Friday, January 31, 2014

To the Outer Parts

Five years ago on Monday, we got the call that forever changed our lives.

Two Rebekahs cried out to God for his intervention...his rescue...on the same day. And because his name is Faithful. Redeemer. He answered.

On January 27th, 2009, I read the words of my son's mother for the first time. God started a revolution in my heart that day and cracked open a window in my life that had been locked down for years.

It's not just life that buried our plans and required us to start new. God has, continually, urged and stirred our hearts beyond our comfort. I can't tell you how many times we've, metaphorically, drawn a line, saying to no one in particular, "We are willing to go this far. We are willing to love this much." No sooner do we put the pen down and God moves our line beyond the horizon. He could keep it within eyesight...but, instead, he asks us to the outer parts. Wooing us with his spirit.

We go. We always go.

Because our love for him is greater than any comparison.

On January 27th, 2014, we got an outer parts call.

We were in the midst of setting up triple bunk beds in preparation for whatever four year old God intended to send our way. Our life is sure to be dominated by them.

I hung up the phone and looked at Ben. I was already neck deep in love, ready to swim away, if it weren't for Ben's steady grip. "No. We didn't sign up for this."

I know.

"This is too far."

I know.

That morning, I received a note from our foster care case worker. Another family was chosen for Lya and Jamar. Their case worker felt that a family with no children was the best fit. I took the call in stride and knew that God was at work because my response was void of emotion, I just felt peace.

Sibling set number two was moved overnight to a prior foster family's home for a reason unknown to me. That foster family decided to move forward with adoption.

The "no" prompting phone call was from our adoption case worker. She was calling about sibling set number three.

My mind swirled. In four days, we had talked and thought through details on three different sets of siblings. I, officially, fell in love with all six.

Sibling set number three were not part of our plan, but I was drawn to their story...

For now, we'll call them sweet boy and little sis. Sweet boy is four years old (I know, right?) and little sis is four months old. Due to lack of progress, the judge, uncharacteristically, changed the status of the file from reconciliation to adoption, even though these siblings have been in care less than 12 months. Sweet boy is suffering loss as he deals with the painful understanding of no-show visits from his birth mother. Little sis has her own struggles in life as she was drug-exposed and fighting for normalcy inside her little body.

Our case worker asked for our consideration even though the case was outside our plan. Our plan never included legal risk.

I had a conference call with our adoption case worker, the siblings' worker, and the agency supervisor on Wednesday. They are sure that we are the right family. No other family was being considered. They, confidently, expressed their reasons for believing this case will move toward parental termination by April, but they were transparent in making sure we understood the risk.

The siblings' case worker would like to place sweet boy and little sis in our home within the next two/three weeks and then walk us through the steps of court petition, pre-trial, and trial for termination. We have a pretty good idea of what should happen....but this is foster care; anything can happen.

We spent Monday night talking through every scenario, all of our plans, and the ever-steady hand of God in the life of our family.

There are too many thoughts to pound out, here, tonight.

But, I wanted to give you an update of where we're at...

On Tuesday morning, we will go to the agency to meet our lovies for the first time.

We said yes. Yes to God. Yes to risk. Yes to sweet boy and little sis.

We don't know God's purpose, but we're sure of its existence.

This will be an interesting journey as the path is unknown. The only confidence we have is in the one who makes known. We are desperate for his guidance as we follow a plan that wasn't written by us...

(If you have any experience with drug-exposed infants please email me. I covet your thoughts/advice)


  1. Wow!!! Both my babies were drug addicted at birth. The withdrawals were terrible but once we got past that they are doing great. Peyton is four (almost five) and super smart and WILD. Britton is three (almost 4), a bit slow with his speech, super funny/witty and WILD!!!! I do wonder about their hyperactivity being related to the drugs but at this point we are not seeing any long term effects on them. I was very conscious of bonding with them as infants. I carried them around in a sling I made for them ALOT!! I put them skin to skin as often as possible and kept them attached to me many hours of everyday for their first year.

  2. I love reading your blog. I read this with tears in my eyes. I will be praying for you and your precious family.

  3. That is so exciting! I can't believe how calm you are through all these uncertainties. Your family is growing!! :)

  4. My experience as been as a labor and delivery nurse, so please keep that in mind. At 4 months she will be over any acute withdrawal. At this point her needs will be just like any other baby. To be loved, kept warm, fed and stimulated so that her brain can grow.
    Children have an amazing capacity for growth and change. Her environment going forward is what will make the biggest difference.

  5. Wow. I am amazed and excited for you.
    Ben and Rebekah you guys inspire me and make me have faith in humans.
    Lucky kids, lucky family that grows.
    Sending love x

  6. Praying for you and confident that God has you in his hands and will lead you to many blessings, regardless of what happens.

  7. I read your blog. I don't know you in person. Following along the last few weeks, I have been amazed at how you have handled all of this. I could read the posts with interest and admiration, but not with an involved heart since I've never met you. This one though - I have chills all up and down me. Even I can feel God right in the midst of it. I will be praying for you all.

  8. Rebekah...I don't see an email address...but Andrew was drug exposed to heroine until 30 weeks.... my email is let me know if you want to talk.

    1. Andrew needed a lot more holding and on demand feeding, but gained weight well. Pediatrician said she would have been more concerned if it had been alcohol. He is easily startled, but we really don't see any difference to a "normal" baby as yet.

  9. I have chills. It just seems right.

  10. Sweet girl - you can do this. What was she exposed to? Message me on facebook or get my number from Terri, this is what we did in Arizona, drug babies. We even got to keep one!!!!! What warriors you and your Ben are!!!

  11. Check out Elaine's blog, God's Faithfulness Through Infertility. She is on a blogging break, but would likely have some insight for you.

  12. Hi hun, I have watched these cases play out time and time again and have supported many a foster parent/adoptive parent through them. I also have experience with and training in SENs. So, if I can help, I would be happy to do so. I will send a quick email now. I am loving the forethought of these caseworkers to place these kids in a permanent home now instead of placing them in another foster home only to move them to an adoptive home after termination of rights. That shows they know something about the needs of these children and, let me tell you, that's a gift! I am loving your path, the way you process it and your transparency and honestly through it all. Thank you.

  13. First, I want to say that you guys seem like great parents and I have no doubt that you will do great things for and with these kids. I just wanted to give you a little information that I have noted. You may already know all of this and I am sure most of it seems like common sense, but sometimes people just need a little reminder, especially when they are in the thick of things.

    Infants who have had exposure to drugs due to a mother’s drug use could experience any of the following:
    - Disturbed sleep patterns
    - Low birth weight
    - Hyperactivity
    - Low frustration tolerance
    - Easily startled
    - Easily woken
    - Irritability
    - Poor feeding habits
    - Rapid heartbeat
    - Excessive sudden movements
    - Urinary tract defects
    - Impaired motor skills
    - Delayed social skills
    - Behavior problems

    For many of these issues I would suggest consulting an occupational therapist. Of course you will want to get to know your child first to determine if there are any issues and if you feel you need help with them, but OTs have a wide range of experience and can help with feeding issues, sensory issues, sleep issues, motor skills, etc.

    As far as you are concerned I just want to suggest a few things for those times you might feel overwhelmed and things that may help you avoid feeling overwhelmed.

    1. Try to remain calm. Even though your baby may have numerous melt-downs throughout the day, react in a calm and soothing manner. If you have to have your own melt-down occasionally, do it behind closed doors away from the baby.
    2. Try to head off trouble. You’ll soon learn the signs that your infant is about to lose it. Common signs to watch for may be agitated movements, eye aversion, and skin color changes. Begin to soothe your baby before things get out of hand.
    3. Swaddling. This works for healthy infants and may do wonders for those that have suffered the effects of withdrawal.
    4. Avoid overstimulation. Watch for signs that your infant is becoming over-stimulated and try to calm her before things go too far.
    5. Infant massage. This is great to do when you want to settle your baby down or you simply want to spend more time bonding with her.

  14. So excited for your family and answering "yes" to God's plan! Of course it's always a risk in Foster Care, but the reward far outweighs it. We adopted our 2 thru foster care (we were foster/adopt parents). Praying for a smooth transition! We had friends that had drug-exposed babies and although it was tough most nights, they are doing great now. You may want to get in contact with your local Early Intervention Services to start some services that little miss might need. Sometimes with these drug-exposed babies you may have therapies for years to come and sometimes not but always best to start out as soon as possible. Again, congrats and prayers coming your way!

  15. Your openness and faithfulness to God's will is inspiring! Thanks for your faithful witness!

  16. Rebekah, your story never fails to bring tears to my eyes! The baby can get help through your Early Intervention Program (it may be called something else in your state) with in home support. Praying for your whole family as you follow God's lead for these babies!

  17. Praying for you and your family. I am blessed to watch you fully trust God. You have a beautiful heart and I have loved watching your growth for years.

  18. Wow! God surely had a plan for you and your family, and it definitely includes raising 3 4 year olds!! I sure hope this all works out for you and that you have a great visit.

  19. Hi Rebekah,
    A friend introduced me to your blog because we have a lot in common. I am a single woman who decided 15 years ago that I wanted a family more than anything else in the world. I didn't have any husband prospects, and a friend suggested adoption. After attending an adoption fair (a total miracle of God that I even found out about it), I felt led to adopt through foster care - in spite of the risk. Long story short -- I adopted 2 wonderful infants (now 13 and 10). They were placed in my home at 5 months and 7 months and one was adopted in 2 years, the other took almost 4 years of courts and petitions and visits and stress. But God provides and I was able to adopt both. My youngest struggles with learning and emotional disabilities due to fetal alcohol exposure. God has made me a fierce advocate for my daughter and getting her services, and even though there are many difficult times, He has led me through and given me a child with determination and love for the Lord. May God bless you and give you strength as you pursue this new venture with the siblings. I left my comfort zone the first day I entered the classes for foster care, and can now say I have expanded my comfort zone to include many other experiences. Sue S.

  20. You are truly God's heart walking on earth! I will be praying God's grace over your whole family!

  21. oh! so exciting! you are so brave to roll with the many unknowns. rooting for you, for all SIX of you. This little boy and girl are so, so lucky.

  22. My daughter, now 7, was born addicted. I don't know what drugs lil sis was exposed to and I am sure it will make a difference. I adopted my daughter internationally at the age of 9 months. She was born addicted to cocaine and might have been exposed to heroin as well. Here is what I can tell you. She was a preemie with very low birth weight. She still struggles to gain weight (barely 40 lbs at 7). AS a baby, she had a very exaggerated startle response and, to some extent, she still does. She is ACTIVE and because of it, a gifted gymnast. She is smart as a whip and all of her academic skills are above grade level in 1st grade (reads on a 4th grade level, connects topics, does well in math). She is very ADHD which comes out in a constant need to move although she can accomplish tasks. She was in OT for 3 years as a young child and is now medicated to deal with the sensory and activity level. She can be short tempered, this is just starting to be seen now. Until now, she was a happy, go lucky kid. The demand for being still coupled with social concerns and overwhelming nature of a school classroom probably contribute. My daughter was in an orphanage for her first 9 month and had no trouble bonding and being firmly attached despite her prenatal exposures. I had her evaluated by 2 therapist when we had been home a couple of months to be certain. I don't think anyone would be able to see my daughters issue upon seeing a room full of 7 year olds and I predict a very bright future for her.

    Best of luck,
    Shanna mom to 2 through adoption

  23. Amazing! Thank you for sharing so transparently!

  24. Goosebumps! God is guiding you. SET 3!?? Wow! A boy and a baby girl! How amazing is he!!

    May God bless you and give you the strength you need to pursue this new journey.

  25. This is all so amazing!! I can't find your email but feel free to email me ccolbert07 (at) gmail

    We have had 3 drug exposed babes! We are also waiting for our new foster son to be dropped off in 2 hours!! Praying for your family!!!

  26. Wow. What a story! I will be praying for you and all of the children God brings into your life.

  27. Thank you!!!! Truly, my heart is so encouraged by all of your love and support for our family. My email box has been overflowing with success stories and how amazingly resilient these precious kids are.

    Shanna, I love what you said about a room of seven year olds. I would say the same thing about LJ. If you saw him in a room full of peers, you would never know his rough beginning. He may not have been exposed to substances...but every mother in a long line of mothers failed him before me and that has taken us two years to work through.

    My spirit is full tonight and I am excited about this new door that we are about to walk through. Each day closer to Tuesday, I am able to step forward in confidence.

    I am blessed by all of you. What an amazing community!

  28. Your faith, passion, and love always inspire me to be a better reflection of Christ. Thank you.

    Praying for your transition, for all of you!

  29. So amazing what God will call us to if we just listen. Praying for each of you as you step on to this roller coaster.