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Reflections

Maddie turned two on Monday. Two! How did that happen so fast?!? She is such a joyful, independent, always-on-the-move, always-has-something-to-say toddler and we adore her.

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It is so fun to watch her grow, and you know what is a special gift from The Lord? Twice this week I’ve had people tell me how much she looks like us. One of the things that I grieved when we found out that biological kids would probably not be in our future was that we would never know what our kids would have looked like. And isn’t it just like our God to give us not only the gift of our daughter but also to have her have some of our features? God gives good gifts. Now if she could just not take on some of my less flattering personality traits…

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It has been almost two full months since New Baby left us. We have grieved him leaving our home; Maddie still asks for “Bubba?” on occasion. We have heard that he is doing really well, which brings our hearts comfort and peace. Join us in continuing to pray for him and his mom as they walk down this new path together.

As the pain has lessened in our hearts we have found ourselves really enjoying this season as a family. It was a little puzzling to us until we realized this: this is literally the first time since Maddie came into our home that we are able to enjoy time together as a family, free from the stress of court dates, visits, paperwork, uncertainty, and fuzzy timelines. We got New Baby the week after her adoption was final. It is only now that we are settling in as a family. It’s awesome. Maddie is a living, breathing, reminder to us of God’s grace to us. We do not deserve her (or ANYTHING good, for that matter), but we are so thankful that The Lord chose us to be her parents – it is a FUN job. We pray daily for the grace and wisdom to point her to Jesus.

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So when will we take our next placement?? We don’t know. Our caseworker is the BEST (I’ve told you that before) and she has assured us that there is no rush. So we are praying and trusting that The Lord will reveal to us when it is time. Note: I was going to say that The Lord would reveal to us when we are ready, but the truth is we are never ready. We trust that only He will know when the time is right, because we’ll talk ourselves out of it every time if left to our own devices!

Thanks for walking this road with us. If you don’t mind, would you join us in praying for a few things?
Continue praying for New Baby and his mom? They are continually on our hearts and minds. They need Jesus above all else.
Please pray for us, that we will know when it’s time to say yes to another placement, or if it is time for our roll in fostering to change that we will be able to discern what it is (fostering ministry at church, CASA workers, respite, etc.).
Please pray for our family time right now. We are rejoicing in the time He has given us to grow and play together, and we want to cherish every moment.
We love you guys. Thanks for loving our family.

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You have turned for me my mourning into dancing, you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory May sing your praise and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever! Psalm 30:11-12

Some Stuff About Fostering

Well apparently I’m still in the spontaneous ugly-crying at random times phase of grief. New Baby has been gone for six days. We are adjusting slowly. We miss him, pray for him daily, and are practicing trust moment by moment. As we adjust I thought I’d answer a few questions.

Every once in a while I get questions about fostering. I do not feel like much of an expert or consider myself to have all of the answers, but I thought I’d share a little bit of what we have experienced on the licensing/preparation side.

1. Choose an awesome foster agency. We LOVE ours. We are licensed through Methodist Children’s Home. We were blessed to have several friends who paved the way for us in terms of researching agencies in town, so when it was time to choose it was an easy decision. We had heard great things about MCH and we have not been disappointed. They are so supportive and encouraging. Our caseworker is the best – she has talked me off of many an emotional ledge! And they are PASSIONATE about the kids.
If it is possible for you to meet with different agencies and ask questions, do it. An even better option might be to meet with families who use different agencies and hear their thoughts. Every agency is a little bit different. Some will license you for fostering AND adoption, which saves you a step when adoption nears. Just feel free to ask LOTS of questions – they want you to be informed too.

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2. Understand that fostering to adopt and seeking to adopt through an adoption agency are different. Both come with their own set of challenges and heartaches. Being a foster to adopt family means that if there is a chance that a child might become adoptable in the future then they will most likely be placed with a family willing to consider adoption. But the reality is that you may not know for MONTHS if the child in your home will be adoptable. So if you are fostering to adopt you need to take time to consider that not all of the children who enter your home will be in your home forever. We thought our first placement would be with us forever. He was gone in 5 days. We thought Maddie would be temporary and she’s now ours forever. It is such a roller coaster. It never gets easier to send kids off. It is only by the grace of God that anyone can foster, or adopt, or have kids at all in any way for that matter.

3. Find a supportive community. John and I have been incredibly blessed with families and friends who have been nothing but encouraging and supportive since we started down this road. I don’t know what your back story is, but find a supportive community – your family, friends, church group, other foster families – whoever! You will need these people. I know exactly who to call for advice on legal proceedings that are unfamiliar, who to call when I need some ice cream and magazines after a bad court date, and who to call for clothes and baby supplies that we don’t have for last minute placements. Which brings me to my last thought….

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4. Buy what you want and borrow what you can. I do not mean that you should go crazy in Babies R Us. Baby stuff is EXPENSIVE and there’s a lot if it. But I will say this: make your nursery great. You will use your nursery for lots of different babies for a long time. There are a lot of things that will be out of your control. Let your nursery be a place of comfort and fun. Decorate it. Make it like you want it. It makes since to make it as unisex as possible, but if you are going to lean toward a gender my philosophy is that girls can hang with some boy stuff, but little boys look a little funnier in Blush and Bashful. :)
When we got our nursery together (it’s olive green) we bought our crib (the standards are so specific we thought it was easier to buy it ourselves). We bought a set of onesies in every size group (0-3, 3-6, 6-9, etc. up to a year) for both boys and girls so at we would have something if we got a last minute placement (which is usually how it goes). That will buy you some time to gather resources from friends, make a quick trip to Target or Walmart, etc. We were also blessed with a baby shower where we received lots of toys, clothes, and various baby items we never knew we needed until we had them.
We borrowed (and still borrow) a lot of stuff from friends until we decided what we needed. Every baby is different. It’s not worth spending tons of money on something like a swing until you know your baby loves a swing. We ended up with a bouncy seat, a high chair, a bumbo, a pack and play, and some clothes. We have borrowed swings, excersaucers (we have GOT to buy one soon – babies love them!), a rock and play (also legit!), and tons and tons of clothes. What a blessing.

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I hope this was helpful for some of you – for the rest, thanks for being the huge support group of which I speak. We love you.

Loving More Than One

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

I have always worried about whether or not I’d be able to love more than one child at a time. I knew that was ridiculous – love isn’t divided but expanded. I knew it in my head but doubted it in my heart.
I was especially concerned when we had placement #3 this summer. He was with us for 10 days, and those were some of the hardest days that I had experienced. He and Maddie were 5 months apart in age, he was malnourished and had some medical challenges, and he and I both got the stomach bug. He was with us for such a short and difficult time that we didn’t get to see the hard gently fade into the depth of love that comes from the struggle.
So I was fearful when, on my birthday and exactly one week after Maddie’s adoption, we got the call for another little boy – 2 1/2 months old and needing a place to go. So we said yes. And I cried.
And then he cried. Non-stop. For a month.
Acid reflux. Two ear infections. One stomach bug. Sporadic sleep patterns.
Then smiles. And laughs. Rolling over. Sitting up. Babbling. And finally, the week that he left, crawling.
Wouldn’t you know that everyone was right. You can love more than one at a time. I love a little boy that I might never see again. And I’ll love him forever.
We’ve slept more this weekend than we’ve slept in months, and we are so grateful. Our belated five year anniversary trip couldn’t have come at a better time. But we would give up the sleep in a heartbeat to have him back in our home.
It is hard not to give way to fear when you give your foster babies back. Fear for their physical and emotional safety, fear that they will grow up not hearing the Good News of Jesus, fear of the influences that might take hold of them. So we are fighting to trust instead. God has not lost sight of New Baby. He knows exactly where he when we have no idea. His plans are greater, bigger, more complex than ours. So we pray and pray and pray. We pray that The Lord will make himself known to our sweet boy. We pray that his mom will know Jesus. We ask God to let us see him again, and we cling to The Lord as our anchor in this storm.
Thank you for checking on us these past few days. We are heartbroken and healing. Maddie is a champ – so resilient. And we are selfishly thankful that she hasn’t asked about Bubba.
We love you. Thanks for walking through this with us.

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! I should take the time to blog about the holiday season, but there was too much for me to write in one post. We were delighted to spend lots of quality time with our families and friends. Downside? Sickness. Upside? At least it was during no school and there were many friends and family around to help us out. We are forever in your debt!

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It’s been over three months since we got New Baby and things are finally starting to feel a little normal. At the beginning of this new year it’s exciting to both look back at the last year and ahead to what us coming. Last year was HARD – an emotional roller coaster for sure that led to the adoption of our daughter in September. It was absolutely worth every bit of the journey.
Maddie is so fun right now (minus the tantrums. She’s getting REALLY good at those. Sheesh.)! She lives to pour “coffee” with her tea set, watch Winnie the Pooh, and is starting to put words together into phrases. She loves to tell herself, “good job!” and tell me when “Bubba cryin’”. She is a delight and we adore being her parents.

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New Baby has been tougher than Maddie was – more sickness, more sleepless nights, more tears (from everyone!). But we love him. So now we are in the hard place of fostering. It’s too early to know how this case will go, but chances are that we will love him for many months only to see him carried out of our door. I can’t let myself think about it too much. In the meantime we will love him and snuggle him and wipe his nose and shield him from his “sissy” who is VERY eager to kiss and squeeze him.
So join us in praying for this one. Pray for his mom, who loves him desperately but is struggling to get on track, pray for wisdom for the judge and caseworkers, and pray for us. Pray for grace to love him well on the hard days and to hold him loosely even as we love him as our own. Thanks for walking with us through the journey.

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Six Weeks

We’ve been a two kid family for about 6 weeks now. Things are starting to feel a little more normal (whatever that means). I cried getting ready for work yesterday just from being tired. We’ve watched the last two seasons of Scandal (!) while trying to stay up for feedings. We’ve both been puked on (I’m talking Exorcist-style projectile pukes here, people), I’ve been pooped on, and tonight I finally got doused in pee. While he smiled at me. Too soon, kid. Too soon.
New Baby is doing so much better though. He sleeps through (most) nights, he’s already cut 2 teeth, he rolls over from back to front, and he has THE BIGGEST smile. He’s happy and healthy, putting on weight and growing like a champ. I, on the other hand, am pouring Honey Nut Cheerios down my throat as we speak trying to erase the knowledge of the chocolate chip brownies in the kitchen. Second baby means some mama weight gain, you guys. There. I said it.
One of my biggest stresses about baby #2 was wondering how Maddie would do. She is such a sweet big sister – she says, “S’okay, Bubba!” when he cries, gives him pats on the back and belly, gives kisses, and runs down the hall at daycare to pick him up. Precious. And she us becoming such the little helper! She loves to throw away trash, bring me diapers, bring Bubba his blanket. Heart melted over here.
Change is hard. But by God’s grace it is getting better. We are thankful for His gentleness to us in guiding us through this parenting two kids under two thing. We have no idea how long New Baby will be with us, but he’s slowly taking over our hearts. Join us in praying for him, that he will grow up to know The Lord. Pray for his parents, that they will have the courage to walk the road ahead to get their son back. Pray for us, that God will give us grace and wisdom to parent these babies well.
We love you. Thanks for journeying with us.

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Mountain and Valley

We are not made for the mountains, or sunrises, or for the other beautiful attractions in life – those are simply intended to be moments of inspiration. We are made for the valley and the ordinary things of life, and that is where we have to prove our stamina and strength.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Holy cow. These last two weeks have been quite the mountains and valleys. Two weeks ago today we came home from the courthouse with Maddie as our daughter forever. What an unfathomable gift. Sometimes I still find myself marveling over the goodness of The Lord to give her to us. I’m teaching Maddie how to say “Redfearn”. It sounds like “Fey-fern”. Music to my ears.

I told you I’d process my thoughts on our spiritual adoption, and I’m still processing. But here is what I’m overcome with – being chosen. We have LONGED for Maddie to be ours for 14 months. But it was hard. And we could have walked away early on. Instead, because of our love for her, we fought hard to make her part of our family.

How great is the love the Father has lavished upon us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

1 John 3:1

Processing.

Now we have a new foster baby. We camped out on the mountaintop for a week. Now here we are in the thick of it again. Gosh it would have been easy to turn this one down. But he needs us and we are available.

This one is hard. Working parents of 2 – I salute you! Parents of 2 under 2 – you are my new heroes. Parents of colicky, screaming-for-no-reason babies – teach me your coping mechanisms. We are praying for our daily bread over here – that God would meet our physical, spiritual, emotional needs moment by moment, day by day.

So that’s us. Mountains and valleys. Shape us, Lord, to look more like You.

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The Very Best Day

I can’t believe Tuesday actually happened.
The fun started on Sunday when mom and dad came in from Killeen. Then I showed up at work on Monday to find the whole science dept wearing adoption tshirts. So of course that’s when I started crying…and it hasn’t stopped.
I didn’t sleep at all Monday night. It was like Christmas Eve.
Tuesday morning we got ready and headed to the courthouse.

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I was still convinced that we’d get a call on the way saying the adoption was postponed.
And then we walked inside.

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And I saw our attorney.
And we started signing papers.
And then bunches of our friends and family started showing up.
And then we stood before the judge.

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And in 7 minutes and 30 seconds our lives changed.

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Judge Clark had us hold hands as she proclaimed our daughter Madison Elise Redfearn. And there were many tears and much rejoicing!

And then we partied.

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People have asked us if it feels different now. It does. I can’t explain it, but in the little moments we both find ourselves overwhelmed in the very best way with the reality that Maddie is ours forever. I dream about the future with her – kindergarten, sleepovers, family vacations – and gone is the fear that those days will never happen.
I’m still processing what all of this means as I try to understand our adoption that Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1. I’ll share more of my thoughts on that in a few days.
Thank you for celebrating with us!

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