Photo by Shanna Hullender Photography

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rose Colored Glasses

Shyne with our newly adopted pooch, Lizzie Fox.

I haven't blogged a lot this summer for a few reasons. First, with the kids being out of school for the summer and all their activities, it was very hard to find time to blog. Secondly, I've been in the dumps about adoption and really don't want to discourage my readers that may be considering or currently in the adoption process. Lastly, I haven't blogged because of my family.

None of my problems are to do with my kids because they are AwEsOmE as always. These issues are definitely with ME. I guess when we first got the kids we were in survival mode. Now that the dust has settled, I've been hit with some pretty heavy emotions that major life changes tend to bring even if they are a bit delayed due to a long period of denial.

A lot has changed around here this summer. A lot. We (Billy and/or I) ran into the children's biological family three times within two weeks. It had been a year since we had ran last into them while out in town. This has ultimately lead to communication being opened up between their biological family and me. I will admit, I was very hesitant at first. However, now I am okay with it and even grateful. But the crazy thing is that this contact has really, really sent my mind spinning out of control.

I've quit looking at them (birth family) at people that didn't care enough and lost their kids. Instead, I seem them more as people that were not born into the white, blue eyed, middle class privileges as most people I know, including myself. I now see young, very poor people without a support system. I see another generation of people that have fallen victim to that vicious cycle of poverty. I've never had to move in the middle of the night due to eviction or foreclosure because my family was secured enough to own their home out right. I grew up scared of the police and jail because that is where bad people went, not family members. Get my point? Although, our lives are at opposite polars, I know they love their children even though I may never fully understand some aspects of their lifestyle. I know the extended family members are grieving the loss of these children but because of their poor choices and/or circumstances, they couldn't do anything about this situation either. I could go on and on but I won't. Just trust me when I say that my perspective has changed in ways that I could have never dreamt possible.

Apparently I upset my family this summer by my post, "It Is What It Is." I haven't heard from some of them since. I didn't write it as a farewell to my family, at all. I wrote it because this is my blog about my adoption experience and my way of working through some of my thoughts. It has hurt me for a very long time that my kids don't have the sort of relationships I had growing up. However recently, I have been overwhelmingly sadden by the fact that my kids were taken from their blood family (that is hurting) and given to another and for these to not have been celebrated and cherished more than they have been. This has left a giant hole in my heart and I can't put a Band-Aid on a wound that is hemorrhaging and continue to act like everything is okay.

These adoptions have changed my life in so many ways - some for the good, the bad and the ugly. I just wish I wouldn't have sat on my rose colored glasses.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Is and the Is Not

This blog is my online diary documenting my adoption experiences. As I have said before, when we started the adoption process there was hardly any information to be found about foster care adoptions online. I have been educated (which is a continuous process) about adoption through blogs (and forums) from birth mothers, adoptees, or other adoptive parents. However, time and time again I found there is very little input in the tiny area of foster care adoptions. Oftentimes, I feel silly blogging about our little, simple lives. However, I do continue to blog because I do get so many inquiries about foster care and my silly little blog gets quite a bit of traffic. So, therefore I assume there is an interest in what I have to say on here. I hope that this blog will open other people's hearts and minds to adopting from the U.S. foster care system and combat a few stereotypes along the way. If this blog offends you in anyway, you simply need not read it. If you are interested in photos and happy updates about our children, then Facebook is the place to follow me. Adoption is beautiful, ugly, complicated and rewarding, I won't lie.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Momma and Prince Charming

I remember being a child and loving that one on one adult attention. However for me, I didn't have to constantly compete with two other adorable kiddos. So from time to time, we will grab one child to run errands with etc.

So on Saturday when I had several errands to run, Shyne was more than thrilled to tag along. Since he was the guest of honor, I let him pick our lunch spot. I knew before I asked him, he would want to eat Japanese. So we ate, had the car wash, did a few other errands, went to the convenient store and bought candy and an Icee, then to the playground. Can't you just tell by the look on his face that he was loving every minute of it?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Gotcha Day - Two Year Anniversary

Copied from my blog post from July 2010 - Photos taken in October 2009 - 3 months after placement.

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.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It Is What It Is

In our Georgia foster care classes (IMPACT) we heard a lot about how anniversaries can be very hard on the children. We were told to expect high emotions around important dates even if the children were unaware of those dates. So far, we haven't experienced any of that with our children. However, I have noticed a huge difference in my emotions around those important circles on the calendar.

As we approach the two year anniversary of our "Gotcha Day," I find myself flooded with adoption emotions. I guess it is only natural to think back to how life was two years ago in the days before our kids arrived in our home. To be honest, it is very bittersweet.

As for my family in particular, within these two years I have both gained and lost family members through this adoption. Going back and reading my blog entries from last summer, I see that I still had a lot of raw feelings about it. However now, my viewpoint along the lines of "it is what it is." Every single relationship I had at that time has since changed and this statement isn't necessarily a bad thing. It reminds me a lot of dating when you go through a bad break up to get back together and the feelings never quite being the same.

When we set out to adopt, I guess I thought I would be able to give my kids the same type of happy childhood that I had growing up. In the end, I've had to accept the fact that no matter how hard I try, I cannot give my kids my life and my childhood. My family and extended family are different now. There are different players involved, therefore it will never be the same. I grew up adoring my aunt, uncle and cousins. On the flip side of things, my children pretty much have a non-existent relationship with their only uncle, aunt and cousin. Then their relationship with my parents would be best described as a pony show. To this date, none of my parents have ever taken all three of my children at the same time to do anything as simple as getting an ice cream cone. They love them no doubt but it is definitely a different relationship than I had with my grandparents. But that too is okay because like I said before, it is what it is.

I'm not mad at anyone. I'm not bitter. If any anything, I would describe myself as dangerously independent and indifferent. As for my children, they are resilient troopers that are having a happy and wonderful childhood now. And lastly, it is what it is.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

July 9th

Copied from my post last year but with the dates changed.

Two years ago on July 9th, 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.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The day I met my kids

Two years 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. The kids had no idea that we were their potential parents. 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 730 days it has been! I feel like I have known and loved them forever!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

"The Call"

This is copied from last year's blog post except I changed it to reflect that we got "the call" two years ago.

Two years ago 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.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Be Bored

There are two things I can't stand to hear roll off my children's lips: "That's not fair" and "I'm bored." Well baby, life isn't fair so the best thing you can do is get over it right now. And here are my thoughts on boredom:

Dear little monkeys,

There are three of you kids in our family. We live in a neighborhood filled with children. We have a garage we cannot park in because it is overflowing with your toys. We have a big ole nice flat back yard perfect for any sports you would like to play. We have a Wii and a Nintendo system and all three of you have Nintendo DS' and iPods. We have more kid movies than Netflix. This summer, you have been swimming on a regular basis, to the movie theater several times, friend's houses to play, had friends over to our house, golf camp, VBS, to the lake and more. The summer is only half over at this point and we still have a lot of fun left on the agenda. However if you want to proclaim you are bored, then I will show you boring!

Be bored,

In my opinion, children do not need to be entertained every wakening moment of their little lives. Why? Well, when you become an adult you learn that life is not one big party! So just like my thoughts on fairness, they need to just get over that now! We live in a society where kids feel entitled to always have fun. Then there are parents that jump through hoops like baboons at the zoo to keep their kids entertained. I'm not being Debbie Downer because we too do so much with our kids. You are suppose to have fun as a kid. It is a good thing! However, perhaps we have done too much mindless entertaining and now they don't know how to simply entertain themselves with their imaginations.

So, this week I refuse to shuttle them up and down the road. We are going to stay right here in our home...oh but wait, they are going to be outside with a big water cooler. I will be inside cleaning up the house I have neglected while entertaining them this summer. Today was day one although Billy ended up taking them to play miniature golf earlier. Even still, the day outside in the yard is proving painful for them. So we will be at the house all week and in the evening they will be going to VBS. I bet they will be elated to go to VBS each night to get away from the Devil (me) at home.

I've already had one come in an ask if we can go swimming today. "Well certainly not, Dear. Yesterday, swimming bored you! Now shut the door and run along."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What is "ideal?"

The boys finished up 3 weeks of golf camp today.

"Ideal" for me is an unpredictable and unconventional life. I loathe routine although sometimes I wished I liked it more. While I don't really know what my ideal life is, I know it probably isn't what everyone else considers ideal. Billy on the other hand is a polar opposite. At least he has me around to keep his life interesting! :-)

When I think about my ideal family, I really don't see a mental imagine anymore. I guess instead of thinking that we are complete, I like to dream of the unknown even if it never happens. There is just something so depressing with the finality of some things unless it is cleaning, laundry or baseball season.

I can't say that I started out wanting a large family of my own. However, I do think that the changes in my relationships with family and friends that I have experienced since my three kids came to me does play a big part in wanting to creating my own larger family.

All I know is that I want to live life to the fullest while I still have some spunk left in me. I can rest when I'm old or better yet, when I die! I don't want a head stone to read "Here lies a lady that lived a quiet and peaceful life." Instead, I prefer "Here lies a lady that was never bored. Ever. She had more kids that the old lady that lived in the shoe and every single one of them drove her CrAzY!"

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing - Helen Keller

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Common Objections to Adoption

I saw this video on Facebook a couple of weeks ago and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. It spoke straight to my heart. Not to mention, several blogs that I follow have touched on some of these same points too in the last couple of weeks. While I would love to adopt again, I am THAT person that feels like we would have to make some major changes to our home and get a larger vehicle to accommodate a growing family. Plus, our money tree out back died a few summers ago when we had that severe drought. We simply cannot afford it.

I try to have faith that all those obstacles would somehow work themselves out. So, I have been praying very specifically now for an older child. I have really felt in the depths of my heart that if we ever adopted again, it would be an older boy and very likely a minority. However during my late night internet surfing, I saw a girl on a photolisting that I completely fell in love with. I know you can't get your hopes up over a photolisting, really I do. However, I wonder if it is God's way of telling me once again that my idea of what my family should look like isn't the way He wants it to look. You see, I haven't even looked at photolistings for girls in FOREVER because I was just dead set on a boy. My desire for a boy has a lot to do with the fact that boys are harder to place than girls and because of our housing situation with sharing bathrooms/bedrooms and such. Oh sure, we could make it work but it really isn't what "I" consider "ideal."

That is all for tonight as it is getting late and I am having a hard time organizing my rambling thoughts. However, tomorrow I will talk about what is "ideal."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sweet & Ignorant

You've just got to love it when someone prefaces a conversation about someone by making the disclosure they are adopted. Even worse is when they tell me three times as if I didn't hear the first time. Then they rattle on about how this adopted person made terrible choices and has pretty much ruined their life, their adopted parent's lives, and many people's lives around them. While they don't say it, they must feel like it is somehow related to this person being adopted, after all the adoption disclosure was made three times!

Why would someone even dare start a conversation with me like that? Ignorance, plain and simple. You see Ignorance has a spouse that is a real dandy. Ignorance's spouse has made a lot of terrible mistakes too just like the adopted person has made. However, Ignorance's spouse is not adopted. Ignorance's spouse is a spoiled brat that had a great childhood and has never had to be accountable for anything. Oh, there are just so many parallels between Ignorance's spouse and the adopted person's lives. So what is the excuse here?

Adoption is a serious issue and is not to be taken lightly. However, people everywhere deal with adversities of all types every day. Life is not guaranteed to be easy or fair. I remember going off to college at 18 years old to the #4 party school in the nation. At orientation, we were told that any school could be a party school and that college is pretty much what you make out of it. I think the same idea applies to life. Remember the whole "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade" saying?

I just smiled at Ignorance. After all, Ignorance is sweet but ignorant and no malice was intended. However, sometimes I wish I could be like Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar just for one day. ;-)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Oh, Happy Days Are Here to Stay...I Pray!

Yesterday, we celebrated Fuller's 8th birthday. Instead of a birthday party this year, he got to have his first sleep over which turned out to be a huge success! Fuller had a blast surrounded with family, friends, cake and presents (and tons of swimming). One of his favorite presents was the NKOTBSB (New Kids On The Block/Back Street Boys) cd that I bought him. Yeah, I totally had my own interests at heart when I purchased it!

However mixed in with all the excitement, June 6th is another sad day in the adoption arena for me...and possibly one day for Fuller. While all birthdays are special, his is even more so because he shares the same birthday as his natural mother. Last year in the midst of his celebration, he looked at Billy and me and said "Today is also my real Momma's birthday too!" He wasn't sad but just made the statement. Regardless, it was on his mind. I usually foster open dialogue about their birth family/parents. However, on this particular day it is harder for me because I just don't know whether I should or not. If he is excited, then I don't want to rain on his parade by mentioning it. He said nothing about it this year so, I just sort of followed his lead and didn't say anything either. However, I do worry that as he grows older and the excitement of his youth wears off that his birthday may start to haunt him. Awwh, the beauties and uglies of adoption.

Friday, June 3, 2011

How We Roll

Summer is in full swing here around the Vinyard household. Temps are in the high 90's and only sun is in the forecast. With every trickle of sweat, I remember why I love the winter months. Oh well, I digress. Anyway, this week has been filled with swimming and a baseball tournament game nightly. However, two of the most unexpected things have been the highlights of the week for our kids: Rolling with the windows down in the car and getting hosed down at the car wash. Seriously, they did not get nearly this excited at Disney World!

When we left the game the other night, I decided to roll down the windows and peel open the moon roof. This goes against my grain BIG time because as soon as the wind hits my hair, I start looking like a cross between orphan Annie and Ronald McDonald. However, we were going home for the rest of the evening. So down with the windows and up went the volume! By their reaction, I suppose it was the first time I had done such with them in our near two years together. My word, I can't even express the shrills, giggles, and the pure enjoyment of three little kids getting to roll with the windows down! The best of all, it was FREE entertainment!

Then yesterday, I went to one of those little old fashioned car washes near our home. Usually, I go to a full service one but didn't have time and the car was really starting to grate my nerves. They watched me with the soapy brush (and asked a gazillion questions) and then when rinsing with water, I turned around and let them have it! We had just been swimming so they were already in swimsuits and flip flops. I sprayed the kids as they jumped, laughed and screamed "Do it again!" Every car the went down the road stared and/or laughed at us! No fancy Country Club memberships here when you can take you kids to the car wash and hose them down for a buck twenty-five!

I can already envision the kids going back to school in August and the teacher asking what was the best thing they did all summer!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Go Ahead and Throw Me From the Truck!

On May 10th Billy turned 40 years old. The very next day, I turned 35. There wasn't a lot of celebrating going on this year due to the other pressing matters at hand. Anyway, Zippy and I met Billy at the local steak house during lunch so I could get my free birthday meal. For some reason, a free meal once a year at Billy's favorite eating establishments really warms his heart. Since he had collected on his free meal the day before, he was ready to make sure I got mine the next day too! While there, I ran into our Case Worker. You know, the one that I'm not super duper wild about. Anyway, as Billy was working the salad bar over, I was able to tell her to keep us in mind should a "situation" arise that may mesh well with our family. Our home study isn't current but I know that DFCS can work some quick magic when needed. Let me rephrase that last sentence: DFCS can work some quick magic when they WANT to. She asked me about what Billy thought about it. Throughout our entire home study and adoption process, she was always very concerned about Billy because she knew he was scared to death. I told that I felt confident if the right child came up, then I'm sure Billy would rise to the occasion. After all, he is just that kind of guy!

I did end up telling him about that conversation a few days later while driving down the road. He didn't tell me "No!" but instead he laughed nervously and said "Ugghh, I should throw you out of this truck!" I *think* that might have been my "YES!"

However, there are some days that even I think I need to be thrown from the truck!

A Few of My Favorite Things

These photos were taken about a year ago by Lacey D. Photography. They remain as two of my favorite photos that I have of the children. While the kids have grown and changed so much in the last year, I thought I would post these in remembrance of all the fallen soldiers on this beautiful Memorial Day weekend. God Bless America!

God of This City

On April 27, 2011 my hometown of Ringgold, Georgia was struck by an F-5 tornado. It was one of the many towns across the Southeast that was terrorized with tornado activity on that dreaded Spring day. The storm claimed 8 precious lives and tore our little town literally into a million pieces, both physically and emotionally. It was a day that a nightmare really came true. It is something you see happen in far away places while watching the evening news. However, you never expect it to be the place were you were born and raised, the place that you have always called "home."

However, keeping with the American spirit of compassion and patriotism, our little community is already starting to heal. While there is so much pain that has came out of this terrible storm, there has also been so much goodness to surface too. Through volunteer work, I have met some of the nicest people and have made many new friends along the way. This storm has really restored my faith in mankind and I hope many others feel the same way. This t-shirt quote sums it up well: "You can't keep a small town down."

In the heart of dear old Dixie
Beneath the White Oak tree
Proudly stands our Alma Mater
Ringgold hail to thee!
Alma Mater, Alma Mater
True and loyal be
Ever crowned with grace and glory
Ringgold Hail to Thee!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Joy and Sorrow

I've been covered over the last few days so I haven't blogged as adamantly as I had intended about ME. However, I must take a break about ME as today is a very important day in my life. Today marks the one year anniversary of our adoptions. Yep, it has already been 12 months! Furthermore, next week the kids will have been living with us for 21 months total.

Like I've mentioned on here recently, I haven't had a lot of deep adoption related thougths lately. Well, that is until I read an article last night written by an adoptive mother. Boy, oh boy, did she paint a big red rosy picture about adoption. Had I not been so busy today I would have probably tracked down an email address for her and typed "Freakin gag me with a spoon, lady!!" Those of you that know very little about adoption probably don't realize there are a lot of adoption "ethics." To be honest with you, I didn't even know such topics existed until my virtual friends opened my eyes, ears, heart and mind to them. When you are new you have got to start learning somewhere. Unfortunately, this lady has been living the life associated with adoption long enough to have lived, learned and know better. So to her I say "Shame on you!" for her ignorance on the topic.

So while most people that are NOT connected to the adoption world thinks that today is the big happy day, instead to me, it is very bitter sweet.

So here are a few random thoughts swirling in my head today about adoption:

1. For one person to have gained another person had to have lost. One couple lost their children and in returned Billy and I gained them.

2. While I often hear remarks about how lucky my children are to have us that does not negate their overwhelmingly sad past.

3. My kids are not lucky to have us...we are blessed to have them.

4. It is unnatural for kids to be separated from their biological parents. God intends on children being with their natural and biological parents although Satan does not.

5. No matter how perfect their lives may ever seem from this point forward, rest assure they will be always waging an internal war with their emotions on being separated from their natural family. I feel quite certain it is a battle all three will fight on and off throughout their lives.

6. I often get asked in a whisper "Do they ever talk or ask about their parents?" The answer is "Yes" and many times those conversations are initiated by me. I want my children to feel comfortable asking/talking about their biological family. I'm not threatened by the fact that my children still loves them and always will. I'm the one raising them so what is there to be jealous about?

So while the general society associates finalization day as a big, happy day worthy of celebration, it is really a sad day filled with loss that is worthy of mourning.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Only in your dreams

I really haven't had a ton of deep adoption related thoughts lately. I guess I'm suppressing them at this point. I'm so one track minded that when I'm on, I'm on and when I'm off, I'm off. Right now, I'm just sort of stuck in limbo land wondering if I will get one of these jobs. Really, at this point a big fat "No" would really be a relief so at least I could get on with planning my summer and the rest of my life!

Now that I'm back at being a SAHM (stay at home mother), I have the joy of taking Zippy to pre-school each morning. Since I started working right after school started this year, I really haven't the opportunity to meet a lot of the new kids and their parents. The other morning I was walking Zippy in when we met up with another Mommy and her little boy on the sidewalk. The mother looked at me and said "She use to be Ralphie's (name changed to protect the innocent) girlfriend." I just looked at her and didn't say a word. I know it was an innocent comment but really it came across very ignorant considering the subjects are only 4 years old. I wanted to ask "What happened? Did she cheat on him?" or "Who is Ralphie dating now?" or even "Who in the heck are ya'll?" So for one of the few times in my life, I just decided to keep my trap shut and not say anything at all.

I know she probably didn't mean anything by it but the sad thing is that Zippy is growing up so fast. I know in a blink of an eye Zippy will be a teenager, the age that her parents were when they had their first baby. This lady does not know me and I assume she does not know our circumstances because if she did she would know that I want better for my children than what their parents had. At one of our court hearings, the kid's dad was asking how the boys were doing in school. I told him that Fuller was wildly popular with the gals to which he responded "Keep them far away from the girls!" That statement really struck a cord with me because here in his own young life, he had already lived and learned that lesson the hard way by becoming a parent at such a young age. I guess I just cannot understand why in a world where kids are having kids that a parent would joke about their child having a boyfriend/girlfriend.

As we got down the hall, I asked Zippy about that little boy and she said she didn't know him! Looks like it must have been a one sided relationship after all. So "girlfriend?" Huh, only in your dreams, Ralphie!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I was planning on doing an interview with Zippy but my new Flip video camera has already bit the dust. So, I get to hassle with sending it back and getting it replaced. As I'm getting older, I am definitely getting wiser and spent the extra $5 for a warranty!

So, I will just provide an update on me. With very mixed emotions, I started a job in September. My primary concern was health insurance. I promised myself if it wasn't working out for my family, then I would quit it and find a health plan on my own. I gave it six months and I hated every single day of it. It was not the working that I hated, it was the actual job itself. I simply cannot and will not work a job that makes me miserable (another thing I have picked up along the way with age) because it has such a huge snowball effect into other parts of my life. My family deserves a *better* me so I quit the job last week.

I have been interviewing with two companies now for months. Apparently no one is in a hurry to hire anyone these days. Both are jobs that I applied for in December and believe it or not, the multi-stage hiring process is carrying me all the way into April! Both positions are much better than the one I just left. Plus, I would be working from a home virtual office once again. I've prayed and prayed and have finally decided that I will not let this whole hurry up and wait game make me anxious. So if I get one of these jobs, then great! If don't, then great because I have other ideas and dreams swirling around in my head (and I have found a workable plan for the health insurance)! I just love that feeling I get when I know there are new possibilities on the horizon!

So what does my future hold? A new job? Self employment? Another child? The possibilities are endless and I'm SMILING!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Public Service Annoucement AKA Soap Box

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a guy that I went to college with and he mentioned that he was trying to quit smoking. I was sort of shocked that he smoked. Really. I just don't know many 30 somethings that smoke in year 2011. Thankfully, he has a thick skin and got a got kick out of it when I said "Smoking? I thought everyone left that behind in college!"

Same thing with tanning. I thought all my friends gave it up years ago! So what is with tanning beds in 2011? 100% UV rays, baby! We all know the dangers and the tan is usually a very unnatural shade that fades much more rapidly than that obtained in the real sun. However, day after day I see those Facebook status updates singing the joys of fake and baking it.

I personally gave up tanning beds about 7 or 8 years ago and I have not missed them for a minute. It is kind of like that smell from my last perm in junior high school. All I have to do it think of that sweaty burnt flesh smell (or start counting my scars) and suddenly that refried beans colored tan is not longer worth it.

I learned this the hard way though. I once was a sun goddess but that all changed the day that I received a frantic call from the dermatologist office about a small flat, smooth, black dot on my right thigh - it looked like a dot from a Sharpie marker. I went into the doctor's office for what I thought was a routine procedure (this was not my first place of concern to be removed). I walked out of the doctor's office that afternoon with a 3 x 4 inch rectangle cut out of my leg. Now, I sport a zipper looking scar across my leg. Sexy. My back and legs once looked like a blank canvas. Now it is discolored with sun damage and scars. According to my Dermatologist, 95% can be attributed to the tanning beds. But you know what? Mom said it would be like this but when you are young you just don't think it will happen to you.

I still tan but in the real sun with sunscreen and in moderation. Natural sunshine is healthy and provides a person with much needed vitamins and nutrients. God made the sun and intended for us to enjoy it. But like other things, I truly feel that He meant for us to use it wisely and in moderation. Plus, when you are in the real sun, you get mostly good rays and just a few bad UV rays whereas in a tanning bad the rays are 100% ultra violet(BAD, BAD, BAD). I usually start with a little self tanning cream...yeah, it isn't the best smell in the world but it does smell better than the tanning salon! Then I tan myself outside a little bit usually while working in the yard and then I maintain by using more self tanning lotion. No, it isn't the darkest tan but I'm not entering a bikini contest anytime soon so I don't suppose it really matters. I'm just shooting for healthy here.

I slather sunscreen on my little tan babies too. Because they are dark and rarely burn does not mean that their skin does not need protection too. Even with SPF 50, they get dark as little Indians. And yes, I realize that is no longer politically correct but they are part Indian and when you see how brown they get in the summer, I can only imagine that is where the saying came from! Regardless of the choices you make for yourself, as a parent you need to be putting your child in sunscreen and reapplying every few hours. I put it on my children daily during the months they spend a lot time outdoors. I keep it in my car, stashed on my front porch, back deck, a tote bag, and in a couple of my bathrooms. Sunscreen is just a way of life for us.

If you haven't, then you should schedule an appointment with a Dermatologist for a skin survey at least once a year. If you are still tanning in tanning beds, then you should go sit in the Dermatologist's office on surgery day because you will think you just stepped foot into a Tales from the Crypt movie set. Need I say more?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Interview with Shyne.AVI

Another case of stage fright!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Interview with Fuller.AVI

I did interviews with all of my kids. They all seemed to get hit with a little stage fright as they didn't answer most of their questions with their usual answers! Oh well, enjoy my little cuties!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Adoption Related Readings

An adoptive Momma and blogger, Rachel, has an Amazon shop called Rachel's Sugary Sweet Suggestions with recommended adoption books for both adults and children. Trust me, I wish this would have been available when we were placed with our children almost two years ago. During our wait, I passed the time by reading as much as possible about adoption, specifically older kid adoptions. I also found a handful of adoption related children's books and purchased them too. To this date, we periodically read adoption books to the kids. This is a great way to open the door to questions and dialogue they may not feel comfortable addressing on their own free will. Also, the idea is that if we read and talk about it from time to time, they will feel comfortable approaching us when they get to that age when they really do have questions. So please check out her adoption blog, Brown Sugar, White Sugar and her book suggestions.

Unfortunately, Blogger is not cooperating today and will not let me insert a hyperlink to her blog or book list. Therefore, you will have to copy and paste the address into your web browser.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Becoming a Statistic

I know I'm completely biased but I think my kids are the prettiest, funniest, smartest and most athletic kids on the planet. I guess it is a lot easier for me to say all that knowing that I didn't give birth to them and contributed absolutely nothing to their genetic make-up. I know some of their traits are unique to them as individuals but then I also know how so much of that stuff is passed on through the genes. I often find myself thinking about their biological parents and wondering what traits they may have possibly got from which parent. It also makes me sad because my little kids are so special in so many ways. Once their biological parents were special little kids too but somewhere a lot of wrong choices were made at very young ages. Now, they will forever live with those consequences. It makes me wonder what their parents lives would have been like had they grown up with different circumstances. In Michael Oher's book, he talked frequently about growing up in the ghetto and the challenges he faced just trying to avoid getting sucked into that life forever. A lot of what he said made me stop and think about how I cannot judge them and their mistakes. Of course, I KNOW that GOD doesn't want me to judge others but sometimes I find it hard to understand how people could make choices that would jeopardize them losing their children. It had never occured to me that it is just that, I DON'T KNOW because I have never lived a life of oppression and poverty. I know their parents loved them very much but they were not equipped with the skills to be successful parents. They also had hard childhoods that lacked proper role models and structure. I pray for them frequently as I cannot imagine what the pain feels like to have lost your children to the state. I know "rescuing" or "saving" a child is often debated among adoption groups. However, I do feel like we rescued them from the vicious cycle of poverty. We are giving them the tools and resources to become successful and contributing members of society. What they decide to make out of their lives is up to them. However, I know in the depths of my heart they will become a statistic...a good one!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

'I Beat The Odds"

With the all the cold winter weather we have had this season, I have found myself not wanting to venture very far from our little nest. While at Wal-Mart a couple of weeks ago, I purchased the movie 'The Blind Side.'

Billy and I went to see the 'The Blind Side' when it first came out in theaters. I clearly remember it being one of very first few evenings away from the children. I had never heard of Michael Oher until then. I only liked the movie when everyone else seemed to love it. I found it to be a great story with both great and terrible acting. I thought Sandra Bullock did an excellent job while Tim McGraw, well let me put it this way, needs to stick to country music. Furthermore, I was hardly impressed with the big ole guy that played Michael.

Rarely have I ever watched a movie more than once. But this one was different because it talked about foster care adoptions which as you all know is very near and dear to my heart. Let me put it this way, there were ulterior motives. I know adoption is serious business but I'm just keeping it honest, people!

I asked my mom and step-dad to come over and watch the movie with us. They agreed but I didn't realize that Billy already had intentions of watching his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers play. So Billy watched his game downstairs while my parents piled up on the sofa in my bedroom and watched the movie. The kids had gone to spend the night with Billy's parents. It was kind of fun getting to watch a movie with my Mom and Step-dad because it sort of made me feel like a little kid again!

Anyway, after the movie I told my parents about how I really had adoption on the brain again. No, not little kids like we have but an older kid like the movie we had just watched. I figured they would think I was crazy but they didn't. Mom has always been a big old softy but I figured she may have thought that I already had my hands full.

I also became a fan of Michael Oher on Facebook. There I saw that he was releasing a biography, 'I Beat The Odds,' about his life without the Hollywood spins on everything like the movie. I went out to pre-order it at Amazon. At that time, I saw that Sean and Leigh Ann Tuohy had put out a book last year, 'In A Heart Beat.' I bought both. While I was waiting on Oher's bio to arrive, I read the Tuohy book. It was an easy and entertaining read. However mostly, the book is about generosity and giving. After I told Billy about how Sean Tuohy owned 80 fast food restaurants, I soon found him picking it up to read! I will say this: Women sure do have their ways!

My Michael Oher book came in the mail the day that it was released. I finished reading it this afternoon. I must say it is one of the best pieces I have read on someone's foster care/adoption experiences. It truly was not what I was expecting to find but it was the most pleasant surprise. If you are considering becoming a foster parent or adopting from foster care, I would highly encourage you to read this book. 'I Beat The Odds' is real call to action. I pray for all the children in the foster care system that his book is a wild success like the movie, 'The Blind Side.'

So this morning at the breakfast table, I asked Billy if he would ever let me adopt again. He said "We will see." I told him, "Thank you, Honey, because I know that means 'YES!'" He knows that I have a one track mind and he was adamant that it was just a "maybe." I was able to put his fears at ease by telling him that I know right now is NOT the time for a various reasons. However, I now know he is on board!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Embarrasing But True

Photo - Junior Year H.S. - 1993

The thing I REALLY miss about my pre-children life is that I rarely had to grocery shop. I use to go grocery shopping about every 6 weeks. I would always purchase a half gallon of organic milk because it has a much longer shelf life than the regular stuff. Even then, we rarely got around to using it all. For the most part, we ate out every night.

Each time I grocery shop, I always think about how one day I would love to be able to afford to pay someone to do my grocery shopping for me. I'm serious when I say I have put considerable amount of thought into preparing for this. Grocery shopping is the only kind of shopping I don't enjoy! Then tonight as I went up and down each aisle, it dawned on me that once my kids get a little older, I really need to teach them how to grocery shop...and cook and do laundry. With three kids to teach, I guess I will be retirement age before I could hire someone and by then I probably will have nothing else better to do with my time than to buy my own groceries.

I had a wonderful mom but those are things she didn't teach me. She worked full-time and it was probably easier for her to do a lot of those things herself. I find myself shooing my kids from the kitchen while I cook and clean. I go grocery shopping by myself. It is simply faster that way. But then I get to thinking about it and I don't want them to be a spoiled little prince/princess like myself. Mom meant well but in a lot of ways, it sort of handicapped me. I'm 34 years old and just started learning how to cook a year and a half ago! I still don't know how to grocery shop worth a flip. As for the laundry, well I actually have that down now.

As I went up and down the aisles of the grocery store, I thought about the 18 year old Shana that went off to college:

I had never done a load of laundry. I didn't know how to sort laundry. I would have to rely on roommates to help me or call my mom and describe each garment to her so I knew which pile it went into.

My "cooking" included making Jello, warming up a can of soup, and baking a grilled cheese sandwich. At some point, I did learn how to make a pan of cornbread my sophomore year of college. I ate so much pizza in college, that I can hardly gag it today. More specifically, I would rather eat the cardboard box than a Papa John's pizza itself. I'm not sure how I ever managed to avoid gaining the Freshman 15 lbs.!

And for the BIGGIE....I didn't even know how to style and fix my own hair! My mother, a hair stylist, did my hair every morning before school. Then on Friday and Saturday nights before I would go out, she would have to wait around for me to wash my hair so she could style it before she and my step dad could go on with their plans! She did my hair everyday until the day I left for college. We both fretted over how my hair was going to look without her doing it everyday. I simply didn't know how to do it.

I'm pretty certain, I never cooked an egg in any sort of fashion until my mid-20's.

To this day, I have never mowed a lawn.

So, I guess I'm going to start making an attempt to take Fuller to the grocery store with me each time. He is 7 years old and getting pretty proficient at reading. Now is the time to learn, even if it does take me longer and frazzles me even more. Then I guess it will be on to the cooking. Besides, my kids are stair steps and I won't be able to afford having three in college at the same time AND eating out all the time! I'm wondering at what age should they start making their own beds?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Salem Baptist, Dalton, Georgia Cardboard Testimonies Jan 16 2011

Please scroll to the bottom of my page and PAUSE my playlist so you can hear the music attached to this awesome video.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

DFCS - A Four Letter Word Part II

Now for the good news about our DFCS experience: Post-placement.

Once we were placed with the children, we were then introduced to their Case Worker. She was a young lady that had not worked for DFCS a real long time. She was very professional and on top of everything going on with their case. She was approachable and while oftentimes she didn't know the answers to our questions, she was always prompt to get back with us with an answer. I can't remember exactly but it seems like our kid's case might have been her first case where the parental rights were terminated. Even still, she never dropped the ball on anything, not even once. Maybe she hadn't been around DFCS long enough to get jaded and burned out. However, I like to think of her as a person that cared about her clients and about doing her job efficiently. The system needs more Case Workers like her. Period.

Our children also had a therapist that came to our home once a week. She didn't work for DFCS but rather with an organization that DFCS contracts with. She too was very professional, knowledgeable, and likable. She too sincerely cared about the children and was really attached to them by the time their therapy was discontinued. She went over and beyond in her call of duty while working with us.

Then once the parent's rights were terminated, we were passed on to an Adoption Coordinator (or some title like that). She was also precious. We had the least amount of interaction with her as that was the last leg in our adoption journey. Once the rights were terminated, we went in and signed a ton of paperwork. For anyone that has ever mortgaged a home, it was very comparable to that. Then the paperwork was filed and we waited for the court date to roll around. However, we use to see her at a lot of DFCS functions that we attended. She always went out of her way to talk to and encourage us.

So once we were placed with children and until the adoptions were finalized, we had weekly visits by their therapist. Then we had monthly visits with our Case Worker AND with the children's Case Worker. While the Case Worker visits were independent of each other, they were oftentimes very repetitive with the same questions etc. If my memory serves me correctly, it seems like the Adoption Coordinator came to our house once after our file had been passed on to her.

I can't say enough good things about the kid's Case Worker, Therapist and Adoption Coordinator. Actually, I like them so much they made it to our Christmas card list! Because of them, I can definitely say that we had a positive DFCS experience. There may be a bad apple in every bunch but you have to toss it aside and appreciate the good!

Lastly, I think it is important to note that we had a very smooth adoption process in general. There were no hurdles or roadblocks along the way that we had to overcome. The biological family didn't play any games and neither did DFCS. It really progressed along exactly like a text scenario on an efficient time line.

So YES, I would be willing to do it again!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

DFCS - A Four Letter Word

Okay, I know DFCS really isn't a word but rather an acronym. However, as my husband always says, "You can't let the facts stand in the way of a good story."

Someone recently inquired about my experience with the Georgia Department of Family and Children's Services (DFCS). When I think about our foster care adoption experience, I think about it in two different phases: pre-placement and post-placement. While I would rate our overall experience as satisfactory, it really did vary from one phase to the other.

So, I will start with the bad first: Pre-placement.

Once it was decided that we would purse adopting from foster care, we went wide open trying to get everything done as quickly as possible. We made our initial phone to DFCS in October of 2008. There were no more IMPACT (required training for foster and adoptive families) classes scheduled in our county until 2009. So, Billy and I drove several weekends a little over an hour each way to complete our classes. We did everything that was asked of us in record time. All of our home study visits were completed on December 1st (including every bit of paperwork turned in). Our home study ended up being about a 13 page document. The home study had to be signed off and approved by two management members at DFCS in order for us to be considered for adoption. Until it was approved, our home study was not placed in the state database where other Case Workers in the state could view our profile.

I waited patiently for what I considered a long time. While I realize that our county may not have had children they thought were a good fit for us, there may have been other possible situations that we were missing out on being considered for in other parts of the state. I didn't expect DFCS to pull children out of the thin air for us but I did expect that a 13 page home study can be read and approved in less than five and a half months. DFCS solicits the need for foster and adoptive families but then drag around on getting them approved so those families can actually accept placement of children. I was hardly impressed by the hurry up and wait game. After all, five and half months is long time in the life of a waiting child.

One day, I woke up and I must say I had my game day face on. As my grandmother use to say, "Enough of anything is enough." I had been nice and I had waited patiently and it got us no where. When I failed to get results in a timely fashion, I contacted the Governor's office and filed a complaint. I wrote letters to all the big cheeses in charge. I got responses. I also started getting my phone calls answered at DFCS or at least my phone calls returned. I guess it is fair to say that I made enemies before I started making friends at DFCS. That was okay because I wasn't there to make friends anyways. As usual when my charm wears off, my very likable and jovial husband was probably our saving grace.

Once our home study was completed, we were assigned a Case Worker. She is a person that basically represents and works with the adoptive family. She is the one that makes sure that our file is current, our training is up to date, answers questions for us, presents children's files to us, etc. Our personalities mixed as well as oil and water. It was an awkward relationship like the kind where you both go to talk at the same time and each never truly feel comfortable with each other. She had also been in her job for many, many years but seemed to having trouble answering a lot of the most simplest questions. I always felt discouraged about the adoption process after she would leave our home. Once, I was talking to a lady that she had inquired about adopting from DFCS and had meet our Case Worker for an initial meeting. This lady and her husband decided to pursue international adoption because this Case Worker was so rude and negative toward them. Unfortunately, I can understand why they felt that way. I have often wondered how many good families this lady has discouraged from pursuing foster care adoptions. It is my desire that this lady be happily enjoying retirement if we ever decide to pursue foster care adoption again.

At any given time there are approximately 3,500 potential adoptive situations (with the number of kids involved being much higher) listed on As long as there are numbers as astounding as that, DFCS will never be able to justify taking five and half months to approve a home study to me. So my advice to anyone pursuing foster care adoption would be to stay on your Case Worker and don't worry about being too pushy or impatient. After all, there are a lot of voiceless children that are counting on people like YOU!

Stay tuned for the POSITIVE post!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Words of Encouragement

A very old and faithful friend of mine sent me the following message this week about adoption. It was advice that was passed on to her when she shared her own desire to adopt with another one if her friends. I found this very meaningful and encouraging!

If it's a real desire and in His will, then it won't go away.

It may be that God is preparing you now for something later.

It may be that God is preparing you for service/outreach/ministry or even a career in that field rather than personal adoption.

Adoption is always born in the heart of the mother so don't be upset when dad is slow to follow.

God will speak this desire to your husband in a different way then He did to you because you are made differently so be patient and prayerful in that.

Look carefully at all the angles of your perspective on adoption because He may be trying to show you something you haven't seen yet.

SonShyne is my Sunshine

Friday night, the kids spent the night with Billy's parents. We didn't get them back until last night. They love, love, love going to Granny and Pop's house and spending the night. However upon their return home, Shyne (pronounced Shine) needs his "Momma time." As rough and tough and all boy as he comes across, he still wants one on one time with Momma. Upon entering the house, Shyne said "Momma, I was so good and I missed you! I love you, Momma." My heart was warmed enough to melt all the snow in the Southeast!

I cannot tell you what a change a year and half has made in this child. I will admit that in the beginning there were times/days when I thought how much easier it would be if it were only his two siblings. I wondered if he would ever feel like my child. Yes, those are not pretty memories but they are honest ones. Now, I only see a precious child that is brilliant and with a heart of gold. He has gone from cussing, wanting to be a gang banger to excelling in school, loving church and Awanas, and asking a lot a questions about God.

One look at the trio and Shyne is the one that sticks out with raven black hair and eyes. His eyes are so dark, one can hardly see his pupils. Zippy and Fuller on the other hand have more exotic looks with olive skin, lighter hair, and blue eyes. It isn't uncommon for people to brag on those two's beauty yet not mention Shyne's. He doesn't seem to pay it any attention but it is hard for me because I know his beauty inside and out. He loves to hear the story about how I always wanted a little boy with black hair and tan skin because I think that is the prettiest color in the world. I often look at his little hand inside mine - his tan beauty and my pale whiteness. The world may know we look different but my heart does not.

Shyne is ADHD so he does have his good and his not so great days. That in itself makes him different.

So, needless to say that Shyne is my special child. Not to say that the other two aren't because they are awesome little people and very special in their own little ways too. But no matter how I slice it and dice it, he is just different.

I no longer see him as the problem child. Instead, I see a little boy that is destined for greatness. I can't wait to see where life takes him. I love my SonShyne!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Told You So

My head has been full of adoption related thoughts lately. I hate it when I get fixated on something. You know you have a bad habit when you start annoying yourself! Sometimes, I don't know when to leave well enough alone. I am wondering if that is the case with the adoption thoughts.

I do feel like the cards are stacked against me. First, I have a husband that is not on all. At least when I asked him about it the other day, I did have enough sense to leave that conversation well enough alone at least for a little while! Secondly, we would need more space for another person in our household. Selling is the most desirable but most unlikely option. Building would be the best bet but would be costly and stressful, not to mention we can't afford it. Then, I would need a larger, less fuel efficient vehicle which I can't afford either. Lastly but certainly not least, there will be all the opinions to deal with even if the first three obstacles didn't exist.

I know when we got our three kiddos there were people waiting for us to crash and burn so they could tell us "I told you so." I don't think they wanted us to fail but were just looking at the situation from a pessimistic view point. I don't have hard feelings toward those people because adoption is such a risky and oftentimes pessimistic ordeal. Take lives, cultures, experiences, family and meshing them all together while trying to put on a big happy face isn't always the easiest thing to do. In reality, I know I could overcome the first three objections. However, the part that scares me the most is the risk that is involved by adding another kid to our mix. No not just a kid, but a teenager. Right now our situation is so perfect and I would hate to ruin it. It would be hard to hear a naysayer say "I told you so." The stakes are high. So once again, tonight I will go to bed praying for direction and dreaming of possibilities.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sidelines or Getting In The Ballgame

I'm back and with gusto! I've been busy adjusting to life as a working Momma. There have been growing pains along the way but I think we have finally somewhat figured it out. Hopefully, I can find the time to keep this blog updated. I'm constantly pondering topics and think I could write forever about my experiences, thoughts and about adoption in general.

It is a new year and and I'm curious to see what 2011 has in store for my family. I have a renewed excitement about life! This year, I turn 35 years old. Where does time go? I still feel so young at heart. Based on average life expectancies, I have pretty much already lived half my life. Instead of dwelling on the gloomy side of things, I've decided there is still a lot I need to accomplish in this life so I need to get busy! It is time to get in the ballgame called "life!"

Adoption has been on my mind so much lately. At this point, our kids have been with us a year and a half. In general, life with our kids is about as "normal" as it gets. There are many days I forget they are adopted. I feel like I have known them their entire lives. They continually bless and enrich my life daily. Their resiliency never fails to encourage me.

My heart continues to be heavy burdened for the older kids that are in the foster care system. It grieves me think about them aging out of the system and not having a family to call their very own. I love holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas. I kept thinking over and over this holiday season how lonesome it would be to not have any family in which to spend it. No matter how far my kids go in life, I want my home to be the very place they always find their way back to during the holiday season. I want it to be a home filled with family, love and laughter.

I'm very open to the idea of adopting a teenager but I will admit that is very scary stuff especially in the days following events like the Arizona massacre. There are so many troubled people with evil ways in this world. However, I have to stop and remind myself that mankind is still good in spite of it all. I think about people that put their life in danger with their heroic acts of kindness and humanity. One must do what is right even if there is risk involved. Of course, I have my children to consider first and foremost. Then, there is my husband, Billy. I'm not sure if Billy would ever get on board for that ride. This is definitely not a "me" or a "we" decision but a "knee" decision. In the meantime, I would love for people to share some blogs where people have adopted teenagers or hear your personal experiences.

Let the good times roll in 2011!