Her Story Too

I could see it in her eyes.  The disappointment.  She didn’t say a word, but I knew what she was feeling and thinking.

Adoption is coming soon. In the midst of all the preparations, our soon to be adopted children were asked by their case manager what they wanted on their adoption day cake.  Our biological daughter, who has been on this journey the entire time, desperately wanted to be asked as well.

She wanted to have a voice in the celebration and the cake decoration decision.  She wanted to be a part of the story, a part of the day.

She is 9 and as much as she gets it, she still struggles at times.

Later that evening, I pulled her to the side and I asked her how she was feeling.  She simply stated, “I want to be able to share the story too.”  It makes sense.  We often hear people talk about how the foster children are having their story rewritten with adoption.  While that may be true, we cannot forget that biological children are also having their stories rewritten. 

She was four or five when she began encouraging her mother and me to become foster parents.  To be a “mom and dad for kids who needed it.”  My career had led to her being around the foster care world her entire life.  To her, taking in kids was the natural thing to do.  At her young age and in her innocence she didn’t fully comprehend all the things she might or might not be giving up.  She just knew we had to do it.  Over the past 3 years we have seen her share her home, her stuff, her parents, her friends, her grandparents, her holidays, her extra-curricular activities, and almost every faucet of her life with four other little people who needed it.  She has never blinked.  She has been a champ through it all.

So much so, that I think we, at times, have forgotten how much her life is different.  This has become our normal. But, in our desire to heal the wounds of those we have brought into our home, we can never forget the sacrifice she made to take this journey. 

I think that is why she wanted to be included in the cake decision.  Because, this isn’t just about the children gaining a family, it is also about a 9 year old giving her family.

She is brave.  She is kind. She is pure.  She is love.  And, she reminded me tonight that this is her story too.

It was a reminder I needed more than she’ll ever know.

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The Human Factor

In the beginning, we agreed that we were all in as a couple when it came to Foster Care.  We knew we would love a child or children for a season.  We knew we would empty our hearts, knowledge, and compassion into every child that came into our home.  We would get attached, we would love until it hurt, and then when it came time to say good-bye, we would say good-bye and share our grief with each other.  We still believe this, we still own this, we are still walking this.

But, nothing ever really follows our nice laid plans, right?  The Human Factor always throws us a curve ball and leaves us standing there wondering, what the what?!?

We tell ourselves on a daily basis, reunification with biological family members makes sense.  It is good for children.  We’ve read the stats, we’ve heard the research–reunification leads to less trauma long-term.  We know it, believe it, and own it……then, BAM, the Human Factor says, ‘but, what if?’

  • What if we are the better placement long-term?
  • What if biological parents continue to make selfish, detrimental choices?
  • What if biological parents never own their mistakes, only repeating the cycle?
  • What if they don’t protect these most incredible gifts?
  • What if they don’t love them?
  • What if they quit their job, because their simply too tired and the job is too hard?
  • What if they can’t maintain stable living?
  • What if they don’t help them with homework?
  • What if they don’t go to ‘Open House’ at the school and let their child show them every single thing in the room, including the stickers in their locker?
  • What if they don’t believe in them?
  • What if they don’t provide meals, clothing, and other items needed for them?
  • What if they choose their needs over their child’s needs?
  • What if they drop them off with complete strangers, over and over and over again?
  • What if they are just too tired to be a parent that day or night?
  • What if they don’t properly fasten them in their car seats, making sure their most precious possessions are always safe?
  • What if they don’t teach them to cook?
  • What if they don’t play catch in the yard, draw pictures, and laugh until their sides hurt as a family?
  • What if they just suck as a parent?
  • What if the children are just a status symbol and a way to get another check?
  • What if they don’t take the  children to church?
  • What if they don’t show the boy how to treat women and show the girls how to respect their bodies and hearts?
  • What if they don’t model an appropriate relationship, so their children know what love and happiness really looks like?
  • What if they use drugs?
  • What if they never ‘get it’?…That these children are truly God’s greatest gift to parents.

Our brains tell us, reunification is best, but our hearts are thrown off by the Human Factor that takes a journey of its own.

Regardless, four months in, we are still owning this, believing this, and walking this.  Now, if someone would just tell that stupid Human Factor to shut up and leave us alone!!

– The Howard’s – Party of 8

The Little Girl Who Changed Everything…

3 months of sickness

baked potatoes from Wendy’s

gallons of chocolate milk

9 months of growth

a daddy frantically painting his baby’s room

30 hours of labor

a waiting room full of family and friends who stayed through the night

ice chips, ice chips, ice chips (for mommy) and IHOP, donuts and Sonic (for daddy)

an epidural that wore off as the intensity of the contractions went up

and, then….at 10:03 AM we met her, the little girl who changed everything.

She was beautiful.  The moment we saw her we fell in love.  In fact, we have never been the same since we saw her beautiful, innocent, sweet face.  Her dark hair, dark eyes and warm spirit captured our hearts.  Her laugh still brings joy to us like we’ve never felt.  Her caring heart influences our decisions as a family.  She helped heal the wounds of our miscarriage.  She gave us the chance to be a mommy and daddy.  In fact, from the very first moment, she wrapped her daddy around her little finger and she has never let go.

We love our snuggle time, reading time, and prayer time with her.  We love her creativity and her love of art and crafts.  We are proud of the little lady she is becoming.  We are proud of her success in school and we love her heart for animals.

Her birth, seven years ago today, changed our lives forever and we are glad we have not been the same since.  Being her mommy and daddy is a blessing, honor, privilege and something we cherish every second of every day.

Happy 7th Birthday Princess!!  We love you more than you’ll ever know……

Are We Enough?

In a few short days we will welcome a sibling group of four into our home.  As we talked tonight, the fear, the anxiety, and the excitement began to sink in…..

Will we be good enough?

Will we love enough?

Will we trust enough?

Will we offer enough?

Will we BE enough for all six children in our home?

The journey that began in college over 12 years ago is coming to fruition.  We can see the path…Youth Pastor, Special Education Teacher, CPS Investigator, friends who have fostered, Adoption Coordinator, State Director, friends who have adopted, Mother’s Day Out teacher, biological children–each step taking us one step closer and preparing us furthermore for the journey that lies ahead.  No step unplanned nor unnecessary.  And yet, the question lingers, are we enough?  The answer–no.

The truth; He never called us to be enough, only to follow Him, as He is enough.

Father,

May you be enough for us and the children, both biological and foster, that you have called us to love, serve, protect, and care for.  We are inadequate, but you are always more than enough.  Thank you for the call, but even more for the journey.  Amen.