Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right path. PROVERBS 3:5-6

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

Our Story – part 4: Placement #2 & #3

My sister starting having trouble in her life and her children were removed by Children Services in Toledo.  This was the same two nephews we had back in the beginning, except now there were 3 more added to that family.  The last time we had them, because of how hard it was, we said we would NEVER take them again if things got bad a 2nd time.  Of course, after praying and knowing what God wanted us to do, we said yes to the three younger ones.  Jaylie, Julia and Joshua came to live with us the beginning of February 2011.  That was a crazy adjustment.  We went from 4 kids to 7!  Because of their ages, it was so much more difficult.  We had two almost 2 year olds and two almost 3 year olds in the house now.   My two older nephews went to live with my dad. 

We had visits at our house every other weekend.  I really wanted this to work and for my sister to get better and for the kids to move back home with her.  I wasn’t sure I could handle this many children for long.  It didn’t work out with the older kids at my dad’s for reasons I can’t really get into, but they were moved to an aunt’s house on their dad’s side of the family.  We had to set up visits with the siblings and their aunt decided that she would take all 5 kids to keep them together.  I did not think it was a good idea, but the kids did need to be together.  The social worker decided to have weekend visits at their aunt’s house on a trial basis.  After two weekends, I couldn’t get their aunt to schedule another.  Thank God they didn’t move them without the trial. 

Fast forward a few months…My oldest nephew was struggling with the place he was living.  He didn’t fit it and was becoming depressed.  In September, the aunt called Children Services and said she could no longer handle the two boys!  I didn’t know what to do.  We had already turned our office into a bedroom to make room for the three little ones.  We put our selfish thoughts out of our head and decided to trust God to provide for us!  We took Joey and Jacob the end of September 2011.  Their room was made out of a room we were going to use as a spare bedroom.  Except for the extra food, there was not a lot of adjusting.  They are really good kids.

When we built our house, the plans had a formal dining and living room.  We decided to close off both of those rooms and put doors on them instead of the open walk ways that were in the plan!  God knew to prompt that!  Both of those rooms are bedrooms now.  We are so thankful for some of the changes we made in our house plans.  We added on to the garage.  Had we not, our 15 passenger van wouldn’t fit in it.  We added a larger pantry which is much needed now.   We upgraded to an 80 gallon hot water tank!  Huge blessing now!

So, after trying to work a case plan, my sister and the kids’ father, never got to a point where the kids went back to them.  There were many lectures and fights that I’m not proud of between my sister and I. I was so frustrated because I didn’t think we could adopt them and I didn’t want them split up!  Foster care is one thing, adoption is another.  Financially, I thought it would be impossible.  It was amazing to watch my God move mountains for us!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Our Story: Part 3 - Transition

Now that we made the decision to adopt, it was time to get our house back on the market.  We needed space!  We purchased land before our oldest son was born with hopes of building a new house by the time he started school.  We thought that would be a perfect time.  God’s timing is so much better than ours.  We had tried to sell our house before and just couldn’t get a bite on it.  Darrell and I both felt that God was saying it wasn’t the right time.  Now that we were going to have Austin and Alex permanently, we needed more space.  We had moved them to Madisyn’s room and moved her to share with Mason until we could sell our house and start building a new one.

We were so confused about everything going on.  We started to doubt our decisions and started questioning whether we made the right choice to start the adoption and if we would be able to sell our house and handle the stress of building a new one.  We decided to ask our Pastor to pray with us.  Pastor Tom prayed with us at church after service and prayed that we would get our answer as soon as that very day.  When we got home there was a message on our machine!  We finally got an offer and started looking for a place to rent.  God’s perfect timing again was reassuring us every step of the way.

We knew it would be a pain to move after we closed on the house and then move again when our house was built, but we had no choice.  We couldn’t afford two house payments if our current house didn’t sell while we were building.  We couldn’t take the chance.  We had prayed and hoped that we could rent our house, but never asked the buyer.  I guess we just figured that if he was buying the house, he would want to move in. 

The guy that put the offer on our house actually stopped by to introduce himself and brought his sister by to take a look at it.  He was looking forward to retiring and moving in.  We told him we were building a house and had put a deposit on another smaller house to rent while we waited for our house to be built.  A few days later, or maybe weeks, I can’t quite remember, he stopped by in the evening again.  This time, he apologized for stopping by so late, but he was driving and really felt he was supposed to stop.  He offered us the opportunity to rent our house from him!!  Amazing!!  Our rent was a little cheaper than our house payment!  God is good for sure!

We had prayed and prayed that if it was in God’s will for us to build a house that He would let us use it to further His kingdom!  We prayed as a family on our vacant lot before the house was built that He would use us for His glory!  We had no idea that He had BIG plans for us.  Our house was finished and we moved in November 2010.  Our 2nd placement came to live with us on February 3, 2011.  We hadn’t even unpacked everything.  God’s timing is PERFECT!  This placement was personal!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Our Story: Part 2 - Placement #1

We had a vacation planned for June, so we actually were not put on the list to receive kids until the end of June.  We got a call right away for a little boy.  We were excited to accept!  We were supposed to pick him up on a Monday, but he was blessed with grandparents that were willing to keep him instead. 

In July, we were asked to take two little boys, ages 1 ½ and 3 ½.  They were removed for neglect.  Our house at the time was small and we had it arranged to take a boy and girl.  We checked with Mason, our son, to make sure he wouldn’t mind sharing a room with two little ones.  He said he was OK with it so we accepted the placement.  Austin and Alex came to live with us July 2009.  They were wound up!  The first week we had them, they were getting up at 4AM!  I guess that was their lifestyle for most of their short lives.  Plans to reunite failed after many attempts.  After having them for over a year, we were asked to make the decision whether or not to adopt.

It was a hard decision and one we really weren’t planning on making.  We just wanted to be foster parents.  So we prayed and prayed that we would hear God and listen to what His plan was for our life.  I prayed that the sign would be as clear as water.  I told God that my reasoning gets in the way a lot and it would be great if He would just send someone to me and tell me this is what I should do, someone who didn’t know we were faced with this.  I really needed a clear sign.    

I got exactly what I prayed for.  I received a call from Pauline Strauss one day.  She is the lady that ran the Tuesday night Bible study I used to participate in before our placement.  She was just calling to see how I was doing and was wondering how the boys were and if I still had them.  She told me how lucky they were to have us.  That was it.  This was my sign!  

Darrell and I made a list of the “why’s and why not’s” to adopt.  ALL the reasons not to, were pure selfishness.  We believe that God put those boys in our house for us to keep and that everything in our lives up until that point and even after, has been preparing us for where we are today.  We decided to go ahead with the adoption.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Our Story - Part One: Becoming Foster Parents

It all started at the end of 2008.  I was sitting in church on a Sunday morning and had a sudden thought pop into my head.  It said…”you should be a foster parent”.  Totally not related to the service and not something that I thought about doing at all!  I quickly pushed that thought right out of my head!  You see, we had temporary custody of my nephews a few years before that and it was an awful experience.  Without going into details, just know that it put a tremendous strain on my family, especially our marriage.  So much so that I wasn’t sure we would pull out of it.  However, God is good and we got through it with HIS help and I really thought I would never go through that again!  Little did I know we needed to go through that so we would be prepared for the future that God had in store for us.
For about a month after that day in church, the thought just kept coming back.  It didn’t help that it was the month that a local radio station advertises an auction that they do for Foster kids in our county.  I decided I would tell someone and realize how crazy it was and block it out for good.   I started talking to a friend and during the conversation I said I don’t know any foster parents to even talk to about all my questions.  THAT DAY I met a foster parent.   It was someone I already knew, I just didn’t know that she was a foster parent and had adopted her daughter through foster care.  The amazing thing is that I only found this out because I overheard a conversation she was having with someone else.  Now I start thinking that this is more than just a coincidence.  I decided to mention it to Darrell, thinking he would say absolutely not, and knowing that God would never put us in a situation that would hurt our marriage I could finally get rid of this now overwhelming feeling.
I get home from work that day and had to run right back out for something.  Before I lost my nerve, I told Darrell to remind me when I get home to tell him something.  He kept asking what it was so quickly I said I really feel like we should look into foster parenting.  He looked at me and said, “if it’s something you feel strongly about, we’ll talk about and look into it”.  WHAT??  This is not at all what I expected to come out of his mouth!   At that moment I thought, OK God, I get it.  I’ll look into it.
January of 2009 we signed up and started pre-service classes to become foster parents.  We were the only couple out of about 11 that were not signed up to adopt.  We were in it strictly to do foster care.  The classes were awesome.  At times I found myself wishing we would have taken them before we had our bio kids.  After the classes, the home study process started.  So much paper work was involved.  I started to doubt our decision and drug my feet on a few things.  The final item we needed was our life insurance information.  I needed to call our finance guy to see what the details of our policies were.  I just kept forgetting or running out of time to actually call him.  One day, I get home from work and there was a message on my machine from him.  Another God moment!!  I never called him!  I hadn’t talked to him in probably over a year.  He was just calling to see how we were and if we needed anything.  OK God, I get it….I’ll get moving!  We finished up everything and got our license in May 2009.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What first sparked our interest in Caleb

I first saw Caleb's picture a few years ago and immediately thought he looked so much like our then foster son, Alex. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for kids with Down Syndrome because of watching our neighbor's little girl with Down Syndrome grow up across the street from us. I remember thinking how I wished we would have been able to afford to adopt him then. At that time, we had just moved into a brand new home and were in the process of adopting our two foster sons that we have had since 2007. Here is the picture! You'll have to excuse the lotion on Alex's head. He was supposed to be napping. You can tell by the look on his face that he knew he made a bad choice. hahaha!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Welcome Back

Wow! I haven't blogged since 2011. I look at my last post and see that it was about how our life had changed and we had 7 kids and how we couldn't believe it. Ha! We now have 9 and are in the process of adding one more. I just love God's sense of humor. Stay tuned for the rest of the story!