Monday, December 14, 2015

our missing piece

A little over a year ago I made my last post on this blog.  We had decided to jump back into the foster care world.  If you've known us long, you may know that we were approved foster parents a few years back. And we had a failed adoption placement---of course, it all turned out for the best---but the grief was real and it was hard.  So we stepped back. 

When I wrote my last blog, in September of 2014, we were in the midst of getting our home approved again.  What I didn't mention in the in the blog was that there was a boy.  With a name.  And chubby cheeks and to-die-for curly hair.  And a story.  He needed a family.  We were hoping it would be us.

Lots had changed since we had started our foster-to-adopt journey a couple years before.  Millie had been born for one.  But even more had changed in our hearts.  As a family, we had grown to love and respect and pray for the birth families of the kids that we were going to come into contact with.  We weren't just looking for kids that needed families.  We wanted to help kids go back to their original families if they could...and if we could give them a little glimpse of love and family while they were with us (however long) then that was great.

September 6, 2014
Tonya walked by me at church and we said hello. I had hung back because I was helping out with an information booth about “The Heart Gallery of GA”. We wanted to get the word out about this new organization helping foster kids in GA get adopted... We did the normal chit chat. How is your family? Mine is good. Then my life changed. She said that she needed us to pray for a family for her foster placement (we had met him months before when he first moved in and had seen him around at events and such) He was moving towards the date of getting parental rights terminated. *Yes there is a story here.  No, I'm not going to share it because its not our story to share.  In order for adoption to happen, brokenness must be first.  It stinks.* —Here I was standing in the church having a casual conversation about our concern for a little boy---but in my head, I was thinking, “really, God? How can this be? Are you telling me something?”

I got in the car and told hubs about our conversation. I didn't say anything further. I had not stopped thinking about him. My mind was spinning with possibility and I was so excited but to be completely honest, I was thinking if I take this any further with a "lets talk about this conversation"---my understanding and loving husband would have every right to run out the door.  We had 3 18 month old at that.  And this would mean bringing in another 18 month old (they are 9 days apart).  Twins.  4 kids.  Later that night, he brought it up again. I'll never forget his words... “I can't say that the thought of Aiden joining our family doesn't make me smile.” What?! OK, God. Here we go. Lets have this conversation. Lets talk about how fantastic it would be to have a little brother, to add another boy, to complete our family with a sweet son, to have countless dreams and prayers answered so unexpectedly. We talked. We laughed. We dreamed. I cried. (Big surprise.)

 We started the paperwork that following Monday. Lots of prayers. For direction, for guidance, for His will to be done. LOTS of prayers for the birth family. I couldn't imagine what they were feeling. At this point, I had no idea who they were or what their story was...but I knew something along the way had broken and only God could fix it. I prayed a lot for them and for him....

But, really, I had been praying for him for 15 years. Of course, I didn't know his name, or his story, or know that he'd be so darn cute and funny. But we had dreamed of him for that long. We had searched for him. We had prayed for God to bring us together and to make that road as smooth as possible. Was this really happening? Were we finally at this part of the journey that we know his name and his face? It didn't seem real.

Over the next several weeks, while we finished up our Home Studies, we had play dates with all the kiddos.  My head was constant in asking "is this us?  Could we do this forever?"

I could fill many pages with all the ways that doors were opened and miracles happened along this journey to get approved.  In a nutshell, the first time around it took over a year.  This time, within 6 weeks he was in our house.  All along the road we were reminded that this had nothing to do with us.  This was God's plan and He had everything covered...everything.
Our home was approved very quickly. After submitting our Home Study, less than 24 hours later...(we were told it could take up to 2 weeks.) He  spent his first night in our home that Saturday, December 6, 2014. He was home.

Adoption Day was May 19th 2015. Our family was complete.

*It sounds all neat and tidy...he moved in, we were in love, we adopted.  The End.  

Nope.  It wasn't all tied up with a bow.  Nothing in life ever is, right?  Even though it was absolutely God's plan for Aiden to be part of Team Davis, its been tough.  Way tougher than I ever dreamed.  I hope to share more about that in the coming months because in my midst of struggle it was so helpful to find blogs by adoptive moms that were real and talked about how hard it was---and is.  I hope to be helpful to others. But I always remind myself of how far we've come and what a miracle it all is. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

buckle up!

"Please keep all hands, arms, feet, and legs inside the car at all times..."
Our hearts?  Lord, please prepare it for the ride that you are calling us to...

So for a few months now Team Davis  has been talking about and praying about getting back on the Foster Parent Roller Coaster.  If you've been around for awhile then you might remember that we took that ride a few years ago.  We went through training almost exactly 3 years ago actually...crazy.  It took a year to get approved by DFCS and open our home.  And even though we haven't been active as Foster Parents over the last 2 years we have still felt the need to do something about the broken system and help these kids that need us so much. 

At the beginning of the year Glynn County was blessed with a non-profit organization that has been in Atlanta for 6 years.  They chose to expand in Glynn County and I couldn't be more grateful. FaithBridge Foster Care is bridging the gap between state agencies and faith communities to change the way Foster Care works.  This.  Is.  Huge.          HUGE.

Obviously, most people know that the Foster Care System exists and that DFCS is around.  But most people just go on living their everyday lives. 

What can I do?  Sure I've heard the system is broken but what else is new?  I'm just one person, the problems are way too big.  I don't even know how all that works for what helping would look like...

This weekend, Hubs and I have been training with FaithBridge so we can hopefully make a difference.  Yes, we did training similar to this 3 years ago with DFCS so I knew what to expect...I didn't expect to be wrecked.  Again.  It is so incredibly clear to me that we are called to be in this world...

This video has made the rounds on Facebook and its incredible.  People say to me, I can't imagine ever doing anything with Foster Care.  Too hard.  Too messy.  Too heartbreaking...  Watch this.  Its from the point of view of a child in the Foster Care system, through no fault of her own---as all children enter the system---its about 13 min long.  But it may just change your life...its worth the watch.

How can we NOT help??

*FaithBridge has lots of ways to support Foster don't have to sign up for the whole roller coaster.  Foster families need lots of support and that is part of what makes FaithBridge so great...their Community of Care.  Baby step...lots of small steps by lots of people is what changes the world.  And isn't it worth looking into?  I think so.  Even one child's experience made better is worth it...

**To all my people who are already in this world and helping kids---thank you.  I'm so happy to be surrounded by folks that understand our calling and we are so blessed to have the chance to take this roller coaster ride...buckle up!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

family room

We talked about it for years.
 "One day we should close in that screened in porch and turn it into a big family room." 
"Man, I hate cleaning all this pollen every year...we should add walls."
"If you loved me, you would close in this back porch."

Then, one day, workers showed up at 7:00 AM and started tearing apart our back porch.  I had to snap "before" pictures really was GONE in 20 minutes.

Walls went up quickly...
 Man it was dusty...

 This was  our view for a few weeks. Dark.  They took the 6 foot sliding door and moved it to the outside wall so we would have it to go in the backyard. 
 Sam decorated (and scootered around the new room in his underwear EVERY night---but that is a whole 'nother story) the insulation.  His portrait is of our builder, Kenny.  He's holding a hammer. :)
 Then there was COLOR!!!  Yes! That is a red floor....  !!!!!!!!  My thought was, "Man, you walk into someone's house and they have a red floor and you KNOW they know what they like!!"  ----I sheepishly ordered the floor and then took deep breaths while they laid it----now I LOVE IT! 
But man...

 Ignore the orange on the cabinet.  That will be blue one day.  The large opening is going into our dining room, where the sliding glass door used to be.  Our view is much better now.
I'm sitting at our makeshift desk that we use for school right now and took this picture---dining room and kitchen is to my left----wanted to show the filing cabinets that I painted and holds ALL our school curriculum...There when we need it but it doesn't feel like we are sitting in a school room all the time. 

I love our new family room!!!  We've spent every day all day for the last 5 weeks in it and I'm still loving it...Curtains were made with love by my mom and Carol, of course....Thank you Pinterest for the filing cabinet and curtain ideas...We still need to build our desk and hang more lovelies on the walls but that was the process to get it here...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

learning dangerously

So here I find myself, again, neglecting my little corner of my blog world for almost a year.  Wow.  Time.  Slow the heck down.  Its been a good year.  A lot of trips to Disney--as we have enjoyed our "year of Mickey".  Lots of growing up for the kiddos.  We now have a 9 year old, a 6 1/2 year old and a 16 month old...Mom and Dad have continued growing up, as well.  Thank God.

This past Spring we decided to be a bit more purposeful with the time that we've been blessed with.  We hear it all the time---I say it all the time.  Time moves way too fast!  Life just keeps going...through the good and the bad and the fun and the hard and all of it.  It just goes...All of a sudden I looked at RK and thought, "Holy Crap!  She is about to be 9 years old! In theory, we are half way to her moving out. (not that she will ever leave her Mama...she must live with me forever)."

We were too busy.  Too much of everything clogged our days.  I felt like all I ever did was shift the crew from one place to the next, feed them along the way, and switch out laundry when the machine beeped at me.  Was this life?  Apparently.  Sorry.  Not good enough.  Something needed to change.

A year ago...OK even 6 months before...if you had told me that I would be sitting at my computer at 8:30 on a weekday morning waiting for my kiddos to wake up so we could start home...I would have told you were crazy.  There is no way that I have enough patience or education or patience or organization or patience to be with my kids 24/7 much less TEACH them.  But here we are.  My boy just came out of his room to get breakfast.  In his underwear.  He probably won't get dressed til school is done and we are heading out for Karate this afternoon.  :)

Life has changed.  Thank God.  Team Davis has taken the leap.  We pulled our kids out of the traditional Brick and Mortar public school and enrolled them in GA Cyber Academy.  Its an online public school.  We have a fab curriculum and super supportive and helpful teachers and we are one our way. 

We enrolled them in GCA last Spring.  We spent the Summer under construction adding a Family Room/School Room onto our house.  We've made changes.  Our days look way different.  We've slowed down.  We are starting week 4 here at the Davis Education Institute and we are all surviving---no, not surviving.  THRIVING.

Yes, there are super hard days.  No, my kids are not totally sold on the this whole idea yet.  It all ebbs and flows.  But I do know this.  I know my kids more than I did 6 months ago.  I get to be part of my boy learning to read.  I get to see that.  I know exactly what my girl is struggling with and what makes her excited about learning.  I get the good along with the not so great.  And I'm OK with that.  THAT is life.  I'm learning to deal with stress.  I'm learning that my kids are seeing how I deal with stress and THAT is how THEY will deal with stress.  And I'm not OK with that...but its all good because I know that I have been called to do this.  By God.  He told me that its time to slow the heck down to stop.  To learn.  To teach.  To be...and he is going to help us.  No.  He is doing it.  Because I can't handle it all---but he can.  And I'm thankful.

We are called to this journey right now.  We've committed to a year.  A year of  "Learning Dangerously".  A year of freedom.  A year of paying attention to our blessings.  A year of growing.  All of us.  I know God is teaching me and changing me even more through this time.  Growth and change are usually not easy---but things that are worth it are usually hard right? 

So here there you go...Here are our First Day of School pictures...Yes, RK was sporting her jammies. :)  I also love that we took these pictures almost 2 weeks after we started at 10:30 in the morning when we needed a bike riding break...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

a year of Mickey

If you've known me for long then you know that I love Disney World.  Its in my blood.  I grew up within a 3 hour distance from this magical place and had a number of family members that worked for the Mouse.  That means we went a lot.  I honestly thought that was pretty normal.  I mean, it was my normal.  I knew it was special and I loved it.
We went often but we never went for long.  When we went we were there before the park opened and we went ALL DAY LONG.  Quickly.  And not just one park.  Oh no...we were hoppers.  We often hit all 3 (yes I'm that old) in one day.  The first time Dave and I went together by ourselves with our own kids, we went in the gate and I took off.  Catching up with me he asked, "Where are we going?"  I stopped.  I had no idea.  I just knew that my Grandpa taught me my Disney pace and I was keeping the tradition alive. :)

Luckily, when Dave and I were dating and went to Epcot for a Christmas show he got hooked on the magic, too.  To outsider, non-Disney-folk, they would have thought that we took our kids to see the Mouse a lot.  We would go a few times a year.   And it was fun.  But not enough...

For over 2 years we have seriously thought about getting Annual Passes to Disney.  And because Dave is the most patient man alive, he let me have the final choice...he would have done it years ago.  But I had lessons to learn. And if I have learned anything in the last few years it is that life is way too short and that so much of it is spent on waiting or preparing for "later".  But that only works if we are lucky enough to get "later"...

So I'm trying really hard to be in the here and now.  Enjoy the moments...even the hard ones.  Because, yes, they pass...but so do the good ones.  We gotta hold on.  Before we know it our kids will be on their own adventures.  And, yes, I'm in total denial that before they are officially "gone" they will most likely not think too highly of being with us.

Sooooo...we jumped.  (Don't worry---Dave Ramsey would be proud.  We saved our money for our Annual Passes BEFORE we purchased them.)  In September we got our passes...the kids were so excited when we told them they weren't just "tickets".  

So now its October.  And we've already spent 2 fun-filled weekends at the most magical place on earth.  And we've loved it.  I know my Grandpa would be so thrilled to know that are continuing our families tradition of having fun together.  But, I have to confess, that we're creating a new "Disney Pace".  Its still full but its a bit slower...and that's OK because our passes are unlimited for one year.  This is our "Year Of The Mouse". 

I love that I get to share the magic with my family.  And it truly is magical.  It never fails that, at least, once a visit I'm the weepy mommy hugging everyone and telling them how thankful I am that we are all there together and having fun.  And, not to brag, but we really do have the best kids.  They are so thankful and appreciative of this special gift that we have given them.  ----no, our kids aren't perfect.  There is whining about the heat or that their feet hurt or that they MUST have the whip just like Indiana Jones used (Sam) or the 1,000th stuffed animal MUST come home with us (RK) or god-forbid there is a stinky diaper (Millie)....oops, I guess that complaint is OK.  I can't tell you what a great motivator Disney has been for earning and saving money so they can have their 1 souvenir. :)

But, so far, I think the most important thing that our kids are learning over and over again is that we like being with them.  We like being a family all together dancing in the street in Hollywood Studios or singing really loudly in the hotel parking lot or learning about African dancers at Animal Kingdom. We like having fun.  And for that I have to thank the whole long line of crazies that came before me.  And my crazy husband that constantly reminds me to laugh and go with the flow and to slow down and enjoy the magic.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


I was sitting in my office a week before Christmas.  For some reason Dave was there at work with me.  That rarely happens.  The kids were in school.  I was checking the voicemail like I did every morning.  All of a sudden I'm crying.  There was a message from her.

The new foster mom.  She called.  She wanted me to call her back.  I did.  We talked for a long time.  She sounded great.  And lovely.  And there was a big sister and he was happy and growing and she wanted him to be theirs.  Forever.  She texted us a heart.

God knew.  He knew he was safe.  He knew where He was taking him.  It was the best Christmas gift.  If we couldn't have him with us I wanted to know that he has happy.  And he was.

And is.  He's 10 months old.  His mom and I talked again last week.  DFCS is starting the official termination of the biological mom's rights.  Then they can start the adoption process.

He had surgery last week.  He actually sees lots of doctors.  He has lots of therapy appointments.  He is doing well but he needs a lot.  Every time I have talked to his mom she never complains.  I mean, of course she complains about the incompetence of DFCS and how frustrating it is and how foster parents have no rights and how she can't wait to adopt him so they can be done but she never complains about him.  About his health.  About the work that it takes for him to be happy and healthy.  She doesn't see it as something she should complain about.  This is her son.  She loves him.  She would do/will do anything for him.  Whatever it takes.
God knows.  I mean just logistically she lives near a larger city which makes access to doctors easier.  She has dealt with DFCS for 3+ years through the adoption of her daughter.  It doesn't make the roller coaster any easier but at least she has her seat belt buckled.  We went in with our full heart ready to welcome our child into our family.  Its hard to see straight when your heart is in the way...

For a long time, and still now really, I miss him.  Sometimes I think about what it would be like to have a baby boy in our house, too.  But that is what grieving is about.  A wise woman (also an adoptive mother) once told me that she believes God places children into our lives to be our "heart children".  For reasons unknown to us God doesn't place them with us in our everyday lives but he does bring them into our lives to remember and pray for and love.  That is what I do now.  Every time I feel sad about what "might have been" I hear the whispers that say, "God knows."

He knows why He brought him to us.  Why He took him away.  Our family still prays for him.  My kids still love him.  His mom has said she wants us to get together.  She wants to meet our kids.  She wants us to see him.  I think I'd like that...

Friday, August 23, 2013

we called him charlie...

Last October, shortly after I blogged about being pregnant, we got a phone call.  It was a Tuesday around 2:00.  There was a baby.  He needed a home.  My heart was pounding.  This was it.  I had spent sleepless nights prowling for kids on the internet that needed a home.  We had been to 3 somewhat awkward "meet and greets" for kids that needed homes.  I had sent COUNTLESS emails to caseworkers and given our Home Study to literally any one that wanted it...and it came down to this.  I was ready.  I knew as she was telling me about the family's situation that we were in.  I didn't even need to call Dave to check with him (don't worry, of course I did...)  The caseworker said there was a newborn baby boy.  5 days old.  He needed a place tonight.  But wait.  He had a sister that was about a year old that was already in care. They wanted a home that was willing to take her in about 6 months. YES!  It was everything we had wanted...

I was at color me happy when I got the call.  I talked to Dave and then ran out to my mom and told her everything.  She was apprehensive but supportive and excited.  I was going to meet my son that day.

Operation: Get the house ready for a baby was in effect.  Mom called in the special forces.  AKA: Carol/Mimi was on her way.  We had 4 hours give or take.  The rush of it all was so exciting but I should have seen this as a sign...and not a good one.

He came to our house straight from the hospital.  Wow.  The kids were SO excited!!  They wanted to hold him and feed him and just look at him.  Dave and I couldn't believe that he was say that we had forgotten what it was like to have a newborn baby in the house is an understatement.  Did I mention that I had my 16 week pregnancy check up the next day?  Yeah, life didn't stop.  Charlie was just along for the ride and we were thrilled to have him.

As the adrenaline and the initial excitement wore off and the sleep deprivation caught up with us, we realized this was going to be quite a roller coaster.  You see, Charlie came from another county which meant that we had our local DFCS office and his DFCS office to deal with.  This meant that we had never met his caseworker and that we weren't the least bit familiar with the way that office worked.  We found out pretty early that the sister was not going to be placed with us.  AND that his biological family had not yet been investigated for possible placement.  We weren't being told anything about his case.  Lots of dead ends.  And tears...

To make a long painful story short, there was lots of miscommunication.  I don't like to think of it as lies.  I want to think that the people placed in charge of these little lives do the best with what is given to them...I want to believe that.  About 6 weeks after Charlie came to stay, it was time for him to go.  Our hearts, along with our kids' hearts, were broken.

We couldn't take the roller coaster.  We thought we were strong enough.  There was just too much that was being said that was contradictory.  We had no idea what direction the case was going to take and we were already too involved, too exhausted, too confused and too in love.  What if we fostered him for a year and then he went back to live with his biological mom?  Could our kids (who were already calling him their brother) handle that?  Could I?  I'd like to say that I could.  I mean, I took the classes.  Remember almost 18 months ago?  I took the classes that taught me all about the system and DFCS and fostering...yeah.  I forgot to tell my heart.  We went in wanting and intending to adopt.  We had taught our kids that whom ever God brings to us would be our family.  And they learned well.  It was instant for them...

For months after Charlie left I felt like we had made a horrible mistake.  We had passed him on to another foster family in God knows where with God knows who living in conditions that made me, once again, lose sleep.  There were lots of tears.  I felt like I had abandoned my child.  I needed to find him and rock him to sleep.  I knew how to do that.  We had no information.  All I knew is that we had packed a suitcase (Nana had given it to him so he didn't have to move with trash bags like so many other foster kids.)  I had included a letter with his schedule and his likes and all my contact info, just in case.  I just needed to move on.

And I couldn't help but think about the fact that once again (in October no less) we had lost.  First I had miscarried, then my daddy passed away and now Charlie was gone.  October sucks...

I was once again grieving.  Or, to be honest, just adding another layer to my grief that I probably hadn't properly dealt with yet.  We closed our home to DFCS.  I couldn't handle the idea of this happening again.  Maybe we weren't meant to adopt.  Maybe we had misunderstood the calling.  Maybe God had gotten the wrong number...

My only comfort was that "God knows".  I couldn't really remember that while it was all happening.  The noise of all the grief was too loud.  But soon the whispers would start to become more clear.