Tag Archives: Adoption

Some Last (Written) Thoughts About Bill by John E. Stack

 

Bill has been out of our house for a little over six months and our lives are so vastly different now that we only have one child.  That is on child living in the house.  We have opened our house up again for a new child that has been displaced from their parents and their home.  We notified our agency about a month or so ago that we thought we were ready, but whether it is by the decision of the agency or just God’s will, we still have an empty nursery.  The one thing our agency may not understand is the longer our nursery stays empty, the easier it is to let it stay empty. 

 

For those of you that are reading my writings for the first time, or maybe have forgotten, Bill is a young boy that my wife and I took into care.  We work as foster parents and Bill was our twentieth child.  Bill was a micro-preemie and weighed only one pound twelve ounces at birth.  When we met him, he was up to a little over four pounds. And about two and a half months old.  He was the smallest baby we had ever seen, much less held.

 

We went through a lot with Bill.  He had about every type of therapy you could imagine.  It seems like my wife was running to appointments about three to four times a week.  Bill had a very difficult time gaining weight (not a problem that we have in common).  Since he was very tiny at birth, the doctors wanted him to gain as much as possible as quickly as possible.  Along with being tiny, Bill had (has) sensory problems, particularly with food textures.  He was also very, very active.  Finally, the doctors decided that if he was gaining any weight, it was better than losing it (in his case).

 

Well, approximately two and a half years went by and we began working a permanent placement plan for Bill.  His birthday was rapidly approaching, and he would soon be three.  I guess the Department of Social Services went into panic mode.  If he was still in foster care at three it would really mess up their statistics.  Normally, a transition lasts three to four months.  Bill’s was less than five weeks.

 

Bill’s new parents have had him for the past six months and his adoption recently went through.  We get to see some real cute pictures of him and his new family.  We don’t believe that he is fully bonded with his new mom and dad, but it shouldn’t take much longer.  Once they are ready, we will skype and if that goes okay then we will try for a short visit.  We think they are going to make it.  They may have some rough roads to travel, but we all do once in a while.

 

How are we doing with all this?  Do we miss him?  You bet.  Our house has never been so quiet.  I don’t think a day has gone by where we don’t mention him in a conversation.  He is very much missed, and not by just us.  Family, church family, friends, workers in stores we frequent all ask how he is doing and say how much they miss him.  This life we live affects lots of people – more than we ever knew.

 

Some ask, “why didn’t you adopt him?”  Our response is usually, “why didn’t you?”  You know, it was never in our plans to adopt, but we didn’t know God’s plans for us.  Now that we do, I wouldn’t change a thing.  Will God put that in front of us again?  Only he knows.  Plus, we are getting kind of old to be stepping out like that again.  So, for now, we wait to see the next step in his plan for us.  We never know what to expect!

 

 

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, Olivia’s Sweet Adventure, and the soon to be released (hopefully) Secret Lives (of Middle school teachers).

Hey, by the way, if you enjoyed, this share it with a friend or group of friends.  We are always in need of foster or adoptive parents and some of these posts may inspire them to step out of their comfort zone and change someone else’s life.

If you really, really enjoyed this, click on the link and check out some of the great books published by Indigo Sea Press.  That too could change someone else’s life.

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It’s Not Really All About Bill by John E. Stack

Bill came into foster care two-years and nine plus months ago.  Bill was a micro-preemie weighing less than two pounds at birth.  We met him at two months and he weighed a little over four pounds.  He has been my daughter’s little brother since.  His dad was given almost two years to get his act together, but other things were more important.  Most parents only receive one year to work their plan.

Time has moved on and months have passed.  The more we experience, the less we like dealing with Social Services.  At first, it was a real dog-and-pony show.  For those of you who are not familiar with this term or have never been in the military, it means we are going to tell you what you want to hear and pretend that we are doing everything in your best interest.  We have really got our act together.  In regards to Social Services (some, not all) and adoption, we get “if we transition back home we will probably take four months” or the transition to a new home will be slow so that Bill suffers no trauma.”  “This all about getting Bill into the right home and we want to keep him in the local area.”

 

What these things translate to are “Bill has been in the system too long and we need to get him placed now.”  “My boss and the transition team decided that we know what is best for Bill (most never met him) and we think a fast transition will work best.”  “I have too many kids on my case load and if I place him, then that is one child we no longer have to worry about.  Even if he is re-homed (put back into foster care), it will go into someone else’s case load.”  It’s not really about Bill.

 

We had a family that was real interested in adopting him until the case-worker and her boss tried to force the family into a transition of 3-4 weeks.  The family thought that they and Bill needed to have a longer time to transition.  They were told that if they didn’t want to do this, then someone else will be found.  So, they backed out in the interest of the child.

 

Another family was found in another part of the state.  We were given no information, such as names, visitation dates, length of transition, etc.   We did get a call saying that they (social services) would pick Bill up on a specific day and transport him to another town to meet his new family.  Let me rephrase this:  they were going to have a stranger pick Bill up and take him to a strange place to meet someone he did not know in order to see if he will be a good fit for their family.  Then another stranger would bring him home.

 

We were trained to believe that a transition needed to begin in the place the child was most comfortable.  For the past several adoptions we have been involved in, they all began in our home.  We had the adoptive couple in as friends, maybe shared a meal and got the child used to the other couple.  We would have some day visits, then maybe an overnight or two, then over the weekend, and so on.  Eventually, the child spent more time in the other family’s home than in ours, so the final move was really easy.

 

Bill went almost three weeks between his first and second visit.  The first visit was for one hour, the second visit was for eight hours.  Due to his confusion, Bill now hits, pinches, bites, throws tantrums, and screams.  He doesn’t know whether he is coming or going, but neither do I.  After about a week and a half, it was time for a third visit – pick up on a Friday and return on a Monday.  Even the family thought it was a bit much.  We did get to meet the adoptive family when they brought him back.  We feel that they will be a good match for him and can tell that they are already in love with Bill.  They wanted to know if all transitions went like this and we had to tell them that we had never experienced a transition like this before and we had no say so.

 

 Bill will have another visit or so and the transition will happen at the end of the month.  The couple seemed like a couple that we would really like to get to know.  Maybe we will be able to in the future.  I have to think back to a saying an old friend used in regard to something done wrong that actually turns out right – God’s will will be done, even if he has to use the devil to do it.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

 

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Transition by John E. Stack

If you have read very many of my blogs, you would know that my wife and I are foster parents.  We work with medical critical babies. We care for them, help them feel safe, and try to help them get ready for their transition back home or to their forever families.  We have had babies live with us for as short as two weeks and up to two and a half years.  Currently, we have a little boy I will call Bill.  You may have read about Bill in some previous blogs that I have written.  He has been a part of our lives for quite a while.

Bill’s life is getting ready to start a new chapter and we are excited for him, but also sad because of the changes.  A special family has been identified to become his forever family and if all goes as we hope, then in a couple of months Bill will have a new mom and dad.

Bill was a preemie, with some medical problems.  The doctors didn’t have a very positive outlook on whether he would have a normal life or how well he would be able to function.  They figured he would have at least some learning disabilities.  In every aspect of his life, Bill was delayed.  Bill was followed by four or five doctors of various specialties.  This meant lots of appointments, lots of blood drawing, and lots of therapy.

In the meantime, Bill was tied up in court.  His birth mom and dad refused to get their acts together.  They talked a good talk, but they refused to follow the plan that the court had established.  After two years, the parents lost their rights.

Well, because the court process is so slow, the Department of Social Services did not start looking for adoptive parents.  They did keep asking my wife if we had found someone.  Finally, my wife told the social worker that finding adoptive parents was not her job.  Anyway, my wife started praying that we could find someone in the local area that would want to adopt.

We are firm believers in prayer.  We have seen too many children far exceed the doctor’s expectations.  We’ve also seen the expressions on doctor’s faces when the child they said would never walk, ran across the floor.  God is still in the business of miracles and we get the pleasure of watching them happen.

Bill is still small for his age, but is now running and jumping.  You can’t understand everything he says, but he likes to talk and asks questions all the time.  Bill loves to sing and everything is classified a drum, and anything can be used as a drum stick. (He plays in time with any music we listen to.)  And, he has a girlfriend, who is about his same height.

Once we were given the okay to really look for adoptive parents, Suzanne changed her prayers a little.  This time she prayed that she wanted a good Christian family that would be willing to adopt Bill, that would understand some of his issues, someone that had previously raised kids, someone that would help foster his love of music, and finally, she wanted to have someone approach her and say that they believed that God had placed the desire to adopt Bill on her heart.  Talk about asking God for specifics.

About three weeks later, a lady at his preschool asked Suzanne if she could talk to her about Bill.  Preschool was what my wife considered her last gift to Bill – the opportunity to be separate from her and gain some independence.  She said that several weeks before she felt like God was pushing her toward Bill and she had really fallen in love with him. But, within the past week she felt that God wanted her to adopt Bill.  She had talked it all through with her husband.  Then she looked at Suzanne and said that she felt that God had placed it on her heart to adopt Bill.  This was one of the few times my wife was left speechless.

After getting some information and a little small talk, my wife had to leave.  As she sat in the car, she felt amazed at what had just happened.  She really found it hard to believe that the lady had used almost the same words that she had prayed.  Then it seemed like a small voice said in the back of her mind – isn’t that what you asked for?

Miracles happen, sometimes we just need to ask.  We are pretty sure that all of this will work out and Bill will get his forever family.  Meanwhile, we work transition and short visits, waiting for all the paperwork to happen.  It is bittersweet, but he deserves the best.  He has been through a lot, but we believe it will be worth it in the end.

 

Have you ever considered an adventure in foster care or adoption?  Check it out.  It could be the most blessed ride you have ever taken.

***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo, and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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Happily Ever After (revised) by John E. Stack

(This is a revision of a previous blog in regards to Foster Care and Adoption.)

Stories. We hear stories everyday about people who were down and out, and they turn their lives around. They become successful and often wealthy. What about the stories we don’t hear? Are those lives successful? Do they pull themselves out or are they even capable of success?

We read stories where everyone lives “happily ever after.” Again, this isn’t always the case. This story about a kid is true. I’ll call him Calvin. This kid’s name may not be Calvin, and he could be either male or female. But, it is a true story all the same.

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It didn’t matter where he was or what school he attended, in his mind people always disrespected him, because of his clothes or the way he looked. Life really sucked when you were thirteen and stuck in middle school where no one knew anything about you. Nor did they even care!

“I said get out of my way,” yelled Calvin, as he pushed the boy against the locker. The boy slammed against the metal lockers with a loud bang.

“Calvin, in my office, now!” said Principal Stern. “I’m really tired of your attitude. We probably need to call your mom. These outbursts really need to stop.”

“Foster Mom,” replied Calvin, a little louder than necessary. “I don’t live with my mother.”

“I said – to my office, Calvin!” responded Mr. Stern.

All of a sudden Calvin was near tears. “Go ahead. Call her.” he replied in an almost angry tone. “If I get into trouble again, she will just call the social worker and have me put with a new family. So what does it matter if you call her. You won’t have to worry about me anymore either.”

Calvin was a kid in the system. Yeah, one of those foster kids. Those are the kids that the state has to pay money for someone to take care of them. Maybe you think that you’ve never seen one before, but you have. There are usually two types: one that you never notice and one that you can’t miss. The one you never notice usually blends in with their current family. They are dressed nicely and they are treated like one of the family. They get to go shopping at the mall and get to go on vacations with their foster family.

The other type of foster kid usually doesn’t match the family they are with. They might look kind of dirty, or they need a haircut, or maybe their clothes don’t fit quite right. Their pants are either too long or too short. Shirts are almost always second hand, stained or too big. It’s obvious that they don’t belong to the family they are with. They are treated differently, like when the family goes on vacation, the kid gets to go into respite care with another family. Life is definitely not fair.

Calvin’s story was typical. He didn’t know his birth dad. Brandi, his mom, never really had it together. She was really wild in school – bad boys, alcohol and drugs. She liked to party and it finally got to the point that partying became more important than anything else, even him. His mom was fifteen when he was born. Brandi’s dad told her mom, “She needs to keep the little brat, so she can see what it’s like to raise a child on her own. That will teach her a lesson to not go sleeping around.” They had helped out a little bit, but kicked her out after a while when she didn’t follow their rules.

Calvin was three when he was taken away. Calvin lived with the first foster family until he was six. The second liked kids with problems because the state paid them extra money. There were many others. But few really cared. His current foster mom really cared, but didn’t know if his anger problems could be controlled.

She also didn’t know, nor did he, but Calvin had a little brother.  His name is Bill and he was born when Calvin was ten.  Bill was born with cocaine and heroin in his system.  He is okay for now, but they do not know the long term implications of the drugs.  Bill was also taken away by Social Services and this time Calvin’s mom was put in jail.

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I don’t know if Calvin’s and Bill’s stories will have happily-ever-after endings or maybe real-life endings, but they will have some sort of ending. Kids in foster care have a very slim chance for success. Often circumstances push them toward drugs, alcohol, prostitution, or some form of abuse. Those chances for success get better when they have someone in their lives that care.

In North Carolina there is, as I suspect it is in other states, a shortage of foster parents. This results in over-crowding of good foster homes and the outgrowth of lots of bad foster homes. There is always a shortage. Right now in NC there are 5 to 7 thousand kids in foster care.

Being a foster parent is a tough job. My wife and I have been foster parents for almost nine years and haves had 20 kids in foster care. We do new-borne babies and keep them until adopted. We fall in love every time. Of the 20, we adopted one, and wish we were 20 years younger so we could do more. I said it was a tough job, the toughest job you will ever love.

In November we will celebrate adoption Sunday. Check it out. There may be a life out there that you can change and give the gift of a “happily ever after.


***John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo, Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.

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Rediscovering a Treasure of Youth

When you were twelve, did you know what you wanted to become when grown? A few days ago, I started going through a closet full of photos and old papers from years ago with the idea of getting rid of some of it and organizing the rest.

After days of sorting and tossing, I discovered an autobiography I had written. It was an assignment which my seventh grade teacher, Miss Galbraith, gave us students several months to complete, and told us our success or failure carried with it a large part of our overall grade for the year and was due in the spring. No pressure there!

I remember being perplexed about how to begin, since my life had started out so different from the other children in my class. A large part of my early years were spent in foster care and later being adopted, so I didn’t have the usual baby pictures and mother and father photos for Illustration. I had to start somewhere, however, so I began with explaining I was adopted and I wrote about my last foster home, adoption, and a couple foster children who came to live with us later.

I wrote about my church and singing in the various choirs through the years, and about my friends, and about school. In sixth grade, a couple of my poems were published in the school newspaper. It’s strange to me that I still remember writing them and I can still recite them at the age of seventy-two. I mean, gads, that was a loooong time ago! Why do we remember such things? Here’s one:

        Snow Fairy

     I am a little flake of snow,

     Falling from the sky;

     I bounce and toss and whirl away.

     Such fun – oh me! oh my!

 

     I gently touch the treetops tall,

     And scamper here and there;

     I rustle on the window pane,

     With not a thought or care.

 

     And when at last I reach the ground,

     And join the other flakes of snow;

     We play a game of hide and seek

     With piercing winter winds that blow.

I wrote about how my leisure time was spent and about vacation trips to the western states, Canada and Florida that I’d taken with my parents and suddenly, it was spring and my autobiography was soon due.

In trying to write the last chapter, I found myself in a real quandary. I originally wanted to title it, “My Future,” but I had no idea what that would be. What I did write is as follows:

“…I do think putting down a lot of facts and reading them over has helped me to realize that there really is to be a future and what it is like will depend a lot on how I shape it. My mother and father say there are many things I might do and have explained to me that most of the professional fields require a lot of work and training. They have suggested I might want to do something in dramatics or music, because I like to entertain people. I think maybe I may want to be a writer, because that would be another way to make people happy.”

As I ponder the words of my autobiography, written so many years ago, I’m surprised. Dumbfounded, actually. I don’t remember them. I thought my desire to write came from the search and subsequent discovery of my sister’s whereabouts much later in my life. What a revelation! That writing seed was planted when I was twelve, not during my fifty year search.

How about you? Have you discovered something really significant about yourself many years later that was buried in your subconscious? I’d love to hear about it.

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Christmas With My Sister For The Second Time by Coco Ihle

Joanie & Coco

Joanie & Coco

Next week I’ll be traveling to spend Christmas for the second time with my sister Joanie. Our first Christmas together was when we were in our fifties. We’d searched for one another for over fifty years after having been separated as small children, sent into foster care and later separately adopted.

Our reunion in 1994 was a fairy tale filled with exquisite joy and discovery. Two Christmases later we went to the Mall and sat on Santa’s knee for the first time together. Instead of asking for material possessions, we told him how grateful we were for the gift of each other. We’d missed many years of sharing this special holiday and many others, but we intended to make up for lost time. And we have.

My sister has two married daughters who have children of their own, so I have an extended family, something I thought I’d never have. Just think, I have two nieces with wonderful spouses, three great nieces and a great nephew, and I must not forget, even dogs and cats. I feel as though I should hum the tune to “A Partridge in a Pear Tree.” I’m sure the kids have grown quite a bit since I saw them last and I look forward to their hugs.

Joanie and her husband live in a Hansel and Gretel log cabin in a forest in the Adirondacks. It’s a magical place that looks like a scene from a Thomas Kincade painting. The warm glow of light shining through the windows onto the glistening snow outside. The sound of total silence, save the sighing of the pines in the breeze. The crisp smell of winter and stars brighter than I’ve ever seen them.

Inside the aroma of dinner, the chatter of family, the warm snugness of a throw over the legs in front of the fire, and prominent splashes of red make the rooms cozy and inviting. The glow of candlelight setting off the shining golden color of the logs as they climb up to the rafters of the cathedral ceiling. And the gentle sound of  Christmas carols floating down from the balcony.

All these memories I’ll be able to re-live soon, and I can’t wait!

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My Parents’ Special Christmas Present

Sixty-five years ago today, my parents got the phone call they had been waiting, hoping, and praying for for many months: the adoption agency had a baby girl for them. Nancy was a blue-eyed, dark haired, nearly three-month-old beauty that captured their hearts and completed their family. They thought.

When the day began, they had no idea it would end with them becoming the proud parents of a new daughter. Mom was busy preparing for Christmas, and Dad was at work in his law office. Whatever task they were engaged in was forgotten as they flew into action, finding a crib, buying baby clothes and other needed items.

When Mom and Dad got married, they planned to have a big family. My father came from a family of thirteen kids, my mother from twelve (ten made it to adulthood). After years of disappointment, the doctor told my mother it would be a miracle if she ever had a baby. Then a surprise pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage. Another blow to the young couple. They decided adopting a child would be a wonderful option. The downside was, it was a lengthy process, even in those days.

Nancy brought them joy and made them want more children. The adoption agency called again when Nancy was close to two years old to say they had a baby boy for my parents. It was bittersweet news because my mother had learned she was pregnant. It was common practice at that time to actually take adopted babies back if their parents had a biological one within a certain time. My parents were worried that would happen if Mom carried her baby to full-term, so they did not adopt the little boy.

My brother was born when Nancy was two and a half, followed by me, another sister and another brother. Yes, that puts me in the middle with an older sister, older brother, younger sister and younger brother. My parents welcomed each of us as a bonus blessing. Four more miracles.

I can’t imagine life without Nancy, and the rest of my siblings. I love and respect and truly appreciate each one. But I have to confess, when growing up, to being a little jealous of Nancy on one day of the year. In addition to the gift on her birthday, my parents also gave her a gift on the anniversary of her adoption date. December twentieth is an important date for all of us. There is no doubt Nancy was meant to be with us.

Christine Husom is the author of Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, and An Altar by the River.

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