Our journey with infertility, fostercare, and adoption. Part 2 of 2

If you missed the first part of the story you can read it here.

So 2016 ALMOST ended on a quiet note. . . Backing up 2 weeks prior. After our weekend with Layla, and after talking to the relatives we felt that it was clear Layla was not coming back. It was going well they said. So we called the agency and told them that we’d be open to another placement if they needed us.

Christmas 2016 came and went. We enjoyed celebrating with our 3 boys. If you recall Christmas was on a Sunday that year. Tuesday I got a phone call. A 9 month old baby boy needed a home, would we take him? And thus, Joey entered our lives.

{Below: Cell phone photos of Joey’s first few week with us.}

Each child is so different. Biological children each have their own differences, let alone children with completely different genetics and family backgrounds. To say that Joey was different from Layla would be a understatement. He was the complete opposite of her in SO many ways. It made for an interesting comparison because Layla left our home at 9 months old in the beginning of Nov. and Joey joined our family at 9 months old at the end of December.

It was a VERY difficult transition for us and him. We were use to “Layla baby” and “Joey baby” was not her, nor should he have been. But it made for some getting use to. And we were not his normal. Even if a child comes from a place of dysfunction, it is still normal to them. And the older the child, the more accustom to their “normal” they become. So our home was a hard transition for him as well.

The first two weeks I cried a lot, it was hard. And I prayed A LOT! The biggest thing was he didn’t sleep. He was up every 2 hours during the night and we couldn’t comfort him, we were strangers to him. The only thing that worked was a bottle and at 22lb at 9 months being underfed was not his issue. But it was all we had. It was exhausting. It is a reminder that just because something is hard doesn’t mean its wrong. And just because God calls you to something, doesn’t mean it will be easy.

But the beautiful thing about babies and children is how open to change they are. He adjusted, he got used to our routine and it became his routine which brought him comfort. He still didn’t sleep at night, that took MONTHS, but his crying fits got less and more manageable.

Joey was with us for a little over a month when I got a phone call. Can you guess? “Christi, it’s not working out with Layla’s relatives, she needs a home. Will you take her?” I about dropped the phone. YES! There was no hesitation. And then I cried. I couldn’t believe it, my baby girl was coming back.

We talked some more. “We will just twin it” I said to the caseworker. Ha. Oh my, I had no idea what I was getting myself in for. All you moms of twins, I raise my hat to you. Twins are a lot of work! I called my husband after I got off the phone and he too said, Yes, bring her home.

We had 24 hours to go buy another crib, another car seat and a set of bunk beds. We had to rearrange bedrooms so that the 2 little ones could be together and that meant putting our 3 year old in with the big boys, thus the need for bunk beds. We dropped everything and got to work assembling furniture. Well, who am I kidding, my husband assembled it all. What a champ! But I helped by keeping little hands busy so he could work.

It was so amazing to see God preparing us for this before we knew it would happen. Just one week before the call to bring Layla back we decided to hire in a helper. I was homeschooling at the time and it was getting to be difficult to homeschool plus have the 2 little ones. Now that I would have THREE kids, 3 years old and under, I really needed that help. She jumped right in and was coming 2-4 times a week.

So that is how we ended up with two children from different families so close together. In any other situation we would have said no to another child so soon after Joey came. It amazes us the way these things work out. If Layla hadn’t left then Joey never would have been put into our home. It was clear from his story that he was suppose to be with us.

An interesting part of Joey’s story is that he and his mom normally didn’t live in Lancaster. But the night he got placed into care his mom was indeed living in Lancaster and so that is how he got put into a Lancaster home vs a different county from his previous place of residence.

If feels very clear to us that Layla had to leave so that Joey could come to us. We needed him as much as he needed us. The struggle that he brought to our hearts has brought much growth and reliance on God. We can not do this thing of loving well without God.

{Below: cell phone photos of life with 5 kids 3 of them being 3 and under}

So if you counted you might be saying , “um wait that’s only five kids…” Right. So there we were launched into 2017, suddenly with 5 kids ages 9, 7, 3, 1, and 11 months. It was crazy, pure craziness my friends. But it got even crazier. A few months into this adjustment, we were told that Joey’s mom was expecting. Unfortunately the baby would need a home. Since we had his brother, they asked if we’d take him. Well that was an easy answer, “No.” We were swamped and barely keeping our heads above water trying to love and care for all these little people.

But it’s amazing what time will do for you. Within a few months after that phone call, we adjusted to a new normal of 5 kids, mainly a set of twins. When Michael was born in the fall of 2017, we were asked again if we’d consider taking him into our home. This time we said we’d pray about it.

We now were saying things to each other like, We’d like to keep the brothers together if we can, but are we really able to add another little one to our family? What is best for our other children? We don’t want them to feel neglected. A baby is a lot of work. But it’s his brother…etc.

So we got hot and heavy and started PRAYING and fasting, asking God for an answer. And sure enough, he spoke, Joel heard that we are suppose to take him. It was enough for us. We were at the point that we WANTED to bring him home to our family but we struggled with also wanting to be good stewards of the children we had. God gave us these kids, all six of them are His, so in the end He gets to decide. We moved forward with the yes answer and a week later, November 2017, we brought Michael home from the hospital.

Christmas 2017 certainly was different than Christmas 2016. In one years time we went from 3 kids to 6. This is not normal, but in foster care, there is no normal!

2018 was somewhat of a blur. A lot happen last year. For one thing we moved to house with a few more bedrooms which was a big help but again a difficult transition. We had weekly visits with both moms for a season but by the time 2018 ended we had adoption court dates schedule for all three little ones. And once again we were blessed to have their moms say that if they couldn’t have their child then they wanted us to. We feel honored to be the parents to these children. As we look at them. it hits us from time to time, what a privilege it is to parent these kids. This quote says it all, “A child born to another woman calls me mom. The depth of the tragedy and the magnitude of the privilege are not lost on me.” Jody Lander.

We know that not all adoptions end well, and that is so hard for everyone involved. We hear the horror stories, but we choose not live in a spirit of fear. God called us to this, so we trust Him in it. We know our hearts might get broken by the choices our children make as they grow up, but that goes for all our children, not just our adopted one. Again we choose to keep our hand open to the children God gave us and reject a spirit of fear. That is no place to live life, in the shadow of fear. The Lord is our shepherd, Psalm 23. He leads us beside still waters of rest and peace, and through valleys of death. But regardless of the good or the painful times, He, the shepherd, is with us! That is how we do this. And we keep praying and committing all our children into God’s hands. We are called to love and train them and expose them to a relationship with God, the rest is up to Him.

We also realize that we are unique in the fact that all our foster care placements have been adopted by us. We are not sure why that is part of our story. When Layla left and it was hard, my husband was like well I guess this is what this feels like. And we both assumed that it would happen more times. But it didn’t. We had no control of that its just how it happened. As our one resource worker said, there is a reason these things happen. Yes, we know God has a plan for our family and the children that he has placed into our lives to call our own.

Nov. 2018 we adopted Layla and Feb 2019 we traveled once again to the Lancaster County Courthouse and had a double adoption for the boys. We are now officially closed with Lancaster children and youth but we are still busy! We will be busy cultivating relationships with these children of our for the rest of our lives. And not only them but their bio families as well. We are so thankful that the bio families have been able to come and visit their children here in our homes since we’ve finalized the adoptions. I think maybe I will write about that sometime, our relationship with the bio families that is. But that is story for a different day.

Thanks for reading!


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