Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The mother of a sheep

I learn so much through being Andrew's mother.  As I sat at the Children's program practice last Saturday I watched as the other parents of the 4-5 year olds coached their children.  One reassuring a shy little boy that he should sing with confidence since he knew the songs by heart . . . "look up and smile while you sing honey, you know the words!"  One coaching her daughter to over dramatize her speaking part so that everyone could hear, "Don't be nervous honey, just shout it out so everyone will hear you and laugh at that funny part"  As I listened to these two mom's (who's kids did GREAT at the program by the way) I looked at my little guy . . . rolling around on the stage, pulling his little sheep costume down, talking when he was supposed to be quiet and wished deep down that it was me coaching my child the way they were, instead of the one having to threaten and bribe my child just to not be a distraction.

On the night of the program, I was nervous to the point of tears . . . I'll admit it . . . Wishing so badly that he would behave just long enough for the program to be over.  Not necessarily because I worried what everyone else would think (although we all worry about that sometimes) but more because I needed that encouragement . . . that reassurance that the lectures, punishment, and positive reinforcement that it seems like we are constantly using are actually making a dent in this strong willed little person.  That glimpse of the good little boy that I KNOW he can become.  I needed reassurance that it was all worth while, even a little.  I prayed for him, and myself, and waited for the moments I dreaded with very little confidence.

As the kids took the stage my little sheep went up with all the others (minus the sheep headpiece that he had refused to wear into the sanctuary)  God began to take over my thoughts and my heart.  God didn't ask me to parent that little shy guy or that outgoing "actress" girl.  He asked me to parent this little stubborn sheep.  To guide him in the way he should go just like a patient shepherd continues to love and guide every one of his sheep and loves them all.  You know, as I watched him roll around on that stage, lay down when he was supposed to be standing, and use a piece of paper that he had found to form into shape after shape after shape I realized that this is not just any sheep.  This is MY sheep, God's precious gift to us 4 years ago.  I was overcome with thankfulness for every part of my little lamb.   Overcome with the thought that I wouldn't want it any other way.  Knowing full well that God has been preparing me for YEARS for just this little lamb.  Knowing that if I had the option to trade personalities of my child with another that I wouldn't want to, there is so much unique and just perfect about my little one.

As my attitude changed, I saw the tiny little glimpses of improvement in the areas we had worked on.  He didn't push anyone, he didn't bother the microphones, he didn't talk to anyone or make any noises, he DID sing a couple of the songs, he DID obey his teacher when she asked him to get up and sing.  Sometimes it's these little positive things I miss because I am too busy focused on the big things that were not "perfect" or didn't "fit in".  When I could tell he had had enough and I motioned for him to come down and we left the program early.  In the hallway he said, "Mom, I tried really hard to be good-was I?"  He was so proud of himself for the things he had accomplished that night . . . and in the end, I was proud of him too.  Don't get me wrong, there is still a long way to go . . . but he will get there.  We will get there--with God's help WE will get there together.

Lord, forgive me for my attitude and my doubt.  Give me blinders to the world and tunnel vision for your will for our role as parents to this little one.  Help him to come to know you and help us to help guide him in the way he should go.

Until then, I pray for wisdom to know when to encourage, when to admonish, when to punish and when to reward.  I will choose to be thankful for every day we have with a fresh new attempt to train our little lamb regardless of whether it is a step forward day or a step backward day.  I will look every day for those little things that show how much this little child really is "trying" and I will do my best to help him be successful in his attempts.  Give me patience and understanding Lord as I try to be the Godly mother you want me to be.

LOVE this little thumbs up . . . just checkin in with mom to prove he is doing good.  :-)  LOL

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Homestudy Process

Between having at least 5 different homestudy's done of our home, having a house on the market for a year, and doing babysitting in my home I long ago lost the "privacy aspect" of my home.  We are used to "strangers" coming in and "snooping" around.  I say all that to say that a homestudy is not something to be feared or terrified of.  I have a friend who can't get past the thought of a homestudy in her pursuit toward finding the right path for growing their family.  That just makes me so sad.  I know we are all different, but this is such a minor part of the journey . . . For us, the homestudy has been just another hurdle that needs jumped . . . not as bad as we ever thought.

The homestudy process has been an annoyance (who WANTS to clean their house top to bottom for a stranger to visit?) an eye opener (probably not wise to store screwdrivers next to an open outlet), and a bit of an embarrassment (the dining room has been half painted and half not for how long?) but we have long ago dismissed the "fear" factor of it all.  These people that come have homes and families too . . . they too wouldn't want to do a homestudy and they realize how difficult it can be.  Maybe we have just been lucky with our social workers but we have never found this part of the process to be too horrible.

A complete homestudy is so much more than the home visit.  It will reveal EVERYTHING about you.  It usually digs into your personal life, your family history, your fears, your finances, your debts, your entire life written up in a document.  We long ago got over the fact that these workers know all our personal information good and bad . . . it's all part of the process to get a child into your home. 

God has been so good to us with the foster parenting journey so far.  Our first in home visit was this past week, it was scheduled to be the first of three visits.  The visit went well and they looked at every part of our house in greater detail than we are used to (outlet covers, smoke detectors, fans in the bathrooms, locked medications, locked chemicals . . . ) but we passed everything they checked without difficulty.  God not only got us through a more detailed check than we are used to, but they ended the meeting by saying they would just forgo the other two in home sessions (since we have an active homestudy already). 

They put us on the "open homes" list just like that!  So, in theory, and God willing, they could put children in our home today!  We were completely in shock how quickly God has opened these doors and seems to be SHOVING us through them.  I am not going to say that God's plan isn't more months or years of waiting . . . but to say that God isn't working through this so far would, I think, be naive and take away from the praise and honor that should go to Him.  Things have gone so much more smoothly than we ever thought possible.  On her way out the door the social worker said, "I can't wait to see what the next year will bring you!"  I have to agree with her.  While it scares me to death what the next year may bring, I know that God will be with us every step of the way so with that thought how can we fear?

Next step . . . we wait.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Foster Parenting Journey

We have prayed a long time about this and have decided to begin foster parenting.

So many people have said to us, "I could never be a foster parent, I couldn't give them back to bad situations . . . I would want to keep them forever"  We completely agree.  We are going into foster parenting hoping to get a child or children that we can adopt and keep forever!!!  But, if God's plan isn't as neat and tidy as our little plan what will we do?  We have to realize that these are ALL children loaned to us for as long as God wants them in our home.  Andrew has been with us four years and adoption says he will be with us forever . . . but who is to say his "forever" will not end tomorrow?  Only God knows His plan for each of us and for our futures.  We truly believe that He will give us the children that He wants in our home for the length of time He chooses for us, and them.  It is God, not CPS, that controls the future of each of these children.  If they are removed from our home then we simply must trust that God has other plans for us, and them.   In our adoption journey we had several failed placements that caused us to wonder what God could possibly be doing!!  What he was doing was preparing us for Andrew . . . if we had gotten any of those other placements then we could not have gotten Andrew.  He knew all along what he was doing even though we could not see it.

We give our hearts to God.  He knows what we can handle and we trust that He will give us the strength to handle what he gives . . . or takes away from our home.  We CAN NOT do this in our own strength-I don't know who could.  Some of the stories of what these children have been through make you sick to your stomach!  God knows that though, and he has opened our hearts to this ministry, and has given us the home and financial means to do it at this point in our lives.  We must be obedient to follow His guidance and trust that he will protect us, and Andrew, as we try to love these children as if they were our own.  More than anything, we want to introduce them to and show them the love of a Heavenly Father they may have never heard of.   A Father who CAN be with them wherever they are "placed."

Please pray with us as we head down this emotional roller coaster that we would remember this is God's journey, and God's plan that we are attempting to follow.  Pray that we would follow HIS leading and not our own emotions, fears, or excitement over any situation. 

For those of you who have been asking . . . So far in the process we have completed
  • 30 hours of classroom training
  • 15 pages of applications and documents
  • over 200 pages of required reading materials
  • 10 "emotional response to the training" worksheets
Next up we have
  • Homestudy x 3 with CPS social worker (next week we have our first one)
  • Safety Check (and preparing our house FOR the safety check) (not sure when this will be)
  • TB tests for the entire family at the health department (not sure when this will be)
  • CPR and First Aid Training (scheduled for Jan)