Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Explaining Fostering and Adoption to a Toddler

Explaining foster care and adoption to a toddler has been an interesting journey these past two months and is nowhere close to finished, as I am sure we will continue to revisit this topic as he grows and matures. Beginning the foster/adoption process again has brought a new set of challenges, fears and emotions, not only for me, but also for Samuel.

Since we only have Gideon on the weekends right now for respite, until his parental rights are removed, that means we share his care with a foster family that does not want to adopt. After we had him the first weekend and took him back, everything seemed smooth. The weekend had been great and Samuel had done so well sharing my affections, his room, and toys. But I should have known there is always a calm before the storm.

Unbeknownst to me my tiny human had been mulling over a great many thoughts in his mind and on Sunday night he refused to settle in and go to bed. He began to rant and rave in a toddler language, meaning only half of the one sided argument was understandable. After about 20 minutes my precious boy said through tears, "Are you going to leave me?"

 I had explained what was going to happen many times to help get him ready, but he could not wrap his mind around the events. All he understood was we were getting a baby, had a baby, and then took a baby back, which meant to him that maybe I would take him back too. Talk about break my heart.

Needless to say, Samuel slept with me that night and has most nights since, not to mention I had to take that Monday off from work to support my peanut's emotional crisis.

Since then, Samuel has adjusted to the fact that he is mine and that we share the baby until he becomes our's forever. However, he always wants to know why we have to share and he does not understand what the heck we are waiting for (parental rights to be signed off). Every time we take the baby back, Samuel asks "Why" over and over and no answer does he find satisfying, he eventually just stops asking.

This past time, when we took Gideon back, the foster home had received a little girl about Sammy's age. Upon seeing her, he hugged her tight and then looked at me and said, "I want that one too!" And then he threw a royal tantrum, when we left without them, for which I carried him from the house screaming and flailing his arms and legs.

Though his understanding is limited his heart is wide open.

P.S. If you are by chance in a similar process, I am so thankful for books like Stellaluna and the television show, The Dinosaur train, which help explain adoption in a way and at a level my son can relate too.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Foster to Adoption Round Two

In December, I was asked by DSS if I would be interested in adopting again. A micro preemie in a nearby NICU, they suspected was going to be in need of a forever home. However, this was not just any tiny human, but the biological sibling of my tiny human. He had been born in October, 8 days before my son's second birthday. He was 3 months early, and weighed in at 1 pound 7 ounces. He was on a ventilator, but was expected to be able to breath on his own soon. And like my son, he was born with many drugs in his system. The prognosis was unknown, but he had, had 1 brain bleed and his retinas were damaged. Additionally, his biological mother had left the hospital and had not returned nor left a way to contact her.

For many months I had, had thoughts of a second child, mainly because I did not want my son growing up alone. However, I had kept my thoughts entirely to myself and had not pursued foster care or a second adoption. As a single adoptive mother of one beautiful boy, I wondered if I could or should do it again, I wondered if I could do it alone with two.

I told DSS that I may be interested, but did not want to have the baby in my home until parental rights were severed, because I was afraid of Samuel getting attached and the baby having to go back to their biological mother. I was afraid that I would not be able to explain such a situation to a toddler and I was afraid that my heart could not bare the loss. Due to my fear, DSS placed him in a temporary foster home until the legal paper work could be completed.

Now, 7 months later, I have begun taking the baby on the weekends in preparation for June 19th, the expected date that DSS will file for abandonment and that I will likely begin fostering him. This is just the beginning of what will likely be a 15 or so month adoption process, similar to that of my son, Samuel. 

I do not know what the future looks like, but I know that my heart has room enough for two. I do not feel the same going into round two as I did in round one. I knew with a lot of certainty in my heart that Samuel would be mine from the first day I held him, but I do not have such a sense of sureness this time. I know that when the baby is absent from us, I feel like part of my family is missing, but I am afraid to fully embrace him in case the court should rule differently than expected. All of that being said, I can't help but love him. He is always smiling and his pudgy little hand wrapped tight in my hair, when he falls a sleep on my chest, reminds me continually that God has a plan and I need just keep holding his hand.

Because he is a foster child, I cannot use his name, but if this process ends in adoption, his adopted name will be Gideon Asher Bentley. Gideon meaning mighty warrior and Asher meaning happy.

Please be in prayer for myself, Samuel and baby Gideon as we walk this journey with Jesus.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The "Beloved Days" (Lent)

 Ash Wednesday (which was March 5th), signaled the beginning of Lent ( 40-day liturgical period of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving). Historically, the season of Lent lasts from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (The day before Easter) and includes the Paschal Triduum (the three-day period therefore from the evening of Maundy Thursday to the evening of Resurrection Sunday.)]  Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels, Jesus spent fasting in the desert, before beginning his public ministry. 

As I use these 40 days to prepare my heart for Easter, I find myself most connecting with the Tagalog language (an Austronesian language spoken as a first language by a quarter of the population of the Philippines) that refers to Lent as "Mahal na Araw" or "Beloved Days". As I purpose to reflect daily on a God who would ransom me with his son, I cannot help but be overwhelmed by such an extravagant love.

March 4th was the 1 year anniversary of my son's adoption being completed. It was not spent celebrating in the way I had imagined, because my precious boy was ill. Instead we spent the evening wrapped in a blanket on the couch until he fell asleep on my chest. It is in these moments as I kiss his head and breath in his sweaty little ringlets that I find myself in a very reflective and prayerful place filled with gratitude to my faithful God- a God that has not left us as orphans.

Ephesians 1:4-8 He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished on us.

I pray you also use these next 40 "Beloved Days" (Lent) to reflect on God's love for you.

This song expresses my prayer to God during this time and I hope it ministers to you as it has to me.
What Love is This- Kari Jobe

 Matthew 6:19-21 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.