Photo by Shanna Hullender Photography

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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Forever and Ever

Last Sunday was Homecoming at our church. Billy and I seated the kids at a large round table while we went through the line to make them plates. A lady at our church sat down at our table. Zippy was standing in the seat of her chair yelling across the room to me and pointing at the lady. I quickly let Zippy know it was ok and that lady could sit with us. The lady later told me that when she sat down at the table, Zippy turned to her and said "I already have a Mommy!" while pointing across the room to me! On the surface her statement was really cute but then again the core of it is really sad. So far Mommies have been easy come, easy go in her short life. I guess in kid terms, we showed up at the park one day and now we are their parents. So, it does make sense that Zippy would be concerned when a sweet, smiling woman sits down beside her at church. It looks like I will have to keep telling her each night when I lie down in bed with her that I will be her Mommy forever and ever.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

July 17th - Happy "Gotcha Day"

Yep, somehow I always manage to miss all the big milestones! In a perfect world, I would have blogged and added photos of our little family on our one year "Gotcha Day" anniversary. On July 17th last year, our children came to live with us. However a couple of days before our big anniversary, my ABS unit went out on my crappy Nissan Armada. So, my vehicle was parked at the Nissan dealership the whole weekend. As my luck would have it, I forgot my camera inside of my car so no photos of our big day! I did take a couple photos last year on the day the kids came to live with us but they are on my cell phone. Would you believe that I only discovered them a couple of weeks ago? I'm going to try and get them printed this week so I can upload them. Yeah, in that perfect world we would have been snapping pics galore on the day they came to live with us. The reality was that they were off the charts hyper running in and out every door we have and swinging from the chandeliers...ok, not quite but you get the point, right?

Around 8:45 a.m. on July 17, 2009 it was already a hot and humid Georgia morning. Billy and I nervously left our quiet house and drove about 10 minutes across town to a local park. There we met the children and their foster parents. Billy had already met the foster dad the night before and picked up a truck load of their belongings. We drove separately that morning because he had another truck load of their belongings to haul to our home. We had only met them the one time at the park about 10 days earlier. At that time the kids had been told that we were friends of their foster mother. I had made them a little scrap book about Billy, me and our families. Their therapist read over it with the kids and that is how they broke the new to them about coming to live with us.

They said their goodbyes to their foster parents. Fuller was teary eyed, Shyne was so excited he had jumped in my car almost immediately, and Zippy was quiet and reserved. I drove off with 6 little eyes staring at the back of my head. They were so brave and none of them cried. They had a lot of questions about the beach and if we lived there. See, one of the photos in the scrap book was of Billy and me on the beach! One asked if we lived in California. They were tickled about our cat, Stinky, as they never had a kitty cat before.

Things were wild those first few weeks. They were always good kids, but VERY hyper with all the newness all around them. They went to bed every night without incident. They never cried and always fell straight to sleep. Maybe they were exhausted because I know we sure were! I remember lying down in bed so worn out not knowing how in the world I was going to be able to get up and do it all over again the next day, and the next day, and the next day, for years and years!

Their foster family had been working with Zippy on potty training. I remember taking her to the potty those first few days. As I was standing there waiting for her to do her business, she would make me turn around and face the corner of the room. It was a very mysterious feeling because here was this little person that I had already loved for so long in my heart but yet I didn't know her. What was she really like? Would I have to stand in the corner forever while she pottied? How long would it take to get to know them?

Sometimes when I'm beat down or feeling sorry for myself, I think about those three little brave people. Their little world was spinning out of control and not once did they ever cry. The had lost everything in life that they had known: Taken away from their parents and now away from their foster parents that they loved so much. Yet still with all they had been through, they never cried.

Friday, July 9, 2010

July 9th

Last year on this day, I called DFCS and told them that we would be willing to accept placement of the kids in our home. That was a Thursday morning. On Saturday morning, my mother and I headed out to Jacksonville, Florida (approximately an 8 hour drive) to trade my convertible in for a large SUV. There is nothing like losing your job and having to go buy a new (well, new to us) car a few days later. It was the closest one to us that had all the options I wanted PLUS leather seats. Yes, it was the leather seats that I was really after. I think it was that maternal instinct already starting to kick in! Billy stayed back behind and worked on his long honey-do list that included toddler proofing the house. We simply had too much to do to make the trip together because DFCS was wanting them in our home ASAP after we gave them the green light.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

First meeting

I'm so frustrated with Blogger. I haven't been able to upload a photo in about two weeks. It "thinks" and "thinks" then tells me to check my internet connection. Well, my internet connection is fine if I have made it to Blogger!

Oh well on to more important stuff! A year ago today, I met my children for the very first time. Billy and I met them at a local play ground along with their foster mom. I remember Fuller running up to us asking if we were his foster mom's friends. I had to walk away for a moment because I started crying. He was so beautiful and charming and it was possibility that one day he would be my little boy!

Shyne was too busy playing to slow down long enough to talk to some old folks like us. He blasted past us saying "I run fast!" Seriously, that is the first thing he ever said to us!

Zippy grabbed my camera and wouldn't give it back. We had a gentle tug of war going on over it. She won and bolted off running as fast as she could but then tripped and fell down dropping my camera and scraping her knee. Billy has always said from that first night that "the little one, now she is the one that will be a handful." He hit the nail on the head with that one because she has more personality than I have ever seen in a little one that age. Oh and boy does she have him wrapped! Yep, bonfide "Daddy's girl."

What an amazing 365 days it has been! I feel like I have known and loved them forever!

Today, we went to a local amusement park to hang out with some friends that live a couple hours from us. Yeah, it was the hottest day of the year with temps hitting 102! Oh but that didn't stop us! We actually visited the same amusement park last July or August not long after the kids came to live with us. I didn't really expect Billy to join us today because we were just on vacation recently then he had a short work week last week with the holidays. Oh by the way, Billy boy doesn't miss work often for play but today he really insisted on going. He later told me that he wanted to be there and experience it with the kids because they have already grown and matured so much since our last trip last year. He basically realized it was a "stop and smell the roses" type of moment so he didn't want to miss it. So there he sweated with the rest of us while making wonderful family memories. My kids really have a wonderful Dad. Maybe that will be the subject of my next post.

Anyway, I'm so tired and I hope this is all coherent. I couldn't let a a big anniversary like this pass without mentioning it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


The other day I looked at the photo listings of children in the state of Georgia that are available for adoption through the foster care system. I wasn't looking because we are interested in adopting again but more that I was curious about how many of the kids are still sitting on the roster from over a year and half ago when I was trolling the website frequently. I'm glad to report that a lot of the kids are gone from the website. Hopefully, that means they have found their Forever Families. Of course, there were still a few that I recognized on there just growing older in the wretched foster care system. Anyway like Shania Twain sings, I "gone and done it" although I shouldn't have. Now, my mind is running wild with thoughts that I'm too scared to share! Get the drift?

My heart breaks for the older kids. There were a few teenage boys that were looking for Christian homes and are scared of getting too old and aging out the system. Wouldn't it be sad to turn 18 years old and released out in this nasty world without loving parents to guide you? How about holiday weekends just like we had but without any family to share it with? Seventeen years old and wanting a CHRISTIAN family to call their own, wanting their own dog (remember they probably have been bounced around all their lives and have never had the opportunity to have their OWN pet), and part-time job so that he can save to buy a car. Seventeen years old and still holding onto the sliver of hope that one day they will be adopted by their Forever Family. Wouldn't you hate to know that society gave up on you because you were too old even at the tender ages of 8, 12, or 17 years old? Goodness, it breaks my heart into a millon pieces.

I would like to see those teenagers find homes. Just in case you don't think you can adopt, I would like to throw out some info about adopting from the Georgia foster care system for you to consider. Most states have similar guidelines.

You don't have to own a home to adopt from foster care. Apartment living is completely fine.

If single, the adoptive parent must be at least 25 years of age and at least 10 years older then the child. If married, at least 10 years older then the child.

I know of people in their late 50's/early 60's that have adopted from Georgia foster care so don't let age hold you back!

Foster adoptions costs very little if any money at all to the adoptive family as the state covers most, if not all, or the expenses.

The adopted children are eligible for Medicaid until they turn 18 year old (even after the adoption is complete).

The adoptive parents even qualify for monthly financial assistance if the child meets one of the criteria below that qualifies the child as "special needs":

1. A child who has been in the care of a public or private agency or individual other than the legal or biological parent for more than 24 consecutive months.

2. A child with physical, mental, or emotional disability, as validated by a licensed physician or psychologist.

3. A child who is a member of a sibling group of 2 or more placed in the same home.

Basically, the state is trying hard to make adoption possible for all of those that are interested. Sadly, more people need to open their hearts and homes for these kids that need families.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"The Call"

Last year on Thursday, July 2nd, my world was spinning. I had been laid off from my job the day before. While I still had 2 more months to work, I quickly decided that I needed to start drumming up some business with my side gig, real estate. There was a new listing in our neighborhood and I had a prospective buyer. So I lined up a showing later that day. While showing the house, my phone rang and I looked down to discover that it was Department of Family and Children's Services. Great, they were probably calling to tell us we needed to do one more training class! I hit "ignore." That call could wait. Then they immediately called back a second time. I hit "ignore" once again. Then DFCS called back immediately for a 3rd time! The buyer told me that it was ok to take the phone call as he sensed it was obviously urgent. I blurt out that we were trying to adopt and that I was pretty sure that I was getting "the call." We were wrapping things up anyway and I wanted to talk when I had a little more privacy. We said our farewells and I jumped in the car immediately and called DFCS back.

They had a sibling group of three they wanted to discuss with us. Yep, I just knew it would be three. Billy was already scared silly that we were approved for up to three kids but was going to freak out when I told him we got "the call" about three kids! See, they could have called us about one child or a duo. So immediately, it was kind of hard to get over the moon excited because I was so scared that I would vetoed by Billy (not that I have ever really gotten vetoed by him but this was a HUGOMONGO life decision for us and we both needed to be on board). When I told Billy that the call was about three kids, he was pretty much like "3?" Not like, three? But more like THREE while the blood drained from his face! Being the trooper that he is, he agreed to go along to the DFCS meeting with an open mind and heart.

DFCS shared the kids ages with me: 2, 4 and 6 years old. They told it was two boys and one girl. I was told that there were really no "issues" with them and of course, I knew there were THREE of them! Independence Day fell on Saturday so a lot of people were celebrating and on July 3rd so their office was closed. Our case worker did not work Mondays so we made an appointment to come in and look at their case file on Tuesday, July 7th. Just my luck, I would have to wait over a long holiday weekend. I didn't know why they had come into state custody, their race, if the boys or girl was the oldest, etc. Goodness, I should have asked more questions! Being the pessimist that I am, I kept telling myself that it probably wouldn't be a "match" so that made it much easier to get through the next few days.