Friday, June 27, 2014

Forever Day!

I can only imagine the stupendous joy a parent experiences when they are first handed their child from the nurse or doctor in the delivery room... The preparation for bringing that child home and the excitement of getting to hold their birth certificate with their precious name on it... And their life with you begins, the crazy late nights and blessed struggle figuring out what cries mean and what schedule works best all leading to the nurturing and development of this child that walks and talks and acts mostly like you.
Yes I can only imagine, but somehow our experience is the same yet of course different.

No words can describe June 25, 2014. Forever Day.
Even as I start to type this all the emotions from that day and the days since come to the surface and just blow me away. Our God is amazing people. Not for a minute would I pat myself on the back for this miracle around us but I give 100% credit to my God. He is the author of this story and will always hold the pen... Permanent ink bc He doesn't make mistakes.

I remember us eating at chick fil A on Abilene for lunch that day. We had stayed overnight in Abilene bc the kids had to see their psychiatrist (they still take meds for ADHD that have to be managed) so some very dear and generous friends allowed is to stay with them for the night before we set off for Wichita Falls the next morning. At chick fil a the kids began asking a lot of questions (this they could win an award for... Asking the most questions in one sitting... Constant chatter boxes) about the adoption and the court and so forth. So we set off, I knew they were excited and nervous, we were dressed in our Sunday best and we knew the address for the courthouse and the time... 230 pm... All we could do was countdown the time as we drove every mile closer.

It's so crazy to remember back on November 8 when we first drove from midland to Wichita Falls to meet the kids for the first time. Oh how nervous we were and how much we had prayed that somehow they could see us as potential parents. I was so nervous worked up that I could hardly eat or sleep, I wanted to be a mom so bad and I know that although this was going against all laws of nature, that God had placed these kids in my path for a reason. My heart hurt and still does for all the ways my kids have had to suffer heartache and disappointment and neglect from not getting to just be kids who are loved. I didn't know at the time what they were feeling or how long it would take for them to warm up to the idea of Robert and I, but God had everything planned out to His perfection.

The days and weeks went by and we visited them as much as we could, took them to Dallas for Thanksgiving to meet our families, and then made plans to welcome them into our home forever. So on December 20th, they arrived with many bags packed of stuff (lots of junk) and we started day one of 6 months of trials and tests and tears and giggles and memories and laughs. I will never say that this was easy, God does not call us to the comfortable and easy road in life, but He does carry us through the fire to get to the beautiful new life on the other side. What I can say is that every tear, every minute and hour of prayer, every second we had to fight for their souls and for their love, it is all worth it. No we are not saints and we don't deserve praise, we simply have chosen to love when no one else was willing to love. We followed Gods call (and His  gentle but firm push) to walk this path to parenthood.

I couldn't have imagined it any other way.

As we approached Wichita Falls we allowed Waylon to call his foster family. They were unable to come to the adoption bc of other arrangements but we wanted him to be able to connect with them before the special hour. We plan to keep the lines of communication open with their foster families, they were, after all, the ones who helped them in the first 18 months of being taken from their mom. They deserve a lot of recognition bc those were hard and tough months.

So we finally arrived to the courthouse. I'll never forget  when we stepped out of the car, their faces could not have been fuller of smiles. Waylon and Elva gathered at the back of the car and wrapped their arms around each other and got nose to nose... Waylon - ok, we are gonna say yes, right? I'm gonna say yes are you?
Elva - right, yes!
It was probably the cutest moment of the day. Their little "yes" huddle :)

After the huddle was over, we walked hand in hand to the front of the courthouse and through the security doors. It took us awhile to maneuver the maze of rooms and hallways and levels and floors before rendezvousing with HollyAnn, and the kids' caseworker. We also had the kids CPS social  worker, Elvas foster dad, and our attorney join us. After we were all gathered and had exchanged
hugs, our attorney pulled us into a private room to run through the court proceedings and to sign our
name on the official adoption decrees.

Then it came time for us to enter the courtroom. Judge Fudge. We couldn't make it up if we wanted to, Judge Fudge, hehe. We filed in the room, all 9 of us, I sat next to Elva and held her little hand, Waylon, Robert and the attorney took the front row of chairs. The judge opened the court, and then the attorney called Robert to the stand. I mean no one said I would have to go to the stand but whatever it took!! Robert raised his right hand and did the swearing to the truth business before sitting down and answering some basic questions about our marriage, our promise to love these kids and care for them, and to state the kids' full names. Then, it was my turn on the stand. I raised my right hand and then kinda had a weird moment where I started overthinking what it was I was supposed to answer the judge with,... Do you swear to tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth... Umm yes , yes sir, yes honorable judge sir... Haha, I minorly panicked but in the end I just said "yes". I only had to answer three questions and then got to take my seat. The funny thing was when the judge went to make his closing remarks and said "I declare this divorce... Wait no haha adoption! Haha" we all took a breath and laughed for a moment. I kept waiting for the moment for the judge to ask to talk to the kids but he never called them up, instead he have his final remark and then the sweetest words ever:

I now declare these children's names be changed to Waylon Gilbert Fowler and Elva Marie Fowler.

Yes, our kids. The past gone, the future ready to begin. I began to let the tears forming in my eyes to fall... Until, Judge Fudge said that he heard the mom (that would be me) was a graduate of Texas A&M... And so he had something for the kids. I walked up to the bench and he handed me two maroon hats with Ole Sarge written on them (it's an Aggie term for the corps of cadets). My tears were gone at this point but instead I was just so excited and overcome with the emotion of everything! No other word to describe it but Joy.

We took many pictures of which the judge requested to have a copy... He was a Texas A&M class of '67 and very happy to be doing an adoption. Yes sir you will get your picture!!

The only thing I noticed after everything was over and we were then to change and head to ft worth for our forever week of fun celebrating as a new family, Waylon was very quiet and reserved. If you know him that is not at all who he is!! Unless he is upset... Uh oh. I pulled him aside and asked what was wrong, he just replied that he didn't like that it was so fast. (I'm thinking that's the best part, but something else had to be wrong). I gathered that he was overwhelmed. I also gathered that maybe,
just maybe, he was upset that he didn't get to say Yes like he and Elva had pep talked about beforehand. This was a big day for him and I could only imagine the emotions he was feeling.

Taken from his mom, put in a home he didn't want to be in, finding out his mom wasn't going to be seeing him again, knowing she signed away her rights to him, knowing she was put in jail, then being put into another home of people who had promised to love and take care of him, being put back in foster care after a simple accident disrupted their potential adoption, fighting the change and resisting authority bc he was so confused and scared, being put in another home away from his sister, then being introduced to these crazy very white people who talked about love and trust, how was he to trust them with all he had been through, he didn't want adoption, he didn't want to be loved, he just wanted to be happy by himself, but they kept calling and kept coming to see him, they spent time with him, he resisted them, he kicked and screamed and shut down, that'll keep them away surely, but there they were, at the end of the phone, in the hotel, at thanksgiving, making promises, would they could they keep them, and no matter how hard he pushed or tried to run they were there, so he moved into their home, he entered their lives, every minute and hour was a test, a trial, a battle, but they always said the same thing, they loved him and they prayed for him, that's when he would resist harder, but they always prayed harder, he didn't know if it was really too good to be true or just a nightmare, so he decided maybe just maybe he could learn to like these people, maybe even let himself learn to love again, but he can't let himself get too open, no he can't give in, he must fight, he must stick up for himself, they set rules and didn't give in, he yelled hate and turned off his emotions, they never went away, they never have him back, they never gave him back, and here it was the chance to make that final decision if he could love these people as a son would love a real mom and dad, the decision to say yes to them, and he wasn't given the opportunity.

No I don't know if that's all he was feeling, probably not till he's older and I can let him read this will I know, but I have a hunch.

Still, we got some ice cream, changed, said our goodbyes to those that came to support us, and began the drive to fun. He snapped out of his gloomy state pretty fast and then it was all hugs and smiles from then.

No we don't expect perfection, we don't expect every moment to be good and great and happy, we expect to be parents and to go through the toughest times to reach the best times. As always is true for these two beautiful creations of Christ, God had them planned for us, we just needed another mom to bring them into the world for us. No matter the route, we have the future and the ending and I can see it now.... It's just breath taking.

Thank you beyond words to our core prayer group, to Addys Hope and HollyAnn, to our family, friends, our church, our teens (you guys seriously rock), and to all of you who helped pray for us in this wonderfully twisted path to parenthood. We pray Gods many blessings and sweet words to fall upon each of you!

This is our Forever Day! We will celebrate for the rest of our lives!

I know some people will ask what now? But I'll have to answer those and some answers to some frequently asked questions in my next blog.
But for now I can post all the fun things we do from our forever point and beyond :) stay tuned!

Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5

Monday, June 9, 2014

The CountDown is ON!!

I have two sweet kids sleeping in the other room right now which is such a good feeling. My kids. My kids... Wow that still doesn't seem real yet to say. I know it has been awhile since I've written and yes lots has happened but I'll find some time to catch up... and if I don't, well then I don't!

The biggest piece of news is... 14 days until the ADOPTION!! I'm truly grateful we are finally here, so close! It seemed like this month would never get here and that we would always be counting down months and months, but now its just days away! Again we could not be more thankful for all of our family and friends who have helped support us with prayer through the last months and year of our journey.

Things are going very well. I would almost say great but I dont want to jinx anything ;) Yes, we still have our moments, but which family doesn't! And especially with an almost 9 year old and a 7 year old... who still miss their old family and foster families and are just days away from the biggest decision of their life... yeah who wouldn't have their off days! What we are loving and rejoicing over is how much our precious children have changed... how God has changed their hearts and helped them to become who they are today.

Some of the moments we have been having in our home just take my breath away... from the questions about how many more days and the look of joy on their faces as the countdown gets lower, to the funny questions, moments of just laughter for no reason, and the little hugs and kisses that greet me at the door... my heart is full and I want to capture every moment and put it in a safe place to keep forever!
Even in the hard moments, the ones that give me a bit of anxiety and stress, are starting to become easier and they always remind me of the progress that has been made. Just the other day I was getting the kids in bed and Waylon flat out did not do something I specifically told him to do 5 minutes earlier... no instead he was laying on his bed playing his harmonica (i hate that thing ps, haha, but he is kinda good with it...). I took one look at the scene and I LET HIM HAVE IT! I mean full out raising my voice and making my point known that he was in trouble for his laziness and he was NOT getting away with it! [Now I interrupt this story to interject that Robert and I have also made alot of progress with not losing our tempers... most of the time... and learning what their triggers are has helped us to avoid unnecessary fits. Thanks for those that prayed this over us!] So, I'm expecting him to just lose it and start crying, screaming I hate you, hiding his face in the pillows, even kicking or yelling no... but he did nothing... except got up from the bed and started doing the chore I had told him to do. Jaw to the floor moment! He gets done and sits on his bed with his mad face. I finished putting Elva to bed [who always prays for bubba to not get into any more trouble hehe] and when I go back to his room he is very quiet. I tell him he had better talk and answer me bc I had some questions for him. He answered every question. He may have been a little mad still, but he climbed under the covers and when I knelt down with Robert to pray with him, it was like nothing ever happened. God is so good.
A few months ago and his fit would have lasted over an hour and it would have been violent screaming with even kicking and biting his pillow. So I would say we have come a long way!

Speaking of progress, I wrote this several days, err uh weeks ago, and I think its appropriate to share now... so as we have gone through the many months of adjustment, Robert and I realized we had gone through several stages. The kids being thrown into a tornado of emotions settled on specific themes that lasted weeks and days at a time. So we came up with our own stages of adoption. I believe that Robert and I, or at least just me, went through a different set of emotions and stages at the same time, but I'll have to write about those another time.

The PHASES of Adoption
(Disclaimer: this can only be generalized to the adoption of older children as the stages may take various different forms for younger children and even so this may not be generalized to anyone else but my kids... Regardless it's just what we've experienced...)

Stage 1: Shock and Excitement
Everything was honky dory, the newness of being in a new home, new family, it was Christmas time, new rooms, new toys, new playmates, new everything!

Stage 2: Fight and Flight
And then came the rebellion. Anything negative that came up they were ready to get out of here. This was the strongest time that we heard that horrible "h" word (hate). While I'm thankful neither of them ever tried to run away or physically leave, we did have some testy moments of them walking off or trying to physically fight us through every decision. I'm so glad we are past this stage bc I think it lasted the longest.

Stage 3: Dealing and Denial
They came to a realization that although there were things we did or said that they didn't like, they still wanted things to work out. This was the time that they were more open about saying I love you and being appreciative of the things we had and were doing... but we did have some nasty fits at this time, some I can still remember only bc they were the days I spent the most in prayer and asking for prayers. They didn't like it, but for some reason they were starting to learn how to adjust.

Stage 4: Settling In
I should have called this the Peace in the storm stage. There was a weird moment in March where is seemed that everything just clicked and the kids were learning to get along with each other, they were arguing less, and the biggest change of all happened... we started to see them care about the choices they made and the consequences associated with those choices. They started trying to control their anger in a more civilized way and, even though it was frustrating and hard for them, we had much fewer fits and arguments. This was a glorious time... but with every moment of peace, the battle is sure to follow...

Stage 5: Battle Continues
And it did. It seemed that we were fighting the same situations day in and day out... We had learned what to say and what things to use as bait or reward for helping the fits not to escalate, but we also had to deal with the fact that we were the parents and we can't just let them get what they wanted... if we wanted them to learn and for this family to work in the long run, we had to go through the battles. I want to say we are definitely stronger bc of this time, but it was so hard coming off the peace stage!

Stage 6: Is This For Real
I believe we are now in this stage. Its almost euphoric at times for us and for them... being so close to forever and yet wanting to be a normal kid and wanting the kids to do their best in everything and trying to not have too high expectations... I can see how they have listened and learned. I can see how they are everyday trying harder to not lose their control and even when they do, handling their frustration in a healthier way. Its by no means perfect or where I want it to be, but for now we can all take a big sigh of relief. I don't know if in the next 14 days we will have another stage, but I'm getting pretty comfortable with the best of all last stage I hope is to come...
Stage 7 (and the last hopefully): FOREVER

Please keep us in your prayers as our plans for Forever Family Week come together! Oh how I will be posting thousands of pictures at that time... there will be 6 months+ to catch up on! Thank you my friends!

Psalm 105:1-5 
 Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.