This is a subject that is close to my heart and since I’m so protective of my girls, I don’t talk about this very often. Lately, there seems to be a lot of TV programs that talk about this subject and a lot of times you only hear the negative side. Also, when I do bring up the subject and let people know that my two youngest girls are adopted, I’m always asked if their problem children or I’m told that I’m a saint(which I’m not) because I took these girls into my home.
I can only speak from my experience, but nothing could be different from the truth. I have had several friends tell me that I should share my story and I have been hesitant because I want to protect my girls, but I feel like this might be the time because there needs to be a different light on the subject.
I met my husband when I was 17 years old, after I graduated from high school and I had just started college. We married the following summer and to our surprise, Jessica decided she couldn’t wait, and she was born the next year. By the time I was 26 years old, I had 4 kids and I couldn’t be any happier. At that time, we decided that we were done having kids and I would brag that I would be so young by the time my kids were grown that I could just spoil myself and not have to buy cheap clothes from Kmart.
Life was great!!! My kids were amazing and very successful in the things they were involved in. I truly only thought about having more children a couple of times. Then it happened, Jessica had just gotten married and Cassie was off to Snow College to play softball and I had stopped working full time. I thought to myself, it’s my time, I can take any path I want.
Talking with my sister Sydney, on the phone one night, she was so excited because she had just been hired for a job that she was thrilled to have. I had this sinking feeling, at that point, I wasn’t going to be that excited about getting job, like Sydney! I decided that I was going to take my time and decide what I really wanted to do; work, go back to school, etc.. I started praying more than I usually do and REALLY read my scriptures, hoping to find a answer.
One night, I had a dream about two cute little girls and one of them had curly hair. In my dream someone mentioned that the mom had nothing to do with them and the grandma took care of them. I woke up in a startle. I have never thought I was one that would receive inspiration, especially from a dream! I figured that it was just a dream, but the seed was planted and I realized that was one of my options.
My husband was not thrilled, to say the least, but the feeling was so strong and would not go away that I had to look into it. I called foster care to set up an appointment to be prescreened. The caseworker did not show up, so I thought that was my answer to my pray, but the feeling would not go away!!!!! My husband suggested that I go see a therapist, I did, and all he wanted to do is put me on anti depressants and didn’t want to help find the root of the problem. I even went through the motions to become a volunteer for the United Way and knew that wasn’t the answer.
We looked into adopting another way with from funds available through Mike’s work. Mike decided if I had to do this that we should adopt a baby through LDS Services. We went to our appointment and I explained our situation to the counselor. The worker looked at me, and asked if we had thought about going through foster care. I explained what had happened and I had taken it as a sign. She asked me if I thought Satan was trying to stop what I was doing. I had chills!!! She told me that she would put our name in the Temple and she would pray for us.
That night, I had the same dream. I woke up and asked Mike if we could try one more time and we would only take one case from foster care and if I was wrong, we would be done!!!!! Mike agreed, and I started the process. Mike was so upset with me that I went to most of the foster classes by myself. Yes!!!!!! I was worrying the whole time how this was going to effect my family and I didn’t know how I would answer questions from people if we did get kids from foster care. I did worry that we would get kids with issues that I wasn’t prepared to handle. I did not want to be selfish. My family has always been my first concern and this was out of character for me to pursue something that my husband strongly disagreed with. I was in complete turmoil, crying most everyday until my boys would come home from school and then I would try to put on my happy face.
Two weeks after we received our license, I received a call seeing if I would take two siblings, a boy and a girl. Not believing my dream, I agreed to take them but it fell threw. Then a couple weeks later, I got a call from a caseworker stating she had four siblings, ages 5 and younger, 3 still in diapers! The caseworker asked me if I would take all 4, I said “no”, I didn’t want to change that many diapers, like I said, I’m not a saint! She then asked me if I would take 2 boys or 2 girls and she would split them up. My heart stopped and not trusting my dream, I told her to choose. Quickly, she told me that she would bring the girls.
That night there was a knock at my door and there standing on my porch was a little blonde girl with a dirty stuffed animal and clothes that should fit a toddler and not a 5 year old. The first thing we did was give her a bath and go buy her some underwear because she didn’t have any. Andie’s teeth would hurt when she ate because she had caps on all her front teeth. My cute neighbor brought me a box full of hand me downs or she would of been naked.After a few days she started to call me mom and told me that she didn’t want to go back.
It was really uncomfortable for Andie to call me “mom” at first, because I had just met her and I wasn’t sure yet, if this was what was suppose to happen. This bothered people when they would hear her call me “mom”, which I don’t understand because it was something so simple that made her feel safe, plus it was none of their business.
My Lisa didn’t show up until the next day because her grandma had kidnapped her. Lisa was 22 months old with cute curly hair and all she could do is smile! When children are in the state’s custody the foster parent is required to take the kids to the doctor and dentist within 48 hours. I took the girls to the doctor that they had been seeing prior to being at my house. The first thing the doctor said to me was “We have never met the mom, the grandma is the one who takes care of these girls’”. I have been through 4 pregnancies and delivered big babies but going through the adoption process was more emotionally draining.
Little by little I started to become attached to these two sweet angels and when they would go to visits with their biological mom, I would worry the whole time for their safety. I started telling Andie that I loved her when I would drop her off at school and then I would wonder if I really did loved her, but I knew it was important that she heard those words! I didn’t want to split a family apart if their mom was able to take care of them but I wanted to make sure my girls were safe. As the case progressed I found out that when my cute Andie was living with her biological mom, she would be locked in a room, for most of the day,every day, with 4 kids younger than her, and she was expected to take care of them.
Miss Andie was in kindergarten and could only count to 3 and could only say the ABC’s to abc. Every time something happened in the case, I seemed to know what was going to happen. Later, after the caseworker got to know me, she told me that she just thought I was the crazy Mormon lady that thought she was inspired about everything, but then realized that I wasn’t crazy, I just knew what was going to happen. It was hard because people who in the past would never talk to me, all of sudden felt it was their duty to ask every question and voice their opinion. They would even want to discuss my girls situation right in front of them, not thinking what these sweet girls had been through already.
Finally, at the end it looked like the Judge was considering leaving a couple of the kids with the mom, so 6 year old Andie asked if she could talk to the Judge. I wasn’t thrilled with this idea because it scared me, I didn’t want to talk to the Judge! Andie received permission from the court. She went into his chambers in her cute little dress with “Susie”(the stuffed animal she had brought to the house) and told the Judge why none of the kids should go back. She’s my hero! Since all the kids have different dads, three of the siblings went with their father’s family members and the one brother was adopted by his foster parents.
I didn’t force the little girls on my older kids and let them form their own bond. Lisa would not leave Zac alone until she had melted his heart. Lisa informed Zac at the age of 5 that I loved her more because I got to pick her. Andie has a strong bond with her older sisters, but Cassie has dragged her every where and they have become best friends. When Andie dates, the boys better watch out because she has two brothers that will make their lives very uncomfortable.
Both of the girls are daddy’s girls and he doesn’t love them any differently than his older girls. Are they perfect? No! They are normal kids that are amazing one moment and a struggle the next. It hasn’t been any harder than it was with my older children, but I firmly believe that once you decide to adopt that those children are not any different than your biological kids and should not be treated differently. Matter of fact, I don’t consider my girls adopted anymore, they are Lewis’, not my adopted kids.
Your family through the thick and the thin. It’s true, my girls are amazing! Andie is sassy and will stand up for anyone she doesn’t think is being treated fairly. She has gotten honors and high honors all through junior high. Andie is a amazing dancer and a fantastic softball player. Lisa is a princess and has a personality that makes everyone love her ( she is a little spoiled). She is doing fabulous in 5th grade and loves sports. It was hard but I’m so glad that I was able to go on this journey and my girls are not the ones that are blessed because we adopted them….we are the blessed ones because they joined our family!