Sometimes when I look where we are today I’m in amazement how we got here. Other days I look and see everything we are still working towards and it seems so far away. As a mom I want a big house, a big yard for my children to grow up with and lots of space for organization. As a wife I couldn’t care less, it could be a tiny house in the middle of nowhere. I just want us time.
I find myself wishing for less of technology. Back to the good days when someone had to leave a voicemail in hopes of a returned call. Instead we get calls then texts demanding immediate attention. Those who know me, know I tend to not answer either right away. Because well… I’ve been down that road and I’d rather be known for not being on my phone 24/7. Ive decided it’s ok. That they can think I’m irresponsible, so I can have a little more family time.
On social media, I do love taking pictures of my son and all the cute comments I get, because he’s obviously the cutest. But when does it stop. I think I actually feel bad now if I havnt posted a memorable moment. But what if, I want my moments to be between just us. Memories I can tell others about that they don’t remember or saw on instagram. Everything is in the now. Right now. So demanding…like a toddler.
But all in all I think the worst of it is work and money and all the crap you can get caught up in. I’m just ready for a slower life where I can garden or watch the stars with my family. Now I sound like an old lady.
There’s always something, there’s always a new project, there’s always a better job. We’re just trying to not let life slip us by and follow the path God has given us and where is it leading? Towards us working together as a family and towards work that I don’t even see as work because I love it so much (fixer uppers) and yes towards nights we can spend staring at the stars. No, we arnt there yet, but I know God is putting it into our grasp and it doesn’t seem so far away anymore. I know He has such a great plan for us because as we’re trusting Him more, everything is just falling into place.
Still, I have to remind myself to slow down. To breathe and take it in. Yes were getting somewhere, but it’s not happening overnight and I can’t make it happen. Only He can.I think it’s great to have goals and plans but I believe that they should be flexible because nothing in life is ever definite. Also I’d probably completely fall apart in anxiety if I expected otherwise. So I expect change. Or I try to at least and though I might not always take it in the best way , I know we can still follow Him with Hope.
Funny how when your following God the way your supposed to, everything that is “important” to this world seems to fall away. I don’t have a main message for this post other then, don’t get caught up in the next best thing or the next best job, sometimes it’s just doing what you think is how He would want you to live. I know He wants us to be happy and I know without a doubt He knows me better then me. So don’t follow your dreams but what might be His dream for you and it will be so much more then anything else you could have dreamed of.
That day before we got to take Clark home, we went to to see my grandparents. We had kept it hushed about his arrival (born on November 8th) especially since everything was still so uncertain. I was excited to tell them, not sure how they would respond but knew they would be happy for us.
We of course let Noni know we were on our way there and stopping for a visit. As always she had a dessert and coffee for us, we sat down and talked a little about other things going on. We told them a bit about our barn house plans and the property we had purchased. Then me and Jake looked at each other and said “well we have some good news..”
Noni said they had wondered what the visit was for. We told them how we were adopting a baby boy and how he had just been born. Both Noni and Papa teared up with happiness. Papa all choked up, said he had a rough day and that it was the best news he could hear. He went on to say that one of his dear friends from his bible study had passed away, that morning and to hear about a new baby being born into the family was incredible. A boy! The first Great-grandson.
Noni and Papa talked about how blessed they were to be able to have great grandchildren.
We told them how we were naming him Clark and Papa laughed, “like Clark Kent?” (He thought he was being funny.) We laughed and said “Yes! Like Clark Kent!”
Then Papa said, “can I pray for you guys? I would just like to thank God for this.” He shook his head in amazement still tearing up.
I’m so thankful for the way Papa prayed for us. He poured his heart out. When he finished, we were all choked up. Lords presence was definitely in that room. Noni said how they are always praying for us, how they pray for each of us by name, even little baby Dakota. Such a blessing to have grandparents that except all children with such joy and open arms.
Jake and I both left feeling in awe of how blessed we were. Jake said, “some day, I hope I can pray the way your Papa does”. I agreed, there was something so special in how he could pour his heart out in prayer.
I won’t ever forget that night we told Noni and Papa about Clark.
In September 2016, we were running around constantly. We wanted to do anything and everything we could do to help the adoption process go smoothly. Signing papers and emailing them or dropping them off at an office was the norm.
I attended a couple Dr visits with pregnant mom. It was awkward in some ways, yet so natural after I had already gone to many of these types appointments with my sister. I did my best to make mom feel at ease, I could sense her feeling like she was being critized. My heart hurt for her. She just wanted what was best for her baby, without all the hurt. I’m so glad she chose adoption.
She told me she was going to do her best to have me in the birth room. It meant a lot she would even try, but I had no expectations. His mom had what was called cholestasis and baby boy was going to have to be 4 weeks early by c-section if he didn’t come on his own. They had to have blood tests done every week to watch bile levels in the bloodstream.
On November 8th, it was election day, we had to go get our fingerprints done in Grand Rapids, as a last step for our home study (since those couldn’t be transfered over from our foster care licence). We got them done and were headed back to Greenville to vote. As we were about half way home, I received a text saying that baby mom’s blood test came back very high. They were headed to Helen Devos hospital and would keep us updated. I told Jake: “I’m pretty sure that means baby is coming today!!!”
We voted, then stopped at home to grab the ready diaper bag and carseat, then were headed back to GR. I recieved a text saying baby was coming today! We sat with mom a little while in the room as they preped her, anxiety was high. I was told I would not be able to be in the room, which had been expected. We would wait.
Jake called our lawyer to let him know what was going on, he was anxious for us and told us to come back to greenville to sign paperwork, so we had something for Dr’s after baby was born. We rushed to his office, got the paperwork and rushed back to the hospital as fast as we could.
Then, we a arrived at the room at almost 5pm and baby was born at 3:59:59pm. They had him all ready for us in our own special room. Nurses surrounding him as they checked everything. One nurse was someone that I hadn’t seen in years and had babysat her children probably 7 years ago.
Finally I got to see my baby. He was perfect. 7lb 9oz and 21 inches long. Me and Jake took turns holding him as we were just taking it all in. It was happening. Our Clark Matthew Rogers. All the nurses asked what we were naming him since his bed tag just said Baby Boy. It felt too good to be true to be given such a choice to name this special baby.
Clark’s mom’s friend came to visit and see baby since she hadnt had the chance. She teared up and told us how his mom had only asked to see his face once and then had him moved out of the room. It was sweet and I’m glad she saw her baby’s face.
Then the nurse came in and said they had to check his breathing since he had seemed to have some trouble. His lungs wernt formed enough, so he had to go on cpap until he was able to breath better on his own. It was sad seeing him all hooked up and made it complicated holding him. We watched him be brave and independent though as he arched his back and trying to lift his head. He was poked in his foot and he made one little whine and then scrunched up his face as he toughed it out. Already we could see his personality forming.
Trump was voted president that night. We were exhuasted, yet not quite able to sleep. We stayed up late that night and watched the election in a room given to us by the hospital for the night. I was happy that I could be so close to our baby. It was a crazy next few days of paperwork and talking to the “right” people. At times I felt like I was on repeat, just retelling our circumstances and showing our paperwork. I ended up hauling around a large folder of documents everywhere I went in the hospital.
The 2nd day there I snuck Clark’s hat off to look at his beatiful little head, by then his hair was cleaner and more dry. I couldn’t believe it. His hair was blonde! I mean, it was still kinda dark, but I saw a blonde tint for sure!! I texted my sisters saying “I’m pretty sure my baby has BLONDE hair!”.
Even in that small little sign I could see God working and giving us hope of what was meant to be. We always dreamed of having blue eyed babies with curly blonde hair. God put me at ease in so many ways, as if saying :”see no worries, I’m taking care of everything.”
Not all things were bliss, while we prepared for Clark. The search for what to do, to make the adoption legal was so much harder then we thought it would be. We called Samaritas (the foster care agency we were licenced with) but they could not help with private adoptions. We made an appointment with Adoption Associates that cost $100 just for the information packet. They told us they would have to put the baby into foster care in GR before he could be placed in our home, just for a month. But that scared me, I knew that foster care could go on for much longer, and that would be precious time lost with bonding with the baby.
We decided to try Bethany Christian services. They were so much nicer and more understanding. However, we would need to retake all our foster care training and be licensed through them before they could help. That could take months, we didn’t have months.
As we were grasping at straws just looking for anyone who would help us get ready for this baby’s arrival. We needed it to be legal! We decided to ask a personal lawyer friend. Tom Ginster, he was excited but unsure where to start. He called up another lawyer who happened to a be part of an adoption agency, Greater Hopes. She was amazing. She put us at ease, helping us use our foster care license and using our current home study so we wouldn’t have to do it all over again. We decided to keep both lawyer and adoption agency to work together as a team.
Next was preparing financially, we had almost zero savings and had already been paying on a large loan when we bought property. Still had student loans and the mortgage. But we HAD to make this work. We started the Dave Ramsey plan, canceling any subscriptions we could, while taking out a 10k personal loan. We also had to get health insurance for me, because if baby was adopted within 3 months he could be covered as if I gave birth to him.
Pay check by paycheck we made it work, while still putting small amounts into savings and towards paying off loans. I’m still in awe of how God provided for us in those months, somehow we still had enough. We were trusting in Him to provide if it was meant to be and He WAS in so many ways.
After baby girl had left and we became her godparents, Jake and I took every chance we could to babysit. Our home was child free at the time. We both wernt sure when we would be ready to take another baby in again. We really wanted to adopt. I also still hoped I would get pregnant. Depression hit me hard. I didn’t understand why it wasn’t happening. All my life I had assumed becoming a mom would be easy. I was trying so hard to not be angry at God.
We focused our attention to our future. We didn’t want to stay in the city. We wanted to build a house. Over the summer, even with the boys we had been looking for old barns to take down. We owned a small piece of property we had taken a loan out to buy before we had foster kids. We worked on clearing some of the land together and went deer hunting.
For my sake I had to stay busy, I couldn’t stand just sitting around. I went to Ohio with Jake and worked with him in October. It had been around 3 weeks since baby girl had left. Then while I was working with Jake, I received a message asking if we would be interested in adopting a baby. I remember just staring at the message. I couldn’t get my hopes up. But I said yes and that we had been praying for a baby. I was excited but so scared. She responded and said she knew of a pregnant mom who was looking for someone to adopt the baby. I told Jake trying not to completley freak out. I learned She was 7 or 8 months pregnant and hadn’t had any Dr visits yet.
Next step was meeting mom. We met with her and her friend at Bigboy. We talked about the situation and how we,would go about it. We wanted to do it as a private adoption and would need a lawyer. We told her she could be a part of baby’s life if she wanted to. She said no, trying to hold back tears, she said it would be too hard. This is what she wanted and she wanted nothing to do with us once it was over. They said they had an appointment and asked if I wanted to come to it. I said I would come to anything they wanted me at.
I attended the appointment with them and I got to hear baby’s heart beat. It was incredible, this was happening. That baby was a miracle. Next was a scheduled altrasound, which both me and Jake were able to attend. I was scared, nervous and excited. We stood there awkwardly as they looked at baby’s development for what seemed hours. Then finally the nurse said “I think it’s a boy”. Me and Jake looked at each other trying not to get our hopes up. Another nurse came in and said “oh yeah, it looks like a boy”. Mom asked if we had names picked out yet. I hadn’t even realized that we got to pick the name!!! This was happening so fast!!
That day we called family members telling them what was happening and that baby was a boy! We drove around telling my family members. He would be the first grandson…
Foster care, there are so many things that happen with it we don’t talk about. We’re not really supposed to talk about. As foster parents you have to learn how to keep information to yourself for the protection of both the children and the parents. It makes it hard knowing who to talk to and what to say is ok.
At times with baby girl, I felt stuck. Everything at home was going great, but I still didn’t understand the court dates or where the parents case was at. It made it even more confusing when the caseworker asked on a monthly basis if we were willing to adopt baby girl if it came to that. Our answer was always yes.
Every once in a great while her dad would show up to visits. But it was rare. Baby girls mom was always sweet, asking questions about her and how she was doing. I could tell she really loved her. She was doing her best to get her back. Then she started missing visits here and there, she never made it to Dr visits. It all fell a part when dad went to jail. Next, I was supposed to meet with her and she never showed. I was told she may try to visit me. So I was on high alert. Visits were postponed.
But then two weeks later everyone acted as if nothing happened. Another thing foster parents have to learn is to ask questions. Nobody feels the need to fill in foster parents unless asked. I asked what had happened and found she had slipped up. She had been using again, she said she just needed her boyfriend and baby to get better. Her visits were suspended for a week.
Then I stopped receiving court later dates, I no longer knew when court was. I missed one. I called my caseworker and she hadnt been there either, she had someone fill in for her. The lawyer hadnt made it either, he had someone fill in. What?! It seemed everyone was giving up on baby.
The next court date I made sure I asked about when it was and made sure I was there. The judge wanted to have baby girl sent home with dad that day. Her dad had gotten out of jail just 3 days before. She had only met him a few times mainly through some visitations through glass and she was 7mo. The judge asked me how she was doing. I said great, but I strongly disagreed with sending a baby home with a someone she barrely knew. He gave us two more weeks and said to give her overnight visits with dad.
That day I cried all the way home. In complete shock. How can this happen. How do we know it’s safe with dad? What about mom? Was she ready? She hadnt even made it 6 months clean. I just wanted baby girl safe. For her to know that I was still there and that I hadn’t given up on her. So many things I knew about this case and it didn’t make sense. But they were her parents and to the court that was all that mattered.
The next days were hard. All I wanted to do was hold her. She was mine. She will always be one of my babies. I gave so many things to her parents, everything I could think of that she might need. Anything that might remind her of us so she would feel safe. Her dad seemed nice.
Finally it took so much. To hand her over and to think that it was a very good possibility that we would never see her again. She had been our baby for over 7months. Her parents assured us we could visit. But anybody can say that.
Weeks went by, I barely had the heart to store away left over baby things or random socks I found.
Then one day they called and asked us to babysit. My heart soared! I got to see my baby again! That visit the parents asked us to be her godparents. I cried. I wanted so much to stay a part of her life! How could I ask for anything more?
The day I wrote my letter of notice was surreal. Its kind of a blur now. But I remember trying not to cry while I wrote it for the reasons why. I’m not going to list them all because it was a lot, but the main reason was for the safety of my family. My heart hurt for them though, for the reasons it ended up like this and knowing that it was their past that had made them act this way.
We had 14 days after the removal letter. Life at home was harder then before. The boys knew they were leaving but they thought it was because of school. I did not want them to think it was their fault. It wasnt, it was the adults in their lives that had failed them. They acted out more, I could feel them distancing themselves.
Furthermore, I had started wondering if them being together was really the best for them. They seemed to feed on each other’s anger. I also believed the 4yr was suffering from RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) When they were separated they were completely different. I really thought what they needed was more one on one time or at least a family with older kids to look up to.
It was frustrating because the foster care agency kept telling me they just needed to be watched more carefully. I was a stay at home mom, I was literally with them all day long.
A family from our church reached out and said they could take one of them. It made me feel a lot better knowing where they were going. The younger one ended going in a different home but wasn’t too far. I made photo books for them and bought each of them a going away gift.
Sill, I felt like I failed but I knew in my heart it was for the best. I prayed about it everday. God gave me peace about our decision. The worst part was how it looked to others. I tried not to let it get to me. This was our last resort. We had done everything we could.
It was a hard when we saw them every now and then at our church. They acted as if they didn’t know us. They were happy though. They had families that we’re helping them.
Its all crazy to me now, thinking about how I had three children. All at once. To this day I’m still in amazement how long it lasted. I learned a lot through the experience. About myself and what Jake and I can handle. My family is amazingly supportive and I definitely could not have done it without them.
We still had baby girl after the boys left, I was happy that I had time with her to give my undivided attention. We had no idea how much more time we had with her, I still hoped for adoption but it was looking less and less likely all the time…