On waiting for the right match: A Fost/Adoption Story

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November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we hope to fill our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for! Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words.

We are still seeking & accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to stacy@chrysalishouse.com. Below, please enjoy the story of a family’s: Fost/Adoption.

In the event you wish to discuss our Fost/Adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.

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In 2011, after several miscarriages and having participated in two Ukranian orphan hosting programs, my husband and I decided that we were ready to enter the noble world of adoption. At the time, we had 3 biological children ages 11, 9 and 5.

We chose Chrysalis House as our fost/adopt agency and began our home study process. What an exciting time of anticipation this was for our family! We complied with all of the foster regulations of having first-aid kits and extinguishers on-site, completed our class hours, chose our parameters (for us it was a Caucasian or Hispanic male, 5 or under), and poured over all of the books about adoption that would make us an instant success in parenting a hurt child (I fail to mention that I skipped a few lines in these books, because I was certain that our family was unique from all others and these wouldn’t pertain to us!) Additionally, I was just sure we would be placed within a few weeks of our home study completion….certainly the county social workers would see what a wonderful family we were!

Well, weeks turned to months as our social worker would send us bios every so often, which we would submit our home study on, and I would begin romanticizing about how each child might fit into our family. I believe this is a bit like “nesting,” for prospective adoptive mothers. I was beginning to get restless with all of the waiting. And then we received, “the call,” that we had been chosen for a young boy from a nearby county – who was being taken from a fost/adopt placement that was not working out. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. I remember the day we met him at the park. As he walked up the path with his social worker I remember quite clearly my heart dropping and thinking to myself ever so clearly, “This is not my child!” I played it off to nerves and we sat down and chatted with the social worker and the former foster parents as the kids played. According to the foster parents, the young boy had some anger issues (nothing we couldn’t fix with a little love! Yes, I’m being facetious) and the county social worker seemed eager to place (looking back I see this was a potential red flag). We headed home and for four long days I felt restless and uneasy about the placement. My husband assured me that everything would be fine. Besides, our biological kids liked him… How could I not go along with it? We decided to meet one more time at the park prior to the placement. It was during this second visit that the boy began verbalizing some startling threats…and he was only five. I called Chrysalis House upon returning home and let them know we couldn’t move forward with this match. In short, I came to realize that when county social workers say that a child has anger issues, they might not be referring to a child chucking the leftover bowl of Cheerios onto the floor. Not surprisingly, God used this experience to settle me down and to wait for Him to bring the right child to us.

Close to one year after we had begun the process, I was approached by our Children’s Ministry Director at our church. She asked where we were at with the fost/adoption and asked if we had considered the **** children, who were being brought by their foster grandma each Sunday. “Of course not,” I chuckled, “There’s five of them!” “Just pray about it,” she responded, with a big grin.

And so we did. And God placed it on our hearts that this was what He would have in store for us.

Monday morning I contacted our social worker at Chrysalis house and told her what I knew about the children who were ages 2 to 10 (which wasn’t much information – because foster care has strict rules about privacy). Megan searched the system to no avail. Two weeks passed and our social worker, Kara, called me excitedly, “We found them! They just came up in the system!”

County social workers can be very protective of “their kids,” and rightly so. Kara recognized this and tread lightly as we underwent submitting our home study, proving that we were capable of caring for this many children, and the like. We encountered many roadblocks, but were encouraged and supported by Chrysalis House the entire way (even if they thought we were nutty). The county required that we do a three-month transition time with the children. At the time I saw it as a “cruel & unusual punishment,” but it truly was a perfect plan for allowing the foster kids to get used to the idea of a new home and for us to recover after the long weekends.

It has been two years since the children’s placement in our home and one year since we finalized their adoption. Gone are the days of three therapy sessions a week, standoffs in the bathroom because someone wouldn’t brush their teeth, hours of sitting at the dinner table because another would not eat what was made, or a single child crying fifteen times every day and “stalking” me because they are sure I was going to leave them like everyone else had. (and admittedly, I came to realize that those issues I so arrogantly read about — DID actually pertain me!)

We are not the parents we used to be. We have had to learn to set boundaries and stand behind our words (yes still means yes, but no, no longer means maybe). We have chosen to homeschool the children and we have seen a tremendous improvement in behaviors. The children in our family have blended beautifully and get along quite well. Our adopted children continue to learn how to engage in healthy relationships, regulate their behaviors, work hard and make good personal choices.

We are immensely humbled that God would think that we were worthy of raising eight children. Some days we fail miserably as parents. I have seen sides of myself that I did not know existed prior to adoption: Embarrassing, immature, prideful, and angry sides. Thankfully there is refinement and grace for all of us. We now recognize our home as our missions field and each day we are doing the Lord’s work. And it is hard work. I never imagined I’d have to drive an institution type van, invite people into my dusty floored home, or tell my children to stop calling me Mom because I’d heard it too many times that day. But honestly, the blessings are immeasurable and we know that as long as we are in God’s will, he can make good of all things! (even my poor mommy moments). We wouldn’t change our journey for anything.

For those looking to move forward in adoption I highly recommend reaching out now and getting involved in a support group. City Without Orphans offers many additional resources in the valley, in addition to those classes offered through Chrysalis House. If you are in a marriage, analyze it honestly – is it solid? Marriages often crumble under the pressures of adoption. If you are a believer, guard your bible time. It will be taken from you. Seek respite and renewal. Having something to look forward to and then allowing yourself to be refreshed – is critical to proper parenting. Every adoption journey is unique and yours will be no different. Many blessings!

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A Happy Family Built by Fost/Adoption

DownloadedFile

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we hope to fill our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for! Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words.

We are still seeking & accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to stacy@chrysalishouse.com. Below, please enjoy the story of a family’s: Fost/Adoption.

In the event you wish to discuss our Fost/Adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862. ****************************************************************

My husband and I took quite awhile to get through the home study process, about 2 years from start to finish because of having to work around my husband’s military deployments and having to start over and renew things …once or twice. Needless to say, we were very eager to finally get our little one (who we’d been wondering about and visualizing for all this time) once we finally did get our home study done.

We had been in the waiting/matching stage for about six months, looking at profiles and waiting to hear back with our fingers crossed, but none of them were meant to be with us. We had been feeling like we were so ready and wondering what the Universe was waiting for, but it turned out to be the perfect timing. We got an email via Ashley, from a social worker in Santa Cruz County who had seen our home study and was interested in us for a little 6 year old girl who needed to be re-homed from her current foster family, whom were relatives.  We were asked whether we wanted to submit for her and make a fairly quick decision.

We got very little information on her (first name, ethnicity, no health or developmental issues), but from what we saw we didn’t have any concerns with her, so we said we wanted to submit. We heard back from the social worker that there was one other family she was looking at, and that she wanted to meet with both of us in a few weeks. We had never gotten as far as being asked to attend a disclosure before, so we were hopeful that we had a good chance of being chosen for this girl, but tried not to get too excited as we waited for this meeting. (Although I do recall us saying to each other on the way there “Let’s go get us a kid!”).

We met with the social worker and her CASA worker and learned as much about this girl as they were able to tell us. L was 6, removed from her birth parents for neglect reasons, and had been in a couple of foster homes over the last two years. The current home was meant to be permanent, but just wasn’t working out. The social worker made it very clear that she didn’t want to move her again, so if we said yes, we had to be serious about it. She also shared that she had ruled out the other family we had heard she was considering, and that made us sit up and say “wait, does that mean that if we want her, we get her?” We were in a shocked state from that point -until it had finally happened!

From everything the social worker told us, she seemed perfect for us and there were no issues she told us about that made us have any doubts about her. She made us think it over for 24 hours before we gave a definite answer, but of course we said yes– she was everything we’d been hoping for! We didn’t tell anyone at that point, because we wanted to meet her first so we had more to tell our family. In one week a meeting was set for a meeting at a park.  We were so nervous and excited as we saw her climb out of her Aunt and Uncle’s car and we locked eyes for the first time.

She was so adorable and it was love at first sight! At that point she didn’t know that she was going to be leaving her current home or that we were going to be her parents, so we were introduced as friends of the social worker by our first names. She seemed to warm up to us though and she made us run all over the park with her – she had so much energy! With the foster parents we arranged to come a few days later to spend a little time with her alone (we worked on her homework with her and took her to Burger King for dinner after).  Our next step was to spend the weekend in their town with her, which was a 2 hour drive away from where we lived. We had a mid-week visit with her after that, then we brought her to our house for the weekend, then another mid-week visit before we got to bring her home for good.

It was about 3 weeks from the time we knew we were matched with her – until she came home with us, which were incredibly crazy and busy (between working, getting her room ready for her, and getting to know her)! We were so thrilled to finally bring her home with us for good in late October. Over the next few months we discovered what it was like to hit the ground running as brand new parents with a 6 year old, and discovering all the ways we needed to nurture her unique needs as a result of her past. It was definitely a learning process, and still is. We had the holidays together (We loved seeing the look on her face on Christmas morning and tried to establish family traditions as well as honoring some of her own from past Christmases she remembered).

There had been some question of whether we would be able to finalize the adoption at exactly 6 months as her birth parents were appealing their rights being terminated, but come April of the next year, the legal process for the appeal concluded and we were asked to come up and sign all the paperwork for finalization to be submitted in May. It was looking like there wasn’t going to be an open court date in May, but we got a last minute opening on May 30th.

On that day we all got dressed up and dragged some close friends and family along, and we had a touching, personal ceremony conducted by the judge who had been overseeing her case all along, and L became legally and forever part of our family! It was an amazing day and we took a picnic to the beach with everyone, after the ceremony.

We are all so thrilled and we love her with all of our hearts. We are a very happy family!

On Thanks & Giving…

national adoption month correct

November is National Adoption Awareness Month.  In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we are filling our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others.  We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for!

Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words.  We are still accepting submissions through the month of November!  Please send your submissions to stacy@chrysalishouse.com.

Please enjoy the story of a family’s: Foster/Adoption. In the event you wish to discuss our fost/adopt program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.   

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As we gear up for the Thanksgiving holiday, we feel this story is especially beautiful as it depicts a child’s giving heart.   We’ve chosen to share it during Thanksgiving week, as it perfectly mirrors the spirit of the holiday season! 

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A Story of Thanks & Giving

In February 2010, a sweet freckle-face smiling girl walked into the room to meet us, and sat down opposite from us at the table, full of nervous giggles. We had just met our little daughter Julianna. It would be months more, long nerve-wracked months of waiting, before a judge would make this official. In the meantime, our bright sunshiny girl quickly found her way into our hearts for a permanent home. That first meeting was something special, in spite of the nerves.

Surrounded by social workers observing your interactions, as a prospective adoptive parent, you can’t help but feel judged for every action. It’s only appropriate, after all, for the caseworkers to make sure it seems like a good fit. Of course, that’s only the beginning. Holden in particular, being completely deaf, was unable to lip-read a single word that Julianna said, since she lacked most of her front teeth at the time. Drawing art in a doodle book became an easier way to begin to get to know each other.

We treasured our time with the few visits we had while she was still with her foster placement, and each time it felt harder to leave. She already felt like our girl. When she finally moved in at the end of March, we were so thrilled. We felt blessed by the addition of this incredible girl into our lives. After reading her a few storybooks before bed and tucking her in, followed by a lullaby, we sat in the living room with such a sense of amazement. Could this be real?

On the other side of a wall, a sleeping child in her room. Our child. And still we felt the stress of waiting, of uncertainty, in the back of our minds. As the months flowed by, we got to know our little girl so much better, and she learned who her new parents were. We had our ups and downs, but for the most part, we knew we were in many ways having it easy compared with what many go through. Holden’s biggest challenge for a while was Julianna’s lack of experience in having a present father. Holden had expected that language would be the biggest challenge, but Julianna progressed with learning American Sign Language as if she were a natural, so communication soon wasn’t such a big issue.

Having a father around was definitely something new for her, and a turning point came around Father’s Day 2010, when all of us went for a hike in the Sequoias. We became even closer as a family that day, and ever since then we have only grown stronger.  Over the last year and a half, we have loved being her parents.

We have been thrilled to see her get involved with Girl Scouts, a kids’ singing group, softball, and now 4-H. She loves to be active and is an amazing student. She’s got the greatest sense of humor, loves attention, and is extremely creative. And yes, like many kids, she’s not so great at entertaining herself when we’re zapped from a long day at work, and her closet might be overflowing with a plethora of toys she doesn’t play with. We have our challenges, to be sure, but that’s part of the joys of parenting.

A few months ago, Julianna’s 8th birthday arrived, and we’d like to share with you this story, in Julianna’s words:  “Before my birthday, I decided to not have gifts but to do something else for foster kids, so I told my friends to give me money instead of gifts. After my birthday party, I took the money and bought clothes for the foster children. After I bought the clothes, I took a picture of me with the clothes (pictured below). Then I took the hangers off of the clothes and packed them in a box to send to the agency. I felt very proud.”

We as parents, of course, were also proud of her for this selflessness –especially since it was her decision to do so, after being inspired by seeing a news story about two teen boys who raised money for a different cause. Julianna thought for quite a while about what she wanted to raise money for, and decided it would be for foster kids since she had been one herself. After contacting one agency, they suggested clothes rather than money, so that’s what she focused on. She admittedly avoided buying any clothes in her size that night, because she didn’t want to feel jealous about the new clothes. Now life has gone on, and continues to be worthwhile in every moment that we have as a family. We are now searching for a second child through Chrysalis House, whose staff we will always be grateful toward, for all the hard work they did in helping us expand our family. Chrysalis House is a non-profit with a lot of heart and a lot of commitment toward the families they serve.

***Family Names have been changed to preserve Confidentiality.