Photo by Shanna Hullender Photography

"Adopting one child won't change the world; but for that child, the world will change."

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Part I - The Ugly

I drove myself nuts while we were waiting to be placed. I really was an anxious wreck although I probably wouldn't have admitted it at the time. I'm so impatient. So to pass the time, I combed the Internet every night looking for anything and everything I could find about older kid adoptions and foster adoptions.

I worked hard to prepare myself for the day that a child/children joined our family. For the most part, I did a great job on that! If there was ever a surprise in this whole journey I would not hesitate one moment to say that it was NOT with the kids themselves or even with Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS). I was most surprised by people around me whether they were family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances and sometimes complete strangers. While I read that adoption can evoke strong emotions that will sever friendships and familial ties,I never dreamt that it would be to this magnitude. Nothing I read could have prepared me for this shock of bitter reality.

There were people that I had reservation about telling our intentions to adopt from foster care because I just knew the response would be so negative. I would break the news and they would sincerely be thrilled for us. Then I would tell someone that I figured would be all for it to get a very negative reaction from them. I simply could not speculate on a person's reaction to our news. I'm pretty sharp tongued but sometimes reactions were so negative that I was speechless.

I always loved the uninformed people that really tried their hardest to be persuasive on a subject they know absolutely nothing about. When I told people the ages that we were approved for, I was asked if I was crazy, why could I not just get a baby, etc. I was told by several that they knew of person that knew of a person that adopted a child from country XYZ. You know, I really should check into getting a baby from there. You get the drift? This is when I really start to come to the conclusion that some people feel like they are getting a better "product" per se by going international. I'm not against international adoptions at all. Had it not been for international adoptions, I may never arrived to where I am now. I still have a place in my heart for international adoptions. However, I do know that a person's adoption program of choice is a very personal decision. People were so down on foster care and that fueled my desire to adopt from foster care even more. How could a person be so negative about adopting a fellow American?

My in-laws were poker faced and never said a word or asked a question when we told them of our intent to adopt from foster care. Even throughout our training and home study process, we would mention it to solicit dialog from them about the matter but they acted as though they hardly heard what we were saying.

I had one family member question why we would want to adopt. Then very loudly and ignorantly, she told me that she would never adopt if she couldn't bear a baby. She would rather not have kids at all than have to adopt. She has one grown 30 something son. Looks like her superior genetics produced her a deadbeat that doesn't work, has been involved in drugs and has done time in the BIG house.

One of our closet friends dropped us like a hot potato pretty much the moment we got "the call." She was always going to do something grand for us and the kids...of course, contingent on the adoption finalizing. Really? Contingent on finalization? So what if we didn't finalize? Seriously, what if? Would it have been so terrible to give otherwise poverty bound children a little token gift or party? No big deal because it never happened. Empty promises. Did I mention they are also neighbors and go to our church? I'm cordial but that is it. No hard feelings and I wish them the best in life. However, I do not consider ourselves "friends" anymore...I guess we really never were.

To be continued.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Everyone has problems!

For a least a decade, I had thought that I would adopt a little girl from China one day. I joking called her "Sally Ming" to my mother and friend, Alysia. After all, it breaks my heart that so many Chinese tend to place so many little girls for adoption. I would hate to think my parents didn't want me because I'm female (especially since I do tend to think the we are the more dominant gender! LOL).

Anyway when we felt the time had come to begin our adoption journey, I ordered some paperwork from an adoption agency that specializes in foreign adoptions. I had no doubt in my mind at the time I ordered the info that China was the country for us. I really never considered any other country as I felt so led to China. Included in the packet was information on other countries. I was so sad when I learned that a person can adopt from Ethiopia for a lot less money and with a much shorter wait time. The trend appears to be that the more Caucasian the country, the more expensive adoption costs and longer placement waits. I've done my research and understand the break down of the expenses but I still feel feel like with the prices of adoption, you are essentially "buying" a child. I was prepared for the "sticker shock" but I didn't realize how much the costs vary so much from country to country.

Instead of being excited about the adoption information arriving in the mail, I began to feel very conflicted. Very conflicted. After a several of days of thinking and praying, I didn't feel right about going across the world to adopt a child when there were so many here in the United States in need of homes and families. My husband from the very beginning had been saying that we should adopt an older child as neither one of us are crazy about being tied down to an infant. My response, was always "Oh, no...those kids have problems." One night, I couldn't sleep and began surfing the net. I found some photolisting websites that profile children that are in foster care and are available for adoption. I sobbed as I read about each child. Those little faces had names, interests, and dreams. Some reminded of me of kids I knew growing up. Something about these photolisting websites really struck my core and weighed heavy on my heart. From that point on, I knew this is where we belonged (of course, Billy said "I told you so!").

I was scared but convicted that we needed to pursue adoption through foster care. I had to get over the image of a "my" child that I had in my head. I had to start imaging myself with an older and possibly troubled kid. Amazingly, God opened my heart pretty quickly to the idea. Therefore, I was able to accept it and then get excited about our new possiblities!

When we decided to adopt an older child/children, we were faced with a wide assortment of reactions and comments about our decision (I will wait until I'm really fired up on day to post more about ignorant people and their ignorant comments). People tend to be supportive of adopting babies both domestically and internationally but definitely not older kids. So this leads me to wonder, why has society turned their backs on OUR children? We adore them while they are infants and toddlers but once they get bigger, no one wants to touch them! For not fault of their own, these kids experience tragedy, neglect, abuse, etc. that most of us cannot fathom and get taken away from their parents yet our society in large does not want to help these kids. I understood that parenting hurt children was not going to be an easy endeavor especially for an inexperienced, first-time parent. However more importantly, I did realize these kids need PARENTS, love and stability which were things my husband and I were able to provide in abundance.

I know this is probably a horrible analogy but it is the most fitting one that comes to mind. I would never buy a dog or a cat. A few years ago, my kitty, Stinky, wandered up my driveway, onto my porch and into my life. I don't care how much you paid for your puss and I don't care if he/she came to you as a kitten because I'm telling you right now, that my ole stray cat is top notch the whole way.

Same thing with older kiddos...I firmly believe there are wonderful children out there in need of good famlies. Besides, who doesn't have problems? And who knows, one day one of them may turn out to be the President of the USA!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Never say "Never"

Goodness, I love blogs! At one time, I followed several but their blogging over time has fallen to the way side. I've been searching for new ones to follow the last couple of days. I love relaxing after the kids are in bed and reading about other people's adventures, mishaps, love, etc. It is like reading someone else's journal! So exciting!

At this point in my life, I dig Mommy and adoption blogs. I stumbled onto some great blogs today. A lot of them were centered around foreign adoptions. Guess what? I found myself dreaming of possibilities. Lordy, Billy would disconnect the Internet service if he only knew!!! While my hands are full at the moment, I have learned to never say "Never."

As a matter of fact when we finalized our adoptions a couple of weeks ago, we took the kids to the Tennessee Aquarium and Warner Park Zoo for the rest of the day. While celebrating the adoptions, I received and email from a Case Worker in Ohio about a little girl that I had apparently inquired about. Umm...that inquiry had to been made at the very least 9 months ago. We have had our kids 9 months, therefore, I know I haven't made inquiries since then! How sad and disheartening! Nine long months is an eternity in a child's life. I pray that 11 year old Darlene in Ohio finds her Forever Family soon.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Our First Christmas (2009) - My Favorite Holiday

Little Miss Zippydeedoodah

I really regret not having my kids photos made professionally as soon as we got them.

I realized a couple of weeks ago that I didn't have any photos of Zippy just by herself. When our awesome photographer, Lacey D. Cummings of Lacey D. Photography, did our photos at Christmas, she did some individual shots of each of the kids. However, those are the only professional photos I have had made of Zippy. The boys actually had two pretty good school photos made this year along with sports photos. So when Lacey ran a special, I was quick to jump on board and book a session for little Miss Zippy.

She especially has grown up so much since she came to live with us. Plus we don't have any photos of them before they were placed with us. Looking back, I'm like "What was I thinking?" Why did I have photos made sooner. But in reality, it was all a whirlwind and I guess I was truly doing the best I could do at the time.

I had a couple more outfits for photos but we didn't get to those. It was such a cold, cold morning and the ground was so wet. Zippy was cold and tired. I bribed with McDonalds and that bought a few more smiles but for the most part she was finished. Anyway, here are a few photos of Zipporah, aka Zippy and/or The Polka Dot Princess. We had family photos yesterday so those will follow in the next week or so.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A New Beginning

I started blogging when my husband, Billy, and I were waiting to be placed for a foster-to-adopt situation. As with most people waiting to adopt, it is an emotional time. It was a great outlet for me to hash out all of my frustrations with the current state of our foster care system. I planned on blogging after placement but I.Got.Scared. I REALLY wanted to journal all of our first experiences and let people live and learn along with us. However, since it was a foster-to-adopt situation I was scared of doing anything that may have jeopardized our pending adoption. You know those things you hear in the news every week? Kind of like employers using Facebook to check out potential employees kind of thingy. It was simply too risky. Fast forward 9 months and one week later from placement and TADAAAAAA...we are a family! Our adoptions were finalized on April 13, 2010.

So why start blogging again now? Well, I feel that we do have a story to tell. A success story. Over the last year and a half (from the time we started getting approved for foster adoptions) we have learned so much about our current foster care system. There is so much information to be found on domestic infant adoptions (DIA) and international adoptions (IA). However, there are very limited good sources of information on foster care adoptions. Plus there are so many misconceptions and stereotypes about foster care/foster children. While I am no expert on foster adoptions, I can at least offer you a peek into our lives. We are somewhat "normal," live boring lives and have the 3 most beautiful, courageous, resilient, smart, and witty children in the world. And yes, I am biased! :-) We are truly blessed! So meet my family and follow along!