June 7, 2015

Growing By Two Feet

....It's been a while.  Life is just crazy around here, and as much as I love writing here, I've just not found the time for it.

It does, however, seem like a good space to make a bit of an announcement....

Our not so little family will be growing again.

Since our family's methods of growing (and shrinking) are generally not of the most conventional sort, I suppose I should expand a little.

Brian and I have discussed adopting an older teenager for around two years now.  It's something that we've known we have wanted to do and have talked about for a long time.  Over the last year we have had several happenings that have lead us to believe that we were ready to go ahead and pursue this dream of growing our family.

So, very long story short, here we are.  "Ruth" is 15 years old and is going into her sophomore year of high school.  We have been pursuing her since December.  Over the course of the last six months we have been in close connection with her caseworker and therapist, and have slowly gotten to know her via facetime chats, visits to her hometown, and now through her visiting us.
Given that Ruth is 15, she has complete and total say over whether or not this move and adoption will happen (as she should).  Because of that, it is still feasible that she comes to visit this chaotic, busy, grace-requiring family and chooses that she would rather stay where she isIt doesn't seem super likely that this will happen, but it is possible, and to that we say - God's will is so much better than our own, and we trust in what He has for us.

The other most frequently asked question is, "What do the girls think?"  They are thrilled.  Actually, when we first talked to them about it, we told them that we had been introduced to a girl who does not have a Mommy and Daddy taking care of her right now, and doesn't really have a place she calls home.  Their response was - Well we have room!  She should come live with us!  We're a fun family!  Brian and I felt really blessed by their response, and they have only become more excited as time goes on.

So, why a teenager?

I think there are a lot of answers for that question, but I'll try to be brief-ish.  

So, being in foster care sucks.  Being in foster care for a long time sucks even worse.  What is worse than that, though, is being in foster care, being legally free for adoption, and pretty much being sure you'll never be adopted.  This is the reality of most of the children in foster care over the age of about 9 (unless you have super cute younger siblings).  That sounds harsh, but it's just the reality of the situation.  Children considered to be "older children" in foster care are rarely adopted, and most often they age out of a system that has not prepared them for life on their own.

On their own.

No one to call when they have a flat tire.  No one to salve the pain of a first heartbreak.  No where to go over Christmas break.  No one to stand an cheer with tears in their eyes at college graduation.  No one to hold their hand as their body wracks with pain bringing their first little one into the world. 
Worst of all, no one to look into their eyes and with absolute conviction say, "I will love you no matter what.  There is nothing you could do to make me love you more.  There is nothing you could do to make me love you less.  Forever.  Forever."

We feel pretty confident that God is not done growing our family and we know that he has given us a burden here.  We are confident that what he calls us to he will provide for.  He has shown us this over and over.  With Cassandra and Mena, with X-man, with Bella and Tootaw.  He is faithful on this journey.

So we will continue to walk in it.

August 26, 2014




It’s so quiet in my house right now.  It’s 6 a.m. and none of my kids have woken up yet…miraculous really.  Isn’t it weird how in the very few moments that I get any given week with complete quiet, what I usually end up thinking about are the sounds that are usually there?  Laughter of my kids, made up songs of a baby, squabbles that I’ve really (mostly) learned to tune out, kids asking for food, and more food, and more food.  But more than any other time, it is in these few moments of quiet that I am reminded what a blessing all that racket is.  What a blessing.


The girls’ biological baby sister came into care three weeks ago.  We knew they had a baby sister – Mom was pregnant at the termination hearing.

Of course they called us immediately.  “She’s not in an adoptive home, if (when) parental rights are terminated, would you be interested in taking her?”



Basically everyone we talk to tends to act like it’s a no brainer either way.  Either, “Well, of course you said yes!” or “Ha, well, you told them they’re crazy, right?”

Before I go on, yes, I realize we have five children.  Yes, I realize their ages.  Yes, I realize people already think we’re crazy.  Yes, I realize that in the world’s economy, it makes no sense to say yes.  Yes, I realize it would be like having two sets of twins (she’s currently 11 months old).  Yes, I realize, “6 GIRLS?  …You just wait…”. 

But what else I realize is…She is our daughters’ biological sister. 

I have difficulty feeling like I can really explain the gravity of this to anyone I talk to about it.
It’s not like we’ve gone out pursuing fostering another baby. 
But this is a baby that I have prayed for since I knew she was conceived.  This is a baby I have worried about since I knew she was born. 

Study after study, story after story shows the importance of biological siblings being together.  Of how significant it is for adoptees to be with their siblings. 

I know, I know – they won’t know about each other.  I’ve heard that so many times, and really it makes my stomach turn inside out.  So if you hadn’t ever known about your sibling, it would be ok that you had never met them?  That you had never shared a bedroom?  Sung happy birthday to each other every year?  Explored the backyard creek?  Waved out the car window when you drop the oldest off at college?  Fought in the back of the car on long road trips?  Confessed to each other your first crush?
They’d never know what they were missing, right?
Except someday they would.  Someday they would know they have a sister out there who was in foster care.  A sister we had the opportunity to adopt.  A sister that instead they’ll never know.

Study after study, story after story shows the importance of biological siblings being together.


Of course I realize how difficulty it would be.  We’ve done this before.  I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had a few nights where I couldn’t fall asleep because I can’t stop thinking about…how would this work?

I’m just writing out my thought processes.  I completely understand why people would think we were crazy for saying yes. 

I guess I’m just trying to give a glimpse into the magnitude of the situation.  It is so much harder than yes or no.

Do we say no just because it would be hard?
People said all the same things to us when we took Tootaw while I was pregnant with Vi.  It will be so hard.  Can you keep them all safe?  How will you go to the grocery story?  Are you crazy?

And now look.  Look at our family.  Look at these five sisters.  Look at the beautiful, crazy, full life that we have. 


We’ve not officially made a decision yet.  I bet she’s beautiful.  I wonder if she looks like Bella, or if she looks like Tootaw.  I wonder what her name is (I haven’t asked).  I wonder about the homes she’s in now, if their equipped to help her in the challenges she’s sure to face. 

What I know is that God is going to provide for the family he gives us.   Like he has for six years of fostering.  Like he did when Bella came.  Like he did when Tootaw came.  Like he did when we became a family of  two and three and four and five and six and seven.


So.  I guess we’ll see.  Prayers appreciated.

July 10, 2014

Three Years.


  I’ve not blogged in a bit.  Thank you for all of the kind e-mails checking to make sure that we’re all alright and that the adoption is progressing.  We’ve been buried-under-busy since moving in January, but I’d like to get back to posting.


  I’ve wanted to start blogging again for a while, but today I felt like I had the proper motivation.  Our sweet Bella has been with us for three years now.  Three years. 



  I cannot remember life without you.  Although I can remember the day you came to us down to the smallest details – the nausea in my stomach on the way to the hospital, the fear and despair written over every inch of your cancer ravaged little body, the panic that set in when I realized that your illness was much more than the intake worker had implied, the sadness that overtook your being as you realized you were going home with us, strangers.
  Yes.  I remember it all.  How is it that I can remember it so well, but simultaneously I cannot remember life without you?  I think it is grace – God had begun to prepare my heart for you before you came – I think I cannot remember life without you because you were there in my heart long before I ever knew it.


  We’ve been through the ringer these last three years, eh?  The darkest night of your soul.  Your agony.  Cancer.  Food issues.  Sleep issues.  Rage.  More cancer.  Then pinpricks of light – when I think you began to feel like even though it had been completely taken apart, the puzzle of your life was beginning to come back together – in a different way.
  We are not in the light just yet.  There is still pain, fear, challenges.  But now we work through them together instead of them dividing us.


  You, Bella, are my daughter.  I love you.

I am not your first Mama.  I will never, ever be your only Mama.  But God has knitted us together in a way that only adoption can produce – in a way you can only experience by watching God heal brokenness and create family from nothing.


  Soon you will be seven.  Before we know it you will be 16.  In the blink of an eye your Daddy will be walking you down the aisle.  And I feel so blessed to get to experience it all with you.


  Right now you and your sisters are singing your own rendition of “Let It Go” and we are getting ready to eat dinner which will assuredly be a chaotic, loud, and incredibly messy event.  Yes, event.  I will cherish each minute of it – when you are so helpful with your sisters, when you complain because I put veggies in the sauce, and when your eyes light up because your Daddy decides to make cookies with you tonight. 

  I praise God for you, little one. 


Love you, love you, love you,


January 20, 2014



So, as is typical, we have to keep things interesting around here.  We wouldn’t want to go more than six months or so without a major life change – that would be so, you know, normal.

We are moving.  This Saturday.  To be clear: all seven of us are going.

We’ve known for a long time that long term we wanted to be closer to family.  Currently we travel about two weekends out of every six so that our kids get to see all of their grandparents frequently.  We want our kids growing up really knowing their grandparents, so we made it a priority.  Well, Brian finally got a job offer near my hometown, and so we’re going.  We’ll live very near my parents, and it will make traveling to see Brian’s parents much easier and more frequent!”"
We’ve planned this for so long – it was always a future thing – always something we planned for, never something we did.  Well, now we’re doing it.  And it’s so much harder than we anticipated.

God placed us here seven years ago – newlyweds with no kids.  (Yes. Seven short years ago we had no children.  Now we have five.)

In those seven years he has worked in our lives in ways we couldn’t have imagined.  Not only has he blessed us with our children, but he has shown us more grace than we could have asked for.  And as the conductor for the grace he has shown us, he has used the people he has surrounded us with.

Truly we have developed a community here such that it feels like a family.  Through everything we have been through, both good and bad (and there has been a lot…of both) he has brought up around us a chorus of grace as we have watched him intertwine our lives and the lives of others.  We have, quite literally, seen an Acts church lift us, carry us, and sharpen us as iron sharpens iron through valleys and celebrations.

I could not be more grateful for the time he has given us here, and for the people he has given us to love and be loved by.


All that to say, it is difficult going.


However, God’s grace and his faithfulness is not dependent on our location, and we are also looking forward to seeing how he will choose to use us somewhere else.  We are looking forward to living near family, we are looking forward to where he takes us from here, we are looking forward to visits from our dear friends from here (ahem.). 


More on the logistics…

Brian interviewed (for three months) and was (finally) offered a job at the Build a Bear Workshop Corporate Headquarters!  I know, right?  How could there be a more fitting job for a guy with five little girls, eh?  And his offer letter?  ….it came like this:



Yes.  Really.


On the adoption – no, it’s not been finalized.  We pursued this job opportunity because as recently as September they told us it would be finalized in December.  But, clearly that didn’t happen.  Actually, as of the new year they hadn’t even sent someone to our house to do our homestudy.  So.
We are moving with the girls as a pre-adoptive placement, and they will complete the adoption via ICPC.  It might take a little longer that way – but then again, at the pace they were moving anyway, maybe not.


SO.  Lots of change here.  I need to go so that I can pack.  Here’s to moving and trying to sell a house with five children ages six and under.  Prayers appreciated.

January 3, 2014

The miracle of nurture.


In his book “Parenting From The Inside Out”  Dr. Daniel Siegel discusses how, in some ways, adoptive parents become their children’s biological parents by way of nurture.  Our experiences form our perceptions, our perceptions form our experiences – all changing the mapping of our brain. 

Nurture changes the very shape, the very inner workings, of our brain.

The question is not nurture vs. nature.  Because the answer is both – they cannot be separated – they are all one in the same.  A beautiful fingerprint in our creation – we are created for relationship.




Last May we had Tootaw assessed by the school district because we, her therapist, and the doctor had serious concerns regarding her development and cognitive abilities.  We know that both FAS and sensory processing disorder play a role in what we have seen – and we were really concerned. 

The assessment returned with global concerns.  She was given a formal testing to assess where she was and what services to put into place.  At that time she scored a 33% on the cognitive exam, 35% on social, and 40% on adaptive.  So, services started.


The services that the school district provided were nothing spectacular.  We’ve seen the occupational therapist a whopping two times since we started, and the teachers didn’t do anything we weren’t already doing at home.  But, I stepped it up at home and got a lot more intentional with our time.  We ramped up the nurture.  I started making sure that we had significantly more sensory activities daily.  And, most significantly, I started a homeschool preschool program with the girls starting in August.

Sometime in September, the teachers that we were seeing began talking about what a difference they were seeing in her – and we were seeing it too!

Recalling information she had learned – even letters and letter sounds!

Being able to follow three step requests.

Understanding cause and effect.

Things that did. not. happen. before.

So in November we decided to re-evaluate her to see where she was.


It was amazing.

77% cognitive.

75% social.

90% adaptive.

Incredible.  So much healing.

Healing that came from felt safety and nurture.  Changing the mapping of the brain.


Are there still issues?  Yes.  We deal with sensory processing issues every day.  But we are learning to work with them.  Are there still things that will be difficult?  Yes. 

But what amazing provision God gives in the miracle of nurture.

And only more evidence that we are created to need each other.  To love each other and sharpen each other to our full potential for his glory.

December 8, 2013



Well, last week, on Thursday to be exact, Bella and Tootaw were supposed to become Popps.  Way back in May at the TPR trial, the judge set a hearing for December 5th stating that should give the agency plenty of time to complete the adoption.  (Especially since TPR had already been handled and they didn’t have to do a best interest staffing.)

But, here we are.

Not only did we not get to finalize the adoption last week, but the agency has not even started our homestudy.  We’re on our third set of caseworkers since July.  In July, the state switched the agency that is carrying the girls case and we’ve been less than impressed and frankly pretty underwhelmed at their competency.

Needless to say, I’m frustrated.  Annoyed.  If I knew who I could be calling (who seemed to care or have any control over the situation), I’d be on the phone.


…This is nothing that any of you who have fostered or fostered to adopt don’t understand.  The reality of working as part of a system that is utterly broken.




Someday soon it will be official.

Someday soon we will walk out of a court building holding hands and imagining our forever future together.

Someday soon.  Just postponed.


As Bella said to me the other night,

“Mommy, I wonder what it will feel like when we really are here forever?”

I don’t have to wonder long sweet girl.  It will be one of the very best days of my life.

December 2, 2013

‘Tis the Season.




  It happens every year, so I’m not sure why I let it surprise me.

The stores start playing Christmas music.

We put up our Christmas tree.

Lights are on the houses all around us (but not ours, because seriously, where do people find the time!?!).

And it’s like a cue is given, it’s like a switch is flipped, and our sweet girls and their broken hearts start to bleed again.  With the music, with the lights, with the tree, and with the traditions, it’s like their scabs are peeled back, exposing the hurt again.

So every year, as we usher in the holidays, we also usher in dis-regulation and regression.


Every Christmas is hard for our girls.  They are clearly confused by their feelings and revert back to an instant fear response.

BUT, I can also see growth each year.  As they look to us with increasing confidence for their comfort, and as our trust and love grows stronger – their hurt does not diminish, but now we can be their safe place.  We are praising God for growth.

This year we see the regression.

But this year we also see trust.  We see the girls looking forward with excitement to our family Christmas.  Their family Christmas.

It will always be hard. We are not their first family, we are not their only family, but it is clear in the joy in their eyes, that we are their family.

With that in mind, I am looking forward to this Christmas season.  Dis-regulation and all.


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