Of Foster Adoption and Stage Fright

Occasionally, I have a reoccurring dream in which I am on stage for a dance recital and have no idea of the choreography. In full costume and makeup, several thoughts fly through my mind while butterflies race through my stomach. I haven’t practiced this dance. I wasn’t taught the choreography. I can’t wing the whole number!

This may not sound so bad as far dreams go, unless you have years of dance training and performance opportunities as I had in over 16 years of ballet, tap, and jazz lessons. Then, with this knowledge, it will conjure a feeling of abject fear at such a scenario.

Venturing into the foster and adoption world can seem much like being pushed onto a stage full of bright lights and an audience made up of expectant smiles only to realize that you don’t know the steps, you weren’t taught what to do, and you can’t wing the whole thing. In short, you feel overwhelmed and ill equipped.

Six years ago, when my husband and I began the training process to become foster, and, ultimately, adoptive parents, we felt as if we didn’t know exactly what we were doing. We knew God was calling us to adoption, but we decided that He revealed the need for us to foster as well. We were not sure how to love with an open hand to relinquish the children we would foster back to their families should reunification become a reality. We had no idea the system, with case managers, court dates, and guardian ad lietms, would be so taxing on our schedules, emotions, and everyday thoughts: on our family. Quite frankly, we never imagined we would still be in the thick of adoption six years later.

Although we no longer feel as if we have been shoved out on a stage sands choreography, we do feel that the stage hands and the lighting crew aren’t always at the ready. We feel like, to further this scenario, we have the steps of the process, but our production crew doesn’t always have our backs. We aren’t winging it, but we are wondering why with so much practice the production isn’t yet executed with precision. In other words, we are dancing the steps but weary of the show.

But God.

We can testify and do so repeatedly of God’s faithfulness and goodness throughout this entire process which includes one child adopted and one more awaiting adoption. Bringing our child count to a total of four. God has worked in ways that can only be attributed to Him. He has provided for us in gifts from His people. Didn’t he say something about owning cattle on a thousand hills (see here)? We haven’t, nor can’t out give God, and we haven’t, nor can’t frustrate His plans and timing in adoption matters.

Foster care and adoption is not like my reoccurring nightmare because God equips us for every good work before we are presented with the opportunities to carry them out. In fact, it may be more like another real life dancing experience I had.

A lifetime ago, when I was a young 18 years of age, I tried out for the dance team at two universities. The first, which also happened to be my first choice in schools, I did my best and didn’t make the team. The second university, I had a full scholarship but lacked a desire to attend. At that second tryout, I knew the dance and picked up on the choreography quickly. However, that afternoon when it was my turn to perform solo, my brain froze. Unlike any other performance in my life, I completely forgot all of the steps. The school representatives were gracious and let me try two or three times with the same results. Even though I flopped the audition, I still received a call later that evening that I had made the team!  That was 18 years ago now, and I don’t remember the timing of everything, but I do remember that I turned them down, turned down the full-ride, and ended up at my top choice school with a meager scholarship and the chance to meet my husband my freshman year.

Foster care and adoption is more like the second story in that you’ve prepared, failure isn’t fatal, the process will be trying and frustrating at times, but God’s ways are higher and His knowledge beyond ours. He sees the bigger picture and knows that bumps along the way shape our character and faith in such a way that we look more like Him when we finish our performance and we end up right where we need to be.

If you or someone you know is considering foster care and foster adoption, you might want to check out these past posts here. Also know, cold feet are a natural part of the process!


 

 

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Thirty Balloons: An Adoption Tale

Once upon a time, there was a little blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy in need of a place to call home. He needed a mom, a dad, and a few siblings to grow alongside.

A few miles away was a family looking for a child to love forever. The family had a mom and a dad and two children searching for a child to coddle, wrestle, chase, kiss, and teach about the love of the King.

One day, after several months of seeking out such a child, the blonde-headed, blue-eyed baby bounced into their place of worship. He was safely held, that is,  in the arms of a family caring for him until such a time as he was matched with his forever family. For the daddy of the family in search of a baby, it was apprehensive love at first sight. For the mommy, it was a bit of confusion because she thought they were called to love a brown-haired, brown-eyed baby girl. More about her later as she wouldn’t come along for another year…but that would be getting ahead in the story.  After one visit with the baby boy in her home, the mommy, also, was forever in love with the blonde-haired, blue-eyed baby boy.

In fairy tales, evil always ensues before the damsel is rescued, the family reunited, or the kingdom saved. Real life mimics fairy tales because fairy tales mimic real life. This little boy’s story had many a dark and looming cloud.

For nine months the boy and the family grew to know and love one another. They shared firsts and celebrated milestones. The mommy and daddy, and the boy’s temporary family, sent e-mails, made phone calls, attended meetings, and petitioned judges before the blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy bounced into the family’s home to stay. (Only modern day stories include phone calls and emails, but they are no less valiant, mind you, than decrees and messengers riding through the night to save the kingdom, rescue the damsel, or reunite the family.)

All throughout these months, and the ones which would ensue, a host of people within the Kingdom began to pray and petition the King for the boy to be placed with this family. Countless men, women, and children throughout the land would ask the King to place the boy with the family forever, and, quickly! The petitions of the people were being heard and would be answered in time.

Shortly after the boy came to live with his soon-to-be family, the court discovered an error that had to be addressed for this story to turn a final page into the second portion of its tale. This error would take ten more months to come to light and, thereafter, be rectified.

All this time, the months were accumulating  while the boy was waiting for the royal proclamation to give him a family. It would be thirty months until the proclamation would be granted. Thirty months before the blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy would be given his royal name–that name which his family prays is already written in the scrolls of the Kingdom as in this kingdom. Thirty months until…forever.

Thirty months came and went before this big day arrived…

As the boy and his family experienced the declaring of the proclamation that would unite them for all of their life in this kingdom, they thought of how quickly the thirty months passed in retrospect. Like thirty balloons being lifted to the sky and released in a moment’s time with the wave of a hand, the loosing of a grip, the relinquishing of power.

The weight of the wait was intense and a load, at times, seemingly unbearable. But upon the royal decree, the weight instantly became as light as air. All the cares of the past were lifted away to be replaced by a focus on the future and on raising a knight for the Kingdom.

Lest you forget, fairy tales are full of woe before wonder, and this fairy tale will be like the others and, similarly, unlike. Good days and gloomy days lurk ahead, but this day was a day two kingdoms celebrated with thirty balloons and triumphant shouts filling the chasm between. Maybe, just maybe, one of those balloons reached the other side and greeted others who have waited in like fashion.

*This story is a prologue to another story still unfolding. If it weren’t for this one, the later would never be possible. Woe lurks, but wonder is on the other side. The Kingdom prays and the King whispers, Courage dear heart.


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The False Summits of Adoption

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In hiking, a false summit is the portion of the mountain that appears to be the highest point; however, upon reaching it, a mountaineer sees that the summit is higher. Unless prepared for such false summits, the effect on a hiker’s psychological state can be damaging.  So much so, that the she may give up and begin a disappointing descent.

In the summer of 2015, our then family of four hiked the majestic Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs Colorado. It was the most difficult hike to date that we have hiked as a family, and it has proven to provide so many parallels to obstacles we have faced in our adoption journey. The two-thousand feet gain in elevation over a mile at the front end of the hike was almost paralyzing to my psyche. I wasn’t sure we could complete this hike with success, but we ventured forth anyway. The people along the journey were so encouraging. They couldn’t believe that our five and seven year old children were attempting such a hike.

The real kicker came as we were approaching what seemed the top of the incline. Another hiker told us, its a false summit. The top is still a ways up. What? There was more? We had already had to make accommodations for one child to poop while on the trail (that was a first and only so far!) and our other child started off battling a bit of an asthmatic episode and had to be carried for part of the initial portion of the hike. A false summit! Okay, time for a snack and to regroup and prepare ourselves for the remainder of the journey to the summit.

In order to complete this hike we were on all fours, lifting children, encouraging children, and taking multiple breaks. The good news is… we made it! The victory welcome at the top from the other hikers is something our children will never forget; and I am almost positive, some of our fellow hikers will not forget either. In particular one man named Don.

Our adoption journey which we had temporarily laid down for nearly two years was reinitiated after we returned from that family vacation. That summer multiple videos were released which exposed Planned Parenthood for selling the body parts of aborted babies and killing them in such a way as to gain the most profit from their organs. These videos were the tipping point for us to take another step towards adoption. We had fostered for 13 months in the hopes that we would foster to adopt. However, our hearts were so wounded  and raw after the reunification of our foster son, that we knew a time of refreshing and regrouping as a family was necessary. As we all know, the Lord will not let us rest forever. That summer He was calling us back to the work of adoption and orphan care.

In July of 2015 we decided not to recertify as foster parents but to ask that we go straight into the adoption process. In short, much misinformation was communicated to us which has further complicated our adoption journey there on out. However, in September of 2015, through the fostering of a baby by friends of ours, we met a beautiful blonde-headed, blue-eyed boy that we are now in the final stages of adopting. For ten months we daily made multiple phone calls, sent numerous emails, and advocated on behalf of the best interest of this child before he was placed in our home as a pre-adoptive placement in July of 2016.

You may rush by that last sentence; but for us, the living out of those ten months was long and arduous.

With high hopes that the adoption would be finalized in October of this year (2016), we awaited the go ahead from the attorney to schedule the court date. We inched closer to the anticipated court date only to discover that our son was not yet free and clear for adoption, but that a paperwork error had occurred and we were essentially back to a holding period.

Was this a false summit, or merely a strenuous portion of our hike?

With that knowledge in mind, I boarded a plane in late September and went hiking for two days in breathtaking Washington State with a dear friend. No false summits in sight on our hikes, and so far, none our adoption journey.

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Until…

Two days after my return home, we were told that our adoptive son’s mother was pregnant and would give birth to his sibling within a month.

False summit identified.

Stunned, is probably a good word for our reaction to this news. Overjoyed, is the word for our children’s response! Little had we known that Emily, our oldest daughter had been fervently praying for a baby sister. Now, she saw that her dream was within reach.

So today, we find our family expanding–at least at present, and Lord willing forever- to a family of six. Emily was right, the baby is a girl. So as we ascend this (what we perceive to be) the final portion of the adoption summit, let our story be one that encourages and informs you. Few adoptions are expedient, and none are without loss and pain. False summits happen all the time in hiking and perhaps with more frequency in life.

We are looking forward to that mountain-top view. The summit shall surely be worth it. We anticipate sharing in the joy and telling the God moments. To God be the glory!

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