Thursday, November 1, 2012

It is Finished!


Love never fails

1Cor 13:8

Facts and Figures
               Finalization is the word used for the adoption being complete. The more and more I get into this journey I realize the separation of language between those who have been through this process and those who have not. Finalization means it is finished! This is the last hearing you will ever go to and there will be no more social worker visits after this. During the finalization hearing they make you take an oath to treat your adopted child like they are a biological child with all the rights, inheritances, and privileges that brings. You finish by signing some papers and getting your picture taken with the judge.
         Truly it's an amazing moment when you're saying the vow of adoption. I believe that it's so apart of heaven to be about adoption. We as ones who follow God are adopted into His family. The bond of adoption is stronger in many ways then that of biology. In the eyes of the state when you have adopted you have been permanently glued to this child forever and nothing but severe circumstances can break that bond.
        After the final hearing your lawyer will give you official papers showing the completion of adoption but you won't get the birth certificate for some time. Once all this is over you can breathe and celebrate the completion of such an amazing journey that brought you to this point. 

Thoughts and Journal Entries
June 2012 

   At the beginning this month it was a time of enjoying the summer days. I've been praying in the work and God has been faithful to bring in what we need. Sometimes it feels like this process of adoption is never going to end but I remember the Lord told me June so I'm hoping I heard right. My roommate told me that she's going to be moving out July 1st which really is putting me in a bind because I don't know if we will be able to find someone to sublet the room for 2 months. I really feel like I will be moving back to Redding in August.

  Finally it came the letter that I was waiting for. The Friday before the 25th of June we got a letter saying that the 25th was our finalization day! It's here! I can't believe it it's over! God did it. We went to court on the 25th and I didn't even think of bringing someone with me to tape it but my agency social worker showed up so she took pictures and taped it. It was the quickest ceremony ever. I think the whole thing took maybe 10 minutes. I think after all this waiting at least the ceremony was quick.
  I can't believe that it finished so fast. It seems like it's been quick but maybe it's not been as quick as I think. I feel lots of relief from this being over. Now we can move into our next season. I know we will be moving but I'm not sure when. I'd love to take a vacation now that I don't have to fill out paperwork to leave the country that would be nice to just hop on a plane and do some traveling. Oh, the dreams I have. I couldn't be more excited and proud to have the most amazing beautiful daughter in the whole world.  I don't know what our life will look like in the future but I know that it will be together. No matter what this little girl will be with me. God is so faithful in everything!

Summer Fun!
1/2 Christmas party
It is finished she's officially a Foos!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Month of Waiting

Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
 Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:30-31

Facts and Figures
   In this month's section I wanted to talk a little bit about WIC. If you aren't familiar with it it's a food stamp program for Women, Infants, and Children here in California. Foster parent's aren't eligible for the program but foster children are. Basically it's a form of welfare to ensure that children in the US are being fed. At the beginning of this process no one explained the program to me other then this is the name and you get checks for food so, here's my journey in discovering how the program was run.

  I have never been in a welfare office before having Bella and I didn't know what to expect. Back in March when I got her I followed the recommendation of my social worker and got her enrolled WIC. I wasn't sure what I was doing because there was no information on how the program worked or what I needed or where I needed to go.

   Because I got her after she was born I didn't have the program or requirements explained to me. The lack of communication was horrible. When I went in I got her checks for formula and went to cash them at a local store. I didn't know it had to be a specific brand. So, I went and looked into the ingredients for the formula that they paid for. I don't know about you but I've grown up in a bit of a health food family so I know what I'm looking for. I have an education and I consider myself pretty smart when it comes food knowledge.  The only formulas that WIC would pay for had the first two ingredients as corn syrup and processed sugar. I almost blew a lid. We fight so hard against being over weight in this country and there right in front of me was 2 ingredients that were proven to cause obesity in children. As you go through the government programs it's hard to not think they are targeting the lower class with foods that can lead to health problems especially with lack of education and information of said products.

 I just kept thinking about all the drug exposed children who were being fed this less then nutritious formula. Why aren't we giving them the best that we have instead of our worst? I went back to WIC and I talked with them about changing the formula to organic or goats milk formula or breast milk anything that is healthier. They literally told me that all of them were the same and it didn't make any difference. They suggested I try soy and I knew at that moment they had no idea. If you're out there reading this and thinking why are these ingredients so bad I dare you to look them up do research about the effects of soy, processed sugar, and corn syrup what you find might change your health forever. I have to make a disclaimer right here. I'm not the healthiest person in the world but I am aware of my choices and when I choose something unhealthy at least I know what I'm choosing.

So, I didn't get any formula from WIC after all and bought the organic stuff on my own, if I could have afforded it I would have bought breast milk but it was out of my budget. Eventually at 6 months they started giving me baby food on my checks which I could buy Earth's Best with which I was so grateful for. At 12 months they were still giving her baby food and I had to request they give me checks for solid foods because she was already eating table food at that point. Now we are getting $6 worth of fruits and veggies, beans, bread, eggs, cheese, cereal, and TONS of milks I'm talking 4 gallons a month. I'm getting so much whole milk in her checks that I've literally been dumping it down the drain because there's nothing else I can do with it. I've tried giving it away but everyone I know is either on WIC too and has too much milk themselves or I have friends who don't drink milk. As soon as I took Bella off the bottle she stopped drinking milk so then I even had more then before.

I want you to hear my heart on this matter, I think WIC is a great program but I feel like it's really out of touch with reality and it's wasting money where it could be saving. Instead of giving so much whole milk later why don't they put that gallon or two of milk money towards buying organic formula. I usually never get involved in politics but I want to say to those people who believe that people on welfare are fat lazy people without the will to look for a job that is incorrect. Usually people who need food stamps are foster children and single mothers and most those mothers are working and still can't make enough to feed their family. If you haven't been to the bottom don't judge those who have you don't know until you've been there. I've been around a lot of single parents who the only way they can get food on the table is through the food stamp program and they work.

When we talk politics we have to think about the children. Even with this program I heard just recently that children are starving all over the place in the US. Come on people think, children can't work they need our support and help. While I believe there are holes in the system I'm still grateful for it. I know when I've been in the WIC office many times I've felt the shame and poverty of those around me. It's degrading to have to ask for the government to feed your children it doesn't feel good. Many times I wanted to tell people I'm just a foster parent I'm not here because I can't buy food but I kept my mouth shut because I wanted to feel what it was like to have people assume things about me that weren't true. We can't judge others for how they buy their food. The first time I cashed my check in at Ralphs I didn't know what I could or couldn't buy so I got all this healthy stuff and the cashier had to return it all. The lady behind me got super mad at me while I was standing there handing the guy my checks she huffed out of the line and into another one. I felt humiliated really, it does take a lot longer for the cashier to go through all your checks and make sure you got all the correct products. I never went back to the Ralphs to cash my checks again.

The point of all this is that we can't assume things about people. That day I felt the poverty, the class separation, and the lack of support. I felt in that day what I'm sure many single mothers feel many times over as they go through those check out lines just trying to feed their family. The next time you see someone paying with food stamps have grace for them and thank God that we have a country that is able and willing to provide our children with food.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
May 2012 

     It's been a long anxious wait. I woke on the first of May with this overwhelming sense that I needed to call the lawyer. I made the call and found out that she was waiting for me to call her back. Initially she called me the day after I called her in April but because I was out of range with my cell I didn't get the call and of course she didn't leave a voicemail. So I hired her and the fountain of paperwork began. I had to send her money and I had the money but it was designated to paying my car payment. I've made my car payment every month on time and beyond the minimum for over 2 years now. My room mate at the time suggested I call them and ask if they can tag the payment on to the end of my loan. I called and I'm telling you I got the worst service ever! They basically told me I would have to pay double my payment in 2 weeks because I couldn't prove I had steady work. I had to decide to finish adopting my child or make the car payment. It was one of those moments where I thought is humanity really this heartless? There was no grace just law but I chose to pay the lawyer.

 After I made that decision it was as if God said ok you stepped out in faith so here's the provision. I ended up paying my car payment only 2 days late. God always provides for His children when they are going after what is in His heart. After all that there was paperwork back and forth for the remainder of that month. I however had no idea how long it would take. Just thinking about how far God has brought us through this journey I'm in awe that I'm standing here in this moment. Here's the breakthrough for this land releasing the spirit of adoption through adopting my daughter.

 While the waiting is going on my mind is completely racing into our next season. I know with all my heart as soon as I know the date of the finalization of adoption the transition will begin. I feel God telling me to rest and be anxious for nothing so I'm trying with all my might to hold on to that. I'm more then excited to change seasons because with it will come great freedom. I know I'm moving from a desert season to a promise land season. The season of the desert is where God provides for everything and the season of the promise land is the co-laboring with God to conquer the promises. I'm ready for the land full of milk and honey!

 This month I finally got my book published "Encountering God Through Soaking". I'm excited to see what God does with this new chapter of our adventure!

Cinco de Mayo celebration downtown LA

Momma's Day at the beach!

First ice cream cone of the summer!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Time to Sign


‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
‘ Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven. 
Matthew 6:9
Facts and Figures
       When foster children are placed in adoptive homes, after rights have been terminated, and after the appeal period of 70 days without an appeal passes then, you can sign adoption papers. Here's why I like agencies to be involved, my agency was very careful when it came to signing adoption papers. Once adoption papers are signed you no longer get support from the agency meaning they don't come for visits anymore and won't be able to advocate for you. County sometimes will try and make you sign adoption papers before the 70 day waiting period is up but the rush could really get hopes high and if something goes wrong at this point it could get pretty messy.

   I've met many foster parents in passing who have gotten certified directly through Department of County and Family Services and from what I've gathered their process for foster care and then adoption is quite different. Through my agency I went through being approved for foster care and adoption at the same time which in the long run saves you time. Through the county you are only approved for foster care and then if you want to adopt you have to go through more paperwork at that point. Signing adoption papers means that you have now started the finalization process. It's truly amazing how much paperwork is involved but it's really worth it.

   At the time when you sign the paperwork you get every piece of paper that the county has on your child and birth family. Basically they hand you their entire file on every paper filled and every report written. The information you will find in there is birth family history, any found medical information, original birth certificate, birth records, and reports on case progress. There maybe information in there that wasn't originally stated by your county social worker for example, I didn't know that my daughter had a middle name. I had asked but the social worker had said there was none to be found. Because I renamed her I would have liked to know her middle name so as to consider it in her final legal name. At this point it was too late the new birth certificate paperwork was in the works and I wasn't allowed to add her middle name.

 Also going over the new stack of paperwork you will find out information on the birth parents that you didn't know about. This can help in putting together some of the pieces of the puzzle. It's hard to know what happened to your child before they came to you. If you are like me I wanted to know everything so I could get a picture of what she came out of to see if later in life any behaviors manifest. It's not guaranteed if you get a baby from the foster system that they won't come with behavior problems later. I believe it's important to be informed so that you can be prepared. Who knows whether it's nurture verses nature, I happen to believe it's both and you can give your child skills to combat their nature side if it's behaviors that are commonly seen in their birth family.

 If we are talking about it from a faith perspective we can see where coming into agreement with the wrong kingdom can bring curses that can manifest for generations to come. An example of this is Cain, he came into agreement with the wrong kingdom by killing his brother and he was cursed as well as his children and children's children. When we have children placed in our homes it's important to know past generational behaviors so that we can pray it through and see Jesus bring redemption. For every curse there's a blessing and when the curse is broken the blessings are released. "Where sin abound grace much more abounds," Romans 5:20. For some great information on this I recommend listening to Arthur Burk his series in redemptive gifts. I'll put the link below. We are people who are facing down the orphan spirit and saying that theses children are legitimate sons and daughters with all the rights and inheritances that birth children get so we must understand that when they are manifesting anger or fear that the love that we aim towards them will break the chains of injustice in their lives. Getting the whole picture is important and signing adoption papers is coming into agreement with the spirit of adoption which I believe is the heart of Father God.

website for Arthur Burk:

Thoughts and Journal Entries
April 2012 

    I can't believe it's finally here the step before the final step. As I was signing the adoption papers I kept thinking about how far we have come. The first time I saw my daughter so tiny and screaming, I had no idea what I was doing. I remember wondering why she was fine on one bottle and the other it seemed like she kept spitting it out a friend of mine said to me what flow level are you using for the nipple on the bottle, what's a flow level? So, many fast learning curves for me, I didn't have the 9 months of preparation though it did take me about 9 months to finish my certification. I don't even remember what she looked like or how tiny she was I just couldn't believe someone had given me a whole human being to take care of. Now it's finished, no more social worker (except county once a month till the adoption is finalized) no more reports or court hearings. It's almost surreal really thinking that it's almost done this journey that I started a year ago.

  In the paperwork that I got handed after signing I found out a lot about the birth parents and family I didn't know before it really helps me to know where she came from. I'm beyond overjoyed to be here in this moment knowing that there was no way that I have gotten here with out the favor of God. The day that I signed the adoption papers I called an attorney. I don't have the finances yet to hire one but I want this to be finished quickly so we can move back up north. The attorney never answered or called back but I know that it will all end soon I can feel it.

  The day after signing the adoption papers I went to my senior pastors wedding which I feel was a sign of the season shift. It was so far away that my phone stopped working I'm hoping that the attorney will leave me a message if she calls back.

  This month was full of fun moments, Easter, wedding, we went to the zoo for the first time, Bella's friend's first birthday, signing adoption papers, many beach days, my friend from England hung out with us and I did a random video shoot for our church. Who says life isn't full of adventure! I didn't get as much work as I was hoping for but I'm determined to get my book out and I'm hoping that filing taxes (though I have to extend them) will bring in some finances for us.

Fun story about Bella's Easter dress, I forgot I had a gift card to children's place from her birthday and so when it came time to buy her dress I didn't know how I was going to pay for it. Then I remembered I had the card and we went in and found an amazing dress, shoes, and hair band all at the perfect price. I even had 15$ left over on the card that I came back later to use because they had this crazy sale that if I spent a certain amount I would get a discount I ended up probably buying over a hundred dollars worth of clothing and only spending 15$ out of pocket. God is so amazing!

  Another quick story about the zoo, I had really been feeling like I wanted to take Bella to the zoo but it's kinda pricey, my friend heard I wanted to go and found us all tickets for so cheap. Every time I put something before the Lord He answers me. He doesn't just give us what we need He gives us the desires of our hearts! Even if we think it's the smallest thing He hears it and His desire is to give us everything we want and need because He's a good Father!
My Easter baby

Signing Papers!

Zoo time


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life Book

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 
John 10:10
Facts and Figures

        In my foster class they talked briefly about life books. I'm going to assume that you my audience don't know what a life book is and for those of you who do I still hope you find this helpful. A life book is basically a book/ photo album/ scrap book that you make for your foster or adopted child. It holds pictures and memories. For foster children it's important because if they are shuffled around a lot (which they don't do as much anymore) it helps them remember their story.
  For adopted children it's a way to tell and show them their story. I've read many blogs about this. I had a month of really battling how I was going to tell my daughter her story. I believe that it's different for foster children then other children who are adopted. Fundamentally their story comes from a place or point of the parents making poor choices. The stories of children adopted from other nations is either birthed out of economic tragedy, natural disasters, or instability in their nation. Those to me are massive issues that effect their entire nation. For foster children I feel (and this maybe wrong) but that their story is more micro then macro if that makes sense.
 I've really been struggling with how to tell my daughter her story. How do I make her feel accepted and loved without tying love to rejection? I love story, I'm in the process of writing a trilogy now but telling this particular story is stumping me. I've really googled all the different thoughts I've had searching for how to explain the beginning. I am grateful to be able to put God in the picture and show her how much from the beginning He pursued her and kept her safe. Still how do I tell her her story? I've looked for children's books on adoption but many of them talk about father and mother, going to another nation, or they couldn't have babies ect but that's not our story.

   I was told life books began because in the 80's the social workers where taught that if a foster family was starting to get too attached to their foster child the child needed to be removed. Now we understand how ludicrous this idea is. This idea actually created many unattached children and because of that behaviors manifested and that got them into trouble later in life. These kids were not staying attached to their past or who they were or what their story was. Story is important it brings us identity, understanding, and value. So, they started telling foster parents to make books or keep photo albums for the kids so as they went from house to house or back into their birth parents home they had their history. It helps them stay attached.
 With adopted children, in the past, parents had hidden that they were adopted. If they looked enough like the adopted parents, they thought it was best they didn't know. Finding out later in life you are adopted has some serious consequences for relationship with your adopted family. Teens or adults would hold major grudges against their adopted family feeling betrayed and lied to. Because of this foster/adoption agencies have adopted (no pun intended) the idea that from the beginning you tell your child they are adopted. All of course based on age appropriate language and understanding level.

 All adopted children are going to be curious about their birth family it's natural. That's why personally I keep as many pictures as I can of Bellas birth family because I know she's going to want to know who she looks like. Even though we don't know birth father we do have pictures that can help.

Here are a couple helpful tips I've read about:

- When telling your child their story never say "Your birth mother loved you but she had to give you up" The child associates love with abandonment. Say something to the effect of "Your birth mother wanted you to have the best life you could so she gave you to us because she knew we would be able to take care of you."( for me though I have a problem slightly with this because foster children aren't really "given up".)

- One thing I heard a speaker say once was explaining to the child that " when we are children we are always learning and as we grow older we start learning big people things but some big people don't learn big people things like how to take care of a baby so they have to give the baby to someone who knows how to take care of babies." I like this explanation because it makes it really innocent and it's truly the reason.

- Of course never make birth parents out to be bad people. Your child will identify with them on some level. Making them out to be bad people will only make your child feel like they are bad and there can be shame introduced.

- Other advice is, start the story of their adoption young. Don't wait till they are older and never use the adoption word as a point of shame but associate it with celebration.

- I plan on celebrating not only birthday but adoption day as well. How special will a child feel if they get 2 days a year where they are celebrated?!

- Always be honest with your child and you don't overload them at the beginning just slowly over the years answer their questions as they come.

- Get adoption books that tell the stories of how your family was formed and even surround yourselves with families that have adopted children. Having a community that celebrates adoption is so valuable!

- Another piece of advice was never tell your child because of economic hardship they were given up for adoption. If anything happens to you as a family financially they will assume they are going to be given up.

- Make it fun for them to hear their story. Read or tell their story often make it a point of great celebration for them.

 These are some of the helpful tips I've heard along the way. I'm sure there are many more. I still don't know how I'm going to tell her her story to be honest. I don't have the security in my story telling abilities to not to want to tell her everything at once. She's still small enough where I can think about it and write it out. A friend of mine suggested doing a Shutterfly album and that might be a great way to keep it in book form.

If you have any experience writing life books or have helpful tips please leave some comments I'm completely open to suggestions!

Thoughts and Journal Entries
March 2012 

    This month was really a good month for us financially. God is so faithful to His word. I look back and can't believe He's brought us this far. I have no doubt in my mind of His eternal faithfulness. I've been waiting to hear back from someone if birth mom filled an appeal. At the end of this month I found out that I had to wait 70 days instead of 60. It always seems like you're waiting forever but I believe I will sign adoption papers next month. It's been really fast actually if I think about it. I've had Bella exactly a year this month so crazy!!

 I was a city wide conference this month called Hollywood the Cry. I only went one night because I had someone volunteer to watch the baby for me. It's so rare for me to go out that I took the opportunity. It was a really powerful session that I went to. When the social justice session came up their was a guy that had just come back from Cambodia and was telling us that he saw babies 6 month olds being sold into sex slavery. Babies!!!!! What the Heck!!!!!! I almost threw up right there. I sobbed so hard my eyes where swollen and blood shot. I just kept seeing Bella in my head at 6 months and everything inside of me wanted to jump on a plane and grab those babies and run. What is this world coming too? The Lord keeps talking to me about saving the one. Loving the one in front of you is sometimes the most powerful thing you can do. As a mother I know that being a good steward of one child can change nations so I will stay here and do the best I can with the baby the Lord has given me.

 This month I've been working really hard on my art getting prints because there's a conference where I'm going to be painting and I hope someone buys some of my art. So when I went to the conference I had spent a lot of money on making prints that didn't turn out right and I didn't sell anything but someone gave me money as I was leaving and it exactly was double what I spent on all the prints and supplies. I had been frustrated by the lack of my knowledge on how to sell my art but God saw my heart and blessed me anyway! Sometimes all He wants from us is to try.

 Bella is growing so quickly and is rapidly shifting into a toddler. I don't know when the shift happens but I can see it. Her personality is coming out she said "ball" for her first word and also "bubble" and is walking everywhere. I really can't believe how big she's getting. I get exhausted watching her run around but it is fun to see how funny she is. I'm just in love with this little girl I'm so glad I get to call her my own so very soon!

I taught her to put things on her head...this is my fault.

All I've ever used is cell phones around her how does she know how to use this phone?

We've been spending too much time in is a star!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Birthday Month

For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11

Facts and Figures
  I want to talk about the perception of the general public and the church on fostercare especially as a single mother. As I've been thinking about this month and what to talk about I started listening to peoples comments to me and I wanted to comment on their comments. I've noticed when I started talking to people about fostercare that people look at me like I'm a hero. I've heard comments like:

"Oh, wow that's such an a brave thing you're doing."

"Wow, what a hero you are." 

"That baby is lucky to have you as a mom."

"You're a single mom, wow I could never do that."

 All these little comments bug me. I couldn't really put my finger on it at the time they were said to me but now I think maybe it's because I don't see myself as someone extra ordinary. Granted, the people that tell me this are usually people who don't know Jesus so I give them grace but I think...I'm not a hero I'm a human, doing what we are all suppose to do.

 I'm not better than you, I'm just like you I live an ordinary life with ordinary problems. I think what bothered me the most was the separation I felt from the person I was talking to. I want to live my life as an inspiration for others to dream big and go beyond their capacities not to be seen as an unattainable story. You can take the journey of adoption! I'm not going to lie it's hard and it's all about laying down your life for someone who can't give anything back but it's the most amazing journey you will ever take.

 My daughter is the hero in this story, I'm not better than her for taking her in. I'm the lucky one, everyday I thank the Lord for giving me this unmeasurable joy in my life. Children are a blessing, they attract the blessings of heaven, you become a target for heaven when you have children in your home. I want to rewrite the typical human story, you grow up, get married, have kids then pass on. How about re-writing that story, everyone of you has the capabilities to write an amazing story with your lives.

 I had a lady say (before she knew I was adopting) "she (Bella) must look more like her father." I looked at her and said " I don't know" the woman looked at me very confused until I explained that she was my adopted daughter. Can we believe that the single mother may have a different story then she had sex outside of marriage and was abandoned by the baby daddy?  I've walked into different churches before (not my home church) and I've gotten the looks like "poor single mother". If you don't ask me about my story you can assume all sorts of things that aren't true.

I want to put a challenge out there for people in the body of Christ and those who just are in the journey of foster and adoption. Don't assume that you know what's going on with people, ask. I think our story is so powerful and I love to see people inspired to go after the heart of God. At some point in this journey the Lord had asked me if I was alright being seen as an adulterous woman in the church and I said I don't care, people can think what they want because I know their perception will shift when they hear our story. Are you willing to look foolish for the Gospel? It doesn't matter what people say it matters that you're pursuing the heart of Jesus!

For those of you out there who don't know me, I'm a super passionate person and I love to push the buttons and challenge the complacent. I don't want to hurt anyone's heart but I believe with my whole being that we can't let fear, what other people think, or conflict stop us from taking care of these kids who are so desperately needing a good home. I believe we can, in a generation, see every child in the US who needs a home to be in one. Wouldn't it be amazing? Be inspired don't pity us, or look at our story as unattainable God has more for you then you can hope, expect, think, or imagine!

ok I'm done preach'n now :)

Thoughts and Journal Entries
February 2012
        It's birthday month for baby and me! I can't believe that Bella is 1 and I'm 29. Time truly does fly by when you have children. I didn't think that it was true because as a child you think that time is taking forever but looking at Bella growing up it truly blows my mind. She started walking in the middle of this month I can't believe it.

 1st birthday parties are such a big deal and so I took on the challenge with excitement thinking ok this is my budget and this is my plan. I decided to do cupcakes but all by hand and do fancy ones from Martha Stewart recipes oh boy I'm an over achiever. I had to enlist a teenager to assist in the all day baking marathon but we did it successfully, unfortunately I made soooooo many cupcakes that not even a 3rd of them were eaten but over all her birthday was a success. I had asked people to get her books because I think I could count on one hand the number of books I had for her. Next birthday I'll have to ask for classic Disney movies because poor baby doesn't even have one. Oh well so goes that but she got radically blessed by all our friends who poured abundant love on her.  I haven't had to buy her clothing in so long because people have handed me bag after bag of clothing it's been really incredible!

 My birthday was really low key which is what I wanted. Sometimes it's nice just chilling with friends and having good relational time. This month I had been struggling financially but people gave me money for my birthday which covered our bills, again God came through. I got the proof for my Encountering God through Soaking book which I'm so excited about but I know it still needs some editing so I'm handing it off to a friend to run through hopefully by March it will be completed.

Last month there was monkey wrench that was thrown into our case. Apparently birth mom is pregnant about 5 or 6 months but it's not been confirmed which is hard for me. She has expressed her desire for an abortion and everything inside of me is crying out against it. I've contacted the social worker this month practically begging her to beg birth mom to go through with the birth I will find a family for this child or I will take this child in. It was a gut wrenching decision to say yes to possibly taking in another child because I know at this point I wouldn't be able to but I know God can make a way where there seems to be no way. I felt such a war in my spirit fighting for this unborn child even though I've never overtly fought against abortion I was fighting now. This was my baby's brother or sister and I could just stand by and say nothing. We wrestle not against flesh and blood and I knew I wasn't wrestling against flesh but I was fighting for life.  At the end of this month I heard that she now says she's no longer pregnant I don't know if she lost the baby or something else happened but I know that in the moment that I was suppose to stand for life I did and I fought as hard as I could.

I've been waiting to hear if I can sign adoption papers but apparently instead of 60 days it's 70 so I have to wait a bit longer to make sure there's no appeal from the birth family. I'm still not expecting any but it's hard to wait when you know that this is almost over. Weeks go by and I'm so ready for all this to end and for the court to define what I've known from the beginning.

Happy 1st Birthday baby girl may you have so many birthdays and may each one get better and better..
love your momma

My Birthday girl!

Has to put everything in her mouth..

First beach day of 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Promise land Year

Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.
Psalms 82:3

Facts and Figures

    In this months blog I want to talk about how our media portrays the foster system. Below is a link of an article written last year about an incident that happened to a child in the foster system here in Los Angeles:

  When I first read this article I had a myriad of emotions. There is such power in the media to bring emotions to the surface that you might not have known you had. First emotion anger and being sick to my stomach (I don't think that's an emotion but you know what I mean).  Anger towards whom? the system? the parents? the judge? who knows maybe all of them. I thought man these people are idiots who would have let this child go back into a situation like that?

   If I'm a part of the system and I think that I can only imagine what people think who aren't a part of the system. You read articles like this one and think the system is systematically putting these children back into their birth homes without doing do dilligence on behalf of the child.  I don't believe that's true. I know I went through an agency which I feel makes a difference but really the social workers work very hard and the judges make decision based on the information that's handed to them. If the birth parents followed the plan then they earned the right to get their children back.

 Is it right this baby died? No. Where there signs that should have been considered? I think that it's hard when you have to follow the letter of the law. The parents did what they were suppose to to get their children back but the feeling or discernment of people around them was there was no way these people should be parents.

 Back to commenting on media, I feel still that there is such a mass slaughter of the foster care system in general in the media. When I first thought of foster care I thought about all the stories I had heard of children dying and being mistreated. Now that I'm in it I don't think that it's that black and white. There are amazing stories like ours that gives me hope that this broken system can work and when it doesn't work the powers that be are working on making it work. Where are the hundreds and thousands of successful stories of these kids going off to be amazing grown up people being successful productive members of society?

 I understand that there are media pieces on successful adoption stories but  I truly believe that this portrayal of the foster system being such a mess isn't helping. Who wants to be a foster parent when your idea of a foster parent is Mrs. Hannigan  (Annie reference)? I was scared of that idea of being in a circle of other foster parents who I didn't seem to have all their faculties together. Then I met some of the most amazing foster parents who risk everything for these kids and fight tooth and nail to get these children the best care they can. I realized that my mind had put together this picture that was not accurate. I came with the mindset that I was rescuing the system when in reality I was joining an already made army of people who deeply care about these kids. Really, I wanted to be in the system to see the problems and try and bring solutions but there are so many amazing people who already are fighting for solutions. It's been truly an honor to stand with other parents, social workers, and lawyers and hear their stories and see their journey however difficult it maybe.

 Our words have power, media has power. Whatever is spoken, declared, or written becomes a prophecy of sorts. When we keep declaring the failure of an organization that is taking in our children in need the eventuality of it I believe is failure. But as we start declaring the beauty of every story of victory either ones of redemption or adoption we begin to see the emergence of a beautiful structure that carries the heart of a good father who takes care of his children and loves them into their dreams being fulfilled.

What will your story be? We are all adopted in our lives somehow, whether into a community, a family, a work place, a tribe, or a church. Will we let media form the ideas and concepts of something we don't have personal experience with or will we be seekers of truth and begin our own journey? There is always more to the story how about going and finding it!

Thoughts and Journal Entries
January 2012
 In my last blog I forgot to mention that since having Bella I have forgotten to do anything for myself. Buying clothing for myself especially of late has not been on my priority list. Even thinking about hauling Bella around a store while I try on clothing I can't afford causes me exhaustion but God heard the cry of my heart for new clothing and one of my best friends over thanksgiving bought me some sweaters and then my sister for Christmas practically bought me a whole new wardrobe. The wonders of heaven never cease! For me I think why doesn't God pay for something I need, instead He gives me something I want. It's the Father's good pleasure to give good gifts to His children!

 Like I do every year I had a date with God. I sat down in prayer and reviewed my last year with the Lord and then asked Him what I would see this year. As I was in prayer I had been burdened by the fact that I felt the grace for living in LA was up. I asked the Lord where I was going to be this year and instead of Him saying LA I didn't hear anything. My heart had really longed to move back to Redding but I wanted His best and didn't want to move back to something comfortable just because. I needed something so clear so I asked Him for a scripture. Genesis 31 popped into my head, mind you I had no idea about what was in that chapter but I turned to is and burst into tears. Right there was my confirmation to move back to Redding. So as I continued my conversation with God He told me that this was my promise land year and because I was born 2/12 and it was 2012 there was going to be many surprises lined up for me :) I asked Him when I was going to be able to move and I heard June but that's really going to have to be God because I can't move until the adoption is finalized.

 When we got back to LA after holiday break we did some work off and on for different people I was still working in the office but I knew that that job was about to be over it was too hard having Bella in the office with me crawling around. The Lord had told me I was there for other reasons and I've been ministering to my boss in such a way where I can see God is softening his heart. Yeah for people coming into relationship with the amazing One!

A couple weeks into this month Bella and I both caught a horrible bug. She started puking at noon and didn't stop till 5pm I started at 11pm and didn't stop till 6 am. It was horrible I could barely walk or lift her out of the crib. My roommate was out of town and being all alone was so horrible. I was dying for some Sprite after puking for so many hours that at 7 am I finally texted a friend to see if they would get me some luckily they did. Then I texted someone else later to see if they would watch the baby while I took a nap. After an hour or so nap I felt good enough to once again take over my mothering duties but boy let me tell you being sick like that with no help was so hard. The bug only lasted 5 hours or so and then we recovered for a day and felt better. The bug spread to all our little friends however and I heard about people everywhere getting it it was so weird I had no idea what it was but it was nasty.

We had a pretty big breakthrough this month. When we got back from vacation the county social worker who now is a new social worker handed me a letter that Bellas birth mother had written to me. I was so nervous never having met the woman I didn't know what to expect. She wrote a really nice letter she said she wasn't going to file an appeal and she was giving Bella to me. She also asked if I would take some of her other children which broke my heart. I wish I could but really there's no way at this point. The letter was such a rarity that my agency social worker asked if she could have a copy  I said sure and now they use it as an example in training sessions. I wrote birth mother back keeping our identity a secret but knowing that Bella would need a letter from her in the future I asked her to write Bella a letter and send a picture. Favor is dripping all over this process. I'm breathing slightly easier now even though I know it's not over yet. 

I can't believe that Bella is almost 1 it's so crazy to me! She's grown so much that it's been fascinating to watch her change. Her personality is coming to the surface and I know that she's going to be a leader with all her stubborn moments. Everyday I look at her and think wow I can't believe God gave me such an amazing child. The honor and reality of what it means to steward her and teach her the way of the Lord it really not lost on me. We are getting closer to the end of this journey and I know that God has been so present in every step it's absolutely amazing!
If any of my readers out there have questions you would like me to answer please leave a comment I would like to make sure that I'm covering topics people are interested in or information that is important. Thank you for sharing in our journey!

Working in the office mommy
Such a sick baby just threw up everywhere

Look at me I'm the chair boss

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Christmas Miracle


For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. 
Isaiah 9:6

Facts and Figures

   In this months facts and figures I was having a hard time coming up with something that I wanted to discuss but because of what this month has symbolized for my daughter and I, I thought I'd talk about the basic rights that we have as humans to be parents.

  What is so phenomenal about our country is that our forefathers set up our Constitution and Bill of Rights in such a way where the basic rights of humans where protected. One of these basic fundamental rights is the right to have children. Not only in this country, but many other nations hold this as a basic human right as well. Because of the gravity of the meaning of a fundamental right taking away such a right is taken with great gravity by the courts.

 Because of the gravity of these decisions the termination of said right is given to the superior court system to execute. Sufficient evidence has to be found. Months of investigation and due diligence has to be done on the part of the Department of Children and Family Services. These are 5 different reasons why parental rights can be terminated.  
 • Abandonment: This means that you did not communicate with your children at all in the six
months before ACS or the foster care agency asked to terminate your rights.

• Permanent Neglect: This means that you did not make plans for the future of your children
and you did not work with ACS or the foster care agency caring for your children for more than
one year after your children entered foster care.

The three other grounds are mental illness, mental retardation, and severe and repeated abuse.

 I agree with making it hard to loose children because you would as a parent want every chance to get your children back. It can be hard at times through this process to understand why things go the way that they do.  For us our case is so different than that of Bella's siblings. It really just depends on not only the social worker you have but the age of the child and the circumstances surrounding the case.

 That being said while being a parent is a right, being a foster/adopt parent is a privilege. There are so many things that may not seem just in your eyes as a foster/adopt parent. From birth parents to social workers. Really what I've found is the best interest of the child can be seen so differently from one social worker to another, it's so subjective. There's a lot of leeway in the law, there are fine lines that the law does not define. For example I've heard of social workers who because of race have taken babies out of homes because they didn't think the race fit even though the foster parent had the child for over a year and had the desire to adopt the child. That example is a woman I met in court who worked directly with the county and didn't have an agency she went through.

 We have to understand that the social workers, lawyers, and therapists are really trying to do what's best for the child but they are also human. If they were adopted themselves they could have their own opinions about terminating parental rights based on the experience they had as children. Either way you look at it it's hard to make those decisions. I'm glad I'm not a judge making those kinds of calls day in and day out. You are effecting not only children's lives but masses of families they are forever shifted by the decisions you make as a judge.

 To conclude, terminating parental rights is not something that can be taken lightly. We have to understand the weight of what it means. You're taking the right away from a parent, saying this child is no longer your right to have. I love adoption and everything that it stands for but I do not take taking someones liberty away lightly. I hope that you will look at your children biological or adopted and hug them extra close and thank God that you live in a country that doesn't take the bond between child and parent flippantly.  

Thoughts and Journal Entries
December 2011 

  This month was huge for us. Last month the judge had decided to give one more month before terminating parental rights. We had a sibling visit and a visit with birth mother. I didn't see birth mom and the social worker handled the visit. I was super nervous that the birth mother would start fighting for Bella as soon as she saw how cute she has grown to be. So when the court date came it was really intense.
   I really wished at the moment that we were at court I was married. Supposed birth father showed up scared the living day lights out of me. I've never had contact with him and he was circling  and being very scary. It's ludicrous that we are all put in one big room,  everyone together! Because I had brought the baby this time on the advice of the lawyer I had my friend run her out to the car because he was getting so close. Mind you he never has seen her and he some how just guessed, he had someone follow me into the bathroom. The whole thing made me so jumpy and I just wanted to run.

 Turns out our case wasn't even called till after lunch and we were there for no other reason than to be tormented. The lawyer called with the news that termination of parental rights had happened. It was over.  With that news I immediately started calling my daughter by the name that I felt God had given me in a dream. So Bella was now being called by her adopted name (you can't call a foster child their adopted name until parental rights are terminated because it's seen as compromising the bond between birth parent and child).

 A couple days after termination of parental rights happened I drove baby and I up north for Christmas vacation. I got up at 5 am and started driving in the dark knowing there's no way I was going to be able to drive alone with a screaming child in the back all 8 hours, by the time she woke up we were a good 5 hours into our drive. We stopped I did morning routine with her and we had breakfast and kept going. It's really daunting driving so far by yourself but I've done it so many times I don't even think about it. Having a baby in the car is a different story though. We made it to my sisters and I collapsed. It must have been all the stress and leaving the city but that night I got so ill I couldn't move. Every muscle and bone in my body ached something horrible. When the baby woke up I could barely get her out of the pack and play. Thankfully my sister was there to help watch her when I took a long hot shower. It's the little things I miss. I haven't taken a long shower in I don't know how long.

 After 2 days of the worst achy flu I've ever had I finally started feeling better. Unfortunately, before we left LA Bella had gotten her second ear infection of the season so she was on antibiotics for the second month in a row. When we got to my sisters she was getting worse. She started coughing and wheezing, and had no fever but a bad cold. After a week of this I took her to a Dr. up there who didn't do anything and because she was on antibiotics told me it must be a virus and there was nothing she could do. Grrr..being sick taking care of someone who is sick is hard. We got better though in time for Christmas and enjoyed it fairly flu free.

 While I was up north I started to realize how amazingly peaceful I felt. It was really relaxing to spend time with family and friends. I had clearer thoughts and was more myself then I have been in a while. For some reason the city kills me. I need nature, trees, fresh air, and family. While I was breathing in all this fresh air my car battery started dying. Found out that I needed a new car battery which I just added to my list of things I needed breakthrough for.

 Going back to before we left I had been counting the finances up and I knew that Christmas was being squeezed out by the mounting bills and the lessening cash flow. I got on my knees again and was specific with God. This was Bella's first Christmas ever and I wanted to give her the best Christmas that I could. Before we left friends of ours who didn't know of our financial situation sent us enough money to pay all the remaining bills and enough for some awesome presents and gas money to see the family for Christmas. God is faithful!

 In this Christmas season I'm absolutely blown away to think that a year ago this was just a dream in my heart. The child that is sitting in front of me on the floor wasn't even in this world yet and now not only do I have her but she's truly almost mine. Over and over I'm blown away...God is so good! Merry Christmas!

If any of my readers out there have questions you would like me to answer please leave a comment I would like to make sure that I'm covering topics people are interested in or information that is important. Thank you for sharing in our journey!

First Christmas Pj's

First Christmas Dress

Auntie Steph and uncle Sam

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Types of Parenting


Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Facts and Figures
      In this article I'm going to go over the materials that we were given in one of our seminars. I promise however that even though it seems like I go to a lot of seminars it's only an illusion. I've been to 2 but because they are all day affairs so there is a lot of information packed into it. Types of parenting was covered in one of the seminars I attended.
 In this article I'm going to talk about 4 different types of parenting: High nurture high structure positive parenting, high nurture low structure permissive parenting, low nurture high structure harsh parenting, low nurture low structure neglectful parenting.
      Right off I'm assuming that you know which is the best by the descriptions. High nurture high structure positive parenting is the goal. I have to put in a disclaimer here I believe we can fluctuate from one day to the next and sometimes dip into some of the other parenting structures these are the (how are you most commonly parenting) types.

     Permissive parenting with high nurture low structure is parents that don't have strong boundaries with their children and the kids tend to rule the parents. Saying no to their child is a really hard thing for them to do. I have to say before being a parent I would look at these types of parents and think man why in the world are you letting your child walk all over you? Now...I understand. Not that I condone it I just understand it. You get tired of fighting all day and letting them get what they want seems the quickest way to peace. That being said I think saying no is healthy for children. They need to know that they aren't going to get their way all the time. You are the adult not them. As a parent you have years of knowledge that theses your precious child don't and out of that you can make better and healthier choices then they would. I don't think you should make choices for your children but I think you should give them choices you're ok with.

  Lets do a for example: Lets say Billy has decided that he wants to throw his toys all over the room. In doing so he has completely ruined a clean room and hit his brother in the head with the flying blocks. Permissive parenting goes something like this..

hey Billy that wasn't nice please pick up your blocks..
Billy: no!
Ok how about if I help you?
Billy: no!
ok well then time out chair for you.
Billy: no!
(at this point it's all good what the parent is doing, lets say the parent picks him up and puts him on the chair.)
5 minutes later moms too busy and Billy jumps from the chair and continues playing. Permissive parent lets him because the time out seemed enough and too much energy goes into putting him back on the chair until he promises to clean up his mess and fix his problem with his brother.
  Billy experience has taught him if I yell loud enough and even if I sit on the time out chair I just have to wait because I will get away with it. Eventually this will become a habit of not cleaning up his messes and then you have a teenager who has a filthy room with bugs everywhere, just say'n :)

Boundaries are so essential to our lives. As adults we have boundaries everywhere, the roads, our bills, our credit scores, the law and many others that we follow everyday without even noticing. Children need the same boundaries and especially children who have come out of abusive or neglectful situations. Boundaries mean safety.

 On to low nurture, high structure harsh parenting, this is basically physically abusive and major control issues on the parents part. I haven't seen this style parenting since I was a kid. I think in recent years with the understanding that we have gained through years of child psychology and studies done of parenting styles there has been a decline in general on the harsh parenting style. Foster children however could be coming from this type of home. They may have had a lot of rules and rules that made no sense or weren't even known to them and lots of physical abuse with low nurture meaning no affirmations in their lives. This child would look completely beat up when you got them. Maybe not physically but mentally and emotionally. They would probably act out behind closed doors. Bring a child out of that environment and into an environment that was high nurture, high structure, and positive parenting would help the child to gain the self-esteem and confidence that was lost.

 The final one is Low nurture low structure neglectful parenting. These are cases where children are left for days on their own with the parent either passed out or looking for drugs. Cases like these bring out the most basic of survival skills. Detachment disorder is very common here there was no bonding that happened when they were infants and so their emotional development would be stunted. When coming out of a situation where this is the predominate parenting style it is important that there is a lot of connection to the adoptive parents. Most likely depending on the age certain therapies would be needed to re-establish connection.

With all these parenting types it's important to remember that our goal as parents is to reach a high nurture high structure positive parenting style. This creates deep moments of connecting to the heart of your child. Playing with your children helps with connecting and family activities can give way to great moments of bonding. Communication is so important, when you tell your child a rule or boundary it's important they know the consequence if breaking that boundary. Natural consequences can be the best teachers as long as your child isn't in physical danger. The one thing that makes this parenting type so important is the reinforcement. If you say it as a parent do it. "If you don't stop hitting your sister you are going in time out." Don't let that go, follow through with what you said because if you don't your children will stop believing what you say and won't ever take you seriously.

Here are a few tips for parenting children who have gone through trauma:

-Communicate clearly, learn their language. Many children in the foster system have hard times with language because they weren't taught to speak properly or because of the trauma they experienced they may not talk at all. Err on the side of compassion and mercy. These children have been through so much that grace is what they need.

- Never, never, never, never, never, think that what the child went through is inconsequential.  Don't assume they will just "get over it". Everything that happens to us or that we do has consequences.

- Don't judge your child, I know this sounds odd but you can get into situations where your foster/adoptive child will do something that may make you look at them differently. Keep objective, be consistent with boundaries and always be clear. These few things could make life a lot easier. There's also one thing I would add and that would be, patience. I think the one thing I see with parents is the loss of patience. I know I'm guilty of it myself and I don't have this parenting thing down yet but if you find yourself loosing patience take a step back let your spouse or a friend take your kid for a couple hours and regain some control. You will never be able to control your child only yourself. Even though while they are small there can be an appearance of control, that will vanish when they are teens. Know this now, you give them choices that you can live with, stay connected with their hearts and you will have kids that grow to be responsible  adults.

 Before I move on to my thoughts for this month I wanted to tell a story. All the information has been changed in this story from the original but the idea and concepts are the same.

 Betty came to the Jones house very very late one night after having been removed from her birth mothers home.  While the Jones had taken in many foster children they knew the first few month would be tough on Betty so they made her as comfortable as possible. She had her own room with everything set up for her. They got her ready for bed and left her to sleep.
  In the morning they opened her door to see if she was awake and there was no one in the bed. They looked everywhere finally they looked in the closet and found her curled up in the corner. After coaxing her out they ate breakfast and began building a relationship with her. She was extremely shy for a 5 year old and didn't talk much but they continued to make her as comfortable as possible.
  Every morning for weeks now they had woken up to her hiding in the closet. The Jones knew that something was going on with Betty so finally instead of being stern with her and making her sleep in her bed they made a bed up for her in the closet. They tucked her in in the closet gave her a flash light and lamp and made the closet into a sanctuary.
   Eight months went by and every night they would do the same routine and every night they would offer the bed as an alternative to sleeping in the closet. Through therapy sessions they had learned that her mother had brought men over  at night who would try and go after her, so to keep herself safe while she slept she hid in the closet.
    In the ninth month of her living with the Jones they woke up one morning to find her sleeping on the bed. It was the first time in her life that she felt safe enough to sleep out in the open. If the Jones hadn't used compassion and understanding they could have done a lot more damage to Betty. While it's awesome to use boundaries and absolutely necessary there's a need for being extra sensitive with children who have come out of neglectful and abusive situations.

Here are some amazing parenting resources that you might find helpful:

Thoughts and Journal Entries
November 2011 
      This month was a big one for us. Besides the sleepless nights from teething and her first ear infection we had a termination of parental rights hearing. It was the first time I'd been to court. Our court here in LA was very interesting. Everyone waiting for a case to be called is all in one big room. Birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents, relatives, lawyers, and social workers. It felt very unsafe to me being as I haven't every met Bellas parents before so any one of these people could be someone related to our case. I didn't take the baby of course but still I was beyond nervous.
   I went in when our case was up and sat in the back of a very small court room. I didn't have to say a word but I had such a huge revelation about how much she was still not mine. There were 5 different lawyers and a judge and I didn't get one word in. It was so quick but the ruling wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I thought for sure this would be it but the judge was kind and generous and gave one more month to Bellas birth mother to make a visit which I was very nervous about.
  Every moment in this adventure through adoption it feels really on the edge. Any moment you feel like your world could fall apart but I knew that she would eventually be mine. You have your private life with this beautiful baby seeing her grow up and change and are there for the late nights and moments of growth, to walk into a court room full of people that have neither met her or haven't seeing her for months is very daunting. These people are deciding your relationship with this child. It's not about us, is what they told me which I agree with, I want the best for my baby but the best feels like me. I'm just being honest about how hard this process can be. Maybe it's because I'm doing this as a single mother but I feel these decisions made by other people very impactful. There's no one really to process all this with not that my family and friends haven't been a huge support but it's something different when someone is going through this with you where their heart is on the line too.

 Bella has 4 teeth now and is a crawling machine and is already pulling herself up on furniture. We went up north over Thanksgiving to spend time with friends and my spiritual parents. It was like a breath of fresh air. I loved being around family and friends in the holidays. My heart ached leaving my friends behind but I know that we will be seeing them over Christmas break. What came out of my holiday was a part time job which I'm excited about. Hopefully this will work out but it is an office job and with Bella crawling around it might not be so productive, we will see. We are on a trial basis but I feel God is doing more.

 I've sold several of my paintings which I'm thrilled about it looks like my art is taking off, now I'm hoping my soaking manual will be published soon. If I can have multiple streams of income that would help us so much. It's really hard working when you're taking care of a little one it's like doing two jobs at the same time. Babies are so much energy but they are completely worth it.

 It feels like I've had her forever but really it hasn't been that long in the scheme of things. It's the small things that I've been appreciating lately the fact I can get a hair cut or travel up north, these things I don't take lightly and I give thanks for every moment. Truly, I'm a blessed woman this Thanksgiving God has gone beyond my wildest dreams!

If any of my readers out there have questions you would like me to answer please leave a comment I would like to make sure that I'm covering topics people are interested in or information that is important. Thank you for sharing in our journey!
First winter coat of the season

Turkey makes us happy!

First ice skating rink experience

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jigsaw Child


‘For I will restore you to health
And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the Lord,
‘Because they have called you an outcast, saying:
“It is Zion; no one cares for her.”
Jeremiah 30:17
Facts and Figures
       I want to talk about the Jigsaw child in this article. I'm going to be commenting on the concept that was drawn up by Eileen Mayers Pasztor, DSW. Her book called The Foster Parenting Toolbox has some helpful tips for the questions that many foster parents may have. I will put her website below where you can check out her materials.
    In her concept of what she calls a Jigsaw puzzle child it's the idea that we are all created with different parts. She breaks it down to about 9 different parts: Age in Years, IQ age, Emotional age, Ethnic match with parents, Academic age, Life experience age, Social age, Appearance age, and finally years of shared customs, values, and traditions.
     Hopefully most of us grew up with these different parts of us being all congruent and growing at the same pace. What I mean by that is this, lets say there's a 12 year old boy who lives with his birth parents. He has good genes and has grown up in a good environment.  There was no disruption in his life and so he's been on schedule with all of his different parts. His age is 12, his IQ age is on par for a 12 year old, his emotional age is right for a 12 year old as well as his academic age (meaning he's in the grade he should be in). Lets say for argument sake that he's Caucasian and so are his parent so there's no confusion about where he came from. His life experience is that of a 12 year old he has been able to maintain his childhood and nothing has taken away his innocence. His social life consists of boys and girls his age and over all he looks like a 12 year old boy. As  the years have gone by he is use to the customs, values, and traditions that go on in his household. They all eat the same food, celebrate the same holidays, and go to the same church. Over all he has a very good sense of identity and is a well adjusted child.
    Now lets take that same 12 year old boy but change a couple things about him. At birth he was exposed to heroin and because he wasn't born in a hospital but on the streets he became malnourished. Over the years his birth mother dragged him around from drug house to drug house where he was exposed to physical, sexual, and emotional abuse. The only way that he could get food was if he stole it or made money through sexual favors. He never went to school
and didn't know how to read or write.

 Finally at age 12 his mother gets caught and thrown into prison where he's shoved into a foster home. In this home people eat at a table, talk to each other, play games after dinner, and over all had traditions that were completely foreign to him. Most adults he knew where abusive and wanted to hurt him so he had no trust in adults. Where do you think he is at on the different parts that make him up? Also lets say that he's still Caucasian but he' entering into a biracial home. The father is African American and the mother is Caucasian.

 With appearance age it can be hard to tell because he was malnourished and was drug exposed. Lets say he looks about 8 years old. His IQ level is that of a 5 year old even though he is really smart when it comes to surviving on the streets. There has been little to no emotional attachment in his life so his emotional age is that of an infant to 2 years old meaning there was no learning of healthy attachments. He goes from one extreme to another really clingy when he wants something or completely stand offish when he's defending himself. His academic age is non-existent because he never learned anything. Is he and ethnic match to the family? Lets say the family has birth children so there are biracial children that he would play with. There's part of a racial match but not all the way. His life experience is through the roof. He's probably experienced more then the whole family combined so let say that that part of him is age 18. Social age is hard because all he has known is adults he doesn't know how to interact with children his own age so while he may be able to hold a conversation with a 20 year old he really never went through a normal social development so lets say age 4. Now his age in years is 12 he thinks but because he wasn't born in a hospital and doesn't have a birth certificate he's not really sure if he's 12 or not. How many years of shared customs, values, and traditions does he have with his new foster family? None because he just got there.

  Here it is the child who is not 12 but is 12 the Jigsaw child. How do you parent that? What do you focus on first? In many ways even though he's almost a teenager he's just a baby who needs love and connection. Here's where I think that mercy and justice touch. Mercy is feeding and clothing him giving a safe environment to grow up in. Justice is returning him back to love meaning sticking out the tough times. Holding him when he's beating himself, talking to him helping him process his emotions, and no matter what fighting for him with the system, schools, and family. This boy has started off with a shattered life and now needs someone who is brave, courageous, and violently in love to not give up on him no matter how long it takes. Next time you think about the journey that you are taking through foster care consider adopting the Jigsaw child. If there was ever a way to lay down your life for someone it would be this way learning how to love someone who is not capable of loving you back.

Below is Eileen's website check it out it's really powerful stuff:

Thoughts and Journal Entries
October 2011 

      There really is so much to talk about this month I hope that I can put my thoughts into some sort of sensible order. The county social worker that I have is about to move to a different department which I'm completely bummed about but she's gotten all the paperwork in order and we have a court date to terminate parental rights in November. Which I am really relieved about seeing as I thought that I was going to loose Bella back to her mother but it's not looking that way. What's interesting about the foster system is that if a birth parent is incarcerated the case keeps rolling on without waiting for the birth parent to finish their time which I guess makes sense especially since the children grow more attached to their foster/adoptive parents as time goes on.
    Bella has 4 teeth now and lets talk about how teething is such a hard thing. Just so I can get some sleep I give her Tylenol. I swore I'd be the parent that went all natural all the time but it's just torture for us both so at least we can get some sleep.  She also started crawling this month which I was relieved about because the psychologist who evaluated her last month was hounding me about doing tummy time which I hate because she screams her brains out when she's on her tummy. It's really weird having a psychologist evaluate how you are doing as a parent. I have to say it's quite daunting. I know they have to do it to make sure Bella doesn't need any special services but it's still hard on me. I think she's developing fine and it's hard to convince yourself you're doing a good job when you have someone telling you she needs to be more skilled in these areas. It's ok though she passed, whatever that means.

   There was a scare that birth mom had been pregnant. I was considering taking the baby because I know that I want Bella to have a sibling around but social worker said that she's no longer pregnant however that happened. I don't know what I'm thinking in agreeing to take another baby but the thought of Bella's sibling somewhere out there in someone else's home. I could take the baby anyway we don't legally have enough room here but I know if God wants me to I'm just saying yes to whatever He has. He didn't ask the little boy to feed the multitude He just asked him to give Him what he had and that's where I'm at.

    I was able to sell a couple pieces of art this month and last so I'm glad my part time venture is making us some money as well as my part time jobs and whatever else I'm saying yes to. I just wait and the opportunities to do one day jobs come or people donate or I sell my art. I can't wait to publish this soaking manual I really think it could be an open door for finances for us. I'd love to do seminars and sell the book to small groups. I'm just being faithful to what God has given me and I know He will come through with the favor I need. Also after my soaking manual is done I'm going to try and figure out how to get my children's supernatural curriculum published. Being creative isn't my problem its getting the product out in to the market that's the hardest and longest part. Sometimes I get frustrated!

 To Halloween or not to Halloween that has been the question on my mind. When I was a child I never got to celebrate Halloween because of the demonic implications so obviously I missed out on a tradition that most children have. Now that I have a daughter of my own I understand the quandary I'm in. We got invited to hang out with friends and walk a famous LA neighborhood where the residence spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on displays. It was fun to get out of the house and walk around. I didn't really spend money for a costume for us I just put together things we already had. So even though I didn't get any candy and by the end she was getting grumpy because it was past her bedtime we had fun hanging with friends.

 The Lord had told me to cut back on somethings and conserve my energy for Bella and so I started cutting back some outings and adventures that while I was a pre-mother would have jumped to. Just that cutting back I've noticed as really isolated me in a lot of ways from  connections I would have made. I love meeting new people but I really don't have time or energy anymore it's truly sad but hopefully I'll get a social life again soon. I also haven't been to the movies in so long I decided to figure out how to take a baby into the movie theater (cheap 3$ theater of course) what a disaster. I was pacing back and forth in the back of the theater the whole time thinking I could have waiting for this movie to come out on DVD. The things you give up being a mommy. I do know that it won't last forever and I'm enjoying the all consuming nature of motherhood. The fact that we made it through another month is a miracle to me!

100 degrees in the valley at the fall!

Pre-Christmas gift!

Coach and cheer leader Halloween outfit