Thursday, October 09, 2014

And now...the rest of the story

Our house is 4 feet. Yes, just 3 months after taking J.T. into our home, 2 little girls will be adding their "patches" to our patchwork family.

Yes, it's quick.
Yes, it's crazy.
But we know it's right.

Just 6 weeks after getting J.T. I had a dream that there was a little girl who needed us. I brought it up to Jon and he just blew it off, saying it was too soon. The next week I had another dream about a little girl and he took it a bit more seriously.

"Well, I guess we said we'd know when the time was right. Let's bring it up with J. T."
He loved the idea and has been asking for a sister ever since.

So we were slow on calling the placement worker, just getting caught up in the busyness of life with a 4 year old.

Another week passed and another dream. This one was clearly a 3 year old girl who needed us,- but the window of opportunity was closing.

It didn't make a bit of sense to me. How could we run out of time? It's not as if they hold foster kids on the shelf for a bit. When they come into care, they place them. I woke up with such a strong feeling in my spirit I couldn't let it rest.

"Jon, you have to call Sara. And if you don't I will! We're running out of time.... it's a girl,- a three year old girl."

"Ok, ok, I'll call her now."

Dialing. "Hey Sara, it's Jon G.....yeah.....oh really?.....hmmmmm.....ok, maybe I should let you talk to my wife."

Sure enough, she had a 3 year old girl in mind for us. She was actually already in care, but needed a transfer in placement. She was going for a weekend respite with another family, but Sara expected to current foster mom to need the transfer in the next few days.

We said yes without a doubt. But when the weekend came and went, the current foster mom through she could make the situation work.

We were disappointed, but at the same time we all knew it wouldn't work. So we waited patiently.

And two weeks ago Jon got a call from Sara.

"Remember that little girl? We'll need to change her placement. For real this time, it's just not working where she currently is"

"Yes. we'll take her"

"Well wait....there's also a sister"

Yes, they are part of a group of 5 children who are in care, and many have been separated. The agency saw this as the perfect opportunity to reunite the girls.

That was  surprise to us, but we took the weekend to pray about  it. In the end we felt this was truly the right thing to do.

So they are joining us this weekend, first the 10 year old A.T. and then the (now) 4 year old Si-Si.

Crazy? Yes.

But we knew that was the journey we were signing up for.

And now you know...the rest of the story.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Torn apart

On the 27th we finally got the call. I’d been very impatiently waiting for. I've reminding myself that it was all about timing and the right fit. We’d had a few calls but the kids were out of our demographics so we had to say no.

When we finally got the right call I was so excited. A little boy, 3 years old, - our first foster kid.

But immediately my excitement was conflicted with sadness. I realized that a family had been torn apart that day.

I prayed for his Biological mother, the sibling, his little heart. I couldn’t even imagine what that experience would be like.

 I would soon find out.

Little JT came to us that evening and we began the process of settling in- which I realize is anything but settling. It’s a mad flurry or introductions, immediate boundaries with a smile, trips to Meijer for everything the child did not come with, calls to the Foster Closet to find out when we can visit to get resources etc.

Saturday morning we did some errands and were driving home with JT in the back. We were on a main street, and the traffic suddenly got a bit congested. There were cars slowing and some switching lanes.

Garage Sale.

“Oh that’s weird, even a cop is at that garage sale.” Jon laughed.

Indeed there was. I leaned forward in my seat to get a better glance at what they were selling that had so many people’s attention. What I saw broke my heart.

A grandmother in the front yard fell to her knees. She grabbed her grandchild in her arms, as the little girl sobbed hysterically.

She had a large bruise around her eye.

A police man stood behind them with his hand on her shoulder as he gently tried to free her from grandma’s last goodbye.

I knew what I was witnessing.

“That little is being removed.” I said.

The deep sadness settled into my heart again. Everyday this is happening around us, but rarely does it touch our lives. Families are being torn apart every day.

And while I love everything about our little JT, part of me wishes it could be different for him. I wish he could be in his family, happy and whole. I wish things could be good for them, and they could be united. I wish he'd never had to experience the fear and sadness of being separated from his mother.

But I know for now that is not possible. So for now I will try my best to give him those things in our Patchwork family.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Due Date

So today we sign our final paper and will receive the final "ok" to take in kids. I wonder if this is how pregnant women feel. Waiting and wondering, "Will today be the day?" I'm overwhelmed with excitement, I can't really think of anything else. Yet sometimes I find myself thinking, "Well if they don't come for a few days then they can miss the rain and play outside." or "I hope they don't come that day, I haven't thawed out the hamburger...." So we're just waiting.....

Sunday, May 11, 2014

So how did I get here?.....

To be honest I’d always grown up expecting to have my own kids. I never knew any other way. I thought I’d marry young and start a family in my early 20’s. But sometimes life doesn’t work the way you expect. By 32, I found myself well educated in both books and life, had built a career and left it all behind to live in Africa. So many wonderful unexpected things had come my way but not the one thing I’d truly longed for, - a family. After a while it began to stress me out! Year after year, still single and no children. All you hear about in the media is increasing rates of infertility, or struggles to get pregnant after 30! I have several friends who have gone through IVF treatments and I’d think to myself, “Oh that is definitely not for me!” I had seriously considered adoption, (after all I was living in Africa) but each time I prayed about it, I heard a resounding “NO.” He wasn’t even open for discussion. So I returned to the USA with no baby. More years went by and the stress piled on, and it felt like the opportunities were slipping away. There finally came a day that I was fed up. Me and God had to have it out. I felt like Jacob “wrestling” with God, and not letting go until I had some answers. That was a long tearful night but I remember throwing at Him “You’ve given me wonderful things and wonderful opportunities. You’ve given me all of these things, but I’ve never asked you for these. College and NC and Africa were all good, but why do you refuse to give me the one thing that I actually want? No answer. Not that day, and not for a very long time. But one night I woke up from a dream. It wasn’t just a dream. It was a dream, you know? And I can’t even remember what the dream was, but I remember waking up and understanding the meaning of the dream was that my children would not be my own. Ok. To be honest I wasn’t exactly thrilled, - but at least I had an answer. I could calm the flip down and not stress about my fertile years anymore. I took this to mean that I’d end up with a guy who already had kids and I’d be the stepmom. Ummm. Not my first choice. I’d get to spend my weekend with some other woman’s kids. They’d like me but love her. I’d always be second best. I’d been given the child consolation prize. More years went by. I’d accepted my fate. The biological part didn’t bother me, oh heavens no. I fall in love with other people’s kids all the time. But I didn’t want to be a part time mom. I wanted to be a real mom. A 24 hours a day mom. A mom who reads bedtime stories every night, and cleans up puke and teaches kids how to ride bikes and convinces kids there are no monsters under the bed. A mom who tries and tries all of the parenting tips she reads online before she snaps and loses her s@%! and screams, “I don’t care who started it, I’m ending it!!!” or “Do you see? Do you see? That’s why we can’t have anything nice!” And then there was a day. One day in April. I was praying about whatever, but my mind began to think about this topic again, - my kids would not be my own And I heard in my spirit as clear as day, “When God gives us something, it…is…good.” I sat numb thinking about that. It…is...good. I was not being punished. I was not given second hand children. I was not handed a consolation prize. It is good. It is good that I will raise children that are not my own. It is good that I not have my own biological children. For whatever purpose, yet to be seen, this was part of my journey. Part of my plan. Part of who I was created to be. In that moment, I had an epiphany. My mind began to race with all of those thoughts long forgotten. The times I used to beg my parents to adopt another child. The plethora of time in teaching, or in Africa when I’d look at the pitiful life of some of my kids and long “I wish I could just take them home with me.” The fear I had of childbirth. The indifference I had with babies. The times I’d encountered those who had been adopted and left thinking “that’s awesome!” My secret desire to be a house-mom of a Wototo Village in Africa. The desire to have 6, 20, 50, 100 kids. For the first time, the idea of having kids that were not my own made me…happy. It has made me happy every day since. And for those of you who know our story, 3 months later I stood in the buffet line at a wedding, talking to some random guy that I had met a few months before at church. He pulled out his phone and started showing me pictures of his family, - a very motley crew. “Yeah, my brother fosters and adopts. I want to do that someday too. I think it would be cool…” And the rest is history…..

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Patchwork Parenting

My husband has a patchwork quilt that his grandmother made The colors are eclectic and I can't quite say they match. But there is something that is very appealing about this patchwork quilt. Maybe it's knowing that someone created it by hand,-hours of painstakingly planning, cutting, and stitching. Maybe it's knowing that a family member thought enough to put it all together and give it to Jon without ever knowing everyone who would enjoy it. Maybe it's the fact that when you actually climb under it, it is cozy beyond all measures of coziness. There is just something about that patchwork quilt that is good. It makes me think of the journey Jon and I are just about to begin. We've initiated the process to get our foster care license. This is the beginning of what I will refer to as Patchwork Parenting. Our family will be pieced together piece by piece. Most likely, we won't match and we'll all look like an eclectic collection. However, we are confident that even this process has been planned and will produce love and comfort for those we don't yet know. We are excited to begin this journey. I hope to chronicle the journey here......

Monday, June 06, 2011

I get it.

When I lived in Swaziland, about 50% of the population was HIV positive. The life expectancy had dropped to under 30 years. It is expected that the Swazi culture will be extinct by 2030. And yet when you spoke to a Swazi about it, they often felt helpless to change anything. They knew a change in sexual practices could change these statistics, but also felt that these were radical changes in a culture where polygamy is still common, it’s accepted that married men have mistresses, and condom use wasn’t really popular.
I’d ask some of my female friends about this, and they often expressed a sad acceptance that it was inevitable,- sooner or later it would happen to everyone, there wasn’t much they could do to change an entire culture. And I agree, you can’t change other people. But if I was in their shoes, I think I would at least want to protect myself.
“Would you ever not get married?...or would you ever insist that your husband wear a condom if he was staying out at night?”
They would laugh off the absurdity of my suggestions. It was just their culture,-and you can’t really expect a woman to not want to get married, have a family, or that your husband would accept wearing a condom after all this time of being married.
I use to shake my head in saddened disbelief.
“We all die someday Christy. I’ll die of AIDS, maybe you’ll die in a car wreck. What’s the difference?” they’d say.
“You’re right. We all die someday. But you’ll die at 30 and leave your children orphaned, and I’ll die when I’m 90, in my bed surrounded by my children and grandchildren.
However, I’ve always said that Swaziland has the same problems as America, it just takes on a different form.
This month I’ve committed to a ’30-day challenge’ of healthy eating, and regular exercise. (My friend Nichole does it through Facebook.) I’ve cut out lots of sugar, processed foods, and fast food, and I feel good doing it. I committed to this to go along with my Crim training, but also committed to it because I knew it was only 30 days.
“You can do anything for 30 days right?” I said to myself. “Then after that I can go back to whatever. I mean, it’s not really realistic that I’ll never eat fast food again, or sweets? I mean that’s just part of life, you get busy and over stretched, and so you have to grab something quick and or processed, or on-the-go. That’s just part of the American culture.”
And the light bulb went off!
I sounded just like my Swazi friends.
I look around me every day and see the consequences of our food choices. Obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, high blood pressure ect. It is killing off our people, and shortening our life spans. And we often shrug our shoulders and say, “Oh well, what are we to do? That’s just our culture, and the way life is.”

My own acceptance of this was a bit startling. I think I need to make a change. I know I’m only one person and I can’t change an entire culture. But I can make choices for myself. I can make changes in my ways. Some of my choices might seem counter culture, but I think I’ll have to adapt some of these practices for more than 30 days.
Thanks Nichole,- I get it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

If Jesus is the Reason....

Every year when December rolls around I get reflective. Another year has come and gone. What happened? What did I accomplish? What are my goals for the next year?

This year the holiday season approached with lights and bells & whistles just the same as always. I was so excited but knew this year would be a challenge. Work, plus grad school would eat away at the weekdays as well as the weekends. Could I squeeze in shopping here and there between students? Would I miss sitting in front of my tree because of the hours I had to sit in my office studying? I braced myself for the holiday season which (just as I expected) would fly by in a blink making me wonder "Hey, where did the month go?"

And maybe it was because my favorite time of year was slipping through my fingers that I became so easily annoyed with those little thing that I would usually let slide,- but this year I found myself internally cranky.

No I didn't go off on anyone, but I really feel the need to vent.

Hence, the blog. (Warning, you might not want to read this)

My biggest pet peeve this year was this seemingly constant barrage (either in close vicinity or via facebook)of I-refuse-to-be-politically-correct-because-I'm-a-Christian greetings. These usually came in the form of Merry CHRISTmas, or Jesus is the Reason for the Season, or Join my facebook group to keep Christ in Christmas if you are a REAL Christian, or Don't write "X-mas" groups.


Let me make myself clear. I am a Christian. I know Christmas Day is the day we observe the birth of Christ. So in the future, if I bump into you at church on Sunday and wish you a "Happy Holidays" it's not because I'm ignorant, nor is it because I'm trying to be politically correct. It's because between Nov. and Jan we celebrate many many holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day (for those of you Brits)New Years Eve, and New Years Day. My wish if for you to have all of them happily. So please save me the lecture about how I'm supposed to say "Merry Christmas"

Secondly, I have no problem writing "X-mas" because I know the history behind it and I'm not actually removing Jesus from Christmas. No matter how many facebook groups protest it, I'm still going to do it guilt-free.

You, however are welcome to write it how ever you'd like and wish it however you'd like. It's a free country and I don't mind if you say "Merry Christmas"

But it does bother me that these people who insist on making everyone keep "CHRIST in CHRIStmas" do little more than post annoying stuff on facebook.

(Disclaimer: I do have many beautiful friends who spend the holiday season serving, giving, loving, blessing others, and sacrificing in ways that would truly honor Jesus in remembering his birth)

But for the others, if the focus is still on presents, Santa, spending money you don't have to buy presents for people who don't really need anymore, gorging yourself on food 'till you're sick, throwing a couple of left over coins into a Salvation Army kettle, why do you pat yourself on the back for writing out all of the letters in Christmas instead of writing an abbreviation?
Perhaps you think you are doing baby Jesus a favor by honoring his holiday. But if your attitude, and actions are no different than those who don't recognize him, have you really honored him?
Yes, Jesus is the reason for the Season, but he's not the reason for mayhem incorporated into it.