Monthly Archives: March 2012

Grant’s first post!

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Wow- it’s almost April and this is the first time I (Grant) have written a blog post. Kellee and I have been doing David Platt’s Radical Experiment since Jan 1st. The first thing I can say is I don’t think it is very “radical” to 1) pray for the people of the world 2) read the entire Bible 3) go on a mission trip 4) give tithes and offerings and 5) be a part of a house church. Woopty! Look at us! We’re cool!

We’re busy. We both have full time jobs (albeit from home) with 2 (and counting) crumb snatchers running around. I do know what is NOT important: an Amazing Race, someone trying to Survive, a Bachelor trying to get married, New Yorkers partying in Jersey, or Idols trying to use their Voice to make it big like Studdard, Barrino, Allen, McCreery, and Colon.

We just finished our foster/adoption training- which was pretty intense. Let’s just say there are a lot of not-so-great moms and dads out there whose actions and non-actions are having VERY negative effects on their children. You don’t have to warn us about what we are getting into…we know. It’s awful. Alcoholic and drug addict moms let boyfriends hit and inappropriately touch little ones. It is DEFINITELY NOT the children’s fault! So who is going to help them? We will. We’re not saints- trust me. We spent our newlywed Friday nights getting hammered and passing out at 8 pm. Both of us are so thankful for how much God has nurtured and matured us since then.

So how did we get where we are today?  Step 1: make a plan. Step 2: follow it. Step 3: adapt but don’t quit.

I’ll end with 2 questions. Is what we are doing that radical? If not, why aren’t you doing it?

Dangit, Kel, I hope I just didn’t lose all your followers!

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DONE with training!

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Tonight marked the conclusion of 36 hours of preservice training, with an additional 6 hours of CPR and First Aid. We completed 12 of the 14 sessions in the last two weeks. They didn’t cover the lighest of topics, either! Thankful we made it through. But, I also realized that what I know now is IT. There won’t be any more classes or instructors to question. Yikes.

Grant asked me how I was feeling upon completion. It depends on the minute! It’s like my feelings swing on this giant pendulum. At one moment, I feel grossly inadequate, incompetent, scared out of my mind, and full of anxiety. Another time, I feel very confident and prepared. I do recognize that our expectations for this experience have become much more realistic, because of the training. Also, and this is pretty huge, I’ve had a significant heart change in my goal for this process. In the beginning, I was focused on the adoption portion and really just assumed the fostering was a means to an end. Now, we actually WANT to foster. If we are eventually able to adopt, that’s great…but, that’s not the goal. Whereas before, a relationship with a birth mom scared me to death, now I’m going to do my very best to form a quality relationship with these women, in order to provide their children the best care possible. Now, I realize that all this is much easier said than done. But, I know the Lord has changed my heart, and I’m very thankful for that. It’s pretty interesting that many people in our training sessions were NOT interested in fostering. That seems odd, as we are attending these classes to become foster/adopt certified! Even though there were a ton of families in training, it seemed that the ones intending to foster were the minority. There were a few who were planning to only accept those children who were ready to be adopted. Others already had children in the system that they were being licensed to adopt. Others were only taking newborns, which does not seem to be the norm in the foster system. Something I know for sure is how Jesus has confirmed and confirmed that this is what He wants us to do.

I was also thinking about how much the track of our life has changed, in just a matter of months. Fostering was not even a topic of conversation until January or February…I’m not even sure when?!? I realized that making that decision to foster was NOT the big decision that set this all in motion. Committing to obey the Lord, whatever that meant, whatever that looked like…now, THAT was the big decision! And, oh, where it has already taken us. Crazy.

So, we are finished with our training. As of tomorrow, after the fire inspection, we will be totally done with our paperwork. Our last two homestudy visits will be complete by the end of April. This.is.happening.

p.s. This really needs a post all of it’s own, and that will come soon. But, I’m so freaking excited about this, I’ll share a little now. A speaker came to my Bible study on Monday and shared about human trafficking. She works with the organization, Love146. She runs a local taskforce, and they are doing awesome things to bring about awareness and prevention of human trafficking. This girl is legit. She’s super cute, super smart, and super passionate about this cause. I highly encourage you to check out this info and get involved!

http://love146.org/   http://love146dayton.org/    http://www.facebook.com/groups/love146dayton/

Keep on keeping on

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While I have had many mental breakdowns because of doubt, since deciding to foster, this evening proved to be the most jarring. We had another training session and went to a county agency that we had not yet visited. There were several families visiting in the courtyard, and I assumed they were visitations between the children and their birth parents. Now, I know this is all part of what we will be doing. We’ll take our foster kid(s) for scheduled visits with their birth parents. However, to actually see it, witness the interaction between the parents and child, was terribly difficult. I very quickly went to my bad place…What the heck have we gotten ourselves into?!?!?

A good exercise for me tonight was to put myself in the birth parents’ spot. What if that were me and Grant with Ezra and Evie, sitting on a bench or playing in the grass? What if I could only see my girls for one hour a week? It is heartbreaking to think about.

We discussed tonight some of the cultural issues we’ll encounter as foster parents. Culture is so ingrained in all of us, and when we are taken out of our culture, it’s like we lose a part of ourselves. These precious kids will be taken out of everything they’ve always known, where everything is familiar-parents, siblings, bed, toys, food, language, clothes. Again, I think about how Ezra would react to be taken from our home and placed in an environment that is completely different. How would she cope? How would I, the birth parent, survive without her?

We also completed our CPR course this morning. All I can say about that is, the bottom of my palm is bruised from my chest compressions. If I have to perform CPR on anyone, I’ll probably break his/her breastbone!

We’re nearing the end of this process, and it’s becoming a reality with each finished session. I wonder what age of child we will have. Will we have one or a sibling group? Boy, girl, or both? Will the child be quiet and withdrawan or act out? Will Grant and I know how to parent a child who has been abused or neglected?

With all the questions, doubt, and fear, the Lord graciously gives the same amount of peace, understanding, and confidence.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

If not us, then who?

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I’m not sure where to start, as it’s been a while since I’ve written. This may very well be a jumbled mess. We took our first group of weekend sessions this past Saturday and Sunday. We learned very little, due to how the trainer directed the course and another foster parent who monopolized every conversation and left little time for anyone else to talk. It’s really disappointing to feel like we’ve wasted 12 hours of our time and barely learned anything. Maybe there are some foster parents who want to just get through the training. I really want to learn, so I can be as prepared as possible. We need to decide how/if we can makeup the weekend sessions.

The focus for the weekend was forming a relationship with the birth parents, something I had not even thought about. We discussed how most parents do not set out to abuse or neglect their children. There are numerous reasons that lead to this. While obviously not condoning the abuse, I really began to understand why this happens so often, AND I started to empathize with the birth mom. We did one activity where we were to match up the foster children and foster parents. Two foster children were not matched up-healthy, white newborns. Our trainer reminded us that this type of child rarely is a part of this process, and we need to understand what kinds of kids will be in our care. Every child in the foster care system has shown evidence of abuse and/or neglect. To restate, every child that will come to our house has had abuse and/or neglect. We have two more sessions on Thursday, another weekend session, next Tuesday and Wednesday…then, we’re done with training!

We had our first set of homestudy interviews yesterday, and it went well. We have our next meeting the beginning of April, and our home safety check the end of April. We should have our license sometime in May. Our social worker said we have really flown through the licensing process.

We’ve started getting the foster room ready. We bought some cute, colorful rugs from IKEA and did a lot of moving and switching around. Ezra now has a new (for her) day bed, and the bunk beds are in the foster room. I bought a small package of diapers in every size, pajamas for a boy and girl 0-4T, and one outfit for a boy and girl 0-4T. Cute sheets and blankets, too! We do have about a month, until our safety check, thankfully. Still need to buy a crib and car seats!

I certainly do not presume to know everything about fostering, but I DO feel that Grant and I are realistic in what this will look like for our family. Literally every day, and especially after each training session, I have a period of time where I feel: we’re totally crazy for doing this; we are not prepared at all to raise these kinds of kids; our life is easy right now, so why screw it up; we’re going to regret this. But, as I’ve mentioned before, the Lord is faithful to confirm to us (in many different ways!) that this is what He wants us to do. I keep coming back to…if not us, then who?

2 weeks of crazy

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Today marks the start of a ridiculous two weeks for our family. From today through March 28th, we will have completed 13 sessions, at 3 hours each: 39 hours of foster/adoption training. We also have our second homestudy visit in one week, which is supposed to be 2.5 hours long. I caught a bad cold today, which seems to be the trend since January. I swear I’ve been sicker in 2012 than I have been in the last 3 years. We still have SO MUCH to do to get ready…”garage sale” room converted to foster room, crib/carseat/van…also, diapers, formula, a few clothes in various sizes, and lice shampoo (as recommended by our instructor tonight). I’m a control freak, so I’ve done my best to plan plan plan. I’m freaking out that there is no where near enough time to be as prepared as I’d like to be. The Lord keeps reminding me of His provision, though. I’ve seen the ways He’s provided for friends, and I’ve remembered the ways He’s provided for my family. HE is the One moving us and guiding us to do this. HE is the One that will provide all that we need. HE is the One that is in control. Jehovah Jireh, My Provider.

Better than comfort

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Today, we completed the majority of our paperwork for our foster/adoption licensing. I told our social worker that we would try to have it submitted in two weeks. It’s been two days 🙂 We also finished our background check and fingerprinting. You could say we’re busting it!

We were at the Sheriff’s Office, which is connected to the courthouse and jail, as well as Children’s Services. It just felt really sad in those buildings. Not too many smiles. I realized that this environment, with which I felt totally uncomfortable, could become a regular part of my life with this foster process. I’ve had several moments of being outside of my comfort zone, and this was one of them. Even filling out some of the paperwork made me realize that my life is really going to change soon. I’ve had periods this week (as has happened frequently since this all started) of feeling utterly clueless and wanting to quit. My most popular nag has been, “Your life is so comfortable right now. You’ve got two amazing girls. Why mess it up? It’s EASY.”

God creates, blesses, and saves each of us for a radically global purpose. But if we are not careful, we will be temtped to make exceptions. We will  be tempted to adopt spiritual smoke screens and embrace national comforts that excuse us from the global plan of Christ. And in the process we will find ouselves settling for lesser plans that the culture around us–and even the church around us–deems more admirable, more manageable, and more comfortable. David Platt, Radical

It’s true. My life is super smooth. We’re debt free, both work at home, in a groove raising two kids. And, above all, we’re comfortable. But, the Lord is not calling our family to a life of comfort. He’s calling us to live radically. I have felt myself trying to cling to a few things this week, but over and over the Lord has reminded me that He’s preparing us for something BETTER than comfort.

We’ve met some resistance this year. Some people have suggested that we forego fostering and move straight to adoption. Others wonder why we’ve made any changes to our life at all. Each time we’re faced with doubt, though, the Lord swoops in with a big, fat confirmation. We know that this is crazy and uncomfortable and different and radical. But, we truly feel the Lord has burdened us with this cause and will move forward, until He says stop.

I’ll end with two cool things that have happened in the past 24 hrs:

About an hour after I posted yesterday, I received a message from a high school friend. She cut right to the chase…I read your blog and immediately thought, “Kellee needs my van.” She offered to give us her van. Yeah. Seriously.

A friend in our House Church told me tonight that she had a vivid dream about our family. We were in the parking lot at Apex and were unloading. Ezra was out first, then Evie, then a BABY. She said it was so real and actually woke her up.

Will we get the van or a baby? Who  knows? But, it helps my heart to hear these things.

A fork in the road

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It’s been a busy few days. Let me start from the beginning…

On Friday and Saturday evenings, my mind kept going back to international adoption. This has been something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, since high school. This weekend, though, I was BURDENED. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t think about anything else. I cried through the night both Friday and Saturday. As I mentioned before, I’m reading Ashley Judd’s new book, and it’s stirred up some of this, too, I think. At the same time, I was thinking a lot about Honduras and this mission trip that a friend told me about six weeks ago.

So, on Saturday night, I decided to tweet to Phil Wing, a worship leader at our church. He’s the only person who I know that’s adopted internationally recently. He got back to me about the agency they had used. I go to the site and the first country I see is Honduras. Of course, as Honduras has been on my mind, I look through the requirements. Most international adoptions require two visits to the country. Honduras:  7-10 day trip and 4-6 WEEK trip. I immediately discount this country, as there is no way we can be apart from the girls for that long. (I did find out that the girls can come on the long trip and that both of us do not have to be there the entire time.)

My international adoption thoughts continue through the night, and I barely sleep. The next morning, it’s still heavy on my heart, and I begin to pray. Immediately, my phone dings, and it’s a tweet from Phil telling me about two other families at Apex using this agency. Woah, I thought. We get to church, and I open the bulletin. The first thing I see is a blurb about the SAME MISSION TRIP that I mentioned above! Right then, I know Honduras is important. My mind goes straight to…YAY, we’re adopting a Honduran baby!!!!!!! I did not hear a single word of the sermon. I prayed about this the entire service, wondering why this was happening now-our homestudy visit was the next day. How did this fit with the foster licensing? We couldn’t do both.

When we got home, I researched the mission trip a little more. Let’s talk about the missionaries with whom Apex is partnering for this trip. The guy? I’M RELATED TO HIM. The girl? My sister spent several months in Spain studying with her, while in college. Praying and praying all day. That evening, we go out to eat to celebrate a house church friend. Guess who’s at the restaurant? Phil Wing and his family!!! I almost started crying. I spoke a little with Amber, Phil’s wife, and got her contact info. That night, Grant and I are discussing it more. We know that the Lord would not have us go into debt for an adoption, after everything that we had been through getting OUT of debt. I google “adoption no debt.” The first site that comes up is a blog about a family that has adopted internationally without going into debt. I could have written the post. Their story sounds exactly like ours, even down to how much money they had in savings and how much extra they had per month. My phone dings. This time, it’s an email from the contact person at Apex for the mission trip. I had written her earlier that day for information. She said that the deadline for the trip was today…of course, it was. She’s giving us this week to decide.

What does all this mean? We know the Lord has been leading us to fostering. We know that, for sure. I ALSO know that this burden and all the events that happened this weekend were from Him. I spoke with the international agency and our county caseworker, and there’s really no way that we can do both programs simulatneously.

The homestudy visit on Monday went great. We really liked our caseworker, and it was confirming that we’re doing what we should be doing. This makes it harder, though. I half-expected things to go terribly, which would have pointed us to international adoption! We got a LOAD of paperwork. I really wanted to stay up all night last night and finish it. I did get a lot done and will hopefully have everything completed in about two weeks. Our caseworker said we could see a placement, as early as May.

So…we will continue to progress with the gazillion forms we have to fill out to become foster/adoption certified in our county. We will continue to gather information about the Honduras adoption. We will pray about the Honduras mission trip and make the final decision by Sunday. (We’ll be gone a week, so how does that look, if we have a foster child?!?) Plus, Grant is applying for another job at Dave Ramsey. In Tennesee.

All I know to do at this point is pray. For wisdom, guidance, peace. I’m not going to pray a “bare-bones” prayer anymore, either. I’m going to pray that: we can open up our home to foster children; adopt from Honduras; Grant gets a job that allows me to focus 100% at home; we are able to sell this house easily and find one that can accomodate more children; a van.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to  him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Eph. 3:21