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our story: foster to adopt, part 4

Tiffany NicoleComment

We are excited to announce our adoption of Ryland James, as of February 19th, he is officially a member of the family. In honor of our celebration, I will be sharing our journey in to fostering and adopting in a few short posts. Fostering is near to our hearts and our prayer is that God would open yours, too, to see what he has in store for your family and maybe our journey would be some encouragement to get you started. (If you missed them, here are parts one and two and three.)

It has been a beautiful, crazy time going from two to three. Days filled with holding one child and carrying another and prepping snacks and washing bottles and making sure dance parties are still part of the everyday. Accompanied by lots of firsts. First time with two in diapers. First time having regular visits with numerous social workers. First time having bottles of formula piling up by the sink. First time forgetting to pack a bottle. The months and adjustments danced by.

In October, all parental rights were terminated and we waited out the appeal period over the holidays. Everything was going as had been assumed. It felt a little eerie but exciting, none the less. He already fit right in the family. We signed our adoption placement paperwork on January 19th and awaited our finalization date.

The night before the final court signing it really hit me. This was the end. No family was coming forward. Social workers would no longer be involved. No more meetings or water temping or extra paper work for the doctors. No strings attached. He was to be ours. Officially.

We made it to the court house with no time to spare. Ricardo paid for parking and I left our diaper bag at security. We met with our social workers, one of whom was unable to be there for signing. We declared we were ten years older than Ryland to the judge and signed our son in to our family, officially.

The receiving of a gift like this is hard to put in words. There are so many dynamics and people involved in fostering. My heart broke for his mama, whom we have yet to meet. And for her family and their history, which we know merely a drop of. It broke for the loss the connection and love but rejoiced in God's blessing of choosing him for us. He is chosen, as are the babies I birthed. God chose and consecrated them for us.

There is a tendency towards some sort of ownership that takes place between conception and birth. The uncomfortable sleepless nights and heart burn and extra weight on the scale all takes you one step closer to becoming the owner. You work so hard giving up your favorite foods and cutting back on others and endure constant back pain and swelling feet knowing it will all be worth it in the end when you hold your little one for the first time.

 Being given a baby without strings attached, so to speak, without putting in the physical work and enduring labor pains is a different sort of gift in its entirety.

 The miracle presents itself as that, and rightly so. The gift is just that. A gift. A gift from God revealing his nature of redemption and restoration.

To be given the gift of a baby is nothing short of a miracle but receiving the gift of someone else's is like getting a double helping of the miraculous in a beautiful, broken kind of way.

When you get pregnant, you expect to give birth and have a child but when you sign up for foster to adopt, you are opening up the unexpected. Learning about giving and taking away.

It brings thoughts of baby feet or tiny toddler hands and endless possibility. Where they will go. Who they will follow. Who they will lead. And whether it be for a time or a life time we get to experience the journey and see the paths marked out for them.

Whether or not they will be with us forever is not if importance but whether we will love them like they will be, is. Ownership is not part of the equation. They are God's children. As are those we birthed.  And we get to demonstrate love to them like he loved us.

If there is one thing about our family and fostering, reunification is always on our hearts. As we hear stories of the broken families and traumatic pasts, we also know the power and redemptive work of God. We are not better than the parents who are struggling with addictions or priorities and we are not here to swoop in and save their children. We are here to come along side a hurting and broken family and love them where they are at. To love their children the best we know how, while they get help. To pray for a miracle for them and their family to be fully restored. But if that is not possible, we are here to care for them as our own, though our prayers of redemption never stop.

We are ready to put our hearts in a blender. To love children who may not know love and love their parents who may not know it, either.

When God does something, he does not merely do the minimum, he goes beyond our wildest dreams and makes something amazing to share with others. To share of his grace and peace in the process and surrounding us with a group of friends to pray for us and everyone involved the entire time. And family and friends to carry us as we adjusted and went to appointments and entered in to a fuller and richer life. And for that, we are ever thankful. 

We sit here nine months after being certified, having grown our family from four to five, thankful for his gift. And pretty sure that God is not leading us to stop here, whatever that means - whatever adventures await us. 

our story: foster to adopt, part 3

Tiffany Nicole10 Comments

We are excited to announce our adoption of Ryland James, as of February 19th, he is officially a member of the family. In honor of our celebration, I will be sharing our journey in to fostering and adopting in a few short posts. Fostering is near to our hearts and our prayer is that God would open yours, too, to see what he has in store for your family and maybe our journey would be some encouragement to get you started. (In case you missed them, here are parts one and two.)

When we filled out our paper work determining the criteria of the children we would be willing to take, it felt a little inhumane. Which race? Which gender? How old? Which of these special needs are you comfortable with? With every question, the thought of saying no to someone became real. My child could have special needs. I could birth a child with special needs. I have not raised a child that old yet. The thoughts went on.

We ended up being pretty open, according to our social worker, and namely set the age - a child from birth to five years. We were expecting an older child because that is typically how it goes. But to our surprise, our adoption adventure was not to be a typical story.

Three days after our first baby left, a Friday morning, my cell phone rang again, as I stood in our backyard pushing Penny on the swing. This time just a few details of two day old baby boy who would be coming home from the hospital the following day came across the line. His tests were negative. He was healthy. Would we take him? Oh, and by the way, he was up for adoption.

We had an entire day to prep all the newborn gadgets. To wash the car seat and assemble the swing and buy diapers and bottles and purchase another crib, as Jude was still in one and not ready to give it up. Typically, there is merely a few hours at most before the arrival, we were blessed with a day.

Driving to the hospital to pick him up was surreal. Ricardo was working and Penny and Jude were with my aunt. I met with our social workers in front of the hospital to fill out paper work, empty car seat in hand, ready to be filled with new beginnings - the first possibly long term child to be placed in our home.

We were blessed with the sweetest social worker through out the process, who asked if I would like to take a picture there. I was hesitant at first but even if he would not stay in our care long term, I reasoned, at least he would know someone loved him from the beginning and could be put in his baby book. Enter semi-awkward first picture.

Signing the hospital discharge papers in the mom spot and taking his little bag of belongings to my car and placing him in the car seat for his first ride home, to our home, is hard to put in to words. I had not birthed himI was not his mom, nor did I know I would be, yet I was allowed this sacred space, pen in hand.  

Who gets to enjoy a newborn without any of the physical work involved? Without months of food aversions and growing waste line and the pain of delivery. It was like Christmas caring for a newborn without the recovery. 

This was the child we had been praying for the past few years. 

Saturday morning, our agency called us informing us that despite his adoption status from the previous day, we were being considered the emergency placement home by the county. They reassured us that they would talk with the county workers but nothing was certain.

It was a reminder of the complexity of the system and a reminder that we had opened up our home for this, for this baby, however long he would stay. However long God had him in our care. And it was another opportunity to fully trust God.

We spent the next few weeks getting use to our new normal, with an out pouring of love from our friends and family via dinners and babysitting.

We met with social workers and talked with attorneys and loved our tiny baby as if he were our own. Penny and Jude took to him without hesitation. Hugs and kisses, though sometimes a little over zealous, were constantly being had. 

We met with Ryland's adoption social worker when he was a  mere two weeks old. Nothing was certain but it had been decided we were to be his adoptive parents, if relatives did not come forward.

our story: foster to adopt, part 2

Tiffany NicoleComment
We are excited to announce our adoption of Ryland James, as of February 19th, he is officially a member of the family. In honor of our celebration, I will be sharing our journey in to fostering and adopting in a few short posts. Fostering is near to our hearts and our prayer is that God would open yours, too, to see what he has in store for your family and maybe our journey would be some encouragement to get you started. (You can find part one here.)

We enjoyed our new little family, as we went from three to four, adding a boy to the mix. Jude was born December 2013 and we adjusted and enjoyed the craziness of caring for two littles. 

We attended a friend's wedding in October 2014 in Reno. While we were in the area, we visited with friends we had been blessed to walk with through their journey of fostering to adopt. Our friend is a pastor and we stayed for service. It was Orphan Sunday. Tears ran down my cheeks as I listened. My heart continuing to break for the children. For the child God had for us. I have never cried so much in a service. Or knew without a doubt that we had to start the certification process again. There was a child waiting for us.

We contacted our agency and got started filling out packets of paperwork and all the fun things you do to get ready. We were thankful that some of our past interviews were kept, which sped up the process and we knew what to expect this time.

We had planned to go through months, if not years, of court dates and visits and prayers for families and reunifications and everything else that a typical foster to adopt process takes in order to end up in adoption. Everything we had heard and seen others walk through its doors. 

We had prepared ourselves as best as we could, while we installed new locks on the cabinets and spent hours in more trainings (I have to add, these trainings were AMAZING and every parent should take them; not to mention yummy food is provided) and rearranged our home to accommodate another little person and completed the check list of county regulations. We were wet behind the ears with our official, newly certified home.

A whole two days passed between being certified to receiving our first call for a baby. We were out of state. The logistics did not work. Another week. We received a call for an emergency placement. We said yes to the sweetest seven month old baby boy for eight nights.

It was during those eight nights that I found myself asking what we were doing. What we were doing opening our home and interrupting our schedules to cater to strangers. What we were doing bringing social workers in to our home on a regular basis and welcoming the uncontrollable. And what if what we were doing was going to wreck our children and their childhood. It was a wake up to the reality of what God had for our family.

We were not meant to live cookie cutter lives or be so set on our own pursuits that we miss out on those around us. Being in community, having friendships and loving others allows for interruptions to be turned in to opportunities.

For us, this was our opportunity to be interrupted with phone calls for children and for self centered prayers to be turned to those in the system, those who needed Jesus. This was our entry in to deeper gospel living and receiving more than we had to give to those God placed in our care.

Receiving the blessing to care for those who cannot care for themselves and be reminded of how rich God has made us, not in material form, but in Spirit. In his love and compassion and this was our opportunity to overflow, despite the exposure of opening up our home and our hearts. 

We were ready, as we could be, for the next call. 

our story: foster to adopt, part 1

Tiffany NicoleComment

We are excited to announce our adoption of Ryland James, as of February 19th, he is


a member of the family. In honor of our celebration, I will be sharing our journey in to fostering and adopting in a few short posts. Fostering is near to our hearts and our prayer is that God would open yours, too, to see what he has in store for your family and maybe our journey would be some encouragement to get you started.

My husband and I had talked about the possibility of adopting for a while and while reading through the book of James, God spoke to us about what pure religion was to him - caring for orphans (James 1:27) and that was what he called us to do. 

When our daughter was about a year old, we started talking more seriously. One night, I Googled adoption. Distant children from around the globe covered the screen. As I starred at the faces and prayed and cried, God whispered about the children here in our community. I opened a new browser and the name of a foster agency I heard once came up in the searches. This was it.

Going to the park in the mornings was a routine for my daughter and me. 

The next morning we found ourselves there with another little girl and her grandma. As conversation progressed, her twenty plus years of being a foster mom surfaced, along with adopting and her children's adjustment and all things related. As she spoke, I could not help but laugh as God showed me glimpses in to his plan and confirmation of becoming a foster parent.

We signed up for an orientation with the agency and continued on to the trainings and background checks and moving to a bigger home to make room for more family members in the process. In April of 2013, one interview away from finishing our home study and officially being certified, we found out we were expecting.

When our social worker came to finish the final interview, we told him the news. His blank face starred back at us, asking if we were doing anything to prevent it or if miscarriages were possible and went on to say we could not do the interview. Instead, we had to send a letter to the agency to put our file on hold, if we planned on being certified when the baby was six months.

We had just finished a few weeks of praying and fasting and seeking God for direction for the coming years, when we found out about the pregnancy. We knew it was God's plan but it was also disheartening. All of the time and hoops we had jumped through seemed a little pointless, as we would have to do it all over again, if or when we decided to.

The following month, I sat reading a magazine that happened to have an article about adoption. About someone's adoption story. They, too, had issues and the process took a lot longer than planned but on the very day they signed their last paper, their baby was born. As I read, God whispered, 

your baby is not born yet

. And that was the answer. I did not completely grasp what it meant but I knew he had plans and I knew we would be starting the process again, eventually.  

open hands & open doors.

Tiffany NicoleComment

My house is sprinkled with reminders of the little man who graced us with his presence for the past week. Bottles and baby toys and formula. After more than two years of starting the process of fostering to adopt and having to put it on hold and starting the entire process over, our home was officially certified two weeks ago. The whole process is interesting in it of itself. With the interviews and training and the compassion and grace that must take place to really be able to do it.

People often say they could


do it.

But for me, it was not matter of whether or not I could do it but a matter of


to God and his calling on our family.

It was reading through James and hearing God's confirmation that pure and faultless religion is taking care of orphans (James 1:27).

It was saying yes to opening our home to strangers and inconveniences and covering them in


and grace and truly believing that God is faithful.  

Fostering is so much more than taking in a child but taking in a piece of a hurting family. It is being a cheerleader and encourager for the parents to get the help they need and taking care of their precious child in the mean time, for however long God seems fit.

It is praying for redemption and salvation and seeing the roots of it firsthand.

It is committing to pray for the family long after the last bag is packed and good-byes are said, knowing full well that you may not see them again on this side of eternity.

It is pouring your heart out like a drink offering and being thankful that you can feel and love and give unconditionally, all in the name of Jesus.   

It is truly learning how to embrace today with open hands for whatever God has in store. Whatever call comes across your phone and being ready with a yes.

It is teaching your biological children that there is something bigger than just your family. That the world does not revolve around their soccer practices or recitals or piano lessons or appointments but around others, all in the name of Jesus. It is learning that sometimes they have to wait and how they are not the center of your world - God is - and living it out in front of them.

It is remembering that

no matterhow our children came to us

, whether by womb or through prayer and superfluous amounts of paper work, they are not ours. And not forever. And when it is time for them to go, being comforted that God is with them wherever it may be (Joshua 1:9). 

Praying that you would open your hearts and minds to the possibility of foster care or adoption and that if God has been leading you towards it, in any sense of the way, that you would be obedient and seek out the next steps and that God would be faithful to open the right doors and give you grace and love to pour out.

Praying that you would see past the stacks of papers and background checks and in to the hearts of God's children. Praying that you would see the need and that you would find a way to help in whatever capacity that it may be, whether through prayer or babysitting for a foster family or becoming one yourself.

Here's to impacting the world, one person at a time.