Nine Fun Facts About My Adoption

A friend asked me to participate in the latest Facebook thing which is “tell us (some number) fun facts about your pregnancy/adoption.” I tossed off a few things thinking nothing of it, and had a huge response. So, I’m posting them here as well. It occurs to me they give a bit of context about how this all came to be. And, we’re snowed in, so there’s not much else to do.

  1. Before I became a foster parent, I explored having kids biologically. Shopping for sperm online weirded me out, and it takes quite a bit to weird me out. A friend who had worked for my state’s Department of Human Services suggested fostering before I adopted. God bless her, because I wouldn’t have thought of it otherwise.
  2. My adopted kids were my first foster kiddos. It’s pretty unusual for a new foster parent to be able to adopt her very first foster placement. About 70% of foster kids in Oklahoma (my state) are returned to their biological parents.
  3. My girls arrived on the same day in February 2008, and my middle child had so many meltdowns that first day that she was re-classified as a therapeutic foster child and sent to a therapeutic foster home less than 24 hours after arriving at my home.
  4. My son arrived in June 2008. I got a call asking me if I’d like the girls’ brother, because his foster home was being closed down due to confirmed abuse. When I couldn’t leave work immediately to pick him up (I was doing a strategy session for 30 people!), they dropped him at my daycare. The poor baby was three years old and was wearing the only clothes he owned, had no familiar toys, and two shoes that were both left-footed and different sizes. My oldest daughter was at the daycare, but had no idea he was coming. She walked up and re-introduced herself, and he eventually realized she was his sister. That scene in The Blindside where the main character meets his brother in a restaurant? Yeah, that stuff actually happens.
  5. I had to get special permission to become a Therapeutic Foster Parent, because I worked outside the home, and Therapeutic Foster Children need more care than your run of the mill foster children, so you’re really supposed to be at home with them when they’re not at school. I completed additional training so that my middle child could come back to my home. We finally got her back July 4, 2009. She’s my little firecracker!
  6. My son’s biological dad’s rights were terminated by the time my son arrived at my home, but the kids’ biological mom and the girls’ biological dad went to court to defend their parental rights and requested a jury trial. While we were waiting to pick the jury, the mom’s attorney asked me to speak with the kids’ mom, which I thought was just absurd, because she really hated me and blamed me for her not having her kids. I spent the most focused 1 1/2 hours of my life calmly speaking with her across a conference table with the sheriff’s deputy and her attorney sitting beside her, and afterwards she relinquished her rights in front of the judge. She was worried that the kids would hate her if she relinquished. Among other things I reassured her that I didn’t encourage them to hate her. I explained that we talked about her not being prepared to be a healthy parent and making some really poor choices, but that hating her would not help the kids. That was the only time in my life I have felt God speak through me. (And, no you won’t see me reference God often. When I do, I mean it.) The girls’ dad asked me if he could give the kids to me, after he’d chatted with me on the first day, seen photos, and knew they were happy. I have tremendous respect for the girls’ dad, because he could have easily given up rights since he was in prison, but he fought for their welfare the hardest.
  7. My son is named after his biological father (who promptly abandoned him), and he’s not the only kid the biological father named after himself. Thankfully, his first name fits him better than any other name I could come up with, and he’s definitely made it his own.
  8. I postponed my wedding and move to a different city, because the adoption took six months longer than the drop dead date that my state’s Department of Human Services gave me. When it finally happened in September 2010, I immediately started job searching, re-planning my wedding, and looking for a house in our new city. I got a job and relocated that following March, and I got married in April. In between, I found out i was pregnant for the first time (at 41!) and miscarried at 10 weeks, a week before my wedding. My middle child was institutionalized for the first time that July. It’s been a big few years.
  9. A ridiculous number of people got us to the point we are now. My friend, Jilian, bailed me out when my middle kiddo got kicked out of daycare. She hooked us up at the Boys & Girls Club, which were really the only ones who would take my daughter after she was kicked out for behavior. If not for them, I wouldn’t have been able to keep the kids and keep my job.  Lots of other foster/adoptive parents who I met through support groups and who now support me via a Facebook group we’ve created answered lots of questions and kept me from losing my mind. My co-workers gave me a foster parent shower. I have a couple of dear foster/adoptive parent friends who take my “no one in the world but you will understand this” calls. My mom and sister took care of me and my three kids when I had to have emergency surgery. My friend, Laura, is the Executive Director of the Oklahoma Therapeutic Foster Care Association and a consultant nationally, so she’s a huge resource. And, my friend Lori Cain, met us in a snow storm so we could buy the house we live in now, even though she’d never even met me at that point. It takes a village, people. Please feel free to post your own foster/adoption experiences here!

3 responses to “Nine Fun Facts About My Adoption”

  1. Michelle Kelley Avatar
    Michelle Kelley

    Shelley- Thx for inspiring me to write this list. Here’s mine:

    11 Things you may not know about our foster care/adoption story:
    1) I made the decision to adopt when I was 14 years old (on a youth mission trip to New Orleans) – I never considered another option. This is my dream come true.
    2)When prayerfully considering adoption, the book of the bible, Ezekiel, chapter 23 – was particularly impactful in my decision making. The first day I met Noah, I learned his middle name was Ezekiel.
    3) Izzy and Noah were removed from their home on December 25th.
    And this month remains a difficult time for them every year.
    4)I got Noah first because Izzy had already been placed in another foster home. She came to us about 6 months later.
    5)The moment Izzy walked in my door for the first time – Noah knew exactly who she was and I saw a joy in him I had never seen. He was 22 months at the time. That was the first day I realized that even as a young child, the emotions, feelings and loss are real and must be considered and addressed.
    6) Izzy and Noah were both diagnosed with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) – and have since worked their way out of that diagnosis completely.
    7)The interactions I have had with Noah and Izzy’s birth mom has fundamentally changed me (and them) in such a remarkable way, I have started writing a book about the experience.
    8)The day we adopted there was 38 people who stood with us in the judge’s chamber – only two were my family – the rest was an overwhelming supportive village of people – who continue to help me create an extraordinary family experience. You guys know who you are – thank you so much for all you continue to do for us!
    9) Although I had never thought I’d start a family when I was 37, I have no regrets choosing to be a single mom.
    10) I had never been discriminated against (or never so blatantly) until I became a single parent.
    11) Foster Care/Adoption has taught me more about God’s love, acceptance, hope, grace than any single Sunday School/bible class, sermon, quiet time, worship service I have ever attended.

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle! I love your story. Thanks for being a great advocate and a great mom!

  2. I continue to be impressed with you Shelley and I think your “message” is a very good one to be sharing at this time of year. I am kind of curious about how you would describe your “faith path” if you think along those lines. I myself am not a Christian, though I love Jesus and consider him a reliable spiritual authority (read that as, not necessarily the “churches”). I believe in a Higher Power who meets each one wherever they happen to be, and in whatever form works for them, at the moment they are open to that. Regards and best wishes to you and your family…

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