Sunday, September 18, 2011

Letter to our Adoption Agent

I know it's been fovever since I've posted on here. I know I'm a total slacker ... but my to job is just soooo busy that I hardly have time to get my nails done much less blog!

I wanted to catch everyone up on the whole adoption process. Since March (my last post 6 months ago) we've had a lot of things and also nothing really going on with our adoption. I felt the best way to sum it up was to share an email I sent to the lady in charge of our adoption process. I must note here that the lady we started our process with was PHENOMINAL! She was truly a God send us in this whole crazy process and we feel as though we're stuck without her. She's become a great friend to us and we're so blessed to have known her. Unfortunatley she has transitioned to another position within that agency and the main case worker at that office is now the person we are being contacted by. I also want to note that this blog post is in NO WAY a means to bash the organization we are affiliated with. Because of this I will not accept anyone speaking negatively on that organization, I will only accept the common understanding that our situation just plain sucks right now.

So here's my last (as in most recent not as in final) email to the lady in charge of our adoption process. All names have been removed for privacy. Also, as a background, this email follows up on a placment call that occured a few days prior. I was having issues replying to her through my Yahoo email and also needed a day or two to sort my thoughts out on the issue.

Good Evening ____,

I’m sorry I’ve been trying to respond to you, but have been experiencing issues. So I'm glad I'm now able to get this email to go through.

Thank you for considering our home for _____. She seems like a very sweet girl.

I spoke with ____and she suggested I try to connect with you just to make sure we’re all on the same page with our placement through ____. However, my current workload at the office is providing little time for me to step away at all right now. In hopes to clear up some concerns we have I’m sending this email. I hate to have to email you, I’d love to talk on the phone or in person, but it appears my only free time is after office hours.

First and foremost I want to make sure that everyone in our ____ “family” knows how much we appreciate the prayers and support through this process. We’d be completely lost without the help of everyone in your office. I want to stress this because I do not want for one moment for anyone to think we’re ungrateful for everything everyone has done for us.

With that being said we have some concerns regarding our placement and just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.

We were under the impression that although we were approved up to 8 years old by the state our agreement with _____ would be that we're not contacted about children over 4. So far, we've been informed about:
· the sibling group of the 1 & 2 year old girls (that we didn't get unfortunately)
· the sibling group of the 2, 3 and 4 year old girls (that we couldn't take due to the amount of children)
· the sibling group of a 5 year old little girl and a 2 year old little boy (which we only have one bedroom for)
· the sibling group of a 6 year old little girl and 4 year old little girl (that we had to say no b/c of John leaving two days after we were informed of them)
· Now we've been contacted about a 9 year old girl

Our concern here is that we have a room set up for a child from birth to 4 years old. At this time we do not have the resources available (as in furniture readily in our home) or financially to at the drop of a hat outfit a room with a bed and appropriate needs for a child over 4. I know that we agreed to consider children close to our age bracket and that’s why the last two sibling groups were so hard to decline, but a five year gap is very large when considering children out of our age bracket.

In addition as long as John is gone we cannot accept a child that would be school aged because I do not have a power of attorney to enroll children into DEERS and school on post at all. Either the Soldier must be present or the spouse must have a POA to do so (b/c of the state and post regulations for foster children), neither of which I have at this time due to John being at Ranger school. I want to be clear that because of this we do not want to be on hold whatsoever as you offered before, our time here at Fort Benning is beginning to tick away and we do not want to delay this process any further, we just simply do not have the ability to take in a child that is above 4 years old.

I do not mean to be picky, I want so badly to bring a child into our home that needs loving parents but I feel like we're being offered children that are far out of our sheet and this is really putting us both in a place of feeling terrible because we're having to say no.

We've also both stressed to _____ that in the coming year John and I are planning on expanding our family both through adoption and biologically and from reading this little girl's bio, I see that she is suggested to be the only child or youngest child. Neither of which will be the case in our family. We don't want to do a disservice to this little girl by taking her into a home that will not fit her. This isn't about just us and our wants, but we're not going to stop our family plans either, that would be unfair to both parties. I know _____ needs a family, but it feels like something as important as the child in question needs to be an only child or youngest child would be considered seriously if John and I are an appropriate family for her. In reality, we are not.

We come back every time to the fact that we’re not “outfitted” for a child over the age of 4. I know younger children are harder to “get” (I hate that term so very much but I can’t think of a better one), but we know what we’re prepared for and that is a younger child. This isn’t only just the “stuff” we have but also the fact that we want to have our own children and having a 9 year old and a baby in the next two years (if we’re blessed to have a baby so soon) would put us with an 11 year old and an infant. Right now, a 9 year old wouldn’t be that bad, but we’re both looking down the road, not just at this moment - because to us this child is forever, not just right now. We have to look at our forever commitment and if we’re the best parents for a child at that age, and we know we’re not.

I can’t explain to you how my heart is just crushed when we have to say no. I feel like the most undeserving person of a child if I can look at my family and say, “no this one isn’t a fit.” I wish I could explain to you how angry I am with myself when I turn a child down. A child is a gift from God and deserves loving parents and I look at myself as a poor excuse for a parent when I say no. But I have to be honest with myself, because when we are placed I don’t want to call you and tell you they have to go back. In the long run, I think that would be more harmful to both us and the child than good.

Because this kills us so badly to decline a placement I need your help. Is there a way that we can only be informed of children that meet our sheet? We can’t keep getting our hopes up when we see your emails to only be deflated by the info to follow. John and I want a placement so badly, but saying no when the children are far beyond our requests is killing us. We do not for one moment want to stop or delay our process, but we feel like failures. That’s why I need your help and guidance.

Again, please don’t think we’re ungrateful or picky. We are so grateful for everything that’s been done for us. We just don’t know where to turn or what to do at this point. I also know that I don’t have to say this, but I look up to you and value your guidance and for that I hope that you know how much we do not want to disappoint you. You wouldn’t have been praying for us this long if you didn’t see something in us. From the bottom of my heart, I hope you are not losing faith in us as parents because we have said no in the past. We never want to make anyone think less of us or ever second guess our intentions.

I’m sorry this email is so long. I hope to hear from you soon. Please, if you think we should discuss further please let me know and I will do everything in my power to get away from this crazy office.

Hoping you understand,

Dana Haines

Well the next day I recieved a pretty "cool" (as in lacking much warmth and compassion) email from this lady. She pretty much told us that being placed with a child can happen but she can't tell us if it'll happen in our time here at Benning. She also coldy told us that the state sends our homestudy to other case workers and they contact our adoption agency to offer us said child. She said nothing about our question to not be contacted for children outisde of our age range, and nothing about our concern for disappointing her or anyone at her office. She only ended her short message with "If you wish to discuss further I will make time to meet after office hours."
So where do we stand now? When John came home we discussed this and he was pretty disappointed too. We're pretty heartbroken because we feel like we're just waiting for nothing to happen. We don't mean to sound negative about the situation but this is just very discouraging.
We talked to someone from the state agency b/c many people are placed through the state MUCH quicker than through an adoption agency. The state gave us worse news: to take our homestudy from the adoption agency and place it with the state agency we would face heafty fees from the adoption agency which John and I just can't afford to spend with no guarantee our financial investment would place a child in our home before we leave Ft Benning next August :(
So out of stinky news comes some good news. John and I have decided that we are no longer putting off our biological children any longer. We have let the Army and this adoption put off our plans long enough so although we don't have any news of a baby Haines to announce, we certainliy are on that road and hope to announce a baby "Sharkfin" (for those of you that know John's nickname) on the way soon :)
Although we're no longer actively seeking an adoption we know that God works in many crazy ways and are hopeful that our adoption will happen when we stop looking for it. Please, if I may ask, keep praying for our adoptive child and for him or her to come home soon. This is still our prayer everyday in hopes that God will bring the child we're meant to be parents to.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sexual Abuse

I don't know how to title this blog any other way. As you can probably guess, I'm going to be talking about sexual abuse, specifically that of children in state's custody.

So in our second week of IMPACT classes, we discussed all the different types of abuse that a child can endure that takes them out of their birth parents home and places them into custody and the challenges that children in care must endure for the rest of their lives after they are removed from that unsafe place. Two of the biggest reasons that children are children are taken from their homes are sexual abuse and sexual assault. The differences in the two are very clear: Abuse is anything without penetration, Assault is penetration. Here's where it gets scary ... 1 in 4 girls in state's custody are sexually abused by the time they are 18 .... 1 in 3 are sexually ASSAULTED by the time they're 18!!

I know that I have to accept this and just move forward and be the best mommy to her that I can be. But to be honest, I'm having a very hard time with this whole situation. I mean, I went home that night and had a seriously emotional breakdown. I keep thinking my daughter is out there somewhere and I can't protect her. She could be living in her birth family's home or in a foster home and being abused everyday. I know it's not possible for me to know her now and where she is so I can keep my eye on her, and I understand that, but I worry about her like she's already mine.

I worry in the morning if someone put a dry diaper on her and fed her breakfast. Did she get to nap today or did she get beaten for crying when she was just sleepy and needed someone to comfort her until she fell asleep? Does she get enough milk and have strong bones or is she malnutritioned and is very sick all of the time?

I constantly worry about her and pray that she's safe. I know that people say you are in love with your child the moment you find out you're pregnant, but I truly am in love with this little girl that I don't even know. This really sucks sometimes because so many people look at you like you don't know what it feels like to be a mom because you're not pregnant. Yes, I know I'm not pregnant, but you can't mistake the love that adoptive parents have for their children as not being "real parent" love. It just really hurts sometimes to know that people don't see you as real parents.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Impact Classes

Okay I'm not even going to act like I'm diligent at this blogging thing. I need to get on it ... but man there's not enough hours in the day.

So we have now completed all of our IMPACT classes (the state mandated training for all foster/adoptive parents in the state of Georgia). I had my ups and downs with this class, but all in all, I swear I would have never been prepared for this unless I took these classes. I learned so much about children in state's custody.

Here are some things we've learned during our classes:
1. There are only really two reasons that children are taken out of their birth family's home - Abuse and Neglect. Now there are some instances when a child is abandoned at birth but these situations are much less frequent than situations of abuse and neglect.
2. When abuse happens, the child's developement stops at the age the child was abused. So let's say that a child is 7 and does well in school, but she was physically abused by her father when she was 3. Her physical and cognitive development are at an age 7, but her emotional development is at age 3 still (how old she was when he was abused) and she has trouble trusting men. And rightfully so.
3. There's a HUGE chance that our child will come from a home that she was sexually abused. I will touch on this in another blog as this was very hard for me to take and has had a bit of a lasting impression on me.

At the end of the day, I'm very happy we finished this course and I look forward to our next steps in our adoption process.

Soon I'll be posting more about the adoption, so keep posted :)

Monday, February 14, 2011


My dearest blog, I'm sorry that I've left you for a while. It's been a crazy insane month since I've visited you last. I have some fantastic news, John and I are adopting!! We actually planned on trying to get pregnant this spring and had been praying for God to expand our family, but we never knew his plan was in this way instead.

I've actually wanted to adopt a child for a long time now, probably since I was in college. I went to Africa while in college and spent some time at an AIDS orphanage and my heart shattered for these children. I decided then that I would do this, but always thought it would be a long time down the road. Just about a month ago, we went to church and heard from a military couple that lost their baby and have decided to adopt one possibly two children from Africa. Our church collected a donation for them and started an initiative called "One Less Child" where we are trying to get all the children in our city into a forever home. John and I left church and before we got 5 miles down the road (which I wasn't counting but the church is 5 miles from the interstate exchange to go home) we had decided we wanted to possibly foster a child. By the end of the day, we decided we really felt God calling us to be a forever home for a child, so we stumbled upon full adoption.

We did our research and decided to go with the adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services. Which turned out to be a blessing in desiguse because our adoption agent is a lady we go to church with. What a small world!

We've started our pocess which is very overwhelming and emotional. We have quite literally a book to fill out about ourselves in order to get the state approval, and we've started our IMPACT classes. This class is all day every Saturday for 3 weeks to help us be prepared to adopt a child out of the state's custody.

We're taking one day at a time, but so anxious for our child to come home to us. Please keep our family in your prayers.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Army Wives

If you know me, you know that I LOVE watching the show Army Wives! It's my soap opera, and I get soooo wraped up into the story line. Well the last season just started it's reruns on Sunday nights throughout Janurary and February to get viewers amped up for the new season that starts in March.

HOWEVER - my DVR quit recording the series and now my TV Guide doesn't say that Army Wives is ever coming again on Directv :( I'm so sad!!

I hope that Army Wives comes back on soon ... I need my fix!!

Screw you Earth's rotation

I am officially ticked off. So now the earth has decided to wobble on it's rotation and added a 13th astrological sign. This new addition of the sign Ophiuchus adjusts the alignments of all signs. This changes my sign that I've identified myself with for a while. I feel I'm a pretty spitting image of what a Capricorn is, and now I'm supposed to be a Sagittarius?!? No way!

This is what a Capricorn is categorized as:
1. Capricorns are very independent because they know their capabilities and therefore they rarely trust others to finish details, they like to do it all themselves.
2. The Capricorn personality is geared towards that of leadership and achievement, they always want to climb the corporate ladder and be the best they can be.
3. Capricorns have excellent sense of time and manage it very well, they are excellent organizers.
4. Capricorns might seem melancholy and stern because they live by self-discipline and responsibility.
5. They evaluate everything and they don't take daring chances without weighing the advantages and disadvantages first.
6. To the onlooker, they might seem boring but it is the serious drive and structured way of life that the Capricorn feels safe with.
7. Capricorn's self-sufficiency is often mistook for coldness, they are not as cold as they seem, this might be apparent just because Capricorns like to do everything themselves this way there is no worry about something not finished or not done properly.

This description fits me to a T!

And then this is what the stupid Sagittarius is characterized by (which is sooo not me!):
1. Blindly optimistic
2. Careless
3. Irresponsible
4. Superficial
5. Tactless
6. Restless

I refuse to be a Sagittarius, you can't make me you stupid earth rotation. I'm sticking to my Capricorn status!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Turtle Cheesecake

For weeks I've been craving turtle cheesecake. Maybe it's because I'm headed to ATL in a week for work and the last time I was there my friend and co-worker, Kristi Taylor, took me to The Cheesecake Factory (my first time ever) and I enjoyed the most delectable turtle cheesecake of my life.

For Christmas my husband hit one out of the park and surprised me with a Kitchenaid Stand Mixer (I've been dreaming of one for the longest time and I can't believe I finally have it!) I've been staring at this thing on my counter since Christmas telling myself I need to use it. I can't let it just sit there and never be used and collect dust - I mean I know what these bad boys cost!

So I finally decided I was going to figure out how to make a cheesecake into a turtle one. Not hard, you just add pecans caramel and chocolate. But seeing as I'm not the best cook I thought I would go the easy route ... and itturned out great.

So I started with the no bake cheesecake

As per the directions you add the graham cracker crust mix to the bowl

Followed by 5 tablespoons of sugar

And 5 tablespoons of melted butter

Blend until mixed

Then you put the graham cracker crust into your pie dish and press firmly into sides and bottom to make the crust

Now onto the filling ...

First you put the filling packet into your bowl

Followed by 1 1/2 cups COLD milk

Blend for 3 mins and make sure to scrape the sides so all contents are mixing

Pour the filling mixture into your pie pan and spread out evenly to the edges

Let your cheesecake sit in the fridge for at least 3 hours. I let mine sit all day until after dinner. When you go to cut your first slice it's and ABSOLUTE MUST to place your pie pan in a hot water bath (just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan). I just fill my sink just a little with hot water and put my pie pan in for maybe 30 seconds. This really helps to get your pie slice to "slip right out."

Once you have your cheesecake slice out, drizzle with chocolate sauce and caramel sauce and top with chopped pecans.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 ... What now

So today in church we started a new series entitled "From here to there." I'm pretty excited about this series and can't wait to see where it takes us. This week we discussed where were are now and where we want to be at the end of 2011.

Here are some things to remember:
1. Everyone end up somewhere, but few people end up somewhere on purpose - meaning that we should all have a plan on where we're going to be. We can't just go with the flow on big ticket things in life, because going with the flow could take us farther from where we want to be. We need to seek vision and guidance from God and that'll help us get to where we want to go.
2. How to we get from here to there?
a. Be honest about who you are. Who am I? Well ... being honest here ... I'm selfish. I'm a Sunday Christian (I'm moved by the spirit when I'm around the right people, but I get too busy the rest of the week to remember, thus I become someone that doesn't let God shine through me), I'm bossy, I'm needy, I'm unhealthy, I'm judgmental. Man that's hard to admit all of this.
b. Define your destination. Where do I want to be at the end of 2011? I want to be a better wife that lets my husband be the head of our household. I want to be financially sound. I want to be healthier (skinner would be nice, but I'd rather be healthier). I want to be intimate with God, I want to be someone who spends more time with the Word. I want to make friends - CHRISTIAN friends that I can learn and grow from. I want to be someone that people see God in. My biggest goal for 2011 is to be a mom (we'll talk more about this at a later date).
c. Take what you need. If you're going to get from here to where God wants you to be you must bring along the following: Examples - I'm planning on doing this by joining a growth group at church and reconnecting with my mentors from back home. Discipline - I need to make a plan and stick to it (once I have that developed I will share). Perseverance - I get easily discouraged and need to remember to just keep going, I'll make it one day. Focus - I have to remember to focus on Jesus and his example set for me.
d. Never travel alone. I think this is my favorite part. I have to get involved. I'm very much a loner and would rather be at home or work than socializing with people and putting myself "out there." This is very odd for me as I used to be a social butterfly, I don't know where, but somewhere I lost that - and I have to take it back! I can put my shyness to the side and get involved to "help" - doing that helps me not feel so uncomfortable. So I'm going to find somewhere I can volunteer and get involved and meet people.

Louie (the pastor today) kept mentioning, "if 2010 was a bad year for you, you can change that." Well maybe I'm still in that lovey dovey stage, but for me 2010 was an amazing year. We went through tough times and easy times, but at the end of the day I spent an entire year being married to the man that God made for me, I got a job that I love, I have become very close to my mother and I feel like I'm in a great spot ... so instead of wanting to turn a new leaf and start new, I want to grow this year. I want it to just get better than last year.

With all of that said, the one thing that really stuck with me reminded me of the person I was before I married John. Louie mentioned that you can't let your past define you. He was talking in regards to having a bad 2010, but I let it simmer and thought about my previous life. I know most of the people back home know the old me and don't know the person I am now, and that's okay because I made my bed. However this statement really gives me perspective. I am not who I was. I'm not the mean party girl anymore. I'm a wife to the best man in the entire world and that makes me a better person. I just hope one day all those people from back home that only know me as the old me will one day see the new me.

I can't wait for 2011 to get rolling, this is going to be a great year.