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