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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Foster Care

In 2009 I looked up the qualifications for becoming Foster Care parents. We didn't meet Utah's standards yet.

In 2011 we started fertility treatments. 



















In 2012 and 2013 we did IVF and lost our three babies. 

























In 2014 we looked into Foster Care in Texas very seriously. We met the qualifications, did lots of reading and attended the orientation meeting that was held on a Sunday in downtown Dallas. But on the drive home we both just knew it wasn't the time yet. It was actually really disappointing but we trusted our feelings. 

In 2015 we became licensed to become adoptive parents and 6 months later, our Tyson was placed in our arms and we've been "mom and dad" ever since. His adoption was finalized only a month and a half after! It was a miracle. He was sealed to us in the temple the following month.


In 2018 Bryce finally got his big job! We moved to Flagstaff, AZ and he began flying at the Grand Canyon. We've been living with my parents for a year because of Bryce's new job that keeps him away a lot. It's been awesome living here!

In 2019  My parents received their church mission call to serve 12 months in Montreal Canada. They leave September 2nd! So we will house-sit for them while they're gone.
Once they got their call, it opened up the foster care discussion more fully. We decided to get started with foster care when it got a little closer (so mom and dad won't have to deal with the training and background checks and fingerprints when they'll be leaving anyway!)

Two weeks ago, we decided to finally jump into the world of Foster Care with both feet -- ALL in.  I didn't expect our path to parenthood to be so NON-linear. We've been all over the board. But that seems to just be our way and that's ok with me. We've always tried really hard to do things according to the promptings we receive and with a lot of prayer and study.  So I'm thankful to know we're in the right place at the right time. 
SO I wanted to document the process because it's new and exciting and I've appreciated reading other blogs and stories that lay out everything in the process. I'm told it will take 4-6 months to get approved and trained for a child to actually be placed with us. I'm hoping it's the lesser amount of time but we're just going to go with the flow!

_____________

Aug. 4th: I got onto the Arizona DCS website and filled out our information so they could contact us. They sent me an email and I filled out more info. 

Aug. 5th: We needed to choose an agency to work with in our county.  I narrowed it down to 4. I texted my friend Mari who has a lot of experience with the Foster Care system here in AZ and she recommended one in particular which was thankfully on my list. I called them and asked a few questions and in turn, they asked me probably 20-30 questions. I really liked them so far from our conversation. She was super helpful. Especially since Bryce's work schedule made me really worry that the training schedule wasn't going to be possible. She said she would see what she could find out and let me know. 

Aug 6th: She talked with the social worker in our area and she was TOTALLY flexible! I was so relieved! Normally the training schedule is 3 hour classes once per week for 5 weeks. And you have to watch about 8 hours of online training between each class. 
But in our area, it sounds like there are so few families being trained at a time, she just comes to our house to do the training and she is awesome and works with our schedule!! So we will likely end up doing 2 classes in one week, then Bryce will be at work for a week and then the following week we will do the remaining 3 classes. 

Aug. 9th: I got an email from our agency asking me to watch five short orientation videos. (I had actually already done it) But then I filled out our contact info so they could start things more officially. I did that and they said they would call me on Monday since it was near the end of the day on Friday.

Aug 12th: We received an email from our agency. We needed to get fingerprinted.  They gave us a link to get scheduled along with a code so we wouldn't have to pay anything for it.   So we applied and scheduled our fingerprinting. We scheduled for the following day because there were no openings that day. But Bryce was about to leave for work for a week so I called the UPS store where we were scheduled. And they told us we could come that day and just gave us a time. So we headed over, showed two forms of ID and got our fingerprints done. 
We also received an email with about 6 pages of paperwork. Nothing extensive; mostly signatures and our addresses for the last 10 years. (Thankfully I have all our adoption paperwork that has all of that info gathered. Because I'm TERRIBLE at remembering old addresses and dates of our moves!) 
So we filled it all out and sent it back the same day. 

Aug. 13th: We got an email saying since we lived in Texas in the last 5 years, they needed us to fill out a release form so they could check with Texas DCS to make sure we didn't have a record there or anything. This one needed to be notarized. That was fine on my end. I could go to the bank or wherever and get it done but Bryce was already back living in the camper up at the Grand Canyon for work for the week. 
He checked with his work and they have a notary there! So I would just bring his paperwork to him when we went up to visit that night and he would have it done....but we got there and I realized it forgot it! ugh! But they were so nice and let me print it there at work and I filled out the info part and left it for Bryce to have notarized with them.

Aug. 14th: Bryce signed and had it notarized.

Aug. 15th: I spoke with the agency and now we're just waiting on our fingerprint paperwork to be received and they'll call us to schedule our training once they get it. (Probably on Monday!) Our fingerprint cards arrived in the mail this afternoon so we're pretty official! I'm really happy and excited things are moving along easily! Hopefully it will continue! 

Aug. 16th: Today I pulled out all of T's old clothes that he's grown out of since moving here. The rest of it is in storage in Texas so I'll have to get it next time we visit. But for now, I pulled out what I had a ran it all through the wash. I folded everything and organized them by size, wrapped them in some painters tape and wrote the size on the tape. (this is how my sister Annette organized the hand-me-downs she sent me when T was a baby and I just think it was genius!)
So I'll need to collect some girl clothes over the next few months but I'll likely wait and buy as I need to so I don't go crazy...because if it was up to me I would spend ALL THE MONEY on ALL THE BABY CLOTHES!!





Sunday, May 26, 2019

His Hand

There was a time in my life when I couldn't live without a journal or notebook close by.  It was the hardest time in my life...but I received more revelation, more answers, more guidance and more dreams that comforted my aching heart than I have ever had or ever had since.  I don't want to go back to those days.  I don't want to go back to constant pain, medications, shots, calendars, being scared out of my mind...trying SO hard, praying so hard.

I have found myself sharing often lately of my experiences {in the past} of journaling and blogging and how they made me more aware of God's blessings and guidance in my life.

And yet, I haven't blogged in a year and I have only 10 journal entries in that amount of time. (some of them not long at all) 

But those answers, guidance, dreams and comfort?  I'm realizing more and more that I want that and I need that again.  I'm in a different stage of life now. I still desire the same thing as I did all those years ago, but in a new and different way.  

I didn't know back then, that there would be this little boy who would come into my life a few years later.  I didn't know that I'd be sitting here today telling you that I have a 3-yearl-old who asks me to snuggle him and says he "just needs" me (oh, my heart!)  This kid has me wrapped around his finger and drives me nuts all at once, and I wouldn't trade any of his craziness for the world.  


He came to us through adoption. I often find myself just watching him and suddenly remember he's not mine biologically... that I didn't form him in my belly. And I almost can't believe it. I feel like he's been mine forever and always. He has so much of me and so much of Bryce in him.  

And I never could have imagined the story he's created in our life. I never could have imagined him coming to us just days before he turned 5 months old. I never imagined that his birth mother would tell me, in all her sincerity, that she believes we were so close before this life that she promised to carry my baby and bring him to me since I wouldn't be able to bring him here myself.  I never imagined this girl, who I had never before met, would entrust this piece of her heart to my care. 

So today, I'm trusting that God has more in store for me. I'm trusting that in a few years, maybe I'll look back at today and realize just how much I didn't know. Just how much I was unprepared for His plan for me.  So to show God that I trust Him with the plan for my life, to show God that I'm ready for his guidance, his answers, his comfort for my aching heart, I'll be writing it all down. 

I'll be documenting his hand in my life. 

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Mother's Day Tears

I had to write tonight.

Lying here in bed I was scrolling through the many many Mother's Day FB posts. They're all so happy and beautiful and grateful. It's such a wonderful day and brings out so much goodness in everybody to remember their mothers!  And yet, I find myself brushing away tears from my cheeks that are falling without my permission.

I honestly don't know when I last cried over all of this. I haven't had a reason to! I've been given this gift of motherhood from a woman who I had never met prior to her decision.  And because of it, since then, my days have been filled with mommying and little hands and feet and smiles and needs. I'm needed. Every day and sometimes every minute (especially of late...separation anxiety is running rampant in my almost 3 year old because of our recent move).

I'm a mom.  A mom. (insert all those heart emojis)

I get it ALL. I get the hands, feet, smiles, needs, cries, kisses, hugs, giggles, tantrums, spills and love. It's more than I ever dreamed it would be. It's better and harder and longer and shorter all at once. The love is so intense and the amazement at every little thing he does and learns is overwhelming.

But I guess tonight ... I don't know. I don't know. My mother heart knows the Lord has more children for me. I don't know yet how they'll come but they will come. Eventually.

As much as I've dealt with the grief of infertility, as much as I've dealt with the realization that my body refuses to house an babe longer than a few weeks and as much as I've dealt with the acceptance that my plans just aren't always His ... I apparently still have emotions about it. I say "apparently" as if I was unaware of it until now but that's inaccurate. I'm reminded by my body often that I'm imperfectly formed (and yet perfectly made by my creator....another post for another time.)

I remember when we had our last miscarriage. Those days. They were surreal and so real... More emotion than anything we had ever experienced before. But God was watching over us and showing us His more perfect plan. He was preparing us for parenthood that would just have to wait a few years longer.  Eventually, as we prepared to move forward and choose adoption, I had several people remind me that there is always room for a miracle to happen--that I might get pregnant on our own one day.  But this is a truth that I've always been aware of and hopeful for -- if that's what the Lord has in store for us, then we'll happily live that life. But I couldn't and still can't just sit around waiting for that to happen.

I wanted to be a mother. I didn't need the pregnancy to make me a mom. I didn't need to house his body inside mine for 9 months to feel connected to him, to want him or to love him with all my heart. That happened the moment he was placed in my arms at 4 1/2 months. He was mine and I was his. I was his Mom.

So I guess, as it's now 12:23am on May 13th, it's Mother's Day. And I'll have some tears today. Because my motherhood came after 7 years of tears. Because I have friends who waited far longer than me.  Because I have amazing friends still waiting with tears on their own cheeks in their desire to be Mothers. Because my body reminds me of my own brokenness. Because my motherhood came at an extreme cost to another woman. Because my little Ty is an extra big miracle. Because I know God has more miracles in store for us eventually and I can't help but wish they would come now.

So today I'm going to remember that we all have our own stories and that we all need to be loved and remembered -- no matter how our story looks from the outside.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Stitch {Adoption Post #7}

We've had this little person in our house now for 16 months. He's almost 21 months old!  He's going to be 2 before we know it and I'm in denial. 


He loves shoes and boots and going outside. He calls cars "chaws", cows "mooes" and is awesome at saying thank you "teen-too!"


The only thing he wants my iPhone for is to talk to Siri. Over and over I hear a double beep and then "Sorry, I didn't get that." and "I'm not sure what you said.".  He says "nigh' nigh' Bye BYE!!" when we put him in his crib and he falls right asleep. It's magical.

It takes him a long time to really wake up in the mornings and he hates it when we turn on the light to soon. He's completely attached to the bear he was given by the judge on the day of his adoption and brings it with him when I pick him up out of his crib. 

He runs away after I take off his clothes and tell him we need to get him dressed. And today I found him butt-naked lounging on the couch watching Cars. 


 He folds his arms for prayer by putting his right hand one top of his left hand, tucked up near his chin, mumbles words while we pray (like he's saying his own prayers) and says "amen!" when we do.

He loves to be chased and loves to be surprised -- to the point that he jumps. He thinks it's the coolest funnest thing ever.  He has the best belly laugh and the bluest eyes. 


Bryce and I are both learning this parenting thing as we go; he keeps us on our toes! And as hard as parenting is sometimes (when he throws his plate full of home made pasta on the floor without eating a single bite, when he poops in the tub for the second time that week or when he pushes the chairs that I keep in the hall --away from the table-- back to the table and climbs up on it and stomps around the table to show that he's up where he shouldn't be......) it's the best thing that's every happened to us and we try to smile when he's naughty as we figure out how to teach him not to climb on tables and throw his food. 

He's my little Stitch. I really feel like Lilo sometimes from this scene:


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Tears

Bryce is working late tonight so Ty and I got to spend lots of time together just the two of us. We sat down on the floor together and he pulled out book after book and we read our favorites. 

As I read books with such sweet simple words about love and snuggles and happiness I cried. We would turn the page and read another short beautiful sentence and I'd cry some more. 

Yesterday, I put him in overalls for the first time and he looked so adorable and boyish and big; I cried. 

The doctor, at his one year appointment, said I need to wean him off his bottle now. I'm not ready. I'm not ready for him not to be a baby anymore; I cried. 

I called my sister the next day and told her how I still want to rock him to sleep every night and I don't want to give that up; I cried. 

I've had a bad cough for the last week and my coughing scares Ty. So he'll be playing on the other side of the room and I'll cough once or twice and he'll careen around and crawl and fast as humanly possible to me and cling to me and softly cry until I tell him it's ok. So we cry. 

So...I guess there's just no shortage of tears around here lately. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Not Always Just Dreams {Adoption Post #6}

I journal. A lot. 

Not necessarily at lot at one time but I try extremely hard to write down at least a little every day and most especially to write things that strike me as extra important or the things I never want to forget. 

Since bringing Tyson home, I've thought back on the days and months prior. Wondering what I was doing in the months of Kristy's pregnancy, what I was doing when he was born and what I was doing during the four months before he came home to us. 

I've loved going back and reading my journal to find out those things. And more importantly, it's been revealing and enlightening to how God works in our lives and how he prepares us, or helps us prepare ourselves when we have no idea at the time. 

***

Hindsight is 20/20....

There's an entry in my journal from February of 2015. It's the recollection of a dream I had had the night before. About a blonde headed baby boy, a few months old.  He was placed in my arms and I held him and he clung to me. I looked at Bryce and he leaned in to kiss his head and the baby stretched to him and laid his little head on his chest while Bryce kept his arms around both of us. I woke with one of the sweetest feelings I had ever experienced.

Kristy was 7 months pregnant. 

***

Then one day...on June 1st 2015 I felt a push to look online on Craigslist for a crib again. I had been eyeing a new one online for months and months and comparing and trying to decide when to do it.

 During the seven years of trying to get pregnant and going back and forth with foster care and then with adoption, I never bought baby furniture. I always wanted to but could never do it.

But that day I felt that big push, got on Craigslist and saw the most beautiful PERFECT crib I had ever seen with a matching changing table and rocking chair. I died and went to heaven right then and there.  



I bought it that day. Bryce was able to drive down to pick it up in the truck and I got to drive home behind him giddy out of my mind about setting up a nursery. 


Several hours away, unbeknownst to us, this little guy was born two days prior :


***

A week later I found curtains I adored at an estate sale for $5. 



***
Two months later, in August, I realized I had never made a baby boy quilt. Just lots of baby girls ones. I went back to Joann's and bought the fabric I had been eying. 



 That weekend as I started piecing it together, I got an email from a girl named Kristy who had given birth to a little baby boy two months prior. 


After a few days, things didn't work out and she decided to continue parenting. 
I finished the quilt and it went in the nursery front and center with the furniture and curtains. 




These all may seem like small details to some. But the timing, for me, is inarguable. The Lord was helping me prepare. He was keeping me focused. 

He was giving me hope.

Moments {Adoption Story Post #5}

We have so many moments we never want to forget. Just the smallest things, like how Ty would smile so big when we held hands or rocking him to sleep and Bryce and I looking at each other from across the room and realizing that This is real. This is it. He is going to be ours and we will be his.


I am thankful, so thankful, that the Lord inspired me to start writing in my journal a couple of years prior so that when these days came, I would document these moments forever. 
17 October 2015:
(This was the first night we had him after meeting him, almost a week before we were able to bring him home with us.)
"We're here in a hotel in Texas with baby things strewn across the entire room and our little guy sleeping soundly next to our bed. 
It's surreal and amazing. I can't believe it's happening. 
To us. 
Earlier this evening we gave him a bath and I combed his blond hair and put him in the jammies I bought for him yesterday.  I can hear his fast little breathing and every once in a while, he opens his eyes and then closes them again. 
I love him already.
Earlier today, when we first brought him to the hotel with us, he got fussy and was fighting sleep. I kept thinking of how my mom would sing to me when i was little to help me fall asleep. So i just softly whispered the lyrics to Hush Little Baby and then told him over and over 
You are loved, sweet one. You are so so loved. 
You are loved.
It feels natural and amazing and surreal."

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Time For Everything {Adoption Post #4}

After meeting Kristy and Tyson, there was no question that we were going to move forward and that he was meant to join our family.  And as hard as it was leaving them after spending a weekend with them, we needed to return home to draw up all the legal paperwork allowing him to come home with us. 
(Our situation was different that normal....he was older and we had just felt strongly that we wanted to meet them prior to doing legal paperwork. I won't go into the reasons; it was just what we decided. It's not the norm to have to wait, if the birth mother is ready for placement.)

But thankfully, though we didn't want to leave him, we knew he was in the same loving hands he had been in for the previous 4 1/2 months and we had much to take care of at home. 

This week was ... awesome. Busy and fun and exciting. 

I told every person I could that we were about to adopt our baby boy. Even the cashier at Wal-Mart. I didn't care what people thought- I just wanted to share my joy with anyone I could 

We went to buy a carseat together....we went to Target and Bryce literally took down each car seat from the display to inspect, compare and learn all their features. We ended up leaving without one and going to Babies R Us, where he did the same thing....and we ended up leaving with the one that he deemed "the safest". 
(Thankfully that extremely expensive safe carseat was on clearance because it was last season's colors. Yes, thank you!)

It was exciting enough that the next day when I left for work I made sure to take a selfie with MY carseat in MY car. 
Best. Ever.
....and told my coworkers all about it when I walked in!

We only had a couple of days when we came home to do all the legal paperwork, get the house cleaned and ready, buy everything we hadn't previously purchased and let work know that 
THIS WAS HAPPENING!

So I cleaned like a maniac....


 Made sure everything was in place in his nursery....


And ordered this birth mother's gift for Kristy. Everything I could think if felt so small compared to the amazing....huge miracle of a blessing she was giving us. But I had to do SOMETHING. 
So I had this made for her. It has her birthstone and his on it. "I carry you in my heart"


And we packed again, only this time with everything we needed to bring our baby 
HOME.






Thursday, April 7, 2016

Birth Mama {Adoption Story Post #3}

It was August 13th.  
A Parent Profiles email popped up on my phone while I was at work. It wasn't rare for us to get emails from birth mothers and we had already had five or six fake/scammer birth moms (that's a whole other story) and two valid birth mothers who changed their minds or chose another couple. 

So I knew two things by then:
1. Don't get my hopes up too high
2. Assume every email is a real situation.

I took a break and read the email. She said she had a 2 month old son and she had hoped to parent and had tried but there was too much working against her and she felt that adoption was the right thing for him and for her as well. 

We talked for an hour and a half that evening. She told me her story. She told me about his birth and how much she loved him. She told me how she felt and how much she wanted him to be loved by a mom and a dad. She told me she couldn't give him everything she wanted him to have. And she told me that as much as she felt like adoption was right, she was still a little unsure.


She was the sweetest; I liked her from that first conversation. She was open and honest and real.
We talked more over the next couple of days and she decided to continue parenting. We had had this happen before but this time felt different. She had but completely open with us about her decision and the why's and everything and I could tell she was really trying to be a good mama and that is huge in my book.  I loved that she wanted to keep him and that she was so prayerful about it. 

So we stayed friends. We were friends on FB and we texted every so often. 

The rest of August flew by and then September. We had several more birth mothers come and go, mostly scams. But we kept plugging along knowing that one day it would be right. 

Turned out that that day was September 30th.
(obviously I have amazing texting skills....it should say "you can call if you want!")

She had been praying about it again and got a very clear answer that adoption was, indeed, the best decision for her and her son and she wanted us to adopt him. 

It was overwhelming....and exciting....and crazy....and I was excited I had just finished the baby boy quilt I had started on August 7th.

Heaven {Adoption Story Post #2}

Last night, as I was rocking Ty to sleep in the nursery in the darkness, I couldn't help but think back on those first two days with him. It feels like a dream. The whole experience was so surreal and different; it wasn't like anything we had previously expected. 

With private adoption (which ours was) you usually hear about adopting a newborn -- being at the hospital for or right after the birth, bringing home a tiny little wisp of life that depends on you 100% and being there to witness every 'first'. 


Ty was already 4 1/2 months old when we met him. He was already a pro at smiling and laughing.  He was already in size 2 diapers, was already trying solid foods, like pears and apple sauce, and he loved to hold hands. 

Kristy (his first mama)  and I had talked a lot prior to this weekend. We had a lawyer already but hadn't moved forward with anything legally because we all felt that because of his age (mostly but there were other reasons too) that we all needed to meet prior to paperwork. 

She had expressed her desire to have Ty stay with us in the hotel over night when we came to meet them so that we could have lots of one on one time with him and really get to know him.  It made us nervous thinking about trying to go a full night with a baby who's sleep patters and feeding patterns we weren't familiar with yet and who didn't know us at all. And legally we had to make sure we followed all the rules.  So we agreed to meet first and if things felt good then we would keep him overnight. 

We prepared in advance to be able to do it. We brought everything we could think of that we might need. The burp cloths and pacifiers and little toys. And thankfully within those first few minutes and even the first few seconds, we knew we wanted to move forward. 

Not only were our eyes glued to this tiny little guy with his big blue eyes but our eyes were trained on each other -- truly seeing one another for the first time. As parents. 


Watching Bryce become a father was something I had anticipated and longed for for years. The reality of it was better than I could have imagined. This man, who the day before was so nervous about his ability to parent and love a child who wasn't his own, was the most caring daddy in the whole world. I swear it was like a whole new branch of his personality grew in one day that had never been there before. 

He had Ty smiling and laughing so hard -- the happiest noise in the whole world.  They were the best pals from the first day and still are.  They love to play and giggle and just chill together.

It was heaven. Truly heaven on earth.