3 years ago today a 13 month old and a 2 1/2-year-old showed up in my kitchen for a weekend “trial visit”.
I will never forget it, she was in a car seat taking a bottle and the little boy was talking non-stop. It was mid-afternoon and I was home alone waiting for them. This photo is the first photo I ever took of them.
They came together from the same foster family, although they are not related, but were being raised as brother and sister. It was hard to think of them being separated but Jeremy and I knew when they asked us to consider the placement of the two children that we could not keep the little boy long-term. We knew this because we had a previous foster placement of a little boy very close to the same age as our boys and it was too many little boy dynamics going on. We thought we might be able to keep the little girl long-term, but it was all so quick and so new we truly had no time to process.
You see the day before was MY celebratory day! I had just gotten my littlest off to kindergarten. All 3 of my babies were finally in school and all together and at the SAME school! This was my new chapter I had been waiting on, no more daycare expense, no more multiple drop-offs, no more little ones because they had all finally moved on to “real” school. This was the perfect plan I had been waiting on and oooh it sounded so good!!
Then there was God’s plan. It was my freedom day. And I mean literally the day I dropped Seth off for kindergarten was the day I got the call. The call to consider taking a foster placement of a 13 month old little girl and a 2 1/2 year old boy. I was pulling up to meet my best friend for my the kids are back in school celebration lunch. When the number showed up on my phone I knew who was calling. It was Children’s Division. I freaked in the car alone for a minute. Here is basically the conversation I had with myself “Don’t answer it. Yes answer it. No. Yes. It’s a freaking kid. They need me. What if it’s a baby. NO don’t do it. Seth just started kindergarten. No you have freedom” I promise these are all the things I said to myself in about a 10 second time span. Then I hit answer.
24 hours later they arrived in my kitchen for a trial weekend visit. That was 3 years ago today. And honestly I’ve been a little emotional all day just re-thinking it all. There is no way I can put 3 years of all that God has done since then in this blog. But I will share a bit about me here more than I will share about the kids.
The little boy is now Jozy Seabaugh. He stayed much longer than a trial visit. Jeremy and I ended up agreeing to keep him until Childrens Division could find him a permanent home. God’s plan for him became clear very quickly. Some of our best friends were currently in foster classes when Jozy came to us. After meeting him they felt lead that he was to be their son and we agreed to keep him in our home until their licensing was complete. He stayed with us for about 3 months then moved to our friends and since then has been adopted by them. Still to this day he calls Jeremy, Uncle Jeremy.
The little girl is now Lera Ferguson. I sorta knew the moment I saw her sitting in that car seat that she was going to be ours. I actually text that first picture I took of her to Jeremy and said “this one is not going anywhere”.
Today, 3 years later, Jozy is still very much in our lives and just started Kindergarten. He and Lera have a bond that is absolutely incredible, they have a connection that words cannot explain. Lera is now 4 years old and started Pre-K yesterday.
I will be the first to tell you and to admit that the last 3 years have been a journey that I can only call hard. Totally our calling, but hard. And that is really what this blog is more about; the hard and the change that the hard has brought to my life.
Here is a little facebook post I wrote almost a year ago when things were hard and I was barely hanging on:
November is National Adoption Awareness month. I have already been asked this month to “share” our adoption story and to help encourage others to adopt. To be fully honest, it is hard for me to consider encouraging others on some days. My journey on this has been hard, like way hard on some days. There are days when I do not want to encourage people, I want to encourage them to actually run far away from foster care and adoption. Like screaming to them “it’s gonna mess your real life up”. Sucks to read right? But we can’t do that. I can’t do that. If we all did that then what?? If we just wait for everyone else to do it, then what?
Now I am sure my family just looks awesome and so fulfilled, with our good-looking tribe of biological kids and our totally adorable adopted African-American child. And we are on many days. But I will be the first to tell you IT IS HARD, it was hard, it currently is hard and it probably always will be somewhat hard. But–here we are right?!
You can almost hear my bitterness and resentment in the tone from that post. Now with time what I have learned is the hard is not really Lera or Foster Care, it never was and never has been about her. It’s been me. My world got flipped upside down in one phone call. And now 3 years later I will be the first to tell you I haven’t handled it well for a long time. You see, I like things my way and I like to be in control. Adding 2 children to your house in less than 24 hours, you sort of lose control. Add in the fact that you also have children’s division in your life now, you lose control. You still have bio parents in the picture that you are required to take the children to visit, you lose control. You have a child that has some pretty massive issues that stem from attachment disorder and foster care, you lose control. Your world that you worked very hard to create exactly the way you wanted it is no longer there, you lose control.
Now I am sure you’re thinking she is precious, she is innocent, she is your daughter. Yes, you are right and all these are true and we love her. She is ours, she is a child of God, she is chosen and the funny thing is she is more like me than some of my biological kids. But this really isn’t about Lera, it’s about me. What God wanted from me, what He needed to teach me and what He is still teaching me.
Over the last 3 years I’ve held on so tight trying to control it all, I’ve almost broken myself on many days. I’ve almost broken the people closest to me. I’ve also went full blow opposite with the “I don’t even care what happens” attitude, which is just as destructive as the control.
I have dug in deeper to myself and God than I ever imagine I could. Just in the last few months I am finally letting myself get where He wants me, surrendered. The control thing, yeah I still have flare ups, but for the most part what I’ve learned is that I don’t want control anymore. It’s unnecessary and actually unfaithful to God. It’s too much pressure on myself and trying to control everything makes me crazy! The best thing I’ve learned is this: It’s more work to try to keep control than it is to just let God be God.
What I am most thankful on this 3 year anniversary is the little girl that rocked my world. She is the one we dreamed of and prayed for. She is the one out of all my kids that has taught me the most and changed me the most. She and God are working me over good! One day I hope to sit and tell her all the good and the hard stuff of our journey but at the end of the conversation I will be able to look at her and say to her “I am who I am today because you are in my life”
It all started with fostering and adoption and there is a big side to that story as well. Although today it’s about losing control, not living in fear, answering that phone call, letting God be God, it’s about surrender.
As I am typing this I was thinking of how to end it and how to wrap it up. You know this writing thing is all new to me and I am still super weirded out about it. As I was thinking I thought of a quote from one of my favorite books Restless by Jennie Allen. (I also am a total quote junkie)
“Great people do not do great things; God does great things through surrendered people.” –Jennie Allen
I think this is so good. So simple. So true. We can try to control everything in our worlds, but it won’t matter. Surrender the control. Trust me it’s exhausting. And truthfully at the end of the day we may think we are in control, but we never really are. His will be done.
Happy 3 year day for us.
Lera and Jozy 3 years later.