Friday, December 21, 2012

The Best Christmas Ever

The past week has been one of the most stressful in our lives. But it's also been one of the most joyous. It's hard to know where to begin. So I'll start at the beginning.

Tuesday, December 11: I had a normal day with my family of six. I took the four kids to Monterey Aquarium for Homeschool Day. Fielded multiple phone calls from social workers trying to work out an issue with our placements. Oooo-ed and ahhhh-ed over jelly fish. Wiped snot from many noses. Changed innumerable diapers. Ignored tantrums. Cuddled the tiny newborn. It was a rather stressful day, what with juggling children and phone calls (sometimes literally) all day. But it had become my new normal.

The same evening we got an email telling us we'd been matched with a five month old little girl for adoption. Say what?? 

Mark was immediately ecstatic at the possibility of adoption. Me, the planner and master figurer-outer, was less so. My mind immediately began swimming (more like drowning) in planning out the logistics of caring for three babies. Where would they sleep? Will three babies plus two big kids fit in our car? Is it even legal for us two have three foster children? Ultimately we agreed to move forward with the match. It turned out that it wasn't legal for us to have three foster kids under two years old, so we had to get an exception: a waiver saying that it's okay for us to have so many kids as long as there is another DCFS-cleared adult in the home at all times. To that end Mark arranged with his employer to work from home for the next month, and we had Mark's mom "processed" by the county so she also could server as a regular care-giver.

Baby M - We still aren't able to post photos of her face until she's officially ours

Friday, December 14: We go to the post match meeting and find out more about the baby, whom we'll call Baby M for now. During the meeting we sat across from four social workers, each representing different interests. Based on that ninety-minute discussion, we immediately accepted. And just like that we jumped on the fast track to adoption. 

Over the next week we had several visits with Baby M's foster parents, to get to know her and for her to get to know us (as much as we could 'get to know' a five month old). She visited at our house once. Less than a week after saying "yes" to her at the matching meeting, she was sleeping in her crib in her new home. Our home. Talk about a crazy whirlwind.

March 8th 2013 is the big day for us. That is when the courts make certain decisions regarding Baby M. For the 2 1/2 months between now and then, Baby M is technically another foster child in our care, and there is a very small chance (10%?) that something could throw a monkey wrench in our adoption of her.  Assuming all goes well, on March 9th, we are having a party, as it will be 100% certain that she will be ours.

It is fitting, since we lost our third son through miscarriage four years almost to the day before that date, on March 6th, 2009. That event started a long series of events, well-documented in this blog, which will eventually have led to our adoption of Baby M.

"Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." - Job 1:21

All the kiddos - Kid A, Tommy, Baby M, Ben, Baby J

So what is life with 5 kids (3 babies + 2 big kids) like? It starts the night before with me going to bed at 9:00pm. Wake up around 1:30am to feed the newborn. Wake up again around 5:30am to feed the newborn again. Stay up, get ready for the day. I could go back to sleep, but that would be disastrous for my day. I've learned about myself that I need at least thirty minutes to myself in the morning or my day doesn't go well. Make coffee, pray for patience, grace, and every good thing I'll need to get through the day. Make breakfast before the first kid wakes up (generally the 18 month old). 

The rest of the day is a blur of juggling quality time with each child. I've learned to embrace the chaos and mess, and to sieze each opportunity for hugs, snuggles, and good conversation as they arise. There is mandatory quiet time at 1:30 for everyone. Mama needs a cat-nap to get through the rest of the afternoon. Thankfully I don't have to make dinner anymore because of some very generous friends who have been providing meals for us. If I'm lucky, the whole brood will go to bed by 7:30pm.

Our life is very full right now, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

These verses have been getting me through each day:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:4-7

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. - James 1:2-5

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. - Galatians 6:9

Saturday, December 8, 2012

At Capacity

On Saturday we accepted placement of a 18 month old little girl, Kid A. She's completely adorable and sweet. Understandably, she was very clingy when she first got here; I could not put her down at all for three days. We've had her for a week now and she's just starting to get comfortable venturing on her own around the house. 

She loves Tommy and Ben, and they love playing with her. We've found out that this is the perfect age for both of them; Tommy normally loves the babies, and Ben really enjoyed the three year old we had. Kid A falls right in the middle, and both boys enjoy interacting with her. The other day they spent thirty minutes blowing bubbles just so she could pop them.

When we had Kid A for five days we were called for a two day old baby girl, Baby J. It was a tough decision. We had just turned own a baby the day before. We remembered that the time when we had Kid C and Baby C two month ago was really rough, even though it was only for a few days.

After several long discussions, we said yes to Baby J. So here we are, two days later with two bio kids and two foster kids: four kids six and under. We were told for both children that their stay would be very temporary, less than a week, which was the primary reason we said "yes" to the newborn. Turns out that both cases are going to be longer term than we thought. Big surprise, huh?

I'm not going to pretend that everything is sunshine and rainbows: this is hard. Caring for the two new foster kids 18 months apart is the easy part. The hard part is managing the system for two separate children: Double doctor appointments, social workers, parents, and four-time-a-week visitations. 

Something might have to change, but for now, what is keeping me sane is trusting that God will work it all out. And knowing that he will give me the strength to do everything. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Tree Tradition

Last weekend we got our Christmas tree. We got it at a local Christmas tree farm. It was rainy all weekend, but thankfully the rain let up for about an hour so we could find our tree.

Tommy & Ben helped cut it down and then shared the burden of lugging it across several fields so we could pay for it, then load it up to bring home. Mark strung the lights on it, but the boys decorated it mostly on their own (I helped spread ornaments out a bit).

Decorating the tree was a sweet time of remembering loved ones and events that lay behind each ornament. With each one we took out, we recalled the stories and people attached to them. This was the first year that the boys seem to 'get' the fun of thinking about each ornament as we placed it on the tree. They often exclaimed with recogntion, "Oh, I remember making that!" or "Grandma gave that to me when I was three!I hope they never forget these traditions that we do over and over each year.