Free My Kids!

I know it’s been a while since I blogged about our adoption process, but it’s because nothing has been happening. At all. Really frustrating. Until today…

On Wednesday I sent an e-mail to the adoption worker in the kids’ state asking if she had gotten the e-mail I sent the week before. I wanted to know if we could do full disclosure (look at and sign off on the kids’ files) and visitation all at the same time rather than waiting on them to mail the files to us. She answered on Wednesday and said that should be fine, but that the reason she hadn’t answered me yet was because the caseworker had not given her the termination packets yet, which is the paperwork we have to review.

I almost hit the roof at that point. The termination of parents’ rights officially was finalized on March 7th. It has been three months and that caseworker still didn’t have the paperwork done! Ahhhhh!

But then the kids’ grandmother called and told me the caseworker had called her and said she was copying the kids’ files as they spoke and would have them on the adoption caseworker’s desk by 4:00pm Wednesday evening.

I e-mailed the adoption worker and asked her if she had them. At 7:30pm that night she responded and said nothing was on her desk. She also said that even if the caseworker was copying the files, that is not all she is waiting on from her. She is waiting on “packets” that can only be completed by the caseworker after termination, which again, was three months ago.

Well at this point I was done. I asked for the caseworker’s supervisor and the adoption worker gave me his name and contact number. I e-mailed at 10:00pm Wednesday night and filed an official complaint against the caseworker explaining my grievances with her. I gave him until Friday to respond and told him if I did not hear from him by then, I would forward my complaint to the state capital.

This morning I woke up to an e-mail from the supervisor, who reported he has only been the supervisor for eight days, but he was committed to doing a full investigation and solving our problem so we can get our kids. He gave me his cell number and direct extension and told me to call him if I could not get a hold of the caseworker. Thank the Lord for putting him in there! Otherwise this mess would never get fixed!

I told the kids’ grandmother and she called the caseworker who immediately called her back. I also called, but did not hear back from her. She told the grandmother that the packets were put on the adoption worker’s desk at 8:00am this morning and that the adoption worker has been written up twice by the Judge for not getting paperwork done in a timely manner to get kids adopted and that she filed a complaint with the adoption worker’s supervisor for lying about what caseworker had done.

Imagine how I felt at this point. Extremely frustrated! So I called the supervisor. He was headed into a meeting but said he would return my call when he got out. In the meantime, I talked with the grandmother again and she told me the kids are crying every day for us. She said my boy fell and bumped his head the other day and started crying “Mommy!” She came to him and said that I couldn’t be there right now, but that she would hold him. He said, “No, I want my Mommy!” So he went and got my picture and hugged it.  Well that just tore me apart.

While I was waiting for the supervisor to call me back, I prayed; I cried; I talked to my husband and my Mom and then I got on the tread mill until my phone rang at 4:00pm. It was the supervisor. We had some small talk. I found out he had been in Iraq and that made me feel better. He has been very professional to this point, but knowing he is a military guy makes me feel better because I know he will be top notch at solving problems. I told him our whole story from the beginning. When I finished, he said, “I think your concerns are all valid and I promise to seek out and remove all the obstacles in the way and resolve this problem immediately.” I told him that was great, but that I had a timeline.

I said, “We will be on vacation, but when we come back, I will be at your office that Monday to get the paperwork done. The final visitation will begin that night and then we will take our kids home. Also, I am done talking with the caseworkers. I do not trust them and they have not helped me to this point. I will only be communicating with you from this point forward.” He said he understood and all that was fine. Then he asked for the date again to make sure he had it written down. He said, “I will take care of this by then.” I told him that was good and then asked for three more things I needed when I walked into his office that day. He said he would take care of those as well. I said, “I expect to hear an update from you soon.” He said, “You will” and then wished me a good weekend. I did the same and hung up. Then I told my husband when to ask off work so we can go get our babies. We will be there on that day, ready or not! 🙂

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How Did We Get Here?

I realize that I have been blogging about the most recent part of our adoption process, but have not told the background story. So how did we get here? Funny you should ask…

My husband and I, even before we got married, had discussed when we wanted to have kids, how many, etc. During that discussion, we both shared our desire to adopt–whether or not we had biological children. Fast-forward five years into our marriage and I became deathly ill. I was put on various steroid treatments all at once for a lung issue it later turned out I did not have (discovered I had food allergies/sensitivities instead that were causing my symptoms). Those medications ruined my hormones (I will spare you the gory details) and soon after that I was told I would very likely not be able to have children.

Let me say I am very grateful to the Lord for providing me a husband who, even before we got married and still after, is totally okay with adoption and does not mind if we cannot have biological children. I realize not all women are blessed with a husband like I have. Also, I praise the Lord daily that I have never had the biological desire or need to be pregnant or have my “own” kids. I know so many women who do have that strong desire and when they find out they will not be able to have biological children, it crushes them. Thank you Lord for sparing me from that pain!

Now back to the story. Ten years into our marriage, we decided it was time to look into getting some kids and we felt the Lord was calling us to adopt. Sure we could have spent a ton of money on hormones or IVF to try to have biological children, but another thing we agreed on is that we did not want to do that. If we can’t have biological children, the Lord has a plan for us that involves growing our family in a different way, and last year, we both heard Him clearly say that plan was adoption.

Being a counselor, I have worked with the foster care system in many different capacities and have always felt that if I could just take home some of those children, they would be fine. We researched all the methods of adoption, but we both felt the Lord was calling us to adopt a sibling group from the state. We chose to use a private Christian agency that contracted with our state to do home studies, classes, etc. to approve families for adoption through the state. They were wonderful and when the caseworker came out to do our home study last April, she asked us how many kids we would be willing to take in our sibling group. I said “2” and my husband said “3.” Guess how many we are getting? 🙂

We told her we were willing to take ages 2-11 and that we would take any combination of race/ethnicity and mild-moderate mental/physical needs. She told us with that criteria, we should have kids placed within 3-6 months. Little did she know the Lord had different plans! We waited month after month, but by August, we still had no profiles matching our criteria. The one group that did suddenly became unavailable for adoption. It was definitely an unusual situation, but we knew the Lord would bring us the right kids at the right time.

In August we went on vacation and on our way back home, we stopped in to visit our parents in our home town. I always visit my best friend, Sara, when I am in town, so we hung out that Friday night. While we were talking after her kids had gone to bed, she said, “Okay, I wasn’t going to say anything to you about this, but now that you’re sitting here in front of me I feel like I am supposed to. I was cleaning a lady’s teeth on Tuesday (Sara is a Dental Hygienist) and I noticed she looked tired so I asked her about it. She told me she had custody of her three grandkids, ages 2, 3 & 4, and because she was in her 60’s, they were tiring her out! She was looking for a good Christian home for them. I told her I had a friend who wanted to adopt a sibling group and would she mind if I told her about these kids and give her contact information to my friend. She said that would be fine and so now I am telling you. Talk to your husband and let me know. If you are interested, I will get her info to you on Monday.”

Well, needless to say I thought this was a weird coincidence and so I told my husband. He wasn’t interested at first, but as he listened to me relay what Sara had told me, he said there would be no harm in checking it out and talking with the lady. It would be just like God to bring us our kids in such a way that only He could have orchestrated it! I agreed, so I told Sara we wanted to talk with her and she gave me her info. I called her that Wednesday and she told me all about the kids and how they had not been able to find anyone in their state who was willing to take all three kids. Most wanted just the boy and some just the girls, but she did not want to give them to anyone who would split them up. I assured her if we were interested, we would take all three. Then I told her we would be back in town the next weekend and she asked if we would come out and meet them. I asked her if the parents had lost their rights and she said she had had the kids for over a year and thought they had.

So, the next weekend we went back and met our kids. From the moment we saw them, that was it! We knew they were supposed to be our kids! We spent a couple hours with them, during which the middle one called my husband, “Daddy!” Then we had dinner with Sara and her husband and talked about them. We were all very excited.

And then we were introduced to the state child services people. The excitement dissipated with the statement of one of their adoption workers, “These kids are not yet free for adoption. The next court date is November and even if they become free for adoption, we would never give them to a family who lives out of state. Too much paperwork.” I was devastated, but still managed to ask if my caseworker could send her our home study so she knew we would take them if they could find nobody else. She said that would be fine, so I told our caseworker about it and she sent it to the lady.

Well, November came and went without rights being terminated. They had the court date alright, but the new lawyer for the state had just come on board and did not have the proper paperwork ready, so the judge was not able to terminate rights. The next opportunity was scheduled for March 7 of this year. Again, we were upset, but the Lord gave us a peace that everything was under control. In the meantime, the father of the children threatened them, so the judge terminated his visitation rights. The mother did not want to see them, so they have not seen their biological parents since November. Then in December, the parents told their lawyer they were tired of paying child support and so he drew up the papers for them to sign their rights over to the state rather than waiting for the court date–and they did, praise the Lord!

Then we found out that no one in the state was willing to take all three children, so we were chosen as the family to adopt the kids. We traded in our Camry for an Expedition and got ready for the next court date in late January. The judge accepted the paperwork from the parents, but the form he had to sign so the state could officially request our home study from our state went unsigned for weeks. Finally we found out he wanted to officially terminate the rights at the March 7th court date to make sure the bio parents did not change their mind. They did not and the official ICPC request between the states occurred after Spring Break.

We were very excited until we found out that state would not work with our private agency and we had to start the whole adoption approval process and home study over again. And now you are caught up! Bottom line is, the Lord has been in control of this process from the beginning and we are so happy He is! We are still waiting on the caseworker here to finish our home study so it can be sent to the kids’ state. Hopefully that will be done soon. Pray for us!

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Unconventional Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Moms out there–both conventional and unconventional! 🙂 Since we still don’t have the kids (waiting on caseworker here to type up the home study to send to the kids’ state), they wanted to Skype with me this afternoon for an unconventional Mother’s Day. I’ll take whatever I can get! (I also Skyped with my Mom and she liked it, as well.)

Before I tell you about our little Skype session, I should talk about what the kids’ grandmother told me this week. They have been soooo excited to Skype and kept asking every day if that was the day–especially my little boy. His grandmother showed him her computer screen and said, “You’re going to talk to Mommy on a computer like this.” To which he promptly touched the screen and said, “Where Mommy?” Hard for an almost-three-year-old to understand the concept of time! Apparently he has also been carrying around his cup and saying, “I take my milk and I go home.” When his grandmother asked him what he meant by home he said, “With Mommy and Daddy. I take my milk and go home?” Soon, baby, soon.

Well, we got on Skype today and my boy said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” (Mee Maw helped by whispering it in his ear!) Then my oldest girl said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” (No help required). And then my middle girl said, “Happy Easter!” 🙂 (Then Mee Maw whispered it in her ear and she said, “Happy Mother’s Day!” I could only see her eyes. They don’t quite get the camera thing!).

Then my oldest girl felt like the screen was dirty (after finishing the cotton candy someone had made and given to her), so she got a paper towel and told me to “close your eyes” so she could clean it for me. Then she and my middle girl wanted to see “their dogs.” When we went to take care of them for a visitation in March, the girls each chose one of our dogs as “their dog” and my oldest asked one night as we were saying our prayers, “Mommy? When I come to live with you, I want to adopt my dog just like you and Daddy will adopt us. Okay?” I told her we could work that out. 🙂

After seeing their dogs and “cleaning” them as well, my little boy wanted to “pet” the white dog. So we put him up to the camera and he pet him. Then they all waved goodbye. Not your conventional Mother’s Day, but still special to me! Next year it will be more conventional. 🙂

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Miracles Never Cease!

When I was in Junior High I had a math teacher who, when someone did something well, would say, “Miracles never cease!” Well, now I have to use that phrase about the adoption process we are in, “Miracles Never Cease!”

When last I posted I talked about the emotional and physical storms my husband and I experienced on Monday. Well, “miracles never cease,” because by Wednesday, the storm had blown over! I received a call Wednesday morning from the state caseworker assigned to us once our background checks were started on Monday during the tornado. She said they thought what the other state did to us was “unfair” and totally “money motivated” and that they were going to accept everything our private agency did, including all classes, application and home study, and that she would just need to schedule a time to come out and update our home study.

Well, needless to say I shouted, “Thank you for that and Praise the Lord! Can you come today or tomorrow?” She laughed and said she could come Thursday, but then I remembered my husband had a business trip he was supposed to have on Thursday, so we scheduled for the next Thursday. I then called my husband and told him the situation and he wisely agreed with me that he could cancel this particular trip and I called the caseworker back and got her to come the next day! “Miracles never cease!”

When I called my Mom to tell her the good news that Wednesday morning, she started crying and said, “That is the exact prayer I prayed on my way to work this morning! I prayed that a caseworker would call you today and tell you they were going to accept everything.” I told her, “Well, it was answered!” “Miracles never cease!”

The caseworker came Thursday morning and asked if she was doing an “initial assessment” or a “full assessment?” Neither option was ringing any bells for me, so she asked that I call the ICPC caseworker in our state to find out. I called and let her talk to her and what I overheard was nothing short of a miracle–some blessed supervisor had decided to rush our case through and this caseworker was to do the entire assessment that day and get it through to the supervisor ASAP. That supervisor must listen to Jesus. Good for her! “Miracles never cease!”

The home study was completed within two hours and our private agency faxed everything to her while she was with us. She sent me an e-mail that afternoon of a few things she needed, which I sent immediately! All that’s left is for her supervisor to approve it and then they send it to the ICPC worker in our state to send to the one in the state the kids are in and we can go get them! “Miracles never cease!”

The only other thing we’re still waiting on is “full disclosure” from the state who has the kids. We have to read and sign off on the kids’ files before we can get them. Of course, they can’t find the files (even though they had to have them to do the court case on the kids), so the wonderful grandmother of the kids who is currently fostering them volunteered this morning to go down to the caseworker’s office and help her find the files. “Miracles never cease!”

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The Storms of Life

Today was a day filled with storms, and not just the kind with thunder and lightning.

My husband and I took a couple days to get away at a cabin in OK after Easter. We decided to go to lunch in town because it was raining and there was nothing to do at the cabin.

After lunch a tornado warning was issued while we were driving. We stopped at the nearest building, which happened to be a Subway restaurant. The employees were the only ones there and they were visibly shaken up by the tornado sirens going off and the weather warnings on the radio station playing in the restaurant.

One was worried about her kids who were in a storm shelter with one of her family members and she kept wanting to leave to drive to them–weather be danged.

The other was earnestly trying to get her to stay because it was not safe to drive. Their manager called and said everyone in the restaurant should get in the hallway behind the freezer because there was a frame around that wall. So, when the power went off and the drive thru window started blowing open, we went behind the freezer! It was cramped, but okay. My husband and I got to encourage the employees and help them calm down, having been through many tornados between the two of us!

What was interesting is we are also going through an emotional tornado, and it picked up speed before we took cover from the physical one.

We received a message from the state our kids are in that they will not contract with a private agency, and therefore we would have to start the adoption approval process all over again with our state agency.

When this emotional storm hit us we could have freaked out and wanted to run away from the situation, but we didn’t. I picked up the phone, called the lady in our state, and started the process anew. I had to yell to answer her questions over the tornado sirens, but I will do whatever it takes to get my kids and that was what it took.

Someone asked me the other day how I am holding together and so calm through all this. I have my moments, but the calmness comes from our relationship with God. These are the kids He has made for us to raise, and He has been in control of this process from the beginning–and He still is! God never promises we won’t have storms, but He does promise to be our anchor and shelter through the storms of life. I know that if this is happening, it is happening for a reason and to ensure we get these kids at the time He has appointed for His glory. We just have to be faithful and hunker down behind the freezer until the storm blows through!

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Will Trump Run?

The question a lot of people have been asking lately is the title of this blog, “Will Trump Run?” I am going to give you my answer based on my psychological opinion.

I believe Donald Trump is definitely going to run for president and I feel this way for a couple reasons.

First of all, Donald Trump’s personality is such that he likes to have things to brag about–and those things all have his name attached. Trump Tower, Trump Golf, even Trump Water. He likes his name to be synonymous with “the best,” and what is “the best” job in the world? President of the United States. He has conquered everything he has set out to do in the business world and now I believe he is bored and is looking for the next challenge. What could be better than running for President?

The next reason I believe Trump is running for president is he is courting the Republican base–the new one, not the old-schoolers. He spoke at a Tea Party rally this past weekend in Florida. He is also aiming his message at evangelicals with his interview with CBN where he said he is a Christian, believes in God, attends church, is against abortion and gay marriage, etc.

A final reason I believe Trump is running for president is too many people say he won’t. Me thinks they protesteth too much. I think the people who have said he won’t run are “old-school” Republican establishment folks who are just as out-of-touch with the electorate and what they want as the Democratic “elite” they loathe.

The “folks” I read and talk to seem to want the opposite of what these so-called “experts” have experience in–politicians and politics. Psychologically, the people seem to be done with politics as it has been known and want something unconventional. There are no “experts” on unconventional, and that is why I think they are going to be proven wrong. Trump, if nothing else, is definitely unconventional.

So, for these reasons alone, I think the psychology points to a presidential run for Mr. Trump. Either way, we will soon have the answer from Trump himself.

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What is Psychology in Real Life?

Welcome to the first post of my new blog, “Psychology in Real Life.” I have wanted to have a WordPress blog for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it until now. I believe that psychology is the best education a person can get because it helps you see what is really going on in the world, no matter where you are or what you’re doing (work, school, parenting, etc.). It has certainly helped me greatly!

In this blog, I will use my psychology education to explain how I see the real world–specifically my real world. That world right now revolves around adoption.

My husband and I are in the process of adopting a sibling group of three kids ages 3, 4 and 5 and it has been a long process to this point. We started out getting approved to adopt from our state, but the kids we found are in another state. We are almost done with the process, and of course, something else has come up.

As a psychologist, I have worked with many children in the foster care system, as well as many parents in that system and the system itself. From the counseling side, working within the system is extremely frustrating. CPS doesn’t do what you think they need to do to protect kids and families when you want them to, and when you don’t want them to do anything, they go ahead and do it.

Now I am experiencing that inefficiency from the other side–as someone trying to adopt some of those kids out of the system–and it is equally as inefficient and frustrating as it was as a counselor. We have had so many road blocks and silly actions we have to take simply because the system is flawed. For instance, we have been waiting on our home study to be sent back to the state we are adopting the kids from, even though that state has had it since October of last year. When I asked why this was necessary, the answer is, “that’s just what the government says we have to do.”

Now our state has sent a request to the state the kids are in to ask their permission to allow them to use our home study since it is done by a private agency in our state that has a contract with the state. They told me they had to send the request because the kids’ state may not work with private agencies, and if they don’t we will have to start the approval process all over again since that state retained jurisdiction of the process. Ugh!

We are still waiting on the answer because the way these people communicate is through an antiquated e-mail system that sends the communications through the state capitals before it reaches the actual people they are making the request of. Again, ugh!

So in this real life experience, I am using my psychology education to know when to push the people I am working with, and when not to. I also use it to help me calm down and hold my tongue in frustrating times where everything in me wants to scream and yell and explain to them the error of their ways. 🙂

It is not easy, but it helps. Even before I use my psychological education, though, I always consult with my Heavenly Father and he lets me know which psychology techniques to use and gives me His peace that passes all understanding. After all, He is the Counselor of all counselors!

I will keep you posted on this and other events in my “real life.”

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