Seven Months With Precious Brothers

my favorite thing about being a foster parent_dumas

We said yes and opened our home and our hearts once again seven months ago. This time for two little boys that were ages two and three. They are spunky, cautious but loving, stubborn, confused, hurt, and very silly little boys. They are Gods perfect little gifts who just needed a safe and loving place to grow and to heal.  So, like many times before, we said yes!  Yes, even knowing that a transition one day would be unbearably hard and that the loss would eventually hit us.  Yes, knowing that one day all we would have is the memory of them and that we would miss so much.

A lot has been shared in seven months. Our family has made some special memories as we’ve committed to meeting their every need. Loving and caring for them has been difficult at times, but I’m convinced that living out your life’s passion doesn’t happen easily. God always provides the tools and he gives the right resources, but being obedient and taking on big tasks comes with some hard moments and lots of lessons learned.

Together over the last seven months, we experienced the loss of my husbands (Kent’s) two brothers and we faced some hard sad times. We also shared the fun and happy things that are involved with five different holidays together. (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines and Easter) It was an added bonus that both of the boys were able to celebrate their Birthdays in “Woodward Style”. (Loud and crazy chaos) They also helped in celebrating six of our family member’s birthdays during that time frame. We helped the youngest as he went through two surgeries and got many of his medical needs met. Both of the boys received emotional and developmental assistance to help with their care. We have practiced our patience over and over again…as we’ve taught them both how to communicate their emotions and deal with built up hurt and anger.

Seven months that may have flew on bye but that will never be forgotten. So many things shared within our family of twelve. Over time and with God’s grace we will heal… and we will learn to be a family of ten again.

There will be so many things I (we) will miss…

I’ll miss there little feet running to the table eager to eat anything served.
I’ll miss the excitement in their eyes when they have done well and are praised.
I’ll miss the silly songs, the little dances and the crazy jokes that make no sense.
I’ll miss reminding them to slow down and chew with their mouths closed.
I’ll miss watching paw patrol and power rangers every chance that they got.
I’ll miss the fits that have brought break through and helped in their healing.
I’ll miss teaching the simple things, like water doesn’t hurt and toilets are to pee in.
I’ll miss dodging action figures, LEGO’s and other toys with every step. 
I’ll miss having little clothes in the laundry and many more miss matched socks.  
I’ll miss reading, singing and talking to them about Jesus.
I’ll miss them taking turns and even arguing over whose turn it is to pray.
I’ll miss watching my other children love and adore them.
I’ll miss hearing them say “Mr. Kent will you hold me?” every night before bed.
I’ll miss them learning new things and watching the joy in completing a new task.
I’ll miss covering them up, giving them kisses and hugs and watching them sleep.  

So much to Miss!!!  But I won’t miss Praying for them. I know that God will continue to meet their needs. He has done it before, He will do it again. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  His love is sooooooo much greater than ours for them. 

So, when I miss all of these things and much much more…I will do the only thing that has worked many times before. When my heart aches and my head is full of memories…i will do what always brings me peace…I will PRAY! 

Our God will hear…Our God will protect…Our God will answer!

pexels-photo-267559.jpeg

Adoption Story Two -sneak peek

Shared from Blessings In The Chaos 

McKenzie – Our fourth gift.

Two months after Austin’s adoption was final we received a call from the Department of Social Services to Foster a sibling group of three girls. The girls were two, four and nine years old. There wasn’t much hesitation in us saying yes. It was known by the Department that we would do our best to take in any child that needed to be cared for. We discussed it as a family and prayed before giving them our final answer. From the day they arrived in our home in July 2007, until the day McKenzie’s adoption was final in November 2009 it was a whirl wind of chaos. There were days I felt alone, misunderstood and even miss guided by the Department. It was God alone who gave me the strength to dig deep and move forward. There were many times I prayed for God to reveal the blessings to me. Being a parent to six kids with three of them having additional special needs was emotionally draining. I reminded myself often why we chose to go into Foster Care. I knew that we were making a difference, but I didn’t always see it. Remembering why  we were in the chaos, always gave me the boost I needed to continue on in full force.

McKenzie was the youngest and the frailest. Although she was two years old, she only weighed 17 lbs. and wore size 9-12 month clothing. She had already had her tonsils and adenoids removed. She had suffered from a bowel blockage and was so tiny that it scared me to hold her too tightly. She did not speak when she came. Most of her basic needs were quickly met by her oldest sister who had been her primary care taker.

I would love to say that when termination of the parental rights happened we were relieved and had peace. This would be far from the truth. We were extremely torn, and frustrated with the decisions the Social Workers, Therapist, Lawyers and Judge was making in regards to what they felt was in the best interest of the girls. They made the decision to separate them. At the time, we just couldn’t wrap our heads or our hearts around that decision. It’s awful hard to trust God when you are experiencing great pain.

We have never been the same from the moment the three of them entered our home and our hearts. It wasn’t an easy road, but Kent and I continued to remain obedient with every twist and turn we were faced with.  We understand that we were created with a purpose to love those who may seem unlovable to others. We do not possess or pretend to have the answers. We have no greater option but to seek God daily for guidance in raising all of our children. We look for joy in each moment and have become great at finding the blessings where others may see none. We fill ourselves in God’s presence often. This has allowed us to continue to pour out and into others with every chance that we get. God knew that we would make a great team.

Adoption can make your heart ache, your head spin and can turn things in your family upside down for a while. But the blessings do outweigh the chaos. They even manage to outweigh every struggle and disappointment too. Remember you are not alone in this endeavor. There are many others that have been or are in the trenches with you. And God will never leave your side. Even when you think you are failing and do not see him working, remember he is always working on your behalf. So keep keeping on despite the chaos you may endure and love fiercely as he loves you. Don’t lose hope. For hope will continue to change the world one child at a time.  

This is just a small piece of my second Adoption story in the book I have Co-Authored with many other Christian women. The details of her story and our other two adoptions are shared in length in the book. I am so excited that it is in publishing now.  I cannot wait to encourage others on their adoption journey and to help fund forever homes for others. 

Other Sneak Peeks can be read here:

Telling our story…sneak peek!

Adoption Story One -sneak peek

 

Telling our story…sneak peek!

Blessings In The Midst Of Chaos

My husband and I were married sixteen years before we decided to go into Foster Care. We lost our first son when I was 29 weeks pregnant. Three years later, after another complicated pregnancy, I gave birth to our son Wesley.  He was born with a heart defect that required open heart surgery when he was two. Then against the advice of my doctor, I became pregnant again and gave birth to our daughter Amanda. When she was 9 months old I had my first of two major surgeries. We went through some real tough trials in the first five years of our parenting journey. There was undeniable chaos at times. We experienced a great loss and had many fears. Thanks to God, we had the ability to find joy in our hard moments. The blessing throughout our parenting journey has continued to outweigh the chaos.

It came completely natural for us to do Foster Care. We simply wanted to make a difference in the lives of children in our community. Our entire family was onboard as we began our journey in 2005. We became licensed through the Department of Social Services in 2006. We knew that our lives would be changed by the many children who entered our home and our hearts. What we didn’t know, is God’s plan was much different than our own. We were unaware of the impact that three children would make in our family forever. We trusted God then and we still trust him today.

Parenting is difficult no matter what. There will be many blessings mixed within the chaos of life as you are raising your children. With raising adopted children from the Foster Care system, the chaos you experience will be a whole different kind. It may even leave you at times searching for that blessing. Don’t stop looking. The blessing is there. Look for it in the midst of your fears, through every struggle, and in your darkest hours. And if you need to, pray for your blessing to be revealed, because it could become lost in all of the chaos.      

It is my sincere desire that as you read our adoption stories you receive a renewed sense of hope in your own. Hope is a gift freely given through the grace of our Lord and Savior. There is hope for every one of Gods children. I pray you can cling to that throughout your journey. I believe it is the key to all successful adoptions. You need to believe and trust that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 It is a special calling to adopt. I am pretty confident that you’ll have moments when you will be questioning that calling and or your ability to continue on. But guess what? That’s ok. He doesn’t promise any kind of parenting will be easy. But he does give us encouragement in his word. So, cling to his word often and remind yourself in times of trouble, that he will guide you in parenting your children, if you allow him.

In the midst of every storm, remember why you chose to Adopt. Embrace your journey and let God work. God can bring peace in the hard times and clear any of your doubts. Learn to trust him in all of it. There is no question that your adoption journey will strengthen your walk with the Lord.  I pray you will continue to, or for the first time, seek the Lord for His wisdom, as you parent your precious gift. If God has entrusted you with one of his children through adoption, there is no doubt he wants your journey to be full of love and blessings.

My husband Kent and I have three adoption stories and each of them have their own unique storyline. These children came from three different circumstances and from three different families, yet with each of their placements there were undeniable similarities. In an eleven year period we have been given the sacred privilege to Foster over 25 children. All of the children placed in our home have been through the Department of Social Services and have shared many of the same attributes.

These children all came to us afraid, experiencing separation and loss. They have each exhibited trust issues and have each had some form of specific need. In addition to that, each child has had some type of hurdle (big or small) that they were in the midst of or would be facing in the times ahead. We have learned to embrace the work ahead of us with each child placed in our home. All of them have needed help to heal emotionally. Some children have required us to seek additional resources to parent them adequately. It is certain that they’ve all been in need of a safe and loving home. Together, we prayerfully made the decision to find the blessings a midst the chaos. We have fully trusted God to guide us in meeting their specific needs and parenting them. We have always remembered that there is hope. Hope for us all.

We learned to acknowledge and accept each of our children’s differences and have made a conscious effort to parent all of them (biological, adopted and those we foster) in the same way. We love them all fiercely. We have always tried to communicate openly, remain as consistent as possible and give age appropriate consequences when disciplining. I have often referred to this with others as “My Three C’s” of Parenting. (Communication, Consistency and Consequences.)  

We knew before we became parents that our faith would play a huge roll in the decisions we would make while raising our children. We have solely depended on God. It is he alone that gives us the wisdom and strength to be effective in all we do to honor him. It is just as imperative to honor him with our parenting. It remains our goal to “teach our children in the way they should go, so when they are old they will not depart from it” Proverbs 22; 6.  Prayer has remained our focus in everything, but we have learned to become prayer warriors during the difficult times we have encountered as adoptive parents. When my heart has grown weary, it has been God’s word and his promises that have sustained me. 

If you are thinking of adopting a child through the Department of Social Services, please know that it is possible. There are many success stories. You can make a difference in the eternal outcome of a child right from your local community. You will be blessed beyond measure by choosing to bless the child that God entrusts to you. It doesn’t mean it will be chaos free. But I am certain; if you are obedient to the call to foster/adopt, the Lord will equip you. He will never leave or forsaken you on your adoption journey or ever. Remember to seek him often. He will answer your cries for help and he will comfort you in your pain and or frustrations. He will flood you with blessings and joy in the midst of life’s chaotic moments or extended amounts of time. He will provide just what your family needs to succeed. I am certain that right now in the community that you live, there are children waiting for someone to love them unconditionally, forever.

This is the intro to the three adoption stories that are told in the Co-Authored book i am apart of.  I am so thankful for the opportunity to share our stories in hope to encourage just one family to make a difference in a childs life forever or to find strength in the journey they have already begun. I hope to share other pieces of my chapter with you in my blog as i wait patiently and pray for all involved in the process of the book as it is published. 

God is good and his timing remains perfect to fulfill our hearts desires.

Blessings in the chaos.

my favorite thing about being a foster parent_dumasEvery Single Child deserves someone to love them and to believe in them. They deserve someone to be their advocate and to give them the resources they need to succeed in life. Every child deserves a forever home!

May God bless all of you that go above and beyond and are involved in Foster Care. You will win some and unfortunately loose many battles. You will rock lonely children to sleep, comfort and reassure those who are afraid, and speak life into young ones lives who have lost hope in themselves.

For all the appointments, meetings, trainings and court hearings…and for every sacrifice and or missed family event or function…I say, Thank you for your love and dedication to the child placed with you!

For every time you’ve questioned what you were doing, or wondered if you were really making a difference, please know…that you are!

For every time you are hurt and for every struggle you persevere through, may you feel Gods comfort and strength to continue on.

In a Foster Care system that is broken in many ways, remember there is a God who can take the broken pieces and make all things whole.

If you feel as if you are alone, know that you are not. There is an army of people who have similar hearts as yours. They get your worries and they can relate to the many frustrations that can come alongside of working with Social Services. So many other people understand the magnitude of the blessings you receive, even in the midst of your chaos.

Thank you! Thank you from the bottom of MY heart❤️

Keep doing what you do! You are making a difference! One child, one family, one situation at a time…You are changing the world!

img_7774

 

Mommy. Mom. Mother. Friend

Mommy,

Thank you for planning and preparing for me so tenderly before you ever even met me.

Thank you for showing me “my first love” starting with my very first breath.

Thank you for letting me be creative, explore the world around me and grow into my own little person.

And thank you for shielding me from things that could have harmed me and for introducing me to Jesus.

Mom,

Thank you for laughing, playing and encouraging me to always look at the positive in a very negative world we live in.

Thank you for teaching me, encouraging me and pointing me in the right direction when things were not always clear.

Thank you for including God in everything and helping me to put Him first in my life.

And thank you for showing me the importance of family, commitments, honesty, and integrity.

Mother,

Thank you for always believing in me, even through the times that I have failed you and I have doubted myself.

Thank you for praying, trusting God and keeping your faith, through your own storms. You have set a wonderful example of perseverance to follow.

Thank you for loving my husband, encouraging my children, and supporting our family like you do.  Your love has beautifully multiplied over the years.    

And thank you for being there for me, (distance isn’t as hard) because you have always made yourself available no matter what.   

My friend,

Thank you for all of the silly, singing, dancing, laughing till we cry, or crying until we laugh moments that we’ve shared. 

Thank you for lifting me up when i’ve fallen,  for speaking wisdom from your heart and for sharing the word of God into my spirit.

Thank you for understanding the importance of “our time” together. Over the years, we have experienced many irreplaceable moments together because of this.

And thank you for being a person without judgement, a friend without drama and a consistent, confidential shoulder to lean on. 

I’m so thankful God made YOU for ME!
Me and MOM

You were first my Mommy,

And then became my Mom,

But forever you will be…

My Mother…and my Friend!   

 

 

 

Foster Parents~Let Your Love Shine Brightly in 2016!

efb93a316f9326b8e19d4c2601ecd2fd

I’ve heard your pain, your hurts and your worries and I have felt them myself. Being a Foster parent is not an easy job. As a matter of fact, it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.

Nobody fully understands what it entails and nor will they ever completely get it…unless of course, they too are given the heart to walk the hard road of fostering for themselves.

These children come in all different fashions when they arrive at our door. They can be any or all of these things when we are finally introduced. (fear filled, fragile, desperate, beaten, neglected, starving, anxious, confused, shaken, hyper, mischievous, hurtful, calm, depressed, etc.) They often face other struggles because of their life circumstances. (Attachment disorders, learning disabilities, sleep disorders, post trauma disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, severe anxiety, processing disorders, and so on)

We don’t just open our doors and everyone blends perfectly together. We cautiously open our hearts too. And when we do that just right, so many other things start to unfold. We long to really “know them”  so we can care for them just right. The unknowns about “who they are” and “what they will be like” brings on our own set of pre-placement anxieties. We wish we had all the important information upfront. And we somehow accept that we may never really know much of anything. (What have they gone through? Will we be all that they need to heal?) So many things matter in how we move forward, yet little is ever answered. We help them transition the best that we can. We set out to love unconditionally and try not to have preconceived expectations. We are on call 24/7. So therefore, we live a life of spontaneity. Organization becomes second nature and we learn quickly to utilize resources when a call comes. We usually over think things, analyze everything, and have only a handful of people (or less) that we can talk to…about everything.

The life of Fostering is a hard one. It’s exhausting emotionally and physically. It is definitely not for all. It makes our hearts ache, our heads spin and can turn things upside down in our families for awhile. But…it is desperately needed! It’s rewards are great! And it is making a difference, one child and one family at time! And in the midst of some crazy days/nights, weeks/months, and sometimes years…as we do what we are called to do…somehow, someway, the blessings manage to outweigh each and every struggle and heartache.

We may not see the progress or healing while they are in our homes, but we claim it for each child and family.  We have faith and it outweighs a failing system. We cannot do it by “our power” so we trust an unfailing God and “His power” to do all things.  We seek the Lord as we keep pouring out. He fills us daily, so we can keep our focus and move forward with every struggle. We pray His perfect plan unfolds in everyone of our Foster children(s) lives. And sometimes His plan is a forever home through adoption.

Remember…You (WE) are not “just a Foster parent.” 
We are comforters in the middle of the night, when a child wakes with night tremors or wants their Mom. 
We are therapists who hear the things that would break anyones heart. 
We try our best to speak wise words of love and truth…when at times we are struck to complete speechlessness.
We become reporters, when a child opens up for the first time. Or there is visual evidence of wrong doing.
We are transporters as we caravan repeatedly to appointments, court dates and visitations. 
We quickly become patient advocates as we seek every service and resource for a child’s medical needs. 
And….We are professional child advocates as we fight for the help our child(ren) need in school, with daily tasks, or life in general.
We are often the first real example of a parent (mom or dad) and it’s imperative that these children have one. 
We can improvise and change routines or plans in a split second. 
We are a quick learners and we learn things about our child(ren) and…ourselves daily! 
We multi task and meet the needs of our husbands, bio kids and that of your placements. (which all bring there own challenges) 
We appear to be super mom to others, but often we feel alone on your mission to save the world…one child at a time. 
We sit for long hours at appointments, in court, at therapy and visitations, and sometimes still work other jobs outside of the home. 
We are happy doing what we are called to do despite the chaos at times. 
We are creative and fun loving…
We are motivated and determined. 
And…We are so much more!!

I know YOU…I am You!

You have cried in the quiet

And yelled privately at the system

You encourage yourself to keep going

And question everything you do

You have doubts

And you talk yourself out of them

You are happy with baby steps

And ecstatic with big ones

You jump for joy when you sleep all night

And you try to catch up on sleep when you don’t

You shoot to move mountains

And are satisfied when you help a molehill move

You love the smiles and laughter

And you look forward to new goals

You get discouraged when trust is broken

And you hurt when a child leaves

You prepare your bios from the loss that’s to come

And you protect and guard your own heart without even knowing

You worry about outcomes

And you wonder about plans

You love each and every crazy minute of your life

And….You love and provide so much more!!!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!! You are like me. And WE are like so many others. And WE are all called to love!  To live life and help others to live their lives better. To make the world brighter! To make a difference and then some! 

So let the difference your making be inspiring. Let your story be told.

Let your love shine brightly in 2016!

Remember, We are so much more then what the world sees as “JUST a Foster Parent”.  

We are a Gift to a child..a Blessing to a hurting family… and a crucial piece of stability to a system that needs our help.

We are changing the world…