First let me start off by apologizing to all those who have been supporting / walking with us this past year. It took me way too long to write an official update about the past 6 months, to the point where I'm sure things were found out before we were able to tell you first hand but I hope this post gives light to how everything unfolded.
I left off asking for prayer as we made decisions on which path we would be taking as we continued on in our adoption journey. So to start from there (early February) here's what happened...
February was the month we began training to become foster parents. Foster care was always a "maybe one day" kind of conversation, mainly because we felt it would just be too hard. After going through our first two situations in adoption we were faced with the reality that there is no safe / easy route so, we reassessed and our conclusion was to just start by getting educated and see what happens. We still weren't sold on the idea but getting the training was something we both felt compelled to do, at least while we were waiting to adopt domestically. Another potential adoption opportunity came and went over the course of a week at the end of the month (marking baby number 3) and once again we were left sad but hopeful.
In March - early April we were given 3 more opportunities to present our profile. A six month old, a new born and twins that were going to be born in a few months. We had our profile active (which means they were in front of all 3 birth Mom's) at the same time over the course of a few weeks. Once again, none of them worked out and we were back to the waiting game. So to sum up December- April, we had 6 different potential adoption opportunities that fell through for various reasons and we were about 1 training session away from becoming certified foster parents.
At this point we were honestly a little confused and I was becoming incredibly impatient. Why had so many potential adoptions fallen in our lap only to not work out? It honestly felt a little cruel. Why would we feel so confident in our call to adoption when it seemed like maybe we were the problem? It was a weird time filled with a lot of doubt and feeling unsure about anything all the while in this weird limbo of waiting and reminding myself "But hey, all it takes is one phone call and everything could change in a second".
One random Sunday afternoon rolled around, Ethan went to my brother's basketball game and I took a 2 hour nap. I wish this was normal but it's not, I can never nap. So I woke up, and thought about how weird that was and then decided I would take a pregnancy test. 3 positive tests later I was panicking because Ethan would be home any second and I had no idea what to do. You know, you are about to have a monumental moment and I couldn't think of one cute way to tell him that we were going to have a biological child. So, he walked in the house and as I greeted him with a hug I dropped all of the pregnancy tests on the floor and said "whoops". No joke that's all I could come up with. It took him a second to tell what they were and why they would be on the ground haha but it clicked and we celebrated together. Of course we were so excited but shocked and had no idea how to even process this reality. We hadn't planned for a biological child and even tossed around the idea never trying for biological children, maybe we would only grow our who family through adoption or foster care. We hadn't changed what we had been doing for 4 years and for whatever reason became pregnant.
We ended up calling our adoption attorney and social worker the following day to let them know we were pregnant and to find out what that meant for adoption / foster care. This pregnancy is an undeserved gift and we are so grateful for the opportunity to have a biological child but it is by no means our end goal or a solution to our waiting with adoption. We had and still have every intention for adoption & foster care to be a part of our story with or without a biological child. To our surprise our attorney and social worker were both supportive of this and said we were good to go with continuing to pursue foster care and/or domestic adoption while being pregnant. Ethan and I had both been really feeling a pull towards foster care as our training continued, especially after the final three potential adoptions didn't work out. Now that we were pregnant we were still open to adoption but took it as a sign to really pursue foster care. So we kept moving forward.
We had to finish our last training class in May and final home study. Once those were completed we were told it would be a few weeks before our home would be cleared and we would be an active family. I decided to call one day just to check in and they answered saying...
"I actually have your file on my desk, you are officially approved and it says here for two children?"
To which I replied, "Well yeah, we said we were open to sibling sets and if there was a baby and a toddler we would be able to accommodate them"
"Okay, I'll let the intake team know"
We hung up, I called Ethan to let him know we would be on the active waiting list and we quickly made reservations for dinner at our favorite Italian spot in South Philly so we could have a date night. We heard placements could happen fast so we figured we might as well take advantage of a free night.
The following day came, we both headed to work and it just felt like any ordinary day. In the early afternoon while I was at work I received a phone call from DHS asking if we would be willing to take a brother and sister. We said yes. There was a bit more info given and we had a few phone calls after that but we were told they would be dropped off at our home in a few hours. The Mom that I nanny for is a saint and showered me with her generosity. She ran around the house and gave us a pack and play, double stroller and anything else she could find that we could use. I ran to target, called my sister on FaceTime and she virtually walked up and down the aisles with me telling me what her two year old eats / helped me think of all the necessities I needed. My other sister has two kids that recently grew out of the potential sizes we needed so she & my Mom packed up and dropped everything off at my house. Ethan came home early from work, we quickly set the rooms up for the kids and within 3 hours of our initial phone call there was a knock at the door. Two social workers walked in holding a sleeping baby and his sister. They told us all they knew about the kids and their situation (which wasn't much), had us sign a few papers and left after about 15-20 min. And there we were, with two kids.
The first few days were a lot of everyone getting to know each other, lots of trial and error with food / drink / sleeping arrangements. We were 100% in survival mode, just taking it one moment at a time and trying to learn how to best love these babies.
We were and have continued to be blown away by the immediate support we were given. Within the first few days of our placement, family and friends dropped off high chairs, toys, clothes, bottles, etc. We had a meal train set up for us that will provide 3 meals a week through August. Our sweet friends from California sent us stuffed animals for the kids, a family I used to work for dropped off clothes and toys and paid for us to have a Zoo membership. Every thoughtful text or phone call to check in on us made us feel so loved and supported. We are so humbled by the generosity and love we've seen from our community. It's just beautiful.
The first month marker has officially been hit and we are slowly getting used to our new normal. Foster care is hard and intentional and takes all that I have to give everyday. My dependency on Jesus increases because it has to, and that is a gift. There is no way we are capable of doing this without Him. We go to bed tired and used up but it is an honor and something we will never take lightly. For whatever reason we are privileged with the responsibility to have these babies in our home for however long the Lord allows. We are rooting for their Mom and we ask that you do too. Pray for her.
In moments when I fear the idea of losing them I'm reminded of this blog I once read...
"I put on a brave face.
I don't feel brave. I feel afraid. I feel sad. I feel all of it: good, bad, and ugly.
But I put on the brave face. Not because I want to fake it. But because I want my face--and my feelings--to come in line with what I think, what I believe, what I know.
I know that God makes better plans than I ever could.
I know that a small-time county judge is really just a human conduit of the Great Judge who is always, actually deciding these children’s fates.
I know that God created the family. That it’s sacred to him. And that—when at all possible—it should remain together.
I know that God loves these children’s biological parents. That he adores their souls, that they are precious to Him.
I know that “but for the grace of God go I” and that I am no better than my children’s parents.
I know that—against any tangible reason to hope—there is hope.
I know that every moment I’ve held and rocked and kissed and fed and spoken to and played with and nurtured the children in my home has contributed to their physical and emotional and spiritual healing.
I know that my prayers have power, that they actually affect the trajectory of these children’s lives.
I know that God is with my precious foster children when I'm not, when I can't be. That he can protect and comfort and rescue them.
I know that God’s grace will carry me through every feeling and worry and ounce of pain.
I know that God uses my own sorrows to draw me closer to Himself, and that this is reason alone why they’re always, ultimately for my good.
I know that the way I’ve served this child and this family was ultimately about serving—and worshiping—God, that He has seen it all and is well pleased.
I know that this is all worth it."
- Foster the Family blog (http://www.fosterthefamilyblog.com/foster-the-family-blog-1/i-put-on-a-brave-face-foster-care)
Your prayers have been felt, we wouldn't be able to do this without them so thank you. Please keep the prayers coming. To all those who gave financially to our funds for domestic adoption, our plan has been and always will be to adopt children. The money is only able to be used for that purpose so it will remain untouched until necessary. If you have any questions or concerns about this please do not hesitate to ask, we are so grateful for your generosity.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our story. We will continue to update every few months so stay tuned.