I'm so glad you're here! This is our story. God has lead us to adoption to build our family and here you will find my real and raw experiences with joys and triumphs as well as struggles and sadness. I hope you're encouraged by our story of God's faithfulness and His love for us!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Well.. here we go again!

Lots has happened since the last time I decided to sit down and blog. Once things we finalized with Dora's adoption I wasn't sure what direction to go with my posts so I just stopped. Well.. here we are just over a year later and we've been placed with Dora's sister who was 4 months old at the time. I had known that BM (birth mom) was pregnant before things with Dora were even finalized and I prayed for the baby throughout the pregnancy. I prayed that BM would do well. I prayed that she would stay clean. I prayed for health and safety for them and I prayed for both of their salvation. I wasn't sure she was using in the beginning and then her behavior on social media started reflecting behavior that was consistent with drug use and I started praying that God would bring us the baby once the baby was born. I prayed for them both once I knew that the baby, Bug as I call her, was born and it wasn't long after that BM announced on social media that she was going into a treatment program. I assumed that meant that Bug would go into foster care and that we would get a phone call asking us to take her. THREE months went by before I heard anything from CFS (children and family services) and I had been praying about what I should do during that time. It was oh so tempting to call them and demand placement since we have the sibling. It was oh so tempting to force this placement to happen. But as I prayed about it was I convinced that if God wanted us together than He would bring her in His timing and I was at peace with that. I waited patiently in hope that we would get the phone call but I determined to trust the Lord with this situation.
When we got the initial phone call it wasn't a placement call. It was an inquiry call to see if we would want to take her and of course we said yes! It was over a month later that we received the placement call. And then we had licensing issues to resolve before we could move her in. But on June 28th we finally got to bring her home. We had seen her a couple times before but this day was the first day that she was ours alone. As I took the time to bond with her I didn't even remember that we still had a long process ahead of us or that there were risks. To me it has always been "God has given me this baby. He'll see it through to the end." There are times, like whenever I talk to the Social Worker, that I falter and become scared. But I can honestly say that for 14 months I have been at peace. Yesterday was one of those days when I went to bat with the social worker over visitation and his unwillingness to take into account past history and protect the baby and I got off the phone and sobbed. From a humanly perspective I SHOULD fear. The SW is fighting hard to get them back together. But then after I gush my fears the truth that fills my heart is that my God loves me. He desires the best for me and that He is always faithful.
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Psalm 36:5
You see, I really don't need to worry because the God of heaven's armies is fighting for me! He is the one who puts rulers on their throne. Including this judge who is responsible to decide what happens next.
Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him.
It is He who changes the times and the epochs
He removes kings and establishes kings;
He gives wisdom to wise men
And knowledge to men of understanding.
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things;
He knows what is in the darkness
And the light dwells with Him.
Daniel 2:19-22

He has already gone before me because the judge that we got, from what we have heard, is one of the best. I just about cried when I heard who the judge was and I DID cry when I found out that her lawyer is the same lawyer that we had with Dora. These are the things that help me to physically see God working and fuel my faith. I don't need them to believe that God is working. They are a blessing and a gift. A rainbow of promise to me. I serve a good and faithful God! There are SO many verses that encourage my heart when my heart is discouraged like it was yesterday. 

So, I'm glad that things didn't go well on the phone with the SW yesterday because it reminded me that I can't feel comfortable and that I need to be rallying the prayer warriors like I did with Dora's adoption. Will you please join our family in prayer?

Here are a few things that you can specifically be praying for.
1. For peace to guard our hearts
2. For the court date to be postponed until January
3. For the courts to grant us de facto parent status at 4 or 5 months into  placement so that we have the right to be in the court room and to have legal representation if necessary. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It's official!!!!

Dora's a Hart!!!! After we said our good byes and we were pulling down the decorations I started bawling and I haven't stopped! Looking at pictures of my beloved child and thinking about how far we've come and that this day finally arrived is unbelievable! When I saw Kerry today memories of heart break and devastation came flooding back. Seeing her took me back to the day we got the call that they didn't terminate rights the first time and that we were now in a risky situation. I was at Bible Study with Julie and stepped out the take the call but never returned until the very end. I couldn't face everyone with the bad news so I went to the nursery and my mom was there. My mom didn't usually come to watch the kids, but she was in the nursery with Kerry and the kids. That moment was one of the worst moments of my life. As I handed Dora off to someone and I leaned against the wall, sliding down into heart broken sobs thinking that this child that I barely knew but loved dearly would be leaving us. How far have we come? I'm still sobbing, but this time with joy and awe that God has brought us through to completion! His faithfulness throughout the journey is unmeasured and He has taught me so much! This was His plan all along. He made me walk through some trials that I wasn't sure I'd make it through, but He knew His grace was greater than my needs and fears. How great and good is my God?

Dora's joy this morning was pouring over. I don't think she has any understanding of the significance of this day but she knew she was the center of attention and that she is going to be with us forever and ever and ever! It was so cute when the judge was talking and she said Dora's name Dora shouted that's me! And she kept saying it was her birthday! Silly girl! See what I mean? No real understanding of how precious this day was for us! The hearing itself isn't that long or dramatic but it means EVERYTHING to me!

We had a party afterwards with family and the friends who came to the courthouse. By then I was so spent. I was SO tired! I think I don't even realize when I'm holding my emotions in anymore but exhaustion definitely is a sign! It's become second nature as I live with infertility. Very few see my real emotions about it because babies are such a blessing and I never want to put a damper on other people's joy when they're expecting. So, I've learned to steal myself and wait until a more appropriate time to express my grief (and yes... it is getting better as I see God building my family in the way that He has always intended.). Poor Bry. He bears the brunt of it and today was no exception. As I watched all my family leave and I said good bye to my brother I started becoming weepy. I thought it was because I was tired and then it hit me... Of course I'm weepy! God has answered my prayers and the joy in my heart is inexpressible so it escaped as weepy tears!

I just want to thank you all for your love, prayer and support! I honestly mean that we couldn't have made it through the past 15 months without you all! I desperately needed your love and encouragement. I needed you to listen. I needed a shoulder to cry on and you all have been that for me! The journey is definitely not over. It has just begun! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!
Here she is with her snow globe! It's become our tradition to give our children a snow globe on their adoption day! Dora got a "Hey Diddle Diddle" globe and she loves it! 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Nearing the End!!!!

So those of you who are on Facebook know that we've been in Pleasant Hill the past two work days reading Dora's file. AND, I know many of you are probably curious what we found in that file! Most of it had nothing to do with Dora and nothing to do with us. It was mostly to do with bio mom so there's not a lot to tell. I'm not going to publicly share the details of some one else's story. But, what I will say is that while the file didn't have a ton of new information it did fill in some of the blanks. I found birthdays, full names, addresses, phone numbers, information on the older siblings and grandparents, even a cousin. I found out the reasons that Dora was removed and where she lived when she lived with her bio mom. Who her first foster family was and what they were like. I found out that the bio grandparents did want to bring Dora home but that it really was just beyond them at their age to take on another child. Period. Let alone a toddler. I'm glad that we have that information for when she's older as she realizes that they took her older brother and sister but not her. I feel like over all I just got a better picture of who her biological family is and where she came from. In some ways it makes me want to be more cautious as we pursue a relationship with the bio mom because now I know her method of operation and it's a little scary. But, I can do cautious and scary. There's nothing in there that indicates Dora or any of us are in danger at all. But there's a lot to indicate that the bio mom loves her daughter. She's just not capable of being a mom right now.

Since there wasn't a ton of new information, the part that got me riled the most was when that one social worker... do you remember her? the one who was pitting bio mom and me against each other, belittling me, taking Dora kicking and screaming from me and refusing to give her back? etc. etc. etc... wrote reports for our visits with her supervising. I read five + months of reports of truthful facts that showed the relationship between Dora and her bio mom and the relationship between bio mom and me and the relationship between me and Dora. Then, we get to the reports written by this woman who made me tremble in my boots because she was the one writing the reports and she was obviously pro mom and all of a sudden I'm refusing to hand Dora over. I'm not listening to the SW's directions. I'm hoarding Dora's attention away from bio mom. I'm pushing my sweet Cinderella out of the way in my frantic attempt to get Dora away from bio mom AND ignoring her when she cries and telling her harshly to stop crying etc etc etc. It was awful and there was a TON of it! All the other reports were a paragraph, maybe two. These would go on for pages! I remember those visits very clearly because there may have never been more miserable moments in my life. I do remember being torn between my children and choosing Dora because I was going to be handing her over in seconds and I'd have an hour to comfort Cinderella. She was crying in the first place because they were taking her sister away!  This SW thought that she knew everything about this situation before she even met us and pegged me as needy, fearful and possessive instead of concerned, falling in love with this child, interested the process and how things were going. We went from having a SW that we got along with well, who was in our court, who was supportive and understanding to this woman who wouldn't even let me talk to bio mom and created tension between us that I never wanted there. She never understood who I was and what my desire in the situation was. I remember thinking that I should call Dora's real SW and ask her if she could supervise instead but I never had peace about causing problems so I just prayed about it and next thing I knew she was no longer supervising our visits and our regular SW was back to supervising. We never had anything but positive visits with any other SW and the reports definitely reflected that. Although none of this made it into the actual court report it was really tough to read what she really thought of me. I just wish that during one of those visits where she was belittling me that she would have actually listened to what I had to say!  Funny thing is... even her reports told conflicting stories. It might as well have been one of bio mom's stories for all the exaggerations and contradictions it contained! Oh well. I'm thankful that God went before us in the matter and that obviously it had no affect on the things to come. I'm still kind of in awe that they didn't reunify. The first termination of rights hearing when they DID NOT terminate she didn't meet any of her goals. The second termination of rights hearing when they DID terminate she met all of her goals but one and she was close to meeting it! Again, just in awe of how God has gone before us in this whole situation!

So, here we are. Done with the file. We won't be going back. I'm clear on the story (I should be. I read it and re-read it and re-read it with every report!) and I just need to type it out clearly so that we can remember it down the road. Tomorrow is our post-placement visit and I think that next we schedule our court date for finalization! So close!!!! What a journey this has been so far and I know that it is just beginning. The day we sign the papers in court is the beginning of our future together where we are in full control without having to check in with anyone or telling anyone where we're going! What a blessed day that will be!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Finalization Here We Come!

Woohoo!!! The phone call that I have been waiting for for over a year has finally come! We've known for about a month that we'd be moving forward for sure to adopt Dora, but we've been waiting for this meeting to take place where we'll get to finally sign papers and see her file. I'm excited to sign the papers, but I'm REALLY excited about seeing that file. We'll only get to see it one day. In the office. That's it. (Although I've heard that it's possible to come back and see it again before we finalize if we don't get through it all) And this file holds all the information about her life prior to joining our family at 20 months. It has why she was removed each time she was removed. It has bio mom's story. I'm really hoping that through this file we'll come to understand our daughter better than we do now. It's so easy to forget that she has a past before us. We never knew her as a baby. We don't know what was done to her as a baby. There have been so many unknowns that it will just be so great to hopefully get a better understanding of her life! So, that meeting is on June 22nd!!!

After that meeting the social worker will come out to our house the following Tuesday for our post placement visit and then there's some more paperwork and she has to file it down at the court. And then we'll schedule our court date for something like two weeks out from there. So we'll probably be finalizing the end of July sometime! The girls and I are joining my parents on a trip back East for my cousin's wedding and so we really need it to be finalized by then. It's a mess trying to get approval to go out of state (even just to Nevada!!!) and neither one of us really wants to deal with it so she has a deadline that I know she'll keep.

As we get closer to finalization I'm getting the question of what's next for the Harts more frequently. Oh, if only I knew! Our hands are tied for so many reasons right now that we just can't move forward at this point for number three. Don't get me wrong. I'm itching for number three and if number three was dropped in our laps I would be so excited! But we've had this goal of Bryan getting a full time job so that I can stay home full time for over two years now and we're getting so close to that goal! I don't know what's going to happen in the future. All I know is that we've been stuck here finishing up Dora's adoption and we haven't been able to go where a job could take us. Once Dora's adoption is final and Bryan's done his year as Team Leader we'll finally be free of everything holding us down and we can truly try to meet that goal. It could mean staying put. It could mean being relocated. We just don't know at this point. Our family is here. We have a great church family and we'd be happy to stay, but we'd also welcome the adventure of moving somewhere new too. God has time to direct our hearts and show us the next step, but I do know for sure that as difficult as it may be for me we won't be pursuing adopting a third until we have this figured out. If a child was to be dropped in our laps... that would be a different story all together...

What route do we think we'll go for number three? All I can say is that neither time we've adopted has it been the way that we thought it would happen. With Cinderella we were pursuing foster care. With Dora there was NO WAY we were going to pursue foster care after having such an amazing experience with Cinderella AND we were already well on our way to getting started in the process of adopting from Ethiopia! Both girls came to us when we were least expecting it. So, I don't know! I have a strong desire to have another infant straight from the hospital, but my heart aches for the orphans of Africa. So I'm conflicted right now. But, I figure we still have time for God to direct my heart and show me the direction of my next child. He has been faithful to move my heart to His will each time so far and I know He will be faithful to continue to do that! AND all other things aside there is a huge financial barrier that will have to be addressed at some point. We're hoping to be able to chip away at it this coming year, but we need another part time job to be able to do that. So God is going to have to provide in that area as well. BUT, it struck me one day that it's God's desire for His people to take care of the orphans and the widows. It's all over Scripture! So, when one steps out in faith to do what He has asked us to do He will be faithful to provide the money to do so. I have watched over and over again how God makes money come from no where and where MAJOR financial hurdles were met in a matter of days. God is so much bigger than our bank accounts and it's so important for me to not underestimate Him in this area of my life! It scares me to no end to think that I know we have several more children ahead and having no idea where each down payment on a house is going to come from - because each adoption is at least that. With the exception of fost adopt which in turn pays you. Not a lot, but enough to help with the impending costs of raising any child with special needs.

So, there's a lot of question marks in our future but I have a feeling that God's just not done with me yet! He's showing me more and more who I really am and that I don't have everything as together as I think I do. He's reforming my parenting once again as I struggle to balance my philosophy on parenting with a philosophy of parenting that is uncomfortable for me, but effective for Dora. And He's causing me to grow in patience and compassion. All good stuff here folks. Tough, but good and I'm excited to see where God takes us in this journey of faith that we're living!!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Parenting My Precious Porcupine

when I think we have it all together and that life is going 
smoothly we hit a bump in the road and I realize how foolish 
I was to think that 30 months (10 in utero and 20 outside) of abuse 
and neglect can be fixed in a short 13 months. We had a little, ok MAJOR, fit today and 
I can't figure it out.  Please just pray for me. Us really. 
The fit started over a sticker. Yes, you did read that right. 
A sticker. 
And ended over a half an hour later with a 
broken hearted cry from a child who seemed to be having insecurities 
about being left. I don't know how to connect those dots, 
but it is what it is and when she's freaking out that I'm leaving her
 while she naps it calls for special attention. So as I crawled into bed with her thinking I'll stay there the whole nap if I need to she slipped her 
little arm around my neck and drew my head to her chest. I was reminded that sometimes parenting our little porcupine just needs to go against my grain. 
I feel like I have to relearn all my instincts and do the opposite 
of what I want to do. To me her behavior was manipulative and was trying to avoid 
nap, but her broken hearted little cry told me 
otherwise and I had to stay. 
(In the end she agreed to snuggle Daddy who was already sleeping instead of Mommy because Little Cinderella also needed to take a nap.) 
To me holding her when she's throwing a fit feels 
like it's reinforcing the behavior, but sometimes that's 
what I have to do. When she's flipping out over a sticker 
(which all I wanted to do in the situation was to stop and do a simple redo and teach her to just tell me what happened instead of throw a fit and 
I'd be happy to turn around so that she could pick up her sticker...) 
sometimes that's not the moment to teach. Sometimes that's 
the moment to give her her sticker and do the redo at home later when she's 
not so emotionally invested in the situation. She doesn't hear me in the moment. 
I'm learning. I'm failing. I'm succeeding. I'm fighting
I'm constantly reminded that I am not equipped to handle this on my own 
and I'm foolish if I think I am. I'm having to learn compassion. I've never been a very compassionate person. I've always had more of the 
"suck it up and deal with it" mentality. That's how I am to myself 
and that definitely comes out in my parenting. 
Only it doesn't work with Dora so I'm having to learn compassion and self-control. AND I'm struggling because I don't know 
what she's comprehending when I try to teach her how to behave! 
She either doesn't understand or tunes me out. I'll never now which, 
but I'm leaning towards that she doesn't understand. She's not the high, 
logical thinker of my oldest. Cinderella was made for me. 
We are like chocolate and peanut butter
Perfectly suited for each other! It's no wonder we never have any of these problems! We communicate so perfectly and understand each other as well 
as any two people could. Dora and I are like oil and water
But she needs me. I think she needs me more than 
I even realize and she needs us to mix so by the grace of God
 I'm going to learn to be water! If He can turn water into wine than 
He can turn my oil into water! I'm going to learn to love her the way she needs to
 be loved. I just don't know what that means all the time. 
So, if you think of it please add me to your prayer list once again 
because this is a battle that could quite possibly take me my entire life to win. 
BUT, my moments of success give me hope that I can be the mother that 
this precious child needs. 
She wouldn't be here in my home if that wasn't true. 
God gave her to me so He must trust me enough to treasure her and parent her and He must know that my oily nature needs some refining too! 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day, Infertility and Pet Adoptions

Mother's Day. I remember all too well the years where Mother's Day was a day that I dreaded more than any other day in the year. It was just a cruel reminder that we didn't have what I most desperately wanted. A child. I'd walk into church on Mother's Day morning with my game face on wishing I was anywhere but there and suck it up as all the mother's and expectant mothers were recognized. A day of agony. Gut wrenching, stick a knife and twist it in my heart AGONY! I'm not going to say that I'm completely over all my infertility issues. I've worked through most of them and most of the time I don't even remember. I have two children now and I'm not looking back wishing they had come to me differently. But I do remember the agony, the tears, the sorrow, the innumerable times that I sat there willing my tears to stay put. Biting my lip. Doing anything I could to distract myself from the welling up inside. Sometimes I couldn't hold them back and I would find an excuse to excuse myself and I was thankful for those discerning enough to see my pain and reach out to me. If you're reading this and you're that person who is dreading tomorrow. I've been there. I know your pain and all I can say is that God is my healer. Turn to Him in your pain and He will make you whole again. He can turn your sorrow into joy and give you the desires of your heart if you earnestly seek him first. He has for me! He has turned my empty home into one that is full and thriving. He has seen me through my pain and healed my heart and He can do that for you. He had a different plan for me. One that most of the world sees as second best but that I see simply as God's best for me. My life is a journey of faith. It's one where the plans are always changing until that child comes home. It's one full of raw emotion and joy. I love this verse...

"He gives the childless woman a family, making her a happy mother. Praise the Lord!" Ps. 113:9

He has given me the desire of my heart and not only that, He's changed my heart. I started this journey of adoption on a selfish path. I wanted a child. I see it differently now. I still want children. But now I see the children as needing to be rescued and needing a family more than I see myself. My heart for family-less children if far bigger than my ability to parent them all! God cares about the millions of orphans worldwide that are waiting for families or that simply will never have families for one reason or another. 

I've been bugged recently when I see advertisements for PET ADOPTIONS. I can't help but think of the hundreds of thousands, millions even spent taking care of a finding homes for animals in our country. ANIMALS! While we're out there fighting for the animals and saving the animals, who's fighting for the millions of children who don't have families. Who's saving THEM? Saving them doesn't mean the foster care system, group homes or orphanages. It means forever families! Let me tell you that the need FAR EXCEEDS the people who are willing! So, are you going to fight for an animal or a human being who needs a family? Are you going to put your money towards saving an animal or a human? There's plenty of organizations like Show Hope where you can give monthly to help other people adopt if you don't feel called to adopt. There's Compassion International where you can give to FEED A CHILD! Seriously, people. Priorities! CHILDREN come first! We are the ones created in the image of God Himself. We are the ones that He loved enough to send His son to die for. He loves animals. They are His creation too, but it really irks me that people can find money to give to ASPCA but they can't help a fellow human being! 

Ok.. so that's my soap box for the day. This weekend if you are suffering from infertility I'm praying for you. I know what it's like to suffer in silence. Hang in there and see if you can find it in your heart to adopt. If the only thing stopping you is finances. Don't let that stop you. I've watched God provide miraculously for many families who are seeking to adopt. Why wouldn't He? He talks about taking care of the orphans some 40 times in the Bible! He commanded us to take care of the orphans and widows.  so why wouldn't He provide the way? Plus, adopting from foster care is free anyway. There's always hope in the future. I'm living proof of a life redeemed. I am joyful this weekend because of the children whom God has blessed me with through other women. I am joyful because He heard my cry and He answered! 

looking forward to the day when I can freely post pictures!

Definitely remembering the woman who made me a mommy this weekend! 
Love you Rachel!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It's Official!

Well folks, the day that we've been waiting for for thirteen months is upon us! We got the long awaited call that NO APPEAL WAS FILED!!!! Praise the Lord who is the giver of every good gift! It sounds like it could still be a couple months till it's final final, but knowing that the mom is completely out of the picture and that we ARE ADOPTING her is AMAZING! 

God is a God who is faithful to His promises! We have been clinging to them for years and He has yet to fail us. Closed doors? Yes. Answered our prayers above and beyond what we prayed for? Yes! We have experienced disappointment and hurt along the way, but we have also seen how God has used all of that to grow our character and to guide us to the best pathway for our life. We certainly aren't disappointed or let down in any way! God continues to cause our desires to come into line with His Will and to ultimately grant us the desires of our hearts! 

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!" Matthew 7:7-11

 "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that,if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." 1 John 5:14

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15:7