Permission Granted

When I had my first baby I wanted to be with him all the time.  This is normal.  Mom’s need to be with their children and at the same time I treasured those little trips to Target to get food.  Just small outings where my husband could have one on one time with our baby boy.  As Robby grew I was never away from him over night.  I adjusted my job so either he came with me, or I came home for the night and went back in the morning.

Then when Robby was three Dan arranged two days away for our anniversary to Chattanooga.  He had friends of ours watch Robby for those two days.  Those were the hardest two days of my life and the best two days.  Permission Granted.  I could be away from him and he was just fine.  He had a blast.  In fact, two weeks later he went to my sister’s house for a few days too.

New moms need to know it is ok to be away from their kids.  They have permission, actually they really don’t need permission.  Part of raising kids is teaching them to fly.  Part of that is done by gently pushing them out of the nest.  We home school, gently pushing them out of the nest comes in forms of summer camps, VBS, homeschooling classes and other clubs and sports throughout the year.  My husband and I have taken week-long trips together without the children.

Moms you have permission to be away from your kids.  It is ok.  Yes some will cry, and it will be hard.  I have a five-year old who cried, screamed, yelled, threw, you named it he probably did it when we dropped him off at our church CDC for morning preschool.  I finally had to take him out.  But a few more months at home and he has made it a week at VBS.  But I know not all kids are not easy.

I also look at foster moms, since I am one too.  In one year we can all of a sudden have a house full of kids.  Most families take years to have this many kids.  And if you are a stay at home foster mom, the state does not fund child care for you.  So here you are left with little ones and no help.  But you need help.  Permission is granted to ask.  In fact you don’t need permission.  Just because you are a stay at home mom, does not mean you should not be allowed help for daycare, or summer camp for your kids.  You need a break.  You have to take care of yourself first.  Ask, ask, ask.

Moms, it is ok to be away from your kids.  To send them to VBS for the week or summer camp.  Even if they are in school all year, it is still ok.  Each mom is different and do what you know you can handle.  Permission is granted for you to be an awesome mom, and amazing mom.  Call another mom and go out for coffee.  Get a baby sitter and go on a date with your husband.  Have your husband take the kids to the movies and you stay home.  Your deserve it.

Permission Granted.


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The beginning…

Hello. My name is Jennifer. My husband and I adopted a little boy this year, Bryan, and he is 6 years old. I thought I would share with you our journey and “labor pains.” I want to be sure and start from the beginning so you know WHY and HOW we decided to take this path. Buckle up and ENJOY THE RIDE BECAUSE I KNOW WE HAVE..

When I was younger, I remember saying that I wanted to adopt children. I didn’t know anything about adoption or know anyone who was adopted so I am not sure how I got this idea but I did. After Jeremiah and I got married, I was diagnosed with PCOS. They told us it would be difficult to get pregnant but we continued to try. Countless baby showers later, I had had enough. I wanted my chance to be a mother.

At a friends house one night, somebody mentioned they were going to adopt through the Foster Care System. That Monday we were signed up to take MAPP classes and get licensed for Adoption. We started our classes in October 2011 and had an approved Homestudy on December 20, 2011. This is going to sound a little harsh, but at this time we were allowed to start looking for children on a website. It’s very different than adopting a child that has been placed with you THROUGH Foster placement. We actually had to search through children on different websites. We submitted our homestudy EVERYDAY to so many different agencies and rarely received a reply. COUNTLESS children without homes and we were willing to give them one… but nobody called.

In March we decided to contact some agencies who have what they call Meet and Greets. Basically, you go to an event that is set up as a fun day for children in Foster Care or Group Homes who are waiting on a Forever home. We went to 3 events in April. I will skip to the punch here and let you know that we met our son on April 23, 2011. There he was playing a game all by himself. Normally I don’t have a problem talking to children but when I saw him, I was at a loss for words and was so scared to go up to him. I took a deep breath and just walked right up to play with him. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT!

Bryan, my husband Jeremiah and I played all day. We played on the swings, we sang songs, had lunch, jumped on the trampoline, read books and told stories, played tick tac toe, had an Easter Egg hunt and shared cookies. There we met the Gaurdian Ad Litem, case worker and case manager. They were all so nice and loving. They shared with us that Bryan was just TPR’ed on April 22 so he hadn’t hit any websites yet and was legally available for adoption. They also stressed that they didn’t have any families in mind and would gladly start the process on Monday morning with us. The GAL said that she loved us for Bryan and wouldn’t not stop until she got what she wanted and that was all 3 of us together. Later that day, we say SEE YOU LATER to Bryan. (Of course I cried bc honestly you never know what will happen at these events or if you will see the children again.) I gave our information to everyone involved and took down theirs.. EXCEPT FOR THE GAL. Once we got in the car tohead back to town, I started emailing our homestudy to everyone involved. I asked them to send it to the GAL. This is when my labor pains begin…..


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Developing a Sense of Trust Makes Strong Families.

4. Develops a sense of trust

When babies are born, the first thing that they learn is trust. Trust that when they cry their needs will be met. Crying is their only form of communication. When our babies cry, we pick them up, love them, feed them, and care for them. This teaches them that every thing is ok.

This little guy above is my nephew Jon Jon. My daddy took the picture!

When you get married you form a bond of trust. For better or worse. I promise to be there.It is wise for you to create hedges or fences to make sure that trust stays true in your marriage. Listening to each other and keeping communication strong helps keep trust strong. Respecting each other creates a sense of trust.

Divorce is not in our vocabulary. We never have to worry about if we have a bad day with each other that it may end it all. We trust each other that we can make it through those tough times. We trust that God has given us the strength. But it takes work. All the time.

That trust we have in each other is something we have to teach Jeremy. He makes comments that Dan is cheating on me or me and the pool guy. Coming from a normal back ground kid, I would be mad. But we know his back ground. We know that we have to teach him, that Dan and I are strong and together. I do not go to the store to “cheat”. I goto the store to go to the store. But if you understood the history of where he grew up, this is what people did. They didn’t commit to each other for ever. They came and went. They cheated. They were not there when you needed them. Sometimes the only person you could trust was yourself.

Robby grew up with a strong sense of trust. He was hungry, I fed him. He was wet, I changed him. Yes there were times he cried and I didn’t know why. Sometimes babies cry. But we gave Robby that sense of trust.

Isaiah came to us stiff as a board. We popped him into the sling and carried him. He cried all the time. He was sick. He spit up all the time. We only fed him 3-4 ozs at a time. But in time he wasn’t stiff any more. We invested a lot to help him learn to trust. To teach him how to attach.

We did not know he was going to be ours forever. Just that he needed this. To trust.

This trust is a two way street though.

While teaching children to trust, parents trusting children is important to. Mr. Isaiah has been at it again with food. This time hiding food in the dinning room under a dresser. This brought in an ant parade. Right now I do not trust him in the kitchen. He is not allow in the kitchen. He had to get really strict with him about the kitchen and food thing.

When Jeremy move in with us I didn’t trust him. I loved him and wanted him. I just didn’t trust him. He was coming from a back ground where he had done many things and I didn’t know yet how much I could trust him. As time went on, I slowly trusted him more and more. But then when things would happen, certain trust would fly out the door and slowly had to be regained again.

Trust in the Lord you God with all your heart, mind and soul.

Trust is a funny thing. Here one day gone the next.

Why don’t you take your kids on a Trust Walk? or better yet, let them lead you!

Check out my Pinterest Board on Strong Families for more ideas on trust

How do you develop a sense a trust in your family?


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Can you Homeschool and do Foster Care?

There are a lot of questions I get asked about foster care and homeschooling.  One of the biggest one is how do you balance home school and foster care?  My answer, very carefully!

I started homeschooling Robby from the beginning for many reasons.  We knew a few homeschooling families and was very impressed of how well-adjusted to life these kids where.  We wanted our kids to reflect that.   When I stopped working, it opened the door of the possibility of homeschooling.

Robby also had some “pooping” issues when he was younger and made that “K” year very hard, so it also worked to keep him home.  As we continued we started to develop a home school mind.  When we started fostering, we started with babies. We wanted to stay younger than Robby and this worked.  While I only had two kids I kept our foster babies home.

When I got up to three kids, I enrolled my two little ones in our churches child care center two mornings a week.  I needed some time to do some time with Robby (like speech therapy) and it was easier with out the little ones.  Also when I had Dr. appointments or a meeting at DHR, I could make arrangements for my little ones to be at the center.

It wasn’t until Jeremy moved in with us in his 7th grade year that I had to enter into a public school.  We loved his teaches and counselors there!  They bent over backwards for us.  Up until then, Jeremy really hadn’t been to school, just bits of school.  At this time, I really didn’t think about homeschooling him.   Our days were balanced.  I enjoyed our after school talks we had every day over a potpie.

When he was in 8th grade (still in foster care) I asked to home school him.  We were having some problems and I knew that if we could get  home, it may help.  Our other option was private school.  We looked into one just before his 9th grade, but he was trying to live a normal life and wanted to go to normal high school.  In 10th grade he went two days and came home and asked if he could be home schooled.  I told him try one more day.  My husband felt it would be better for him to be home schooled, and here we are today.  They key with Jeremy was we knew we were adopting him when we asked to home school him while he was in foster care.

A year ago we had a bright 9-year-old move in with us. He was in 3rd grade and that was our first exposure to the elementary schools.  And our first taste in balancing foster care with home school.  And it was not easy.  We are done with homeschooling in the morning, early afternoon.  At night we don’t have homework.  But Brandle was coming home with homework and the last thing he wanted to do was homework.  He would rather play with Robby.  So I started doing some of Robby’s work in the evenings doing homework time, to help balance things out.

Doing the summer, we picked up foster care of one of Brandle’s younger brothers.  He had many behavior problems and lots of needs.  He was going into K the same as my little girl.  It was at that moment that I had to make a choice, and measure how much I can handle.  Since AnnieQ was my social butterfly, we decided to send her to K along with Michael.  We asked Robby if he wanted to go, but he said he was a homeschooling boy and he was staying that way.  So our year began with two older boys being home schooled, three in the local elementary school and  one in morning PreK.

After the boys left at Thanksgiving we decided to keep AnnieQ in school.  She had a great teacher and I felt she was in  a good place for this year.

So what have I learned from all this.

  1. If you are totally against public schools, then don’t foster care school age kids.
  2. Make sure you have good communication with the teachers.  They are part of the team working with this child.
  3. Having a homeschooling schedule and a public school schedule is hard.  Have good calendar skills.  You will need them.
  4. Homeschooling and having some in public school make it hard to do all the extra volunteer extras stuff that I wanted to do.
  5. There are many forms to fill out and beware of the fundraising.
  6. If you have ESP meetings (Special education meetings-education service plans) know your rights, and don’t feel afraid to ask questions.  This is a HUGE team effort involving you, the school, DHR, the parents (if they are involved) and anyone else who may be involved.
  7. The public school kids get jealous of the field trips the home school kids are taking.
  8. Have regular contact with teacher, either through notes, email, or phone calls.
  9. I didn’t use the bus until after the boys lefts.  My littlest one then was too active to use the bus.  But use the bus when you can.  It helps with schedules, and all the crazy deriving around you must do!
  10. Be organized with clothes for the week.
  11. Create a landing spot and files for all the papers that going to come in.  I would send school work in a folder now and then to a visit so the parents could see.
  12. It takes a few weeks to get into the swing of things.
  13. You don’t have to do everything that comes your way.
  14. You are not super mom.  Stop trying to be.  (yep yep had to keep learning that one over and over again!)

Foster care and home schooling are possible.   It just takes a lot of work. Know your family and what will work for them.

Why didn’t I home school them?  First, I knew the goal was to get them back with their family.  So I needed them to be in school to keep that part stable and “normal.”  Also, I personal needed that break from the littlest one!  Loved him dearly, but was emotionally drained ever day.  When I went to pick him up everyday I was happy to see him!  Foster children come with a whole different set of issues that your children do not have.  Knowing your limits is key!


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The day Jeremy moved in our lives changed

There is much to understand  about the events surrounding the day Jeremy moved in with us.  It was not a call where they needed someone right away to take in this 13-year-old.  It was a move where Dan and I talked about it, prayed about it, and asked our social worker a lot of questions.  A lot of them.

Funny how quickly life was changing back then.  Right after Christmas, I was pregnant, Isaiah (10 months old) was getting ready to transition back home, Trinity (our 2-year-old foster daughter), wasn’t going anywhere fast.  We went on a cruise leaving our two little ones in Respite Care.  (We had booked the cruise before they moved in with us.)  Life was good.

Then we came back.  We got word that Trinity was moving back with her grandma (we were happy but sad) and that Isaiah was not going to be going back at all.  We would have to start considering adoption for him. It was at this ISP meeting that their counselor begged one us to consider taking in Jeremy who was living at Harrison home (a group home for teens) at the time.  He just wanted to be with one sibling.  I remember sitting there think-now way, I am not doing a teenager yet, I deal with them at church, I didn’t want them in my home.  (warning-never think like that-God always has different plans)

foster care, adoption, teenagerSo we agreed we could pick him up at the Harrison home on Sundays so he could spend it with Isaiah.  I am not sure what he was thinking when we did, but we soon found that we looked forward to this time, and started talking about bringing him into the family.  Taking note of Jeremy’s background (let’s just say that he has seen and done more that any 13 year should have and more than what I have seen on TV.) wasn’t the greatest.  We knew this.  We knew there were charges pressed against him again (he hit a hole in the wall where he lived when he found out his mom didn’t do what she was to to get them back).  We attend that session where he was read his rights.  I am sure he wondered why we were there.

Soon after we decided to bring Jeremy into our family, we suffered a miscarriage.  It was devastating.  I was crushed.  I cried.  It was a sad dark time in my life.  We knew I needed to heal, so we took a month for Jeremy to get to know us better and for us to get to know him better.  We would pick him up on the weekend.  We took him shopping with my mom.  We just did things.  Then one morning about 4 weeks after we lost our baby, I woke up and said it is time to being him home.  Rumor was he wasn’t doing well at Harrison home and they feared  he would end up at Blue Springs-a higher security level place for teens.  Not someplace you want one of these kids at.  My mind was made up.

So I called up our social worker and said Friday (which was the next day) would be a good day to move him in.

Friday morning they arrived about 7:30 a.m in the morning.  He had a hamper, plastic box and a garbage bag of stuff with him.  We sat down and went over some basic rules of the house.  Jeremy there, no smile, slouched in the chair, pants drooping, shirt too big, with a chip on the shoulder.  I remember Dan’s words to him-“remember it is ok to smile here.”  I was wonder in my head “what have we done?”  Soon our social worker, Jeremy and I were off to his school.  Because the home he came from was in our school district we didn’t have to change schools, just had to withdraw him and enroll him under our name.  We then met with the guidance counselor (who was wonderful!) to help us get Jeremy in the right track for schooling.

That afternoon he rode the bus home.  After a snack we wondered around the house.  He kept saying to me “you know all the stuff I have done.”  “yes I do”  over and over he said this.  (what a great impact that made on me in terms of what Jeremy taught me about God.  Another post)  We settled into the evening, ate dinner as a family and started a new life together.

That was over 4 years ago.  4 years of ups and downs.  4 years of learning about raising a teenager.  4 years of discovering love. 4 years of growth and laughter.  4 years of watching this boy growing into a man.  Next year we getting ready to send him out into the world.  Part of me feels like I haven’t had him long enough.  And part of me says he will do fine!  (and yes like any mom getting ready to push their bird out of the nest -I have plans for his  room:))

The day Jeremy moved in I had no idea how much it would change my life.  I have a better understanding of God, of being a parent of a teenager (not easy!) and a better understand of life.  Jeremy has taught me so much!  Our life together has been filled with joy, happiness, laughter, tears, yelling, a little nagging, telling each other off, growth, goofing off (yea we do a lot of this),  learning moments (many of them) and so much more.  I can not even imagine our lives with out Jeremy in it.  Even though it has been just over 4 years, some days it seems longer and other days not long enough!

Many people ask me what it is like adopting a teenager.  1.  Being parents of a teenager is hard.  Period.  Jumping in the middle of the game having no idea what you are doing, harder.  2.  Teenagers have enough problems just being teenagers-add in the mix of the issues from his past and 10 other siblings (yes you heard that right) there are a lot of problems.  But to really answer the questions-it is rewarding.  Jeremy is our only child we chose.  The others came to us through birth or foster care placement.  And we would do it again.

My son has started blogging today.  Just out of the blue.  Check out his blog.  (I started this post awhile ago, but decide to finish today) http://jgehring13.blogspot.com/2012/04/to-me-personally-i-think-adultsteens.html


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Whose child you got?

There I was, leaning up against my car in the parking lot of the ball park.  It wasn’t a bad evening, kinda, but I knew that I had to cool down and take a mommy breather.  The three kids inside, one screaming and one knocking on the window.  Me, just counting with my eyes closed.

Earlier we had Isaiah’s t-ball game.  We won, but it was a tough game to watch cause Isaiah was all over, beyond anything I had seen out of him.  He doesn’t do well with transitions and t-ball is a fast transition game.  Batting he did great, but some how in the field…Oh it was hard to watch as a mom.  Some thing was going on in that little brain and I don’t know what it was.

After I went over to Mia’s(an other sister) softball game where AnQuenette and Robby were.  We were going to stay to watch it, but then AnQuenette start melting down cause I finished her drink (I didn’t know she wanted the rest of it) and I told her we would get more when we went home.  It was an hour after her bed time and knew she was tired.  I informed everyone it was time to go home and AnQuenette just lost it.  I left with her screaming and refusing to walk.  I picked her up (she is heavy) with her screaming, and kicking and starting leaving the park.  This was not the first time I had done this with her.

It is at this moment I wonder who is thinking “Whose child you got?”  I mean I am the white momma carrying the black screaming kid.  What do people think I am doing?  Most by now know us, but not everyone.  Most of me is not worried about this.  I have my child screaming.  Period.

I have paper work if needed.  It is called a birth certificate.  We even have their passports for when we travel.  That gives us the peace of mind that if we are traveling out-of-state or country, I have proof.   So when I certain child starts screaming as I have to remove them, and some one asks “Whose child you got?” we have proof.  I don’t need proof.  I know these are mine kids.

My oldest today at lunch said he was going to have some dude yell “Whose child you got?” while I was walking out with a screaming child.  I had to laugh cause I was really thinking about that today.  I was like “sure you go for it, I’ll let them know whose kid!”

So after about 4 minutes of  a mommy breather, I got back into the car with a screaming 6-year-old and headed home.  By the time we got home all tears were done and forget, two little ones got ready for bed and climbed in.  And I just smiled cause I know whose children I got.


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What do I do with all this hair?

I was giving AnQuenette a bath tonight and getting ready to wash her hair and was amazed at how far she and I had come with her hair.   AnQuenette is bi-racial and has beautiful curly hair.  Before she first came to us, her hair was always “done.”  It was straighten and curled, and relaxed and braided.  Not that any of that is bad or wrong, but for a two-year old, it was a lot.

We are not sure of all the history, but soon after she came to us she started pulling out her hair.  This is called Trichotillomania.  She basically pulled out the bottom part of her hair and then ate it.  She was bald  in the bottom part.  We were able to get that under control once she got settled in life.

She would not let anyone wash her hair but me.  Once she let the Golden Girls (no not the real ones, but my golden girls-also her God sister’s who are bi-racial too) wash and braid her hair.  It was so pretty, but soon after she came home something triggered something, she had a hour melt down and pulled out one of the braids.  I decided that I was going to rush her into getting her hair down in any way.  When she is older she can make these decisions, but for now her hair is beautiful and we want her to be proud of her hair just as it is.  (It is the whole inner beauty that I want her to experience-that God made her special and not to let anyone tell her she needs to do anything to be beautiful.)

Now her other God mother does her hair for me.  Last year after she broke her arm, I had to take her to the hair dresser to get it washed since it was hard keeping her arm up so it didn’t get wet.  She liked having them wash it, and so finally she let Ms. Bobbie wash it.  Now she has been working on what style for the special dinners on the cruise!  She can make these ringlets in her hair, like Nelly on Little House on the Prairie.

I know that when I first got her I wondered what am I going to do with all this hair?  I had never experience caring for biracial hair before (well Isaiah, but his hair is more like mine but curly).  After doing research, talking to many people, looking on youtube, and trying many products, I have settled on the Miss. Jessie line.  Their Baby Buttercream works well in her hair.

Check out my Store for more of the products from Miss. Jessie.


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