HooRAY! We officially adopted our daughters on November 18, 2022!! It feels like the weight has been lifted off our shoulders! Our girls are so happy to finally have a family that takes care of them and loves them unconditionally! We are so thrilled that they are our family FOREVER! We are beyond blessed! God is so good!
Hello and welcome! Thank you for stopping by to follow along on our Foster-To-Adopt journey!
As many of you already know, adoption has been on our hearts for several years now. We passively started researching adoption paths around 2014/2015 (even though we knew we were not ready for a family at that time). In 2018, we narrowed down the paths that we felt most comfortable with and started exploring them more in-depth. Fairly quickly we landed on Foster-to-Adopt. There were SO many reasons why, but one main reason being the children in this program are usually NOT newborn babies, which meant it could potentially be harder for them to find a home. We wanted to be that home for them! 🙂
At the end of 2019, we submitted our paperwork and were accepted into the program!
At the beginning of 2020, we completed 3 full Saturdays of training, had a background check, fingerprinting, multiple hour+ interviews, and home studies. It took a few months to get all of this completed.
In April 2020, we were officially licensed as Foster-To-Adopt! At this point, our home was “open” to accept children! Unlike traditional Foster Care, this program doesn’t surprise you with a child placement overnight, you get to meet the child (after being matched) and see if you could potentially be a forever home for them!
Our worker would have potential “matches” for us about once or twice a month. She’d call, tell us a bit about the child(ren) and then ask if we’d like to submit our home study for review by the child(ren)’s caseworker. Out of about 10 calls within 6 months, we only said “no” to 3. Yet, we still weren’t matched with any of them. At the time, it was getting bothersome. But looking back, we realize that God’s plan was for us to complete [nearly all of] our home renovations, first. I can’t even imagine how extremely stressful adding children to our home while it was a construction zone would have been!
In mid-October, we had a very interesting call from a trusted acquaintance in the community that has helped facilitate many adoptions. She mentioned there was a 5-year-old boy who’s grandmother had cancer and most likely would need a forever home. Our heart broke by the situation and we immediately wanted to learn how we could help. We spoke with the grandma and ended up meeting the boy and had a great time. We spent about 4 different days doing miscellaneous activities with him and a different caregiver of his. Ultimately, he’ll be a sweet little boy we’ll be praying for, but the situation turned out to be much different than we were originally told and we did not feel comfortable moving forward. After updating our caseworker with all the details, she agreed that we made the correct decision to “walk away.” It was disheartening, but we knew it was necessary.
After this, we had another opportunity to foster a child that seemed like it was absolutely going to work out, but didn’t. Even though it wasn’t meant to be, we were still taken aback.
At this point, we were wondering if the Foster-To-Adopt program was going to work for us. After some late-night discussions, we decided we’d start filling out paperwork for a different agency for their traditional Foster Care program. We were not looking forward to essentially redoing all the paperwork, interviews, training, and home studies that we literally just completed months earlier, but we knew the need for Foster Care was growing with the pandemic and we wanted to be there to help. We submitted the paperwork and continued to wait.
A week or so later, on October 26, 2020, our caseworker from our initial agency called us again. This time she told us about two little girls ages 2 and 4. My heart felt so happy when I heard about these sisters and I couldn’t stop smiling. I remember messaging some family and friends to please pray for God’s will to be done because it would be “so fun to have two girls!” Our worker suggested that we shouldn’t get our hopes up, since these were two very healthy, young girls – there would likely be many home studies submitted for them and it was unlikely we’d be matched. We agreed and gave her permission to submit our home study anyway.
Another call came 3 days after the 26th and I was so excited it was for the girls, but it was another sibling group that could potentially be matched with us. We declined, as it didn’t seem to be a good match. After a couple of weeks, we shrugged our shoulders when I mentioned to Kevin: “I guess we weren’t matched with the girls. Ugh. Will we ever be matched?”
On the morning of November 17, 2020, everything changed.
I heard a ding on my phone and saw a text message from our worker.
I read the text and immediately went to Kevin and told him that I hoped it was good news – it had to be good news!
I called Tricia and after some quick niceties, she excitedly said: “Amanda, you and Kevin had been matched to “learn more about” the two little girls (ages 4 and 2) that you submitted your home study for!”
I started tearing up and had to repeat what she said to make sure I heard it right! I had Tricia on speakerphone and Kevin had a big, excited smile on his face. We truly couldn’t believe the news. But even with this amazing news, it wasn’t a sure thing, yet. We heard that even when selected, you are one of a handful of families that get interviewed and you may not be chosen.
Things really became a whirlwind after the initial call with Tricia. There was a Zoom Meeting scheduled with the girls’ case manager for that evening. During the day, I listened to praise & worship music and kept a continual prayer in my head that “if this is God’s will, please let it be EASY.” And those of you that know me, know I never pray for easy. I have no problem working for things.
That evening we had a call with the girls’ worker and Tricia, where Tricia asked many questions about the background of the girls, why they came into care, and the question we were most curious about: “Are Kevin and Amanda the only people being considered or are their other families, too?” We didn’t have to hold our breath too long, as the case manager immediately announced “Kevin and Amanda are the only ones being considered, out of all the families, they are a perfect match.”
I had to wipe away tears from my eyes on the Zoom call. How could it be so easy? We were told there would have been multiple families being interviewed for these girls. We were the only ones?! 🙂
Their worker gave us the numbers of the current foster parents, “L” and “V,” for us to text and set up a video chat with the girls! Immediately, they gave us an online photo album with pictures and videos of the girls that we could view to get to know them a bit more. They seemed so adorable!
On November 19, 2020, we were able to meet the girls on video chat! Everything went so well!
We talked with the girls and they were such sweeties. They ate their lunch “with us” on video and described their favorite meals and toys with us, danced around during a “dance party,” and then showed us their monkey bars and rock climbing wall in their foster parents’ basement. It was a super cute time to get to know them a little bit more! After about 25-30 min with the girls, the previous foster mom had a private conversation with us and spoke very honestly about why they no longer can foster them, some background about their biological parents and their current interactions, and so much more information. Although there was information that we weren’t expecting, it was wonderful to have her talk frankly with us. We left the video call feeling overwhelmed but very excited!
The next step was visiting in person! The foster family was currently in quarantine since they were exposed to someone with Covid, but they were “out” on November 26. We decided November 27th sounded like a great day to meet the girls (it was my late grandmother’s birthday!)! Between our initial call and the first visit, I kept in close contact with “L” (previous foster mom) and asked her tons of questions about sleep habits, routines, favorite foods, books, colors…everything! She was so helpful and provided in-depth answers to all our inquiries.
Unicorns & Rainbows
Throughout this process, I’d have many conversations with my mom and her chipper personality always sees the bright side of things. I’d always say “But remember mom, it’s not going to be all unicorns and rainbows.” I’d say it on nearly every call, to a point where she was getting annoyed, she’d say, “It can be, we have a powerful God and I pray for the best.”
Well… when we were on our initial video call with the girls, “L” was trying to get more information out of them about their current likes. She said, “If we were to redo your room right now, what would you have in it?” The girls responded with “pink and purple” and ”unicorns!” and “rainbows!” At that moment I didn’t think anything of it and just wrote it down so I could gather some items for their rooms. The next day when I was looking for decor, I said to myself “Ok, what do we need? Rainbows and unicorns… wait… what?!” I couldn’t believe it – I called my mom right away and let her know. We both had tears of joy. Seemed like a little God-nudge showing me that these were the girls for us!
Meeting The Girls In Person
On November 27, 2020, at 9:30 am, we met the girls (they visited our home) and have such fun memories of the first couple of hours spent with them!
Some highlights of visit #1:
- 4yo was pretending to curl my hair with a toy and then looked into my eyes and said “Your eyes! Like mine!!” Her previous foster family had 3 people with brown eyes and one with blue eyes. None were like hers, which are very similar to mine: a green, grey, and blue mix.
- Both girls were so excited when they saw their rooms. They jumped on their beds right away. Both got under the covers and pretended to sleep for a nap.
- They asked “L” if they could live here. And then said, “Just bring our clothes.” Lol
- Looking in their closets, we already had a few clothing items for them that we purchased in advance. They asked “Clothes for me?” And we said, “They definitely could be if you live here!”
- Both girls kept holding our hands and wanted us to carry them often.
- 2yo looked at my hands and pretended to paint my nails saying “Nails, me do?”
- When we asked 2yo what part of the home she liked the best she said “My bed!” Then sang a song that sounded like “Mah bed, mah bed.” In a cute little hip-hop-type way.
- 2yo got marker on her forehead, I showed her in the mirror and she couldn’t stop laughing. Then all of a sudden she got serious and said “Off?” Like “Can you get this off please?” I did and wiped off her hands, too. She pointed to each marker spot then showed me a scab and said “this owie, no off.” (This can’t come off).
- Both girls were excited to play with the toys that were originally from my cousins!
- They loved playing at the easel and with baby dolls.
When it was time for them to leave, they didn’t want to go. We didn’t want them to leave either! They were so adorable and sweet! Before they left, we got a quick picture with them. This is our FIRST family picture!
(sunglasses clip art added for privacy)
The Second Visit
Two days later, on November 29th (my dad’s birthday!) we watched the girls at our home from about 9:30-5:30pm. We had a very fun time and even made some birthday cards for my dad! My parents stopped by for a little bit and helped us decorate the Christmas tree with the girls and gave them some snacks. After that, it was time for a nap. Or at least “try” for a nap. The girls couldn’t fall asleep, but that was to be expected since they were in such a new environment! After the “nap,” we made Christmas spritz cookies, ate dinner, and finished the day with some sticker activity books from Nana Ray. The girls didn’t want to leave. They were hoping it was a sleepover! Kevin and I loved spending time with them but were completely exhausted after they left. We still weren’t used to “parent-mode” yet. lol
After the initial visits, our next step was SLEEPOVERS! We had sleepovers from Saturday through Sunday on Dec 5th-6th (celebrated St. Nick’s with them!), Dec 12th-13th, and Dec 19th-20th!
During the first sleepover, it really hit me. These girls *could* be ours. Maybe even forever?! I was so focused on them and their needs, that I barely ate lunch and had no snacks that day. When the sun went down, I started feeling sick to my stomach due to nerves and lack of food. Kevin was amazing and stepped up to feed them dinner while I was sitting on the sofa taking a breather and eating a small meal for nourishment. After putting them to bed, I felt much better (the quiet home we normally had, returned). However, it was now up to Kevin and me to decide if we wanted to move forward. Could we foresee fostering these girls to potentially have them reunified with their biological father and never see them again? Or even more significantly, to be adopted by us and be our forever family? It felt like the weight of the world was on our shoulders.
We decided we needed more sleepovers to get to know them better and ensure we could actually parent them. Each sleepover became “easier” and we realized that we’d eventually get the hang of parenting. We were so excited and nervous!
We initially had our move-in date planned for December 22, 2020 (4yo’s last day of school). Unfortunately, she was exposed to someone at school with Covid and needed to quarantine. After getting a negative Covid test back, we were able to schedule the move-in day for Christmas Eve! 🙂
On Christmas Eve, we added two little girls to our family! We were officially their foster parents!! It was a whirlwind of excitement and chaos but it ended up working out wonderfully! Such an amazing Christmas gift!
Kevin was off of work for the next two weeks and we made the most of it with the girls! Lots of playtime, dance parties, learning, and decorating their rooms!
School started on Jan 4th and 4yo loves it! She loves having fun while learning and it also tires her out. It’s needed for all of us 😉 It’s also nice for me to have one-on-one time with the little one in the mornings 🙂
Sophie and Ollie are starting to get used to the activity and love cuddling with the girls!
Has it all been unicorns and rainbows? Of course not. But we realize that these girls have trauma in their past and need our help with structure, learning, care, and most importantly: LOVE! These girls are extremely smart, loving, and empathetic and need our guidance to become the amazing women they are destined to be!
We’re really excited to see where this journey leads and while we’re staying the course, we hope we can count on you for prayers and support! 🙂
How long did the process take? It took 9 months from being licensed to receiving our current placement. However, it was about 1 year from the time we submitted our application to receive a placement. We should note, that we DID NOT drag our feet at all. Every time paperwork was due, our worker received it from us weeks before the deadline.
Did you choose a specific gender, age, or ethnicity? The only item we were pretty specific on was age. We were open to ages 0-5. Otherwise, we kept praying for a child or children that would be best for us and us for them. (We left all that up to God!)
Did you choose this route due to infertility? We have heard this question a few times, as many people don’t think about adoption until it’s the “last resort.” Both Kevin and I are able to have biological children, we just choose not to.
How can we support you in this journey? Prayer, babysitting for a date night, or even purchasing a gift card or an item from our “registry” at Amazon or Target if you are willing/able (Since this wasn’t a traditional way of adding children to our family, we didn’t have a “baby” shower to help gather items for the girls).
Why are they wearing sunglasses? This is for the girls’ safety and confidentiality. Ultimately, the initial story of how they came into foster care is their story and they can decide when they are older if and how they want to tell it. If/when they are adopted, they no longer need their identity protected as they would be legally part of our family.
Has the transition been easy? It started off amazing during the “honeymoon phase!” That lasted about a week lol. Since then they’ve become much more comfortable with us and we’re definitely working on undoing some bad behaviors that were taught (or even neglected to be corrected) by previous caretakers. Of course, they’ve still been amazing little girls and we love them so much!
How is Kevin and your relationship through all of this? Really great! Kevin and I appreciate each other now more than ever! We both make sure we support one another, especially if times are getting rough with the girls, and we are completely united in the way we parent! When one of us is exhausted or frustrated, we make sure that person can go to another room and rest. It truly helps. And goodness, it’s funny how many inside jokes we already have in just these past few weeks! Parenting is hard, but Kevin and I are a TEAM! 🙂
How are Sophie and Ollie doing? They were very confused at first, wondering why two little humans were sleeping over. Then even more confused when they didn’t leave our care. Overall, they love playing with their dog toys with the girls and love tugging with them. The dogs are thrilled they get to play in the snow a whole lot more, too! Ollie is especially bonded with the girls. Before we head to our bedroom each night, he makes sure he listens in to each girl’s room and sniffs a bit to make sure they are okay. Sometimes he even sleeps outside their bedrooms to make sure they’re safe. It’s too adorable! Sophie loves the petting and brushing, but if she isn’t in sight, then she’s soaking up her alone time on the living room sofa! haha. They’re doing pretty well with the transition, though!
Do they call you mom and dad? Yes! They have since the sleepovers! They call us mommy/momma and daddy/dadda – it definitely melts our hearts! 🙂
What’s the difference between traditional foster care and the foster-to-adopt program that you are in? Each state should have multiple foster care programs. With traditional foster care, you are the first family to take care of a child after they have been removed from their biological family. In most cases, the biological parent will take the appropriate steps to remedy the situation that caused the child(ren) to be removed. In that case, the child(ren) can be reunified with them. However, in the foster-to-adopt program, you are the second or third family to care for the child(ren). This is because the biological parents have not taken the steps to remedy their lives (after about a year+) and the courts realize that an adoptive family is most likely needed for the child(ren). At this point, the biological parent(s) have one last chance to remedy their situation. We are currently in this stage. (As of Feb. 2021)
How long until you adopt them? That’s up to God and His plan. We would love to adopt these girls, but that may or may not be in God’s plan for them. Please continue to pray that His will be done! 🙂
ONE MONTH UPDATE:
Whoa! It’s been a month? Is it odd that it already feels like years? (Only half kidding lol). We’re definitely mentally exhausted but our hearts are overflowing with love for these two girls. 4yo is doing well in school (she’s improved tremendously since being in our care!) and 2yo is speaking more clearly and is having *less* tantrums. We’re getting used to this thing called parenting but we still have a long way to go! 🙂
SIX MONTH UPDATE:
Well, we’ve been busy! haha. The girls turned 3 and 5 and we celebrated with our families! The girls told us they never had a big birthday party so we made this one for the books! 🙂 They were showered with love and gifts from our family and they were so happy to fit right in! Everyone loves them so much and the girls LOVE being part of such a large family!
After Covid eased up a bit, we’ve been seeing a lot more family and having so much fun! 5yo finished school with astounding achievements (previous foster families and teachers didn’t think it was possible. A lot of love and a whole lot of hard work & making learning fun truly helps!) 3yo started a local 3K program and is thriving! She LOVES school. I pray they both keep their fire burning for learning about Jesus and education, in general!
The question we keep getting asked is: “Where are you in the process? When are you going to adopt?” Right now, we are in the midst of the “action.” We ask for prayers that God’s will be done. We truly hope His will is for us to adopt these girls, but we simply don’t know what will happen. But HE knows. I am trying to hold firm in that truth and simply keep loving, teaching, and helping these girls thrive day by day, hoping God has “forever” in store for us!
ONE YEAR UPDATE:
It’s nearly been one full year with our wonderful daughters! We love them so incredibly much! Don’t get us wrong, this year definitely had its challenges but we’re working through them and permanency should be heading the girls’ way! We’re excited, to say the least!
It may sound cliche but our lives have completely changed (and for the better)! It is so amazing being a family and being Daddy & Mommy to some little humans that need/deserve so much love, care, education, fun, and structure. Even Sophie & Ollie have started to buddy up with the girls. They especially love snack time when the girls share dog-friendly foods with them and when we take car rides and the girls pet them whenever they come near. Ollie still checks on them at night before he retires to our room, and 5yo pets him in the hallway when she wakes up in the morning – it’s too sweet!
As for activities, the girls have loved playing in the kid pool, riding their bikes, doing all sorts of arts & crafts, cuddling with us and the dogs, opening up the many packages that arrive (online shopping is one of my hobbies :P), reading books, having family movie/game night, taking walks, and, of course, spending time with cousins, grandparents, uncles/aunts, and other family members! We went strawberry picking in summer, went apple picking and to a handful of pumpkin patches in fall, took family photos in summer and fall, went to many seasonal festivals and farmer’s markets, toured the zoo, saw hot air balloons, joined a weekly ballet class, went to the dog park & regular parks countless times, and even met Elsa (from Frozen) and Cinderella and took a carriage ride with her!
Recently, both girls have been excelling in school! We truly feel blessed about this because previous caregivers didn’t think this was possible. We had no doubts that it was! 5yo is testing at a 1st grade level when she’s only in Kindergarten! And 3yo is thriving in her 3K class at a local Christian school!
They are growing so well physically, mentally, and emotionally! 5yo is very “street smart” and really understands how to negotiate and give solutions to problems. She is an empath and loves and cares for fellow people and animals on a tremendous scale. It’s heartwarming! When she is older she says she wants to be an artist and sell her art online! She has previously wanted to be a: firefighter, doctor, and mommy. 3yo has a mind of an engineer and simply understands how things work, fairly immediately. She has a recognizable joy about her and is always looking to make you laugh and feel loved! When she is older she says she wants to be a mommy to 101 children and mommy’s doctor (to make me not have type 1 diabetes anymore). How sweet is that?!
On the home front, we’re still doing projects…which shouldn’t be a surprise! Lol. In spring, Kevin installed shiplap on one playroom wall & and the inside of the kitchen island. We also updated our outdoor landscaping around the entire home. More recently, he installed our subway tile backsplash in the kitchen, and new outdoor home lights to replace the dated ones. Currently, he’s updating our master bathroom while also creating a drop zone/custom bench/shelf area in our foyer! What’s next?! Don’t worry, I have more projects in mind. 😉
This has been a wild ride but we wouldn’t change it!
Our next big hearing is at the end of February and we hope you will pray along with us for a quick and fair process!
We hope you have a fabulous Christmas and an even more amazing 2022!
1.5 YEAR UPDATE:
In February 2022, the Termination of Parental Rights (TPR) was granted! In our case, the judge asked (among many other things), “Would either girl be harmed if the relationship with their biological parents was severed?” The unanimous answer from all witnesses was that it would not harm them and that Kevin and I should be allowed to adopt them. The judge agreed and granted the TPR. I cried from a slew of emotions after hearing the ruling. The relationships with the biological parents, unfortunately, weren’t really there to begin with. The girls have seen Kevin and me as “Dadda & Momma” since moving into our home. We became the family they can rely on, trust, and love. And I can honestly say that we love and care for them more than anyone has in their past. As mentioned earlier, this whole situation is very heartbreaking, yet extremely heartwarming at the same time. We see how tragic it is to be removed from your first family AND we know we were made to be these girls’ parents (our family IS their family)!
The timeline from February 2022 to finding out when we can officially adopt was very cumbersome. There were so many “if, then…” situations that could arise. Nothing was concrete. Would the biological parents appeal? Would the courts accept the appeal? Would it go to the Supreme Court? This process, for a planner like me, is the most frustrating thing. The timing varied from 3 months to 18+ months. I’ve been trying my best to put my trust in God and remind myself that HE has perfect timing.
Fast forward to August 2022. We knew there was an appeal, but we didn’t receive any news on the status. Our bi-annual Permanceny Plan hearing was approaching (August 9th) and we always set up a zoom meeting with Katherine from the girls’ GAL’s office (Guardian ad Litem) about a week before to check-in with the girls. On this call, I asked her multiple times to see if she could find out where we stand with the appeal process. She is such a kind woman and agreed that she’d try to see what she can find. The next morning she emailed me saying she didn’t have more information yet but the GAL was going to email the attorney to find out the status. She said, “sometimes these cases can take on a mind of their own.” That sentence made me quite upset. My first thought was, “Well, don’t allow it to. Wrangle that beast back in. Simple as that.” If you know me, you know I’m like my mom. We see a problem and we fix it. FAST. To me, Katherine’s statement meant we were going to be dealing with this for a longer time than we hoped. She promised she’d let me know right away when our GAL finds out more info. I shook off the frustration and prayed. I prayed for patience, for adoption to happen soon, and then I realized it’s not up to me, and I just laid all my troubles about this case into His hands.
I went on with my day and felt more at peace than usual. EXACTLY 2.5 hours after her response, I get another email from Katherine.
As soon as I saw the email, I called her! She had a joyful laugh when she answered and said “It’s done! Your wait is over! You can adopt!”
Baffled, I repeated what she said and tried to wrap my head around the news. She confirmed! She told me that the GAL emailed the appellate attorney and he replied quickly saying he was “calling it” and that she can tell the Rays that they can adopt the girls! The next step was scheduling an adoption day (about 90 days out) on our Permancey Plan hearing call on August 9th. She told me our social workers don’t know the news, the judge doesn’t know the news, the District Attorney doesn’t know the news, I was literally one of the first people to hear it! It was surreal.
We went from thinking adoption was going to be in 12+ months to adoption can happen in 3 months (the soonest possible)! It was such a blessing!!
On August 9, 2022, we had our (final) Permanency Plan Hearing. The judge granted the motion to close the appeal and he offered us November 18, 2022 as our adoption date. Our GAL said it was when the courts will be celebrating National Adoption Day and how amazing that would be to have them adopted on that day! We agreed!
In addition, we thought it was neat that the date was surrounded by the days we learned about the girls and met them:
- November 17, 2020 – was the day our social worker asked me to give her a call and told us about the girls!
- November 19, 2020 – is when we met the girls through a video call!
- November 18, 2022 – will be Adoption Day when they become our FOREVER FAMILY!
We are beyond excited and can not wait to have our little ones officially become Rays!
ADOPTION DAY | NOVEMBER 18, 2022
The day finally arrived and we were so ready for it!
We were joined by loved ones as the judge went through the adoption proceedings. It was so emotional. My heart was racing a mile a minute. At the end of the hearing, the judge asked each girl to make their adoption official by banging their gavel on the wooden block. After each excited bang, my eyes welled up with tears. To put the “power” into the girls’ hands to accept their adoption and make it final was so amazing. Walking out of the room, the girls kept exclaiming, “We’re finally Ray’s!” “Our forever family!” At the ages of 4 & 6, our daughters know exactly what adoption is: officially being in your FOREVER FAMILY. What a blessing!
We simply can’t wait to continue our journey of life as a family!
Have questions or comments? Feel free to email us at TheChambrayBunny@gmail.com! We’d love to hear from you!
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For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. -Jeremiah 29:11