A year ago today our journey as West Virginia foster parents came to an end. A year ago today we stood in front of the judge one last time surrounded by family, friends, caseworkers both old and new, Birth to Three workers, and lawyers as we welcomed our youngest daughter into our forever family. As we slowly crawled our way towards adoption day I started posting a countdown on my Facebook page. These posts would eventually lead me to start my blog. This blog contains those posts. As they popped up in my news feed this past week I could not help but remember the excitement that filled the air the days leading up to her adoption day. We were excited about her becoming forever ours and we were excited about our big move. Our car was packed and ready for the move as soon as the adoption was complete. I hope you enjoy a look back to our Countdown to Sadie’s Adoption Day.
A mother carries a child for 9 months. In that time she discovers things about herself as she falls in love with this tiny blessing from God. 9 is now the number that makes up my beautiful chaos. We have 9 more days till baby peanut is officially forever ours. Yesterday she turned 9 months old and she has been with us the whole time. And while I did not carry her in my womb I have carried her in my heart always. She was our daughter even before we knew each other for she was part of Gods bigger plan. As we close our journey in foster care through WV with her adoption I find my heart sad in some ways. I have grown through this experience for the better and will miss all those who have been there cheering us on. I will miss all the friends we have made along this crazy and sometimes frustrating ride. Thanks for the laughs, the words of encouragement and shoulders to cry on. I can only hope and pray that we were able to make a positive difference in a few lives as we move on to our next chapter. I am grateful for all the kiddos that now call me mom, momma C, or aunt Crissy. And if its Gods will who knows maybe down the road we will foster in Tennessee but for now 9 is a beautiful number.
8 days to go
There are now 8 photos that line our staircase. One from our wedding day and one of each of our seven children. Before our foster care days were over in WV we worked with 8 different caseworkers, a few we have had the privilege to work with multiple times over our foster care journey. The turnover rate for a social worker is high so having only 8 over the years is a miracle, I know a few families who have had three or four different workers on just one placement so we are thankful. Some of the workers have moved on to different jobs, some have since retired but I am grateful for the work they did at those moments in our children’s lives. Without them we would not be the family we are today. I heard horror stories about caseworkers not caring about the kids on their caseloads and while I am sure that happens, I am thankful we got to work with some of the best and I am honored to now call a few of these ladies my friend. I will never to able to thank them for everything they have done for our family.
We have 7 days until this beautiful blessing from God is forever ours. The number that in the Bible is identified with completion. Next Monday we will forever be the parents of 7 beautiful children. The number 7 has very biblical means. There were 7 pairs of clean animals on the Ark, 7 churches represent completeness of the body of Christ, Jesus told Peter (us) to forgive a wrongdoer 70 times 7. I could go on and on. 7 is a powerful number. The number that will complete our family and complete our journey in foster care. God has blessed us more than we deserve and more than we ever imagined. Our lives changed forever when we stepped out in faith and decided to follow Gods plan for us. We have lost friends and gained new ones. We get strange looks and hear nasty comments when we are out with our crew but none of that matters. We are blessed. God placed these precious children in our hands to raise as our own and there are not enough words to ever tell Him how thankful we are. To God be the glory.
After my divorce I went back to college and took courses in human services/social work. I dreamed of changing the world saving young lives daily as a social worker. I finished my associates shortly after marrying my now husband Todd. I started looking at going farther on with my dream when something hit me. One night as clear as day God spoke to me and said “My child I have shown you what my children go through so you now know, but you are to be on the other side of this. Protect those that come to you. Love them as I love you.” I got up and told Todd what had happened. We talked about it and without hesitation we decided to look into becoming foster parents. In August 2010 we started are PRIDE TRAINING CLASS. In November we were an approved foster home. We had our first placement before we received our certificates in the mail. 6 years ago my life was on a different path to help area kids. So thankful for a husband and older children who knew we had to step out in faith and follow Gods plan for our family.
5 days to go
5 the number of children we will have adopted through foster care come Monday. And while we have been blessed to add these precious little loves to our family many overlook the heartache and loss we have also experienced. We have fostered close to 20 long term placements in our 6 yrs. That means we have said goodbye to 15 children that at some point in time called us mom and dad. That means our kids have said goodbye to brothers and sisters. My heart still hurts for the ones that did not end up part of our forever family. But thanks to social media I can still see most of them through photos or read stories about them that their forever families share. We will all forever be connected because of the children that have past through our home. I am thankful for that. The downside (if there is such a thing) with being blessed with our adoption of 5 is the judgmental looks and negative reaction we get. Instead of people being happy for us and the kids we hear things such as “Must be nice you get to adopt as many as you want”, “They must pay you a lot of money for you to take in THAT many”, “If you can pick which ones you want why get one with special needs” Some of my personal favorites “It must be nice being the DHHR favorite” and “Surly they could find other homes for those kids your house is already full” , or “You don’t have to hog all the kids share some with the rest of us” and of course the “I could never foster I would love them to much and not want to give them back” yes these are all things we have heard on more than one occasion. Seriously!?!? Do we look like a cold hearted, baby hogging, money hungry people who have no feeling for the kids after they are removed? If you think so then you don’t know us at all. The fact of the matter is there are thousands and thousands of kids in foster care right now and not enough homes to place them. My heart breaks every time a child is removed and placed back with their family or placed with their forever home. They all hold a piece of my heart. Yes the system is awful at best sometimes and the kids are the ones that get jerked around and overlooked but don’t think for a minute that they are just a pay check or pawn to those who open their hearts and homes to give them, even if for a moment, the feeling of what it’s like to be part of a family. If God has placed it on your heart to become a foster family do not give up. Your forever child(ren) are out there. They may not be your 1st placement, 2 placement or even your 10th placement but if He called you to do it He has a plan for you. Don’t get discouraged by what is happening in other families, like I’ve said the system is not always far, but what you are doing for these kids is life changing. If your not a foster parent don’t judge those that are, you have know idea how hard it is to bring in a scared child in the middle of the night, deal with the court system, the visits, the birth parents, and the looks. Instead be supportive, pray for them, love them, and love the kids. Don’t judge them.
4 the number of my babies that were born with drugs in their systems. You watch as they go through withdrawals just as an adult would. The shaking, the screaming, the sleepless nights, and the delays in development.Then there are the unknown side effects that can happen down the road. How will the drugs affect them later in life? Countless drugs in their tiny systems that they did not ask for but must face the challenges handed to them anyway. Day by day we take them head on our kids are amazing.
4 is also the number of siblings that will get to grow up together. 4 of our children come from the same birth mom. She also has an older daughter that was adopted out before we came into the picture. Out of the 4 there are multiple birth father’s who all have additional children with other women. If you add up all the half siblings from all the different dad’s and add in the 4 we have the total number of siblings/half siblings is 18, or so we have been told. Let that sink in. My children have 14 half siblings they will never know, never get to love, never talk to, never see. So of course when the caseworker on call called us out of nowhere nine months ago to take baby peanut in we said yes. It was not about needing another baby fix it was about keeping a sibling group together. We feel siblings belong together if it is possible. Is it hard having five kids under the age of six, yes, yes it is sometimes. There are days all I want to do is find a quite spot in my room drink a cold Dr Pepper and eat a snickers bar that I’ve hid so no one would find. (Hey moms need snacks too lol) But I would not change a thing. We would did it all over again. Our Family is everything to us.
3 day to go
When I was in my early 30’s I found myself divorced and a single mom of two. After years of being told I was not good enough, pretty enough or smart enough to do anything with my life I found myself believing these things to be true. How was I suppose to take care of my kids when I was nothing? I prayed and looked for answers. That’s when my momma senses kicked in to overdrive. It was the 3 of us. I had to be good enough I had no choice. Sie, Dev and I survived the darkest time in my life. I was perfectly fine with just the 3 of us I didn’t want a man/husband, my focus was my children. But you see God has a way of giving us just what we need when we don’t realize we need it. That’s when God (with Sierras help) reintroduced me to Todd. Our happy little family of 3 became our happy 3 plus 1. Looking back I never pictured my life would turn out so full of love and laughter, and never dreamed I would be the mom of seven precious kids. After living in darkness and a loveless place for so long, I never thought I would be so loved or wanted but God knew. I am thankful for that. Come Monday I will officially be momma to my 3rd beautiful daughter and that is a wonderful feeling. We all go through storms in life. We have the choice to let the storm take over and make us feel worthless or miserable or we can ride out the storm and chase the rainbow on the other side. Life is to beautiful not to enjoy it.
2 days to go
2 the number of adoptions we have went through up till this point. Our first adoption was Sept 21, 2013. Todd and I were on our way to Walmart in early July 2013 when our lawyer called to give us the news about our adoption date. We were so excited. From the time JR was placed with us (5 yrs ago yesterday)( Elissa came 4 months later) the whole process took over 2 and a half years. There were many ups and downs. JR was extremely sick, the visits with the birth parents, Dr appts, court hearings, improvement periods, trips to Pittsburgh for JR’s surgeries, the list goes on and on. So when we heard we finally had a date we were thrilled. We talked and decided not to foster anymore. 2 kids plus our 2 older kids gave us 4 and four was a nice round number. Then God steps in, got to love how He works. Todd was at Wednesday night church and we got a call for a baby boy. My heart wanted to say yes but I told the worker no because Todd and i had just had the “no more kids” talk less than a week before. When I got off the phone I had an overwhelmingly sad feeling come over me. I prayed for the baby to be placed in a safe home and tried to go on with my evening. By the time Todd made it home I was a mess. He asked me what was wrong am I told him. Then he does the unthinkable he told me to call the worker back and tell her we would take the baby in. It was 1030 at night so I said I would call in the morning, after all it was a baby I was sure someone was loving him by then. I made it till 8 the next morning before calling. I had never called back, in fact this was the one and only time I did. I left a message on the workers phone saying something like ” Hey if by some small chance you didn’t find baby boy a home bring him to us we will take him”. That was Thursday. My phone rang Friday afternoon it was the worker she asked if we were serious about taking him and I said yes. I was expecting a 6 to 9 month old baby what we got was a 2 day old newborn straight from the hospital. We start getting use to having a baby in the house and three weeks later my phone rings again. This time they ask if I have JR but use is birth giving name. When I said yes they said great we have his little brother with us now. We will see you around 430. When the workers showed up they handed me a 3 week old little guy. Giving us what many people nicknamed “the twins” because they are only 8 days apart. The new additions joined us in the courtroom for the adoption of Elissa and JR . And then last year we adopted the boys together on June 21st. Making their adoption process 2 years long. At their adoption we knew we were done 6 kids is a great round number. But by now you all know that when they called us in September with yet another sibling to our crew we opened our hearts one more time and said yes. God’s plans for us are so much greater and better than what we could ever imagine. If we would have stuck to what we planned we would not have our 2 youngest boys and baby girl would not be here. Life is full of surprises and beautiful blessings. Many have judged us and flat out told us not to take in only more kids. The truth be told Todd and I are the ones who make that decision and when God says we are done we will be. For now we will love our beautiful 7. We all know 7 is a nice round number
1 more day.
Todd came up with a saying early on in our foster care journey. “What’s one more” We have run into several people that have asked us, why did you take in so many kids why not stop at one or two. Our answer, what’s one more. Our hearts have plenty of love to go around. When we started we had a three bedroom home that had an office over the master bedroom. After a few years we realized we needed not only a bigger house but also a bigger yard. God blessed us and we bought a bigger house that had a huge yard. We were there less than 1 month before it was full with little ones. That year we had calls for over 152 placements (children) but simply did not have room. How sad is that? So many kids in need but all we could do is pray for them and hope they were placed in a good foster home or group home. At some point you realize that it is possible to love more that just 1 or 2 kids at the same time. Our kids are our everything. Todd’s job has now landed him in Tennessee which is were we will be moving after baby girls adoption is complete tomorrow. This will bring our journey in foster care in WV to a close. We are not sure what Tennessee holds for us, but we are looking forward to the new adventure. And who knows maybe just maybe somewhere down the road God will look at us and say, “Whats one more” one more time. Guess we will have to wait and see.
It’s still hard to believe its been a year already. We spent over six years as foster parents in WV. We had 20 children in and out of our home, five of those little loves now forever call me mom. There are hundreds of thousands of children in foster care today, with more coming in daily. Many are waiting to be adopted by a loving family. Our little loves spent a total of 104 months or 462 weeks or 3,237 days in the foster care system. We were blessed to be their only homes. We have had children come in our homes and we were their sixth or seventh home that year. How sad is that? If you have ever thought about becoming a foster parent now is the time. Pray about it and if God still places the desire on your heart call you local DHHR or DCS or a local foster care agency or simply ask a foster parent how they got started. Become someone’s chance at a brighter tomorrow.
From our beautiful chaos to yours allow God to open the doors He wants you to walk through and when He wants to close that door He will open another one for you to go through