brian and I talked about it further and we knew it was time to get started, but still were not sure how we were going to go about it.

About a week later we were put into contact with the "B" family .  After about an hour long conversation and A LOT of questions and more internet research we decided we would go through the organization they were using, Koinonia Family Services

We made the call to the Modesto branch and told them about our desire to become foster parents. She asked me several questions as part of a pre-screening they do.  Once we "passed" that part she got our address and sent us the first packet.  We were so excited when it came, I couldn't wait to fill out the paper work.. little did I know it was the first of much much more!

 So here we are now 6 months later.  We've finished all of the paper work, the home inspection, the initial 2 hour adoption training, the 8 hour foster care training, one set of finger printing and cpr/first aid training.  We have one more 8 hour adoption training left next weekend and one more set of finger prints to do.  After that we'll be certified to do foster care and to adopt.

The certification process should be done by the end of this month.  After that we'll be set up with a social worker who will get to know our family and do a home study on us.  Then they will "market" us to the county and when there's a match we will get our first foster child. This will probably happen around the time Andersen turns one... apparently God thought waiting till then was a good idea too.

We decided to do the adoption certification process now because although we're not planning on adopting any time soon we knew we may want to in the future.  More importantly we know there's a chance we will have a foster child in our home that will become "adoptable" and we need to be prepared to make that permanent decision if God leads us that way.

We look around our house daily and aknowledge how much we have been blessed.  We have two extra beds and a crib that just sit empty night after night.   Nothing we have been given is ours.  It belongs to God and we need to use it to further HIS kingdom.  We know and believe foster care is what God has called us to do and we are excited about it!  Of course we still get a little bit nervous, but you know that feeling I was having?  That convicting feeling in my stomach like I was supposed to be doing something that I was avoiding?  Well once we started the certification process it went away.   That was affrimation we were moving in the direction God wanted us to.

Brian and I are so lucky to have the same vision and goals for our life.  Through this process we have become even more connected.  We know it's going to be a lot of work, but being parents in general is a lot of work and we love it.  I feel blessed every day to have a husband who loves God, desires me and adores our children.  Any children that come through our home will be lucky to have him as a male role model in their lives.

Knowing that God has prepared in advance good works for us to do, this verse is a great inspiration to us and a daily reminder of how we need to live.  At the end of His life on earth  Jesus prayed to God and said "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." John 17:4.

Lord, you are awesome and mighty.  Prepare us during this time to do your work and to serve you.  Keep us strong and protect our family from anything that is not from you.  We love you! Amen