Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Month of Writing

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.
James 1:27

Facts and Figures
In this blog I'm going to address the body of Christ because I believe that what James sates above is exactly what and who we are suppose to be.  I don't believe that it was ever God's intention that the government would take care of the orphan and the widow. I also truly believe that it's possible to no longer have orphans in the world. As someone who represents the Kingdom of God I believe with everything in me that we have to pursue this mandate. Whether you're able to adopt or able to support adoption there is an amazing blessing and revelation that come with going after the heart of God.
I think about the last part of this verse and I think about what corruption James is talking about. For me it wouldn't be the typical sin that makes the list in the Word. For me it would be selfishness. One of the greatest things I've had to battle in myself is selfishness and being comfortable. When I started this journey I didn't realize the sacrifices that I would have to make and while I'm completely happy to do so I realize that for me it would be easy to be corrupted by accepting the easier way. 
Laying down one's life for one another is not just a once in a lifetime move is a continual life style. It's everyday getting up and choosing to prefer someone else over yourself. I'm not talking about not having good boundaries but I am talking about having the mindset that you are going to think of that person, who you are laying down your life for, before making decisions. 
All that to say I believe that it's possible in one generation to have no more orphans. Whether in the US or the entire world if the body of Christ really took on this challenge and went for it I believe it would be possible. Get involved, find a family who is on the journey of adoption and serve them in anyway you can. Learn about it get educated and be encouraged. If I can as a single mother at 28 can take this journey I believe anyone can.    

Here's an organization in Colorado going after adoption!

 Thoughts and Journal Entries
February 2011
      The Lord told me at the beginning of this month that it was important that I focus on writing my children's manual. I had started a supernatural children's curriculum for ages 3-5 two years ago. Because of time and money I wasn't able to work on it but at the beginning of this month my boss took her daughter to Germany for the whole month. She paid me for the month and so I tutored her daughter over Skype and I had tons of free time so I started writing. I just finished 250 pages of curriculum a whole years worth and it's done. I know as soon as I get a child it will be a while before I'm able to write again. I finished my soaking manual it's now in editing stage and now finished my children's curriculum so I've done what I feel I needed to do to get positioned for having a little one.

I met with the matcher and she told me that what I was looking for, an infant Hispanic baby girl was very common and most likely I would be matched soon. My stomach is in knots every time the phone rings thinking it's the agency calling me for my match. I did get a call for placement it was a 9 month baby boy. I didn't realize the gut wrenching reaction I would have to saying no. The Lord told me as I was talking to the lady that this was not the child for me. They usually only give you 15 mins to decide anyway, it only took me 5 seconds I knew he wasn't my baby. Even so I went into my car and started sobbing. I've never turned down a child in need before. I would take every orphan in the world if I could.

Having this month off from work was great it helped me rest, finish writing, and time for me to take a breath. I'm so nervous and jumpy. I feel like I did having a first date with a boy I liked. It's not like this baby is inside of me for 9 months and I have a sense for who they are and I can pray and talk to them before I see them. This is different, I have to be mom all of a sudden to a baby I know nothing about. Jesus give me grace!

New Year Approval


You are the helper of the fatherless. LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
Psalms 10:14,17-18

Facts and Figures
    On this part of the blog I want to make the case for domestic adoption. I completely believe in foreign adoption, someday I want to go to India and be with the babies in the streets so believe me when I say I'm all for it. I do feel like there's a romantic side of adoption that some can fall into. The idea of a child from another country is very appealing because of culture and what a different environment you're bringing them into it can be very exciting.

When I talk to people about domestic adoption there's a hesitation. I don't exactly know what that little look of "oh, you are a martyr" is about but I can say I think it's easier to adopt domestically. Maybe I'm going to be specific and say not just domestic adoption but foster adoption. Children in foster care come from backgrounds that I believe grown adults can fear. Not to say that children from other countries don't have the same problems but I believe that it's really more visible here. It's right in your back yard. These children who are neglected, abused,  and abandoned are right down your street. They could be your neighbor or they could be sitting on the side walk. I believe this idea scares people. This idea that if we don't see it we aren't responsible for solving the problem.

I was talking with my aunt recently, who lives in Argentina and she couldn't believe that I was able to even apply for adoption. In other countries you have to wait till you are married to be able to adopt and even then sometimes it could take years.  Typically what I've found is that it can take 2 years at the most here to at least be in the swing of adoption. You will have a child with in 2 years that is heading for finalizing the adoption. In foreign adoptions it can take years just to get a child then it can take a while to finish the process. Every story is different and what I've found so far is there are no guarantees.

I think personally that this country is amazing when it comes to taking care of the orphans. Are we perfect, no by a long shot. Do we have room for improvement, of course but as I've seen the process I think that the paperwork was very detailed, the home study dug into every part of my life to find any inconsistencies and there is so much support. It's possible for me to have a beautiful child as a single parent in this country where in other parts of the world that can't even be a dream. I advocate for people to at least consider heading down this road. What they told us in class is that eventually you will get the child that is meant for you.

 Thoughts and Journal Entries
January 2011
       My patience is growing thin. Maybe it's the power of my mind imagining what it would/ could be like having a baby in my life but I'm ready. All my paperwork is in and I'm dying to hear if I got approved or not. Be anxious for nothing but in everything give thanks. One of the foster parents got placed with a baby and it's awesome to see pictures but I'm ready!

Finally! Last day of this month I got my certificate saying I'm approved for foster to adopt. I've proudly displayed my certificate that states that as of January 31st 2011 I'm able to take in a foster baby. Ok Jesus I'm ready!! I have to meet what they call a matcher next month to see what baby might be right for me. Apparently she talks to me to get an idea of what I'm looking for. Here we go!

Christmas Promise

4 But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, 5 so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. 6 Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  Galatians 4:4-6


Facts and Figures
Lets talk about finances, what are the truths and myths. It is true through foster care you get a financial stipend. When you go through an foster /adopt agency they take a bit of that to help run their program which I see as fair being as they work hard on your behalf through the process. So in California the monthly stipend is $621 per child per month with an agency it's something like $595. In your paper work you have to prove that you are making enough money to support yourself without that stipend. So for example if my bills were $1,500 a month I have to prove I'm making at least $2,000. Miracles never stop coming, I could have not gotten approved solely on this requirement but somehow God made the numbers work. As most of you know children especially those on formula eat up that check in 2 weeks so while it's not really enough it helps for sure. The first couple of months that you have the child you are required to spend at least $100 worth of clothing per month and when you turn in receipts they reimburse you.
As you go through the process there's a couple myths that need to be busted. First, when you adopt a child from the system you continue to get the stipend until they are 18.  The year they are adopted you get an adoption tax credit which is less the foreign adoption tax credit but it's still really good. Also for your legal costs you will eventually get reimbursed up to $400 which normally is the exact amount the lawyers charge for finishing up the paperwork.
The foster child will remain on state services after it's adopted unless otherwise stated by the adoptive parents. So they get WIC, and Medical till at least 18 years of age if not longer. If they have any learning services or disabilities the compensation pays for continued care of therapies needed. It's amazing the way this system is set up, it really helps people who may not have much financial support to be able to adopt. To me this would be the only way I would be able to adopt!

Tax information on adoption:

 Thoughts and Journal Entries
December 2010

   Dear Jesus,
         It feels like this process is taking forever. I just want my baby when will this paperwork end?
   Dear Aileen,
         You'll be getting a Hispanic baby girl, she's not even born yet so chill out.

Yes, these were the conversations that I had with God over and over again during the holidays. I spent the time with my family and since my mother passed, holidays have not been the same.

This was the first Christmas that my father brought his girlfriend and her son to meet the family. While they are nice people it was different meeting them for the first time on Christmas day. I kept thinking about how my life would be so different by next Christmas. It would be fun to have a Christmas that was happy and exciting again. A place where the innocence of a child brought the joy out in the holidays. 

As I prayed over and over about this whole pursuit I felt the Father smiling and just kept saying you have no idea what I have planned for you. Really it was simple for me, all I had done was say yes and He did the rest. Obviously there was work on my half doing the paperwork, getting prepared but there had been amazing grace over it all and it really didn't feel hard at all. I've found radical favor in the eyes of the agency. There were things in my home study which I thought for sure would have prevented me from being approved but so far the home study social worker has said she doesn't see anything wrong. This time next year I will have a baby I just know it! I can't wait it's going to be so exciting.

Opening my presents on Christmas Eve I found myself being delightfully surprised by my sisters gift. She had gotten me baby girl onesies. As I looked at the pattern I thought wow this is really happening and my sister really believes in my dream. It's really amazing to have family believe in you. Even having friends believe in your dreams and support them is phenomenal. What I haven't mentioned yet is that my roommate has really laid a lot down for me to have my dream. She had to fill out paperwork and had been interviewed. She stood the test of being inconvenienced by baby locks and inspections. I'm just so grateful for every one who believes with me through this journey. In this holiday season I became more resolved to finish the race I had started.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Training is Over and the Wait Begins

For in You the orphan finds mercy Hosea 14:3


Facts and Figures
    How many children are in foster care? Well, I've heard statistics from millions to hundreds and all I can tell you is what they told us in class. The greatest number of foster care children in Los Angeles is Mexican Americans whose numbers are double that of African Americans who are right below Mexican Americans in greatest number of children in the foster system. As of 2009 the statistic is 19,900 children in foster care in Los Angeles compared to 1997 with a high of 52,000 kids in the system. I got the stats from this article in the LA Times

The myth that I hear most people talk about is older kids. Older kids aren't wanted so there are a lot of them in the system. Actually infants are in the greatest need of housing because they are hard to take care of. A lot of foster/adopt parents are preferring school age children so that they can go to work during the day. It's funny as I've gone on this journey I've discovered that there really are a lot of lies that we believe and we are content to believe them without actually doing any research. I too believed that older children weren't getting adopted because of that reason but just like babies older children who have been in the foster system need love, attention, and support. Either way you look at it you're going to have to be willing to work. Children aren't a fashion accessory they are people. 

What has been very interesting through this journey is the ideas that people believe about the system. Really and truly there's a lot of good that comes out of foster care. I know that it's counter culture to say that but what the press doesn't tell you is all the happy ending stories that happen. There's a huge crucifixion of the foster system and how much it fails. How about speaking life over it? How about seeing it for what an amazing job everyone is doing. These people give their lives for children and most of them are overworked and underpaid. In my opinion they are doing the work that the church should be doing. God gave us the mandate to take care of the widow and orphan.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
November 2010

 This month was the worst and best month ever. If I can be honest I would have to say I've never been in so much fire then I am in now. Things at my volunteer job where not going well and things at my paid job weren't going well. Without over indulging I will say that at some point I was facing the possibility of being a single mom without a job. I got let go from my job and thank you Jesus after Thanksgiving got hired by someone else. Same pay but way better conditions for being a single mom. I could bring my baby to work and there will be no conflict. Though emotionally this month took a huge toll on me and many times I wish I was married to have someone to share the ups and downs with Jesus provider and husband came through again. The enemy really ran me through the ringer and I thought many times what am I doing this is really insane. I was told by well meaning people are you sure you actually want to do this? 

In the end I set my face like flint and did not go back on what I had promised the Lord. I will go after His heart. There's nothing that anyone can say at this point that will throw me off my track. I know that God is able to do more then I can ask, think or imagine and I'm imagining big. If everyone abandons me I will still go forward it doesn't matter. This month was a major transition but I came under a covering I never expected. It was as if my mother stepped in to cover me during this vulnerable time. Though my mother is in heaven right now I know that she's watching. I'm sure she's watching and knowing the ending of this story is cheering on. I keep having conversations in my head with my mother, she was the strongest most tenacious woman I knew. She fought with everything she had for something she believed in. Do I believe in this journey that much? Am I really ready to lay it all down for the unknown? All I can say is in the midst of the darkest part of this month when I thought I couldn't take it any more and I was about to explode with frustration God stepped in and made a way. 

My process continues paperwork, home study, and more paperwork. Little by little everything is coming together I thought after the classes it would be fast but it seems to be taking forever. It's ok though I need the time to process this month in full. I need the rest, I need to find the peace again. Many times I do feel pregnant with my emotions and my determination to get everything ready. I don't have time to cry I have to keep going I can cry when it's all over. Keep pressing towards the goal.

Training Day 4/5

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Matt. 7:11

Facts and Figures
 Training day 4 basically we learned CPR, First Aid, and Water Safety. The class cost and extra $50 which we got reimbursed for later on. There's really nothing exciting in this class but it's really important to know how to handle any emergencies.

Training day 5 was our final Saturday together. Really on this last day of training we interacted with each other, built relationships and heard foster/adopt parents talking about their journeys through the foster and adoption process. The stories that I remember most are one man and his partner had one foster child they ended up adopting and then they had another foster baby who they had to give back. It was heart breaking to hear him tell the story. Both the children had been drug exposed and they had had the second child for a while I cant remember exactly but it might have been even up to a year. This is the chance that you take when you do foster to adopt. Your child could always be reunified with their birth parents. Later the little girl became available because the mother started using again. The partners decided they couldn't take the baby back. That for me was the saddest. It's hard to think of taking this journey without the God connection.

I heard these parents some which had been doing this for a while some it was the first time and I thought how is God going to write our story. No matter what religion, sexual orientation, or race everyone in that room cared about these children. It's interesting because I knew in the room that there were people who fundamentally thought differently then each other but they were talking and getting along like they were family. Every story was different, every process was different and there were no guarantees about anything. As I think back on all the weeks of training I realized that it's important to be trained but it's more important to know God's voice and through that you will always have insider information that seemingly no one else will have.

Thoughts and Journal Entries
October 2010

I can't believe that I finished the classes. This is moving a lot faster then I expected. Paper work is getting finished and all the house things are almost ready. Looking at the empty crib is quite daunting. Am I doing the right thing? Will I be a good mother? Who is this child? All these questions are running through my mind over and over. I can't imagine what this child will be like, where will he/she come from, is she/he even born yet?

I just have to take it one day at a time. I hear the Lord telling me to focus on preparing my life, my resources and all my energy goes to getting ready for this baby. Every time I go into the store I pass the baby section and think what do I need? I buy on purpose one thing to remind me of my goal. Keep focused, continue this journey, fight the fight of love.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Training Day 3

15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8: 15-17

Facts and Figures

Training Day 3 we learned about "Cultural Competency/ Transracial Adoption. Believe it or not this class was very interesting to me. In my journey of getting ready for adoption I often imagined what kind or child I would get. I always felt like I would get a Hispanic baby but I am open to who ever God gives me. In this class we learned about how much of an impact culture, race, and identity play on an adopted child. For an African American child to be adopted by a Caucasian family it can be difficult. They encouraged us to pursue getting to know our child's racial norms and history. The last thing you want for your child is them to feel like they aren't apart of your family.

We watched this video that really made me sad. There were these African American children who really railed on their Caucasian adopted parents for not showing them their history or not raising them in the knowledge if what is common practice for their culture. These kids really had so much hate towards their adoptive parents. You can't ignore where your child comes from. In an ideal world all these children would be raised by their biological parents but when that doesn't happen we have to help transition them by bringing in their culture. This is part of the journey of adoption I believe. Its an intentional thing you as an adoptive parent has to think of. How am I going to make my child feel apart of their culture and apart of their adopted culture?

Racism is still really real in our country. If you're Caucasian and you have a different race child people can be very rude and inconsiderate. Being unashamed of your family structure helps your child know that you aren't ashamed of where they came from. The object of making a child feel apart of your family is to make sure you don't attach shame to any part of their identity. Either their race, where they came from, or even how they got to you. This is the tricky part of parenting an adopted child is to maintain that connection no matter what you have to do to do that. The sad fact is that people can quickly categorize your child and attach racial stereotypes. It's important not to ignore their race but bring a positive affirmation to them and build a racial identity and pride.

I believe whoever my child will be they will be great and the journey is going to be amazing! Bring on the beautiful children!

The next following training week we had CPR, First Aid and Water safety training and that took up the whole time. In the mean time we had more paperwork, safety checks, and lots of running around!

Here's another great blog on adoption!

Thoughts and Journal Entries
September 2010

It's getting closer I can feel the finish now at least that's going to be close. I've met a lot of single mothers who are taking this journey with me even though most of them are older. It seems I'm the only one my age taking on this journey which can be kind of lonely but I have friends who are supportive. The still small voice of God keeps encouraging me to continue to pursue peace and finish all that's required. It's been hard putting in the baby locks but I'm determined. I wonder what kinds of baby I will get? I don't mind having a drug baby or neglected baby.
This journey is one of the most radical I've ever taken I think. I'm not a millionaire by any means but God promised to provide every step of the way and I know He will.