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!

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!!!