Tag Archives: Adoption

Life Update: Building Beauty from Ashes

I write often about homeschooling and cooking, and I love sharing what God is doing in my life and how he is reshaping my heart, but I felt like you all are owed an update on the original reason I started writing: to share my journey through the world of adoption. My, how our world has changed. I am remiss for not sharing this with you all. Here we go. The update of all overdue updates:

When I first began this blog, however many moons ago, the ultimate purpose was to share with family and friends our journey through adoption. Private domestic adoption. That was back in 2011. In that time, some of my best friends have grown their families by two, three, or even four (!) babies. My husband changed careers. We bought our first home. I adopted an adorable rescue dog. And, somewhere in there, we decided to become foster parents.

Caught up now?

I kept you informed with the foster children who came and went, and said prayers and shed tears each time we had to say goodbye. But then we got the call that would change our lives. One beautiful summer Friday, while we were enjoying a cookout on the porch with one of our closest college pals, the phone rang.

They had a 19 month old boy and an almost-3 year old girl. No idea how the case would turn. No idea if they would stay the weekend or be with us forever. We didn’t know their ethnicity. We didn’t know their names. We didn’t know their health status. Would we take them? We took a leap said yes. Because sometimes in life, you just say yes. They showed up and our worlds were turned upside down.

That day was June 6, 2013.

Adoption Day

They became our forever children, names changed and all, on September 4, 2015.

After 796 days in limbo, they became ours forever.

I’m not a fan of the new Pinterest trend that shows the adopted children holding a sign that says how many days they spent in foster care. I’d rather my children not associate the time before their adoption as “foster care,” because they were never with another family other than us. They came home to us on June 6, 2013.

I’ll say they were in limbo for all of those days. Stuck between many homes. Learning the rules of our house, mourning the loss of another. We couldn’t permanently decorate our daughter’s room in the fairy style she so badly wanted, because of a truth we wouldn’t say out loud: “What if she leaves?” We were all in limbo. Wanting to fully dive in and love them like they were never going to leave, but also wisely guarding our hearts just in case. And I know for them, it was the same. They wanted to love us, but felt as if they were betraying someone else if they did. So in limbo we all stayed.

That day, the judge said he had more people supporting us and celebrating with us in the courtroom on that day than most adoptive families. He also added, “But it should be like this always.” We even hired a good friend of ours who is a professional photographer to document the entire day. While she had documented birthing sessions, it was her first adoption.

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Photo by Katie Woody Photography

Happiness Forever After?

I think it’s easy to talk about how difficult it is raising children who come from hurt and trauma while ignoring or refusing to acknowledge the brokenness and hurt we as parents also bring into the equation.

Pulled in different directions by many people who felt they knew what was best, I know the time was hard on the kids. While the storm of the case has died down, the storm in their hearts (and ours) hasn’t died down yet. That process will take years.

But, they are ours. And we are theirs. 

People are quick to talk about how far they have come, or how much they have changed for the better, or how much we have helped them or saved them, but no one talks about the fact that we’re all broken and full of hurt and sin. In God’s ideal plan, none of it would have looked like this. The hurt, the loss, the pain, the anger, the grief, the rage, none of it. He has a plan to restore our entire family to the beauty he originally envisioned.

I really dislike when foster parents are called “saints,” because you don’t know the darkness or the doubts in my heart. You don’t know my fears for the future or the questions I have. You don’t know the work it takes to create a feeling of family among strangers.

We’re all learning this together. Some days I cry because I don’t have a clue how to do this adoptive parent thing. No reading in the world can really prepare you. When you separate ME from the blood of the Lamb who covers me with his grace, it’s really a mess under there. But God’s promises endure, and I will hold fast to them.

Some days, I think they were an answer to our prayers, and some days I think we were an answer to theirs. I know for sure that one day, this whole story, not at all how I imagined it or necessarily wanted it, will come together as a beautiful testimony. Being in the middle of a time or trial that you know will one day be a fantastic testimony is hard. Sometimes parenting our kids is really exhausting and heartbreaking, because we are parenting kids whose hearts have been broken. They know pain the likes of which most adults will never understand. But my faith rests in the promise of God:

“To all who mourn in Israel he will give: 
beauty for ashes; joy instead of mourning; praise instead of heaviness
For God has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory.”

Isaiah 61:3 TLB

Regardless, we are a family.

God is building beauty from the ashes of all of our dreams. For all five of us.

And let me tell you- Jesus saves me every single day.

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Filed under Adoption General, Faith and Adoption, Fostering, Parenting, Personal Posts

Curriculum Choices for 2015 and a Personal Update

Hi everyone! It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?

Life. Got. CRAZY. Between trying to wrap up the adoption of our younger two sweeties and finishing graduate school, and adding on internship hours to that graduate school experience, my blog had to take a backseat. I can’t tell you how many times I logged on in the past….however many months, only to fall asleep with the laptop open on my lap, and half a post written.

Personal update part:

On September 4th, 2015, in front of our loving family and dear friends, we adopted our youngest two children! How long have we waited for this day? Four years, my friends. Having had these two cuties in our home for over two years as our foster children, I honestly didn’t think September 4th would make anything feel different, but let me tell you: Everything in the world feels different. It IS different. We are a forever family. We are no longer in limbo. We are official, united, crafted by God, and it is done. Praise the Lord! It feels freeing, it feels real, it feels final, and it feels like the biggest relief in the world. You think the last month of pregnancy is long? Try waiting four years, four months, and twenty-three days to finalize the adoption of the children God put on your heart. Whew. Labor. Seriously.

On a much less exciting, but nevertheless important note, on September 11th, 2015, I took the comprehensive exam required to earn my Masters of Arts in Counseling degree, which brings me one step closer to becoming a licensed counselor. The experiences I had in my internship were, in a word, irreplaceable. I also hope to share some of those experiences with you.

PROMISE an adoption-centered post is in the works, complete with pictures of my dear ones, but today’s post is dedicated to my amazing friend Sarah, who first encouraged me to start this blog. She has been asking me for weeks “What curriculum are you using this year?” And while the adoption post I’m working on is highly emotionally charged and sentimental, this topic felt a lot less intense and thus provided an easier vessel to encapsulate my return to the writing world.

In short: it’s been too long, a lot has happened, and I’ve missed you all. 

Onto the Curriculum fun!

I am still homeschooling Buggy, my biggest little. He is six now {can it be?}, and in first grade this year.

Let me say: First grade is So. Much. Fun. You learn to read books, you learn to tell time, you learn the states, and if you’re lucky, you get a creative and imaginative teacher who lets you explore all the wonderful weirdness of being six or seven. Love it!

I began planning out our year in May. I absolutely did NOT want to fall into the madness of scrambling in July to craft a year’s worth of curriculum in a few short weeks. Our public school started on August 24th this year, and I was determined to also start our homeschool on that same day.

Facing Struggles, Admitting Failures

For Buggy’s Kindergarten year, I wanted the entire year to be loose. Frankly, I needed it to be loose. You can ask my friends in our homeschooling group how many times last year I asked, “Do you think he’ll be okay this year?” Hint: It was often. And they were always gracious in encouraging me that I was not “breaking” him.

I was a mama swamped in my own schooling, facing inflexible deadlines, single-parenting a lot of the year with a dual-career husband, parenting kiddos with unique and special needs, wrapping up an endlessly long adoption process, and facing personal tragedy the likes of which I’d never seen. It was a HARD year. 

Honestly, I don’t know how we did anything last year.

Did we do anything?…

We played a lot. A subscription to ABC Mouse from my sister-in-law was a life saver. {Buggy knew more than I did about the Grand Canyon from that program just in time for our summer vacation to the incredible geological wonder}. We started a phonics program, but ultimately did not finish it. Started a lot of things, in fact, that I did not get to finish. I felt like a failure. Like I had failed him. And I felt like eyes were on me as my son was not advancing at the same rate as his publicly-schooled peers.

But our life is simply constructed differently, and that’s the path we chose when we decided to homeschool, so I chose to accept that right now, no, he’s not where they are. But that doesn’t make him less bright or less intelligent or creative. He colored, took field trips, learned a lot about grace as we blindly felt our way through a tough diagnosis for my youngest son… And in the midst of it all, I saw him grow as a person. His Sunday School teachers commented on the positive changes they saw in him as well. Friends commented on it. Family saw it too. He grew in other ways last year, ways that illustrate God’s grace even when we feel distracted and consumed in our other children or our other pursuits.

This year though, I wanted different. I was determined to have a successful, progressive year. After many hard-fought interventions, I had peace that my youngest child was taken care of. We spent the past year building up a fantastic team around him to give him the support, structure, and nurturing love that he needs to thrive. I knew with him taken care of, I could then focus on Buggy again. By May, my boys finally started bonding, our home was feeling more harmonious again, and I was feeling less depressed and anxious. I was ready to tackle first grade.

Studying Math

Studying Math

Choosing Curriculum

The first thing I wanted to do was check my local state standards {I’m in Texas, so I reviewed the TEKS, our state’s local educational standards} to see what other first graders were learning this year. Based on that information, I crafted a list of my own educational priorities for my son, and determined the subjects we would study this year:

  • Reading/Phonics/Writing
  • Math
  • Life Science
  • Music/Piano
  • Bible
  • Art History/Art
  • Social Studies/ Intro to U.S. History
This year also includes fun journal prompts for Buggy every morning to spark his imagination.

This year also includes fun journal prompts for Buggy every morning to spark his imagination.

I know, it seems like a lot. 

But hear me out:

We don’t tackle all of these subjects every single day. Art, for instance, is a once-a-week thing. Bible as well. Our science curriculum is structured to be done two-to-three days a week. The only things we do every single day no matter what {even if we have to play make up on Saturday as we did this weekend} are math and phonics.

So, after I determined what I wanted to teach, I had to determine how to teach it. That was harder. That took a LOT of research, question asking, and prayer.

I knew that regarding math, I wanted something that was based on repetition and review. I wanted a math curriculum that focused on mastery and integration, a curriculum that would connect one concept to the next in order to solidify the previous concept. I knew that I wanted a science curriculum that was secular-based. Many homeschooling science curricula are based on ultra-conservative views that never speak of the theory of evolution or the big bang theory, and I know that while we believe  in creationism, my son needs to at least know of these theories in order to make it most public high school classrooms. Lastly, I knew I wanted a reading program that relied heavily on phonics and writing.

After summer’s worth of research, here is what we’re using this year. After being in school for three weeks, I can say with confidence that we made all the right choices for us {links included}:

All of our school supplies, journals, and text books, and our geography corner.

All of our school supplies, journals, and text books, and our geography corner.

Buying it ALL

If you clicked on the links above, you might be thinking, “How in the WORLD did she buy all of that!?”

Well, no, we aren’t rich, so scratch that off the list.

I spent about $100 on all of this curriculum because I shopped wisely. I would say at least 50% of it was purchased through my local homeschooling co-op trading and buying site on Facebook. Ask around in your area to see if such a site exists for local homeschoolers near you. In most cases, I simply posted on our local Facebook site, “I’m looking for ____,” and a homeschooler would respond within a few days saying they had it! In one case {regarding the science curriculum}, a mom popped up saying she had it, but it was only via download, and due to copyright laws, she couldn’t sell it. However, she shared with me that the first nine lessons in the curriculum were available for free download if I was interested {a “try-before-you-buy” system}, so that’s what we’re doing until we have saved up the money to buy the rest of the curriculum for the year! If my fellow homeschoolers did not have the curricula I was searching for, I looked on Amazon and Ebay. Although many of the links I shared send you straight to the publishing source, I would encourage you mom to mom to simply shop around.

Also- keep in mind- with the internet at our disposal, so many things can be accessed easily that weren’t so easy before. Later this week, I’ll be sharing some of my money-saving ideas for homeschool that might spark some creativity in you as well.

Are you pleased with your curriculum choices this year? Have any great finds or resources to share? Let me know in the comments!

Blessings,

Kat

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Filed under Learning at Home, Personal Posts

Our First Foster Placement

Only two weeks after becoming licensed foster parents, and after FOUR calls with possible fostering or legal risk {likely adoptable} situations, we got a call on Thursday morning for a precious baby girl being discharged from the hospital that very morning. She was born on Tuesday. I didn’t even ask questions. I just said yes. Loudly and over again many times. I called Travis immediately and told him, “We have a newborn coming home in a few hours. Come now.” He of course didn’t even ask questions but instantly came home. Continue reading

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Filed under Adoption General, Faith and Adoption, Fostering, Parenting

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month, and in honor of that, I thought I would offer a hand to anyone looking for adoption resources. I’ve tried hard over the past couple of years to make my blog a great resource of honest adoption-related information, but if there’s something you’re concerned about or have questions about {adoption-related of course} that I haven’t covered, please feel free to email me or leave a comment. Continue reading

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A New Leg in Our Journey

I have been waiting all week to post this!

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Filed under Activities, Adoption General, Creative Ideas and Crafts, Faith and Adoption, Fostering, Halloween Fun, Personal Posts, Proverbs 31 Homemaker, Stay at Home Moms

Water Balloons, Paper Tubes, and a Foster Update

I’m sorry it’s been so long! Can I share with you the boring details of why I haven’t blogged? …Nah, I’ll spare you. But on a positive note, I’m graduating in December with my bachelor’s degree in English!!!! All just a couple of years away from the big 3-0! WIN!

But Buggy and I have been having fun in between my classwork. For one thing, we played this fun game:

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Filed under Adoption General, Faith and Adoption, Learning at Home, Parenting, Personal Posts

Pain in the Offering

The title for this post comes from a favorite song of mine called “Blessed be Your Name” by Tree63. There’s a line that says, “Blessed be Your name, on the road marked with suffering…though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be Your name…”

I’ve been thinking of this song lyric over and over for the past week. We’ve had a very rough week. Continue reading

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Filed under Adoption General, Faith and Adoption