Wednesday, May 25, 2011


It's been a long time since I posted, and there are many reasons for that. Emmy's case is pretty much at a standstill. There isn't much to comment on there. I feel as though I can't share the things I would love to share  because of a breech in confidentiality. Continue to pray for Emmy's mother. Her health is quite poor. I don't know if she is a believer or not, but Emmy's CASA is ministering to her in a powerful way these days. Pray that the Holy Spirit would work in her heart and draw her closer each day to Him. Pray that He would use us however He is able as well.

Emmy is doing well. She is loving meeting new people each and every day, and she is slowly coming more and more out of her shell. Our attachment is strong (praise God!), and she is becoming quite the character around our house :)

Now, to the real subject matter. As you will recall, my precious puppy dog, Peanut, had an unexplainable incident several months ago while she was with her brother, Georgy. Since then, she's been an angel (as usual). She has so loved Zizi, Miss M, and Emmy, wanting to be close to us all day long.

Well, Georgy came to visit this weekend, and the two of them had another incident. The research we've done and the experts we've spoken to have termed this "littermate syndrome," because most dogs tend to have issues of aggression when they are with their littermates. I really wish we had known this long ago, and could have avoided this heartache, but we didn't. If you know Peanut, you know that she is probably the sweetest, most well-behaved dog who has ever lived. When she's not with Georgy, she's wonderful. When Georgy's not with Peanut, he's wonderful. We so wanted the solution to be that we would each keep our wonderful dogs...we just wouldn't let them be together ever again. Unfortunately, the state cannot handle that kind of liability, and we found out this afternoon that we will, indeed, have to find another home for Peanut.

To say that I am sad would be the understatement of the century. Peanut is our very first dog, and we have poured our heart and soul into training her. We will grieve this loss deeply, but thank goodness I have Emmy around to remind me every single day why we do what we do and how much more important it is to fulfill the commands of Christ than to hold onto our earthly joys.

Please pray for us as we grieve, but more than anything, please pray that we find a good home for Peanut.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, May 16, 2011

A Visit From an Ambassador for GOD

Emmy's CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) came to visit us on Saturday. In case you're not familiar with that term, here's the best explanation I found online:

"CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives."

I was somewhat familiar with the role of a CASA, because of my time working in a children's hospital and because of the recent book I read, Three Little Words. It's almost amusing how many times I've heard people say, "My role is to look out for the best interest of the child." How many government employees does it take to fulfill that one role? It's a good thing to hear, but it's also a very subjective role to have. How does one decide what's in the best interest of a child?

Anyway, it seems to me that the role of the CASA is extremely important, and the quality of foster children's lives seem to often be deeply influenced by the effectiveness of their CASA (if they have one). A CASA follows a child from the day they enter foster care until the day they have a permanent home. Many times, they may be the only member of the system who really pays close attention to how long a child has been in care, how many times a child has been transferred from home to home, etc. If a CASA has good oversight, it should prevent children from being forgotten and caught in limbo the way they often are. Again, this is just my limited understanding, but it's the best I can do so far.

I didn't quite know what to expect when Emmy's CASA showed up 45 minutes early on Saturday. Much to my surprise, I opened my door to the warm, joyful, smiling face of a woman who felt like an instant family member. As she spoke with me, she held my hands, winked every once in a while, looked right in my eyes, and listened carefully to every word I said. Her voice was peaceful, loving, and kind. It was such a pleasant surprise.

When I let her in the door, she made a few jokes about her drive here, and we got a good laugh. Then, I went to get Emmy out of her crib. When I brought Emmy downstairs, her CASA spoke gently and sweetly to her, and Emmy was captivated. Her eyes were glued to this woman, and then came these precious and most meaningful words. She looked deep into Emmy's eyes and said, "Do you know I pray for you every single day?" Then she looked deep into my eyes and said, "...and I pray for you too, [name], and your husband, [name]."

I hardly knew what to say! Reflecting on it makes me almost well up with tears! How amazing is our Lord God who has surrounded this baby girl and her mom with an army of prayer warriors from the body of Christ? He has assembled such a strong network around them, and it's an amazing privilege to be a small part of it.

Emmy's CASA, again, expressed some deep concern regarding Emmy's mother's health and encouraged me to meet Emmy's mom when I have the chance. I look forward to the day when I will be able to do just that. Until then, I know that the CASA will join us in covering her in prayer.

As our visit came to a close, Emmy's CASA handed me her business card, held my hand, told me to call her any time, and winked. As she got into her car to drive away, I glanced at her business card. It read:

[First & Last Name]
Ambassador for GOD

...Thank you once again, Jesus, for the body of Christ, and thank you for mobilizing Your Church to care for orphans.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, 
kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control
Galatians 5:22-23

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bonding more each day!

Much has happened over the last week. Emmy and I are in a very different place than we were the last time I wrote, which is great news to report. We're starting to really get used to one another, and I'm even starting to enjoy those late night feedings again! She only wakes up one time in the night, and her schedule has become fairly predictable lately - all great things for both of us.

She had a really big day this Tuesday. I wish I could post videos here, but you'll just have to take my word that there was much (over-the-top) celebrating at our house on Tuesday when Emmy rolled over on her own for the very first time! Ever since then, this girl has been unstoppable! Every time I wake her up, she has managed to roll over before I get there. The spit-up situation is not so fun now that she's discovered this fascinating new skill, but I've learned a few tricks there, and I think we can manage until she kicks that habit pretty soon here (right, Emmy??). Ever since Friday, Emmy's been fighting off a bit of a cold, but nothing too terrible.

Speaking of Friday, Emmy had a visit with her mom on Friday, and I have been torn about what to share and what not to share on this blog. I would love to shell out all of the frustrating details, but I feel like that's probably just glorified gossip, so I'm going to hold my tongue. Suffice it to say that I may have a difficult time with Emmy's mom, but I'm praying through it daily. My reflexive response is to answer anger with anger, but I know deep down that is not the way the Lord has called me to live.  For Emmy's next visit, I have a Mothers' Day card for her mom, and I'll share with her all of the exciting details of Emmy's big milestone this week.
Speaking of Emmy's next visit, there has been a great deal of bad communication this go-around. Emmy's case manager didn't return any of my phone calls this week. Her transporter showed up last week without a car seat. She's supposed to have 4 hours of visitation every week, but I didn't hear a word from anyone until today. It's all been very strange, but I finally heard from the case manager today. The news is not great. Emmy's mom is in extremely poor health, so visitation has been canceled indefinitely. My heart just breaks thinking of her. Please pray for Emmy's mom this week.

There have been a couple of other wonderful things that have happened since I last posted. Emmy and I visited a Foster Care support organization, where we got to shop for all sorts of great things for FREE! We got clothes, swimsuits, pool floaties, a stroller, a car seat, a play mat, an exersaucer, and the list goes on! If you ever need to know details about this place, please send me a message. I will gladly point you their way! They are WONDERFUL!

We also visited the spring clothes expo at our foster agency. Every spring and fall, they pull out all of their donated clothes, sort it, put it out in their parking lot, and let their foster parents pick out what they need! I got a brand new baby sling, lots of clothes for summer, some clothes for fall, shoes, and more! Emmy and I really hit the jackpot! She's going to be the best dressed girl in town!

Just yesterday, Emmy had an afternoon with a dear friend of mine and her 3 biological children, 1 adopted child, and 1 foster child (yes, she is an amazing woman!). The fun thing to note about that outing was the way Emmy lit up around those kids!! I had never seen her quite so happy and engaged as she was with those children. I'm going to have to find more excuses to be with other kids!

I think those are all of the updates I have. I need to update more often so that I won't have to write a novel every week. Thank you so much for your prayers for our family! I'm trying to give as many prayer updates as I can. Here are some prayer requests we have these days:
  • Pray for Emmy's mother's health. She is in a very fragile state right now.
  • Pray for patience and that we would see Emmy's mom through the eyes of Jesus. Pray that Christ would use us as His hands and feet, pouring grace, mercy, and love into her life.
  • Pray that Christ would radically transform Emmy's mom's life! It would be nothing short of a miracle, but we pray with boldness, because we worship a God who can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine!
  • Pray that we would bond with Emmy more every day.
  • Pray that the pediatricians and specialists who see Emmy would be wise and discerning and that they would catch early any red flags that might present themselves.
  • Pray that we would not lose sight of our real motivation for fostering.
  • Pray that Emmy would stop spitting up (ok...I'm kidding...but I'm not...but I am...but I'm not...)

Thursday, May 5, 2011


My best advice for future foster parents is to pray hard that the Lord would rid your mind of all expectations. No matter how many times I say it, however, it's still much easier said than done. Each foster child seems to set me up with even more expectations than the one before.

When we got Zizi, we had no idea what to expect, and we were repeatedly pleasantly surprised. The broken system was a surprise, but it wasn't often too much to navigate, especially when we loved that baby girl so much!

When we got Miss M, attachment and interaction was the expectation I had to push through, and within a couple of days, it was behind me, and all was smooth sailing again!

Since we got Emmy, I've had to work through attachment issues even more challenging than before. It's only been a couple of days, and my head says, "Oh, just let go of your expectations! It will come with time! Be realistic!" All the while, my heart doesn't understand. It's a strange feeling caring for a child who you're not attached to, especially in the shadow of 2 others who you were extremely attached to. I'm not broken up about it. I'm not crying at the drop of a hat or anything, but it's a bit uncomfortable, to be honest.

That being said, I've been learning lessons throughout this endeavor, and Emmy has been the catalyst for this latest lesson I'm learning. Somewhere along the way, I think I lost my primary motivation for all of this. Somewhere in the midst of laughing hysterically at Zizi's crazy antics, snuggling on the couch, and precious late-night feedings with Miss M, I let this become more about the kids and less about Jesus Christ. Don't get me wrong, I am called to love the kids, and I most certainly do, but they are not what motivates me. The reality is that many of these kids may not be instant family members like our first 2, and that's ok! I don't need to put that pressure on them, and I don't need to put that pressure on us either. When I turn it around and put all of my focus on obedience to Christ, the lack of attachment doesn't weigh so heavily, and the love that energizes me is much, much stronger! Instead of spending my day thinking, "Oh, Emmy, how I love you!" I need to spend my days thinking, "Oh, Jesus, how I love you!"

What a sweet reminder that has been to me today.

"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Welcome, Emmy!

I went to the office this morning at 10am to pick up Emmy. It's amazing to me how different my emotions are and how different the situation is with each and every child. Emmy has been living with some incredible foster parents since the day she came home from the hospital. They arrived with Emmy this morning, and their hearts were evidently very heavy as they handed her over. I was all alone. My husband, obviously, had to work, so he couldn't be with me. Each of these factors made for an interesting morning.

Emmy is very securely attached to her former foster parents. They are older and have years and years of experience with babies. In a way, I guess I felt some freedom with the last two, knowing the difficult circumstances they were coming from. "Whether I know what I'm doing or not, surely it will be an improvement over their previous home!" I thought.

This situation is different. I feel more of a burden. Somewhere along the way, I've convinced myself that I could somehow really mess this one up! "She's doing so well! Don't blow it!" I think often.

I guess the most overwhelming difference in my relationship with Emmy is that I don't feel at all like she is mine. I feel like she really belongs to her former foster parents and that I am just a babysitter. She's interactive and fun, but I don't feel like her mother yet.

Help me pray that our connection will come with time, and pray for Emmy's mother. This has the potential to be a really long, painful road this time.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Forgive my frustration, but today has been less than stellar so far. Since I want to be very transparent with you guys, let me share the saga of today. After a productive day yesterday cleaning out the entire garage, I woke up (sore!) and made an ambitious but well-crafted To-Do list. It looked like this:

1. Work on plans for the Friday night event at church.
2. Make an appointment with a pediatrician for Emmy.
3. Post office
4. Call Foster Cares and make an appointment to pick up clothes, etc. for Emmy.
5. Plan Dinner
6. etc.
7. etc.

...and so on and so forth for about 20 or 25 points - some more time-consuming than others, some that will take a few days to complete, some fun things like "run with Peanut," some things that are just nice and easy to check off like "feed Peanut," and "take clothes out of dryer." It was going to be such a productive day.

Then, I got to #2 on the list and there I have stayed for almost the entire day.

I started by hunting for a good website where I could search for pediatricians in my area. I found, where I was able to put in my zip code and choose pediatricians who accept Medicaid. Then, I sorted by distance, checked out the ratings, and started rifling through the list. I also created a spreadsheet, so that I could track which offices I had called in the past and what I had been told. I think this will really help in the future. I got about 7 or 8 "no"s before I came to one of the offices I had called for both Zizi and Miss M. After much begging and pleading, they said they would take us "if this wasn't just for an intake visit!" I made sure that they knew that it was unclear at this point how long we would have her, but that my intention was to keep coming to their office for as long as she was with us.

That seemed to appease them ok, so they started asking questions about her birth date, her health up until now, etc. Then they asked me, "Has she already had her 4-month check-up?"

"Yes, she went for her 4-month visit last week, and had all of her immunizations," I said.

"Well, if she's already had her 4-month visit, Medicaid won't pay us for this visit, and we can't see her for free."

I tried to explain that the state requires her to have an intake check-up no matter how long ago she saw the doctor, but it made no difference. I thanked the lady, told her that I would be back in touch, and I called our foster agency.

When I explained the situation, our foster agency (the best in the world, I think!) didn't hesitate to say that the agency would reimburse me if I paid for the visit, so I called the pediatrician back. I stayed on hold for a little while, then I happily told the lady who I spoke with before that she could go ahead and schedule us for an appointment and that our foster agency would reimburse us. "Oh, we can't do that," she said, "the bill has to be paid in-full at the time of the visit."

"Definitely!" I said, "I would pay you in-full at the visit, and then the agency would reimburse me later."

"No, you don't understand," she said, "if a child is covered under Medicaid, we aren't allowed to accept personal payment for additional visits. You can call the Health Department. They may be able to help you, but we won't be able to see this child until her 6-month visit."

So...I called the Health Department. It took me forever to get to a live person, but when I finally did, I explained the situation in-full, expecting to hear an explanation (surely something is not right about this makes no sense!). The person who I talked to verified the details that the pediatrician had told me and said that they, too, would not able to see Emmy until her 6-month visit. "That's the dilemma," was all she said to me. She suggested that I contact the DFACS intake office and ask if they can retrieve the records from Emmy's appointment last week. In her experience, sometimes that will satisfy the need for an intake appointment.'s all rather strange, but here I sit! DFACS tells me that I have to get this baby to a doctor by Wednesday. Medicaid says they will not pay for that visit. Medicaid also says that no one else can pay for that visit. I guess I'll just google pediatricians who work for free in this upper-middle-class part of town. and see what turns up. What a mess!