Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Adoption from Foster Care FAQ

Hi friends!

We have been getting a lot of messages & questions about our adoption from foster care. SO, I thought I would put together a blog post for those that are curious. Then I can also have a post to direct someone to when we receive messages.

If you haven’t been following our journey, here’s the short version: We have been foster parents for the last year and we got to foster and or do respite foster care for 15 kiddos all together! Whew! It was a busy year. We got into fostering knowing our end goal was adoption, but it was important to us to do some work in the foster care system first and truly come to understand how the system works. We did respite foster care (when you keep children in foster care for another set of foster parents when they go out of town or need a break) for a couple different teenage girls and we really enjoyed talking with them and connecting with them. As sweet as the little ones are, we just know our strengths. There are VERY different types of hard between little kids and big kids. With little kids, the daily work that goes into feeding/diapering/naps/potty training/constant attention. With the bigs- the BIG sometimes ugly emotional potential life-altering decisions and consequences. And trying to connect with big kids (teens) who have experienced the system and who have had many adults let them down can be very challenging. BUT, God gave us an interesting kid of crazy and both Mr and I were sure that we wanted to adopt two sisters from foster care who may have given up hope on having a permanent family. So one day last summer, I saw a picture of our girls on a Florida heart gallery and asked Abe if he was ok if I made the call…he was. Because he’s awesome. And 8 months later, here we are. They are moving in this weekend. We have been spending weekends visiting them and they have visited us. They traveled with us to the mid-west for Christmas to see our families and they just fit. They will technically be our foster children for 3 months before the legal adoption is complete, but we, of course, already consider them our daughters. And yes, that was seriously the short version.

Why?

I mean of course, adopting from foster care is something a person who cares about people and kids might consider. But that is not always enough, because it is a big undertaking. For us, we believe each child and person is equally valuable. The children that were grown in my belly are equally as valuable as all the other children God made in this world. And furthermore that a child not grown in my belly could be equally loved and bonded with our family. For us, one of the greatest modern day pictures of how Christ treats us, is adoption. He adopts us into his kingdom and it has nothing to do with where we come from, who our parents were, or our status in life. Our family too can love someone just as deeply that wasn’t born into our family but that God so graciously placed there. Because we believe deeply in the value that each child has. Our L & K are precious and important. Each child who has come into our home is precious and important.

What is the Heart Gallery?

The heart gallery is online and has kids in your area that are in foster care and have already had their parental rights severed. So their options are to stay in foster care or be adopted. Typically a lot of the kids on heart galleries are older. It is very possible to adopt a baby or toddler from foster care, but you will need to be open to fostering and then supporting the outcome that the legal system decides on weather they go back to their birth families (reunification) or if they move towards severing parental rights in which case they could be adopted.

How will your younger daughters handle having teenage sisters?

Mostly, they will love it. Our big girls are really good about playing with them, reading to them, and helping them if Mr and I have our hands full. But we also anticipate many challenges in adjusting to two new people in our home, divided attention, and so on. We have a lot of technology and privacy rules to help start teaching our big girls how to help protect our little girls’ innocence from things they aren’t ready to hear or see. We have been working with them to help them understand the permanence of adoption vs. the temporary of foster care. We have also talked a lot about how God has called us to a hard thing. But that it is also a beautiful thing. And that it is ok that it may be hard.

How will you pay for college for 2 teenagers in a few years?

Yes, people have asked. I don’t mind. In the state of Florida (I don’t know about other states on this one) kids who are adopted from foster care get free in-state tuition at public colleges. And just to add if you are curious, there is a monthly stipend to help cover needs while they are in foster care as well as post adoption until they turn 18. They will also be covered by Medicaid until they are 18. So while you need to be able to provide for the kids in your home, you by no means have to be rolling in money to adopt.

Does it feel strange to be 30 years old and be the mom to two teenagers?

Yes.

Did your husband want to adopt too?

I get this question sometimes. Mostly from friends who are interested in adoption, but their husband may not quite yet have the vision for it. In our case, we knew form the beginning of our marriage that adoption was something we wanted. In fact, I wanted to adopt multiple children ever since reading one of my favorite books ‘Kisses form Katie’ by Katie Davis Majors in high school. Maybe TMI for you, but our vision was clear enough that we took surgical measures after our 2nd biological child to make sure that we would have the space in our home to adopt. We didn’t know we would adopt from foster care and we certainly didn’t know that it would be teenagers. I think it helps that though it makes our budget much tighter, I am able to stay at home because foster care and adoption paperwork, emails, case worker contacts, etc can feel like at least a part time job some days.

Will you keep fostering?

We will give a good chunk of time to getting our girls transitioned to our family before we open our home again. We also would need to move to a bigger home to continue to foster. We do plan to foster and possibly adopt again when our big girls go to college or move on to other adult jobs & opportunities in a few years.

Please feel free to always email or send us a message if you have a question about adopting from foster care. We love helping people understand if it is the right path for them.

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Thanks for stopping by!

Love,
Mama Sally








Sunday, February 11, 2018

Kennedy is 5!

The littlest of our tribe turned 5 this week and for her birthday we had a pancakes & pajamas party complete with mini tents! I love to throw a home birthday party. For me there is something special about celebrating my kids with people they love around them in their home. And when you move all the furniture to the garage to fit 6 mini tents, it makes a girl feel special. Our party was smaller than usual because the flu hit a few of our preschool friends who planned on attending, but K had fun and all was well.

We’re officially ‘done’ with the little kid phase and BTW this is our LAST week as a family of 4. Our big girls move in next week & we will forever be a family of 6. WOAH. Without further ado, here are a few pictures from Kennedy’s party.

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Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Love,
Mama Sally

Friday, January 19, 2018

M Family | Jacksonville Florida Family Photographer

This family was so fun to work with and just made my job easy. So much so I had trouble narrowing down how many to share. Thanks Mullins family!

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It was pretty chilly on this evening but so glad we decided to go out anyway- the light was PERFECT.

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Thanks for stopping by the blog!

Love,

Mrs Manlove



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

My Funny Valentine

For local friends! I’m putting this cute set up in my back yard on Saturday and if you want to bring your cuties and $35 ($10 extra to include a pet) you will get 5 high resolution downloadable images within 36 hours. You can have them printed yourself or purchase valentine cards separately. XOXO!


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Thursday, December 21, 2017

‘A’ Family Session

This family. Their expressions speak for themselves. They love each other deeply and love the community around them so well. We’ll start with my favorite image.

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The Merriest Christmas to you!

Love,

Mrs Manlove