Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Foster Care/Adoption Journey Part 3. Active Discernment

Our Foster Care and Adoption Approval Journey
3. Our Active Discernment/ Training and Home Study
6. Getting Ready for Placement
7. First Placement (This has NOT happened yet!)

Third Session: Active Discernment/ Training and Home Study
We started the process back in June. We reached out to Family and Children's Services for more information about becoming foster parents and adoption. Of course, everyone was on vacation, so we didn't get to sit down with a worker and receive the application until the beginning of August.

So in June we decided that it was time to start actively discerning if foster care and adoption is how we are being asked to love others, to live out our marital vows of being open to life. We did not enter the process KNOWING that we were going to become foster parents. We decided we would take it week by week. We were blessed with a wonderful training and home study process. The training ran 10 weeks of Wednesday evenings and the home study was happening at the same time. After each week's session, G-Man and I would discuss together what we thought of the nights training, how we saw the themes playing out in our life and, indirectly, if we would be returning the following week.

About half way through the training, I turned to G-Man during one of the sessions and said (well, wrote, we were passing notes like high school students), "If you are thinking you don't want to do this, tell me soon because I am becoming more and more committed." Very quickly after starting the training sessions, I started noticing my heart burning in class. And I truly mean I felt like my heart was burning and swelling! It was filling up with love for the future children who would come under my roof. After that class, G-Man shared that he, too, was sensing this was our path.

One key sign for us that this was our path was how the my idea of growing our family, my struggles with infertility and the monthly wait between ovulation and the next cycle changed. It is funny how you develop pictures in your head and heart of what your family is going to look like. For a long time there was a painful disconnect with the picture in my heart of our family and the reality before us. Pregnancy wasn't a realistic probability and yet the picture in my heart was one of conception, pregnancy and birth. There were times when the reality seemed to be permanent childlessness and the picture was full of children! 

This picture of our family in my heart changed as we went through the training. Now I wanted our family to look different then what we thought for years it would look like. Now I WANTED our family to look different then our friends families. I wanted the challenge of foster care and adoption. When we discussed loss, the hard places the children have been and how difficult this would be, how this requires for a different type of parenting, I was feeling called out! The picture in my heart was changing and it was matching the reality before us!

This hit home the most when I had a long cycle during the training. As a FertilityCare practitioner you would think that I don't have confusing charting times. I do, like everyone. Sometimes my cycle throws a curve ball at me. This was one of those times. And I took a pregnancy test, the first pregnancy test I took in years. And it was negative, of course. But during that time, when I thought about pregnancy, yes, part of me was happy with the 'possibility' but I noticed a disconnect in my heart between this slim possibility and what I wanted. I didn't want to be pregnant, not like I wanted to do foster care and adoption. My heart wasn't yearning for pregnancy like it was yearning for foster care and adoption!  I'd like to think that this was God unifying my hearts desires to His will. This was a huge confirmation for us that this is the path we are to take!

When we started the training we were both very nervous about foster care, birth families and really the sense of unknown and lack of control. But as we went through the training, we became more and more confirmed that God is in control. We still, obviously, don't know what our placement situation is going to look like but we are excited. Our life is quiet, peaceful, calm and orderly right now. We felt like we were standing on the brink of a mess. We don't have to jump into the mess. We could just stay in our calm life. But Christ was there, in the mess, calling us out. Or, to get more biblical, we felt safe in the boat but Christ was out on the water, calling us to risk it and come out onto the water with Him. We decided to risk it, to make a mess of our calm life, to stir the pot and agitate our peaceful life. We can't wait!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Foster Care/Adoption Journey Part 2. Long-Term Discernment

Our Foster Care and Adoption Approval Journey
2. Our Long-Term Discernment
7. First Placement (This has NOT happened yet!)

2. Long-Term Discernment
Since the very beginning of our marriage adoption and foster care was something that we discussed. We knew when we got married that having biological children would be difficult. We didn't think impossible.  In November of 2011, when we learned that we would not be having biological children, we started thinking more seriously about foster care and adoption. But we wanted to give ourselves time to heal and mourn; time enough so that when/if we started the process towards adoption, we knew we weren't looking for a replacement child but rather because we felt called to grow our love through this particular journey. 

There were a few times between November 2011 and June 2014 that we almost reached out to start the process but it just didn't click. Honestly, sometimes it felt like it was G-Man who was holding us back from it. He didn't feel 'ready' (whatever that means). But through that waiting, I grew in my understanding of my own feminine and mothering heart. God was using Grant to slow me down, as He often does. 

We thought we were waiting for G-Man to have a better job; to be a little bit more financially set. So we focused on finding a better job for G-Man. 3 years, multiple novena (including a 54 day rosary novena) and (no lie) more than 400 job applications, and only one interview. Yes, you read that right. This has been so hard on G-Man and myself. He is doing everything, including reaching out to people he knows and reviewing his resume with professionals. Nothing. We finally had to reach the conclusion that he is not meant to leave his job right now. He is still applying to other jobs and still working hard at his current job (and loving it!) but we realized that, right now, this is where he is suppose to be.

Once we came to that realization, we changed our focus. Our focus became readying ourselves for parenthood. In my case, readying my heart for heart break and motherhood. This particular journey to opening my heart again to the possibility of motherhood started in October, 2013 at the course Theology of the Body and the Interior Life run by the TOB Institute. (Read about that here

I left that course with the goal to be pregnant with grace, with divine life, with Christ's love and life within me. So since that course, I have had this frequent mental image come throughout prayer times. The image is of my womb. (Stay with me, this is going somewhere). My womb is the inside of a church and Mary and Jesus are dancing together in it. Sometimes it is the Child Jesus in Mary's arms as she dances around. Other times it is Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus all holding each other. And occasionally, it was the image of Christ as an embryo implanting in my uterus. All of this to say, I was feeling more connected to myself as mother, regardless of my childlessness. God was slowly revealing and reawakening my mothering heart. (Someday soon I want to share with you my reflections on femininity and motherhood, especially as an infertile woman. But that is another post. I touch on it here) I started associating mothering more with femininity and less with children (biological or otherwise). And the wounds caused by infertility were starting to heal. 

So we entered 2014 with the sense that God was preparing us for our own 'nativity.' 

From January to June I was discovering peace and a mothering integration in my life. My heart started to feel steady rather than bruised. This was a slow process, I almost didn't even notice it. There were (and are) still days of deep sorrow because of our infertility but the balance of good days to bad was shifting. 

Looking back on that time, I don't know what sparked that moment when we decided to reach out for more information about foster care. It was just a moment, a second, when we decided to have another conversation about adoption. But this time, we took action. This time, we were ready. So in June, 2014 we reached out.

Discernment was about to become much more active!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

All of Me: Blog Announcement

I am very excited to share with you our news!!
We are approved as Resources Parents for Family and Children Services.
We are now foster parents with the intent to adopt.
We are waiting for our first placement. 

This, obviously, has been in the works for months now. 
And I want to share it all with you. 
So over 7 blog posts, I will share every step of this journey with you. 
Please pray for us as the journey continues!

Our Foster Care and Adoption Approval Journey

1. General Thoughts about Upcoming Journey/ All of Me
2. Our Long-Term Discernment

1. General Thoughts about Upcoming Journey/ All of Me
G-man and I firming believe that our marriage and our life is and can be complete without children. Let me rephrase, I don't believe that every marriage is called to have children. Most are, the common mode of being open to life is to welcome children in your marriage. YES! That is very true and very holy. But, the question is, is every couple who is struggling with infertility, called to do everything they can to have children in their life? NO! If we never had children, would we be less called to holiness, less happy? Would our marriage somehow be less? NO! We firmly believe we are a family NOW. Our family, our particular mission to love and vocation to holiness, started with our wedding vows. So instead G-Man and I discerned the mode of our love. How are we being called to live our vocation to LOVE? Are we to add children to our family through foster care and adoption?

We believe, Yes. This is how, as least right now, we are being asked to love.

We are open to fostering a child 0-2 years of age and if they become available for adoption, we are committed to adopting them. However, we are also committed to helping and supporting their birth families and kin in whatever way we can. We know there will be heartbreak on this journey. Our intention is to fall head over heels in love with whoever is placed with us and then wholeheartedly let them go if needed. Because any child placed with us is worth, as a minimum, all of ourselves. Christ gave all of himself for us and for that child, personally. So G-Man and I believe that if we are to do this, if this is how we are called to live out our married love, we will do it like Christ, completely.

So in conclusion of post one I leave you with 5 quotes that have inspired our journey and a song that sums up the state of our hearts as we begin our waiting.

"The world offers you comfort. 
But you were not made for comfort, 
you were made for greatness!" 
Pope Benedict XVI

"For with Christ, I am prepared to suffer still more." 
St. Maximilian Kolbe

"We can't love without suffering and 
we can't suffer without love." 
St. Gianna Beretta Molla

"To be happy what you need is not an easy life 
but a heart which is in love" 
St. Josemaria Escriva

"Are you capable of risking your life for someone? 
Do it for Christ" 
St. John Paul the Great!

Please pray for us as we being actively waiting for a child to be placed in our arms and in our hearts!