Sunday, November 27, 2016

So, How'd We Get Here?...Foster-Adopt

   If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know that I have not been open to foster-adopt in the past. In fact, when it was suggested to me by another blogger, I shut the possibility out of my heart and mind. Now here we are pursuing the very thing I was closed to. There is a crib set up in our room. I am buying baby clothes and looking into baby carriers. Our medicines, supplements and knives are all locked up and our house is baby proofed.

   We got the official call this week that we are certified so, we are done with our classes, interviews, home study,  CPR/First-Aid certification and all of the paperwork! We are officially a waiting family with our agency. We will hopefully get a call from the adoptions department this week to set up a meeting to talk about our matching options and preferences. In the midst of all this, I find myself thinking, "Is this real? Can this really be happening?" Yes, it is real and it is happening. We are moving forward with growing our family through foster-adopt! It is all very exciting and nerve racking!

JJ and I before a pep talk.

JJ and I after a pep talk. 

   So, what has changed? Me. I have changed, or rather God has changed me. Let me explain why I was against foster-adopt in the first place. It can really be boiled down to fear, pride, and control. I wanted my baby on my terms whether that was through biological means or taking home a newborn from the hospital via a private adoption.* I did not want to let go of control; and quite frankly I was afraid of suffering in this way. I was keeping a part of my heart locked up so that I would not be hurt. I wanted control of how our children came into our lives because, of course I know better, right? Wrong. God knows better. He knows what I need and how our children will come into our lives.

   So the first part of giving up control was to let JJ lead in how and when we would grow our family. This took the pressure off me so God could just work on my heart in areas He wanted me to grow. It also allowed me to have trust in God and my husband; knowing that they would protect my heart. I was in this waiting period for about a year and a half. I was waiting on word from God and word from JJ on where to move and when, if ever. At first it was frustrating, but I really prayed for docility. As I waited, I worked on my prayer life and made sure I went to Confession with my SD every couple weeks if I could, but at least every month for sure.

   Little by little, I noticed that I was OK with the time of waiting; I was even enjoying it. I was just trying to be the best wife I could. Then, when we took care of Ma Crow, I had no time to think about growing our family.  Taking care of Ma Crow was a time of growth for our marriage. We were challenged in ways we had never been challenged before both individually and as a couple. Once I had more time after she transitioned to my SIL's and then back home, my heart ached again. It ached for children and that self giving love in service to another. My heart ached for that family time of welcoming another human being into our home to share our faith and traditions.

   That is when JJ and I had a serious conversation, and lo and behold he was feeling the same ache as I was. I asked him if he had sought some direction for our discernment. Since he had not, I suggested he should, because often times God's answer is not as clear as a yes or no. Plus, I knew neither of us would move unless told to by someone in authority that we highly respect. We both are naturally cautious and slow. So, the organized mind that I am, I gave JJ a deadline on when to seek out advice. I also gave him three priests to choose from; since he is phlegmatic. This helped him to not feel overwhelmed in this huge life changing decision. The priest he went to knows us both very well and his advice was to pray one novena to St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and then make a decision. After that, we were to not look back, whatever our answer was! This was key advice, since JJ and I tend to over analyze our decisions.

   So, we prayed the St. Joseph novena in March and made the decision on his feast day; which also happens to be my mother's birthday. On the feast day, came to the decision to pursue adoption and even more to pursue it through the foster care system. I was shocked that my heart was no longer set on private adoption. God had been doing something in that time of waiting and exercising docility.  He had opened my heart and gave me courage. JJ and I also felt that it was important for us to continue to save our money for a home and not spend a ton of money on a private adoption. Yes there has been some costs to us to become certified foster parents, but it has not been nearly as much as private adoption costs.

   There were three major things that held me back from foster to adopt, and I still struggle with them:

   1) Not being able to name our child from birth. Names are so important to us and as parents, it gives us an authority over our children. Well, with foster to adopt you do not have that authority; not at the beginning anyway. I really had to give this to God and keep in my heart all the baby names I have loved over the years and hopefully, if it be God's will, I will get to use them some day. If not, there they will remain in my heart.

   2) Not being able to baptize the child until they are legally adopted. Again this is an authority issue. You can always ask the bio family, but if they say no we have to respect that. I had to give this issue to God as well and I still complain about it to Him every now and again; okay, maybe more often than that.

   3) Not being able to breastfeed. I know that there are other ways to bond, but I really had a struggle to get over this hurdle. I know there are mamas who have not breastfed, yet have a wonderful bond with their children, as well as have their children be healthy in body and mind. Hey, I was not breastfed! So, there you go.

   With all three of these internal obstacles, I had to admit that I had no control and that God is ultimately in control. All I can do is be a conduit of His love. This is how God wants to sanctify me: by giving up control and just trusting Him. There is so much unknown with foster to adopt. We have no idea if our 1st or 10th placement will join our family forever. It is hard for others to wrap their minds around why we would do this. The simple answer is that it is a calling. God has opened my heart to accept this calling. He has given me peace about what we are stepping into. I am so grateful and humbled to parent the children that will come into our lives. We want to be Christ's hands, feet and shoulder to the children that we will parent. We want them to know that God loves them and they have so much dignity, no matter what their background is. We are opening ourselves up to heart break, and in that we find Christ. God, give us strength! St. Joseph, pray for us!

*I just want to say that I am speaking from my experience. I am not against private (domestic or international) adoption. I am very much for it. I think it is as needed as foster to adopt. I know there are different crosses and sufferings with private adoption. At this point, that is just not what we are being called to.