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Bon Bon Cookies

Cookie

1/2 c. butter

3/4 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1.5 c. self rising flour

Mix together well, add whipping cream if too dry.

Next, take Hersey Kisses and roll the dough around the kiss.  Make a ball and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Frosting

1 c. powdered sugar

2 Tbsp whipping cream (possibly more…it needs to be dippable)

1 tsp. vanilla

Food coloring.

Once your bon bons are cooled, dip the tops in the frosting.  Place on wax paper till the frosting dries.

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All I Can Do Is Try

I tell my kids, often, that I would rather them try 1000 times and fail then to never try at all.  Yet, I do not take my own advice.  Funny, how I lay here, in my bed at 12:14 am, and think these things.

There are many conversations that I have, with myself….sometimes I even answer myself back 🙂  I was thinking about my daddy, today.  How proud I am of him.  How much I love him.  How his marriage with my mom are marriage goals (sometimes).  How dedicated he has been to his career….even to a fault, almost.  How he turned his life around.  How he overcame a stroke and quadruple bypass surgery.  How he loves my mom well.  How he cares for us kids.  Today is the 20th anniversary of a tragedy that struck our community.  This event changed my daddy….to the core and what was anger at that, many moons ago, yields intense respect for him now.  I get it.  I understand, as much as I can since he was there and I wasn’t.  I lived it through his eyes….as best as he would let us because he is so guarded.

Then, in that same post, I mentioned my brother.  My brother is 10 yrs older than me.  He would, in a heartbeat, lay down his life for me or my children.  I have no doubt about that but we have never been close.  We love each other, yes….our family is more of a tribe and we unite when we need to unite.  He loves differently than I love.  We are just 2 different people.  We do not see eye to eye on so many things, but today, watching the dedication on television of a new memorial dedicated to this event…..my brother worked on that.  He went early and he stayed late.  He was chosen to be a part of history in our community, yet no one will know the names and the faces of those who worked so hard to bring honor to those hurt and lost.  He was one of those people.  I had such pride at the knowledge of what he does for a living and how talented he is….while barely saying a word about it…..he remained silent.  Never complaining.  I wish we were closer.  I wish he could see me in a different light and that he could get to know me as an adult….who I am, what I am about, and what I believe in.  I want to know the same things about him.  It is what it is.  He loves me and that is all I need to know……I love him and I hope he knows that.

So, while I was talking to myself….I thought….all I need to do is try.  Succeed or fail, my parents taught me to give it my all.  My mom gives it her all ALL the time.  She never stops.  Sick, wind, snow, snot, she is going and doing her best at all that she does.  I need her, she is there.  I have surgery, she is there.  I need a body to make a long trip, she is there.  I need fried chicken…she makes it and hides it.  My children adore her (and my dad of course LOL) and I’m blessed that I can give the relationship with my parents that I had with my grandparents.  Family.  It is so  important.  As my daddy would say “when everyone else goes back to the barn, I will still be there.”

I am going to listen to myself and I’m going to step out of this intense grief, sadness, loneliness, irritation that I find myself in and I am going to try.  I am going to try and be more present with my husband and children.  I may even TRY golfing cause Big Daddy loves it.  I want to play cards more and be on facebook less.  I want to teach my kids how to run a home.  I want to get involved in my church.  Make efforts with my few friends.  Dig back into Scripture.  Lose the weight I’ve been talking about for 10 yrs now.  I want to be the change that I want to see, in this world.  Seriously, who is to stop me?  If God is for this….no one can be against it.

I keep thinking 1/2 or more than 1/2 of my life is finished……..what am I going to do with the rest of it.  Sit back and watch it flash by.  Keep my nose in social media instead of my eyes on my children and husband?  I may fail but as long as I do something daily to TRY, then I will call it a successful day.  I have proven to myself that I can do something.  I can stick to it and I can make a difference.  We just paid our van off, last month….3 yrs early.  We did this in 4 mths.  We can do it.  We can be disciplined.

I choose to try.  I choose to believe in myself.  I choose to allow God to work through my shortcomings and my depression to make a difference.  I choose to continue to try and work on my relationships with my family….my brother.  I choose to see 2 sides of the coin and try to understand different view points of a situation.

It comes down to this.

I.  Choose.  Joy.

Wanna come along for the ride?

15 Activities Ideas for all Family

15 Activities Ideas for all Family on Christmas Holiday

The Christmas holiday is a day everybody looks forward to, regardless of one’s age, religious belief or profession. It’s not just about it being a work-free day, but also about the activity, families plan and engages in on that day. In the vast majority of western countries, for example, it is a tradition in most families to exchange gifts with themselves. In most cases, the children get what they’ve always wanted from their parents, while adults also give themselves treat. Christmas activities help to build a stronger family. This article focuses on some of the family Christmas ideas and activities you can enjoy this upcoming Christmas holiday.

  1. Poke-the-tree

This is one of my favorite Christmas activities for kids. This is a game idea in which gifts are hidden in paper cups and then arranged in the shape of a tree on the wall. The kids are invited to poke the cups randomly and getting presents. The gifts can range from candies, a paper bearing the name of a gift, money, teddy bears, dolls, and even small toys. Materials needed to make include colored plastic cups, stapler, pencil, rubber bands, and whiteboard.

  • Cut out the round shape from a colored paper (it should be bigger than the diameter of the cup you intend using).
  • Put the gift in the cup.
  • Cover the cup with the round shape you’ve cut out.
  • Seal the cup using a rubber band tied tightly around it.
  • Now put some adhesive on the bottom of the cup.
  • Attach to the whiteboard.
  • Do this as many times as possible, until a tree pattern is formed on the wall.
  • Done! Invite the kids to have a go at it. Some background music would make it more fun.

 

  1. Watching movies: This is one of the cheapest family Christmas ideas. It is best for parents whose kids are above five years old. Each member of the family should write down the movie they’re anticipating to watch on the piece of paper. However, the movies should be suitable and interesting for everyone involved. Put all the pieces of paper with movie titles into a hat or a big bowl, shake it up, and let someone to pick one sheet. All the family members should watch that Christmas movie and then discuss ita. Buckets of popcorn and warming drinks should be readily available.
  2. Design the Christmas tree together with your children: Christmas for families should actively involve all the members. It is fun decorating your home with the help of your kids. They like to assist especially with the tree, as it is the biggest attraction in the house. However, parents sometimes get worried that they might not achieve the perfect look they want if their kids partake in the process. There are ways to go about this and still achieve your desired tree, without your kids feeling left out of the fun family Christmas.
  • You should set it up when your kids are not available, preferably when they are asleep.
  • Do the most complex work, such as setting up the lights or putting on the fragile elements.
  • Invite them to decorate the tree with you. Their job would be to add ornaments to the already set up tree.
  • You can do final touch-ups and remove the mess (if any) when your kids are not around.
  1. Create a new tradition: You can have conversations with your family, about what they plan to achieve before the next Christmas. Take it a step further by writing down these goals, and putting them in a vault. It should not be opened until the next New Year. This would encourage a planning culture and discipline in the kids. It’s never too early to start instilling these virtues.

Other fun holiday ideas include:

  1. Building a snowman.
  2. Taking a trip downtown and taking pictures with Christmas lights in the background.
  3. Getting everyone involved in making the special meal.
  4. Carol singing.
  5. Travelling abroad or throughout the country to mountains.
  6. Visit the orphanage and have your kids donate gifts to them.
  7. Beautifying the house. Every member of the family should participate.
  8. Wrapping gifts together.
  9. Throwing a Christmas party.
  10. Playing snowballs.
  11. Preparing a hot chocolate with marshmallows and drinking it next to a fireplace (or just on a couch altogether).

Partaking in any of these activities would make it a fun Christmas for your children.

AUTHOR BIO

Paul Calderon is a professional teacher and a freelance writer at https://essayontime.com.au/  He has a Master’s degree in the English language, which he got from the University of Ohio. Paul has also completed a course in German and has been teaching international students online. His hobbies are football, fishing, painting, and photography.

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women

 

When you have teen girls, in this day and age….it is hard.  H.A.R.D.  When you are faced, daily with magazines, commercials, billboards, television shows and movies that have the “perfect” girl on or in it…well…it is hard for one to live up to that “greatness.”  I mean, between the perfection of these girls and the boom of social media (which comes with it bullying, amongst other unsavory things)…..your daughter is destined to be at the bottom of the totem pole.

This is where this little gem comes in play.  At the end of the day, there is One Person we need to impress and the cool thing is….is you impressed Him the day He even thought you in existence.  He knew each human being, on this earth, before He even created the earth and YOU, you hormonal ball of knots and jello, are the cream of the crop.  You are at the top of the list and it is YOU that He adores.

This little devotional is not one that you will go through with your teen, just one time, it can be gone through year after year and still be pertinent to what you are dealing with whether it is the year 2017 or the year 2071.

I will be drawing a name on December 8, 2017 for a lucky person to win this incredible devotional.  Be sure and like or comment any of my social media accounts to be eligible to win 🙂


About the 365-day devotional:

Each day features an easy-to-read, relevant devotion paired with a scripture verse and journaling space to help readers reflect on the day’s message. The book tackles tough topics girls face, from bullying and social media to friendships and dating, all the while showing readers how infinitely precious they are in God’s sight.  This book is $14.99, for a hardcover, For ages 13 & up

Social Corner:

Buy Link: https://www.christianbook.com/adored-365-devotions-for-young-women/9780310762799/pd/762794?product_redirect=1&Ntt=762794&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

 

Please head on over to the books landing page http://info.zondervan.com/adored-devotional/

By going to the book’s landing page readers can get a free 7-day download

We are Finished

I hope you all have enjoyed my series on adoption.  I am so thankful for each person sharing their stories of the good, the bad, the hard, and the glorious.  God gets all the glory for each family represented.

If you have any questions, you can always click on the “Adoption” link in the above menu bar.  There, you will find some information on my types of adoption.  You can always email me at thebarefoothomeschooler@gmail.com or you can comment here.  I will be happy to help in any way possible.

Remember…..we are not all called to adopt, but we are all called to do something.

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The Waiting Child’s Lullaby

KISSES IN THE WIND (The Waiting Child’s Lullabye)

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that’s how it seems.

I know you wonder where we are… what’s taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.

Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin…
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God hold you in His hand until I can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, I’m doing all that I can do.

Very soon, you’ll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.

May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.

— © Pamela Durkota, written for Josh

URGENT: MISSING TEEN

TEEN HAS BEEN FOUND AS OF 12/4/17!!!

 

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing and stripes

MISSING TEEN:

Nicholas Miles, 16.  Left local high school in Bartlett, TN at 9:58 am on 11/27/17.

He was last seen wearing red jeans, red Nike shoes, an orange and white zip up hoodie, and may or may not have a backpack.

If seen, please call the Bartlett TN Sheriff’s Department at 901.385.5555.

Please do not offer to feed him or let him in your home.  He is NOT dangerous but he does not need to be encouraged to keep running.

He has missed his daily medication and it’s very important that he not miss another dose.

Please help us find our son.  He is loved beyond measure.


This is my friend’s son…..please share this page to get the word out!

Guest Blogger: Brittany

Hi! My name is Brittany.  My husband, Eric, and I have been married for 13 years. We have 7 children (in our home) and quite a few more that we have the privilege of being mom and dad to.  Our family is made up of biological, adopted, and foster children, but no one “wears” that label; they’re just ALL my children.  We also have the amazing opportunity to serve the Lord as missionaries in Arizona on the Gila River and Tohono O’odham Reservations.  And in my spare time, I decided to go back to college and get my degree in social work. I graduate in 2 weeks!  

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Adoption is something that I have thought about since I was a little girl.  I dreamed of having a big family and being a mom to many. Not long after Eric and I started dating in high school, we had a conversation about each of our desires and dreams for having a family one day. We both had said that we were interested in adoption. Several years down the road, when we were engaged, we had the conversation again. We definitely agreed in this area.

 

Eric and I were married on May 1, 2004.  About 6 months into our marriage, we started researching international adoption. We had no idea really where to begin so we started requesting information from different agencies. We were just trying to wrap our minds around the process and the cost. We noticed that most requirements were for couples to be married a minimum of 2 years. We were bummed, but wanted to keep researching over the next couple of months.  Then we found out that I was pregnant, and all adoption conversation came to a halt.

 

We spent the next couple of years focused on having and raising our 2 biological children. Our desire to adopt never really went away, but we had put it on the back burner for a while.  Then we became involved with an organization called Starfish Orphan Ministry. The more we learned about orphan statistics and orphan care, the more our desire grew to begin the adoption process.  Then I went on a mission trip to El Salvador to work with orphans, and my life was totally changed. I was no longer hearing statistics, I was holding an actual orphan in my arms. My heart was broken, and I knew that God was calling me and my family to action.

 

Not long after that trip, Eric and I really began to pray for God to show us where we should adopt from.  I literally researched for months. I would go through each country and read through all the requirements to see which ones we qualified for. I would seek out recommendations for agencies that we were considering. And then we prayed over each country. Each time we would do this, we felt led to the Democratic Republic of Congo. We had no idea why. We literally knew nothing about the country, but knew that was the direction the Lord was leading. So, we decided to jump in!

Although we knew that the adoption process was not going to be easy, we had no idea how hard it would actually be.  For this first adoption, we had 2 failed referrals. This means that the agency we were using had given us a referral for 2 different children that we thought we would be adopting only to find out that we no longer could adopt them.  Our emotions were all over the place. When we finally received the referral for our daughter, Emmalyn, we were ecstatic but also afraid to get our hopes up. We had been told that the adoption process would only take 9-12 months, but it was taking much longer. We also found out that our agency had hired an attorney that was corrupt. He was taking the money we were sending each month for our daughter’s care and keeping it for himself. Although the process was extremely hard, it was all worth it the moment we held our daughter in our arms for the first time on November 7, 2012.

 

Through the 2-year process of Emmalyn’s adoption, Eric and I also became foster parents through Tribal Social Services.  5 months before traveling to Congo, we were placed with an adorable 11-month-old little boy. He had a rough start in life, but we were going to love him and help him grow as much as we could for as long as he was placed with us.  After we realized that his case plan was going from reunification to permanency placement, we knew that we wanted to be his forever family. However, we had been told that adoption was not a possibility through the tribe. The next best option was to seek guardianship so that is what we did. On August 11, 2013 we were made permanent legal guardians to Santos.

 

Just one week later, we received a phone call from Tribal Social Services letting us know that Santos’s older sister was in need of placement. They were wondering if we were willing to open our home to her as well.  We didn’t need to take very long to think about that. Of course, we said yes!  We spent the next two months doing transition visits, and on October 4, 2013 Audri came to live with us. Her case plan was not the same as Santos’s, and we had no idea how long she would stay with us, but we were committed to her no matter how long.  We had many ups and downs through this process, mainly disagreements with the case manager, but we were able to eventually become Audri’s guardians on December 1, 2015.

 

Although we were Santos and Audri’s legal guardians, we wanted to make everything official and legally adopt them. We knew that the process would not be easy, but we decided to try anyway. We began the process in February 2015, and had delay upon delay. (One being that we had to become Audri’s guardians before they would consider adoption.) I won’t go into all the details of this adoption because many of the details are about other people involved in the case and it would not be appropriate to discuss those details for the whole world to read, but please know this was one of the most difficult things that I have even been through. Eric and I literally had no idea what the outcome would be. We just knew that we were going to trust God no matter what. On August 3, 2017 Santos and Audri officially received our last name.  For those of you counting, that was 5 years that Santos was in our home and 4 years for Audri. Wow!

 

And in the middle of all of that, we had begun the process to adopt a sweet 4-year-old boy from the Democratic Republic of Congo in March 2013 (4 months after Emmalyn had come home, not knowing what was going to happen with Santos’s case plan, before Audri came to live with us). He was from the same orphanage as our daughter, Emmalyn. We thought things would go much faster and easier this time around since we were familiar with the process and were not using the same agency we had before. Boy, were we wrong. This time around the government of Congo issued a suspension on exit letters. Exit letters were not necessary to complete an adoption, but were necessary for the adopted child to leave the country. Isaiah was officially adopted on October 9, 2013 in the country of DRC but could not leave due to the exit letter suspension. We were told it could take up to 2 years before the government decided to change the policy. This wait was brutal. We watched our son grow up in pictures. We watched his personality change from that of a sweet little boy to a strong, tough boy that showed no emotion. I cannot accurately describe to you how hard this wait was.  But, we were finally united with our son on September 19, 2016. It was a long 4-year wait, but so worth it to finally have our son home!

Would I do it all over again? Absolutely! I have seen God work miracles. I have learned what it means to truly trust Him. I have been able to watch God start the healing process in my children. I have seen them grow and flourish in our family.

I read this quote the other day from Jason Johnson, and I think it accurately describes the foster care and/or adoption journey: “It’s the mercy of God that He doesn’t show us everything that will unfold in the foster care and adoption journey the moment we first say “yes” to it. All the hard would be too unbearable and all the good would be too unbelievable.”

family picpic of kids

Guest Bloggers: Victoria, Alyssa, and Noah

Meet my people.  Our family began with Big Daddy and me….then entered Victoria, then Alyssa, and lastly Noah.  Our story wasn’t finished, though……here is where you can read how adoption changed the lives of my people.  The good, the bad, the ugly and how Jesus is at the center…..continuing to write our stories.

 


VICTORIA (22):

When you walk into a room with 7 kids, you tend to get all the strange looks and the stranger comments/questions: “Are they all real?!”, “Your poor mother.”, “I wish I had the strength to do that.”. And my mom would just smile and approach those comments/questions the only way she knew how.

The thing is, the “strength” these people wish they had is not a human strength. You don’t go into adoption on your own strength and your own resources. I remember so many times that my mom would just be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained. It is taxing on everyone in the family, but the rewards are being reaped.

If it weren’t for the divine will of God, we would not have 4 beautiful, talented, amazing kids that no one wanted to give them a chance. What some people fail to remember, is that God gave us a chance. A chance to follow Him and once we decide to do that, He will bless you in ways you cannot even imagine.

Believe, it isn’t like frolicking in the field of roses all the time. It also means hurt, heartache, and exhaustion. But, if it wasn’t for adoption, these kids wouldn’t have the same chance as I did. A chance to be loved, a chance to be a kid, a chance to be someone in this world. And my family wouldn’t have had the chance to grow and become stronger.

So, to answer those questions…. Yes, they are all “real”. They may not be directly related to me, but they are as real as any biological sibling. The connection we have is a deeper one, a connection of the soul and the heart. My mother is not poor, but blessed. She may spend every waking moment being drained, but she is incredibly blessed and she will tell you that all day and all night. And no, that strength you are referring to is not something you possess. It’s the strength of God that put us all together and sees us through every twist and turn.

That’s what adoption means to me.


ALYSSA (19):

So, November is Adoption Month and my mom has asked me to write about my experience being a biological child and growing up with several siblings that were not biologically related to me.

The very first thing I remember as a young child was when my mom and dad brought home Tay and Shay. I loved those sweet babies and I treated them like family. Shay was particularly attached to me, she even bit my brother when he was being a turd to me which I thought was hilarious. Tay was just as sweet as could be, he had the cutest laugh and he loved to play and cuddle. And then I remember my mom was really upset one day and then the kids were gone. I was confused because I didn’t know where they went at that time and I didn’t know where they were until I was older. I missed them so much but I knew not to ask questions about it until my mom healed from that tragic time.

And then Grayce and Daniel came along a little while later. Grayce was 6 and Daniel was 2 ½ and I was thrilled to have another sister to play with since Victoria always had her nose in a book (sorry V, I love you though!). So I do not remember the exact day they got adopted but I do remember how hard it was to raise them both, especially for my mom. Grayce always had some sort of behavior and some sort of issue with almost everything and Daniel could hardly talk, and it only got worse as Grayce got older. When we moved to the new house I had to share a room with Grayce while Victoria got her own room, it was hard for me because as I got older and I went through my “rebellious” phase I noticed Grayce would take on my characteristics. I was her role model and she did everything I did. For most of the time we had her, to be honest, I didn’t like her. I was always mad at her because she always lied to me or stole my stuff without telling me, I didn’t like inviting over friends because she would always try to wedge herself into our conversations and make them think she was a perfect angel. I know that seems selfish but it was true at that time. We always fought and most times I really just wanted to live out in the extra room in the garage just to get away from her.

But then I re-dedicated my life to Jesus and I forgave Grayce, although it was extremely hard I still did it. Grayce has had a lot of trouble these past few years and it got to the point to where I was in a bawling heap because I tried to show her grace and she could not seem to change her ways and act normal. I thought it was all my fault and I was a terrible sister because she looks up to me and I tried to be the best person I could be for her so maybe she might change her ways. But she didn’t.

That is what is so hard about adoption. It is a hard and beautiful mess but we have to learn to be patient and love that child because we do not know what they went through before they came to us. We have to be Jesus with skin on no matter how hard it might be at times. It was incredibly difficult for me to forgive and forget but with God’s help anything is possible.

So I try to be the best role model I can be for her and I always tell myself that her whole situation is not my fault and that I am doing the best I can to be the best sister to her since she never really had a good sister figure. So, after we got Grayce and Daniel, I was much older and my mom approached me with saying she wanted to adopt from Africa. I was so excited when I saw Jude’s picture! He was the cutest baby with adorable baby cheeks and I couldn’t wait to meet him, but it was so incredibly hard to get him home because we did not have the finances. I had to be put in middle school because Victoria could not watch all the kids and my mom had to get a job and my dad worked as well. I did not particularly like being put in middle school because I do not do very well in social environments but I went anyway to help out my parents. My mom and dad were always tired and something always managed to come up and give us trouble. I remember we set up a vendor at Tater Day to try and raise money to get him home, it took us the longest time to finally get him to America. I remember my Mom was jumping up and down and she was screaming and crying to get in the van and go tell dad that he was coming home. I was so excited!

When he finally did arrive he did not know very much English. He was very shy and adorable. He did have some issues with his anger and frustration because he could not communicate very well with us. Although, he did not have as hard of a time adjusting as the other kids did.

And then, to all of our surprise, we got Hunter. Hunter was still very much a baby and I was a lot older so I knew his situation he was in. I did not think we would adopt him until it actually happened. He had almost no verbal skills, he acted like a dog, he didn’t know how to play, and he had absolutely no social skills whatsoever. And I remember me being so angry with how he was raised and treated because no baby should ever have to go through with what he went through. But then God comforted me and told me that as long as Hunter was safe everything would turn out right, and it did. The “dad” fought for custody but we won and I was thrilled. We adopted him a short time later and he is a precious child. I love him with all my heart.

So, to say the least, adoption is hard. Not only the financial and governmental part of it but the adjusting for the parents and the kids themselves is so hard. I’m not saying adoption is all rainbows and sunshine but it’s not all dark and gloom either. It’s important to find the balance within it all and roll with the punches that come against you. Seeing my mom and dad fight for my siblings has shown me that with love and with God they can do anything, and one day when I am married I hope to adopt children as well. Everyone deserves a chance at being loved and to have a family and I want to share that love and the love of God with every child I meet. I hope this sheds some light on what adoption is and how it is such a beautiful mess. Every child deserves to be loved so please consider and pray about taking in a child and adopting, it is hard but it is an unforgettable journey that God takes you on.


NOAH (16):

To me, adoption meant more fun and more brothers and sisters.  I don’t remember much about Tay and Shay, but I do remember Shay biting me and it hurt.  I remember when Daniel and Grayce came to our old house and I thought it would be a lot of fun having them.

When Jude came home, he didn’t speak any English, I stayed up all night because he couldn’t sleep.  He also attacked Daniel because of something.  Then he started learning English and was actually enjoyable.  Sometimes he can be a pain in the butt but he’s family, and I don’t leave family behind.

Hunter didn’t speak when he came home.  He had mats in his hair and his hair was long.  When we got tubes in his ears he started talking immediately.  He started walking and has been adorable since.  When he was adopted, mom started crying.  It was a great day when he came home.


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040 (2)045 (3)Who is this moustached man?

 

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Guest Blogger: Big Daddy

After having three biological children, we decided to enter the realm of adoption.  We believed that our quiver wasn’t full so the decision was easy.  What we didn’t realize is that adoption is HARD.  It doesn’t really matter what kind of adoption it is, whether its through foster care, international adoption or one of you own relatives, adoption is not for the faint of heart.  However, adoption is very rewarding.  To know that you have taken a life into your home that otherwise was not wanted or was being mistreated, abused, neglected, is an amazing miracle.  God intended for children to be raised by their parents, but circumstances sometimes does not allow that to happen.  That’s why we took the plunge.  To care for the orphans.

As for our journey, it has been a wild ride to say the least.  We have had a lot of good days and plenty of bad ones.  But so far, we have stayed the course.  We have tried to instill Godly values in all of our children while teaching them honesty, integrity, responsibility and character.  Sometimes we think that we are not making much progress but truly we believe if we are consistent with the kids, they will turn out fine.  Each child is different and we have had to learn how to parent each child with their different behaviors and personalities.

I guess at first I was resistant to adoption but after I met the little girl my sister-in-law and her husband adopted from the Philipines, my heart melted.  I saw the love shown and given to her and believed I could do the same.  So we decided to do it.

Our first experience with fostering to adopt, started out pretty good other than the fact that these children were brought to us and we knew nothing about them.  It was hard especially with Shay because she was non verbal at 2 years old.  She never did warm up to me very much.  Tay on the other hand, was very happy and always smiling.  Also, they were very sick…we just could not get them well.  Then the day that nearly broke us to the world of fostering/adoption happened.  The kids were suddenly taken away from us by the Cabinet.  We had no idea….one minute we are raising these kids and the next minute they are gone.  We were told the reason but truly believed the social worker lied about us in a court hearing that we were not present at.  I was furious and it literally crushed my wife.  To this day, she still has the scars of them being taken from us.  We just had to believe that the Lord had different plans for us and those sweet children.

At that time we told ourselves we would not go through a horrible experience like we just had but decided to give it another go around.  We started fosetering Daniel and Grayce in the spring of 2007.  At first, it was really good but we learned quickly how damaged a lot of these children can be who have been in the child services system.  To find out the kids you just took into your home were previosly abused is a tough pill to swallow.  Having to raise children in the midst of an investigation of abuse and ensuing court proceedings is not the way it should be.  But the kids were safe and we did our best to cope with the behaviors stemming from their past.  We finally were able to adopt them about two and half years later.  Since then, we’ve pretty much run the gamut on ups and downs with them.  Some days are good and some days are bad but in the end they are loved and hopefully they will be able to overcome the terrible start they had on life.

Our next adoption was a foray into international adoption.  My wife had always dreamed of adopting from the county of Ethiopia and after I met my new nephew from Ethiopia, my sister-in-law’s second adopted child, I was ready to go to Africa.  The process was a lot of paperwork and a lot of money.  (Not sure why it costs so much to adopt a child who has no home or no one else wants).  Within a few months we had a referral and got a picture of our son.  It was amazing how we could love someone so much whom we had never met.  The anticipation was unbearable.  But soon after that, we were able to travel to Africa and meet our son.  It was an experience like none other.  We got to meet our son and spend three or four days with him.  We went to court and were granted the adoption.  The hardest part was leaving him there.  But we were told that it should only be about 8 weeks before we could come back and bring him home.  Little did we know at the time that 8 weeks would turn into 14 months.

A huge mistake was made by our home study agency and we were told by the US government that we did not make enough money to bring him home.  How ridiculous is that?  Its a shame that money, or the lack thereof, keeps so many people form adopting children that need good homes.  When we found this out we desperately tried everything we could to get clearance from USCIS but were flat out denied two months later.  My wife was crushed  beyond all  belief.  From December 2010 to about November 2011, she was just a shell of a person.  Yes, she lived and breathed but that was about it.  She was vacant.  And there was nothing I could do about it.  For me, I believed that there was no way God would allow us to travel 7000 miles to meet a boy and tell him he would be our son, then him not ever come home.  Not neccessarily for our sake but for his.  He was an innocent child growing up in an orphanage with 50 or 60 other children just like him.  But God made a way for us to get our clearance to bring him home and in December 2011, we brought Jude to his forever home.  We were made whole.

After we brought Jude home, we thought our quiver was full.  But God had other plans for our family.  In November of 2015, we had an opportunity to take in our great nephew, Hunter.  His mother, our niece, had been in trouble with the law and was not able to take care of him.  Hunter had been living with a man who believed he was the father.  He had troubles of his own an agreed for us to keep Hunter for a while.  We decided to file for emergency custody of Hunter mainly for his safety at the time.  The man who he was living with turned out not to be the biological father and we were granted temporary custody of Hunter.  His mother got into even more trouble later and was facing a lot of time in prison.  She made a very hard yet mature decision to terminate her rights and allow us to adopt Hunter.  I can’t imagine how hard that was for her but am very proud of her for sacrificing for her son.  Hunter invigorated our family with joy.  He has so much energy and is very sweet and funny.  However, back in June he was diagnosed with an extremely rare neurological disorder called OMS.  It has really been tough because it is a one in ten million case and there is no cure.  He has been through a lot already and its been really tough on him and us.  But we take it one day at a time and trust in God for healing and comfort.

So to those of you reading this and considering adopting…..do not have preconceived notions of lollipops and rainbows.  Adoption is tough and not for the faint of heart.  But the rewards are unending.  Giving a child a home and stability is a beautiful thing.  Children, whether they know it or not, crave structure, discipline and a sense of worth.

Thats the beauty of adoption.

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