Friday, December 23, 2016

And Then There Were Three

I'm back! (Again!)

Two weeks after I adopted J-Bear, I sat down and started a post explaining what was next for us. I wanted to update any interested readers on the fact that we were going to take a few months to rest (and get re-licensed) before becoming an active foster family again.

And then the Summer of 2016 happened, and let me tell you- it was a doozy. (Which seems to be true of most of this year, doesn't it? It's a good thing it was the year of J-Bear's adoption, otherwise it'd be a total bust. Hope you've been taking notes, 2017, because you're going to have to take it up a notch or ten.)

Long story short- that post is currently sitting unfinished in my draft folder. 

But as 2016 winds down and I gear up for all of the New Year's Resolutions I want to uphold in 2017 (at least for a few weeks), I decided I should dust off the old keyboard and bring this blog back. I've missed writing. And, frankly, I need the outlet these days.

Let me catch you up on what's been going on in the past 2 months in case you haven't seen on Instagram:
  • In September, J-Bear turned 2, and let me tell you- boy entered toddlerhood at full force. He's as strong-willed as he is adorable. And he's really, really adorable. 
  • In October, our home was officially re-listed as an active foster home.
  • About one week later, I received a call about a placement- a 12 year old boy.
  • About one hour after that, said 12-year-old boy (T) showed up at my front door.
  • Approximately 12 hours after that, I spent the day frantically trying to prepare for life with a pre-teen boy: getting clothes, enrolling him in school, and buying as much food as I could possibly jam into my pantry. (I have to keep a lot more food on hand these days.) 
  • Then life with T began. And it's been.... interesting. Twelve year-old-children are fascinating and fun and exhausting, as it turns out. They are fairly needy, but in a totally different way than  two-year-olds. So between T and J-Bear, I have my hands pretty full. 
Have I used this gif before? Because it's pretty much my life.
  • About 6 weeks later (and one week ago), I went to a court hearing and discovered that T's siblings were being moved to new foster homes. Due to licensing constraints, the children couldn't all be together initially- there wasn't a home available that could take them all in. But now one sibling was about to be moved into a new and different home by himself. And I just couldn't let that happen- it didn't feel like it would be good for any of the kids. So I jumped in and said he should stay with us. Because, really, he should. We have an extra bed. And his brother is here. And it's the holidays. And what's one more kid in the house, anyway?
  • About two hours later, I was sitting in a meeting when the gravity of what I'd just agreed to do began to dawn on me. I freaked out a little (or lotta) bit. I was already outnumbered- could I really handle adding another kiddo into the mix?? 
  • The next day, T2 arrived. He is sweet and sensitive and sometimes a handful, but it's been wonderful to see these boys care for and support each other. (It's been less wonderful to see them fight over little things, but as a person with five siblings, I can relate to it.)
Now we're kind of sort of maybe a little bit starting to get into the groove of being a family of four. There have been may moments I wanted to pull my hair out, but so far I've managed to overcome that urge, and we're all surviving and doing well. Even in this hectic holiday season! We've been surrounded by so much love and support, which has been a tremendous gift in the midst of this transition and season. I mean, I welcomed a new kiddo two weeks before Christmas, and I didn't have to do any extra shopping! That is the definition of #blessed.

After the holidays, we have no idea what the future holds. We are hopeful the boys' stay will be temporary as family reunification is the ultimate goal, but in the meantime, I'm going to do my best to love them as much and as well as I can. 

And I will write. 

When I have time.

As always, thank you for journeying with us on this adventure! And from our hectic family to yours- happy holidays!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

It's Official

I am so behind on writing this post, and probably everyone that follows this blog already knows, but…

It’s official.

It still feels so surreal- in part, perhaps, because I didn't really expect it to happen then and there. I assumed that the judge would want some time to deliberate after hearing our case, but one week (almost exactly), my son officially and legally became my son. 

In reality, he’s been my son for 20 months, so, in terms of our day-to-day life, very little has changed.

His name changed, which is really exciting.

But we still wake up and scramble to get ready for work/day care. We still come home and play with all of his trucks. We still spend a lot of time snuggling, reading, and laughing.

And I still love him as much as I did when I first laid eyes on him. (Actually, I love him as much as I did when I received the first phone call about him.) That love has evolved and become more nuanced, of course, but it is still so big it overwhelms my heart and brings me to tears if I stop and think about it. (Seriously.)

I just feel so, unimaginably lucky.

It’s amazing to think back to 2 years ago- when I questioned my decision to be a foster parent and wondered if I was really ready for the commitment. At the time, I had no intentions of adoption. I signed up with an agency that didn’t even do adoptions! They were strictly focused on foster care, and so- I thought- was I. I knew it was possible I might have the option to adopt a child in my care at some point down the road, but I was in no way expecting it to actually happen. I remember saying to friends, "I mean, I want to be able to think about it if adoption ever becomes an option, but I really doubt that would happen any time soon."

Yet here we are today.

It’s amazing how much love can change our lives. And change us.

I really am forever grateful.
He has a face!
Here we are with our lawyer, the judge who made it official, and just celebrating life. 

Us with my sister and mom. J was pretty focused on the trucks driving by.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

One Week. Maybe.

Well... we're one week out.

Hopefully.               Maybe.              We'll see.

A lot of people have asked me how I'm feeling with our court date being so close, but honestly- I haven't been thinking about it that much. Thinking about the adoption generally? The relief I'll feel when I'm J-Bear's official mom? The excitement of getting to share good news with friends and family? Yes. Constantly.

But the court date itself? Not so much. 

Really, I've been trying not to think too much about it- because I don't want to worry too much about it. Or set myself up for too much disappointment.

Even now- seven days out- things are still so uncertain.

There's a chance that- by the end of the day next Thursday- the government will recognize me as my son's mom.

There's also a chance our hearing won't happen at all.

Or it will happen, but the judge will request additional time to make her decision.

Or she will want us to gather more information.

Or probably some other scenario I haven't thought of. 

There's no telling. But I'm definitely hoping for the 1st option. 

Honestly, though, right now I feel pretty content in this waiting stage. While I certainly don't want to be in it forever, I have a sense that what I'm hoping will happen will in fact happen- it's just a matter of when. Obviously, I don't know that for sure. But I am hopeful and optimistic.

In the meantime, I've been trying to focus just on what I can control in the present. I don't want to worry so much about the "what's next" that I miss what's right in front of me. So I'm taking it day by day, trying not to dwell too much on next Thursday specifically, and feeling a somewhat surprising amount of peace.

Now, if you check in with me on Wednesday, I might be a little more like Leslie Knope.

But right now- today- I am holding up well. And choosing to practice gratitude- for my time with J-Bear, our story together, the exciting things that are yet to come, and for all the people (like you) who care about our journey. 

Thanks for venturing with us. Hopefully I'll have some more news soon.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

5 Ways to Participate in Foster Care Awareness Month

Hello, dear readers!

I’m finally feeling better after last week’s sickness- although my ear is still ringing a bit after an ear infection. Is that normal?

In any case, I’m a few days late on this, but it’s officially National Foster Care Awareness Month!

Foster Care Awareness Month began in 1988, with President Reagan, and has been celebrated every year since. According to the National Foster Care Coalition, the main goals of this month are to:
  • Raise awareness about the magnitude of the issue and the urgent and sustaining needs of children and older youth in foster care and their families;
  • Issue a national call-to-action that motivates, inspires and facilitates many more Americans to come forward and help change a lifetime for a young person in foster care; and,
  • Develop a positive framework for maintaining visibility and interest in the foster care issue to support the year-round efforts of the National Foster Care Month Partner organizations and other child welfare agencies.

Obviously the needs of youth in care, their biological families, foster families, and foster care workers extend far beyond the month of May, but these 31 days provide a great opportunity to focus our attention on this year-round issue.

At this point, you may be asking yourself, “Okay, so I know it’s Foster Care Awareness Month. Now what?” To which I would say, “I’m so glad you asked!”

It’s hard to know what to do once you find out a month is dedicated to raising awareness for something. And, let’s face it, that’s pretty much every month of the year. Honestly, each month is dedicated to commemorating a lot of things.  

So, to this one from being lost in the shuffle, I wanted to create a list of tangible ways you can participate in Foster Care Awareness Month.

So, without further ado…

1. Wear a blue ribbon- and be prepared to talk to people when they ask you about it.
Pick up some blue ribbon from a local craft store, pin it to your shirt, and voila- you're set!
  • If anyone comes up to you and says, "Hey- what's that ribbon for?", you have a perfect opportunity to correct their grammar. But instead, stay on focus and use it as an opportunity to tell them about how over 400,000 children are currently waiting in our foster care system. You can talk to them about foster care in your area, you can tell them about ways to get involved, you can even talk to them about a specific issue within foster care that concerns you- like kids aging out of the system. A little blue ribbon can be a great catalyst for conversations and awareness. 
2. Learn something new about foster care/the needs of children and families.

3. Share what you learn with others.
  • Easy enough, right? Share some of your new-found knowledge on your Facebook, Instagram, blog, in your conversations. However you can spread awareness and share information- do it. Because it matters!

4. Read some of the stories of foster care.
  • If you have an Instagram account, search the hashtag "#knittogetherbyadoption". There's an account that started a Photo-a-Day challenge for the month, asking foster families to share their stories day by day. People are sharing things like why they're involved with foster care, how they got involved, the joys and the grief that come along with that invovlement, etc. (I've been participating, and I'm much better at updating Instagram than this blog, so if you want more frequent updates, you may want to check there.)
  • The Archibald Project is a global orphan care advocacy organization. This month, they are sharing the stories of people involved with different areas of foster care. I'm pretty excited about it, and there's a chance they are featuring my story next week, so be sure to check it out!
  • This is one of many blogs out there written by a foster parent. You could find lots of other great ones, and take the time to read and engage with them- leave comments or questions! I always love answering questions about my experience with foster care, and I dare say anyone who takes the time and energy to share theirs in a blog (even as inconsistently as myself)  probably feels the same way.
  • This isn't reading, but here's a short YouTube video that shares some stories from foster care. I'd imagine there are many more like this floating around in the internet. (Although, as with most things on the internet, I'd imagine not all are great/accurate. So be warned.)

5. Get involved!

  • I’ve already written a list of ways to get involved with foster care, but one extra thing you could do this month is write a note to your local CPS office or a Child Placing Agency. Guys- those people work hard. Some CPS workers have the unenviable job of removing children from their homes- sometimes in the midst of dangerous situations, and sometimes after hours (or in the middle of the night). As you can imagine, that is a an emotionally draining responsibility. And while the CPS system is certainly not without its flaws, many of its employees are investing so much of themselves in an effort to keep children and families in our communities safe. I doubt they get a lot of thanks for it, so imagine what it would be like for them to receive a nice little note in the mail! I bet that would go a long way for a worn-out office.

So, now that you have some ideas, go out and participate! Get yourself a ribbon, peruse a few blogs, spend more time on Instagram... Whatever you choose, I hope you learn something new about foster care this month, and I hope that something gives you hope and encouragement about the future for children and families in your community!

How will you join in Foster Care Awareness Month? Or how have you already gotten involved? Tell me about it below!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Excuse my absence, but it's Spring.

As I typed this, it occurred to me what an odd word Spring is. Think about it. Spring. That's the best we could come up with?

Welp, two weeks ago I wrote about writing more.

And then life happened.

And by life I mean seasonal allergies.

They happened so much so, in fact, that I wound up with both a sinus AND ear infection. Because apparently adults can still get those.

I swear- since becoming a mother, I have gotten sick more often than I ever did before.

And you know what? It is hella hard being sick as a single mom. If I didn’t have rock star friends who were willing to hang with Little Man while I lay miserably around, I don’t know what I’d do. There are a lot of great people who care about us, and they have come through for me over and over and over again. So shout out to them! Because they are the best. Truly.
You know who you are.
My illness reached its peak last weekend, so I decided to tough it out and fly solo during the evenings this week. And, ultimately, I made it work. But man… it was tough. One day in particular I got bad vertigo, which I’ve discovered can be a side effect of ear infections. I also learned it's not as funny as Liza Minnelli makes it seem on Arrested Development. (Learning is so fun- yay!)

Suffice it to say, poor J-Bear had to do a lot of independent play this week. And he maybe had to do a few early bedtimes. Thank goodness he’s (usually) pretty easy going!

So, long story short, I didn’t get a lot of writing done this week. And by that I mostly mean I got none done. I didn’t write at all. I was too busy running through boxes of tissues like a boss.
But I’m starting to get a bit better, so I’m hoping to get back in the groove of things this week.
I still have a few things I want to write about, and I got some really great ideas from you guys! Thanks for that!

And then of course there’s a pretty big life event possibly, hopefully, happening in 20 days. Nbd.

So forgive the absence. All is well. I’ve just been pretty under the weather. If I had to write it as an analogy, I’d say
 the depths of the ocean : the sun :: Kaley : the weather

And I’m allowed to be that dramatic about it because I’m the one who’s been sick. (That's how it works, right?

Thanks for sticking with my in spite of my inconsistent writing! Hopefully I’ll have some more exciting things to share soon!

In the meantime... All of you parents out there- how do you make it work when you're sick?? Do you have any tricks that work for you? I could use them for the next bug I catch.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Court Date?

Normally I would segue into this post with a witty joke or a really hilarious gif. But that doesn't seem to fit this time.

Sitting down to write this, I honestly paused, closed my eyes, and asked myself "what am I feeling, what am I feeling, what am I feeling?" I want to be able to communicate exactly what it is, but I have no clue how to describe it.

When I was in graduate school, a professor once told me I needed to expand my "feelings vocabulary." Only in a social work program would a professor say that to you, but she definitely was right. And it still feels true now, because I cannot think of words that do this feeling justice. Maybe that's because it's not as much a feeling as a series of them all rolled up into one moment.

It's a strange combination of excitement and fear and exhaustion and hope, and it just sort of feels like heaviness. Not a sad heaviness, but a heaviness that forces me to recognize the weight of what this update could mean- for me, for Little Man, for his biological mom, and for the people who care about us.

In case you didn't see the picture or title of this post above, we have a court date set. But technically it is set with a question mark right now.

May 19th (?)

We are scheduled for an afternoon hearing, which means there's a chance we could get bumped if the morning session runs long. If that happens, we'll probably have to wait until late June for a new spot, because the court schedule is pretty full at the moment.

So... that's where we are. With a court date sitting uncertainly on the horizon.

In some ways, it's a relief to have something on the calendar. I mean- it's progress. Even if we do get postponed, it's close. But it's been a long process with a decent number of roadblocks, so it's hard to feel confident and settled right now.

Oh, and there's also the fact that I don't really know what the outcome will be. That's still pretty scary.

But, regardless, I feel hopeful.

I could be an official, no-strings-attached, doesn't-need-approved-babysitters-or-medicine-logs mom in a little over a month.

Or fairly soon afterward.

It's getting real.

We'll take all the prayers, positive thoughts, and good vibes we can get in the weeks ahead, so feel free to send those our way! And, of course, I'll update when I have more information. Which I guess will be on May 19th.

I mean, I'll share other updates here in the meantime, but they'll probably be about an assortment of other things. Things that will distract me from the waiting.

So stay tuned, if you feel so inclined. And know I truly am so grateful you've chosen to be a part of our story!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Quick Confession

I just discovered this app called "Retype" and it makes me feel very artsy.
Can I admit something? I struggle to keep up with this blog. And it’s not because I don’t want to write- it’s usually just that I’m exhausted, which makes it hard for my brain to fully comprehend the concept of investing in my own self-care.

I love to write. It’s so therapeutic for me. It helps me understand what I'm thinking and feeling, which is no small task some days.

But it’s also hard. Hard in the sense that it often requires a lot of mental and emotional energy.

Whereas watching an episode of 30 Rock for the 500th time? That just requires a comfy couch and the ability to push a few buttons on the remote. It’s a lot easier. And a lot more immediate. (Which why I have approximately 50% of that series memorized. Second confession.)

But- as much as I love Tina Fey- watching Liz Lemon deal with the kooky antics of Tracy and Jenna doesn’t have quite the same long-term benefits of taking the time for- and doing the work of- writing.
I still love you, Tina. If you ever read this- call me. We should hang.
Sometimes, in a moment of exhaustion (and/or laziness- let’s be real), I make the choice to put on my favorite glittery sweatpants (they are real and just as glamorous as they sound), flop onto my couch, and turn on the TV.

But I’m working on changing that habit. Because there a lot of other things I’d rather be doing.

I have crafts to do. Music to learn. Books to read. Books to color. (Anyone else into adult coloring books? Don't worry- they're not as scandalous as they sound.) 

And, of course, things to write.

Those activities might require more energy than a Netflix marathon, but- usually- they give me more energy in return. 

So I’m going to work on this. Feel free to hold me to it. Because, for realz- I need to do the work of self-care. (Sprinkled with the occasional TV binge, because I’m human, after all, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Mindy Project will both be returning in a few days.)

So, as I make this commitment to write more, I'd love your feedback on what kinds of things you'd like to read about. I have a few ideas for some upcoming posts, but I'd love to hear what you want to know- about me, foster parenting, life in Waco, etc.

Let me know in the comments below. Or shoot me an email. Or send me an owl.
I’d love to get your thoughts and inspiration!

In the meantime, stay tuned for some (hopefully) exciting things coming your way soon!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Letter to Ellen (2.0): A petition for Ellen to host a (Foster) Mother's Day show

Just hanging with two of my BFFs on a totally normal hair day.

If you know me well, you know that one of the beliefs I deeply and firmly cling to is this:
Ellen DeGeneres can make anyone's dreams come true.

Case in point: once she ordered 99 pizzas to feed some hungry celebs who were trapped for hours in theatre seating and probably uncomfortable formal-wear.
Among some of my friends, there's an ongoing joke (or hope) that we all have one wish Ellen will grant us, so sometimes we talk about what that wish would be- getting feedback to make sure we're holding out for the right one. One friend in particular would ask her to get Matthew McConaughey, whose name I just had to Google to spell correctly (I wasn't even close) to his wedding. I feel like that's a pretty solid choice- MM could probably deliver a killer toast.

For a while, I had a few wishes I tossed around. My top three (in no particular order) were that she would:

But these days things have changed. My sister recently broke the news that Josh Groban is in a pretty serious relationship, which I guess would make a blind date a little bit awkward. In terms of a Broadway audition- I have a child and house in Waco these days, so committing to rehearsal time in New York (because obviously I'd get the part*) would be pretty challenging. I'm not sure I have the skills to balance that kind of a schedule yet.

Obviously I'd still take a vacation (who wouldn't?), but since becoming a foster parent I have a new wish that takes priority.

If you've followed along on this blog for the past year- or if you just found it and have backtracked a bit- you know that last year I wrote a letter to Ellen asking her to dedicate her annual Mother’s Day show to foster moms. The letter was kind of long, but the main reasons behind this wish were 1.) foster moms are awesome, and 2) it would be such a great way to promote foster care- during National Foster Care Awareness month, no less! As great a a vacation would be, I can figure that wish out on my own. What I cannot do is magically expand my sphere of influence to match the level of Ellen's. She has such a positive impact on so many people, so for her to share the world of fostering with others would be incredible.

I don’t think my letter got very far last year, but I've decided writing one will now be my annual tradition in the hopes that, one day, she'll read it.

Obviously my personal experience makes me a little biased, but the concept of a Foster Mother's Day episode really just seems perfect to me. Ellen loves making the world a better place. Her last name has the word "generous" in it, for Pete's sake! Misspelled, perhaps, but all my last name has is the word "egg", so I'm pretty sure she still wins that one.

On top of that, her motto is "Be kind to one another," which is sort of like the unspoken motto of foster parents. And did I mention the episode falls during Foster Care Awareness month? Because it does. 

So anyway- that's my wish these days. And I think it will always be my top wish- even if Josh Groban were single again. (No offense, Josh.)

So here’s my letter for this year.

I’d love it if you considered reading and sharing it. As I said last year, if we’re all just 7 degrees from Kevin Bacon, we have to be only 5 or 6 from Ellen. She seems to know a lot of people.

Tweet out the link, post it on Instagram, share it 50 times on her Facebook page. Maybe if enough people share it enough times, she'll actually see it! (Or someone on her staff will, who would then maybe share it with her.) I'm all for beating the "third time's a charm" odds. Forget that noise- let's shoot for second time's a charm here.

Be sure to tag Ellen when applicable- and use the hashtags #BeKindToOneAnother and #FosterMoms4Ellen if you can squeeze them in there. Admittedly, I’m not very savvy when it comes to social media, but from what I understand hashtags are the best way for things to spread on the internet these days. (If that’s changed in the last few years, please, someone let me know. I’m too young to be so out of the loop with technology.) (Also- I'm open to other hashtag ideas- I just couldn't think of any  better/shorter ones.)

And if you happen to know Ellen personally, let me know. I’ll give you a hand written version to pass along to her directly.

*For those of you who don't know me personally, it feels important for me to clarify that I was joking about me obviously getting a part in a Broadway show.

Hi Ellen!

My name is Kaley. I’m a 28-year-old social worker living in Waco, Texas, who loves spending time with friends, music, crafts, coffee, sweatpants, and (obviously) you.

I’m also a foster parent.

I could probably write a novel about why I became a foster parent and the journey it's been since then, but- to save us both time- I'm just going to give you the Spark Notes version. About 18 months ago, I got my foster care license, and a few weeks later I received my first placement- a newborn boy. And when I say newborn, I mean 2 days old and straight from the hospital. While I’m still surprised the hospital staff let me walk out of there with him (like most new parents, I had no clue what I was doing), he's been with me ever since!

Having been a foster parent for only a year and half with one placement, I’m still relatively inexperienced in the world of foster care. But man… I have learned a lot. And I’ve gained so much respect for the people who have committed to taking on this role- some of whom have been fostering longer than I’ve been alive. Can you imagine the impact they’ve made? Not just on the children in their care, but in the world! It astounds me just thinking about it. And it’s one of the things that makes this responsibility so beautiful and rewarding.

 But at the same time, fostering is challenging- emotionally, mentally, and even physically. (These days, I'm chasing after a surprisingly quick and clumsy toddler. It's exhausting.) As a foster parent, you open your heart up to so much love and joy, which inevitably leaves it open to a lot of grief and pain. Fostering  requires a unique sense of vulnerability. You have to balance two very different truths, and figure out a way to carry them both at the same time. 

In one hand, you hold the truth that these children are your own. You open up space for them in your home and heart, and you care for them as if you gave them life and will walk with them through it from start to finish. You love them completely and without condition.

But then, in the other hand, you hold the truth that there’s another family out there- one they could return to any day. You have to accept that, no matter how much love you pour into them, they might not remember your name- or you at all- years down the road.

And those are hard realities to reconcile.

If there is a way to love my son completely while still protecting my heart from the grief of losing him, I haven’t figured it out yet. But, despite the uncertainty and heartache, I hope to continue fostering children- as so many parents around the country do- because there is such a tremendous need, and I know this is one way I can do something about it.

Which brings me to the purpose of this letter. Every May, you have a wonderful Mother’s Day show where you celebrate women doing something incredible- bringing a life into the world. Your audience is filled with women who are proudly rocking their baby bumps; it’s seriously one of the best shows of the year.

But over the past year and a half my eyes have been opened to the many mothers out there whose stories aren’t always celebrated- or even shared. From women who are led to foster care because they are unable (or choose not) to have children biologically, to women who become foster moms just so kids can experience safety and love before finding permanency with their biological or adoptive family- there are many mothers out there who don’t necessarily bring lives into the world, but they certainly work hard to make sure those lives thrive. Their stories are complex and challenging, but they are also beautiful and very much worth telling.

I think it would be amazing to host a Mother’s Day Show celebrating these women.  Not only because they deserve it for the love they selflessly give, but because it would inform millions of your viewers about a really important issue. Did you know that in the United States, more than 400,000 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system? And more children enter than leave each year.* There are so many things- big and small- that your viewers can do about this, but they may not even be aware of them.  They could donate items to children in foster care, volunteer with an organization that supports biological families working toward reunification, register to provide respite care for foster families, or even could become foster parents themselves.

 I’ve been amazed by how little most people seem to know about the reality of fostering. Many people tell me, “I could never do that!” without having an accurate understanding of what it’s like. I’ve become pretty passionate about changing people’s misconceptions by being honest about my experience- both the joys and the challenges- in my conversations and writing. But I know your voice can carry a lot further than mine. I also know you choose to use it to make a positive impact on the world- it’s one of the many reasons I admire you. I know you can’t support every cause people point you toward, but I at least wanted to ask you to support this one. May is actually National Foster Care Awareness month, too, so it could be perfect!

I’m not sure if this will actually reach you, but, if it does, I’d be so grateful if you’d even just consider this. Whether you think about making a change to the Mother’s Day show (it might be too late for that; I honestly have no clue how far in advance you guys prepare for each episode) or share this information in some other way, I think it could make such a difference for the kids across the country in need of safe homes and loving families.

Regardless of whether or not this letter changes anything, I am thankful for all you do to make the world a better place. You bring so much joy to so many people, which is why you always make my list when I answer the question: “What five people- dead or alive- would you invite to a dinner party?” There’d be so much good conversation and dancing.

Thank you for being kind.

All the best,


(p.s.- I realize it may seem a little self-serving to make this suggestion given the fact that I am a foster mom myself, but I would be totally fine if you did this and I wasn't there- there are plenty of other foster moms out there who could fill an audience.)

(I mean, I wouldn’t complain if I was there, but I’d honestly be beyond thrilled to see others there, too.)

*AFCARS report, 2015:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Adoption Status Update

Wow! What a week it has been!

Our Fixer Upper episode aired on Tuesday evening, and we have been flooded with such incredible support ever since!    

Fun fact- before I went to the farm for this meeting, I a) sloppily trimmed my own bangs and b) discovered my car was broken into overnight. In case the person who stole my old iPod is reading this- that thing is too old to be worth much, so if you could return it, that'd be great. It stored my entire collection of Celine Dion's greatest hits, so my in-car karaoke has suffered tremendously.
Another fun fact- despite the smile on the left-me's face above, I was a nervous wreck watching myself on TV. I think I'm going to write about it sometime, because seriously- it was crazy.
Honestly, I’ve been shown tremendous love and kindness since the very beginning of this Fixer Upper adventure. Obviously there were Chip, Jo and their incredible team- who put such passion and thoughtfulness into designing my home. Then there was the crew, all of whom were incredibly encouraging and gracious- in spite of my awkwardness while filming. 
Just to be clear- I'm the three guys in this scenario.
Then there was my sister and friends organizing the GoFundMe to help cover renovation and adoption costs. (If you saw the episode, let me just tell you- that surprise was real. I was so confused and overwhelmed by it in the moment, and I am still trying to wrap my mind around it- so many feelings!) 
And then there are the thousands of people who have taken the time to follow our story here and/or on Instagram, many of whom have left such kind comments or sent thoughtful messages. And honestly- that means so much to me. 
Seriously, though.
The fact that thousands of people I’ve never met saw me for about 15 minutes on an episode of Fixer Upper and decided my life with Little Man is worth investing in- it’s incredibly humbling.

I once heard a quote from Scott Adams (the cartoonist who created Dilbert, of all people) that says, “Remember, there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” That has become so evident to me in the past 6 days.

So thank you. And please know that your kindness has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. I am so, so grateful.

In a lot of the comments  and messages I’ve received, people have asked whether or not I’ve been able to adopt Little Man yet, so I wanted to write a quick post to catch everyone up on where things stand currently.

But first I’ll have to rewind a little bit.

When I picked Little Man of from the hospital almost 18 months ago, I thought he would only be with me for a few months- four at most. But, without going into too much detail about his biological family’s story, things started to shift as the months passed. While they still hoped to be reunified with him, the reality of that being possible seemed less and less likely.

Now in a “normal” foster care situation, CPS would be involved and assessing the likelihood of re-establishing permanency with the biological family. They are actually required to hold permanency hearings within a child’s first year in care. However, Little Man was placed voluntarily, so CPS isn’t involved at all- meaning there’s no one who is obligated or able to advocate for legal action at this point. Except for me, that is. I wrote a little bit about this decision in a previous post, but- long story short- I contacted a lawyer to begin the process at the end of last summer. And, although in some ways it seems like a fairly cut and dry case, we’ve hit a lot of road bumps. Naively, I didn’t except the process to take this long. But we’re still in the midst of it, and we don’t have a clear end date in sight. (I am hoping it could be sometime this summer, but it seems like any amount of progress we make is immediately met with new roadblocks, so there are no guarantees.)

So for now, we’re waiting. We’ve met with the ad litem, completed the adoption home study, and taken all the steps we can at this point, so we’re really just stuck until the next door opens.

It’s frustrating to feel powerless in these moments. But it makes the support and encouragement we’ve received in the past week all the more meaningful to me right now.

So please keep us in your thoughts and prayers in the days ahead. I’m working on being patient, and trying to live in the moment with gratitude rather than wishing the next one would just hurry up and get here already.

And please keep Little Man’s biological family in your thoughts and prayers, as well. Little Man and I pray for them every night, and we ask they’d be filled with courage, comfort, strength and hope. The grief this process will inevitably cause for them- regardless of the final ruling- is not lost on me.  

I will, of course, continue to update here when there is progress, so if you want to keep up with it, be sure to follow me here or Instagram. Or just bookmark this and come back periodically if that’s more your style. You do you.

Again- thank you for journeying with us while we wait in the days and months ahead. As long as they sometimes feel, I know they are short. And there truly aren’t enough words to describe how grateful I am for your presence in the midst of them.

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