May 14, 2017

To the Mamas of my babies on Mother's Day

  These babies of yours, they are amazing.  But mama, so are you.  I have watched, and watch you now fighting, striving, trying to pull at bootstraps that you were never given but someone told you are there.  
  I hurt for you.  I cry out for you each day.  I struggle not to scream about how unfair it is - how the discrepancy in where we started, in the lives we were given is criminal.  How because of all of that, these babies are in my arms today and not yours.  I hate it.  I hate it for our babies and I hate it for you.  The brokenness is just too much sometimes and everything inside of me wishes it could be different - that today you could feel these arms around your neck.
  To my girls Mama, I want you to know that I don't take it for granted and that I think about you every day.  We talk about you all the time and I will go to my grave telling these sweet souls how much you love them and how brave you were that day that I sat next to you in that court room.
  To the mama of this sweet little boy with cheeks that jiggle and a heart so sweet, I will champion you and root for you and fight for you forever.  No matter what happens in this case, this sweet little boy will always know how much you love him, how hard you are working for him, and the look in your eye when you see him.  Let's get this sweet boy home to you. 

  I wish with all of my being that today I could give you the cards, the snuggles, the sweet love.  I wish I could wave my wand and make the brokenness heal, the inequalities level, and the challenges slow.  What I will give you today, for Mother's Day, is my support.  I promise to always be a voice for you in your children's lives.  I promise to always be there in any way that I can to help you to triumph over the barrage of constant struggle.  I promise to pray for you every day when I am reminded by a hug or a funny nine year old joke that they are not only mine, and that they were yours first.

We love you Mamas.  And you will always be the first mamas.  Happy Mother's Day.

May 9, 2017

But I Could Never!!

I will be the very first to tell you that not every single person should foster or adopt.  Would I encourage you to look into it?  Well....of course. Would I encourage you by telling you that if God can use us in this way - he could use anyone in this way?  Yes.  I also realize that God doesn't call us all to the same things, and that is part of the beautiful story that God has crafted.
  With that said, I pretty frequently hear from people who would love to help out the families who are in the foster care system but who can't foster or adopt (right now anyway ;) ).  

  So, you can't foster, you can't adopt....what can you do?
So many things.

1.  Love on foster parents.  
     You know that foster family in your neighborhood who just took two kids in addition to
     the four they already had?  The family that has a smile on their face all the time when 
     you see them?  The ones that you told, "I just don't know how you do it??"  Neither do 
     they.  They are tired.  They are probably struggling with the behaviors of their kids.  
     They are frequently feeling defeated and overwhelmed.  You could be the answer to 
     their prayers.  Make them a meal once a week.  Offer to pick up some laundry.  
     Surprise them with a care package.  Take them out for coffee.  
     Several years ago when we were in a super hard place people did this for us.  They did 
     our laundry, they watched our kids, they cleaned my house while I was gone, they 
     listened to the hard stuff - and I can completely honestly say - that is why Bella is my
     daughter right now.  That is what got us through.

2.  Provide short term respite.
     So maybe you can't have kids placed with you full time.  You travel.  You are super
     busy.  That seems scary.  That circus and those monkeys - they can't belong belong
     to you.  But - maybe sometimes, just once or twice a year, you could have a couple
     of kids come stay with you just for a weekend.  Maybe you could give a foster parent
     just a couple of days to get their feet back under them.  By providing that respite, you
     could be the difference between a placement disrupting, or the foster parents having 
     the breather they need to make just a little bit longer.  And also, can I just say that 
     when we did respite we loovvveedd it.  You get to be the cool aunt or uncle.  It's all 
     fun (I mean...mostly).

3.  Mentoring.
     Similar to providing respite - offering to be a mentor for a kiddo can provide a little
     break for the foster family, while also providing that child with another stable, healthy
     relationship.  Tutor them, take them out for ice cream, go to the park, just hang out 
     and be an ear that isn't foster mom and dad.  This can be so huge for a kid.  So huge.

4.  Become a CASA.
     CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate.  In some states CASA serves as the
     child's guardian ad litem (their attorney) and in some states they are simply an extra 
     advocate - but in both situations I have found them extremely helpful.  If I could have 
     CASA on every case that we take, I would.  As a CASA volunteer you visit the kids in 
     their foster home, serve as part of the team that advocates for the child, and report 
     your thoughts to the court at hearings as part of what determines where the case
     is headed.  

5.  Safe Families.
     Ok, I realize this doesn't seem wholly different from fostering, but bear with me.  Safe
     Families works with families that are at risk for having children removed and put in 
     foster care.  However, all families that are involved are self referred.  There are a lot
     of ways to serve these families that Safe Families is helping.  One way is to become a
     host family.  While this might not seem soooo different from fostering, there are a 
     couple of things to note.  When you take a child through Safe Families you sign a 
     contract for how long you will have the children.  This is wildly different from 
     fostering where you have no idea if you will have the children for a week or three 
     years.  Safe Families also has a built in support system that can help the host family.  
     This is done via Resource Families and Family Friends.  Both of these are also 
     volunteer opportunities.  Resource families provide physical necessities for the host 
     family and/or birth family.  Beds, clothes, meals, etc.  Family friends are more of a 
     support to the birth family, and provide relationship and assistance.  Take them out to 
     coffee, give them a ride to an interview, call and check in about how things are going.
     I love this organization, and I'd be happy to answer questions about it.  I'll stop, 
     because I could go on forever.  

6.  Ministry.  
     Find a foster and adoptive ministry near you - in your church, in a nearby church, 
     through a not for profit - and ask how you can help out.  I can guarantee you they will
     have things for you to do.  :)  Support the kids by helping the ministry run events, 
     support groups, and trainings.

I could probably keep coming up with this stuff all day.  In the interest of your time I'll stop - but seriously, if you have any questions, please let me know - I would be super happy to help - because we are not all called to foster, but we are all called to serving, advocating for, and loving the vulnerable.

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.


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