Last month I was interviewed by Wendy of the Foster Parenting Podcast.  Today it was released and you can listen to it via iTunes or their website: I hope it is a blessing to other families who consider adopting via the foster care system.

It’s a bit scary to put yourself out there in such a public way.  I am feeling pretty vulnerable, but I love educating others about infertility, adoption and foster care (or at least what I’ve learned about them).  If you listen, please let me know what you thought.

Does my voice really sound like that?? 😉

Part1 :: Part 2 ::

So, we had J1 for about 4 mos when we learned that his Tummy Mommy (we prefer that over birth mom) had given birth to another boy.  Her lifestyle had not changed and, in fact, by the time the state called us, she had already disappeared.  It wasn’t that she didn’t love her children, but she is so totally without skills to parent.  I think she gets so completely overwhelmed that it is just easier to disappear and let someone else take care of her children.

We never hesitated about our decision that, if J2 was available for adoption, then we would do everything we could to make sure the brothers were together.

Even though the Tummy Mommy was out of the picture, they system would only work so fast.  So, while we wanted him the moment we heard about him, we learned that it would be awhile.  At first, all we knew was that J2 was in a medical foster home in the Portland metro area.  But eventually we were given the foster mom’s phone number.  I have my notes from my first phone calls with Laurie somewhere.  After a few phone calls (I hope I wasn’t a pest!) Laurie graciously extended the invitation to come visit J2 and her family.  It was a neat experience.  Not only did we get to meet and hold tiny J2, but Laurie and her family were a joy!

One visit, we went along with them to J2’s doctor’s appt!  I imagine that was something to see!  One dad (Doug was at work), one mom with a toddler, and another mom with an infant (J2) and a triple stroller and a few more kids! lol  But it was so neat to hear the Doctor give us an update on his withdrawal experience and development.  The Doctor seemed to roll with the fact that J2 had two mommies! lol

In December of 1996, Laurie and her family were planning a vacation over the Christmas break.  Laurie worked it out so that we would be her respite foster parents for J2.  So we were going to have him for 2 weeks!  We were pretty excited about that.  But then someone realized that we could just make the permanent transition from her home to ours.  After all, we were foster parents at that point too.  We weren’t considered his adoptive placement home (that would come later) but he could live with us as foster parents.  To be honest, I have NO idea who instigated it or even if it was acceptable.  But we were beyond excited!

On December 13, 1996, Laurie and her family drove to The Dalles and brought us the best Christmas gift!  We ordered pizzas and tried to make it more like a visit than anything really formal.  But as Laurie explained to me about his medications and feeding needs, I struck by the enormity of what we were doing!  I was going to be Momma to 2 boys – ages 23 mos and 3 mos old.  Laurie shed more than a few tears that night – I could only imagine how hard it was/is to pour so much of yourself into a little one knowing that it’s only a temporary situation.

Those early days of two babies is sort of a blur now.  But fortunately we have some videos and pictures to help us remember.  Maybe I’ll see what I can do about scanning some this summer!

There is so much more to share….3 more children…many moves….lots of stories!  But today there is no more time.  More soon – I promise!

~~~to be continued~~~

You can read part 1 here.

A few things to correct – I pulled out our scrapbooks! lol – it wasn’t April 1996.  It was May 17, 1996 that we got the phone call that we had been chosen for J1.  At least I had the Friday part right! lol (yes, I looked – I’m a bit of a geek!)

The next Monday I’m sure we were calling Judy even as she walked in the door! lol

Our first visit with J1 was at his foster home on May 22, 1996 – a Wednesday and the day before our 9th wedding anniversary.  J1 was 16 mos old and from the pictures it looks like he was really into chewing! LOL  We took him a small Sesame Street radio that he carried our whole visit.  To him we were just another set of adults visiting, but our whole life was changing.  It was hard to leave without him.  We went home and tried to prepare our home and our hearts.

On May 24, 1996 we had another visit with J1.  We were able to take him out of the home so we drove him up to my Dad and step mom’s home in Battle Ground, WA.  My dad took some great pictures of the three of us!

On Tuesday, May 28th, we brought J1 home.  I remember J1 walking through the house just checking everything out.   Four days later – on June 1st – our church threw us a baby shower.  Our friend, Debi Stinson, organized it and it was SO nice.  But I realize now I was a bit overwhelmed with everything and don’t remember much.  Thank goodness for photos!!

Even though J1 was home with us, our adoption was not final.  There is a waiting period of 6 mos and then there is all the time that the courts take to finalize the adoption.  But just having him home was good enough for us!  That summer we took a couple of trips, had TONS of visits from our California family members and we worked on finalizing J1’s adoption.

Even though we’d be a couple for 9 years, it really wasn’t all that hard for us to go from a couple to a family.

Looking at my scrapbook, I see that in September, 1996 my mom came for a visit and we took a trip to my sister’s home in the Newport, OR area.  Grammy and J1 played in the sand for the first time.  Little did we know that J2 was born that month and destined to join our family!

After your child is placed in your home, during the waiting period, you continue to see the caseworker once a month.  Some have resented these visits but we always enjoyed them.  It was a chance to share all the new things our child was doing and to talk about the transition.  I remember pretty early after we brought J1 home that we were asked if we would like to adopt again.  We told our caseworker that we would but we were in no rush.  We wanted to enjoy J1 for awhile.  Maybe in a year or so.  So when we got a phone call in  September, 1996 asking us if we were interested in adopting again, we replied in the same way.  And, then anonymous-caseworker said “Well, J1 has a little brother.”

I think you could have knocked us over with a feather!

~~~to be continued~~~

I received the new issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine last week.  Even though I work each issue – and by the time it’s at the publisher I think “I never want to think about that issue again! – I work mainly with the ads and the content is something I am able to enjoy…to savor.

You are probably thinking…why are we talking about the magazine?  Well, hold on, I’ll explain!

The Summer issues are my favorite because the topic is usually special learners and sometimes it is adoption too.  Two topics with which I can identify.  And, I realized that, other than my 100 things, the average reader of my blog doesn’t know our adoption story.  So, here you go!

Eric and I were married in May, 1987.  By February 1988 we were hoping to get pregnant.  We were fairly sure that we’d have some problems due to my previous diagnosis of PCOS.  Though there was very little known about Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome at that time.  We didn’t seek medical treatment becuase we were going through some big changes in our life.  In September 1989 we moved to Portland, OR so that Eric could attend Western Seminary.  While we lived there, I worked for a company that offered good medical insurance so we decided to see what the medical community could offer us.  I tried a drug or two but I didn’t have any success.  In those years I also found a community of other women dealing with infertility via Prodigy.  We shared our hopes, fears, and learned a lot from each other!  I learned from them that I needed to be proactive about my medical care.  I was the one who had to fight for what I wanted.

But what I wanted was a family – not necessarily a child that had Eric’s eyes and my hair.  And, as I learned more about the next steps that the medical profession wanted me to take, I decided that I was not wanting to walk further on this road.  We were learning about adoption and decided that was going to be how our family grew.

In 1994 Eric graduated from Seminary and we moved to The Dalles, OR.  After we lived there for a few months, we looked into the foster-to-adopt program.  In 1995 we started taking our foster parenting classes.  Little did we know that in January of 1995, our first son was born and waiting for us!

We finished our classes and was assigned a caseworker named Judy Schock.  She helped us create our homestudy and walked us through the process.  In Oregon, each child is given a committee who helps to find them a home.  Caseworkers present their families for consideration.  Three good families are chosen for the child, and then the committee meets to choose the best family for that child.  I like that idea. It is backwards from how most people think adoptions happen – where the parent chooses the child.

But as we were living through that experience, I hated it!  Every time we were presented for a child, we were chosen to be on the committee.  But then every committee chose a different family.  I think we lost track of how many committees we were part of (our part was simply to pray and wait for the phone call) but I remember the first one like it was last week.  It was a sibling pair – Michael & Emily – who were 3 and an infant.  We were camping on vacation while the committee was taking place.  We called Judy in eager anticipation.  We were devastated to find out we weren’t chosen.  Of course, now I can look back and see God’s hand in it…but at that point it was another loss to grieve.

In April 1996, we finally told Judy that we couldn’t do this anymore.  It was too painful.  We had concerns that children weren’t being placed with us because Eric was a pastor.  Feedback we were given confirmed there was some prejudice that we were unable to confront due to the system.  Judy had put us in for one more committee so we agreed to go forward with that one.  While in the early committees we were asking for as much information as possible, by this time we were asking her to keep the facts to herself so that we would not invest our hearts as much.  All we knew was that this was a committee for a blond boy of 15 mos old who wore glasses.

I remember it was a Friday.  I was at work at the Columbia Gorge Community College Library.  I remember it was a quiet day in the library.  I was trying not to think about the committee.

I received a phone call from Judy and I, sadly, cant’ remember her words!  But I remember that the librarian just knew by the look on my face!  I was pretty shocked!  I tried to call Eric at the church but he wasn’t there.  I remembered that he was going to do some visitations that afternoon, so I tried to hunt him down.  I found out he was on his way to see our friend Gregg.  But when I called Gregg, he hadn’t arrived yet.  I ended up telling Gregg and Dixie our news.  And Gregg ended up telling Eric. He greeted him on the porch with “Hi Daddy!”…I imagine it took Eric a bit to figure that out.

Judy said there was a video tape of J1 and if we could get to Hood River by 4:30 we could pick it up – otherwise we’d have to wait for Monday.  Of course, we rushed right over!  We had a celebratory meal at our favorite Chinese restaurant in Hood River and then rushed home to watch the video.  It was short and left us wishing for more!

We thought the waiting was over….but it hadn’t.

~~~to be continued~~~