The old saying goes "When one door closes, another one opens."
When our first foster placement, baby K left our home the end of March in 2016, it left a giant ache in our hearts. We literally felt heart broken from her absence in our lives. Then, within 2 weeks of baby K leaving, the Department of Social Services called my husband asking about taking another placement. They had a baby girl that was being born that day and asked if we could take her home from the hospital that weekend. She was born on a Friday, and they wanted us to pick her up on Sunday. We said "Yes!" We spent our weekend planning for another baby girl, but this one was an infant.
It all felt completely different this time around for some reason. We picked little Lannie up in the nursery at the hospital, I even go to dress her in the same going home outfit I wore home from the hospital as a baby. She felt tiny, and I was scared I might break her getting her dressed. But we made it home that day, as a family of three.
Everything about Lannie's case was completely different from baby K's. Lannie had a sibling in care already, exactly 1 year older than Lannie, and the birth mom had not done a treatment plan for the sibling. So, Lannie's case was being tacked onto the siblings case. They told us from the beginning Lannie's case would be heading for adoption. It felt scary to get our hopes up, but as the weeks ticked by, we could see adoption would be the route for the case.
It's funny how each baby is so different. Lannie seemed so advanced at such a young age. She was holding her bottle by a couple months old and was the most expressive looking baby I had ever seen. She would pay attention to everything going on around her, and you could read her facial expressions very clearly. At 4 months old, she had a goodbye visit with her birth mother. Even in the photo we have taken at that visit, Lannie is looking up at her birth mother with this expression on her face that says, "Who are you? And, why are you holding me?" As we had the goodbye visit, and we were nearing adoption it was amazing to look back at the "rearview mirror" approach of how God had been painting our family picture all along. As upset as we had been to have baby K leave us suddenly, had she not we would never have gotten a call for Lannie.
Our attorney laughs, and tells us what an unusual adoption we had with Lannie. Since Lannie's case was tacked on to her siblings, we were able to complete Lannie's adoption at 9 months old. Apparently, that is very unusual in the adoption world through foster care. It's funny people would ask if we planned to tell Lannie she is adopted. As you can tell from looking at our pictures, Lannie has a beautiful complexion that is very different from ours. Fortunately, that is the blessing in living in community with other foster and adoptive families. It is not unusual to be adopted and look different in families. In our house we celebrate adoption, and we talk about it regularly. We celebrate Gotcha Days, and have books on adoption. We talk about our skin color and embrace differences. This past Summer, Lannie even asked was she a baby in my belly. I took a deep breath, said a little silent prayer, and gently explained that she didn't come from my belly. That she was a baby in another ladies belly, but that lady was not able to care for her. That God knew Mommy and Daddy really wanted a baby and could care for Lannie, so He sent us her. Thankfully, those answers soothed her 4 year old mind, and we were able to move on to another subject. I am not sure how that conversation will continue to grow in the future, but I always want to be as open and honest as possible with both of my children. I never want them to be ashamed of being adopted, and always want for them to know they were wanted and chosen.
Side Note: Friends, if you are not an adoptive parent, I challenge you to have conversations with your biological children about adoption. Normalize the language behind adoption, so it will not be a shocker for your kids or mine when that comes up in school. Read books to your children on adoption, on how all families don't look the same. Educate your children that love makes a family, not just genetics. Remember, however God sees fit to build your family is a blessing.
Adding to the Nest
Have you ever had one of those moments, where you feel God speaking to you? Well, that is how Nash came to join our family. God told us to go on the open bed list. Five months prior to hearing God tell us to open, we had completed Lannie's adoption. So, we had a 14 month old when we felt God telling us to go back on the open bed list. When I called the foster care system to say we would go back on the list it was a Wednesday morning. The following Friday morning, they called to say they had a 2 week old baby boy.
Side Note: So, if you have never been a foster parent it goes like this when you get "the call". You talk to social worker, you tell them "Hold on. I will call you back, let me call my spouse". With in the matter of a few minutes you make your decision to accept the placement or not. Of course this is after a long road of training and certifications and upkeep on your family file.
I called my husband Justin, and we had the quick chat about if we would take the placement or not. We decided we would, even though there was some obstacles in our way. It was 4th of July weekend, so that makes it hard getting care organized, and the baby was under 6 weeks, so we had to figure out child care. We did not have a second crib yet either. I called my mom, she picked up a crib after work that day and was assembling it when the social worker arrived with the baby. I arrived home shortly after, and I walked in to the tiniest, and malnourished looking baby I had ever seen. He looked like skin and bones. But you know what else we saw that day- the way God rallies together your tribe. We had friends and family dropping boy things off left and right, bringing meals, and offering to do what they could. We had previously only had baby girls, so there was not a stich of blue in our house. But it was all there within a matter of hours. It was a clear picture of when God call's you to it, He will provide.
We didn't know any of Nash's history when we got him, but quickly figured out he was not healthy. We got him in with our pediatricians office as soon as they opened up from that holiday weekend. They said he was very under weight, and we needed to wake him every 2 hours to feed him. I don't know about you, but that goes against everything I have ever heard about waking a sleeping baby. Especially, when you factor in we were still working full time. Those first few months are a blur and we lived in survival mode. Lannie had always been an excellent sleeper, was waking during the night. Nash would scream from 1am-4am every night. At about 6 months old, we found out his ears were full of fluid, and he could not hear. He also had a tongue and lip tie, that needed to be fixed. I had noticed early on he did not latch well on a bottle, so we had him involved with various therapies. That is something I learned early on with Nash's case- we had to be his advocates for services and therapy.
Social services told us that Nash would be going to stay with family by Christmas that first year. Christmas came and he was still with us. We quickly learned that there was nobody in his biological family fighting for him. That made my mama heart incredibly sad. So, we fought for him. We fought to get him therapy and surgeries he needed. We went to every court hearing, which was continuation after continuation. I don't ever want Nash to question if he was wanted, because we fought tooth and nail for him every step of the way. Nash was hard as a baby, and did not sleep through the night till after he was 9 months old. But we could see his progress, and cheered him on at every milestone. At about 18 months old, he graduated from therapy, but his behavior was off. We got him into developmental pediatric office and started down the avenue of his behaviors. We once again were seeing the importance of being his advocate, for what services he needed.
The road to adoption for Nash felt long and almost impossible at times. But, I could feel God giving us nudges all along the way. I do believe God has used Nash's adoption to teach me patience, and I still have a long way to go on learning it. It got to the point of knowing it would happen, but we didn't know how long it would be before it was happening. It's hard when you are your child's parent, but legally you are not. Nash had to have bilateral eye surgery in January this year, and it was difficult because there was no biological parent to sign for surgery but the foster system also did not want to sign either. Once again, God saw us through it. In February of 2020, before the world became full chaos with Covid, we adopted Nash officially into our family. After being his' foster parents for 970 days, we legally made him a member of our family. Nash had shared our home for 2.5 years before we legally were named his forever parents.
It's always hard when your children join your family through foster care and then adoption. Because the creation of our family, means the sever of another.
Both of our children have very different stories for why they joined our family through foster care, but there is no doubt God hand-picked each of them to be our children. Foster care is not all roses and sunshine, but there is beauty that rises from the ashes. Each child that is adopted has a different story, but what a beautiful masterpiece our creator can stich together from our individual brokenness is amazing.
Read more about The Calling to Foster from Mel here.
I am excited to get to know all of you that have joined our community here at Grits, Grace, and Granola. To speak with you on the joys and struggles of relationships, motherhood, and life in general. To come along beside you as we learn and grow together.
Connect with me on instagram.
Love builds a nest, Melissa