Saturday, January 26, 2013

Our Adoptions

I am linking up with Kelly's Korner Blog today for Show Us Your Life Fridays.  Today the topic is about adoptions.  This is a topic we are definitely knowledgeable about! :)

I followed so many adoptive parents blogs over the years and their opinions and experiences were such a great resource for us in our journeys, so if I could be that resource for even one person, I would be happy.

I think I will just give an overview of our adoptions and some thoughts along the way.  For those of you who know us well, no need to read on as it probably doesn't have much more information than you already know. :)

Where did it all start?  Back in 2004 when we got married I guess.  We knew we wanted to have kids right away and due to my PCOS, we knew it would be difficult for us.  We tried for about a year and a half before my doctor told us that it was time to consider IVF.  We just didn't feel that was the route we wanted to take.  We prayed about it a lot, took a break from even thinking about it for a month or so (only we didn't because it's all I could think, I guess we just didn't discuss it!) and in the end, we opted to go to Bethany Christian Services to get some information about adoption.  We attended the informational meeting in early 2006 and knew this was the path we wanted to take.  After our paperwork pregnancy, we got "the call" on October 6th, 2006 that a baby boy had been born the day before and we were selected by the birth parents to be his adoptive parents.  We got in the car and headed a couple of hours away to meet the birth father and speak with him before he made his final decision.  He told us that night that he wanted us to be his son's parents.  I describe my feelings and why we chose an open adoption HERE.  Our open adoption is such a blessing to us!  Here is Tate (picture taken a few days ago) with his incredible birth father, Brandon.

We knew we wanted more than just one child.  We didn't rush though.  We were beyond overjoyed with what adoption did for it changed our hearts and lives and blessed us with a second family in Tate's birth family.  We had the ideal adoption story and we were scared that it would be too good to be true to have another situation that was so amazing.  We considered many options...another domestic adoption or international adoption.

 We never really considered foster care for several years. &nbsp
;It wasn't until April of 2011 that we were introduced to a foster family that had been fostering a couple of children that I happened to fall in love with while photographing them.  Something in my heart changed that day.  Then I had to convince my husband, Sean. :)

style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> I kept pestering him about the fact that we should look into fostering and adoption through the foster care system.  Again, we decided to go to an informational meeting a couple of months later and that's all it took.  Something in Sean's heart changed and he was game.

We went through the PS-MAPP training classes at the end of the summer which took 10 weeks.  During that training, we were told about a little 3 year old boy who was on the Waiting Children List.  We saw his picture and read his vague profile.  It said he was medically fragile.  What did that mean?  Sean is a nurse, we could handle medical needs right?  We inquired about little Wesley.  His needs were significant.  He was born with Chronic Renal Failure, underwent a kidney transplant just before turning 2, has a g-tube and some other developemental delays.  Yikes...we didn't know if we could handle this.  We prayed about it...a lot.  We waited.  We started to feel like we may be able to handle this.  We emailed back and forth with the  adoption worker and waited some more.  By the time we were nearing the date we would be getting our license, we were to the point of praying that Wesley would be our son.  We were ready to take on his needs and love him forever.

We were officially licensed in December 2011.  The NEXT DAY we got a call about an 11 month old boy with special needs...shaken baby syndrome.  We didn't expect that, we weren't prepared, we didn't think we could handle special needs.  Plus, we were waiting to hear if we were going to get to adopt Wesley!  What should we do??!  We contacted Wesley's adoption worker and asked if there was a decision to be made soon.  The response indicated that there were tons of inquiries about him and chances were slim that it would be us.  Saddened by that news, we knew that there must be a reason and we accepted the foster placement of Cason, the 11 month old.  With Cason came appointments galore.  Therapy, doctors appointments, rehabilitation, eye doctor, etc.  Our first was nuts.  We fell in love with him immediately...we knew he may not stay with us.  It was scary, but he deserved to be loved fully and so we did.  We risked our comfort and were scared that our hearts would be ripped out of us if he were not able to stay with us.  He was worth that risk...we wouldn't ever do it differently.

2 weeks after welcoming Cason into our home, we got a call from Wesley's adoption worker.  Turns out, we were a good fit for Wesley.  They wanted us to come in for an interview about adopting him.  Oh my...we had a range of emotions.  We had prayed for this boy for months, thought about him and hoped he could be ours.  We were overwhelmed with caring for our little Cason's needs and just starting to feel settled.  We were scared.  Could we handle Wesley too with all of his medical needs?!  We decided that God had opened this door for us and we would at least explore it as an option.  We met Wesley a couple of weeks later and that was it...we wanted him.  We would make it work.  We interviewed a couple of weeks later and found out shortly after that we were selected as his adoptive family.  A mere days later, we began his transition from his foster family to our home.  We did lots of back and forth over the course of about 5 weeks before he officially moved in with us  on March 8th, 2012.

This situation was like nothing we had ever expected or even thought we wanted!  I am not going to sugar coat things and say everything was great.  It was HARD!  It was overwhelming and scary and I had moments where I wondered what on earth we had gotten ourselves into, but my home was full of 3 amazing boys that God meant for us to have.  We were blessed...amidst all of the stress and chaos, we were blessed.  Busy, but blessed.
Shortly after that, we found out that the likelihood of our being able to adopt Cason was high.  We knew in our hearts we were his forever family, yet we knew that nothing was certain for a few months.  We now had 3 boys ages 1, 3 and 5 in a 2 bedroom house that was less than 1000 square feet.  We decided to add to the chaos and buy a new house and move us all to a more comfortable living situation.

We bought a house in the spring, took possession in the summer with the plans of doing about 10 days worth of work on it before moving in.  The very day we got possession and went into the house and started tearing down wallpaper, Wesley got sick...very sick.  We ended up at the ER that night and didn't leave Wesley for 7 days while he got better.  So much for our plan!  However, it doesn't matter what OUR plan's God's plan that prevails.  So our amazing friends and family took the reins, worked on our house while we weren't there, watched our kids and prayed for our Wesley.  It takes a village, people!  We have an amazing village.

We moved in and settled into our new home and new life as a family of 5, still praying that everything would go smoothly and we would be able to finalize both of our boys' adoptions as quickly as possible with no hiccups along the way.  And that day came...October 5th, 2012...our oldest son, Tate's birthday.  That was adoption day.  :)  Our family and friends gathered and filled that courtroom.  We were officially a family of 5 as of that day.  It was amazing.  What a crazy year it was!

So now we have 3 boys...2 with significant medical and special needs.  For some reason we couldn't let our foster license expire like we originally thought we would.  We knew that our hands were full, that we were done...or did we?  We renewed our license and are letting God decide what is in store for us.  Maybe a daughter someday?  I would be happy with my 3 incredible boys and if you ask me, our plan is to be a family of 5.  Since when is my plan the master plan though right?  So we are leaving it all in God's hands.

What I can say is that adoption was never part of "my plan" in life.  It has changed my heart, my life, my world.  It has brought me closer to God, it has softened my heart and made me more patient.  It has changed the lives of many of our family and friends as well.  With adoption, it's not just about the adoptive parents, the children you adopt, the birth families, it's about your whole changes everyone.  There are no words that do justice to our feelings about what adoption has given us.  God has blessed us with these incredible children who we have the honor or raising and loving forever!  God built this family for us that has been beyond anything we ever could have dreamed or imagined.  He has showed us that we can handle and WANT to handle so much more than we ever knew possible.

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