December 20, 2011

Empowered to Connect.

  As we are having a really, very terribly trauma induced day, it reminded me that I wanted to post about a conference that Brian and I are headed to in February.


  I have said this around 50 times before (my husband accuses me of exaggerating.  I say, I’m just really getting my point across.) but if you foster or have adopted I sincerely recommend the book The Connected Child, by Karyn Purvis.  It is so easy to read, gives some really helpful, applicable ideas, and gives a well rounded idea of why in the world your child is acting that way. 

You know what way I’m talking about.  The way that makes you think, am I just really losing my mind as a parent?  What in the world am I doing wrong?  How is it even possible for me to address this without escalating this out of this world???

It’s my go to book because I can read it without feeling like I need a medical dictionary and the DSM V on hand.





Karen Purvis and a couple (Amy and Michael Monroe) from Irving Bible Church teamed up and wrote a Bible study that goes along with The Connected Child called Created To Connect.  This is also very helpful.  It breaks down the info even more, and connects it to the worldview of a follower of Christ. 




This is all a part of an organization called Empowered to Connect.  (Confused yet?)  It is led by Karyn Purvis and Amy and Michael Monroe and is full of great resources for those parenting kids from hard places.


Empowered to Connect is having a conference in February at Irving Bible Church, co-sponsored by Show Hope (Stephen Curtis Chapman’s adoption foundation).  Here’s the description:


Empowered To Connect, together with Show Hope, hosts the Empowered To Connect Conference — a two-day conference designed to help adoptive and foster parents, ministry leaders and professionals better understand how to connect with “children from hard places” in order to help them heal and become all that God desires for them to be.

The conference features Dr. Karyn Purvis together with Michael & Amy Monroe, and is ideal for adoptive and foster parents, those considering adoption or foster care and those who are serving and supporting others, including social workers, agency professionals, church staff and ministry leaders, counselors, therapists and others involved in adoption and foster care.

The next Empowered To Connect Conference will be on February 17-18, 2012, in Dallas, Texas at Irving Bible Church. Registration for the Dallas conference is now open! Visit for more details and to register online.


So, just wanted to put that out there.  We’re driving a long way to get there, but we are so looking forward to being poured into.  To be educated and supported in working with these kids.  I’m feeling so drained today from the behaviors, and I cannot wait!

December 19, 2011

8 Months.

  I think this is the first month that you have stopped looking like an infant and have started to look more babyish.  Subconsciously, until now, I have been able to keep telling myself that you are only four or five months old – because you still looked it.  But now I have to face the music. 

You are growing up.



(Your sister rocking her baby while Daddy rocks you.)

  This month is also the first time that you and your sister have been able to interact more.  I love seeing you two make each other laugh and love on each other.  (Not so much when your sis is not so very loving.)  It is a glimpse of a beautiful relationship that I will get to watch grow.  I can already tell you two will get into all kinds of things together.  It will be ridiculously cute though.  She loves you.  Even on her crabbiest mornings, (she wakes up like your Daddy.) when she sees you, she lights up and says good morning.


  You are crawling all over and you like to be right in the middle of the action.  If your sisters are running circles in the kitchen, you prefer to be in the middle of their sloppy circles, inches from losing one of your itty bitty fingers.  You are pulling up on things now, too, but you aren’t sure how to get back down once you get up.  You get very frustrated and look at me to come rescue you.  Gladly.



(You and Mayah.  If you two are anything like your older sisters, you’ll be good friends.)


You just decided today that you would really try baby food for the first time.  I’ve been trying it out for a few weeks, but you completely hated it until tonight.  Sweet potatoes were a winner.  It’s kind of ridiculous how excited I was that you were actually eating instead of puking it back up on me.  But it was mixed with a twinge of sadness, knowing that if you start eating food, you’ll start nursing less and less.


You still sleep with us full time.  Your dad and I keep saying we’re going to start putting you in the crib at the beginning of the night, but we just can’t do it just yet.  This month.  Maybe.

  You aren’t really making any new sounds, but you are sure as heck loud.  Nana says you sound just like I did.  Turns out you’re a lot like me so far. 

  I want you to know that you love Bella.  And she loves you too.  I know you won’t remember her, but she really looks out for you.  I think you’ll always have a big sister in her.



I love you more than you know, sweet baby.  I pray for you, and worry for you, and am thankful for you all the time.

love you, love you, love you,


December 12, 2011

Sisters. Part one.

I frequently get e-mails and questions about fostering from people who are either considering fostering, or are in the midst of licensing.  Of all the questions that I get, there is an overwhelming majority that are on one topic:  my forever children. 

In the interest of those who question, ‘But what about my kids?’ I thought I would try to document a little bit of what Bella’s transition home is like, for her, and for Sylvia.


--Before I begin, lest it seem I am void of emotion, merely observing how all this goes down with my two year old, let me say that this is absolutely the most difficult aspect of fostering for me.  Before we had kids, this was all much easier.  I can manage, I can field what is thrown at me and process all of these emotions (admittedly, not well at times.).  But the unknowns of going into this with my children is difficult, to say the least.  They are, far and beyond, the most precious gifts to me on this earth.  Honestly, what it comes down to, is that God has called us here.  Sometimes I don’t know why.  And my children are much more precious to Him even, than to me.

He has not called me here as an individual, or even called Brian and I here as a couple.  He has called us here as a family.  He has made this a part of my journey, and a part of theirs.  Sometimes I just have to rest in the peace of knowing the fierceness of my love as a parent, and that he is also Abba, Father.--


Sylvia and Bella have grown very close.  This is the first time we have had a placement that Sylvia has been old enough to really bond to them and become friends.  They play together every day.  They look out for one another.  They fight like crazy. 

This weekend was Bella’s first time being away overnight in almost six months.  She left Saturday morning for her parent’s house, and she will return this evening before bedtime.

We have had lots of discussions with Sylvia about where Bella goes on her visits, who she sees, why they are important, and that someday, she will go and live there forever.  We talk about it a lot (when Bella is gone) in hopes that when she actually goes home, Sylvia will have some understanding of what is happening.



This weekend there have been lots of times that Sylvia has forgotten Bella isn’t here.  When we were out to lunch, she tried to correct my order to make sure we got something for Bella.  When she got a new book today, she asked, “Where Bella’s book?”.  She’s not really seemed sad that she’s not here, she’s just so used to her being here that it’s only natural that she lives life as if she has an older sister along.



Every time she mentions her, the cracks in my heart begin to form.  Cracks from knowing Bella won’t be here with us much longer and cracks from knowing that my sweet baby will miss her.


But honestly, so far, Sylvia has dealt with this with a miraculous understanding (for a two year old).  She has verbalized that she understands that Bella misses her Mommy and Daddy, and so she should be with them.  It all seems much more simple to her.

Bella misses her Mommy and Daddy?   ….Well she should be with them!

Bella wants to live with her Mommy and Daddy?  ….Well she should go!

Bella is sad she can’t be there?   ….Well of course she is!


I think that this longer transition period will be good for Sylvia to adjust to Bella leaving.  She’ll be able to get used to her being gone a little bit longer each time.

In the meantime, we’ll keep trying to prepare her to say goodbye.


(If you have specific questions about this transition, let me know and I’ll try to get it in.  Just shoot me an e-mail.)

December 9, 2011

decorating 2011.


Picking out the Christmas tree.


































We’re really trying to practice Advent this year.  Finding peace in waiting, expectation, excitement.  Looking forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior.

December 7, 2011

Visit, behaviors, improvement, repeat.


This is an all to familiar cycle to anyone who has fostered for long.


Bella has started having longer visits with her parents – this weekend she’ll have an overnight visit for two nights and three days. 


oh boy.  holy cow.  We are feeling the repercussion of painful scabs being scratched open again and again and again.


I think this is one of the difficulties of fostering that may be different in adoption (hopefully we will find out eventually).  In fostering it seems that you are never really working toward healing.  Really, you are working at keeping a wound just raw enough that when it comes time for reunification, the wound can be grafted back into a family unit, that will slowly heal together.


Fostering is about dealing with open wounds.

We aren’t working toward closure.

We aren’t working toward healing.

We really aren’t even working toward progress in behaviors.


Because every visit, she goes home for a few hours, and then she has to leave again.  Leave her sister.  Leave her mom and dad.  Leave her home.

And the scab is picked off.  And we’re starting all over.


The pain in her little heart is something I can’t imagine.  As an adult, as a foster parent, it is emotionally exhausting to experience.  As a four year old in the center of it all?  I can’t fathom it.

She doesn’t know what to do with all that pain.  We try to help her process it, put names to emotions, cry through the confusion.  We try to explain what is happening and why in four year old terms (because caseworkers don’t do that.  we’ve never had a caseworker explain what was happening consistently.).  But there is too much hurt, and it has to come out.


It comes out in defiance.  Lots. and lots. and lots. of defiance.

It comes out in anger.

It comes out in tantrums.

It comes out in needing extra affection.



And we do our best.  We increase nurture with structure.  We use lots of feeling words.  We connect while correcting.  We avoid un-needed consequences like crazy.  We talk about choices.

Things get a little better.  We see more smiles.  We see better choices.  We see her heart mend, just a little.




And then there is another visit.


And we start all over.


And it’s not even about the behaviors.  (although some days, it’s hard for that not to be the focus.)  I just want her little heart to be able to heal.  I just want her to stop hurting all the time.

December 2, 2011

7 Months.

I know, I know, you’ve been seven months old for a couple of weeks

Things have been nuts around here – but I want to make sure to get ‘you at seven months’ down on paper, because I’ve lived enough life to know that a year from now I won’t remember at all.  (I hate that.  I blame it on your Nana.  I got my memory from her.)




You are incredible.

You are happy all the time.  You smile at anything.  You laugh at me even when I’m obviously annoying you.  You are joy personified.  I’m not sure I’ve ever met a baby as happy and smiley as you.  I sing you “You are My Sunshine” all the time, and it’s true.




You’ve started babbling, it approximates something a little like: Aaaaabababababa.  I’m still working on Mamamama, but at least you didn’t go with Dadadada. (That was your sister’s first sound, and your Dad still brags about it.)  You are very passionate about your babbling, and when you get going you are very loud.  We’ve had to leave several church services, a wedding, the library, and small group all because you are so loud – but you’re happy loud,  so I can’t very well shush you.


You are moving all over the place.  You half crawl, half drag yourself around on your belly, but you are bound and determined to get to where you want to be.

You are itty bitty like your Mommy.  At your six month check up you were 13 pounds 4 ounces, and in the 5th percentile.  When you crawl around you look like a little four month old crawling.  You are petite, and I love it.




You’re still sleeping with us full time.  I think soon I’ll start putting you in your crib at the beginning of the night – but I love snuggling you, so we’ll see.  I’m pretty sure you love snuggling me too – when I lay you in bed at night and you see me coming to lay next to you, you literally start giggling, squealing, and doing a little squirmy dance.  It occurred to me the other night that you don’t know anything different than sleeping next to your Mommy all night long, and I love giving you that comfort.


I’ve tried giving you a couple of foods.  Bananas, carrots, butternut squash.  You didn’t like any of them – you’re not too keen on eating just yet.  When I tried out broccoli you actually vomited all over me, so I think I’ll give you some time. No rush.  You don’t have any teeth yet, and your gummy smile is so cute that really, I’m glad.




You’ve started reaching for me and your daddy when other people are holding you which positively melts my heart.  You’re also pretty in love with your sisters.  You think they are the funniest thing that you ever did see, and you giggle at them all the time.




So, in short, you are very cute, very happy, and very loud.


I love you more than you will ever know.  Every time I see you and your face lights up into a smile, my heart fills with a joy that I can hardly keep in.  I pray for you everyday, only slightly less than I pray for God to help me to be the Mommy you need me to be.  Thank you for being my sunshine, I’m am so grateful to God for you.


Love you, Love you, Love you,



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