My Blog Has Moved

Thank you to everyone who has connected with my words and our journey.

Our family has a new venture in the form of OneHope27, inc. a non-profit organization that exists to equip the Christian Community to impact those involved in foster care with the HOPE of Christ!

I will be updating the blog on the website and no longer updating this one. Please check us out at follow the new blog at http://www.onehope27.org/blog/

Thank you and God bless you all!

Charonne

1393 Days in the Making

mygirl_n

After a long absence from my dearly neglected blog I am back. I have struggled with writing this particular post, a post about something we have longed for, hoped for and prayed for over such a heartbreaking span of time. Maybe it’s difficult to put the immense emotion into my words, maybe its easier to write from pain and heartbreak than it is from joy. I fear that my words will do an injustice to all that God has done, that I can not possibly put words to express the miracle of this family God has put together, of the healing and the grace and the second chances that brings.

1393 days ago a tiny, beautiful, bald, screaming baby girl was carried through our door and secured her place in our hearts forever. For 1393 days we too heavily rode the waves of foster care – at moments we thought we would lose her, at moments we thought forever had come just to find it hadn’t and we had to continue to wait, at moments we had great faith, and at other moments we feared.

The journey through adoption from foster care has been the greatest faith journey of our lives. We had to learn to fully commit this girl who we loved so deeply that we thought our hearts could burst to the Lord no matter what. No Matter what happened, if she stayed or if she would go, she was God’s first and we had to trust Him with her even when we didn’t understand what was happening. For 1393 days we loved this girl, we held her when she needed comfort, we wiped her tears, we took care of her when she was sick and got up with her in the middle of the night when terrors haunted her, we played with her and laughed with her, and made wonderful memories with her, and for all the rest of the days of her life we will do the same!

After 1393 days in the making we adopted our DAUGHTER – our girl-girl with nearly 40 friends and family to witness and support this wonderful event. She is finally legally what she has always been in our hearts! Part of me expected everything to change and feel different, feel magical in that moment when in reality what I felt was what I’ve always felt for our girl. All of my children are my heart – and she is no different. How could an order from a judge and an official piece of paper make me love her any more?

Still after 1393 I feel extremely grateful. Grateful that the Lord choose us as his second chance family for our girl-girl. Grateful that I now have full decision-making, medical record receiving, paper signing – parental rights over our daughter! Grateful that she is legally what she has always been in our hearts and eternally grateful to call this amazing girl who will move mountains my daughter! 

“Normal”

I haven’t spoken much to the special needs side of our journey. Having a child with any kind of special needs is deeply personal and yet painfully apparent. I’m not ready, and I don’t know if I ever will be ready for my child to be the poster child for special needs advocacy.

However, having a child with special needs and abilities can be a very lonely and internal journey. I write today in an attempt to off-set that, even if just for this moment.

When you have a child with special needs you learn what they need and how you can best help them function. What may not look normal to one family, becomes your family’s normal as you navigate this journey. On the good days, you function within your family’s “normal” and you avoid any major meltdowns or catastrophes. You can experiences days, sometimes even weeks that go by as you live your “normal” and then it hits you like a ton of bricks out of no where that to anyone watching from the outside in you are not normal. Maybe you even think to yourself in those sad and ugly moments that your child is not normal, your family is not at all normal.

If you allow yourself you can become overwhelmed with the challenges that your child and your family faces. You can worry about all that they might not be able to do, and all that you will have to help them overcome (if they can even overcome it). You can mourn the loss of everything you have dreamed for your child.

Having a child with special needs and abilities can leave you living in a constant cycle of grief. Just when you have found yourself in the stage of acceptance and living that new “normal” the denial and isolation creeps back in.

This journey through special needs parenting is too new for me to know how it will look years from now. In taking with other parents, and experiencing what we have thus far I imagine this cycle will continue to repeat its self. I know that as we conquer challenges and reach a stage of acceptance new challenges can surface and we will fight that isolation and denial once again. That is life with a child with special needs…

But – there are also these special abilities. The strengths that your child holds that leave you amazed at all they can do. Yes, your child has challenges and needs that may be special to them, but these abilities are just as special. These abilities may take your child further then their needs will ever hold them back! In that I find peace and strength to carry on in our “normal” and love all that my child is and all that my child can and will be!

 

 

Finding Joy in the Waiting

So much of our journey through foster care can be summed up in one word – waiting.

 

Waiting through the home study process to become licensed

Waiting once licensed for that first placement call

Waiting for services to begin

Waiting for that next court date

Waiting for a specialist appointment or evaluation

Waiting for another placement call

Waiting for forever

Waiting for the waiting to end …

 

Sometimes I find myself so caught up and and so focused on the waiting that it consumes me. It is far to easy to get stuck in the rut of anxiousness, the misery of anxiousness that I miss the joy happening all around me.

 

The Joy of first giggles

The Joy of a princess tea party with my little girl

The Joy of tucking these sweet kiddos into bed at night

The Joy of goals reached

The Joy of first steps

The Joy of endless hugs and slobbery kisses

The Joy of being Momma to these kids that have completely stolen my heart

 

Plans and Miracles

On this journey through foster care and adoption it is my constant prayer that God’s glory would be displayed. That the way our cases unfold, and the way we conduct ourselves would point to Him and be examples of His power and love.

More times than I care to admit, things have not gone as we planned. Decisions have been made, delays have taken place, plans have changed. It is in times like this that I remind myself that there can be no miracles if everything goes just as planned. There must be a “problem” in order for a miracle to occur.

We are thick in the battle of another “problem” a setback we had hoped wouldn’t take place. I find myself constantly asking God to once again provide that miracle. The miracle that would take care of this “problem” in our case and also display His glory.

During such a prayer today I realized that in all my prayers for God to shine through us throughout this case, it has always been in the positives. Have I prayed that His love would shine through me when things don’t go as we planned? Has His love shone through me in the trials as well as the victories? Or have I simply and selfishly prayed that things would go as I hoped and dreamed and in that way display God’s glory?

If I have learned anything through these past few years of praying for this case and this girl, it is that God’s timing is perfect and I do not ever see the whole picture. I get that, but I do not always like that. Too often I pray that God’s miracles would conform to my hopes and dreams – to my will.

So today I will begin to pray that God’s glory and love would be displayed through me not only when this case goes as we planned, but even more so when it faces those “problems”. That the way I respond to such problems, and disappointments would be a testimony of the love and grace and power of our God.

A Tale of Two Families

As one family wakes up and prepares for a day of saying “goodbye”

Another prepares for an evening of never saying “goodbye” again

As one family packs things away in cute travel bags 

Another unpacks bedding and supplies and sets up a room

As one little girl picks out her favorite dress to wear

Another little girl picks out her favorite dress to wear

As one Momma does her little girls hair for the last time so she looks her very best

Another Momma paints her little girls nails so she looks her best 

As one family piles into the car for a drive across town 

Another anxiously sits by the window awaiting that very same car

As one family holds back the tears when they give one last hug and kiss and goodbye

Another family beams with glee that their daughter and sister is home for good

 

In Foster care –  in life, we can choose to focus on the pain or we can choose to see the good in each situation. Today two sisters are growing up together just as they should; sharing a beautiful pink-filled room, playing dolls, painting nails, and sliding down slides. Today a family is complete, and in that there is nothing but good, nothing but joy! 

 

Beyond What I Can Handle

Let me start by painting a picture for you. It’s 2:00 on Wednesday smack in the middle of a horrendous week full of therapy, services you are working to set up to help with a new diagnosis, changing directions for another one of your foster child’s cases, specialists, as well as all the general parenting duties. Basically it has been a tears, tantrums, gnashing of teeth kind of week. You’ve been holding it together until your husband gets home to help give you some relief, and then you get the call that he will be home late due to a dinner meeting! Of course you remember just then that your son needs supplies for a school project and a dollar store run with all 5 kids is necessary.

You successfully get everyone into the Dollar store and put 2 in a cart while managing the other 3 crazies in a store where they can afford anything and everything is at arm’s reach! After redirecting 100 times and attempting to put a positive spin on why they can not have everything they pick up the meltdown begins. You are now pushing the cart with 2 inside with holding another whose face is hot with screaming and wrangling the 2 other’s into the checkout line.

That’s the moment when I hear it “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”. Some well-meaning, sweet, middle-aged, kid’s-grown woman looks at me reassuringly. I smile and say “It’s been a long day”, but what I am really thinking is “thank you but I disagree”.

I believe God does give us more than we can handle. However it doesn’t stop there. He gives us more than we can handle and then gives us the strength to make it through as we surrender to Him for help. To say that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle would be limiting Him in the confines of our humanity and imperfectness.

Since becoming foster parents God has given us more than we can handle dozens of times over again and every time He has grown in us the strength to handle it. I am certainly grateful that this life and this journey is not limited by what I can handle, but unlimited by an all-powerful, all-knowing God who will continue to stretch me beyond what I can handle to do more than I ever could on my own!  

The Loss in Fostering

This is the post I have been dreading writing and have even wondered if I should write…when it comes down to it, I know there are many others out there who experience loss in fostering and maybe, just maybe, someone can relate. Maybe there is even someone out there who needs to hear what I have to say. Maybe I need to get out what I have to say…

Nearly one year ago now Baby left us. It was that time of year when the weather is just beginning to change, the snow has melted and the chill in the air is being replaced by the fragrant smell of spring. As I sit writing today it is one of those such days and the warmth in the air fills my soul. I have always loved the changing of seasons especially winter thawing and making way for the new possibilities of spring. However I fear that this time of year may now always carry a faint sting of loss.

Saying goodbye to Baby was more difficult than we ever expected. We knew when she came to us that it would unlikely be forever, we knew the day would come when we would say goodbye. Still, how do you say goodbye to a child you have loved as your own? How do you say goodbye to a child who came to you broken and empty, without the ability to smile? I will always remember the first day we saw her smile, there was nothing special about that day it was truly a day like any other, except she smiled for the first time! I knew then that we were making a difference. I knew that if we didn’t do anything else right in this process of fostering (and we certainly haven’t done everything right), we had done THAT right. Our family had shown love and provided healing to this precious little girl!

The weeks and months after saying goodbye to Baby proved to continue to be more difficult than expected. How do you explain this loss? Your child is alive and well and even thriving, but they are no longer “your child”. How do you explain to your children when they ask Baby that she is doing great, but they can not see her? How do you not think of her on Christmas, on her birthday, when you go to the zoo with your family and remember that she was there with you the year before? Sometimes holding on to the pain is the only way I have to hold onto her. So many days I have longed to see Baby out somewhere, from a distance, and watch her play, and smile and know that all is right in her world.

I don’t know if this is everyone’s experience. Baby was the first foster child to leave our home, and I can’t say if this loss will look the same with any of our other foster children that may move on in the future.

What I can say is, one year later the loss is still there but the sting has become something we can live with. Baby is still very much a part of our family story and she always will be. Her pictures are still on our walls, and cute little stories and memories of her are shared often. We welcomed Baby into our home as a member of our family and loved her as our own and that doesn’t just end. She is forever a part of us. I hope that in someway Baby’s time spent as a part of our family is forever a part of her too.

 

The Gift of Heartbreak

It has been a heartbreaking couple months in our home as we have walked through the healing process with one of our little ones. It has left me feeling overwhelmed, feeling like I’ve done something wrong – or not given enough, feeling like we may never see the light at the end of the tunnel, feeling heartbroken.

Maybe that is why the recent blog post I read from a fellow foster Momma about the heartbreak of foster care resonated so well with me. At one point she responds to the age-old question “Won’t your heart-break if they go home?” with “My heart is already broken”. Such a simple statement that says so much.

Our hearts are already broken for children and families who find themselves a part of the child welfare system. That is why we choose to foster in the first place.

Our hearts are broken over the abuse and neglect the children who come into our home have experienced.

Our hearts are broken that (as unhealthy and unstable as it was) these children are removed from their family and their home and brought to the arms of a stranger.

Our hearts are broken that we can not undo or fully understand the pain they have experienced.

Our hearts are broken that this child has siblings out there she’s been separated from.

Our hearts are broken the first time you see that hurting little girl play and smile so big it lights up her entire face. A smile like no other, that you could never forget.

Our hearts are broken when their parents continue to let them down and fail to show up for them.

Our hearts are broken when their parents get it together and show they are ready to parent their child and the little one we have loved as our own moves on.

Our hearts are broken when parental rights are terminated making it possible for our child who we love with our entire being to be a part of our family forever. All the while grieving this great loss for our child and her family.

Our hearts break that we can’t do more.

Our hearts break that our country needs a foster care system.

Our heart breaks for all the broken families.

Our heart breaks knowing that for a short time or forever we have been given the gift of loving this child.

Aside

Uncharted Waters

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine 
Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

I’ve been singing this song for what must be months, constantly. So much so that I hadn’t realized the kids knew every word until I heard one of them singing it the other day.

As many of you know by now, Kevin and I are entering a season of uncharted waters. We have resigned our position at a church we love with a staff we love. (Sap alert) These past 8 years have been one of the best times of our lives. We have grown in faith, in leadership, we have learned how to serve and learned the joy in giving. We have seen kids come into our area of ministry and graduate out with amazing hearts to serve God. We have worked alongside our best friends and under mentors who have meant more to us and taught us more than they may ever know. I have no doubt that these past few years will forever hold this sacred place in our hearts.

I can’t say that walking away from this time is easy. In fact it is emotional, and terribly bittersweet. Although we will continue to attend our church when we are not traveling, and these relationships that have meant so much to us will stay in tact, this is a major life change. When the grief over what we are leaving behind hits me, I remind myself what a blessing it is to move from something we love to something we love.

God has grown this passion in us for foster care and those involved in the foster care system. In November in Milwaukee alone nearly 150 children were removed from their homes and placed into foster care with 104,000 children throughout the county looking for a forever family. We truly believe that The Church is the hope of this foster care crisis. If one person from every church in America would commit to adopting one child from foster care there would be more people waiting to adopt then there would be children waiting for an adoptive family. Not only can The Church impact the foster care system from a numbers standpoint, but we have this hope through Christ that can change the hearts and the course of life for the kids and families in foster care.

God has opened the doors for us to start OneHope27, inc. a non-profit that strives to equip the Christian Community to impact the foster care system with the hope of Christ. Check us out at Onehope27.org or on facebook, twitter or instagram.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

 

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