Monday, December 27, 2010

Week Two: We're still here!!

The kids had some friends over last night and ran around the house playing, played Just Dance on the Wii, and J did our friend's daughter, A's hair. It was too cute.

The boys had a little scuffle, and we worked it out with them. We all got to bed a little later than normal and slept in this morning.

So what's going on in our household? Well, as you can imagine, we're still adjusting to each other. The kids are slowly learning that when mom and dad say something, they mean it. Whether we tell them that we WILL take them to go see Narnia (and we did that on Christmas Day), or that a consequence will happen to something they're doing, and it does. We know that we need to follow through, and that will show them that we love them, but we mean business when it comes to following the rules.

I want my kids to be prepared for this crazy world we live in - as prepared as anyone can be - and learn that there are consequences to your actions. Whether they be good or bad. And that words can hurt as much as actions. And that sometimes, you can't get exactly what you want in life.

I will tell you that I think we're doing ok so far. I've managed to keep my temper in check, even when being pushed to the limits (which believe it or not, HAS happened!). I've also learned that Chris and I NEED to make sure we make time for just us. Even if that means a few stolen moments upstairs to connect while the kids are downstairs watching a movie.

It's been an adjustment, but one that I think we are making strides on!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Day Four. Calm. Peace on Earth. And such as.

So the last three days were...interesting. We went to a household of FIVE in 3.4 seconds flat. And the chaos and the testing that accompanies it was just as...interesting.

Chris and I are learning about currency. What works, what doesn't. A certain someone does NOT like to be sent to sit on his bed in a time out. Bang! Found your currency. (For the record, we've had two instances of 'go sit on your bed until you can change your attitude and you are ready to join the family', and one instance of a complete meltdown in Target. Poor Chris. He got the first meltdown!)

Another certain someone has to know what we are doing every second of every day. I've been working with her to just go with the flow. And what I can and cannot tell her about what we may or may not do.

So this family is making it work. I think today was the first time that the little one realized we love him, but we certainly aren't going to put up with his attitude!

And now I must go. We're headed to the library for new cards and some books!

Monday, December 20, 2010

We're Home!

We pulled into the driveway at about 9:30 last night. We unloaded the cars, and got the kids tucked into a movie while Chris got ready for bed. He's working in the mornings this week and I'm working from home and then I'm working in the office in the afternoons. It's going to make it easier on us.

This morning we all slept in until 8. It was...interesting. I fed the kids, have a load of laundry started, and decided I would blog really quick. We had a small meltdown late last night, but nothing I couldn't handle. It's a lot of change for a couple of kids who have had nothing BUT and if I ever thought it would all be sunshine and rainbows, well then I should be smacked.

So I've officially become a sorta-kinda-almost stay at home mom. I get to stay home with them when they are home, but I will be working while they are in school. Best of both worlds I say.

On a positive note - all three kids bonded very quickly last night. The Boy is relishing the fact that he is being 'looked up to' and is taking the responsibility very seriously!

Today I have to finish laundry, and then go through all the kid's stuff - clothes, toys, etc. It's all sitting in our garage in boxes. We're going to make decisions on what to keep and what to toss or donate.

And that's all I've got for today. Just our little family - figuring each other out!

Saturday, December 18, 2010



Tomorrow our lives change forever. For good.
Tomorrow we add two children to our home.
Tomorrow we double our little family.
Tomorrow I become a mother of three.
Tomorrow my husband becomes a daddy.
Tomorrow we no longer have any spare bedrooms.
Tomorrow we fill our home with noise.
Tomorrow we double our laundry.
Tomorrow my oldest son becomes a big brother again.

Tomorrow I will stop and thank God, again, for His guiding hand and blessings in our lives.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Update: December 13

So we had the kids all weekend! We had some challenges, as children are apt to do - they were testing our boundaries and what they could get away with. Especially miss J. She would very much like it if she could be in control all of the time. Given her history, she's had a bit of fast growing up to do. The good news is that she relaxed after a bit and let us be the parents and just enjoyed herself.

Friday after we picked them up and got home, (HOLY TRAFFIC!), we gave them the tour of the house and showed them their rooms. They absolutely LOVED them! Then we took them to the tree lighting in our downtown. They had a good time, and we were able to introduce them to a couple of our BEST friends.

Saturday was pouring rain. Buckets and buckets of rain. So much rain. More rain than should be necessary. Unfortunately, we had some errands to run. So we ran them. And daddy took them shopping for birthday presents for me, since we were going to celebrate my birthday on Saturday. I made some roasted chicken, roasted red potatoes, steamed broccoli and dinner rolls. They had all gone and gotten me an ice cream cake, so we opened presents, and had cake!

Sunday we woke up and it was a clear and windy day. We went to church, where the kids had a good time in their classes. Then we made the trek back to their foster parent's home. We dropped them off, picked up a bunch of their stuff, and headed to Eugene to make a quick stop at King Estate Winery - my favorite pinot gris! We did a little tasting, and bought some vino to add to our rack.

Chris and I decided to have dinner out, where we reviewed the entire weekend and what we had observed and how we needed to work together as a team.

The foster mom called me later and I asked her a few questions, she and I had a few laughs, compared notes, and hung up. I fell asleep. Hard.

Today we had our DHS Home Certification visit. We need a caregiver number to have the kids in the home.

This weekend will be the highlight of my year! The Boy flies in on Saturday, and the kids come home for good on Sunday!

Lots to do to finish prepping for the new arrivals!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Price of the Kid's Rooms (Alternate Title: How we avoided eating ramen for a month!)

I've had a few people ask about what we eventually wound up spending on our kid's rooms, so I thought I would do a quick blog about it! You remember, I was lamenting the fact that just to outfit the rooms with furniture, we were looking at $2,000. And that was just for furniture.

So let's get started!

See this little pile of lumber?

That built two beds. Total cost, with hardware? $150.00.

With conditioner, stain, sandpaper and dry cloths? $80.00.

We turned it into two of these beauties:

Are you still with me?

I ordered both J and W's bedding from Total cost for two sets? $122.00. Shipped. Her bedding was complete - with sheets and pillowcase.

His was only comforter and sham. So I had to buy him some sheets. At Target. On Black Friday. $15.00. Pillows? $7.00. Fuzzy red blanket? $15.00.

Alarm clock on his desk? $7.00. We already had the light, the desk and the chair. Score!

Rug on the floor? $29.00. IKEA! Mattress on the bed? $149 - IKEA!

Dresser? $59.00 - IKEA. Shelves? $39.00 - IKEA.

Total for W's bedroom, including linens? $496.00. LESS THAN $500!!

OK - now J's room. Same deal - lumber, stain, bedding, alarm clock, fuzzy blanket.

Her rug was $49.00 (IKEA) and we also had to buy her desk ($17 - IKEA) and her lamp ($39 - Toys R Us). We already had her dresser. Her shelves were $40.

Total for J? $492.00! Again - less than $500!

So for less than $1,000, we completely outfitted TWO bedrooms. Two mighty stylish bedrooms I might add.

And they are done. Assembled, decorated, cleaned and ready for two kids to come have the best memories possible.

I can barely wait until Friday!

Hustle Bustle...and a Merry Merry Christmas!

**Before you get started, you may want to grab a tissue. This warning sponsored by my girl Cheri.**

Wow was our weekend wonderful! (I just love alliteration, don't you?)

When we last left the Herren familia, we had just received a voice mail from our kids. We called them back, left a message, and then waited. And waited. And. Waited. I actually had to attend a work function for about two hours and could barely stand it. I was regularly texting my husband at home 'Did they call back yet?'

I got home around 7. Chris had gone out and put more lights up outside (this is our first FULL Christmas at the house. We moved in last year around November 20th and just did NOT have time to make it like we like it), and he wanted to take pictures, because we knew we were going to go see the kids on Sunday.

Then the phone rang. I yelled for Chris, but he didn't hear me. I knew he wouldn't be out there for any length of time, so I answered it. It was our daughter, J! Oh she was SO excited to talk to me, and talk about our family book! And ask SO MANY questions! Chris came back in about 20 seconds into the conversation, so he didn't miss much at all.

Needless to say, we talked to them for about an hour. It was an AMAZING conversation. They were so excited to meet us, and so overjoyed that we had been chosen as their family! We let them know that we would see them on Sunday, talked to their foster mom for a bit, and then hung up.

Saturday night, some of our VERY BEST friends threw us an adoption shower. To say that we were blessed is an understatement. They threw this thing together in a matter of a week, and as tight as things are for everyone, the kids got some really amazing things. We are SO THANKFUL for the blessings we received that night.

Sunday finally came and Chris and I were awake at 4:00 in the morning. The kids are about three hours away, and we wanted to make sure we were there in plenty of time to meet them, and hang out for a bit before we went to church.

We pulled into their little town about 8, and found the road (complete with a bridge) that we had to turn on. As we made our way up the mountain, we watched the GPS for the turn. But we really didn't have to do that, because they had made a sign at the turn that said "Mom and Dad! Turn here! Keep right!!"

Lost. It.

Over another bridge, and down a long driveway, and we had finally arrived!!! Our kids met us at the door and there was instant bonding. J asked me to French braid her hair for church. She LOVED her Christmas dress, as well as the necklace we bought her for the 'iecbreaker' gift.

W liked his cool argyle sweater vest (and put it on, because daddy had his argyle sweater on!). He also thought that the watch we brought him as his 'icebreaker' gift was awesome!

We attended their church with them, where we were introduced by both of them to all of their friends as 'mom and dad'. It was an emotional moment, as this community had rallied around these kids and prayed that they would be sent Christian parents. We were formally introduced during services (this church has about 50 members - it's a small town!), and the elders prayed over us, blessing us and the kids and our new family.

After church, we took the kids to 'town' to go see a movie. We took them to see Megaminds in 3D and we had a blast! Wanna see how cute they are?

(Disclosure: I'm able to post this picture, because their faces aren't easily identifiable)

We brought them back to their foster home, where we sat down and discussed transition. Since the kids bonded SO well to us right away (and why wouldn't they, we're awesome!), the foster parents told us that we could come get them on the 19th. J&W have a Christmas play that they are in that day, and we will go down, go to church, attend the play, and bring them home. For good.

Amazingly enough, my oldest son flies in for Christmas on the 18th. What perfect timing God has for us!!

So you may be asking - what about this weekend? Well... their foster mom drives a bus, and she will be bringing up the high school basketball team for a tournament this weekend, to a town about 1/2 hour from us. She's bringing the kids with her, and we will go pick them up, and keep them for the weekend!! Can you believe it? Again, God's amazing timing for us!

I'm so very excited about having them this weekend. And they are as well. I'm even more excited about the 19th. My house will be very full and very merry this Christmas!

Full circle. And God's AMAZING timing. And His Plan. All along.

He is so good.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Voice Mail that Changed it All

Chris and I came home from work today, knowing that the kid's social worker was going to be telling them about us today, and presenting them with our family book.

I looked at our home phone and there it was, a message.

I played it. On speaker. It was J's voice - telling us that she thought the book was 'awesome' and that she can't wait to see us on Sunday. Her last sentence? "OK mom and you!"

We cried like babies. She sounded so happy and excited. And she has no idea how happy and excited we are as well.

Sunday can NOT come soon enough.

Christmas came early in the Herren house this year. Thank you Jesus.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What We've Been Up To

When we last left the Herren household, Chris and Stina were frantically trying to finish two little beds for two lovey kids.

Well, I'm happy to say we've got one completely done. We ran out of slats for the support of the second one. So Chris has to get more 2x2's today and we'll finish that!

Wanna see it? Alright!

Here's J's bed, assembled with the slats in place. W's will look the same. We bought their mattresses at IKEA, as well as area rugs, a bookshelf and dresser for W, and a set of shelves for J. She already has a dresser. Daddy will put up her shelves hopefully this weekend.

And speaking of this weekend: We're GOING TO GO MEET OUR BABIES!!! The case worker for the kids can't get out to them (they live an hour outside of the city) until Friday due to her schedule, so we talked with the foster parents, and they invited us to come spend the night Saturday and all day Sunday!! We had to decline on Saturday, because our wonderful amazing friends threw together a shower for us! They're calling it a kid-warming (I do love that), and it's this Saturday at 5. So early Sunday morning, Chris and I are getting up and making the three hour trek to go meet our kids. We'll go to church with them, hang out, see how their routine is, and basically get to know each other. We've been invited to stay all day and have dinner with them as well. I'm so glad we have a good relationship with the foster parents!

So the entire week this week after work will be spent on preparing the rooms. I found these AWESOME guitar hooks at Bed, Bath & Beyond that I am going to acquire for W's room (his room is decorated in Rock Star style!) and I want to get J a jewelry box of some sort.

So much to do, so little time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

16. 9 and 7.

Our rescheduled committee was at 1:00 yesterday afternoon. All weekend and morning, the weathermen kept warning us of impending doom! You know, snow? I cursed and muttered under my breath. And PRAYED that the snow would hold off until our committee was over.

And thankfully, we have a very brave social worker who hitched up the huskies, cracked her whip, and rode her sled to Eugene to represent us.

And who called us at 2:19 to tell us we had been chosen. We. Had. Been. Chosen.

In my head, I say that in an Oprah Winfrey voice. Go ahead and try it, I'll wait.

We called our families, who are very excited. We called our BFF's, they are super excited. And now we've released the news to the world. Chris and I are going to become parents. Together.

We've gone from one to three. Like THAT {snap}.

So I have a 16 year old, that has had Chris as his step-father since he was 5. And now we are going to have a 9 and a 7 year old. Three amazing kids.

We are so very blessed.

Our plan is to start visitation as soon as possible. We meet with our social worker this morning to talk details. We hope to transition over Christmas break. That way they have the opportunity to say goodbye to their friends, finish the school semester, and come home and start making memories.

We are so blessed.

How old are my kids? They're 16, 9 and 7. Thanks for asking!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Building a Bed. Or Two.

Chris and I spent the entire day Saturday looking at furniture. We need to outfit two rooms assuming things go our way on the 22nd, and we only have 7 days to do it. We looked at one place, and after figuring it would cost us $2300 to oufit two bedrooms, we decided to keep looking. We want durable, well-built furniture that will last, and still be practical.

My poor husband. I took him all over God's half acre looking at furniture. It was the same story over and over. At least $2,000 to outfit two bedrooms. Two. THOUSAND. Dollars. GAH! Do you know what I could DO with two thousand dollars? I can take those kids on a mighty fine vacation, that's what!

So I like to frequent Knock-Off Wood and drool over her plans. She's SO awesome. And talented. And I'm pretty sure when she speaks, angels sing. I happened to come across her plans for a twin farmhouse bed and said to Chris "we could totally do that." He agreed.

And this morning we set off to Home Depot to get what we needed.

I must call a sidebar here and ask: Isn't Home Depot supposed to be the GIANT of Home Improvement Stores? Ok. Well they had no kiln-dried 4x4 posts or 2x6 boards. You need to buy kiln-dried to ensure that there is no remaining moisture or sap, and that the piece you are making won't warp. So we bought what they had and brought it home. We'll find the rest tomorrow. Thank you counselors, you may return to your seats.

So for about $75 in lumber, this is what we've started on today:

Lumber Pile:

This is the layout of the 1x6 boards for the headboard piece:

This is the almost finished headboard and footboard. Because we couldn't get the 4x4 posts, we have to wait until this week to finish the sides and then start the rails. Honestly, with cutting and assembly, this took us about an hour. And it's our first one, so we were taking our time. What an easy bed so far!

What do you think??

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

There but for the grace of God go I

We received some pretty upsetting news today. Our committee was postponed because of the dropping of the ball on some pretty important information. Apparently there was some disclosure that should have been made to the families that wasn't. And the committee felt it was important enough to delay proceeding.

To say that I am upset, is an understatement. I was dreaming about my kids being home for Thanksgiving. About a table full of kids and laughter and fun. About heading out early the day after to go pick and cut our Christmas tree. About decorating and making memories.

Now that's been delayed for two weeks.

I have to remember it is all in God's timing. And that He is in control.

It's a hard lesson to swallow. And maybe a lesson I need to learn.

Today is the Day.

Today is it. The day we've been waiting for, anticipating, hoping for, praying for.

I'm nervous, nauseous, jittery, anxious, on the verge of crying, and I just want to crawl back in bed with my husband and just cuddle until we hear the news.

Our hearing is at 1 Pacific Time today. Please pray. Pray, send good thoughts, vibe, whatever you do.

Today is the Day.

Monday, November 08, 2010

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness Month

Click on the link above for some information.

Please pray for our family, as we wait to hear whether or not we've been lucky enough to be chosen to become the parents of J&W, a sibliging group in the Oregon Foster Care System. Also pray for those families still waiting, and for the children who are also waiting. No child should ever be left without a family to call their very own.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

One Week Away

We are one week away from our committee hearing. And I can barely stand it.

I have no clue what state I will be in on Tuesday, but let's just say that one of my co-workers graciously rescheduled a meeting we had set for that day where I have to present the first draft of next year's budget, and report on this year's YTD numbers.

She gets me.

So currently at work I am frantically trying to get as much 'thinking' work done as possible so that when right about 1:00 on Monday hits, I can lose my mind.

Yep. Good times.

Monday, October 18, 2010

15 More Questions

We had to fill out ANOTHER piece of paper today. I know, I know, there will be more yet still on the horizon coming down the pipe and so on. I'm just thinking that pretty much every question on this paper we already answered. In triplicate. And had notarized. On paper that was hand-spun by South American pygmy monks who only speak one week a year.

Ok, so they speak one month a year. Excuse me for the exaggeration.

Wanna know what they asked? Wanna know what we answered?

Well, alright!!

Describe any new information since home study. Nothing new to report

Please describe each other’s strengths. Chris’s greatest strengths are his patience and his ability to get along with everyone. He’s very patient and hasn’t met someone yet that he can’t warm up to. Christina’s greatest strengths are her organizational skills and her willingness to do things for others. Christina is very organized, and is always stepping up to help out her friends and family.

Why were you interested in these children? We are interested in J and W for several reasons. J likes to dance and do gymnastics and Christina was very involved with those when she was younger. W likes to laugh and be a boy, and we both were drawn to that. Mostly we were drawn to these two because they like the same things we like to do as a family, and we really felt that our age and experience could mesh with these two and make us a complete family.

In what specific ways are you a good match for the children? J loves to dance and do gymnastics; Christina grew up in dance classes, recitals, auditions, and doing gymnastics. W is in soccer; Chris grew up playing soccer, both recreationally and competitively. They both like to do things outdoors, we are an outdoor family. Most specifically, they’ve expressed a desire to be adopted, and we desire to adopt. ϑ In all seriousness, we believe that the opportunities, and stability, as well as the love of a forever family are something we can give them. Unconditionally. Forever.

Describe your stability as a couple. We have been together for 11.5 years, and married for 8. Throughout our marriage, we’ve moved across the country three times, been through several trying events (death, miscarriage), and have remained the best of friends. While we haven’t had a marriage full of puppies and rainbows, our faith in God and our ability to rely on each other through the tough times has definitely cemented our stability. We have thought long and hard about bringing children into our lives, and we wouldn’t do it if we didn’t plan on being together until we die. Divorce is not an option for us.

How will you meet the children’s emotional, social, and attachment needs? We have read several books and researched information on attachment and bonding. We are easily able to bond with our friends’ children, and believe that our hearts and compassion will allow us the ability to provide a safe haven for our kids. Our plan is to always be there for our children, as a soft place to land, and a solid foundation in which they can build their lives.

How will you meet the children’s physical and medical needs? We have already chosen a pediatrician and will be meeting with him if we are chosen at committee. We are financially and emotionally ready for any issues that may come up.

How will you meet the children’s cognitive and educational needs? Christina plans on reducing her hours at work, so that she is able to be with the children before and after school, and as well has the flexibility to take time off for volunteering in the classroom as well and being a clear and present positive influence in their lives. We are currently also researching private schools, and trying to decide which avenue would be best for the kids.

How will you provide ongoing connections to caregivers/bio-family? We are willing to provide updates via email, mail, photos, etc.

How will you prevent unsafe situations and promote safety? We believe that these children are at an age where they should be given choices, and learn from their choices. We will always be there to guide them, answer their questions, and educate them when necessary. Our first priority will always be to love them, followed by keeping them safe. We will prevent unsafe situations by always knowing about their surroundings, and teaching them by example.

How will you provide cultural connections? These children are of the same culture as we are. They currently attend a Foursquare Church which is the same church group we attend, and are actively involved in the church. We will continue that involvement. We are fortunate in that our youth pastor is one of our friends, as well as a father of an adopted child, and he cannot wait to meet our children!

What resources, services, treatment and/or therapists are available in your community? We have several resources available to us throughout the community. We are in very close proximity to Providence Hospital, as well as being in possession of two very good health care plans.

List at least three components of discipline plan. Our plans for discipline involve:

Information – we will set our expectations with the children. They will know and understand the house rules, and they will also be written down for them. We will review them when necessary. We don’t have a lot of rules, but we do have a structured family environment.

Understanding – when one of them acts against the rules, we will sit down with them to talk to them and understand why they did it, and get them to understand why what they did was wrong.

Consequences – dependent upon the infraction, consequences will range from time outs, to removal of privileges. Children need to understand that there are consequences in life, and learning them at an early age is paramount to becoming a successful adult. At no time will we resort to physical punishment or withholding of necessities (i.e. – food and water).

We have been reading the Love and Logic series and firmly believe in this method of discipline. Giving children choices, learning what their currency is, and teaching them from their mistakes is our plan.

What are your expectations about the placement? Our hope is that these children will come into our home and learn through our actions and our words that we are going to be there for them always. We understand the feelings of neglect and abandonment that may be plaguing them, and want to set out immediately to make them feel welcome, accepted, loved, and safe. We understand that this will not be immediate, and that as a family, we will all have to work on it. We are also very hopeful that since the kids are excited about being adopted that they are starting to have closure about the past and be hopeful for our future as a family together.

What do you anticipate your experience will be in integrating the child into your family? We have spoken with the foster mom several times and can honestly say that we feel the integration will be quick and relatively painless. She has told us how they have quickly adapted to life at her house, and that above all they simply want to be adopted. We feel lucky that we have had the opportunity to speak with her several times, and each time she has been so gracious as to be candid about their behaviors, their personalities, and their quirks. We’ve gotten a chance to ‘know’ them through her eyes and her words, and honestly cannot wait until we can bring them home.

So that's our story. Whatcha think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Settle in for a Neat Story

Unless you've come across this blog by mistake, or you've been under a rock, you know that Chris and I have been diligently pursuing adoption through the Oregon Foster Care System. We started the process way back in April, and we were finally approved in August.

On August 6th, we applied for a sibling group, a boy and a girl, ages 6 (at the time) and 9. And we waited. During this time, we discussed things and always, ALWAYS included J&W in our discussions. We talked about how we would change things around in our home to accommodate the kids. We talked about the trips we would take camping, fishing, skating, etc. I talked about putting J in dance class, and Chris talked about putting W in karate. No matter what we did, and what other children came across, we couldn't get these two out of our minds.

Early morning September 9th, I woke up from a very vivid dream. I dreamt that Chris and I were standing on our deck. Our social worker pulled up in her car, got out, looked up at us and said "Good news! You've been chosen to go to Committee for J & W!" I woke up from that dream and looked at the clock. It was 3:30 a.m. My husband gets up at 4:30 for work, and although I wanted desperately to wake him and tell him, I chose not to.

That morning, I called him when I got into work and told him about my dream. He gave me a good-natured ribbing about it, and I told him I was going to email our social worker and tell her about it, and ask her to call the children's social worker.

I sent off an email to her, and made my way to a board meeting that I had to attend. While in the board meeting, my phone lit up (it was on silent) and a number I didn't recognize came across. I ignored it, and it stopped. Then it almost immediately lit up again, same number. I ignored it again. Several seconds later, my voice mail icon popped up. I was curious, so I excused myself to another conference room and listened to my message. It was our social worker, and her message was "I'm not standing in your driveway, but this is the next best thing. Sometimes dreams DO come true!" I immediately started crying! I couldn't believe that I was hearing this message!

I called her back and learned that we had been selected to go to committee! We didn't have a date yet, but we needed to review some more detailed information about the kids and decide if we wanted to go forward. We got the information, read it over together carefully, and decided we were undeterred. We were going for it!

Then we waited! Oh the state just tests my patience sometimes! Our social worker then went on a missions trip to Thailand and was gone from September 29th until today.

Today I received an email from her that said "I just heard. Your date has been set for November 9th at 1:00." This was quite possibly the best news we've heard so far! We have a date!! We've been putting our lives on hold, not planning anything concrete, waiting for the date.

So NOW what happens? Many of you have already seen this in the email we sent out, but here it is again:

What is Committee? It's a group of people made up of state employees, social workers, foster parents, CASA's (Court Appointed Special Advocates). attorneys, etc. who want to be on that particular committee to decide which family would be best suited for the children in question.

Do you go to Committee? No. The prospective parents never go to committee. The social worker representing the parents go to committee and state our case and present us to them. We've put together a family book with pictures of us and our lives and our social worker will use that along with our home study and letter to the committee to present our family.

How long does it take them to decide? They usually decide within 48 hours.

Then what? Then if we've been chosen, we go through a 7 day 'blackout period' where we get a large binder full of information about the kids. We get time to go through everything, take their medical records to a pediatrician for review (if we so choose), etc. Once we decide we're still going through with it, we let our social worker know, and can start transition. Also, after the blackout period, the kids are told that they have been chosen for adoption!

Then what? Gosh you people with your questions! Then we start visitation and transition. Transition gives the kids time to warm up to us, and gives us time to warm up to them. We haven't had the luxury of having them biologically and the bonding that comes with a pregnancy, so this is the next best thing. The Family Book is also given to them to look through, and get used to seeing us as their parents. Transition can take 2 days or a week, it all depends on the kids. I have a feeling we would have a quick transition!

Once they are transitioned, are they yours? We are then placed into a 'foster-to-adopt' status. We are their new foster parents, and our social worker comes to visit once a month to see how things are progressing. At six months, assuming everything is going well, she can recommend to the state that we finalize the adoption. It can take up to three months from then for the finalization. However, referring to the original question, YES, they are OURS.

What about the kids? Tell us about them!! Oh! Haha. Yes. The kids are a sibling group, a girl and a boy, ages nine and will be seven on Friday. The foster care system has a lot of older children in their care and Chris and I were really drawn to these two! They even look like us!

Can we see a picture? Unfortunately, no. Because of confidentiality reasons, we cannot show their picture until they are in our home.

So that's the latest! Keep praying! And I'll keep updating!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Little Us Time

Have you heard about Groupon, or Living Social? They are websites that present a usually good deal on a local attraction - be it a restaurant, a massage, or a getaway. Two weeks ago, Living Social put out a deal that I couldn't resist. It was a one-night stay in a river view room, a bottle of wine, a $30 breakfast credit, and a $25 resort credit. The price? $169! Skamania Lodge is a gorgeous little place out on the Columbia River, in Stevenson, Washington. A quick one hour ride, door-to-door, from my house. I bought it!

When I called them to make the reservation, I found out that they had a Beer Fest this weekend! They would be having several local brewers onsite sampling their beers. They would have food, live music, and beer-themed buffets! I immediately made the reservation for Saturday the 9th.

I told my husband not to make any plans, that I had a Super Secret Date Day planned for him. Little did he know, that while he was away hunting, I had already packed his bag!

On the morning of the 9th, we got up, got ready, and I sent him to the car to wait. I had already put our overnight bag in my car, but I needed to grab some last minute toiletry items. Stuff I couldn't pre-pack else he figure out we were going away overnight.

When we got to Skamania, I informed him of our itinerary. He was a very happy camper! We made our way out to the Beer Fest tent, purchased our tasting tickets, got our mugs, and went to town! We had a great time, got lots of rest and relaxation, and we were able to do a little reconnecting. Which every couple needs from time to time.

Now back to reality. And no updates. But our social worker comes back from Thailand this week, so I can't WAIT to talk to her!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Be Still...

We had our monthly checkup call with Emily, our social worker yesterday. She's getting ready to leave on a missions trip to Thailand tomorrow. She'll be gone until the 13th of October, so two weeks.

There's a small part of me that is so impatient I can barely stand it. And I push that part of me down and remind myself that there is a plan. That God will prevail. And that we will have our little family. It's still tough to sit here and wait. I need things to move along. And that is when I am reminded.

Be Still.

It's so tough for me. Be still. Those two words that have never described me. I'm always go go go! There are most certainly times where I can sit and veg out by reading, or watching TV. On the outside I look as if I am being still. However, on the inside, my mind will race.

Be Still.

Be still. And KNOW that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Ocho

Never in our history has the Spanish word for eight been more popular than when the movie Dodgeball came out in 2004. At the time, the fictional 'ESPN8 - The Ocho' was the channel you turned to for all things dodgeball related. That movie sparked the dodgeball craze, and the popularity of using 'ocho' as opposed to 'eight' in normal conversation.

What's that? Not in your circle of friends? Oh. Cho. HA!

Anyway - a few years later, along came Chad Johnson. Best known to most of you as Chad Ochocinco. Thanks to a relatively large ego, and a penchant for showboating, Chad legally changed his name before the 2008 season to reflect his jersey number, 85, or Ocho Cinco. On his application, he combined the name, to make it flow - Ochocinco. I'm not hating, he's one of my fantasy football players! He just better start kicking it into high gear. Four points for 44 rushing yards is NOT cutting it. Slacker.

Cut to today. Eight years ago today, I married my husband. He still makes me laugh until it hurts. He still says things that are so unexpected that they take my breath away. He still buys me little presents and sends me little messages that show me that he cares. He still knows when to let me vent and complain, and when to talk me off the ledge. We're affectionately referring to this year as The Ocho. Yes, I know we've just completed eight years of marriage and are about to enter into our ninth. But it's fun to say this is The Ocho.

So to my baby - Happy Anniversary. I love you more than I ever thought I could. And it gets better and better as the days pass by.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chopped Champion!

I'm a big fan of Chopped on the Food Network. A big fan! So when my cousin Mike told us that he was appearing on Chopped in April, we were ecstatic! And guess what? He won the whole banana! The whole enchilada! The entire pie! (I'm running out of food analogies, so let's move on - thanks!).

When we went back East to my 20-ish high school reunion in May/June, we took the train into the City and went and visited him at one of his restaurants. He was very busy, but it was good to see him! I love Mike - he's such a great person, and a fantastic chef. He dropped the bomb on us that day that he would make a repeat appearance - but this time on Chopped Champions! (cue applause)

So tonight, tune in to the Food Network to watch my cousin kick BASS!**

Disclaimer - I don't really know if he wins, I just know he had a HUGE grin on his face when he was telling us. That is all.

Much Love!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Power of Prayer

It's no secret that adoption can be a costly avenue. Adoption fees and expenses can add up quickly, and when you factor in the cost of preparing a room and necessities with a week's notice (sometimes less) it can add up.

I talk to Jesus in the shower in the morning. Yep, He and I have some pretty good conversations. I mostly talk, but sometimes if I shut my big mouth long enough, I can hear Him respond. Yesterday when I was in the shower, I told Him a few of my heart's desires, and expressed some of my concerns. He knows them, oh yes He does. I was laying them at His feet, unburdening myself, letting Him carry them. I'm pretty Type A, so it's really hard for me to relinquish control, although I'm trying. (Stop rolling your eyes or they'll fall out of your head!)

I have a friend who lives in North Carolina. She is married to a childhood friend of mine. Her and I have never - EVER - met in person, but you know what? It doesn't matter. I consider her one of my best friends because I admire her, her faith in God, her love for her family, and her dedication to her friends. She is blessed with such a kind and generous spirit, and I truly believe that God brought us together for a reason.

Now before you click off my post, thinking I'm going to preach to you, just calm your clicky finger a minute. I tell you these things because my faith is a large part of who I am. I have a deep rooted faith in Christ and I don't mind telling people. So that's the background.

Today I got an email from Melissa - she sells Scentsy. I got her monthly marketing email and thought to myself - I can have a virtual party on her website and all my friends can order from there! Perfect! So I facebook messaged her to tell her I wanted to do it. She messaged me back to tell me that she would call me - because she wanted an update on our process.

So she calls me, as she's driving home, and we talk about the adoption, and what's happening.

Then she asks me if we're doing a fundraiser. I tell her that, no, Chris and I are going to try and pay for it ourselves. She then proceeds to tell me that she wants to have a fundraiser on her site, with all of the proceeds going towards our funds for adoption.

Let me tell you. It's a good thing I have an office, because I completely lost it. Lost. It. I had to shut my door, and compose myself. What a RELIEF! Our friends and family can help us, and still do some shopping. And get a permanent Scentsy consultant. And see the power of prayer and the goodness of (wo)mankind.

So this post is dedicated to Melissa. I love you, more than you know. You are our angel. Thank you for walking with us in this journey, and seeing our desires, and listening to your heart. **KISSES**

To purchase and help donate towards our fund, please go to this website.

On the right side, you will see Open Parties. Click on the Herren Family Adoption Fundraiser, and buy from there.

And if you don't know what Scentsy is, you SHOULD!

Thanks all. Stina OUT!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's a Bulletin?

Now that our Home Study has been approved, we have been on the receiving end of weekly bulletins from the State detailing the information of that week's available children. Usually we get them on Friday, but this week they came on Thursday due to tomorrow being a 'mandatory furlough' day for state employees.

Bulletins have a picture of the child/children. It also contains their ethnicity, race, birthday, first name and last initial, and what county/area they are in and their social worker's name.

On the next page to three pages (depending on how many children and how much the social worker decided to write about the child(ren)), it goes into very brief detail about the child's temperament, likes and dislikes, any behavioral/mental/emotional issues, what their progression has been like since they've been in foster care, and reasons and history of removal. It will also detail whether or not the social worker for the child thinks that it is a good idea for the child to remain in contact with any biological family.

I've been alright with reading everything so far, until today. Due to confidentiality reasons, Chris and I are not allowed to share our bulletins with anyone. I will, however, say that the reasons for removal of the children of one of the bulletins we got today literally made me cry at my desk. It is unfathomable to me that an adult, someone who is supposed to protect and love these children can do the things that they do to them. These are innocent, little lives that need someone to stand up for them, and when these parents (and I use that term loosely) choose drugs, and abusive boyfriends, and partying over parenting? I can barely stand it.

Today, looking into those beautiful faces, I cried. I cried thinking about how scared, and alone they must have felt, that the one person in their lives that was supposed to love and care for them, broke that deal. I know that if it weren't for the parents who couldn't parent those children anymore, Chris and I wouldn't have this option for adoption. And it's a catch-22. I'm happy for this option, to be able to serve the children in our community, and to bring children home to our family that we can love, and protect, and take care of, and make them feel safe.

Just the thought of what gets them TO this option really hurts my heart. I told Chris today that if I were a millionaire, I would apply for ALL of them. Every. Single. Last. One.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Dentist.

I've been a bad girl. I've been putting off some dental work that I've NEEDED to have done for a little while now. It's just that dental insurance, on a whole, is horrible. And the work I need done is expensive, and most likely only covered at the most 50% on my insurance. So I look at that number and say to myself - I would rather go on a vacation, or even a weekend getaway, for what this is going to cost me. And I do. Go on vacation. Not get dental work done.

It's finally come down to me needing to just bite the bullet and go.

So two weeks ago I casually asked my husband what the name of his dentist was. He told me. The reason I asked him is because this dentist is known for catering to the "Fraidy Cats", like me! I called and made an appointment.

At 7:00 a.m. on the morning of my appointment I was sitting in the waiting room. I was promptly called back and given the usual 'initial consultation and exam' gamut. They looked at my teeth, did a full set of XRays, and called the doctor over.

That's when things got crazy.

I have NINE freaking fillings that I need! NINE! In my defense, three of them are being redone. I also have been walking around with a broken tooth for, oh, I don't know, let's just say a long time. I've had a root canal done on it, but that's as far as it went. I always knew I wanted an implant to replace it, but have you SEEN the cost of dental implants? Plus, it can be a lengthy procedure. So we talked about that plan and he told me he would pull the tooth.

I also needed a cleaning. However, he did say that he was surprised that it's been so long since my last cleaning, and that my teeth looked really good. I take CARE of my teeth, I just don't LIKE being at the dentist. Hmph.

So fast forward to yesterday, Monday. Another 7:00 a.m. appointment. So not only is it Monday, it's also early, and I want to crawl back into bed.

I get in the chair, where I proudly tell the doc that I am going to skip the nitrous. He tells me everything he's going to do, in what order, and on with the show.

He begins by numbing me. Only when I say 'numb', I mean 'wondering if the left side of my face is still there'. I had to reach up several times because I just wasn't sure! Meanwhile, I had my iPod in, listening to some music. They SAY you should do that, and it will distract you. Except I had to keep turning it up because apparently when there are whining and grinding tools in your mouth, you can really hear them. Loud and clear.

So he does all the fillings first, and then we take a break. He comes back and finishes up shaping two of the fillings, and then starts in on the broken tooth. If I could just digress here for a minute and WARN YOU TO GET BROKEN TEETH TAKEN CARE OF RIGHT NOW, that would be great. So yeah, don't wait. Otherwise, he's yanking on your head, breaking more pieces of tooth, and eventually having to cut into your gum to get it out. From what I understand.

So then he cleans what he needs to clean, the hygenist polishes my teeth, and I'm out. Sat in the chair at 7:07 a.m., left at 9:33 a.m.

And I decided to go to work. It's billing for the month. I figured I didn't have to talk to anyone, so why the heck not?

Except the numbing wore off at about 1:30. And then the marching band moved in. And they were playing DJ Pauly D's new song "Bang that Beat". Not cool.

So I swallowed Ibuprofen and by about 3, they had gone home and left one lonely guy with a tambourine.

My honey sweetie lovey pie made me a delicious soft food dinner last night -one that I can only imagine will be something I eat when my kids finally put me in 'the home'. It was scrambled eggs, topped with melted cheddar cheese. Then we topped THAT with mashed potatoes. Don't knock it, it was actually really good!

I passed out around 9. Long day.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Pregnant. On Paper.

I shared with some people our great news of having an approved home study. A few of the girls commented back to me that I am now "Pregnant on Paper" or "Paper Pregnant". I love it!

So does that mean I can blame any weight gain on that?

Just asking!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Just A Little Email I Got Today...

I wanted to share a little email I received today:

Hi Chris and Christina,

Congratulations on the approval of your home study! Normally I would be mailing out a packet of bulletins for your review this week. However, if you would like to pick up the bulletins and your copy of the home study please let me know what day and time you would like to come in. If you would like me to mail the bulletins and home study I will do that this week.

Of course, I emailed her right back to ask if I could come pick them UP! In an HOUR!! Of course!!

Holy Hannah! This is happening right now!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Guess WHAT??

I have a rough draft of our written Home Study in front of me! Whoo hoo!! It's almost done! I've reviewed it (and parts of it made me cry), and I've corrected any mistakes on factual information, and sent my corrections back to the Social Worker. Which means we should have an approved Home Study document by early next week and we SHOULD be starting to look at kids to adopt by FRIDAY!

Did you hear that? Rather, did you READ that? FRIDAY!!! Are you kidding me? WOW.

On another note - my friend J stopped by this afternoon with her baby. What a GOOD baby he is! And what a relaxed mama she is! So awesome. We were together to plot and plan our friend C's baby shower. And that's all I can say about that because C reads this blog. Ha ha C! You thought you were going to get some skinny on here didn't you? Try again, sister.

Tonight we have dinner plans with some other friends, and then I'm heading out with a couple of girlfriends to see the former lead singer of Danity Kane, Shannon Bex, in her solo debut since the band was broken up by the uber selfish P-Diddy. Pretty stoked about that.

You all have a fantastic weekend!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weekend Update with ME...not Tina Fey

This weekend is packed with goodness. Tonight my friend C and I are taking our friend N to dinner for her birthday! Yaya! The boys are having a 'bachelor' night. I'm sure much burping, farting, and video gaming will commence.

Tomorrow we have a party to attend in the evening.

Sunday we're taking The Boy to Mt. Hood to go on the Alpine Slides. Good times will be had.

I'll post some pictures later! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Home Study Commentary and Update July 2010!

Our social worker, Emily, came to our house yesterday morning for a visit and a chat with The Boy and us. She interviewed him alone for about ten minutes, and then we all sat down with her to talk about the neighborhood and our area and the types of things it has for kids and what research we've done.

We then took her on a tour of our house. She pointed out TWO things that we need to fix. We need to have gates on the inside stairs and outside on the deck on the stairs; and we need to have child proof locks on our medicine and cleaning supplies cabinet. Easy peasy.

What happens next? Well, according to Emily, she doesn't have to come back! That's right folks, we did it in ONE visit! She told us that she will have our home study written up in about two weeks, and then she'll email it to us for factual proofing. Making sure names and dates and SSN's are correct. That kind of thing.

Once that's done and approved, we will receive a large notebook with all of the current bulletins of children looking for forever families. She said that right now there are about 80 children in the system. I told her I wished I could take them all! It is SO sad to me that people are adopting outside of the US when we have SO many children here, in our own country, who need us! They NEED us!!

Sigh. I'm off my soap box. Forgive me, especially if you have adopted internationally. It's a choice each family has to make, and I understand that. I do. It just makes me sad when I see that Oregon alone has 80 in the system right now.

Moving on.

Chris and I need to start working on our Family Book. It's a picture and story book that you make for the child/ren you have chosen, so that they can see who you are and where they will live and the family activities they will be a part of once they are placed. It gives them a sense of peace knowing who we are, where we live, what we look like, and what we like to do. And she told us that when we narrate in the book, that we can use 'mommy' and 'daddy' and 'big brother' when referring to ourselves and The Boy. Awesome!

We also asked about bringing them on a trip out of the state in a few months (yes, I'm being entirely optimistic that God is going to place us that soon. He's moved everything else along quickly, I don't see Him letting us down now!) and she said that would be no problem, just no out of country trips! So awesome on that!

From the bottom of our hearts - we want to thank everyone that has prayed, and encouraged, and sent little notes, and checked up on us. We're so thankful to have you all as our friends and family on this incredibly awe-inspiring journey. I just pray now that God shows us the reason (or reasons!) for this journey.

Chris already has the carseat(s) picked out. So let's get this show on the road Lord!

Friday, July 02, 2010

I See You!!!

As most bloggers do, I have a stat tracker on this blog. No, it's not like Big Brother, it doesn't tell me your name, or phone number, or even blood type. What it does tell me is how I am getting my blog traffic, and where it may be coming from.

Sometimes I get traffic that comes from my link on my Facebook page. Sometimes it comes from a little message board I hang out at (shout out to the Peas!). And sometimes it comes from email updates I post to friends and family.

Either way, I'm glad you're here! Please stop in and stay a while! And leave a comment - I love them. Well, most of them. Anyway.

Have a great Fourth of July folks!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A Calm Weekend

Chris and I don't have a lot planned for this weekend. We have a work dinner to attend tomorrow night, and that's IT! Tonight we're making steak with onion blue-cheese sauce, a fresh salad and grilled corn on the cob. We're going to pop open a good bottle of red, and then retire to the theatre room (HA! I've always wanted to say that. It's really just the family room downstairs) and watch The Edge of Darkness with Mr. Gibson while we eat popcorn and relish the surround sound.

Tomorrow we'll hop on our bikes and head on over to the Beaverton Farmer's Market. We haven't been yet this season and I'm very excited about that. I'm even more excited to think about hitching one of those kid trailers to our bikes and bringing the littles! We have a fantastic fountain in the middle of our little downtown and the kids love to run through it!

Sunday we'll go to church, then come home and do some housework and yard work.

Right now, I'm enjoying the cool breeze and the 71 degree temps. Have a fantastic weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On Cruise Control

We're kind of on cruise control right now. Just hovering, waiting. My Boy is on vacation with his dad and stepmom for three weeks, and then he comes here for three weeks. Once he gets here, the Social Worker will come and interview him and check out our casa.

Until then, we're just...waiting.

In other news, we went camping this weekend and it was cold. And rainy. And we had to turn the heat on Monday (yes, the first day of summer) to take the chill out of the air. And this morning, Nick, my weather guy, (Well, he's not MY weather guy, he's the channel 8 weather guy...oh, you know what I mean) told me that the outlook for July is cold and wet.



I'm over it PNW. Really over it. Please bring me some nice weather. And soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Quickie...

Heh. Maybe that's our problem.

Bah dum dum!

In roughly 40 minutes, Chris and I will be on the road to Detroit Lake, to camp for the weekend with some friends of ours! It's the official first camping trip of the summer. I'm so excited.

Yesterday Chris and I had our individual interviews and they weren't bad. Our social worker read our profiles (those 51 page martha's we had to fill out - God bless her!) and had some clarification questions.

Tuesday July 13th is our home visit. Bring it! Oh - and who wants to help me scrub my house to within an inch of it's life on July 10th and 11th?

Just kidding.

Sort of.

Have a great weekend. And don't postpone joy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sometimes He's Right. Sometimes.

My husband and I were discussing the coward anon poster over dinner last night. He looked at me and said 'open your comments back up. Those who know us, and those who understand everything we have gone through, will know that sometimes cowards just make comments without taking into account the entire picture. Besides, do you really think that person will ever come back to the blog again?'

I then had to explain to him that it irritated, then amused me.

But we also don't want our families NOT to be able to post. So I am sigh opening them back up.

On another note - I received a very uplifting private email from someone I came to know through an online message board that is now defunct. I asked her if I could use parts of her email. She told me the story about how OUR story has inspired her and her husband to start researching adoption. Awesome!

This is the line, however, that brought a little tear to my eye: I just wanted to let you know that your story inspired me, and don’t let the anonymous people get you down.

Thanks H!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Little Vent - and an Update (near the end)

I started journaling about our adoption process in the hopes that it would eventually, someday, on a wing and a prayer, help someone else. At the very least, see what the process is. And at the most and in my wildest dreams - inspire someone to adopt.

I left the comments open so that anyone could post without having to register. I didn't want to be one of 'those blogs' that frustrates the casual reader because they don't have a Gmail account.

All of that had to change this weekend.

I made a comment on my last post about how I really want a girl, but that I know that Chris wants a boy. I went on to say that we were definitely getting two. It was an off-handed remark, and I was taken to task for it, accused of being 'cavalier' about adoption because they 'aren't dogs'.

Well, and excuse my language here, but no shit Sherlock.

Let me recap. Six years of fertility treatments. One devastating late cycle miscarriage. Months of being poked, prodded, injected, etc. Grieving the loss of that child that never was. Coming to terms with the decision to adopt. Having our lives completely analyzed and torn apart so that they can make sure we are suitable to adopt. Filling out massive amounts of paperwork, to include a FIFTY-ONE page personal profile. Background checks, fingerprints, CPS checks. Wanting to adopt a child from a system with a relatively HIGH level of special needs children.

Well, shoot! That certainly sounds cavalier to me!

Chris and I have been through hell and back with trying to start our own little family. We've prayed, cried, yelled, shaken our fists at God himself. We've fought, and grown closer, and our family and closest friends know our struggle. They've been there to support us.

So to have someone, an anonymous coward at that, comment on my blog about how cavalier I am? Well, of course first I was pissed.

Then I thought about it and started laughing. The last thing we are, is cavalier. I may have a sincerely dry sense of humour, but cavalier I am not.

With that being said, I want to keep the focus on the journey that we are taking to realize this dream of having a family of our own. So I had to put the comments on lockdown. You have to have a gmail account or be a registered Open ID user. I'm sorry to those of you who don't. It's crappy, but as they say - one bad apple.

And with that being said - I'll update you!

Chris and I had our couples interview on Thursday June 10. I think it went very well. We have our individual interviews on Thursday - mine is at 9, his is at 12:45. This is so that I can call him when I am done, and tell him what to say.

(To the anon poster - that was a joke. I figured I should point them out to you since you're apparently a Ruh-Tard*)

I'll update you when those are done! Thanks for reading!

*Total Hangover reference

Monday, June 07, 2010

Moving along...

We're back from vacation and glad that it's sunny today. Work today was really challenging. Really. Challenging. To the point where I feel like I may wake up and ask who shot JR. That challenging.

The one sunny bright spot in my day was a phone call from AGCI. Rebecca, specifically, telling us that everything is in, and we are going to start our home study! RIGHT ON! The BEST part of my day, bar none.

So here I sit, patiently waiting for a phone call from Emily, our social worker, to get the ball rolling. I am SO excited. We're one step closer to a little or two. I love littles. I especially love little girl littles. I had the privilege of spending the week at a school friend's house and I wanted to put her five year old in my pocket and take her home with us. LOVED her.

Then I got to see my other school friend Deana's 2.5 year old, Bella. Wanted to put her in my OTHER pocket and take her home with me. Yep, I've got baby girl fever. Oh boy. Or girl.

Chris wants a boy, I want a girl. We're definitely getting two.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just In Time...To Leave

I sent in the last of our paperwork today. This included our 51 page personal profiles that Chris and I had to fill out. They asked all sorts of questions on everything from your childhood to your parenting style to the intimacy level in your marriage.

Yeah, that.

We had to fill them out separately, but we were allowed to compare our answers once we were through. It was AMAZING the similarities in our answers on many of the questions. And that's a good thing.

Saturday we leave for NJ to visit family and friends and to attend my 20-ish High School Reunion. I say 20-ish because I went to a REALLY small Christian High School. I graduated with 5 other people. No, that's NOT a typo. So we're having an all-school reunion of sorts. People are coming that went to the school up through 8th grade but may have gone on to public high school. And of the members of our graduating class, there are two confirmed. Me and one other.

It should be a good time. It's sunny and warm and I'm actually pretty excited to get out of town for a bit.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Reasons I Am Grateful Today

Wow. That's what I have to say after this weekend's very intense Foundations Training.

I am grateful that we were able to take the training with two wonderful social workers from Christian Family Adoptions. It may seem to some that it was a 'coincidence' that the training fell into place perfectly for our timing, but we know it was His plan.

I am grateful for the Foster/Adoptive mom and her 16 year old for coming to our training and talking to us from real life perspective.

I am grateful for the teen panel we had - one foster child and one foster-adopted child - who came to speak to us regarding the difficulties of being a foster child. And what NOT to do.

I am grateful that the heartbreaking stories that we had to hear this weekend did not break me. I am grateful that EACH of those stories has a happy ending, and that we will eventually be one of those happy endings.

I am grateful that I have a loving, supportive, fantastic husband. I am grateful that he makes me laugh, and that I know in my heart he will be a wonderful father. I am grateful that he wants to provide a loving home to the child or children that God has picked out for us.

I am grateful for being able to share this journey with you. And WE are especially grateful that we have the love and support of family and friends. Thank you.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Foundations Training and Real Life Collide

We have been going through state mandated training this weekend. When adopting through the State of Oregon, it's required that you attend the training that they gear towards foster parents. Our status once we are accepted and have our placement will be foster-to-adopt.

Today we had a foster/adoptive mom come in with her 16 year old to talk to us about her experience. She adopted EIGHT children, fostered over 40, and is an intake specialist for the state for babies. She has evaluated 132 babies for the state to determine what type of fostering they need - to what level. She also grew up in foster care since the age of 13 months.

Her 16 year old daughter was with her, who was placed with her when she was 2. The mom already had the girl's older brother and sister, and when the birth mom had come to them with the 2 year old and her younger sister and asked them to take them, she eventually said she would.

There were many questions we all had for her. One of which was the 'open adoption' concept. When you adopt, you mediate with the birth family that may want to maintain some semblance of contact (when safe and approved by the state) with the birth family. This could be grandparents, siblings, aunts, even the birth mom or dad. This woman is a firm advocate for open adoption, and has helped most of her kids maintain some sort of contact with members of their birth families.

This is an issue that Chris and I have struggled with understanding, until today. Today it was like a light bulb went off in my head. I have had the mindset of a parent of a child with whom I share custody with his father. In this arrangement, I am guaranteed time with my child, unsupervised. We co-parent, and my decisions when he is with me are up to me, and his father's decisions when he is with his father, are up to him. I had this idea in my head that if I allowed any type of contact with the birth family, that THIS was the type of arrangement we would have.

Then the mom said something that completely made it click for me. She said, "I am not a parent who got divorced and now I share custody. *I* am the parent. I do NOT co-parent. I decide when and where the visitation takes place. These people are not my best buds, they do not come to my house for visits. These are MY children. And if I feel that things are getting out of hand, I have no issue with getting up and leaving, and letting the family know that when they can get it together, they can have another visit." It made sense. It CLICKED in my head. It's like visitation with a distant relative that you only see every three or four years.

This mom is a liberal mom. She has a liberal visitation policy. And yet, she only schedules visits once or twice a year. MOST parents only agree to sending pictures and letters through a third party once a year.

One of our fears is that our kids will want to go live with their birth parents. But sitting in that room, and listening to this mom who was raised in foster care tell us that she KNEW her foster parents were her mom and dad, some of our fears were assuaged. She made the comment that family is memories, it's chicken pox, and vacations, and camping, and mission trips. It's soccer games, and dentist appointments, and bike rides. And the birth family doesn't get those memories.

It was a long day. Chris and I were exhausted and decided to go out to eat at a little Italian restaurant in downtown Beaverton. We talked about the things we have learned that have formed some of the decisions we have made about the kinds of children we will pursue. It was a great conversation, plied by wonderful Italian food and a bottle of chianti.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Paper Paper Paper Paper Paper WORK!

There is an inordinate amount of PAPER-WORK that needs to be completed before we even start our Home Study. I'm not being dramatic. I'm not exaggerating, I'm not even telling a little white lie.

It's challenging. It's daunting. It's a bit overwhelming at times. Today, I saw a flash, a glimmer, a slight blur of light at the end of that tunnel. Most of our paperWORK is done. Our family coordinator has been in Thailand on a missions trip. She came back yesterday. She had planned a follow-up call with us, even though we gave her a hard time about adjusting to the jet lag and time change.

I received an email from our social worker, Emily, telling us that Becky was unable to do the call due to, SURPRISE! The jet lag. I'm DY-ING to know what other paperwork has come in while she was gone. I've received my Oregon criminal check back, Chris has not. I want to know if all of our DCFS checks have come back from each of the states we've lived in since we were 18 (yeah - it was a long list. Shut it!)

This week is a busy week. We start our Foundations Training tomorrow night. 6-8. Then Friday 6-9, Saturday and Sunday 8-5. Foundations Training prepares you to be a foster parent, and the state requires those adopting from the foster care system to attend as well.

I also have a follow up appointment for my cats on Friday to get their booster set of immunizations. That should be a good time.

Next week is a pretty chill week. And then we leave for vacation!

Friday, May 14, 2010


A debate popped up on a message board I frequent recently about whether or not it is appropriate to inquire about an adopted child's heritage. As is custom on this particular message board, the thread reached two pages overnight. It's still going.

However, with my response on the topic and the responses of others, I figured I would blog about what may or may not be appropriate to ask. I don't seriously believe that most people ask out of maliciousness, or to be hurtful or mean. I also believe that there are those who do ask, mostly to be nosy, under the guise of 'idle curiousity'.

The level of inquiry appropriateness also belies in what your relationship with the family is. If you are close enough to say, have dinner at their house, then I would say (in MY opinion) that I would be willing to answer most questions. Notice I said 'most'. If you are family, I'll pretty much answer anything.

However, if you only see me in the pickup line at school everyday, please don't purport to think that you can sidle up to me and ask me what happened to our (future) child(ren)'s 'real' parents. For all intents and purposes, once the child(ren) are placed in our home, WE are their 'real' parents. We are parenting them. We are providing for them. We are loving them. That's what REAL parents do.

I've done a lot of reading on the subject of attachment and bonding. It's very important to understand that when you adopt children from foster care or even internationally from an orphanage, that the attachment issues will be there. They need to learn to look to you as more than just their 'caregiver', and it can sometimes be a long and arduous road. With these issues come identity issues. Even the simplest and most innocent of questions can hurt or upset a child. They grapple with trying to belong and fit in. And they worry that if they don't look like mommy and daddy, that someone is going to notice and make a big deal out of it. And as we know, most children do not like to be labeled as different or strange.

But back to the question at hand. Questions.

What's appropriate, what's not?

Q: How much did you pay/How much does it cost?
**We've actually gotten this question a lot. A lot, a LOT. I don't know when it became appropriate in our society to ask people how much they paid for ANYTHING, let alone a child. And for the record, we aren't buying our child, we're paying a fee to an agency to perform a service. A service that in my mind, is priceless. We pay them to help us navigate through the inordinate amount of paperwork that we have to fill out/notarize/obtain. We pay them to perform our Home Study, which is a requirement of any adoptive parent. How much we are paying, unless you are asking to help donate towards the cause, isn't really your business. On the flip side, most of the people that HAVE asked us, we are okay with sharing. Mostly family and VERY close friends.

Q: So you weren't able to have any of your own?
**To be fair, I haven't gotten this question. But I feel sorry for the person with the stones to ask me this. Really? I'm pretty sure that the birth certificate we receive when our adoption is final will show that we 'had' one of our own. Of course, the snarky girl in me would like to answer with this: "Yeah, the eight rounds of failed fertility treatment were so much fun, we’ll probably be heading back to the clinic as soon as this child, who isn’t our own, hits preschool."

But I don't think Chris would let me.

Q: Aren't you afraid her mother will want her back?
**I would answer that question with this: "Newsflash. Lifetime TV movies are NOT documentaries, coach." To answer YOUR question (cause you know you're wondering), in the State of Oregon, once the parent signs on the dotted line, or the judge brings down his gavel, it's a done deal. There's no cooling off period, nada.

So there's a little piece of what's not appropriate. What IS appropriate? Well, let's just play it safe and assume that if we've had you over for dinner, you can ask just about anything, and I'll most likely answer. With what amount of snark attached, well, let's just spin the wheel, shall we?

And if you've birthed me, or are related to me, or if I've married your relative - I'll probably answer.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Not much to report today. We got confirmation from most of our references that they are sent back in! Yay for our awesome friends - they rock! Chris and I have all of the background and criminal checks in play. We have our physicals on Thursday. And our adoption training starts next week! Whoo hoo! We're rockin it!

And my husband keeps asking me where the pics are of the children. He wants to be a daddy so bad. I love him for that.

Also - went home at lunch today and got the mail and I received a copy of my State background check. With a huge APPROVED written all over it. LOVES it!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Chris and I showed up to our class last night, only to learn that it will take us 8 weeks of one night a week classes to accomplish what we can in three days during the weekend of May 21.

In other news, I'm watching the news and there are two 'parents' that had been arrested for child abuse. One where the father was abusing the child and the mother stood by and let it happen. I want so badly to go through the TV and SHAKE that woman and ask her what the hell she was thinking.


Monday, May 03, 2010

A Little More About the Oregon Foster Adoption Program

Chris and I had our orientation call with our Social Worker about the Oregon Foster Adoption program today. I have been making it a habit to take notes during each call, and this was no exception. As a matter of fact, I took THREE pages of notes.

She went through the entire process, soup to nuts, about the in's and out's, up's and down's of the program.

We're both excited to start our adoption classes through the state tomorrow. Well, we were, until she told us that they will most likely scare the living crap out of us. Of course, it's up to them to prepare us for worst case scenario, and she warned us that they will.

Many of you have asked me about the timeline. Here it is, in rough outline:

1. Home Study completion (we're looking at around the end of June), and approval.

2. Start receiving bulletins of available children in the foster care system.

3. Choose a child or sibling group that we would like to present ourselves to committee for. (Did you get that?)

4. If chosen to be presented to committee, our Social Worker will be notified. If not, return to 3.

5. If chosen as the primary family, present family picture book to Case Worker (child's case worker).

6. Seven DAY BLACKOUT PERIOD. This one caught me off guard. The seven day blackout period is a week of whirlwind paperwork, processes, and procedures. Oh, and no contact with the child.

7. Once the blackout period is over, we can begin visitation with the child(ren). YAY!

8. Plan Transition into our home. This can go fast or slow, depending on the comfort level of the child(ren) we have chosen, and how fast their bond and trust of us forms.

9. Transition the child into our home! (YAY!)

10. Continue monthly visits with the Social Worker. Every three months, she writes a report to send to the State to confirm that things are progressing with bonding, adjustment, etc.

11. As early as 6 months, the social worker will then recommend finalization of the adoption.

12. Finalize Adoption! We can do this one of two ways - we can either have it all done by mail, or have a court ceremony whereby we travel to the county where the child originally resided, have a small ceremony in family court. Which one do you think THIS photog mom will choose? OH! And we can invite family and friends! I see a big party in our future!

13. Go home and be parentals. <-- best part!

We asked her how we could ensure that our Home Study went quickly. She gave us some tips and pointers on what she likes to see when she comes out. Basically making the home safe for a child. We have to print out an evacuation plan and post it on the fridge. How many of YOU have one of those? I didn't think so. And smoke detectors in each bedroom. Locked or put away medicines and firearms. I'm going to buy a gate for the stairs. And a fire extinguisher. On each floor.

She asked me about our arrangement with the Boy. I told her and she seemed pleased. She's going to probably interview him when she comes out in June.

Busy busy busy, but plugging along!

Saturday, May 01, 2010


So we took the cats to the vet today to get their updated vaccines, and to get a letter of good health and confirmation of vaccines. We also asked the vet to make a comment on their temperament for the agency.

My boy was NOT happy. He shed enough hair to make three new cats. My girl calmed down after a while, but once the vet grabbed her, she was not having it. The vet pulled her mouth open and she HISSED at her! Sapphire has NEVER hissed at ANYONE!! So that was helpful. While we tried to convince the vet that she isn't like that, I wanted to just knock her out! HA!

So we got our bill of health, and confirmation that they would be suitable to be around children. Sheesh. Damn cat.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All God's Children International

Chris and I are using All God's Children International as our adoption agency. We are adopting through the State of Oregon Foster Care System, which we could conceivably do ourselves, without agency assistance. Let me tell you this though - I am HAPPILY writing that check to the agency for their fee. The amount of guidance and assistance and the complete organization that they have is worth every penny. And then some.

Today we drove to their offices to meet with one of the angels that works there. Her name is Rebecca. She has been key in guiding us through the paperwork process. We had to fill out some Oregon State paperwork for background and DCS checks. While there, we got to meet Emily, who will be our family support specialist, and most likely, our Social Worker performing our home study. They were all SO very nice and supportive. And Rebecca liked that I knocked out quite a bit of the paperwork already. Hello Type A.

We're looking forward to starting our training on Tuesday. It's all moving along so smoothly. I stopped and thanked God today for His saving grace and His love for us.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Forgive me, because I am a bit giddy, so I may ramble.

Those of you who are reading this blog (yes, all THREE of you!) know that we have struggled mightily with infertility for well nigh about 6 years now. Struggled. I've been poked, prodded, bled, examined, had procedures done on me the likes of which no one should, and still I remain, with the exception of our one pregnancy, barren. I'm broken. The factory workers went home a long time ago and none of them want to come back. They're living on the dole and they're not going to work for peanuts. (A little infertility humour).

I first brought the idea of adopting up to my husband about two years ago. He asked me to try a little bit longer to get pregnant. I agreed. I prayed, and I told God a thing or two about how tired I was. I told Him that I needed some sort of sign. SOMETHING. Please tell me what Your plan is for us!

Then I thought about it. *I'M* adopted. My dad adopted me when I was younger. Oh sure, my mom is my mom, but he chose to take me on, and treat me NO differently than one of his own, and he adopted me.

And then I thought more about it. I didn't want to adopt internationally. Not when there are SO many children here locally that just need a family that will love them, and protect them, and provide them with the care and security that we know we can.

So I sent away for some information. And in return I received a DVD montage about adoption. And I cried like a baby throughout the entire show. Chris came upstairs to see why there was water dripping from the ceiling and sat there and watched it with me again. While I cried some more. And so did he. And then he said it. The words I had been waiting for God to imprint on his heart and spirit. "Let's go for it."

That was a few weeks ago.

This is now.

We've been accepted into the Oregon Foster Care Adoption program. I have a 2-inch binder with me at all times outlining the steps we need to take to prepare for our home study. It's filled with various paperwork we need to complete, and sign, and sometimes notarize. It's got a checklist of documents that we need copies of. We start our training classes next week. I've been to the post office to send off for our FBI background check. We meet with our family coordinator tomorrow to get a few more things signed.

It's been a long hard road, this process towards a Herren family. And me being the 'Type A' personality that I am, I'm blazing through getting all of the paperwork in order. Our counselor told us that most families complete the paperwork in about 8 weeks. 8 weeks? HA! I'll most likely have it done it TWO. And that includes the 51 page personal profile that EACH of us has to fill out. Are you listening dear? You have two weeks to finish it!

(He knows I'm kidding. He also knows I am the super-organized of the two of us, and just lets me do my thing. But he better get on that profile. No, really.)

And the outpouring of love and support that we have had from our family and friends has been, well, overwhelming. We didn't have a clue as to how any of them would react, heck, we didn't even speculate. I can truly say that it has been above and beyond what we ever could have imagined the support and cheerleading would be like. The people that we have chosen to surround ourselves with were good choices. And the ones that we asked to provide reference letters for us? They are our angels. They were all eager, willing and WONDERFUL about it. They're my heroes.

Of course, I'm at the mercy of the speed of the FBI and various government agencies performing our background investigations. But I'm praying. And telling God that I believe THIS is His plan for us. That I believe that He has had this in His mind for us since we started on this journey. That He knows that we would best be served by providing a good home for some children who wouldn't otherwise get that chance. That He is calling us for this purpose.

God always has a plan for us. It's just not always OUR plan. And I have made peace with that.