I am getting both excited and nervous. I am closing in on the end of what will hopefully be my first book. I still have a few finishing touches and it will need to be sent off to editing before it goes to publishing (I hope) but I am excited. I never thought I would get this far, I am after all not a writer I am just a simple country girl. But the idea that our story, our journey through foster care and adoption could possibly become a book is CRAZY!!!!!!
Now I find myself asking questions like: “What if it sucks” “What if I can’t find a publisher willing to help?” “Will anyone want to read it?” “What if its a total failure?” “How will I fund the book?” “What if people find the book too simple?” So many questions but still I’m excited.
I’m excited because I never saw myself as anything other than a mom. I have enjoyed putting our adventure in foster care and adoption on paper. I have enjoyed reliving our process and revisiting some almost forgotten memories.
If I wrote the book and no one reads it other than my children when they are old enough I will consider myself successful. After all it is their story as much as mine. Below is the start of my book. I hope you enjoy. Let me know what you think, put my nerves to rest one way or another.
From our beautiful chaos to yours always follow your dreams.
Today is like any other day at the house. Our five-year-old daughter is sitting at the table hard at work on her ABC’s. Three out of four boys are running around playing with the numerous cars and airplanes we have collected over the past few years. Our oldest son is still at marching band practice while our oldest daughter is away at college. The phone rings. It’s my husband, letting me know he will be a few minutes late getting in from work, there was an early run in the morning and his boss asked him to stay late to help load the trucks. Our newest addition to the house, a tiny four-week-old baby girl, sleeps soundly in her crib. There are dishes in the sink that need to be washed and clothes in the rocking chair that need to be folded. The living room floor is covered in wooden puzzle pieces and Lego’s. Looking at the house it’s hard to believe I once was OCD about these type of things. At one point in my life I made sure all the books were in alphabetical order on the bookshelf and that the clean clothes were put away promptly after being washed. Nowadays if the books are in the bookshelf and not strung across the floor I am grateful. As for the laundry, it seldom makes it’s way out of the clean laundry basket. My priorities have changed. I have changed.
It’s time to start dinner while the little ones are distracted by the cartoons on TV. Thanks to Mickey Mouse I will have about thirty minutes to throw dinner together. This is our life. This is our beautiful chaos, as we have named it. Never dull, never boring, always changing, and always busy. This is our story. This is how we became a forever family through foster care. Our journey step by step as it unfolded. Through the up’s and downs of foster care all the way through the wonders of adoption this is how our family came to be. It’s a story about our faith in God and how He guided us every step of the way. It is not a journey many people understand or choose to take, but it was the journey God chose for us. Every child, every tear, every smile, and every fear has made us the family we are today.
Three Plus One
The start of Our Story
Family is not an important thing, it’s everything.
-Michael J. Fox
My husband, Todd, and I attended the same high school. We are part of the graduating class of 1994. We were in some of the same classes, had the same lunch, he played football and I sang in the show choir. We were good friends however we never dated in school. I had a boyfriend so he never asked me out. We lived in a small town outside of Charleston, West Virginia. Our hometown was so small there no stoplights back then (there are only two stoplights now). There is something special about growing up in a small town. Friday nights were played out at the football field and Sunday mornings were spent in church, everyone knew their neighbors, and children played outside after dark. It was that kind of town. We went through our four years making the most of the high school experience. We shared laughs, gave each other dating advice and shared the occasional English assignment answers. When time came, we graduated and went on with our lives in separate directions. He quickly joined the military and I married my high school boyfriend and started a family. Todd and I didn’t see or talk again for 14 years. Strange how God works things out.
I won’t bore you with all the details about those 14 years for our story starts in 2008. That’s the year I found myself divorced and a newly single mom of two children. My daughter Sierra was 13 and my son Devin was 10. My life was broken. I had been with their father since I was fifteen. What in the world was I going to do now? I was lost with only two choices: I could let the divorce define me as a person or I could overcome it and be a survivor. The choice was clear, I had to survive, if not for myself then for my kids. With help from a few family members I was able to find a townhouse in the area to rent. It was nothing like the house we were use to but it did have everything we needed. Staying in the area meant my kids could stay in their schools. They were dealing with enough because of the divorce, changing schools and leaving their friends was not something I wanted for them.
And so, it began. The last few years of my marriage had been a struggle that left me and the kids by ourselves many nights but now we were on our own. The three of us. We were all scared of the unknown, of what the future had in store, but one thing was certain we were safe, we had survived. We had each other and that was all that mattered.
I had no intention of dating or even talking to anyone at that point in my life. Let’s face it I knew nothing about how to date in my thirties, the last date I had been on I was fifteen. I felt beat down, unwanted and ugly. I had been told for years I was not pretty enough or good enough for anyone and I believed it. Plus, I felt a little old to be dating. Besides who would date someone with kids? I know it sounds crazy now, but at the time that’s what was going through my mind. My focus, my drive was my children. Only my children. They were the reason I had found the courage to leave an abusive husband. They were the reason I woke up in the mornings those first few months after the divorce. They were the reason I decided to take online classes to finish up my degree. Everything I did was for them. It’s always been about them, not me. Little did I know God was working on something far bigger than I ever imagined.
A few months went by and the kids and I were adjusting well. We were getting use to our new normal life. We were in a routine: going to school, going to taekwondo practice, going to church, visits with grandparents and every other week my son was at his dad’s. We were making the best out of a bad situation. I was trying to keep their lives as normal as possible to make things easier on them. My daughter was a typical teen, and she came to me one day after school wanting to know if she could have a MySpace account. Not being the most computer savvy mom around I had no idea what MySpace was but agreed to look into it. After some research, I agreed she could have one, only if I could monitor it, yes, I was (and still am) a helicopter mom. I let her set up an account and I also set up my own account this way I could keep watch over her. She added me as a friend and all was great. She was happy and that made me happy. I eventually added a few close friends and family members to my account. I was still dealing with the aftermath of the divorce so it was a nice having everyone just a message away.
One day after checking up on my daughter’s page, I was scrolling through some profiles on my page and stumbled across a page for my old high school. Our class presidents had set up a reunion page so people could talk about and give suggestions on upcoming events. Can you guess who I found on that page? If you guessed Todd, then you would be correct. I thought it was him but years had passed so, like a teenage schoolgirl, I sent him a message saying something like ” Hey this is Crystal, I think we had English together. If you remember me I would love to catch up so add me if not ignore this.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that was the line that started our beautiful chaos off. How crazy is that? He did respond, quickly I might add, and we had a good laugh. We started sending messages back and forth. For the first time in years.
Meanwhile my daughter was trying to get me to date or at least get out and meet people. She was tired of seeing me as she put it, unhappy. Todd was also starting to ask if we could go out or if he could meet the kids. I told them both no. I did not want to go through a relationship again, after all the first one did not work out so well for me. I was not about messing up my life or my kids’ life again. Besides I was completely fine with the way things were. However, my daughter was not taking no for an answer. She had a friend and the girl’s parents had a friend that everyone agreed I had to meet. He was single, had a motorcycle, and recently back from serving over in Iraq. Every woman’s dream, right? Sierra insisted I meet up with him and at least go out to dinner. I turned her and her friend’s parents down time after time. My heart told me if I was going to go out on a date with anyone it was going to be Todd. After all we had been talking, well messaging back and forth. Plus, I kind of knew him since we had gone to school together. He seemed to be the safest choice, not this motorcycle riding man everyone was eager for me to go out with. I finally broke down and told Sierra that I had been talking to someone on MySpace. I told her that he was wanting us to go out for dinner but if her and her brother were not ok with it then I would call it off. Shockingly they were both excited that mom was talking to someone and wanted to know who he was, what was he like, does he have kids, and about a hundred other questions. That’s when I showed them Todd’s picture, thanks to his profile page. Sierra bursts into laughter with tears of joy running down her face and yells, “That’s Him! That’s the guy I’ve been trying to get you to go out with!” She was all smiles, and my heart was strangely at ease. What are the chances of that happening? I mean seriously what are the chances? Chance had nothing to do with it, this was God, all God. Only He could work out our paths so that we could be reunited. It’s funny how God used social media and my daughter to bring us back together. He can use anything to make sure His plan happens. So, after I calmed down my overly joyful daughter I sent Todd a message and agreed to have dinner. And with that, Todd and I went out. Our first date he included my kids. We all went out on his friend’s boat. We picked up right where we left off. He even confessed that back in high school he had a crush on me but never acted on it because I had a boyfriend. He joked that now that I was divorced he could finally ask me out. And that made him happy. Our friendship grow into love and one day in early August 2009 we became husband and wife and our family became our “Three plus one.”