Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some of the backstory...

Sitting down tonight I realized that many of you don't know me from Adam in the real world, and you're pretty much in the dark regarding how all of this came to pass. I mean, here I was, blogging about my skincare regime one day, and then a few weeks later announcing that we had two boys moving in pronto! So I'm guessing you might appreciate some details?

I'll try and condense this as best I can (but you know me, I'm long-winded):

In case you didn't know, our first son (technically now the middle child) came to us by way of international adoption back in 2006. He was born in Guatemala, and we brought him home at 11 months old. We weren't your typical adoptive parents in the fact that we never really considered having a birth child. Adoption was on our minds for a long time, and we knew if we had a family, that's how we were going to build it.

Fast forward to last year. Through a series of small events, God made it clear to us that we should look into adopting through the state. This was no small feat however -- in the past we had heard horror stories about the state, foster care, state adoptions, you name it. We had always sworn it off for those reasons, but God really started making it clear to us that this was the next step we were to take. My heart was opened to it first, and then, with no prompting from me, my husband approached me one day, out of the blue, that he was now open to the idea as well. You can bet your bottom dollar that I called the state the very next day.

We started our training late last summer -- a combined 54 hours with both of us of sitting through all-day-Saturday classes that, I'm not gonna lie, we really thought were pointless to have to sit through. We're pretty decent parents (if I say so myself), and now the state with it's broken system was expecting us to give up our Saturdays to teach us how to be parents? You've got to be kidding me. And you can imagine that our classes weren't exactly filled with the cream of the crop. Most of the people in there were doing foster or kinship training ("kinship" means the families that are fostering that are either related to the children or have an already established relationship to them), and if I remember right, we were one of the only adoptive couples in there. But at the end of the five or so weeks, we were surprised at how much we learned. It really opened our eyes to many aspects of the system, and it definitely softened our hearts even more to the needs of the kids. Thank goodness God didn't let our stubbornness and pride get in His way!

Our homestudy was completed by Halloween, and then we just waited. Because that's what you do with the state. LOTS of waiting. In fact, we figured we'd be waiting for FOREVER. Because that's pretty typical -- families can be waiting for years even. And our mindset was on the fence -- if it worked out and we eventually got kids, great. If it didn't work out and we were never matched, great. We were perfectly happy with the one awesome kid God had already given us. We did have one thing in our favor though -- we put that we were open to siblings, and we were pretty much expecting anything between ages 3 and 12. Throw in the fact that I am a card-carrying tribal member of a Native American tribe (which means we qualify for ICWA kids as well), and we were pretty marketable in the ol' system, haha. That's right -- we didn't go into this wanting a baby. Pretty much 98% of people want the babies, but nobody wants the older kids. And oh, how my heart is for the older kids. I hope that this process uses our family to open more eyes to the joys of older kid adoptions because there are a lot of amazing and deserving kids out there.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when we were finally "picked" by a caseworker for a sibling group. We were presented with their paperwork, but after reading through (a phonebook sized stack of paperwork, mind you), we both knew immediately it was not the match for us. You can't even imagine some of the stuff in this paperwork, the horrible things some of the kids had been through. As my husband said it best: "these kids are paying someone else's consequences in life". So true, and so heartbreaking. But this process is all about looking at these matches with a toughened heart -- a heart that knows no matter what or how heartstring-tugging the details are, above all, you have to be wise enough to know what is right for your family, and that includes the heartbreaking decisions of having to say no to some of the matches.

This "match" was also a good reminder of what we had gotten ourselves into. If you're looking for an adoption all wrapped up in a pretty red bow, adopting through the state may not be for you. Most of the kids have been through way too much in their short lives and as you might expect, they come with some "baggage", some more than others. You have to know these things in advance, you have to expect a less-than-perfect picture of the future, and for us, this meant surrendering even more of ourselves over to God and being willing for Him to give us His idea of the "perfect" kids for us rather than our ideas and wishlists for the perfect kids. But oh, when you allow yourself to surrender these things to God, how very much He can sometimes surprise you with the most perfect and amazing and unexpected blessings, as you will find out in future posts when I tell you cool stories about this past week and how amazing these kids of ours have turned out to be...

I digress.

Fast forward to this past Monday. We got another call about being "picked" again. Since it was pending state approval (for us to truly be "matched"), we were given a small amount of info to read about these boys. After reading the info, we thought, yep, this could possibly be a good match. But we knew that it would still be a good 2-3 months at least for them to come stay with us, and that would be best-case scenario IF everything went well. So we just waited, thinking in maybe a week or two we'd get another call if the state approved us or not, and then we'd wait for the next step in a long line of steps.

Two days later, on Wednesday morning, our caseworker called to ask what we thought about the small amount of info we read through. I told her we were definitely interested. She then dropped the bomb: basically they had a rare situation where the boys were needing to move to a new placement (i.e. foster home or worst-case scenario, a local shelter, and no, I am not joking about the shelter part {shudder}) by Friday. If we were truly interested, would we be willing to start the process* immediately with them moving in to our house? She had the full stack of paperwork available for us to read through before making our decision, and that decision needed to be made pretty much immediately.

Say wha??????

Do you understand what this means? Sure, foster families are a little bit used to this scenario. They could get a call to come pick up a baby or a kid with only an hour's notice even. But not adoptive families. EVER. And the other major difference in all of this is that not only would we need to make a decision immediately regarding all of this, but we were pretty much having to decide on these kids just from what we'd read in the paperwork alone, never having met them or seen them, and their placement in our home would be a forever placement. No trying anyone on for size. No face-to-face to know if we thought it might work. These kids would be told that it would be their last move, that this would be starting the adoption process for all of us.

Sounds a bit weighty, huh? But you know what? God made it crystal clear to both of us immediately. I don't know how else to explain it. He just made it clear. THIS. WAS. IT. And we chose to obey.

So we said yes. By 5pm that very same night, we were sitting in our local Chick-Fil-A meeting our boys for the first time. It was surreal. No other way to describe it. And it was clear that it was the right decision. We parted ways after an hour and a half, reassuring the boys and the workers that we'd be ready for them when they arrived with all of their stuff to move in to our house less than 48 hours later.

So that's how my family was born. Not how I would have planned it, but boy am I ever glad that God doesn't always go along with my hare-brained ideas. His plans were SO much better.

And I can't just end it without mentioning something: I realize that adoption is not for everyone. Just two years ago, my husband and I were both completely opposed to this idea of adopting through the state and swore we would NEVER consider it. But God started dropping hints to us here and there. We could've ignored these hints. Thankfully we chose to listen to God and obey. And then, when we first started hinting about or newfound plans, we were met with quite a bit of opposition, quite a few "you're insane" comments, quite a few "why would you put your own child at risk?" questions, etc. Thankfully we chose to listen to God and obey instead of listening to what the world thought of our plans. (And this is not to say that we didn't also receive awesome support from others because we did.) And then we're presented with this INSANE opportunity where we have to make an INSANE decision in an INSANELY short amount of time. We could've said no. I think most people would've understood. But we chose to listen to God and obey.

We're not perfect people. Not anywhere close. Just ask everyone who knows us in the real world, haha. But hopefully this can serve as an example of the wondrous things God can do through your life if you just tune your heart to listen, to watch for His guidance, to choose His best rather than what the world might tell you is best. If you do these things, be prepared to be blessed beyond what you could ever imagine.


*"start the process": now that they have been placed in our house, the process can start to finalize the adoption, which hopefully will happen approximately six months from now, but the kids are technically ours as all parental rights have been terminated

16 comments:

Jody of Because I'm Me said...

Wow! Congrats to all of you!

Rhonda said...

Oh, Valerie! We have SO much in common! I really (like, REALLY) enjoyed this post. Thanks for the backstory, and thanks for the not-so-subtle reminder that God is always in control. And that we should listen and obey. Awesome stuff. I'll continue praying for your family's transition, but something tells me it's all gonna be all right. :)

Happily Ever After said...

What an incredible story! I'm so glad that you and Doug chose to follow God! I know that all five of you are blessed because of it.
Your story brought tears to my eyes. I love to read about how God moves in amazing ways to bless us more than we could ever ask, think or even imagine! He is the kindest person I know!

Matt and Randi McComber said...

Awesome story. Er, start of a great story...

Tamiko said...

Wow, amazing story. So happy for your entire family!!

Tamiko said...

Wow, amazing story.. So happy for your entire family!!

Baloney said...

You are living my dream but the Doc was never on board with it. I'm so happy for ALL of you and pray abundant blessing over your family.

~Michelle~ said...

You sure know how to ride the rollercoaster, don't you?? Slow journey up the hill, but once you crop the top, everything moves at warp speed! BTW - loved your family photo on facebook! :) Thanks for sharing your wild ride. And why do I suspect there's going to be another family RV trip in your future?

Jason & Kizzy said...

So glad you posted the "back" story. It is so very encouraging to hear how God has been and is working in your lives "behind the scenes". Please keep us updated! 3 boys are the best!

Country Dreaming said...

O goodness!!!

Congreatulations--can't wait to hear more.

Melinda

cssolomon said...

I'm so glad you blogged about this! I even told matt I hoped you would blog about your adoption process. I'm so happy for you guys and the picture of all of you on FB was absolutely perfect. I'm so happy for the boys...from now on they have a place to call home and parents that will always be by their sides. :) OMG - I'm getting emotional. Congrats Valerie!

Jami said...

whoa girl!! yes this is big news!!!! wonderful! thanks for sharing and keep loving on those boys! i'm saying a prayer for your transition. keep on seeking His face, my friend! thanks for keeping me posted!

Heather said...

What an amazing story, Valerie! It just goes to show what miracles can happen when you follow your heart and go where you felt you are led, no matter how hard or daunting it seems. I am so thrilled that you and these boys were able to find eachother! Amazing.

Lisa said...

love this transparent story!!! Congrats to you! proof that god has many blessings for those that obey and listen!

Pray~and~Wait said...

I don't know how I missed this post! Its so awesome and I LOVE hearing the entire story!!!! Such a ministry you have, Valerie!!! Thanks for sharing with all of us!!!!

Karen said...

i need to read this later. because I cant see thru my tears. so so happy for you.