When my niece, Lauren, was born, it was a very exciting time! She was so beautiful and I felt a connection with her. That year on Thanksgiving, during dinner, she started crying and so I offered to hold her. It was warm in the house, so I carried her outside for a few minutes. The cool air was just what she needed and she quietly looked up at me. With tears in my eyes, I said to God, "God, I'll never have this, will I?" He responded, "You have this." I really cried, with a happy heart. That night really changed the way I thought about my situation. I began to thank God that he had brought certain children into my life for me to love, care for at times, and be around. I didn't feel any emptiness anymore because I was busy being the best Aunt Sissy I could be! Me and David lived our lives, he was in Bible College at the time, I was working as a paralegal at a law firm in Dallas, we were happy. Very happy!
A few years later, in 2003, we started our church and poured ourselves into it. Everything we had ... financially, physically, emotionally. 2006 and 2007 were a rough couple of years for us. I developed a chronic illness called Crohn's Disease and almost died in early 2007. After a complicated surgery, the surgeon told David that if we had waited to come to the hospital, I would have been dead in about 6 weeks. I recovered and things went back to normal. In April of 2007, at one of our ladies' meetings at church, we had a guest speaker come in. Mrs. Tina Pugh and her husband are great friends! That night, she handed me a card with the name of an adoption agency on it and said that she had a friend she worked with who had adopted through that agency and she thought of us. I thought at the time, "That's weird! We have never even told anyone we wanted to adopt." Because we really didn't think that was possible. When we had researched adoption years before, we hit a wall at every turn. At one place, the fee to adopt was about $25,000! It may as well have been a million, because we didn't have that kind of money. We looked in to international adoption and that was even more - about $40,000. A supposed "Christian" adoption agency was literally selling babies. And they charged more for babies that were a certain color. It was so disgusting, and we gave up.
I put that card from Mrs. Pugh on my desk at church and forgot about it. A few months later, I came across that card and remembered the night she handed it to me. It had a website listed, so I pulled it up on the computer began to read everything on their website. They had a new information and training class starting that night (it was a 2 week program to get started). I told David about the card Mrs. Pugh had given me and asked him if he thought we should go. He said yes, that we should go and if we didn't like it, we didn't have to go back. That night, we went to the class and met lots of other couples who were interested in fostering and/or adoption. After it was over, we talked and prayed and we really felt like this was what God wanted us to do. At the next several training classes, we were told over and over again that if we wanted to do straight adoption, that we would never get a baby. We would probably get older children. And that was fine with us. We didn't care.
Over the next few weeks, we finished our training, CPR, first aid, fingerprinting, FBI background checks, home study, home inspection and other things you have to do in order to adopt. But in September, I got a call from my previous boss at the law firm. She asked me to come back to work for at least a month and help out while she found a new employee and then I would train her. I agreed, because, honestly ... we needed the money. We were having to make purchases of kids furniture, bedding, clothing, toys, etc. And then not to mention some things we had to do to our home to get it ready for the fire marshal inspection coming up. So, the time I was going to be spending getting those things done, was spent working at the law firm. At first it seemed like an unwanted delay to having what we wanted, but God knew better. He needed the timing to be just right and our boys weren't ready for us yet.
Once we got all the repairs and updates made to the house, it was the holiday season and everything was delayed again. We were starting to feel like we would never get everything finished and get licensed to adopt. But after the beginning of the year in 2008, things started happening pretty quickly. The fire marshal came, inspected, and we passed. Our home inspection was a success and all the paperwork was sent in to the state to apply for our license to adopt. In March, we got word that our license came in. So we were ready to go! They immediately put our names in for any children that became available for adoption. We had decided we wanted a sibling set of 2 or 3, boys or girls, any race, any medical situation. Our adoption case manager told us to make a scrapbook that they would be able to show the State of Texas in case we were selected to be in the top three families for any set of children. So I created a scrapbook about where we live, all about me and David and about our parents and aunts and uncles.
I remember the first call I got from our adoption case manager. I was shopping and she told me about 2 little girls and a little bit about them. They were 2 and 3 and she asked if we were interested in them. I said yes, and she put our name in. We never heard anything back about them. About a week later, I got another call about a 3 year old boy and his 4 year old sister. We never heard anything back on them either. We weren't selected. I remember wondering if this was normal or if there was something wrong with us. No, it wasn't that ... God didn't want us to have those children. The third call I got from her, she told me about 2 little boys, they were 4 and 5 years old. She told me a little about them, and I said we were interested. But I didn't get my hopes up this time, because we were disappointed the two previous times. A few days later, she called again and I expected to be told about another set of children. She said, "Guess what!? You and David have been selected as one of about 20 to get these two boys." I didn't know this before, but apparently every time children become available, there are hundreds of families that get submitted as possible candidates to adopt them. So a few days later, she called again and said, "Guess what!? You and David have been selected as one of the top 3 families to get the boys." A meeting was scheduled with the State of Texas and our case manager, along with the other 2 families' case managers where they would review the families and make a decision about which family would be best for the boys. The meeting went well, and we were contacted and told that we were selected. WOW! We were getting our boys!!!!
This happened in April, and we were told that at the end of May, we would be able to pick them up and take them home, as soon as the oldest finished Kindergarten. So we frantically, got ready. Boy bedding, balls, cars, clothes, shoes, everything boy and everything for a 4 and 5 year old!
On May 7th, our case manager called me at home. It was 10:00 a.m. She said that there was a problem with the older boys' paper work, and doctor examinations that they needed before they would allow us to have them and it might take more time to get them. It would probably be the end of June instead of May. I was a little disappointed by this news and kind of put out that we had to wait even longer. So when Courteney told me she had some other news to give me, and told me I should sit down to hear it, I was a little frustrated and standing at the kitchen sink and told her to just tell me. What she said next was news I thought I would NEVER hear!
She said the birth mother for our two boys, was at the hospital and had another baby two days before. She and the baby had tested positive for drugs and so they were not going to allow her to keep him. She asked if we were interested in fostering the baby, with the hopes that we would eventually be able to adopt him too. I was in shock and really didn't know what to say. I said, "So if we say yes, then when we get the boys in June, it would be three instead of two?" She said, it's three boys, but the baby is being discharged from the hospital TODAY, and they needed us to take him TODAY! She said I needed to discuss it with David and to let her know our decision within 30 minutes. So I called David - no answer. I called again - no answer. I texted him and asked him to call me back ASAP - Emergency! He never answered and never called me. I called my mom and she said, what would he say if he was standing right in front of you? I knew he'd say yes. I prayed and asked for wisdom and it was clear, I called Courteney back and told her yes. She said to be ready and they would bring him home in a couple of hours. I hopped in my car and drove to where I thought David was. I was right - he was on a visit with a new family in our church and had left his phone in the car. I knocked on the door and I was crying. It was very awkward, but I didn't know what else to do. We left there and he went home to rearrange the furniture in our room to hold a crib. I called my brother and had him dig out their old crib from the shed and he brought it over and helped us set it up. I went to Walmart and picked up things we needed for a baby. David says I had a baby shower for myself at Walmart and I was very generous. Haha! A couple of hours later, we were at home, waiting and getting ready. I had time to really think about what Courteney had said, we would be fostering this baby in the hopes that we could adopt him. I prayed over and over, "God, if you allow this baby to come into this home, please don't ever take him away." I didn't think I could handle getting attached to a baby and then have him taken from us. Some people can do that, and I'm thankful for those people who can, but I didn't really think I could.
Courteney and another case worker came to the house to get our license switched from adoption only to "foster to adopt", then shortly thereafter, the CPS caseworker drove up and David could not contain himself. He went out side to help carry the baby in. He came into the house with tears in his eyes and an infant car seat in his hands. There he held the thing we had dreamed of for 14 years. A baby. A child of our own. He set the carrier down in front of me and I looked at his tiny little blue gown, brought for him by the CPS worker. It said "Thank Heaven For Little Boys". And I did Thank Heaven! I thanked God for this little miracle. After the case workers and everyone left, it was about 5:00 on
a Wednesday evening. I looked at David and said, "We have a baby! What are we gonna do now?!" He said, "We better get ready for church!" So off we went to church with a 2 day old baby in tow.
About six weeks later, the time came for us to meet the older boys. We went to their foster home one evening and we played a game with them in the living room. We had to leave them there for one more night. The next day, we went to the day care they were at and picked them up, and this time we took the baby with us. We promised ourselves ahead of time that we were never going to lie to the boys about anything. We put everyone into the car and headed off to go to Chick-fil-a. They tell you to take them to a neutral place before you take them to their home. This helps them adjust to you slowly. On the way there, Nathan asked about Joshua. He said, "Is this your baby?". I said, "Yes. He's your brother." He said, "Did he grow in your tummy?" I said, "No, he didn't grow in my tummy." Nathan got a curious look on his face and asked, "Well who's tummy did he grow in?" David and I just looked at each other and I said, "He grew in your birth mother's tummy, just like you." He smiled really big and thought that was the coolest thing. As we pulled in to the parking lot of the restaurant, I heard someone saying, "Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom." I turned around suddenly and said to Noah, "Oh! You're talking to me! No one has ever called me that before!" The caseworkers had explained to us that Noah was diagnosed with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder), and that he would never really attach to us as his family and would probably never call us "Mom" and "Dad". I just had to smile! He had called me "Mom" before we even made it home with him!
Nathan really remembered his birth-mother and he was very attached to her. At night, he would start to cry, and I would go to him and one night I took him to the living room and held him. He said something that broke my heart ... for him and for me. He cried, "I want my Mommy!" Those four little words broke my heart for me at first. I was thinking, "Hey! I'm your Mommy!!!!!" But then my heart broke for him because of everything he had had to go through in his 5 years. Nothing that happened with his birth mother was his fault, and yet my boys had had to suffer the consequences of poor decision making by her. They didn't deserve that. And so I felt the need to make everything they had gone through really worth it. I wanted to give them every opportunity, and every advantage, and lots of love and teach them to love the Lord and want to serve Him.
I got to meet their birth mother at a visit for Joshua. She was allowed weekly visits with him and I took him to a visit once. She really liked me and I gave her a photo album of us with all the boys and she really appreciated that. I realized that she was just a normal person whose life was controlled by addiction. She wasn't a bad person. She just allowed her need for drugs to ruin her life. On another visit, David went with me. She asked to talk to us in the parking lot after the visit. She told us that she wanted to give up her rights to Joshua and allow us to adopt him too. It took several more months, but she did eventually sign the papers. We went to court in November on National Adoption Day to finalize the adoptions of Nathan and Noah. Then again in April of the next year to finalize the adoption of Joshua.
|National Adoption Day 2008|
Josiah was prescribed physical, occupational, and speech therapy for 1 year. We worked with him, went to appointment after appointment and he began to develop at a rate that was just shy of normal. Another MRI was ordered and the lesions were not as pronounced. Therapy continued and he continued to improve. His development was almost in the normal range and so the neurologist ordered one more MRI. This MRI showed nothing! God had removed the lesions from his brain! In January of 2012, we went to court one more time and finalized Josiah's adoption. When Josiah was about to turn 1 year, his physical therapist could see that he was about to walk on his own. So, she discontinued his therapy saying that he was completely fine.
|Josiah on his Adoption Day with his Foster Family|
So, that is the story of our family ... so far! God knew WHEN he wanted us to have children and WHO he wanted us to be parents to. We just had to be patient and wait on him. It's not easy to do that, I know, because in our little brains, we think we should know about everything that is going to happen in our lives. One thing we always think about is, that first week when we started our training and they kept telling us how we would NEVER get a baby ... it was impossible, etc. If you do the math on the timing, that week is possibly the week that Joshua was conceived. So people don't know! God is very capable of doing what people think is impossible, and He sure did with us!