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!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Victory is Mine Says the LORD!

‎"I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And will glorify Your name forever... Let everything that has breath praise [the LORD. Praise the LORD!" Psalm 86:12, 150:6

Today when we finally entered the court room after TWO hours of waiting my mouth DROPPED and my eyes POPPED out of their sockets - in my head of course - as the first words said following the Judge asking who asked for the contest were mom's lawyer saying, "I did your honor. It was crowded that day and since then I've been able speak with my client and we are going to submit to the termination." What??? Just... Happened??? Do you know how many times I've prayed that mom would be the one to relinquish? At least once, probably 5-10x a day for seven months! Holy moly people! I KNOW God answers prayer but in that moment I was just in awe. Like I was watching something that has been foretold come to be! My mind was spinning and I wanted so badly to record every word that came from the judge's mouth!

After they announced they were not there to fight the judge asked Dora's lawyer if he was in agreement and of course he was and they asked the department representative from CFS and of course she also was in agreement. Both included evidence as to why they were in favor. Then I think my heart stopped when the judge started speaking DEFENDING the work that mom had done up to this point! What??? She was talking about how well she did at her last hearing and how she was so close to graduating (I think mom said she's graduating december 11). My palms were starting to sweat because I thought she wasn't going to honor their decision to submit! But then came the reality. Mom has been doing well in her program. She's shown up to everything and is on track BUT she's also had some set backs and the thing is this was her last chance. They have given her all the time that the Law allows and the judge's hand were tied. The judge said that she was seeing behavior consistent with self sabotage and relapse. She was willfully breaking the rules (like asking us to lunch last week!) over and over again even though she hadn't had any problems with drugs or alcohol. So the judge said that this was a very painful decision but she was going to move forward and terminate. Then they accepted our petition to become de facto parents and set dates.

We were the first to leave the court room and we waited outside the door for mom to come out. You have to understand that mom and I are bonded and she had no one there. The ONLY support that she had there today were us. We had my mom and Kathy and our social worker (who had to leave only probably 10 minutes before we were called!) there and not one person was there for mom. She came out sobbing, tears running down her face and I hugged her. I didn't have anything to say. I didn't know what to say. I didn't leave that court room joyful. I left feeling sad (but relieved) and not really knowing how, but wanting to be a support to mom in any way that I could. My mom had been able to talk to her about the Lord earlier in the day and mom said that she was a Christian and that she goes to a Baptist church and was receptive to us encouraging her and telling her that we're praying for her. I really don't know what to think. She told my Mom that she became a Christian at 13, but it doesn't gel with starting to use drugs at 13 so I'm not really sure if it was a manipulative tactic or if it was genuine. Only time will tell, but I've been praying for her salvation and our relationship will either become a mentoring relationship or hopefully the doors are opened to continue to fill her with truth. She had pulled me aside earlier while we were waiting and wanted to make sure that we weren't going to cut her out of our life. I was able to remind her of our relationship with Rachel and I told her that as long as she was clean, sober and healthy (meaning emotionally) that we would love for her to remain in our life. I know people don't always understand how I can have the birth moms of my children in my life and all I can tell you is that God has given me the confidence in my relationships with my children to be able to have these women be a part of our life and not feel threatened by them and instead just love them. I can only liken it to the bond that I have with my brother. They're just family and I never want to loose them. They chose us to raise their children and become part of their family, and we choose them as our family! So I'm praying that she is able to remain clean and sober so that she can remain in our family without reservation.

All I can gather (and being new to this that's all I've got. I have no prior experience to draw from and I haven't had the opportunity to talk about it with a social worker yet so that they can help me figure out where things are going.) is that since mom has run out of time and submitted to the termination the termination will go on as planned without fear of a battle down the road, but nothing is done until it's done so February 29th can't get here soon enough! Until then I will praise the Lord for He has answered my prayers! This has been so much smoother than I ever thought possible! I have been more at PEACE than I ever thought possible. Do you remember the social worker who was trying to drive mom and me apart? Do you remember how I prayed instead of calling and complaining? Do you remember how she disappeared and hasn't come back? What an amazing God to be so gracious as to remove her from me without me having to do anything! Are you not in awe of how God has worked in Dora's life? She is NOT the same child who walking into our lives seven months ago. Her progress is not evidence of us being super parents. It's evidence of GOD working in our home and in Dora's life! I have prayed and prayed for my relationship with mom and now here we are and you'd never know that we only see each other in passing a couple times a month. We have a great relationship and even though she is caught up in a horrible lifestyle she still has character and is gracious to me - who has not only taken over the affections of her child, but is now TAKING her child from her. I can only pray that I would have the strength of character to respond so well if I was walking in her shoes. God is mighty and powerful and He has once again proved His faithfulness to me and exceeded my expectations and I am blessed beyond measure!

Monday, October 31, 2011

First Hearing

For those of you who like details :)...

We were blessed enough to have our friends Jon and Dana with us last night to pray with us and stay with us last night AND go with us this morning along with my parents and Lani watched the girls for us despite a ridiculously early morning! Thank you all for your text messages, fb comments and messages and just the never ending stream of support! You are all appreciated!

So... we got to the court house an hour early but I'm so glad we were early! Other than the fact that it was FREEZING I was able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing we were there and ready to go! I could tell mom knew the department's recommendations immediately when she walked in. Her whole demeanor had changed from yesterday but she was still sweet and polite as usual. I genuinely like her... I think we were waiting for about an hour but having grand fun with Jon and Dana! Mom was on the other side of the room as far as she could get from us and she had her own support system.

When we were called we went in and it all happened so fast! The court read that the recommendation was to terminate and set a 2-6 hearing and I think she asked the counsel if they agreed. Dora's lawyer agreed and basically outlined a bunch of reasons why, including... her speech improvement, the stimulating environment of our home, her improvement in behaviors and he said "she's absolutely thriving" in our home and he acknowledged mom's great improvement but said that he still believes that it is Dora's long-term interest to move forward and terminate. (yay! Answer to prayer! because we didn't know what his position was going to be!) Of course mom's lawyer contested it and the judge moved forward to set the date for next Friday at 1:30. We had never met Dora's lawyer before but he came over to us twice to tell us that he was going to fight for Dora to stay with us and he wanted to make us de facto parents. I know the next question is what is a de facto parent and why is it so important. I'm still working on that question. I'm not sure I completely understand it yet but as I understand it it means that we're acting in the role of parent and we are bonded with her as her parents. Something like that. It's important because the court is recognizing us as such and also giving us the right to be part of and present at the hearings. We can now be represented by a lawyer if we choose to. So anyway once we are named de facto parents we're no longer helpless bystanders. Yay! (Praise the Lord for another answered prayer but it's still a prayer issue for this upcoming week). So I know you'll ask. Are we going to get a lawyer? I don't know! I'm not really sure that it's going to be helpful enough to make it worth the insane cost! Right now Dora's lawyer is the one with all the clout and he's going to be fighting so I think that we're well represented right now and really since we're not the ones in question it's really not useful to have one at this point.

Next Friday is going to be a SUPER important TRIAL!!! It's not just a hearing. It's a full blown trial! BOTH sides are going to be duking it out and the department will be proving that they've done everything possible to reunify. I'm just counting on the fact that they knew that this would be coming and they wouldn't have recommended termination if they didn't have a good case for it. Also, mom's parent parter (because I know you want to know... I just got of the phone with my social worker and she told me what this is! It's a parent who has been through the system successfully and reunified with their children permanently. They are then hired by the court to come alongside and be a mentor/buddy to the parent and support them through the process. They would have more information than anyone on what's really going on). Ok. He was sitting a couple chairs away from me an during the hearing he turned to me and told me that we were going to be ok. He knows something and my social worker said that that was a really good little clue for us.

I'm sorry but I'm totally wearing out! Let's see if I can finish this up and still get my point across. I'm just worn out from today!

The hearing began and then it ended. It was over in probably five minutes and we were left feeling like what just happened?? I feel like we are in a really good position. I feel like the lawyer and social workers are going to bat for us and most of all I feel like God is on our side and His will WILL prevail! I'm feeling confident but I won't let up for a moment in my prayer life. We have won the first encounter but we have the battle ahead of us. At the end when we were walking out of the court house we saw mom sitting there by herself looking sad and I went to her and gave her a hug and told her I was praying for her. I really feel for her.

So.. here's what we're looking at

Contested hearing November 4th at 1:30

If everything goes in our favor the termination hearing comes next 120 days later.

After that comes the appeal within 30 days

After that we can schedule our adoption hearing.

Just know that there are always appeals. They can continue to appeal and appeal so we still have a long process ahead of us.

Keep praying! Pray for the lawyers and the social worker and the judge. I need to remember to tell Dora's lawyer about my visit with mom in case that was a trap to get me to be in non-compliance with the courts without me knowing and to tell him about my on-going relationship with Cinderella's birth mom because it shows that we won't just run when the adoption is final that we have a history of following through with maintaining a relationship with the birth family.

Whew! I'm going to rest now! If I think of more later I'll add more then! Thank you all for your prayers!!!

And the Recommendation Is...

Wow! What a day it has been today and all I can say is "Thank you, Jesus!" On our way to the visit with Dora's mom today I thought I was going to explode. I was so incredibly stressed that she was going to know the department's recommendation and I wasn't and honestly afraid of being with her! I was fearful of Dora's response to her and anxious that I didn't know what the social worker was recommending. I cried a few hundred tears on the way to Richmond and prayed just as much! Told God how fearful I was and told Him how much I didn't want to be afraid and I wanted to give my fear over to Him.

This passage has been my lifeline for the past seven months.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all [d]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [e]lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [f]dwell on these things. 9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

Philippians 4:6-9

I've disciplined myself to catch thoughts of worry, anxiety and fear and redirect them to those things listed in vs. 8-9. It is a DISCIPLINE! It is NOT easy but it is definitely worth the effort! I have steeled myself with God's Word. Spent thousands and thousands of hours in prayer and it was all for a day like today and tomorrow. I've known that these two days were going to be what made me or break me and this afternoon I thought I was going to break. But my mom prayed with me as I was driving to Richmond and I continued to pray. Prayed for the visit. Prayed for the hearing. Prayed for Dora and prayed for mom. By the time I got to Richmond I was exhausted but at peace and greeted mom with a smile and we chatted easily as we looked at pictures of the girls that I brought for her. I wasn't done talking with her by the time the social worker (yet another one whom we've never met!) came to grab them for their visit. I wanted more. There was more I wanted to say and God gave me that opportunity after the visit. She came out with the social worker who told me Dora wouldn't let her mom check her diaper so I should check it and then commented on how much better it went with me. (Silent Cheers!) Then mom boldly and confidently asked me if I could give her a ride and as I put the girls in their carseats she asked if we were hungry. Not hungry one bit. We ate at COSTCO before leaving and I was full! BUT, we went anyway and we visited while she and the girls ate. The girls by now were so tired they were in their crazy state of mind and while happy weren't as well behaved as I would have liked, but it didn't matter! We were able to talk about her childhood. Find out that she's really Thai and her adopted parents are Laotian. They had that backwards! She moved to the US when she was 1. She asked me how old I was and I found out she's 26. She really did have her first baby at 12 and he's now 13. She now has a good relationship with her parents, a plan for transition and continued outpatient care. All the while I'm thinking we don't have a chance! She's so confident she's getting her back! But then we got to the conversation that needed to happen. The one where we talked about what would happen with our relationships with Dora Dora after the hearing. She told me that she would stay in contact and even let Dora come for overnight visits and when we were in the car I told her that tomorrow I knew she was going to be rooting to get her back but that we also we rooting that she'd stay. NOT that she would be taken from her mom (because she already is) but that we want her to stay a part of our family. I told her we'd keep her in Dora's life and we'd want to keep in contact. I've been saying that since shortly after we met though so it wasn't news to her. We left on good terms saying we'd see each other in the morning. Very comfortable despite the potential awkwardness of that conversation.

I kind of left that lunch feeling like she was going to get her back, but I had a few clues that everything wasn't going as well as she had wanted. She was complaining quite a bit about the program she was in holding her back and them finding the smallest things to purposely hold her back (kind of sounds like a GOOD program to me!) but that she had secured transitional housing and had a PLAN. Uh oh I'm thinking.

Well by now I'm confident we're going to hit MAJOR traffic and pay the penalty for staying later with mom and I'm complaining to my friend who is on her way to my house. Dana reminded me to put on worship music and focus on God and that's exactly what I did. SOOO thankful for people in my life that help me stay on track! Traffic wasn't as bad as I thought it would be and by the time we got to Pittsburg I called my mom to tell her about our visit. While we were talking I got THE phone call. The ONE that was causing my anxiety. The ONE that I was afraid mom would get and I wouldn't! I got on the phone and the social worker told me THAT THE DEPARTMENT WOULD BE RECOMMENDING TERMINATION AND MOVING FORWARD WITH ADOPTION!!!!!!! Praise the Lord!!!! God is sooo good! I don't know what I expected but it was relief. That's what I felt. I held it together long enough to finish the conversation and call my mom back and tell her the news. God is so good! He is hearing our prayers and answering them!

Tomorrow the courts still have to agree with the recommendation (which they did not do last time) and then it would move forward to termination. BUT there could be a contest hearing if mom chooses to contest. And once that is over THEN they'll schedule a 2-6 hearing or a termination hearing. Once that happens she has 30 days to appeal and then they can terminate. God is moving here people. This is no coincidence! Mom IS doing well. Please warriors keep praying! God is mighty and at work and I'm looking forward to what is to come!


The judge rules in agreement with the departments's decision

Mom chooses NOT to contest it after today

Peace for mom tomorrow because I don't know if she'll know the news by then or not. She failed to call the social worker at the appointed time and thus might have missed her opportunity to know.

Pray for her and my relationship tomorrow. That I would be loving and encouraging to her. And that she would just feel confident herself that our home is where Dora should be. That has been my prayer of seven months that SHE would CHOOSE this for Dora herself. Tomorrow is her opportunity to do that. I honestly love her and feel compassion for her. I want to win her for Christ!

Please pray for traffic. That we would get there in plenty of time without stress and have time to pray with our support group prior to the hearing.

Love to you all. Our GOD is ANSWERING out PRAYERS!!!

**Tonight 8:30*** we'll be praying!

Those that Wait on the Lord...

Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,

“My way is hidden from the LORD,

And the justice due me [z]escapes the notice of my God”?

28 Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth

Does not become weary or tired.

His understanding is inscrutable.

29 He gives strength to the weary,

And to him who lacks might He increases power.

30 Though youths grow weary and tired,

And vigorous young men stumble badly,

31 Yet those who [aa]wait for the LORD

Will gain new strength;

They will [ab]mount up with [ac]wings like eagles,

They will run and not get tired,

They will walk and not become weary.

Isaiah 40:27-31

I feel weary often. I feel like things have been in limbo for so long and sometimes feel like I can't continue, but this passage - no, I didn't post all of it! - reminds me that if I'm leaning on the Lord my strength to continue will be continually renewed and it is! God is faithful!

Just talked to Dora's social worker. I guess she knows what she's going to recommend but she has to tell mom first so she'll be letting me know tomorrow. But she also said that there's a possibility that the hearing will be continued because they all just received the court report today (that she wrote!)or something. We're going to go and assume that it will not be continued and if it is we'll deal with it then. This is no surprise to the Lord. He knew all along this was a possibility and has been asking us to wait but in waiting He is building our faith and our confidence in His plan. Still praying that the hearing goes on as scheduled and praying for that decision that has already been made! I know I have the ability to be anxious about it but what is the point? Thinking about Luke 20:25 right now and remembering that worrying will accomplish nothing but having faith will accomplish much! I'm just praying without ceasing and believing that God has something truly amazing in store that needs this extra time! Please continue to pray! I'm really hoping that things will go on as planned and that the recommendation will be in our favor.

Can you tell I have turkey in the straw playing in the background? I don't feel like I'm writing very clearly right now but I wanted to give you all an update! Cinderella's watching Barney Goes to the Farm and I'm having a tough time focusing with all the racket! Where's my worship music when I need it??? lol! Thank you all for your faithful prayers! I am truly at peace!

Away from Me Anxiety!

This morning I woke up anxious. Sigh.. I don't want to be anxious! I want to wake up confident in God's plan for my family. But here I am barely holding it together right now. I've had this wave of nausea since last night because of nerves about next week and I just haven't been able to shake it. I woke up realizing that Dora's social worker hasn't called me back and it's been almost a week. I'm thinking that because she hasn't called me she has bad news (being that they'll be recommending reunification) and she doesn't want to have that conversation with me. So this morning I woke up plagued by doubts and worry - feeling once again that this is a hopeless situation. But the thing that I keep telling myself is "don't underestimate God." Over and over and over again I'm telling myself this. When I'm feeling hopeless and like the world is against me I just need to remind myself that the ONE who matters is NOT against me! He is FOR me! Which brought to mind Romans 8:31 "If God is for us who can be against us" but when I went to read it there was so much more that ministered to my soul!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. vs. 28

And so much more! It doesn't seem to matter where I'm reading these days. There's something for me everywhere I turn! I hear my kiddoes calling from the bedroom but I'm thankful for a renewed perspective and I'm ready to face the day now. Just keep praying for me folks! We're in the thick of it now and the battles with doubt, fear and anxiety are coming more frequently (as in at least every hour if not several times an hour). They're harder to fight than they've ever been and the tears have started. PLEASE pray for me. I've been able to keep my emotions in check up to this point which helps me to keep perspective. I don't want to give in to the destructive emotions of bitterness, fear and anxiety. I want to rest in God. Find comfort in His Word and live in confidence and it is no easy feat right now. It is a choice. It is sometimes a minute by minute battle and redirecting my thoughts and emotions all day and all night every day and every night. I just can't imagine loosing her...

Complete Transperency

I just want you to know that when I post things here I'm truly posting honestly how I feel. I'm not just trying to show you the good sides with the intention of leaving out the hurt and the struggle. I want to be an encouragement to you and others who are walking through storms in their lives that feel too big to handle. Recently there has been a lot of positiveness and confidence coming from my posts because God has really given me peace in the situation. But, yesterday and today are days that have been battles. Days when I have to take every thought captive and not allow Satan a foothold in my life. Oh how I want to wallow in self-pity and loose myself in my grief! Don't get me wrong. I cry and I do address my sadness and fear but I know that I have the ability to choose my attitude and so I really make an effort to redirect myself to the goodness of God and remember His blessings in the past instead of give in to my emotions which may bring pleasure in the moment but in the end destroy my faith and get me on a path to doubt God's goodness and plan for my life. So my battle throughout the day is in catching the fears before they have a chance to take root in my heart and replacing them with truth.

If I had to lay it out for you I'd tell you that I've been fighting bitterness over being "forced" to build my family through adoption. Fighting a new battle I've never experienced before of grief over having to fight for my children when the majority of the world takes it for granted that from the moment of conception your child belongs to you. From the moment of conception, my children belong to someone else and it is their gracious gift and God's design that allows me to be a mother. Redemption is never free. It is always costly as that quote I so often post says so well... "adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him.” –Derek Loux Please don't get me wrong. I am so very thankful that God has given me the thorn of infertility because infertility has given me Cinderella and hopefully Dora and every moment of pain and every sleepless night and every battle I have faced in the past ten years since my diagnosis was worth it and I'd do it again and I'd CHOSE it if given a choice because I LOVE my children and wouldn't trade them for a thousand babies through pregnancy! I am blessed by the very thing that has caused me the greatest pain! But that doesn't mean that I never wish that it was easier to build my family and I've been struggling through that very issue the past week or so. Hopefully you can see God's grace in my life and see how He is blessing me through these trials. I can see it when I step back from the situation and I'm so in awe of His amazing plan for my life. God is using these things for good in my life! I'm just kind of scared of the next step. It has been a painful journey and I know that the pain is not over. I know there is more to come and that scares me and causes me to want to put shields up so that I can't be hurt. I feel like it has been a painful journey so far and right now we're in the thick of it. It isn't going to get easier right now. It's only going to intensify and that kind of freaks me out! There have already been so many moments when I could't breathe due to the weight of this trial and in my heart I know we're going into that court date fighting a loosing battle. My friends, this is a hopeless situation and my spirit feels it. But because God is still the One in control it isn't hopeless! I am waiting to hear back from the social worker the recommendation of the county but my sense is that they will support Dora going back to mom. Wow... saying that out loud is something else. The only thing keeping me going is knowing that God allows us to go into battle out numbered and hopeless because when He brings the victory no one will miss it! My prayer is that that victory is Dora staying in our home, that the judge himself or herself will see in the reports how God is blessing her in our home and want to keep her here even though mom is on track. It seems about as hopeless as the Israelites fleeing from the Egyptians on foot while being chased by chariot. Only a supernatural act of God could save them and God acted. God acted! The though part is not knowing if God acting is going to be a result of a loss first. We've been through a similar situation before. We had to loose her before we could gain Cinderella. I'd go through the loss again because God in His sovereignty brought me the love of my life in Cinderella. It's the uncertainty and the fear of pain before the blessing that is the battle because I'm confident that in the end God will bless us. We aren't going to come out of this empty handed. One way or another God is leading us to our next child. Whether that is Dora or a different child our quiver is not full and our journey in building our family has just begun. It is a life of faith. A life dependent on God. A life that is willing to take risks in following God's plan for our life because we know that the biggest blessings come through living life in the Will of God. This life IS painful and heart-wrenching for everyone. We all have different trials. This is mine. May the peace of God guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus as you face your own sets of trials.

Yet Another Delay

I got a phone call from Dora's social worker today letting me know that the courts will be closed the day that the hearing was scheduled and it was rescheduled for October 28th. Ugh... To be completely honest the thing that bothers me the most is the trip to Richmond for another visit before the next court date. I could really care less that she's spending time with mom. It's more just the toll that the day takes on the girls and I. We're all sooo exhausted at the end of the day! But it's not a choice so we go and make the best of it. I'm sure that God has a purpose in delaying the court date and even though I'm ready to have a decision I'm really not stressing about it one way or another. The closer we get the more confident I get in God's plan and purpose in all of this and His Will WILL be accomplished!

A Not So Comforting Phone Call

After a weekend of waiting for a returned call and a day of playing phone tag I FINALLY got a hold of my social worker. I was hoping that it would be this wonderful conversation about how the mom has no chance and how it’s guaranteed that Dora will stay in our home. I’m afraid that is absolutely NOT how this conversation went. I am leaving it feeling like the only possible way that Dora will stay in our home is if God Himself intervenes. It’s always though talking with my worker because she doesn’t have all the information on Dora and her mom. She really only knows what I’m telling her and after our conversation she pretty much told me to prepare myself to loose her. But, I’m not giving up hope! God placed her in our family. I hate to believe that it was only for a season because I want it to be permanent! As I’m typing this I can feel the defeat just overcoming me. I’m not sad. Not angry. Just utterly defeated. Basically what she said was that this hearing is about mom doing everything that she was told she needed to do – which I believe she is about to finish. She is in a six step program and she is on step five. This hearing she told me isn’t about whether our home is a better home for Dora. It’s not about who is more qualified to be Dora’s parent or where Dora will be the most healthy. In fact, this hearing isn’t about Dora’s best interest at all. It’s all about mom and what she has done. Talk about a flawed system. Even the fact that she has had to previous children removed and rights terminated is no longer really affecting the decision because they gave her more time. Pretty much back in April when they gave her six more months the court was pretty much saying that they thought they would end up reunifying. I think Dora’s adoption worker was trying to say that that day on the phone back in April. I feel like this process has been really trying. You all have seen the ups and downs. All the things that were told me in argument for why Dora would end up in our care really have all come falling down around us and we’re left with really no reason why Dora would stay in our care. I’m struggling RIGHT NOW fighting the thoughts that we’ve lost her and she will become a child that we once loved and lost. Ok… tears are coming..

Our social worker is sending us paperwork to fill out to send to the courts telling them how well Dora is doing in our home, what she was like when she came to us and what she is like now so I’ll fill that out and get that to Dora’s social worker. It’s our little voice. I asked about a lawyer and she conferred with Dora’s adoption worker from back in April and they both said that it would be a waste of money because it’s not about us at all. She did say that we should be getting a visit from Dora’s lawyer before the 19th though so I’ll be calling about that because I ABSOLUTELY want that visit.

So here’s where we end up people. We’re in a hopeless situation but there is still HOPE! Because God Almighty, Creator of the Universe is still in control of this situation and with Him there is ALWAYS hope! I need to start preparing myself for her leaving. I need to start preparing my heart and Cinderella’s for the possibility, but I will never stop praying and working to keep her! There’s still time for mom to blow it. There’s still the judge’s decision to make. This decision is not final until it’s final! Even once it’s final she can still loose her again and we could end up right back where started. I don’t know what the future holds but I know that God promises good to those who love Him and are His children! My hope is in knowing that He has been faithful to me in the past and knowing that I can trust Him with my future. Please pray with me! Please be faithful to lift up our family as often as you can. I believe in the power of prayer. Through prayer miracles happen because we have a living God who listens to the prayers of His people!

Someday these visits will be done...

Sitting at the last visit before the court date. Dora didn't want to go to mom at first but she eventually went to her and was snuggling her which was weird. Makes me wonder what's going through her little mind and realize that my wisdom is just not enough in this situation. Finished my report and I feel good about it. Brought pictures of our trip to Disneyland. Spending time with Cinderella and continually praying for the peace I have been experiencing to continue!

We have a Court Date

My heart is pounding in my chest. My palms are sweaty. My eyes are tear-filled and all I can do is call upon the Lord as earnestly as I can. I talked to Dora's social worker just now and we have a court date. October 19th. I've been waiting for this day and now that it's upon us I'm fearful. I know I have no reason to fear " For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. "(2 Timothy 1:7 NLT) and yet I feel absolutely sick. I know if I start freaking out that I'm not acting in a set apart way. Because as a child of God I can live in certainty and have internal peace EVEN in the midst of this situation that feels like it's eating me from the inside out. I guess in this moment it's what I do with my fear and anxiety that counts. Do I let it control me or do I take it by the reigns and point it in the right direction - to my knees. I have never prayed for something more fervently. I have never felt so utterly out of control and helpless. No matter the outcome I know I have a loving Father who desires my best. That doesn't mean that it isn't going to hurt like crazy if things don't go our way, but I can't even think like that right now. The social worker couldn't finish our conversation but basically it went like this. Mom thinks she'll be done with all of her rehab by the court date and the SW said that there aren't any rules about having a place to live or a job or anything for her to get her child back. Crazy!! As someone who loves that child I can't imagine being asked to give her back into her care when she doesn't even have a bed to sleep in!!! So I guess the SW is going to be calling the rehab center to talk to them and then she has to make her decision on what she's going to recommend. She said she'd call me when she knows more and I guess she'll let me know what she's recommending before the court hearing. I feel like I have no voice. Some have asked if we are going to get a lawyer and I guess we would if it was going to make a difference. I have a call into our social worker to get her opinion. From what I've heard it just represents the child more diligently since mom has a lawyer fighting for her. When I look at the facts: she has spent 18 out of 26 months in foster care and by the point of the hearing that will be 19 out of 27 months. 16 consecutive months. She has lost two previous children. She is either just going to be finished with her rehab program or still in it. She will most likely have no where to live. She has never stayed clean after making it through rehab. This it time number two or three in Dora's short life. Dora is in a stable home that loves her and where she is thriving. But none of those things are the thing that makes the most difference - biology. Dora has someone else's genes and the courts value gene pool. From an outsider looking in I would be thinking that the courts are crazy for even considering giving her back! I know I'm biased but it doesn't matter. My views of the situation would be the same. But when I put myself in her shoes I feel bad for her too but do I think her genes make her more qualified to be Dora's mother? Absolutely not! But no matter how much I try to sway the facts towards my side and no matter how helpless the situation seems I know that the One who is in control can be trusted. He will direct the court's decision and whatever the outcome it will be no mistake. This situation has been bathed in prayer by Soo many. If the outcome is for Dora to reunify with her bio mom than I will have to accept that and trust that decision no matter how much it hurts. My prayer is that October 19 is a day of rejoicing that Dora will be on her way to becoming a legal Hart and I will direct my heart and my emotions with my head and not allow them to control me.

A friend gave me these verses back in 2007 when I was struggling with infertility and I hold them very closely to my heart still today. They have been with me through Cinderella's adoption, through my heart being pulled to Ethiopia and through the decision to go with the county that came out of the blue right before submitting our application for Ethiopia. I cling to these verses day in and day out.

"The Lord says to you, Rebecca. "I will guide you along the BEST pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. " "I will give strength to you my child. I will bless you with wholeness, well-being; my peace." (Ps. 32:8, Ps. 29:11 NLT).

Experiencing Peace

Well friends, we're here at the next visit. Once again Dora was screaming like crazy and my heart breaks. BUT there is something about her regular social worker that is so much more relaxed and I trust her so much more! My heart still breaks for the trauma this all causes on Dora but I feel a real peace about it all today. Thank you Lord because I know it comes from you!

Praise The LORD!!!

Great news!!! Our visit for Friday was cancelled AND the next visit we have will be supervised by Dora's social worker NOT crazy social worker!!!! Praising the Lord for this because I never felt right about calling and just decided to wait it out one more visit and try to work with the worker one last time. What blessing came out of a prayerful and quiet heart. I was so tempted to go in guns blazing and would have been perfectly right in doing so. It's been a rough two weeks for me but God is good! PROOF He has my good at heart!!! He gave me a reprieve! A calm in the storm and I'm SOOO thankful!!!

Just Another Sleepless Night

Tonight's another sleepless night wrestling with the uncertainty of our future as a family. When I see how happy she has become in our family and how attached she and Cinderella are to each other it just causes me stress to think about the possibility of her leaving our family. How many tears will I cry? How many more sleepless nights will I face? How many more times will I remind myself that God is in control of this situation and He loves us all more than I could ever love us? He desires our best, our good, our health and our happiness and He is trustworthy! In these moments where I feel like the pressure of the situation is more than I can bear and am tempted to doubt God's goodness all I can do it remind myself of truth, cry my tears and trust the God who has seen me through every situation in my life that I thought was too hard to bear. It's not even just about my emotional journey. It's also very much about a mother's heart for her child and the desire to protect her from uncertainty, fear and harm. And to provide stability, love and security. I feel the need to prove to the court that I am the best mother for her -i AM her mother- when in fact it is not me who is in question. The hardest part of all is that Mother's heart I have for her and knowing I can't protect her in this situation. There is absolutely nothing i can do to make this situation go away. It's still a daily battle to take every thought captive. To pray as i have never prayed before. To lay all my fears, anxieties and tears at the feet of Jesus and trust Him when all I want to do is demand control.

Today Cinderella told me that she was glad I went and got Dora from her foster mom's house because she's her best friend. The guilt of putting my child through this if Dora goes back to mom may be more than I can bear. NOTHING could have prepared me for this. I believe we've been listening to the Lord every step of the way and want to believe that will end in our family becoming a permanent family. But I am afraid of being too confident. We were all confident that rights would be terminated in April. The overwhelming emotion of how i felt then when she'd only been living with us six days compared to now knowing I AM her mom scares me. She's turned a corner in the past probably 6-8 weeks. She's finally got the rules down and she's being successful and it's extremely obvious that she's happy, secure and feeling loved and loves in return. She's thriving, growing emotionally and physically, feeling very smart as we hear simple sentences come from her unprompted. She's talking all the time and grunting hardly at all any more. She's catching up to where she should be! God is so good because I know her quick growth is a result of His handiwork, not mine! When I ask myself what God's heart for Dora is I'm reminded that be desires for her to be saved. To be happy, healthy and thriving too, but more than anything He desires for her to know Him as her personal Lord and Savior! She will be given the opportunity to hear the Gospel in our home where as going back to mom will remove the daily influence from her life. When I think that way of course it's obvious that she's ours. Isn't it? Sigh... If only it was that easy.

By now I have no idea what I've written. I only see about one to two sentences at a time on my phone screen but my heart feels more at rest reminding myself of truth. This is why I write. It's more about me then you. Writing gives me clarity of thought and a chance to work through the emotions and resolve it with truth. I'm no longer that emotional wreck - until next time- and hopefully I will be able to sleep since I have to be up in only a few hours for work. Thank you to all of you who are so faithful in praying for us. Your continued prayers are appreciated and needed all the more as we draw closer to October. God is good. He is faithful. He desires my best. He loves my kids more than I do. He knows the future. He knows my desires. He will not let me down no matter what happens. My hope is in Him! Not in courts or social workers or myself. He doesn't promise no pain. In fact, I thinks he promises the opposite so that we appreciate Him all the more and so that our affections are on Him and not this world we live in! Praise the Lord that He is developing my faith!

One Rude Social Worker

So we're at Costco now. We're all exhausted but trying to finish our errands. Today was traumatic and the SW just made it worse. She doesn't want me to have any contact with mom from now on which I feel like causes more tension between mom and I. Not to mention Dora does not like her at all and now she'll be the one to take Dora from me and bring her back. Today on the way back out Dora could see us through the glass wall and when mom walked out the SW wouldn’t let Dora come to me. Instead she picked her up and took her back inside while she was screaming and I was locked out hearing Dora scream. Neither of us could understand why she was causing more stress to an already stressful situation! Then Addy got stressed too! Needless to say I'm making some phone calls later to the actual Social workers on the case. And she had the nerve to try to take Dora from me to carry her to the car. I'm almost to the point of asking for her not to supervise our visits anymore!


Just arrived in Richmond and mom, grandpa and sister were all waiting for us. It was nice to see more of the family and hear mom talking in Thai. But Dora was screaming no! No! No! And wouldn't go to mom. when I handed her to her anyway she started screaming, and screaming and screaming. My heart is breaking and I'm shaking inside! I'm in tears and it's cold here!!! When I whispered to the social worker about how Dora reacted she said something about us not having contact. Please be praying for me because that's not my desire and I need to graciously defend what I believe is best for my daughter and my family and that IS me continuing to bring her to visits.

Living by Faith

Thanks everyone for the words of encouragement. These are the things God is using to build my faith. Last night as I was praying for Dora and our journey I was left feeling anxious and unsettled and I haven't been able to shake it. The image of Dora leaving us keeps flashing before me and I just can't get it to leave!

I don't worry about anything with Cinderella. I'm so confident in our relationship and our relationship with her biological family. I can honestly say I have NO insecurities with her at all. Cinderella and my bond and her bond with Rachel speak for themselves. Both are important and both are nurtured. It's about as perfect as an adoption can get! It's in the situation with Dora that all my insecurities (that I did feel when Cinderella was in utero and first born) lie. It's that place of having no control and my fate being left in someone else's hands. In this case a judge who only sees things on paper.

Still a long journey ahead of us. We're only about halfway there to the next court date. Sigh... Some days it's one moment at a time. Today's one of those days. I can only handle this moment right now. I can't think about the next one till it gets here. I'm learning to live in complete dependency on God to supply me the strength and courage to handle the next moment when it comes. I could never do this in my own strength!

My goal has always been to be transparent with people throughout both adoption processes because I never know who is going through a situation similar that can gain encouragement from my heart's journey. So in keeping things real. The truth is today's a bad day for my emotions. I'm having a hard time kicking my fear and anxiety and as a result I've spent the majority of the day in prayer. I'm exhausted but I know that today God has supplied me with what i need to get through today. And I'll be equipped to handle tomorrow tomorrow and that October court date when it get's here. I will not let my fear consume me or spoil the days, weeks and months between now and then. That's what faith means to me right now. Trusting God enough to let go and living without fear knowing He is trustworthy and faithful and has all of our best interests at heart.

These Visits Break my Heart

Sitting once again waiting for Dora to visit with with mom. These visits break my heart. She was actually happy to see mom today and affectionate towards her. It can be hard for me because i always feel like i have to defend our relationship and bond. But Cinderella seems to have the same kind of connection with Rachel. There is just some kind of unexplainable bond and I'm ok with it. I just need to remember that our relationships are different and that that bond doesn't diminish the bond that I have with either of my girls. (spoken to myself) These are painful days...

Meeting Went Well!

Thanks to everyone who was praying! The meeting with the social worker went really well. I really like her. She actually called us to let us know she was running late and she doesn't understand why the judge made the decision she made either! I was afraid we would lose our advocate when we lost Monica but it doesn't sound like we did. She did say that there is a possibility that it will be continued at the next court date which I would hate to see. But she did give hope that while mom is still doing well it hasn't been perfect and that she'll still be in her program at the next court date and you can't have children in her program. So I guess it was a glimmer of hope! Well.. thanks everyone! We're off to the water park!

Meeting the new Worker

Tomorrow we meet the new social worker. I'm not really nervous, just curious how it's going to go. Things have changed a lot since the last one and I'm really ready to address some of those things! Praying for wisdom and grace tomorrow and that we connect well so that I can feel like I really have her support. I've been feeling very alone since we've switched social workers. Lacking in support and almost under attack by her helper who supervises and arranges visits. I'm praying that tomorrow is a turn around and that she'll see Dora thriving in our home and be willing to go to bat for us. I'd be so grateful for your prayers. I know God hears the prayers of one but believe that the prayers of many are even better! I'll update you all after the visit!

A Name is a Name

So this visit went pretty well. I know it must be weird for her to come in and see her child bonded to other people more than her but she is pretty sweet all things considered. They had their visit then we went in and did the party together and they ended the visit together. This visit was different than the others. When Dora came out she came RUNNING to me and Cinderella with BIG OL' smiles!!! When we got to the visitation room she was all over me, calling me "Mama". Looking to me for everything which was really affirming for me. We had a lot of good conversation. I found out how Dora was named Dora! It was a name her dad came up with to mix the two of their names. I also found out that the information was told about her other kids was inaccurate. She has a 13 year old son and a 9 year old daughter and then Dora. We were able to look at pictures on my phone from camping and talk about her speech development. My only frustration is that we were so micromanaged by the social worker stand in. I'm really struggling with her because she doesn't know us or the case and yet she is involving herself WAY more than I would like and I know she writes up reports about the visits coming from a skewed perspective and I feel like I have no alli where before I felt like Monica and I were on the same team. It makes matters worse that I still haven't met her new social worker and it's been almost two months!!! So I haven't been able to really check in with someone else to make sure that things are going as they're supposed to. It is just all happening SOOO different than it was before and it's really unsettling to me. I guess I probably need to call MY social worker next week and bounce things off of her because I'm feeling bulldozed around by this lady. She didn't let me talk to the mom on my own so I never got to apologize to her for my insensitive comment - though I hope bringing in a party shows her we value her and want her to be a part of our life long-term if we adopt Dora. She even told me I needed to loosen Dora's carseat straps when the mom buckled her in which according to the current recommendations are barely tight enough! I could almost pinch them! Sigh. I felt really insulted.

One of the conversations that we had revolved around Cinderella’s and our relationship with her biological family/family of origin. It was great to be able to talk about what a great relationship we have with her and that we see her fairly regularly and I was able to communicate how important it is to me that our kids keep their ties to their first family. I think even though it probably made her a little uncomfortable it was good for her to hear and good for me to know that she knows. Overall I'm really glad for the time together today even though I didn't want to be there.

Plus I just got a call from Dora's social worker setting up an appointment for a visit on wednesday morning. I know I'll feel a lot better having talked with her!

Well... I'm sure I could have written this better but I'm so tired!!! Thanks everyone for your continued prayers and support!

Birthday Party with Mom

I'm sitting waiting for Dora's visit with her mom and then we're having a small party for her birthday. I'm so tired from just getting home from camping last night that I really don't want to be here right now. It was such a struggle to get here this morning I can't even handle the emotions so I guess they're kind of turned off today. Dora went to her happy as a clam buy also was looking hesitantly at me and Cinderella. I'm reminding myself as I write this that when I've been gone for any length of time she comes running to me with arms wide open screaming "Mama, Mama, Mama!!" over and over again. This place just is a sobering reminder that she's not mine. Which then reminds me that neither of my children are "mine" because they belong to the Lord. I need so much grace in this moment! Thankful that i can confidently say that I am never alone. God is always here with me lovingly planning the course of my life for my best.

Selfishness makes me Sad

I'm so selfish it kills me at times. I think I get so stuck on how this process has the potential to hurt ME that I forget that there is another woman with a mother's heart for Dora who has the potential to be hurt. Today her mom was a no-show. The social worker said that she was told she was on the bus on her way and then came out five minutes later saying that she was on her way to a funeral. I'm taking her word for it but she also said she wasn't going to tell me so I just think it's weird. I should be thrilled that mom didn't show up because it goes in our favor, but the social worker we were meeting brought up something that has haunted me from our last visit. When we were saying our good-byes I was flustered because Dora was crying when she was coming to me and said something really thoughtless and it's bugged me ever since. I said "she does this with everyone." It may be the truth, but it was the wrong thing to say at the wrong time and I hurt her mom. The social worker said that she saw mom's face fall and that she helped diffuse the situation but I was in tears as she was telling me. I already felt bad, but now I feel REALLY bad! I'm so thankful that God can use even my imperfections because my hope is that He'll use my carelessness for good in our relationship as I seek her forgiveness when we see her in two weeks.

I so desperately want to build our relationship so that she can feel comfortable with us enough to possibly choose our family for Dora. Based on what the social worker said she sees how her daughter is "absolutely thriving" in our home and I guess she said "thank you for taking such good care of my little girl" but I didn't hear her in my embarrassment at my careless response to Dora's crying. I felt that same vibe from her throughout our last visit so I really hope that I can rebuild next visit.

The next visit is a week before Dora's birthday so I'm going to bring in a party so that we can celebrate with her. I want her to feel like she is important in Dora's life and also want her to see a glimpse of what life would be like if we adopted Dora. So I'm going to go out and get some party stuff, some presents and make cupcakes (even though it will kill me since we get back from camping the day before!) and bring a candle. I toyed with the idea of inviting her to Dora's birthday party but I'm just not there yet. Baby steps! We barely know each other! I had these plans prior to today, but I hope that this will help rebuild any damage my foolishness caused.

Thank you for your continued prayers. I'm realizing that I need to hold Dora a little more lightly than I have been. I've been holding on pretty hard thinking I could somehow control the situation when what I need to be doing is trusting God's plan for all of us. I struggled with that with Cinderella's adoption too. I waged a HUGE internal battle during her gestation and here it is again. Please be lifting me up in prayer! I want you to know that I can feel your prayers in my ability to cope with the situation. They help me find peace when my insides are a war zone. I can see them as Dora improves leaps and bounds every week. I can see them in my attitude as I parent a child who already knows how to push my buttons and I can see them as I am able to love this child who has only been in my home two and a half months with the same love that I love Cinderella whom I forget is not flesh of my flesh or bone of my bone. I couldn't possibly love either one more had she grown inside of me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!


Ok folks! Another visit tomorrow with mom. I covet your prayers! I think since it is so close to the last one I don't feel quite so emotional about it but I know it will be still be hard.

On a positive note. Dora's speech is improving again by leaps and bounds! She is saying even more words and when I was reading a book, something like Little Quack's ABC's or something like that, I was making the letter sounds and saying the letter and she was chirping in making the letter sounds as well! Plus, I've heard her start to put two or more words together! She says something that is not "I want more" but it certainly is on it's way to becoming that and is definitely what she is TRYING to say. I'm so concerned with being able to make it out clearly, more that she's continuing to make progress. The clarity will come because the words that she knows become clearer every day.

Her other big milestone is that she is continuing to try to sing songs. The words are hardly distinguishable but like with words and phrases, it will come! I'm just so pleased that she's trying!

The other day we went to Lawrence Hall of Science and I was super impressed with something she did. I'll post a picture, but basically there were shaded circles and I asked all three girls (Cinderella, Baylee Rapier and Dora) to place circle chips onto the shaded circles and Dora whipped it out super fast and extremely accurately! I knew Cinderella and Baylee would be able to do it no problem, but I've never seen Dora do anything like that before! I was very proud of her!

She's been such a happy girl the past couple of weeks and outside of the constant grunt when she's frustrated or Cinderella's taking something from her there has been a dramatic decrease in her defiance! Praising the Lord for that!

Rachel's wedding weekend was great! Cinderella had such a great time dancing! She was just a little energizer bunny on the dance floor! She crashed super hard and was so tired when we got home that she was just crying in her sleep! I love that she could just dance the night away with Rachel and all of the family! I love how they all love her so much and how we are just all family now. And they treated Dora exactly the same! Love them! What a blessing they all are to our family. I love how through adoption our extended family is growing! My biggest prayer is that Dora's mom will see that if we adopt Dora she isn't loosing her as long as she is clean and sober. I hope she'll see how we'll just bring her into the family and she'll still be able to see Dora grow up and be a part of her life. I can imagine how scared she must be that she'd never see her daughter again and I feel for her. I just hope that she'll see how much we love her and how much we have to offer her! Last visit went really well. Praying that tomorrow will be a continuation of that! Thank you in advance for your prayers! I KNOW that your prayers directly affected the visit last week and I thank you for your contribution to this process and our family by your faithfulness in bringing us before the Father! Your prayers ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE if nothing else in the peace that surrounds me and sustains me!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is this Right?

Well... We made it through this morning. I'm not going to say that it was easy but I WILL say that God is gracious and He does give us enough grace to handle the circumstances that we face! Thank you to everyone that was praying. This visit was heads above the last visit! I was able to be myself and that was my biggest thing. My desire is to break down the walls that are there while continuing to pray for voluntary relinquishment.

The thing that breaks my heart is that for the first time today I was able to see them together and actually think that maybe they belong together... But I want her at the same time. It's such a strange place to be and honestly I have no idea how to reconcile how I'm feeling. I feel so much compassion for mom and I want her to continue to do good but I can't imagine losing Dora either! All I can do is go to my heavenly Father and trust that He is working in this situation and brought us all together for a reason. Trusting His unknown plan is such a hard thing for me knowing that my heart could be broken in the end. But I'm reminded of His faithfulness in past circumstances and how he made the impossible possible. I know He is trustworthy and that I just need to continue to battle my emotions and seek the help of the Holy Spirit to help me keep them in check. I try not to think too much about the end result and focus on the present because my attitudes and actions in the present are the only things I have control over.

I AM thankful her creepy friends were not along today and we were able to converse really easily and even play with the girls together. She was thankful for the pictures and asked for me to continue bringing them. She noticed with graciousness that I cut Dora's bangs and said she liked it. She said she gives her approval to go this weekend to the wedding in Reno and overall is a really sweet, likable person who just needs Jesus as much as I do!

Outside of the ache in my heart as Dora walked off with them to the visitation room and the tears in the bathroom as I struggled with the reality that she is not mine and how easily Dora went with her it was a fine morning and it couldn't have gone any better. Dora cried when she came back to me but I have to remind myself that's why I keep such tight reigns on her because she attaches quickly and always cries when I take her back even if it's only been a few minutes that she's been playing with the other person. So as much as I want to leave her sometimes this is why I don't and this is why I don't encourage too much interaction with other adults, especially women, at this point. I'm confident that we have a strong bond but it does hurt when she cries when she comes back to me. I've never had that problem with Cinderella. So I guess I'm just reminding myself that it wasn't a cry that she was leaving "mom". It was a cry that she was leaving her playmate. She cries much worse when I leave her places or even in a different room!

I know it's not going to get any easier as we see mom more frequently but in my time walking with the Lord I've seen the pattern over and over that the biggest blessings following crazy amounts of pain. Just keeping my eyes on the prize at the end- a more intimate relationship with God, a better understanding if who He is, greater faith and a deeper dependency on Him than I've ever experienced before. Those are all things that are not in any jeopardy of being taken from me! Praying without ceasing and trusting as I've never trusted before!

Mixing with the Street

Today's our visit with mom and I already feel sick. Please be praying for us this morning. I have pictures ready to take to her and I really want to be able to be my normal chatty and friendly self without my nerves getting in the way. Last time I was so nervous I couldn't be myself and I so desire to be in control and purposeful in my actions this morning. It's not even just that she holds our future in her hands. I'm not good with being around drug addicts and people from the street. It's so foreign to me that it unnerves me. Hopefully through this experience I can really grow in my effectiveness to reach people that make me squirm and develop a true love for them. I'm really thankful Bryan can go with us this morning

A Crushed Spirit

Today is one of those days that bring me back to reality. It's easy to go on every day in the routine of having two children and outside of discipline really just treat them both and think of them both exactly the same. Days like today when I'm on the phone off and on all afternoon with various county workers and am jumping through hoops to make things happen really slaps me in the face and cause me to be rocked emotionally. Often it makes it more difficult to be loving and compassionate when I'm struggling and battling through the possible hurt that could be coming our way and I often find myself on these days putting up walls. Thankfully today it just made me treasure the moments that I do have with her and we had a really good evening even amongst the tried crankiness from a busy VBS week.

I really didn't give much thought to how things could change now that Dora has been moved from an adoption social worker to a regular foster care social worker, so today when a county worker called to tell me that she needed to set up a visit with Dora and her mom on a day when she could come pick her up I was caught completely off guard and felt somewhat blindsided. I'm just glad that I had called her previous worker so that I knew she had a new worker! Why I didn't get the call I'll never know. It's par for the course with her previous social worker. But That's kind of important information for me to know! Well... There is NO way I'm letting a stranger come pick her up to take her to her visit. I don't care if she is a foster child, a potential adopted child or my own child. I'm not sending her off with someone she doesn't know! So I was able to press her a bit and figure things out a little better. Fortunately she was pleased she didn't have to pick her up and my voice was able to be heard in the timing of visits etc. I'm feeling really unsettled with this new worker. I was just settling in with the old one and feeling like we had a relationship to go off of and it's hard for me to start over. Not to mention that this new worker is a constant reminder of Dora's categorical move.

We've been through our ups and downs in the past couple of weeks. She was doing so great with her speech that she didn't qualify for any speech services but we've faced some major regression in the last week. The only thing I can link it to is that she and I had a really rough week last week. We were just really butting heads and she was really being defiant. No matter how hard I would try to balance the love and positive interactions with the discipline it just wasn't equal last week and normally the discipline is SOOO much less than the positive interactions. It was really discouraging to see her rebel so strongly against both Bryan and I. I'm relieved that while we're still dealing with the defiance that it is sooo much less and is not the primary interaction with her this week. I'm starting to see the words come back and she's starting to make progress once again. Last night I was asking her to say "puh" as we're working to get "please" and she was thrilled to repeat it for tons of praise and she's been saying "Dora" plain as day for a couple of days and she's super proud of herself! I'm so thankful for these words that are once again exciting her to practice speaking!

I wish I knew better how to explain the emotions I'm feeling. Every visit with mom just completely crushes my spirit and brings me to my knees. Like most, I like control and being in this situation where I have none is a really humbling and scary place to be. My only comfort comes from the fact that I have a completely trustworthy God who is the great puppeteer directing every step, every word and every decision the court makes. Even knowing that doesn't erase my fear. It just gives me something to focus my thoughts on when I'm feeling afraid. Once again I'm in that place of taking every thought captive and replacing the bad ones with truth. My heart is a battlefield tonight as I struggle to not let fear overwhelm me and my emotions rule me. It's time to be purposeful in my actions with mom and make every moment I'm with her count because my continued prayer is for voluntary relinquishment. It's the impossible. Social workers tell me their parents don't do it but I'm still praying. I know how ever the situation ends up it's going to bring God the most glory but in my little human heart I can't think of anything that could possibly bring him more glory than for her mom to relinquish her on her own accord. I need to remind myself over and over again before I go to not just let myself be dragged along like i did last time but to go in in control of how I'm handling the situation and be purposeful in my actions and words. I believe God has brought us together for a reason and I need to take every opportunity to love her and build that relationship. I've started thinking about whether or not I should invite her to Dora's birthday party or not. It makes me uncomfortable to do that and I really need to talk to my social worker and see what she says but I also want to show mom that if she were to relinquish it wouldn't mean she'd never see her again and it would also give her a glimpse into our life... I've still got time. We shall see!


The social worker already called me back and is submitting it to court! I'm so thankful she's on top of things! No guarantees but I'm encouraged by her quick response. She isn't the most friendly person in the world though...

Crossing Borders

Sigh... Dora has been in the process of switching social workers and I told her previous social worker back in May that we needed to take Dora out of state for Rachel's wedding. Well, here we are only a week and a half away and they haven't even started getting the court order... I finally got her new worker's name today after having to call myself. I was supposed to receive a phone call when she was placed with a new worker. Please be praying that they move quickly for us so that we aren't faced with a difficult decision of who stays and who goes or if we should leave her behind... I can't even think about that. I'm not sure I would... Sigh... It's important to me to me that Cinderella's at this wedding. I know God can move mountains and is able to take care of this. I'm just feeling a little panicy right now.

The Dreaded Day...

Today is the day I've been dreading. The day Dora visits with her mom for the first time since coming into our care. It's so different than with Cinderella. In Cinderella's situation I encourage her relationship with her other family. I love to watch Cinderella and her birthmom play together, love on each other and bond! I want so desperately for her to know how much she is loved by her other family and I feel so privileged and blessed to have them in our lives! I in no way feel threatened by their relationship, just to opposite! I love her, trust her and will never stand in the way of them spending time together! People ask me all the time how I can deal with it and all I can say is that I love her! I chose in the beginning to nurture that relationship as much as I could so that Cinderella could be comfortable, confident and secure to explore a relationship with her and won't feel like she's been disloyal to me by having a relationship with Rachel. My hope is that in the future that she'll experience less loss as a result of seeing first hand the love of her other family. It's such the opposite with Dora. I'm in this insecure position where I have no say, no voice and no rights. mom has rights, Dora has rights, but I have nothing. I'm just in this incredibly vulnerable position.

I've been thinking about today all week. I think God has been merciful to me by placing this first visit following my busiest work week of the year! I didn't have time to think about it too much, or drive myself crazy, or let my fears take control of me. I simply had no time and the time that I did have I was so tired I couldn't waste too much more energy worrying! And then today was just the craziest day! I had planned to feed the girls lunch and stop by COSTCO to pick up pictures before heading out for the visit. But instead, Dora napped late and Addy and I were having so much fun that I completely lost track of time and when I finally looked at the clock it said 12:07! An entire hour later than I thought it was! I had to be in Richmond by 1 and Dora was still asleep, neither girl had shoes on or hair done, none of us had eaten since breakfast, my diaper bag wasn't ready and I didn't have anything to do with
Cinderella while we waited! Sigh... It was 12:18 when we left the Taco Bell drive through and were on our way to Richmond. Not too shabby if you ask me, but it was inevitable that we were going to be late. When we got there Cinderella had been asleep for about 20 minutes and she was in the uncomfortable spot where you didn't sleep enough so you feel worse than if you hadn't slept at all so she was just completely out of sorts! It was windy and I didn't see it, but Cinderella saw a paper fly out of the car and away and that just set her off. She was SOOOO upset about that paper flying away! My suspicion is that it was trash from lunch because when I was cleaning up later we were one cheese roll up wrapper short! Definitely nothing to be whining over! Well. She was just melting down while we're trying to get into the building. Then, as we near the door DORA starts squawking! She had dropped her doll, then once she got her doll, she dropped her water bottle and the whole while Cinderella is just in sobs! Again, a blessing right? It may not have felt like it in the moment, but looking back I realize that because of the chaos I was saved the nervous anticipation!

The SW then asked if I wanted her to take Dora because mom was already there and she didn't want me to be uncomfortable. Well, of course I was uncomfortable! how could I not be? But I certainly wasn't going let fear dictate my actions so I told her thanks for thinking of me but I was fine and walked in. We walked towards the woman calling Dora's name, though I would never have picked her to be Dora's mom. She looked nothing like I expected! Well.. she was short and I did expect that :) From there on it was kind of a blur. I remember the SW trying to take Dora and Dora would have none of it. When I went to hand her to mom she wouldn't go to her, but neither did she protest when mom took her from me. I didn't have the presence of mind to watch Dora's face. I wish I had... As they disappear behind the door seperating us in the lobby while they went to a visitation room I hear
Cinderella in inconsolable sobs, "My sister! I want my sister!" I reminded her that Dora had an appointment and that she would be back in a little while. I don't think Cinderella would have reacted that way had she not been in a sleep funk, but she did keep her eyes fixed on the door waiting for her sister to return! It breaks my heart to think of them being split up, but I just have to remind myself that God loves her more than I do and that God WILL protect us through this. The thought of my sweet, precious daughter losing her best friend, playmate and sister brings tears to my eyes and makes me question if we made the right decision, but I can't think like that and I WILL NOT let fear control me! There is always going to be risk in any past, present or future adoption. It is the path that God has chosen for us and our children. I can't forget that God is bringing our family specifically and purposefully together and he will equip not only us, but them as well for the events that will shape our lives.

I knew the visit was over when I heard Dora's giddy laughter coming from the direction of the door. She was chasing her mom out of the back rooms and into the lobby and no one would ever know that she barely knows her! It sounds bad, like she had this fantastic time and that she forgot all about us, but if you know Dora, you also know that she'll go to anyone and play with anyone and her playmate today was her mom - NOT that she even knows that she's mom. To her I'm mom and I'm secure in that. It's the courts that make me antsy!

While we had been waiting these two women came in. Their appearance and demeanor made me squirm from the moment they walked in, but what do you know? Yep! First thing mom did was take Dora right to them to show her to them! And then she brought them all over to me! What joy right? Now I'm literally surrounded by people who make me uncomfortable AND they're playing with my child! Sigh... It was at that moment that I was begrudgingly allowing Dora to give high fives to them that I thought to myself, "this can't be God's best for her. They offer her a rough, worldly lifestyle while we offer her a Godly. Christ-centered home where she will be introduced to the Gospel and be raised to love the Lord." I don't know how this will turn out, but I am confident that God wants all to be saved and she'll have a better shot at that living with us than going back to her mom! That's one point for us :)

This week as I've been praying over today I've struggled, as I have from the beginning, because I just can't pray that she'll mess up! So, my prayers have been and will continue to be for voluntary relinquishment. I can't think of anything that would bring God more glory than for this woman to see our lives, see our love for her daughter, and decide on her own that this is where she wants her daughter to be! It may seem like a long shot, but I've known God to change the hearts of people before and do way more impossible things than this! So, my goal is to befriend and love this woman who gave birth to my daughter! Next visit, I WILL be on time. I WILL bring pictures. I WILL be more present when I'm with mom. And I WILL let the Holy Spirit flow through me and see what God does!