Showing posts with label adoption. Show all posts

Friday Favorites: Our Favorite Children/Youth Adoption Books

Hi everyone!  If this is planned properly, you are reading today's Friday Favorite as I am en route to the Tar Heel State to celebrate Homecoming!!!  AGGIE PRIDE!!! 


Homecoming three years ago with Honeybee!
Because this month is National Adoption Month and November 1st was National Author's Day, I thought it would be nice to share some of Honeybee and my favorite adoption or adoption related books, along with a few recommendations from friends with you during this week's Friday Favorites.  I'm linking with A Little Bit of Everything, Momfessionals, and Grace and Love and hope you have an amazing Friday.

S. asked me if we’re ready to adopt again and I said….


Hi guys! I apologize for being off the blog for a bit. It’s been sort of cray in my world with work obligations, home obligations, hoot just life. I wanted to spend some time playing catch up, was drafting a post for review, and then this conversation happened. Afterwards, I debated sharing it, but writing has always been peaceful and healing to me—there is no reason it shouldn’t be now. So, let’s share, okay?

The other night I was lying in the bed reading a book when S. walked in and asked seemingly out of the blue if we were ready to adopt again. I looked up slowly from my tablet and said “I don’t know”. Guys, I honestly have no idea why I answered that way because truth be told his asking was just a confirmation of the ache that has been on my heart recently. I’ve been thinking more and more about adding another blessing to our family, but I felt firmly led that we should be a forever family to an adoptive child. I believe it so sincerely that I actually spoke that when asked by an associate last week. I spoke that I would love to adopt again, AND that I hoped God would allow us to add to our family twice more before He decides our quiver is full. That things has held me with an intense yearning even as I love and nurture our little ones. There is a part of me that wonders if there is a child who needs a mommy to read to him or her at night, to be tucked into warm sheets, and bake cookies…to kiss owies, and to show that the world is not all evil and neglectful and that loving parents and people do exist. I am so ready to start. 

BUT, I am equally terrified. When the idea dropped in my heart, I spoke in my mind “Really, God? Are you sure? I mean, baby A. is only 6 months (at the time). Honeybee and Bug are a great deal of responsibility to boot. Are you sure this is what you want? I think I want the same, but is that hormones or is this really real?” The feeling hasn’t gone away ya’ll and I am not sure it will.

So, what does that mean? It means, in all honesty, that I don’t know if we are ready, but I am willing to take some time to figure it out. I plan on praying and seeking God’s face on this earnestly. A child is way too precious a gift and too huge a responsibility to enter into flippantly. It isn’t all easy and the adoption journey can be draining. But I think that’s where I am leaning and, if S. is asking, then it means God has been speaking to his heart as well. Let’s see what God says.

Keep us in your prayers.

-K

The Day We Me Met Our Honeybee: Our Placement Story

                           

Four years ago today, S. and I walked into a room to sign a mountain of paperwork.  I kept glancing anxiously at the clock wondering how much longer it would take, wondering if she was there yet.  The woman across from us, our amazing social worker, felt my anxiousness and said, “She’s here.  She’s upstairs and after we finish, I’ll take you to her”.  Mountains of paperwork loomed, some asking the same questions as the sheets before it.  It was daunting and reminiscent of when we closed on our first home, but this task so much more important to us.  Task complete, a manila folder with all of the paperwork was handed to us and minutes later my husband and I were walking into a cheerily painted room where a man stood (his wife and son beside him) holding this beautiful, tiny little baby girl.  An amazing and pure blessing.

adoption placement
Meeting our Honeybee for the first time
She was handed to me.  My husband, recording on his tablet, and I started crying.  Huge tears and HUGE praises uttered from my lips.  I thanked God for that moment, for that place, for that time that was created and preordained before I was even a thought.  God is SO great.  I reclined slightly on the couch and stared into her beautiful dark eyes and she stared at mine.  She was quiet, so very tiny, and I was in awe.  I enjoyed that moment, basking in her, allowing her to bask in me.  I passed her to my husband, whose eyes betrayed the tears that were there.  This was a moment that he’d prayed about, that we’d prayed  about together.  It was beautiful and raw and open.

5 Lessons the American Figure Skaters' Fall and Aftermath Can Teach You (As colored through my experiences with Infertility and Adoption)

I'm such a lover of Winter Olympics, especially figure skating.  I think it is an amazingly beautiful sport with artistry and athleticism.  I know also that the competitors work extremely hard and put in countless hours.  To be able to showcase all of that time and effort has to be an amazing feeling.  To place high and win a medal as a result of all of your hard work has to be an even better feeling.

That's why Madison Chock and Evan Bates' fall during their ice dancing/skating competition on Tuesday night was so very hard.  The look on Madison's face after the fall was horrible.  The commentator immediately stated that it was such a rare occurrence to see a fall on the ice.  It was as if their fate had already been sealed.

What happened next reminded me that things happen that will sometimes waylay your best laid plans.  How you respond to those things will define your life and your journey.  Here's five nuggets of truth that Tuesday's fall gave to me. (To my #TTC family and #adoption families, this definitely applies).

1.  If you fall, get back up.  Immediately after the fall, both Madison and Evan popped back up and continued their routine.  Later, Madison stated that everyone was looking at them like injured puppies.  She knew the fall was bad and knew the implications of their medal opportunities, but she got back up anyway.  In our adoption and infertility journeys, S. and I have had our share of "falls" whether through the disappointment of a failed match or through the crushing defeats of recurring #BFNs.  Despite those hard times, we picked ourselves up every time no matter how hard, no matter how difficult.  Remind yourself that you need to do the same. The episode will hurt.  It may require tears.  Do that, get yourself together, and then get back up.

Getty Images

Lunch with the (former) Social Worker

Hi everyone.  Today has been a very special day.  Today, I was able to sit down with the woman who was instrumental in creating a forever family for my baby girl H.  Her former social worker and I were able to meet for lunch and catch up on life since we've last chatted.  H.'s social worker, Ms. B, is truly one of the most kind and gentle spirits I have ever met.  I am very thankful for her presence in our lives during some pretty amazing times in our lives.

It was awesome to sit down and converse with her.  We discussed H., her former foster parents whom we still communicate with, H.'s advancements, the new pregnancy, the baby moving and several other things.  Ms. B has a relative fighting cancer. We talked about that.  I'd only planned on being there for 30 minutes. An hour and 45 minutes later, I finally left to return to the office.  That's what talking with family is like.

It wasn't until I got back to the office that I discovered it was Social Worker month and School Social Worker week. How ironic was the timing!  And if that wasn't enough, she brought H. the cutest little spring clothes.  I love her!



I will never be able to thank Ms. B for all that she has done to assist in our journey.  Our family wouldn't be complete without our H.  She is such an important and integral member in our family.  I wouldn't know what to do if she wasn't.

Happy Social Worker's Month to all the social workers out there.  Thank you for all you do.

-K

Weekend Recap: National Adoption Day!

This weekend our family celebrated National Adoption Day with a wonderful ceremony honoring families in the county who had finalized their adoption this year.  I was very excited to be able to go.  We started off with a speaker in our city's courthouse and then took pictures with the judges and speakers.


Celebrating as a family
The kids had the opportunity to sit behind the bench.  Superbug thought it a good idea to appear super serious in the picture because "judges are serious".  I love this pic.  And btw, I didn't dress them alike on purpose :)

Afterwards, we took a trolley to a fellowship hall where we were greeted with cake and icecream.  On each of the tables were gingerbread homes that represented our new forever families.  Honeybee really enjoyed the cake and icecream.

Mmmmmm


Superbug and I worked on the gingerbread house and had a reporter from the local newspaper take our photo.  We didn't think anything of it until Ms. Care texted me this morning and told us that we were in the newspaper.




How awesome was that?!  We topped out National Adoption Day off with a potluck dinner at our church. It was a yummy food and wonderful fellowship.

It was a wonderful evening and I am so very thankful that we were able to spend the day together and celebrated so wonderfully. So thankful to be Mommy to my two special little people.

Have a great day.
-WinterMommy


Weekend Recap: More than just a cause



I really wasn’t expecting this weekend to be as fun and memorable as it was. Truly, I wasn’t. I knew we had a few plans, but the outcome went above anything I could have imagined. When I arrived home on Friday, FatherWinter informed me that we would be getting up early the next morning to attend a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. I was less than thrilled and didn’t really want to go, but he mentioned it was co-sponsored by our church’s HIV/AIDS Ministry and I was in.                                        

We arrived at the event to be ushered into a cafeteria where a video was presented about HIV/AIDS in the community, prevention, and stigma associated with the diseases. I’m familiar with epidemic. I’ve lost family members to it and have been faithfully testing every year since college. What I wasn’t familiar with were the recent statistics in my area. DC ranks #1 in the nation for HIV/AIDS cases. VA ranks #2 and MD is #3. That’s a very sobering statistic. The county the tournament took place had the unpleasant distinction of being #2 in the state for new cases. Not great at all. I watched Superbug attentively listen to all that was presented and knew we would be having a discussion later.

After the video was over, we went to the gym and began the tournament. Our church has four teams because we had so many participants! That was awesome, BUT we weren’t as great as some of the other teams. Three were knocked out early. The latter team was knocked out in the championship battle. So, we came in second place, but had a great time participating! 

Didn't quite make it this time...
Photo credit: National Geographic/IndianaJonestheexhibition.com
After the event, we took a journey to the National Geographic Museum to visit the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology. FatherWinter and Superbug really enjoyed the exhibit as you faced interactive “walks” with movie and informational video clips on portable devices. Unfortunately, my device was malfunctioning and wouldn’t show any of the movie clips. It showed all of the informational clips though and I learned quite a bit including the origin of “thugs” and the history of the “Thugee” tribe made famous in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. My favorite part of the exhibit had to be the recreation of the Ark of the Covenant. I think I examined that most of all. When we’d completed our visit, we found temps dipping and stomachs rumbling. If you're in DC in the next couple of weeks, I highly recommend the visit.  It really was very educational but a lot of fun at the same time.


Yesterday was just the best day ever.  First, we got to hear Superbug sing. :)  Superbug hasn’t sung in the church choir since he was about four years old. He recently expressed an interest in doing so again and FatherWinter and I allowed it, after having a discussion about commitment and discipline. He did a great job and we were very proud of him. After he completed singing, the family went to the Family Fun event that Honeybee's adoption agency hosted.  We had such an enjoyable time.  

Honeybee, Superbug, and I enjoyed a hayride around a beautiful farm. FatherWinter couldn’t join because he is allergic to hay, but he was fine. While we were riding, he was parktaking of the yummy snacks and beverages in the greenhouse. The ride was a bit nippy but not uncomfortably so.  After it was over, we came to join FatherWinter and Honeybee found the cake to be her favorite thing there.  She spend the rest of her time trying to convince others to share their cake with her. :)



No cupcake is safe!!!! Lol 
Enjoying her own small piece


Superbug made a new friend and they spent the afternoon playing football until the sun’s rays began their descent. After farewells and pictures, the family loaded up and went to celebrate one more family event—an anniversary.

We spent time visiting with our brother and sister in law celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary. While we didn't get to grab photos here, it was an enjoyable time and we were blessed to celebrate with them.

When we got home, we were so tired, everyone was out within 10 minutes of getting settled.  It was a wonderful weekend and we were very pleased to enjoy it as a family.  Next big event....we're going to try and hit Christmastown!!

Have a blessed evening!!
-WinterMommy

November has arrived...

Happy November! Without a doubt, this month is a very great one. It is a month of pure gratitude. I mean, Thanksgiving is one of the core holidays. It’s nothing short of being a month where, if no other time, you should carry a bit more thought about what you’ve been blessed with…and I’m not just talking materialistic.

It’s funny for me to think that a year ago I was sitting in a different office, in a different location, thinking long and hard about the upcoming legal proceedings for our Honeybee. Today, I’m thinking about how she will be running around and enjoying her cousins and lots of food in upcoming weeks. God is really a good God.

One of the things I didn’t focus on last year that seemed more than important to do so in this year was National Adoption Month. If you are unfamiliar with the month and its origins, I’ll be glad to share. According to Nationaladoptionday.org, “National Adoption Day is a collective, national effort to raise awareness of more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for permanent and loving families. In 2014, approximately 4,500 youth in foster care were adopted by their forever families over the 15th annual National Adoption Day celebration”.

This year, FatherWinter, Superbug, Honeybee, and I are participating in a couple of National Adoption Month activities sponsored by Honeybee’s adoption agency. In a few weeks, we are planning to attend a Family Fun event with other adoptive families. I’m really looking forward to it. There is something I find heartwarming about being able to fellowship with other adoptive families who know some of what it is like to experience your world. They know about the thoughts on nature versus nurture. They know about the rude things some people say because they simply are ignorant to adoption. I am certainly looking forward to spending time with other families and maybe making a few new friends.

I'm looking forward to a lot of things this month.  Thanksgiving.  Christmas Tree Lighting.  Volunteerism.  Arts and Crafts.  This is going to be a great week!

-WinterMommy

Weekend Recap: Rainy Day Errands/QT Time

Hi everyone!

This weekend has been really wonderful despite a major shake up in plans.  Originally, I'd planned on taking Honeybee and Superbug down to my family home in North Carolina for the weekend. Superbug hadn't seen his paternal grandmother in a while and none of my family has seen Honeybee since early Spring. This would have been the perfect time for them to see her since the adoption was finalized. But then this happened....

Photo credit:  Foxcarolina.com

In addition to the nastily forecast storm, our area was already quite inundated with high levels of rain. States were declaring states of emergency.  Some businesses were shutting down.  Outdoor events were being cancelled.  I watched the weather patterns all week and, after listening to the flood warnings in NC, decided it was better to be safe than sorry.  So, I cancelled the trip.

Photo credits: http://on.mash.to/1OeDoqv; Tumblr, daydreaming-through-life
Fortunately, the NC family understood as they were also reluctant for us to travel with the threat of bad weather.  We'll try it again next weekend.  

When I woke Saturday morning, the weather was a steady drizzle and teeth chattering cold.  After some conversation with FatherWinter, we decided it was safe enough for the family to make the decision to venture out to pick up Honeybee's new birth certificate. Insert all sorts of butterflies here.

We arrived to the office of vital stats in order to get the new birth certificate.  We had the final order of adoption with the certified seal making the adoption official.  We had our IDs to secure the birth certificate.  The only problem was the office had not yet been informed of her adoption.  (Say what, now?) Yep, the stories that can only occur with out Honeybee occurred again.  It seems that despite the judge signing the order two weeks ago and the circuit clerk certifying it a week later, a formal notification had not yet been sent to the office responsible for the issuing of new certificates.  And, by law, the courts don't have to send it for another 2-4 weeks!!  Our Honeybee needs to be added to our insurance by a certain number of days or she is without medical coverage, not to mention her records need to be updated everywhere. But here was the first step in that process notifying us that they'd not yet been informed of the adoption.  Sigh.  I was frustrated.  The lady assisting us suggested that we give her our only official copy of the final order of adoption and they would put it in her file and seal it.  The only thing is we need the official copy to amend her Social Security.  Sigh...

Stuff like this seems to support the stats placing our state ranks in the lower end of adoption friendly/expedient states.  After an in house discussion, FatherWinter and I ended up giving them our only official copy of the adoption order to be sealed away with the knowledge that we will have to order another official certified copy on Monday for our records.  Sigh...oh, and we can't complete the SS application without it.  Sigh ..Okay.  At least we know have a birth certificate with all of Honeybee's info sitting side by side with ours.  There was something so great about seeing FatherWinter's name and mine above our Honeybee's.  It just made it more real. 

After making a singular stop to allow Honeybee a new accessory, we stopped off for some lunch and family time.

Celebrating her birth certificate and ear piercings with water and cheese sticks

Watching family videos.
We sat down for a while enjoying each other's company and then returned to the house where everyone collapsed in exhaustion.  Several hours later, everyone awoke and decided to reheat leftovers while I called the family in NC to see how everyone was faring in the weather.  There was definitely some dangerous flood waters going on in the local area, but thankfully the family was okay.

Today was a continuation of the same.  We rose early for church, had a hearty breakfast, and then heard a wonderful sermon at service.  Once church was over, we were able to spend a bit of time with some of the in laws before returning home and enjoying each other's company.

FatherWinter and I stayed in the bedroom discussing what we'd been learning in our Bible Institute classes.  Can I tell you there is something so wonderful about being able to have conversation about biblical meanings and scriptures with someone who doesn't look at you as weird.  Several hours later, the kids are nestled in their beds.  FatherWinter is resting in our bed and I am enjoying a few moments of alone time before I join him.

I am hoping your weekend was just as calm and enjoyable as ours.  Please keep the city of Charleston and the state of SC in your prayers as they deal with massive flooding.  I saw pictures today that made me so sad.  I was just in Charleston.  I can only imagine what they are experiencing.

Have a pleasant night and a blessed weekend.

-WinterMommy

Honeybee is officially OUR Honeybee!!!

It’s official! Honeybee’s adoption is final!!! Oh my goodness! The joy that I feel. The love, the humility, the gratitude. GOD IS SO GREAT, SO AWESOME, SO WONDERFUL!

Much like everything else in our Honeybee’s journey to forever, even her finalization had a twist. I was sitting at work when I received an email from Ms. Care, Honeybee’s former social worker (I love typing that). She sent us a notification that the final adoption order had recently been signed BUT our lawyer only received an empty envelope from the court on Saturday. Ms. Care had hoped we’d received something, but we had not. So, we were in a crazy holding pattern of learning whether or not Honeybee’s adoption really was finalized because no one had seen the actual document. Still, I got a bit misty eyed in hope. That evening when I got home, FatherWinter and I discussed it, but decided not to tell anyone it was official until someone had official documentation. Fast forward to the next day when scanned copy of the order was sent to us via email, but even this wasn’t exactly official because it didn’t have the certified seal on the document that would allow the acquisition of new documents. And then, it happened…about two hours later Ms. Care wrote that the official copy had been received in the foster offices, that she could officially declare “Honeybee’s adoption as FINAL”. YAY!!!!

I was so excited. Still, because we didn’t have the document in our possession, so it wasn’t until the agency displayed their forever-family graphic announcing a new forever family had been joined that I finally let the feeling of excitement truly wash over me. It’s funny. Of all the words, scans, and assurances, it was THAT which made me teary eyed. I proceeded to contact FatherWinter and then my mother and send a small email to a couple of family members who have been praying for us since the very beginning. And after this email was sent, I released this simple post…


And I now do the same on this place, this blog space.  Our Honeybee is officially OUR Honeybee.  God be praised for His goodness and mercy. (Please be on the lookout for my follow on post as I write to Honeybee’s birth mother.  It is not lost on me at all that our celebration can still bring a place of pain to her and it should certainly never be taken for granted.)

Our Summer Recap

It's over....sigh.  Summer is unofficially over.  It was a wonderful ride, but it's time to return to the normalcy of all things school and responsibility.  Usually, this is the point where I share our weekend recap, but since we've officially hit the last event on our "summer calendar", I thought it appropriate to give a belated summer recap and reflect on all the things that God has allowed us to enjoy and experience this summer.

1.  Placement Agreement

Before an official summer kick-off, we were blessed to sign Honeybee's adoption placement agreement. After such a long and arduous process, we were finally able to start the legal finalization proceedings that would lead to our Honeybee becoming a legal forever member of our family!  Even though we are still waiting for everything to be finalized, we are very close and I couldn't be more excited!



2.  Family Vacation

We kicked off our summer with a family vacation to the Sunshine State.  We were blessed to have FatherWinter's sister and her family join us and also FatherWinter's brother and his family join in. Theme park fun, tasty food, long car drives, magic shows, and tons of rain.  It was a pretty great time.





3.  Reading 

Superbug is just like his Mommy and loves to read. So this summer, it wasn't unusual to catch him curled up in his favorite reading chair reading new adventures.




He's been reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and has really been enjoying them. What's awesome is his little sister has been observing him read and now sits in her seat or beside him to "read" her book as well. Looks like we will have another budding avid reader on board.

We've also enjoyed some pretty cool family memories from "camping" to weddings to birthdays. I didn't get to do all that I wanted to do with the kids this year, but I'm definitely thankful for the things that we were able to do.






Without a doubt, we had a great summer.   I'm looking forward to similar family memories this Fall.

-WinterMommy

Time is Relative

It’s amazing to me how fast time can seem to glow and at the same time crawl to a snail’s pace. I’m learning as the month slowly progresses to September that time is going to do what time does—continue at its own pace.  

Finalization Progress.  A couple of days ago, I contacted Mrs. Care to see how things were progressing with Honeybee’s finalization.  We’d heard nothing since our lawyer had sent in the paperwork on my birthday.  I wanted to know if she had heard anything before I contacted our lawyer.  [And] She had.  There is still a delay occurring in the court system where Honeybee’s finalization will occur.  Sigh.  The court system only just received her court case files from her other hearings last week.  That information has to be processed and then the paperwork which was sent in this time.  BUT, that processing cannot occur until the cases and casework that was submitted in earlier cases (before Honeybee’s) is processed.  Where we’d once been told we could expect to receive finalization notice before Labor Day now seems to be before the end of September.  Insert HUGE sigh here.  I got off the phone feeling a bit disappointed.  While nothing changes here because our Honeybee is still with us, happy, and growing, she is still not legally our daughter.  And it still isn’t completely done when finalization occurs.  We still have to get new birth certificates and social security cards.  It is my sincere hope that FatherWinter and I can take the day off work and go down to Vital Records together once we have the finalization notice.  We can just go to Vital Records and get the birth certificate and head to the Social Security office to get her new card.  Hopefully, that will be sooner than later.

Daycare.  Yesterday, I went to pick Honeybee up from daycare.  As NanaWinter still watches her on the latter part of the week, the staff knew yesterday would be her last day there for the week.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the information that it would also be her last day in the baby care room.  Oh my goodness!!! Can I tell you how emotional I felt myself getting?!  Next week, my Honeybee will be going to the big girl class.  She’ll sit in big girl chairs in big girl tables.  She’ll learn songs and colors and new experiences.  She’ll make friends and have a great time.  At least that is my hope.  But isn’t it funny how time can flow so slow in one scenario and flow so quickly in another?  I kid you know it seems like I was just dropping Honeybee off at daycare for the first time and getting emotional over that.  Now, there’s a milestone here and I’m amazed by it.

Superbug.  So I spent part of yesterday updating our family’s Google calendar with all of the appropriate information for Superbug.  His county has come out with the school calendars and there are abbreviated days, holidays, parent days, and activities that must be locked in before they catch us unaware.  This year opens new doors for Superbug.  He is a chess whiz.  He gets to join the chess club at school and he really wants to.  There is an option for school chorus this year.  He wanted to do it last year, but the major performance was going to be the week we were out of town and I didn’t want him to be disappointed that we couldn’t come.  The option exists this year.  There are also a few other things that he gets to do that he couldn’t do last year.  It’s such a blessing to see the little man that he is becoming. He has his own interests now and I hope that he will be allowed to pursue them.  I loved that my great-grandmother was such a loving individual, but she was very sheltering.  A lot of things I wanted to do, I couldn’t and I always felt bad about that.  I plan to continue to take her example of being a loving and wonderful mother figure and apply it, but also allow Superbug an opportunity to spread his wings a bit more and become his own little person. 


Announcements.  Well, the last four weeks have garnered three weeks of pregnancy notifications.  There is something in the water for sure.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t decided to swim around my way lol.  I’m super excited for the new expecting mommies.  I wish them all the joy in the world.  Babies are truly a joy.  I'm so happy those I love get to experience the same.  




What a difference a year makes...



A year ago today, I was actively running around making sure every coworker, friend, family member, best friend, and associate had their flyer to aid in Honeybee's fundraiser.  I was biting my nails with worry because I'd already had a conversation with people who thought the entire thing "tacky" and "tactless".

I got angry and then worried that others would feel the same.  Then, I was embraced by wonderful and loving people who reminded me that it's rare that a family has an extra $$$$$ lying around.  If this assisted in removing some of the fees and stress, then so be it.

Slowly bit surely, posts started coming in.  People were sharing their photos of hot wings, sliders, and yummy appetizers from one of the local restaurants.  I was touched and humbled by those people who went and ate lunch and dinner on our behalf.

Though we only raised a small amount from that event, I was simply honored and appreciative of all those who took time out of their day for us.

Today, things are a bit different (insert smile as I write this).  Today, I'm watching my daughter hand books to her daddy to read.  Today, my family is sitting in the family room.  Spaghetti was on our menu tonight and watermelon.  Our music has been laughter.  It's been a wonderful and great day.

We still wait for the final letter decreeing everything to be legal, but we are just secure in our togetherness.  We are enjoying being a family.  A year ago, it crossed our minds that this may not occur as we wanted it to.  We were still in the midst of custodial decisions, but we still moved forward.

Today, we are thankful just to be.  May that never change.



-WinterMommy

We signed the Adoption Placement Agreement!

Oh my goodness!  We have been so delayed in sharing news because so much has been going on! Recently FatherWinter, Superbug, Honeybee, and I met Mrs. Care in her office to sign the final adoption placement agreement.  It's official.  We are officially on the road to finalization!!

Can I tell you how amazing GOD has been in this journey?  We have had a lot of curve balls thrown at us in this process.  Some of them we dodged or hit with ease.  Others have caused a lot of strain.  But God has been faithful and has seen us to this point.  We are truly thankful for that.

The day before the procedure I have to admit I was on pins and needles.  In the back of my mind I was wondering if I would be receiving another phone call from Mrs. Care as we'd received in August of last year.  (Wow, has it really been that long?).  I found myself wondering if we would hear something at the last moment like we did that awful evening.  Thankfully, no.  Not this time.

This time, I left and with my family walked into the offices to sign the paperwork that would officially start the process for adoption finalization.  There is no more legal risk.  Everything has been cleared. All that remains is our signature and then processing of paperwork.  In a few weeks, this could all be over.

I'm so amazingly excited.  What's even more exciting is pretty soon I'll be able to share some of the family pictures with all of you!  But for now, here's a photo of us from our signing placement day.

We're holding Honeybee, but can't share her just yet!

An Awesome God...

I've been a bit quiet this week.  I wanted to immediately log on and share what's been going on in our world.  I also tempered myself knowing that there are still privacy concerns in all things.  So, I've been a bit close lipped.  I can say that recently a hearing was held with regard to the TPR appeal issued by a member of Honeybee's family.

Scriptures have been posted everywhere



The appeal process and our experience of it has been sometimes quite disconcerting and, at times, alarmingly frightening.  Still, we prayed.

We posted scripture, meditated on those Words, trusted God in His will and judgment, and prepared ourselves for whatever came our way.

The "whatever" that came our way was the judge ruling in favor of our petition to move forward with permanency and denying the appeal for termination of parental rights.  We are so thankful.  What this means now is we have to wait for a period of time while the opportunity for yet another appeal is provided.  If that appeal does not come (and we are actively praying it does not), we will be allowed to complete the paperwork that will finally allow our daughter's adoption to be finalized.  In a few months, we hope to be introducing a beautiful family portrait of all family members.

It's been a very long journey.  It is wonderful to be able to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. Ms. Care recently stopped by for a visit and told me it would be her last supervisory visit before we sign the appropriate paperwork.  Wow!  That kind of caught me off guard.  Ms. Care has been such an integral part of this journey from the very beginning.  She has seen us from the first day Honeybee was placed in our arms and loved in our hearts.  Now, we are approaching a time when the standard 30 day visits are no longer required, when calls asking for permission to take Honeybee out of the state won't be a necessity.  We're approaching a time where we can share family photos with my family out of the state over email without any hindrance.  I'm really looking forward to it.

BUT, I am also sobered thinking of her birth family.  The updates are still going to continue and nothing will ever change that.  But I know how it feels to want to know the other side of you, to know whom you look like, and what activities you share in common.  Honeybee will always know who she is and where she comes from, but I do wonder how she will feel about her story.

One things is more than certain.  I am so very thankful that God has seen fit for Honeybee to remain with us as her forever family and that we are allowed to love her and protect her as well as we are able.  I will continue to pray for all parties involved.  I know this is not an easy thing at all.

Our Honeybee remains happy at home.  For that, we are grateful.

-WinterMommy

"We don't know what's going to happen"

I debated sharing this post.  It's kind of a raw place.  Writing about it almost makes it seem like I'm in a perpetual down place and that's not the case at all.  Quite the contrary in reality.  This week has been pretty good with plenty of smiles.  We've celebrated some really cool milestones like Honeybee climbing the stairs from bottom to top all by herself with Mommy in front her scooting upward and Daddy behind her just in case.  She was so proud of herself.  She sat on the landing and just beamed. We are so proud of you, sweetness.  She did so again this afternoon much quicker than her previous attempt and with much more confidence.  I remember thinking  1.  I'm so proud of her and 2.  Time to put the baby gates up.

So,  no.  It's no a bad place in our home.  But it is a place where honesty is free flowing.  Yesterday, FatherWinter and the family were in the family room watching television when FatherWinter's phone rang.  It was one of our family members calling to see if he, Superbug, and Honeybee would still be making a trip out of town to see another relative they haven't seen in a while.  The conversation was going well and I was about to leave the room so he could continue to talk to his relative in private when I heard "Yes, I really want to take her.  He hasn't met her yet and who knows what's going to happen".

The words hit me like gut checks.  I knew he was referring to the fact that no one knows what is going to happen with our Honeybee.  No one knows the judge's decision.  No one knows how this is going to go.  No one knows if our Honeybee will be our Honeybee for much longer.

"We don't know what's going to happen"

That's the first time that I have ever been aware of FatherWinter speaking anything other than positive thoughts about this journey to his family.  The realization has been sobering. When a man who seems to have this almost annoying ability to always remain optimistic even in haltingly critical times suddenly speaks in questions, it's scary.  It almost seems like we are preparing for the worst.  I suppose we always have been.  We've just not acknowledged that to our extended families, or so I thought.

She. is. our. daughter.

Sigh.  I've gotten in the unconscious habit of publicly vocalizing affirmations over Honeybee.  I don't really remember when it started.  My great grandmother used to do it on occasion. Now I'm doing similar.  I'm just speaking love over .our Honeybee  You are loved.  You are blessed.  You are protected.  You are here.

Every day Honevbee does something new and amazing.  It's amazing how smart she is.  How she is picking up things at a ridiculously quick rate.  I recently downloaded her first app.  It's a sight and sound app that lets her tap the screen and hear the sounds of multiple animals and cars.  She loves it.  LOVES it.  She's figured out how to reset the time out screen so she can play with the goat (her favorite sound) over and over again.  If I try and turn the phone off, she figures out a way to turn the screen back on.  I only let her play with it a little while 10-15 minutes as we go over the animal sounds together, but I am always left in awe at how fast she is growing and at the memories that we get to share.  I don't want to not have the opportunity to do that in the future.

"We don't know what's going to happen"

It's true.  We don't.  The only thing we can do is pray.  And I have.  I will continue to do so.  I will continue to live.  I may even blog about moments of frustration or emotional stress until all is done, but I and our family is okay.  I believe with all that is in me that Honeybee will be just fine, that she will be home with us, and that she will have our love covering her forever.

But I will remember without a single misstep that we truly do not know what is going to happen.

-WinterMommy

Frustration abounds

Photo credit: Gospeltoday.com
So, yesterday I shared a post of how amazed I was the our daughter had been with us for a full year.  I lovingly recounted the emotions that were in my head as FatherWinter and I went to pick her up from the agency.  I remembered the joy of the day and the feeling of overwhelming love and gratitude it bought.

Shortly after that post was released, I received a call from Ms. Care, Honeybee’s social worker with not so good news.  Sigh.  We are actively in a fight for our daughter.  We have always been in a fight for our daughter, but as comedian Kevin Hart likes to say, “it just got real”.

I really, really want to go into details..the pure unadulterated details as I see them, but I am so worried about legal ramifications that I will keep things as close vested as possible.  I will say only this.  I am so very frustrated that in a world where a child has been loved and raised by a family since said child was two weeks old, and where said child calls the family that has loved her Mama and Daddy, and has developed an intense bond of love and commitment with them; it is heartbreakingly difficult to understand the possibility exists that someone can come in and remove this child simply because they now have an interest because of blood line…not necessarily because of love. 

Tonight and every night hereafter until everything is complete, I will lay my daughter to rest as I have every night since her arrival.  I will place her in her crib, rub my hand over her back and hair, stand above her crib and place a kiss on my fingers and apply it to her hair.  I will say a pray for her protection during the night and I will pray a prayer for protection in days to come.  I will utter the same words I utter every night, “I love you, my sweetness” and I will close the door and allow her to close her eyes in peace.

I will pray that God will give FatherWinter, Superbug, and I strength to endure this storm and that He will be merciful in allowing us to continue to love and raise our daughter.  I don’t think my heart can stand any other outcome.

My husband, in his God-given wisdom, reminded me on the first day of recent communications about the ongoing TPR events that we must not be anxious.  I was short in response at first, but acquiesced almost as quickly because I know his words are true.  The word of God tells me that I am not to be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, I am to present my requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.  So, I shall. Pray.

I invite my friends, family, and followers of this blog to do the same.

Praying for forever,

-WinterMommy

A year ago...

It seems like yesterday.  Waking up early, putting Superbug on the bus and wishing him a great day at school.  Hoping in the car with FatherWinter after the bus took off.  A bevy of emotions were running through me.  Nervousness, Happiness, Excitement, Fear...yep, even fear.  What if she didn't like me?  What if we didn't bond?  What if I held her and she screamed her disdain?  What if something happens and this match falls through...like the others.  FatherWinter drove.  I tried light banter, switching subjects, random thoughts and concerns.  It didn't work.  The energy was still there and I remember finally keeping my lips closed and allowing my mind to go through all the possibilities of the day for me.

It seemed like we got to the agency in record time.  Traffic cooperated.  There were no snarls or jams. I remember walking in and wanting desperately to skip the paperwork process and meet her, but they'd not arrived yet and there were still things that had to be discussed.

Then, there was the phone call that announced her arrival and in a few minutes, we walked into the room and saw...perfection.  Pure.  Innocent.  Radiant.  Perfection.  Tears.  I sobbed and praised God at the same time.  Our beautiful baby.  Our daughter.  Our Honeybee.

That moment will be etched into my mind for the rest of my life.  How we held her and took pictures. How we changed her diaper and placed her in her car seat.  How tiny she was.  I remember stopping at the Walmart for additional supplies.  How amazing it was that we were shopping as a family with a newborn.

I remember getting home as Superbug's bus arrived.  How FatherWinter distracted him as I rushed to Honeybee's nursery and held her.  How Superbug walked in and asked if she was a doll and then the grin when he realized that his little sister was home.  How we introduced her to her grandmother.  How we thanked God for her presence.

One year ago.  Our beautiful and perfect Honeybee was placed in our arms and loved from the moment skin touched skin and eye caught eye.  It's hard to believe that the journey isn't yet complete, but that's what makes her story so wonderful.  We are so eternally grateful for the joy she has bought into our lives.  May it always remain.

-WinterMommy

Playing Catch Up

Yep, things have been more than a bit busy around our way lately.  I have been trying to share some of our family doings for a while now, and truthfully; I’ve just been too tired to share.  Forgive me for that one.  Because I know there are some family and friends from afar who use this blog as a “what’s going on” board, let me see if I can play catch up.


Welcoming the newest member.  A few days ago, we were able to post a picture of the newest addition to the family.  Both mommy and daughter are still doing well.  FatherWinter and Superbug saw her on her first day home.  As Honeybee still had a bit of green mucus, I decided not to go.  I can’t wait to hold and love her though!  She’s such a big baby already!

SuperBowl .  In true Winter family tradition, the family gathered at one of the siblings homes and watched SuperBowl.  It was a nice time for the most part…minus that last play.  (REALLY?!) 

Only two people of the 20 or so gathered were cheering for the Patriots, so every other face in the place ended up looking like this…



(Thanks, Clark Mitchell and Chat Sports for the swipe)

Yeah, it was a shocking development.  I heard on the news this morning that the Seahawks coach says he wakes up at night thinking of that call and that play.  Hmmm….I bet he does. 

I think one of the highlights of the game for some of the guys was the Katy Perry halftime show.  I mean, it was pretty okay.  I liked the “lion” moving across the ground with the team and her roar, but this show wasn’t my favorite in SuperBowl performances.  I think the highlight for me was seeing Missy Elliot.  I had fun reliving some high school and college moments with her appearance.  It was all blue and gold and band dances for a moment...
...sorry, marching band flashback.  Thanks for letting me see how the new heads do it now that I've flown the coop :)

But still, I think the show was just okay.  (Don’t go off on me, Perry fans.) Katy is a super talented artist, but I think she and her performance was a “safe” choice for a sporting event that has seen more than it cares to remember in the way of controversy (a la Janet Jackson anyone). 
Overall, it was a pretty good night for family, food, and fellowship. 

2nd Semester Awards.  On last Friday evening, Superbug came home with a letter informing us that he would be receiving an award for the 2ndSemester on the following Monday.  He was very excited as he has been working very hard this semester.  All weekend long, he reminded me of the ceremony and was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it.  Fast forward to Monday morning and I awoke about 20 minutes earlier than I usually do so that I could make sure everything and everyone was ready to leave the house on time.  Instead of allowing Superbug to catch the bus, I drove him to school and then drove Honeybee to her daycare.  I immediately dropped her off and then returned to the school to watch the awards ceremony with 15 minutes before start time!  Woo hoo!
A couple of weeks ago, Superbug’s class had to learn portions of famous speech’s.  Superbug decided to learn the 2nd half of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.  I was unable to hear him recite the speech (which was so sad for me), but was pleased that he was the only student in the class to receive a 4 (highest) on his speech!  As the awards ceremony began, I was surprised to see my Superbug on stage with three of his peers reciting the speech.  Superbug had the hand motions, the articulation, and the voice control down!  I was SO proud of him!  I couldn’t stop snapping pictures!
After the recitation, the third grade teachers handed out earned semester awards.  These awards focus on the core character values taught at the school.  I was very pleased and humbled when Superbug received the Helping Hands award.  According to his teacher, Superbug has a massive heart and is always the first to help teacher, staff, or student.  He goes out of his way to make life easier for everyone else.  She spoke other very kind words about him as well.  I was SO very, very proud of him again.  He’s only 8, but he already has so much love in his heart.  He puts me to shame sometimes J .

Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and give glory to your Father which is in heaven (KJV) .  That’s our Superbug to the letter.

1st Birthday Party.  Yep, I’m super excited.  Our Honeybee is about to turn 1!  In a previous post, FatherWinter calmed down a massive planning.  So, I’ve adjusted fire and we’re still doing a nice birthday party with pink and black d├ęcor and color scheme.  Think Minnie Mouse meets chic fashion.  Yeah, it all works in my head!
Pinterest and Vistaprint have been great helps.  The board has given me some great ideas and my fellow blogger @FlourishingHope has been wonderful in the encouragement and creativity department!
 
No, Honeybee's name isn't Rylee, but isn't this
a cute cake?!

Honeybee will have a host of her family and friends at the event.  We’re even including her Interim Infant Care family and her social worker Ms. Care.  I can hardly wait to share pictures of the day.  I’m still disappointed that we can’t share photos of her face from that day, but it will still be fun to show everything else.

The Hearing.  From my previous post, you know that Honeybee’s TPR Appeal trial was continued until some legal requests from the judge and GAL could be fulfilled.  The wait is excruciatingly long AND each day there is something else to thin about with regard to the hearing.  Today, Ms. Care contacted us to inform us that this may not be an over and done with hearing come the continuance date in the Spring.  Without getting involved in all of the legal and personal information related to our Honeybee, a legal intent statement was via email today that completely set my mind in a different and none to pleased place. 
It likewise caused Ms. Care to be extremely frustrated.  It is very frustrating to know that you love your child so much, are giving them everything they need, some of the things they want, and have been doing so since shortly after their birth, but someone else who has never even seen or acknowledged your child has the ability to cause so much strife.  Sigh, you all keep praying for us.  This road is stressful to say the least.  I know that whatever the outcome, God will have his glory, but I would be lying if I said my thoughts have always been butterflies and rainbows.  Sometimes I’m just so frustrated that I find myself wishing it was already done by now.  But I know there is a blessing within every struggle.  I’m just tired of walking in that struggle.
Hopefully and prayerfully, this will come to a resolution in a few months.  In the mean time, we're going to continue to love Honeybee as best as we know how...with all of us.
We hope you have a great evening and check back soon.  Plenty of upcoming things in our Winter family.  Keep us in your prayers please.
-WinterMommy

I’m not “fine”. I guess it's time to admit it.

Yeah, I'm not exactly feeling "fine" today..
A few close friends and some not-so-close curious people have been asking what is going on with our Honeybee and her TPR situation as they know there has been recent activity on that front.  Several have hinted that they went to the blog awaiting a post and began to worry when they saw no information.  So, I started getting phone calls or desk visit pop-ups.  The close family members are always upfront and there is no small talk (love them for that lol).  They simply ask “so, what happened with Honeybee”.  The others who don’t necessarily want to come out and ask what’s going on always start with the customary question of “So, how are you doing”.  And, lately no matter how torn up I feel, no matter how frustrated, angry, confused, or scared, I say “I’m fine” and I try to change the subject.  It’s been tearing me up inside. 

Yesterday, I read a post by a fellow blogger whose subject was exactly the same thing.  How she and her husband are enduring some trials, how she as a mother and a wife is trying to be all things to everyone and how she recognized that when she was telling people that she was “fine”, that she was lying, and how she was reminded that lying is a sin.  Whoa.  Lying?

I’ve read that post over and over and over again.  I know what she is feeling.  I understand what she is going through, though I have to say that she is handling things much better than I.  Her relationship with Christ is truly inspiring.  I hadn’t thought about my telling people that I was “fine” was a lie.  I just don’t want to bother people or burden them.  I’m emotional by nature and I certainly don’t want to disintegrate into a “woe is me” child of God.  I mean, how is that supposed to help and encourage anyone.  [AND] Aren't I supposed to walk through my trials and tribulations with my head held high knowing that God is sustaining me.  Aren’t I supposed to be an ambassador for Christ?  Who knows who is watching me and gaining encouragement and strength from my journey?  So, if I break down and tell someone other than Jesus what I’m really feeling, doesn’t that take away from my faith some kind of way? Sighhhhhhh.  The truth is, this is hard.

I’m worried.  I’m scared.  I am frustrated.  I keep trying to tell myself that everything is going to be okay, that Honeybee will be with us forever and we will continue to be an awesome and amazing family.  But what is God decides that’s not His will?  How am I supposed to open my arms and release my heart?  This sucks L.

Point blank is soon our Honeybee will celebrate a year of life.  It’s been an amazing year.  She’s experiencing and doing so much.  She’s happy and healthy.  She’s waving bye-bye and blowing kisses.  Her features are changing.  But her love is so pure and so perfect.  The way she lights up when we walk into the room to get her ready for the day.  The way she excitedly tries to launch herself out of our arms when she sees her grandmother.  I don’t want to think about her not having us and our not having her. 

So, what’s happening with Honeybee?  We’re waiting… again.  We’re continuing to love Honeybee, continuing to nurture her, continuing to provide for her for as long as we can, with the hope, desire, and prayer that it will be forever.  We’re planning family trips and activities and adventures and are going about life as normal, for as long as normal will allow us.

I’m currently planning a birthday party.  I am also looking forward to zoo trips and outdoor adventures as soon as this weather starts heating up.  I’m trying to go through life with a smile so that the “fine” I tell everyone I am truly exists.

Your prayers in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ are always appreciated.


-WinterMommy