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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Hardest Goodbye

     Jonah and Madilyn both slept badly last night, so John and I are both tired.  It's Friday, the day DCS is supposed to arrange a time with us to come and get the girls, because tonight John is going to pick up the 24 foot Budget truck we need to load so that we can leave tomorrow.  As I look around my half-boxed apartment still covered in baby toys, laundry, and random diapering stations, my heart is heavy with the knowledge that today is the day these beautiful, sweet girls will leave.

     Let's go back to January 30th when we got them.  I was in school teaching 1st Grade and John just happened to check his e-mail at home, when he received a DCS letter asking for interested parents to call about two baby girls that were on the "Foster-to-Adopt" list, and needed a home that day to probably become their forever home.  John called me and left a message I got on my planning time when I called him back.  He told me about the e-mail and said he had been trying to call but couldn't get in touch.  He asked, "Do you want them?" ...

     Back to today, the girls' clothes were packed the night before in huge gray plastic tubs and taped shut.  They stand ominously in the living room, and I go wash bottles to send Madi with 5 clean ones ready to mix with hot water.  However, it's almost 9:30 and Mary hasn't woken up yet.  She usually just lies in her bed and cries when she wakes up, so we are wondering why we haven't heard from her yet. John goes to check on her, and says outside the door to her room, "This hallway smells like rotten potatoes.  It stinks." That's a bad sign.  I try to finish washing dishes, but Madi keeps crawling around my feet and trying to open the cabinet doors and drawers in the kitchen, and he comes back and says, "You're cleaning it up.  I did last time." That's worse. "Cleaning up what?" Then the wonderful news, "I don't know if it's poop or puke, but it's your turn."

  Flashback to January, "Of course I want them, but are you sure we can adopt them?" John and I had discussed that we would only do foster parenting for the ones DCS was sure we could adopt next, because we want to raise our adopted kids and our belly babies together.  We had just been foster parents to 4 kids for 6 months (more on that later), and we were taking a little break right in the middle of my second trimester, and had agreed to try to adopt next.  John has a soft spot for baby girls, and we had just found out that I was carrying a boy.  This would give us two girls!  We knew though that when DCS labeled kids "Foster-to-Adopt" there was always a chance their family would come forward and get custody, but usually it meant that DCS had exhausted all of their options and were now trying to get them a forever home.  We have felt called to adopt since before we met each other, and we had thought it would be now.  He told me their ages, 3 months and 13 months.  Just babies, sweet, helpless babies we could raise with our own.  I remember standing next to the window of my classroom because it was so hard to get service in that building. I put my hand on my belly like pregnant people do, wondering if these would be Jonah's sisters.  I asked, "Have you prayed about it? What do you think?" John said, "Yeah, I mean, I wanted to ask you first, but I want to do it. There's always a chance with any foster-to-adopt kids that we won't get to keep them, but this e-mail sounds like DCS has already tried to get in touch with their family.  They're in custody because the mother was on drugs when she went to the hospital to deliver the baby.  They were with an aunt, but she can't keep them anymore, and she's giving them up because she doesn't believe the mother will ever get her life together or get them back. What do you think? Should I call and try to get them?"  Taking a big leap of faith, I answered "Yes."

     Today I take off my rubber dish-washing gloves, (in retrospect, I should have just left them on), walk into Mary's room, and I'm greeted by a nasty smell and sight.  She is awake but silent because she knows something is wrong and I think she thought she would get in trouble.  She is covered in diarrhea.  It smells much worse in the bedroom, like just straight horse manure.  It's all over the bed, sheets, blanket, her clothes.  I curse diaper companies for not figuring out by now how to keep feces in a diaper.  We can put a man on the moon, and a rover on Mars, but we still haven't conquered baby crap.  We need to get someone to fix this problem.  I pick her up by the arm pits and carry her into the bathroom.  John runs out of the room gagging, almost tripping over Madi because now she has followed us in here.  He scoops her up and backs out of the room, "That is awful!" Jonah sits in the recliner, bobbing his little head around.  I holler, "Bring me some wipes!!!" I turned on the bathtub faucet and told Mary, "You are nasty, so you're going to take a bath, OK?" Her response is a nod, as if she understands, and then confirming, "Baaaa" (bath in babyspeak).  I tell her, "This sure is a gross way to say good-bye baby girl."  Then I realize I have no where to stash these disgusting wipes, so I call on John again, "Bring me a bag for this stuff!"  This time he hangs around about 2.4 seconds longer and asks if he can film this, realizing the hilarity of the disgusting situation. I decline this offer because I'm still in a t-shirt and underwear, and that's just not family-friendly. I finish wiping her off around the diaper, but when I have to open it and the liquid poo comes pouring out onto the bathroom floor, I gag and have to stand up and back away. This is parenting my friends! It's gross and real and physical.  I know God doesn't have to change our diapers, but he does have to help us clean up our lives.  I wonder if he ever gags at our horrendous messes.  Mary is safely in the bathtub, and I have to clean up the floor. I feel like this is dejavu because a few days ago I was cleaning vomit from the same spot.  John throws away the blanket, sheet, and her clothes.  I fully agree with this decision.  I give her a bath, then get her dressed, and her juice. I miss her, but not cleaning up those nasty messes!  She happily watches TV, a full-blown Dora fan, and I get ready to try to feed Madilyn (see previous post).  I mix up her baby oatmeal with cinnamon sugar and formula and add cinnamon applesauce.  She actually likes this quite a bit, and only fights me toward the end of the small bowl.  I give up when she does, and try to go back to washing dishes.  My eyes water as I think how typically ironic it is that we would find a food she likes the day she has to leave.  I often look upward when I pray, and I am thankful once again for the piece of Bible scripture wall art we have put up on the wall above the sink:

I choose to obey and the words become repetitious in my mind to give me strength.  I finish the verse in my head, "Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths." or is it "He will make your paths straight." ? I can't decide if this is a different verse or the same verse in a different version.  I like to use Bible Gateway and the app on my phone and read the same scripture in ESV, NIV, and the Message, to get 3 different perspectives and full understanding.  I don't have time to look it up right now, but it has calmed me down.  I don't understand this, but God does.  We're moving because we feel He's calling us to be House Parents.  We know that eventually now the girls are going to live with some family members who have applied for custody.  We are almost certain we'd never get to adopt them, no matter how long we foster them and stay in Memphis. I wish these family members had been contacted months ago so they could transition straight there.  I don't know why we were given little girls we thought we could keep only to have to give them back 7 months later. I don't know why we lost countless nights of sleep with Madilyn, or cleaned up nasty diapers with Mary, or got to teach Madi how to crawl, and now watch her pull herself up on the furniture and cruise around, or get to teach Mary to say "Tank Oooo" (thank you) and a handful of other cute words.  I don't know why yet we can't keep them forever, and see Madi learn to walk and Mary learn to read and watch Jonah say to someone proudly "She's my sister," but I have to trust His plan for them. We want to adopt children who have no family.  If these girls have family members who can take them and raise them in a safe and loving home, we have to accept that with peace.  I wish we could meet them...I pack their things and remember back to Winter when they first came over.

     Madilyn was in a pink snowsuit that cold afternoon, and looked like a little tiny angel.  Mary had a mischievous grin, but cried whenever John came near her or even walked in the room (that continued for about a month). We were so excited and happy to have them, thinking we could adopt them eventually. They were so small, soft and beautiful.

     I am having to take breaks from writing this because I keep crying and remembering, Trust. Trust. Trust. 

     Back to today, I pack them as quickly as I can, but still not before John calls and says, "The social worker is on her way." What happened to calling with a time to meet? Oh well. I throw some pants on and keep packing them.  All the clothes, toys, diapers, and random baby supplies fill up her car around their car seats.  John tells me anything else will have to be strapped to the roof.  John is alternating holding them and crying.  His parents walk in to help us move, and Nancy starts crying.  I can't hold it back. The last few bags had tears packed in with toys.  We held them, and cried, and lifted silent prayers for their safety and well-being.  Our voices were too shaky to say much.  As we buckled Mary in the car seat she began to cry, as if she understood.  This really hurt. She's so smart.  I pray she gets great teachers.  I hope she's crying because it's lunch time and she's hungry.  The social worker drives away, and John and I go sit in the closet and cry.  That was the hardest goodbye of our lives.  Here's a few of my favorite pictures of them:

It was hard having 3 kids under age 2.  
Really, really hard when I was home alone with them and trying to feed Jonah while Madi was screaming, but we loved them anyway.  
We pray for them constantly and have to keep trusting.  
Please join us in praying for these girls.
Also join us in trusting the Lord. 
If He can create Heaven, earth, humans, animals, and everything in between, who are we to question? 
Trust. Trust. Trust.


  1. Kelly-Wow! Thank you for sharing! I'm praying for the girls!

  2. Kelly, you don't even really know me, but I'm Candace, Kacie's sister. B/c of Kacie and Jeremy, I feel like I know you guys a little bit. I just happen to find your blog and read your sweet words about saying good bye to the girls. I can not even begin to imagine your heart break. Just the short time that I was able to be around them when Kacie and J had them, I can see how they so easily stole your hearts.

    Please know how thankful I am for your friendship with my sister. Thank you and John for being bold and obeying what God was doing with the hickory withe situation. So admirable! But also thank you for loving those sweet girls as they were your own. Your faithfulness to do what God has called you to do is more challenging to your readers (and anyone around you) than you'll ever know.

    Thank you for your honesty and sharing your heart. We wish you guys the very best as you begin this new adventure.

    1. Wow! Thank you! We were so thankful to have Kacie and Jeremy next door! They were the best neighbors and babysitters we've ever had!

      I'm so thankful that you guys ended up going back to Hickory Withe because we felt badly about having to leave, not really knowing why yet, but trying to be obedient. It was also obvious that those students and the church loved you guys so much, you were leaving big shoes to fill!

      God is so faithful. :)

  3. my heart is broken too :( I really wanted you guys to keep them... Right now I'm crying at work after reading your post... I'm sure there are some kids somewhere, who need you even more, and you're gonna find them and take them in. You are the kindest person I know, and I know you will be the best mother to any child.
    I really hope Madi and Mary's new guardians are responsible caring people and take good care of them. Be happy that you gave them the chance of a great start, even though it ended up breaking your heart...