We have BIG news…our family is becoming a FOSTER family. A safe haven for children who have been traumatized, a place they can be loved and feel loved, and a place that these children can call home for however long they are with us. We are equal parts thrilled and scared for the journey the Lord has called us too, and we are excited to share this journey with our family and friends.
Erik and I have always felt the desire to expand our family, however, when we discovered Ashlyn’s chromosomal abnormality (I will be writing all about this in the near future), and the fact that I was indeed a carrier, we felt God may be calling us to another path to accomplish this. We looked into IVF with egg donation and domestic adoption, and while I would love to be pregnant again (I know…I am weird) and experience all of those joys, I kept feeling the Lord tug on my heart and shift me in another direction. Approximately a year ago, I felt a strong sense that the Lord wanted us to explore the potential of fostering as a family, but Erik and I weren’t quite on the same page. Of course, this was understandable, as the fostering world can be quite daunting and scary. But still, the Lord was persistent in His desire, and after MANY discussions, we agreed to take the foster care classes known as PRIDE, to explore this more deeply and to discern whether this was where the Lord was really leading us.
We signed up for the fostering classes in April 2016, which last for eight weeks. In the midst of this (during the second class actually), we received the news that many of you are already aware of, that our five-year-old nephew had passed. This news is and continues to devastate our family, and I often think that we are going to wake from this nightmare and this was all a bad dream. During this time, we made the decision to continue with the classes, and we completed these at the end of May 2016. We spent the summer filled with family and traveling, grieving, and finding a new normal. During that time, we had also been working on completing the remaining items regarding the home study and all the required pre-requisites.
We are currently at the juncture where we are awaiting or finalization of licensing, which should take place at the end of the month. Amidst all that has been going on lately in the world of a working family with a kindergartner and pre-kindergartner, a mama who just went back to work four shifts per month in the children’s ER, school volunteering, and work traveling for the hubs, I recently realized that the end of the month is merely DAYS away. This means that we will potentially be licensed and ready to accept a child into our home during the first week of November (cue the screams)!
As far as the details go, it could be hours, days, weeks, or months before we have our first placement. We have opted to accept children in the 0-12 months old age range, and we are open to both male and female. We feel strongly about keeping birth order, which is why our age range is younger than Ashlyn. We want our children to feel like they are a BIG part of this, and that they get to be the older siblings and help make decisions, as best they can at 4 and 5 years old of course.
Unfortunately, during the EIGHT three-hour long classes, there was NOT one that dealt with the everyday procedures of receiving that first call, to visitation, to doctor’s visits, and so on and so forth. For a mama who is OCD and LOVES to plan, this makes me incredibly nervous. But I am trusting in the Lord and His incredible plan to bring us on this journey, and I know He will never leave our side. He has called us to an amazing opportunity that may leave us feeling scared, excited, and unequipped, but will allow us to humbly serve Him and LOVE His children. I have a strong feeling that we are going to be brought to our knees in prayer many times during this process, and for that, we ask for your prayers as well.
We do not feel we are saints or super-parents for making the decision to become foster parents, we feel that we are fulfilling a calling. A calling that many others can and will do, and who will likely be far better at this than us. We would love for each and every one of you reading this to stand beside us during this process, to be our cheerleaders, to be ears to listen, and to be hands to help. You all are a gift in our lives, and for that we are thankful!
I initially wrote this post on 10/27/16, our license was finalized on 10/31/16, and we received our first sweet foster baby on 11/7/16. We are so excited for this journey to begin. And while we do not know how long he will be in our care for, we trust the Lord has big plans, and we will provide him a safe home and will love him fiercely during his time with our family.
I cannot even believe I am writing this post! I am not sure how we got to this point so quickly, and I am not too sure I like it:) The Thursday before your birthday, I can vividly remember sitting at your table and just watching you in amazement at the little man you have become. This image of you playing at your wooden table in the living room caused me to tear up, ok I lied, it caused me to cry. When you went from being a baby to a one year old that was tough, but atleast you were still a baby. But the fact that you are now two officially means you are a toddler, and I am just not ready to admit that fact yet. You being born seems like yesterday, and part of that is because it really wasn’t that long ago. I remember sitting in the hospital lobby with our sixteen bags so anxious in anticipation of meeting your sweet face. Then 26 hours later (with 3 hours of pushing) your 10 lb 13.4 oz body came into the world and changed our lives forever. You made me a mommy, and for that I am forever grateful. You have taught me so much about the person I am and the multitude of sinful ways that I am guilty of. You challenge me everyday, whether I am willing to accept that challenge or not:) You truly are one of kind, I can honestly say that! Please don’t ever change that! You have so much passion, and often we term you our “drama king”. You certainly wear your emotions on your sleeve, much like your mommy, but I am not sure there is anything wrong with that (maybe we should ask daddy that question).
At 2 Years Old Grant Is:
–Going to school 3 days per week from 9-1pm at St. Vincent’s Academy. Your teachers name is Miss Jessica and you adore her.
–Quite the dancer. This is absolutely your favorite thing to do at this point. You often end every evening in your bedroom listening to the Fresh Beat Band and bring all of us, even Ashlyn, in there to dance with you. You like to shut the door behind us and lock the door so we can’t escape.
–A Picky eater! Much to our dismay you have become even more picky. You will sometimes turn down your staples like macaroni, pizza, and chicken nuggets. The interesting thing is you often eat stuff at school that you would never eat at home. We are hoping this is just a phase, and until then we will continue to offer you a variety, although you vehemently refuse it.
–Quite Chatty! This doesn’t mean we always know what you are saying, but you love to talk. You favorite words right now are purple, yellow (said ye-yo), and blue (said booo), although you do know all of your colors. You love matchbox cars and often tell us truck, car, and bus. You know all of our names and proudly shout them, especially since you don’t like to be more than an arm’s reach from us.
–In love with Finding Nemo! Hands down your favorite movie and you would watch it twice a day if we would let you. You run around the house pointing at the TV and saying “Memo”. You have a Nemo shirt that Grama got you for your birthday and you wear it proudly, making sure everyone knows that it has “Memo” and “Turtles” on it.
–Wearing size 6 diapers. You have been going on the potty, but you are not always telling us when this needs to happen. Thankfully you have now faithfully begun going #2 on the potty so we have not had to change any of those diapers anymore.
–Taking 1 nap per day from 1:30 to 3:30 and sleeping from 8:30/9pm to 7am.
–Wearing size 2T & 3T clothing, but normally the latter. You are quite tall and are predicted to be about 6′ 2″ or bigger when you are full grown.
–Into sports, especially basketball, which makes for one proud daddy!
–The sweetest Big Brother! You love your sister so tenderly and dearly. You often are bringing her toys and things to play with. You occasionally get jealous, but you never act out in anger towards her. When you both get up from naps you request that we put her in your bed next to you. It warms our heart to see you love her, and you can often make her laugh before anyone else can. I cannot wait to see you guys really play together.
Birthday Party Details:
Fortunately, your 2nd birthday fell on a Saturday. We held your big birthday bash at Gymboree, and it was a “Ball” theme. This was fitting given you love balls and that was basically your first word. I started out by telling myself that we were going to keep it low key, but you know me, with Pinterest in the mix I had to throw some jazzy stuff in there. You had a blast, as long as Miss Ellen (the teacher) wasn’t acknowledging you directly…ha! You had all your favorite people there to celebrate with you, and overall I would say it was a hit. You even blew your candles out all by yourself, even before we were done singing Happy Birthday. You got tons of cool gifts, of which I am still trying to find places to put everything. You now love to tell people you are two and hold out two fingers (although it really looks like you are holding out 4 fingers).
Between 18 to 21 months you have changed a ton. I absolutely LOVE this age. You are an amazingly funny and sweet little boy. I am pretty sure you make Daddy & I laugh every day at something new that you do. I cannot believe we are fast approaching the day that we no longer count your age in months. Honestly, I don’t think I am ready for that. I am sure there will be many a tears shed on your 2nd birthday. Happy for the amazing man you are growing into, and sad for the baby you are leaving behind. I will always remember you at 21 months running around the house with your little pot belly, chunky thighs, and cute booty!
At 21 Months You:
-Are so witty. Every day you are doing something that totally makes us smile from ear to ear. Just today for no reason, you took off out the back door in your diaper and t-shirt and were running with Harley in the grass. Oh yeah, and it was pitch black out!
-Love to point to things (trucks, busses, birds, lizards, etc) and gasp.
-Still love bath time and now have begun washing/scrubbing your own hair.
-Wear a size 6 diaper and 2T clothes.
-Can annoy Harley one minute and be so loving towards her the next.
-Are the most amazing BIG brother. You love your sister so much. You are constantly wanting to help get things for her or just kiss/hug her. Yesterday, she touched your hand with her hand and you just thought that was the funniest thing EVER. I cannot wait to see you all play together.
-Love to turn on the light switches. This is your new favorite thing, and I am pretty sure our electricity bill is now going to be higher 🙂
-Still love to clean. You are going to be an amazing husband because you swiffer the house daily, love to put dishes away, and are so good at being helpful with clearing your toys.
-Still are a picky eater. You love Mac-n-Cheese, Tortellini, Chicken Nuggets, Uncrustable PB & J sandwiches, Fruit Pouches, Pureed Veggies, Smoothies (From Starbucks or Tropical Smoothie Cafe), Fruits Snack, Graham Crackers, & any sweet! If that’s not a toddler diet, I don’t know what is.
-Love to be outdoors. You are most happy here. And often while I am cleaning or tending to your sister, you will open the back door and venture out on your own. Thank goodness we have a fenced in back yard:)
-Are a great student. You always get Happy, Excitable, Playful, and Helpful on your report card, with an occasional talkative & silly.
-Are quite vocal, but a lot of this is jibberish. We get what you are saying because you are our child, but I am sure most others would have no idea. You love to say “Where’s Daddy” or “Where’s Mommy” with your hands in the air as if you have no idea where we have gone. You know all your body parts when asked. You can complete puzzles like a champ. And you follow just about every command we give you.
-Can sometimes show your toddler attitude. Thankfully for the most part you are quite happy. But recently while you were sick with a sinus infection (& possible RSV), I honestly thought someone had traded my sweet boy for another not so sweet boy:)
-Love to copy what we are doing. Recently while Daddy was doing Insanity (which doesn’t happen often…ha), you started doing moves and suicide runs just like him. It was too funny.
-Love to rough house. You are definitely all boy.
-Love farm animals & petting zoos. While other children your age are often afraid of the animals, you are chasing them around and feeding them.
Happy 21 Months Grant Emmett!
Three Month STAT:
Weight: 10 lbs 9 ozs
Well another month has come and gone and our sweet girl is already 3 months…YIKES! She is growing up so fast right before our eyes. She continues to be a joy to be around and such a sweet, calm baby. I guess she is a typical second child, and praise the Lord for that! Happy 3 months my sweet baby girl! Life is sweeter because you are in it:)
At 3 Months you:
-Sleep for about 10-12 hrs per night. You are a champ and started doing this between 10-12 weeks.
-Nap somewhere between 2-3 times day. These can last anywhere from 30 mins to 4 hrs (we often have to wake you up)!
-Eat about (5-6) 4 oz bottles in a 24 hr period.
-Are quite petite. This is something that your daddy and I are not used to. You have not even reached the birth weight of your bother yet…CRAZY! And of course, he is all we have to compare to, so we are constantly worried that you should be eating more and gaining more weight. But we have been assured many times that you are following along the 25th% and are going to be long & lanky, which is every girl’s dream I guess!
-Have really started to coo & talk, which is almost too cute for words.
-Smile the biggest grin and show so much of your gums. It’s almost as if you are about to laugh when you do it.
-Wear size 1 diapers & 3 month clothing. Although some 3 month clothing still is a little big on you depending on the brand.
-Are starting to grab at your toys and hold stuff in your cute hands. You have also found your hands & fists and love putting them in your mouth.
-Can put yourself to sleep. This is something Grant never did until he was 9 months. You love your bed and that is your preferred sleeping spot.
-Love bath time and no longer cry when we take you out because you are cold.
-Love being outdoors, but not if it’s too windy 🙂
-Tolerate “tummy time”, but certainly do not love it. I think it has something to do with that Folgate head on your tiny body…ha!
We love you Miss Ashlyn Elizabeth!
Two Month STAT’s:
Weight: 9 lbs 10 ozs (20th%)
Height: 22.5 inches (60th%)
HC: 16.5 inches (97th%)
It has been a great two months and a challenging two months. I remember at your baby shower, your daddy wrote a letter to us and in this he wrote something about the new challenges that being parents of two would bring. Boy was he right! However, he was also right in that he meant those challenges would be hard, but they would bring us great joy. You are a joy in our lives sweet girl and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Through you, I have learned that my plans are not my own and I have also learned the strong desire I have to control situations. The Lord has been teaching me this a lot over the years, but I have really felt this lesson more abundantly since your birth. Thank you for being such a sweet, loving, and amazing little girl. In so many respects you make being parents to two under two seem easy. We are blessed to call you our daughter and to watch you grow. We cannot believe how much you have changed in just 2 short months. You are already becoming less of a baby, and I would love for time to slow down. I said this often in regard to your brother, and yet time continues to fly by. You are precious in our eyes and we are trying to cherish every little moment with you.
At 2 months you are:
–Cooing, Grunting, & Smiling. Your smile is so cute and can really light up a room.
–Eating about 6-7 times/day (3.5-4 oz per feed). Mommy is still pumping and able to keep up with your demands for now. Thankfully, you are also becoming a more efficient eater, which has been difficult because of the cleft.
–Sleeping excellent! While you are not on a true set schedule yet, you normally go to bed around 8-8:30pm and wake up only once in the early AM. You have quite often slept from 9-6am, and that has been glorious. You take about 3 naps per day (normally 2 short (~1hr) and 1 long (anywhere from 2-4 hrs).
–Able to play independently for longer periods of time. Up until about 1 week ago, you would cry if you were put down to play for more than 10 mins. You have recently started to really like exploring your surroundings and looking around. You love the couch and ceiling fans.
–Still not loving your car seat. You are just like your brother during this time period. For some reason, it just pains you to be strapped in for car trips and you haven’t quite learned the concept of “just falling asleep” while traveling.
–Loving bath time, except when we take you out and you get cold 🙁
–Tracking toys and following sounds, especially our voices.
8/16: Ear Wells were removed
8/22: First Purposeful Smile
8/25: First Birthday Attendance (Harrison Wicker’s 1st)
9/1: First College GameDay Dance & UF Game (on TV)
9/2: First Trip to WPB for Santos’ 2nd Birthday
9/14: First double ear infection (which can be a common occurance with cleft palates). BOO 🙁
9/17 & 9/18: First time sleeping from 8:45pm-7:25am (That was daddy’s birthday gift).
Last night (8/13) Ashlyn slept her longest stretch to date, 5 hrs & 40 mins. Let’s hope sleepier nights are on the horizon, because your parents would greatly appreciate it. Good Job sweet girl!
On August 13th, our 18 month old BIG boy peed on the potty. He followed that episode up with peeing on the potty two more times today. These are the moments only a parent could be proud of. Good job Grant, keep up the good work.
Well as of Tuesday (8/7) our little girl turned 4 weeks. When and how did that happen so quickly, I cannot even believe it. Slow down little girl, don’t grow up on me as fast as your big brother has.
At 4 Weeks:
–You LOVE to sleep, just not necessarily at night all the time. You can sleep for 4 hr intervals and at night it seems as if this is cut to 2.5 hrs because you sleep so much during the day. We need to get this switched around 🙂
–Your eating has improved. You are a champ and are mastering your suck, swallow, breath daily, as this is quite hard with a cleft palate.
–You have gained 20.5 ozs in 20 days…PTL, because mommy was quite the mess when you had lost weight in the beginning.
–You smile in your sleep (likely gas) and it is the CUTEST thing ever.
–You are very tolerant of your touchy/lovey brother who is not always very “gentle”.
–You can sleep through anything! Thank goodness, because with an 18 month old and a dog around, this house is quite loud.
–You like baths, but not the drying off part.
–You are very moany-groany and make the funniest sounds, sometimes sounding like a teradactyl. Because of this, your nickname is “Squeakers”.
–You are super strong and can lift your head and hold it up to look at people while resting on our chests.
–You seem to prefer your big girl crib for sleeping, however, mommy is not ready for you to be that far away and is not ready for you to wake up your big brother should you cry in the middle of the night.
–You like to sleep on your tummy, just like Grant.
Thanks for being the sweetest girl EVER and completing our family. We love you Miss Ashlyn Elizabeth!
When I was rocking Grant to sleep tonight, singing, and saying our bed time prayers, I couldn’t help but be a little emotional. I was sitting there thinking how crazy the last 18 months of our lives have been. In 18 months we birthed Grant, were pregnant for 10 months, and now have since birthed Ashlyn. We are now parents of two and our worlds have changed for the better. And as I sat there and rocked my almost 30 lb 18 month old who is now half of my adult height, sprawled on my chest, snoring, and legs hanging down to the ground, I couldn’t help but think…time please slow down. These moments are precious and I hope I remember them all because they are flying by.