Tuesday, October 11, 2016

In April of 2015, on April 22 to be exact, I got a phone call that would change the life of our little family. We had just been approved to foster, which was something we did not want to do (at all, ever). We had a room ready and were waiting for our girl.... Micah, on the other hand, had been praying for twins. We chuckled and were  amazed by this far fetched prayer that so specifically involved blonde hair but we continued to pray for this child. 

April 22, after I hung up the phone with the DCS worker, the one that I had just laughed at because he said they had twins and then told that I couldn't get in touch with David because he could not answer his phone at academy and was not getting my messages about 2 little drug babies that needed placement, but hey, we've been married a while and David would be okay and it's all good speech, I went right away and bought these babies their own pajamas, swaddlers and blankets. 

At the NICU the next day, I entered to the worst screaming cry that one could ever imagine. I had only seen adults in withdraw but this was altogether a different thing. The nurse saw me get out a pair of pajamas for Harrison after we gave him a therapeutic bath. I was quickly told that the NICU had a lot of donated things, that I didn't need to go buy this stuff, they had plenty of swaddlers and other things. I told her that I understood but these babies needed their own things, that they deserved to have them. 

Both of my biological babies were given baby showers and lavished with gifts. The twins deserved this too. They deserved someone to be excited for their arrival and someone to want them to have things that were meant just for them. Unfortunately, my babies were an afterthought.... prenatal visits were limited to two times before they arrived 6 weeks early. The need for drugs overrode anything else. There were no baby showers and there was most definately no celebration or announcement of these sweet babies arrival. 

As we approach our adoption date (praise Jesus) we are planning a big party. The kind with balloon animals, bouncy houses, cotton candy, and face painting. "Extravagant" is a word I have heard.... yeah, maybe but we are overjoyed to celebrate this huge thing and to announce to the world that it's official that they are ours, that they are special, and to finally celebrate our sweet twinsies with the celebration that they have deserved all along. 

God is good! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My, my.... what a difference a year makes! This time last year the boys and I were soloing as David was away at academy for 7 weeks. I relished the time by finishing the baby's room (note: baby being singular here). Luckily I chose a nice light gray color that complimented all the baby furniture and cute girly bedding my friend Amanda gave us. We were still praying for our girl that foster placement would bring. Oddly enough, I had started praying for her family. Micah continued his prayer for twins, which I still shake my head at sometimes but there were a lot of questions as to when "she" would come. I remember saying "maybe she hasn't been born yet" and the other weird response "we will get a call right before Dad comes home from academy." And we did.

This time last year, my sweet twinsies were born 6 weeks early to a mother that had abused at least 4 drugs throughout her pregnancy. Once born, they were whisked away to the Johnson City NICU were they started the grueling process of withdrawl. My babies were left by their birth parents to deal with this on their own. Once we got the placement, everything was dropped to get to these babies. I went right away and bought their own clothes and swaddlers so they wouldn't have to use the donated ones in the NICU. All of our time was devoted to them, to being available for all the feedings and to hold them and love away the pain and discomfort that the morphine wouldn't take away. Our little Harrison was hit so much harder and we settled in to some long hours of James Taylor and Toad the Wet Sproket to ease it away. David and I held them so tight that our arms ached. 

We reflect on where these babies have come from, what a year did for them. I cannot think of this time and the healing they had without thinking of how Hermitage Health Center had such an integral part in this process. I was still on staff there as the Social Service Director. My boss Jeannie allowed me to bring both babies to work with me. My office was made into a virtual nursery with a bassinet that both babies slept in together since they were so tiny. Man, oh man how my babies were loved. All of my co-department heads, employees, and the resident's held them,  rocked them, loved them, fed them and prayed for them from the time we got to work till the time we left. I remember tears being shed for them as others witnessed the withdrawals and how some were able to feel it for themselves as the babies bodies cramped up. Some resident's would wheel into my office to hold them and love on them so sweetly. Out on the floor, resident's would ask about them and want to peek at them. Department heads like Hope, Arlene, and Misty were spit up on so many times nobody could keep count and everyone would help with dirty diapers. During meetings, the babies were passed around like it was a part of our everyday routine. I know that all these people had a major part in our babies coming out of the withdrawal process and we can never ever say thank you enough for the compassion they showed as they all did their everyday job duties too. I know that we would have got the twins better but I know that the process would have been longer without all the love there.  Every NAS baby needs a place like Hermitage. Thank you my Herm peeps.

 I will always give credit where it is due without any apology....  God has delivered and has given our babies the best testimony. Like I said before, I knew my God could do it! Happy birthday sweet Harrison and Anna-Blaine. You are so loved!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Do you know how many pieces are in a Dr. Brown's bottle? 5. Doesn't seem like much but consider washing for twins, especially when they were eating every 3 hours. David pointed it out once after washing a sinkful.... I never thought about it because I couldn't get past all the clothes we were washing....

Our bottle days are few. The twins are taking sippy cups and I realize the obvious.... that they are growing up. Our baby boy is walking and his sister is, well, it isn't her idea yet so she just is sitting pretty and watching. Our lady of leisure....

The milestones have been so sweet. We have been amazed to see 2 babies rise up from being born drug addicted preemies to being 2 babies that are on track for their true age and developmentally strong. These are so sweet for us after seeing hours of grueling withdrawls that made their bodies shake and their muscles contract and a cry that you wish you could forget ever hearing. We watched as they had to have morphine to ease the pain their tiny 3 and 4 lb bodies felt from being withdrawn from a drug that they never took themselves. Yeah, we have come a long way down a path that no baby should ever come down.... and that is why we are so proud and so blessed as we see the first steps and hear new words. We have seen God's deliverance and rejoice in what He has done.

Last week was a huge step....the parents signed over their rights, which has been my prayer since i walked into the NICU and declared that my babies were crying and needed me (having no clue that it truly was them I heard). They actually have until tomorrow at 5 pm to change their mind. I remain in prayer amd thanksgiving for what is to come and what we have had. Please say a prayer for them, the birth parents. We can all point out the things they did wrong but it truly isn't our place to judge them.... that day will come for them as it will us all... I pray they themselves can find God's deliverance from the issues they have.... that they can be delivered just as our babies were....

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Have you ever said "I won't do that? It isn't for me" and then get hit in the forehead by God, who obviously laughed and said "you wanna bet?"

So, our snowglobe has been shook up in a mighty way. Last year, while trying to fund raise for international adoption (and getting nowhere) both David and I had this complete change of heart.  Both of us, who were completely closed to the idea of fostering, came together and discoverd that our hearts had been changed and were ready to sign up for PATH classes and get started on the path for fostering. We had no clue what we had in store. We got the boys on board and started getting all the info together that DCS needed from us. We had some big decisons to make, like what kind of kid we could handle, what age group, could we care for siblings, etc.

As you know, the testosterone in our house was way too much. 2 boys, 1 husband, 1 cat, and 1 dog.... all boys. It was a no-brainer to put down that we would take a girl, aged newborn to 5. One night, much to our astonishment, Micah, who was 7 at the time, prayed for, wait for it.... twins. Blonde twins, blond twin girls. David and I both looked at each other and I think one of us mouthed "WHAT?!?!" Micah was so sure of his prayers, so confident.  He had been praying for snow so that he would get snow days and God had answered every one of those prayers. "God can do it."

And so it goes..... we finished up all the requirements and the home study. Micah had changed his prayer a little and jokingly said he was going to pray for a boy too (after I was frustrated cleaning the bathroom and said not another boy would step foot in this house). David accepted a position with the state of Tennessee. We found out he would go out of town for 6 weeks for training, only coming home on Friday and leaving us again on Sunday afternoon. While he was gone, I would work in the baby's room. I painted and hung things and folded clothes and blankets. I did the curtains and organized the things we had been given. The boys would ask when we were getting our baby girl and one day I said that maybe she hadn't been born yet. I told David that we would get the call right before he came home from academy.....

Sure enough, one week left for David, I was hooked up, getting my weekly dose of iron when the call came. The guy said he had...... wait for it....... twins. I laughed... I mean, how could I not laugh? He asked if something was funny and I said "God has an amazing sense of humor." David couldn't have his phone at academy and could only check messages on breaks. I called and texted leaving messages like "call me", "I have to talk to you now," "why aren't you calling me?!?!" In the end, I ended up telling the case worker I couldn't get in touch with Dave  but we would take the placement. When he asked if I was sure, shouldn't I talk to my husband first, I replied with something like "naw, we've been married long enough, it's  all good."

There are a lot of details I can't share just yet but we knew we had a girl and a boy, 13 days old, some health issues that would keep them in the NICU for about a month. We knew that we would have to commit some time to get these babies through this, but,man, we were overwhelmed by how precious they were and we holed up in the NICU to get them through. We held them so tight that our arms ached  and I would sing and play James Taylor to get us through some rough times with our baby boy.

We have had the twins for 9 months now. There are days that I look in their room and see them and shake my head that there are two babies here.... two.... it amazes me that God answered Micah's prayer and gave us what we needed. When people know they are foster children, we are often told how lucky the twins are to have us and how great we are...... the thing is, we are lucky to have them and we aren't great, God is. We never wanted to do this until He changed our hearts.

We go to court this week. The permanacy plan is being changed to reflect adoption and to stop the plant to reunify with the parents. It is exciting for us but also bittersweet. We have been amazed at what we have seen God do during these 9 months.  He delivered our babies from something that adults struggle with, and He has given us the blessing of seeing these sweet ones as they reach milestones.

Please say a prayer. Court tears me up. I feel like crying just being in there. We want this over, to make them ours forever and get out of the system. Please say a prayer for us and the birth parents. They really need it.

The Gray's , all 6 of us.

Monday, May 19, 2014

How do you put a price on a life? I have asked myself that question this evening as I watched the boys ride their bikes, did laundry, cooked dinner, and now as I type this. I have to admit that I am tired. We are trying SO hard to fundraise. I have been making cakes left and right, made hairbows, bracelets, signs, baked goods. We have been doing the Farmers Market.... David is doing a newspaper route 3 nights a week....... Might not seem like much but it is when you add in our usual 40 hour a week occupations, plus continuing to care for our family. Even with the addition of a bonus from work, which I was so thankful for, we are still no closer to being at our first step. I look at the figures of what we need and we aren't even close. Why is there a price to provide a family to a child? How is it okay?

Now, I am going to go ahead and address those who keep wanting to suggest foster care. My heart is not into "temporary" and I could not handle investing in a sweet life and have it ripped away. We aren't there at this point in our life but I am so thankful for those that are. This isn't an option. Yes, I know that the state will cover costs. The state isn't going to be able to repair a devastated family who had their child given back to their family, and yes, it happens.

Please, if you have a suggestion for a fundraiser, please let me or David know. I wish I could explain so you could understand our hearts and why we want to do this. I feel it so strongly, as does David. I ask how God could lay this on our hearts. I prayed this out loud as I left work the other day. I said "God, we can't do this. What are we thinking?" and I turned the radio station right then to hear a man tell his adoption story of his daughter Deborah. Coincidental? I didn't think so..... I laughed and answered back "Okay. Let's do this." I feel so overwhelmed with so many decisions and ask that you please pray for us. Please...... we need sincere, heartfelt prayers.... prayers that God will provide or that we will see that this isn't His will. Or whatever you want to pray, we just need them. I am so thankful for Bethany B., Molly H, Penny H., Arlene H., Misty B., Pam H., Glenda E. for listening to me and for really being supportive. I find it funny that some of our closest friends seem to be MIA with this and I am SO appreciative that these people have actually been interested and listened to me. I can't tell you girls what that means.

Friday, April 25, 2014

It is past midnight. The boys have been in bed for hours, as well as David, who does his newspaper route tonight. I have mopped the dining room, painted, made 8  bracelets and have checked on the boys at least 3 times. Once was because Garren needed tucked in again.... once was to feed the frog.... once was to peek at their sweet faces, to listen to their deep, relaxed, sleeping breaths.

 My boys are tucked in to have sweet dreams after reading a bedtime story, which is usually our ritual. I wondered where our little girl is tonight. Is she tucked in with comfy pj's on?Did she get to read a book? Did she get tucked in and wished sweet dreams, followed by kisses? Did she have enough to eat tonight? Is she inside or living in a cardboard shanty, trying her best to stay warm? Is she wondering where she will get breakfast to.morrow and already knows a trash can she can go to? These are thoughts that are hard to bear but I know in my heart that I am to help this child. We are to give her a family and take care of her.... to kiss boo boos, to play dress up with, teach her to ride her bike, to hug and kiss, to give her 2 big brothers to make her laugh..... We want to do this now.... to go bring her home.

Somebody told me that they had raised two kids and they weren't interested in adoption. And it isn't for everyone. But how can we turn our backs on children that are on the streets? Children as young as 4.... with nobody, Trying to get into an orphanage that is full already? Some places they have to hide from pimps who try to kidnap them into sexual slavery, and yes, as young as 4 years. It pains me to think of my boys going through trash to find food, having no guidance, not knowing what to do.

 I find myself praying for a little girl that I don't know... that I have never seen, but who already has a huge place in my heart. And I want to go to her so bad I can't stand it. But, we wait, and pray.
And I ask that you would too.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

30 Peanut butter Easter Eggs, one birthday cake, another cake baked, 6 runs of buttercream, 2 runs of chocolate buttercream, and 7 lbs of homemade fondant........ that's what I did after I came home from working my usual 8 hours today. So, now it is 10 pm and I finally sit down, along with Garren, who just decided he is not sleepy and got out of bed. "Are you tired?" Garren wants to know...... "Yes, but I am doing this to help bring your sister home." And he smiles and says "Good. When?" Good question.

I had a lengthy conversation with the adoption agency this week. It was about "special needs" amongst other things, and I got stressed out, to the point of telling myself that I can't do this, that it isn't right, that we aren't ready, that we are crazy, that we really have no clue what we are getting ourselves into. And I lost focus..... And then, support. Wow, where has that been from some of the people that we love most? Cause we have some good friends that have not even acknowledged what we are doing.... friends that we depend on to pray for us. But as someone really great reminded me, you really find out who your friends are, and we can do this with or without them, that they aren't the ones that matter anyway. And that God has this, no need to worry. And there's a little girl waiting on us, who needs our family. So, all these crazy things that sidetracked me? Just things, nothing more.  

So, yes...... I will continue to make cakes and chocolate eggs and hairbows and bracelets and whatever it takes. And we can do this, even with special needs or whatever it is........ because "If not us, then who?"