The REAL Deal

The REAL Deal
Here you will find the chronicals of the Crazy Crook Crew...enjoy:)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Princess Arrives!

It was late July 2009...JT and I were keeping busy with our summer jobs, working on our adoption, and daydreaming about our baby.  On July 21st, I beat my husband home from work and I got the call.  It was a call from DCS wanting to know if we would be able to care for a 19 month old baby girl and her 4 month old baby brother.  The baby girl would be coming tomorrow (22nd) and we would be picking up her brother from the hospital the next day (23rd).  Mind racing, heart pounding, I said yes.  Then I called my husband...I know that happened in the wrong order.  But I also knew how he felt and that he would say yes too...and he did:)  So, we would soon be welcoming two babies into our home...and we had nothing.  There was nothing in our home for babies.  We spent our evening making phone calls, shopping, and driving around to friends' homes to pick up donations:)  I had to call the family I was nannying for that summer and tell them what was going on, that I wouldn't be able to finish the summer with her kiddos.  Her response still blesses me today...not only did she let me go with grace, but she gave us a pack-n-play, a high chair, and lots of toys.  Friends, family, and people we didn't know gave us carseats, clothes, toys, diapers, a crib, a baby monitor, a stroller... just about everything we needed.  My sister and a sweet friend took me shopping to get small wardrobes for our houseguests as they would be coming with nothing.  The support we received in a pinch was incredible.  We had one evening to process this, to prepare ourselves for becoming the temporary parents of two babies, two hurting babies.  Oh by the way, there's no way to prepare yourself for that;)  One evening to get all we would need to care for them...all the "must haves" anyway.  My sister/ best friend rushed up to our house as soon as I called her with the news, it was a crazy evening and sleepless night.  Is this real life? 
Our sweet baby girl arrived around 11:00 the next day.  She was incredibly shy and scared.  She was traumatized and taken from her mother and now she found herself in the home of complete strangers, I really can't imagine.  She didn't smile, didn't say a word, and within a few short hours fell asleep in my sister's arms...still jealous about that.  By the evening, she let us know that she had a few words...her favorite..."uh uh uh a bite".  She said that constantly;)  She also let us know that she didn't approve of men...in general...none of them.  I felt bad for my husband because he just wanted to love on our new bundle of baby girl and she screamed if he touched her or even if she saw him touch me.  That was a long hard phase that we finally overcame with time and trust.  That night we gave her a bath that was not well received, she hated it.  We didn't really know how to put her to bed so I rocked her, she cried, I gave her a newly purchased pacifier which she spit out with a confused look, I rocked her, she cried, my friend walked around with her, she fell asleep in her arms...of course.  We really had no idea what we were doing, I would say much more so than typical 1st time parents.  We didn't have 9 months to read books and magazines and ask questions.  We had one evening that we spent frantically collecting items just so we could function.  We reminisce alot about those first few weeks, in hindsight it was a little humurous.  Thankfully, we are quick learners:)  We had to be.  She spent her 1st night in a pack-n-play in our room and she ended up in bed with me in the morning.  We cuddled and she finally fell asleep in MY arms.  As I held her I remember thinking this is what this feels like...even better than I imagined.  She woke up playing and giggling, a completely different baby than the one I met yesterday.  She smiled her way through breakfast and we went on a walk, made a trip to the park, and just played the morning away.  While I was making her lunch she came into the kitchen and said "mama?".  I just smiled at her, I was a bit confused about what to do...she said it again, in the form of a question.  I answered back with a "yes".  And she smiled from ear to ear.  As foster parents we aren't supposed to encourage our children to call us mom and dad, so I felt like I was breaking a rule.  But how do you say no to a baby asking if she can call you mama?  I don't know how and I didn't.  So mama it was.  I would later learn that any female who changed her diaper or fed her would also be in what I called "the mommy club".  I believe there were 5 of us.  Anyway, our time together was wonderful and easy.  I was home for a full 24 hours with one 19 month old baby girl and I loved it.  I had a beautiful, sweet, smart, cuddly, well mannered baby that slept through the night.  This would be the only time in my life when I would experience having one child, it was lovely:)  I remember walking home from the park and thinking "this is the last time just she and I will be doing this...easy is about to end.  And boy was it...my intuition was right on target.  We were in no way prepared for the hard that was headed our way.  We packed up the car that afternoon and headed to the hospital where our little guy was waiting...I'll save that experience for next week.
It was so fun to remember and write about our first hours with her.  I can't believe that was over two years ago now!  Our "houseguest" is still here and so close to becoming our forever family.  Our traumatized, terrified, and timid baby girl is a happy, healthy, rotten 3 1/2 year old today.  She has spent the majority of her life in our home and if you met her, you'd never know she was anywhere else.  When I look back, I can see so many of God's whispers throughout our circumstances.  I think He was speaking to me when she first asked if she could call me mama...I obviously didn't know that at the time, but I think He approved of my response.  We've been through alot these last two years and we're now waiting with hope and peace...a good place to be;)  But I do think we'll breathe differently when we all have the same last name...we long for that feeling of security that permanency will bring, the forever feeling.  It's worth can't be measured.  It's something easily taken for granted as most families don't spend too much time worrying about their children becoming forever family.  But no matter if our children are adopted or biological or even "houseguests", our time with them is a gift.  God chose us and trusts us to love His children, blessed.  Until next Monday...
Love,
Crazy Mama Crook

Monday, August 22, 2011

Mountains and Valleys

It's July 2009 and we're now home from the craziest vacation ever!  Our Price is Right experience inspired us to get home and get to work.  We were crazy motivated to get the adoption process rolling...let the research begin!  At first, we were very interested in international adoption, our hearts were in Haiti.  I had made 5 trips to that country and sponsored my Wisly there since I was in the 8th grade and he was only 6 months old.  My husband made one of those trips with me when he was my boyfriend.  The fact that he had saved up his money for months working part time nights at FedEx to go on that trip is kinda what made me fall for him;)  Anyway, that's neither here nor there (always wanted to say that:).  We loved the country and loved it's people.  However, one of us had to be 35 to adopt from Haiti and since we'd already been waiting nearly 4 years to start our family, waiting 7 more wasn't really an option.  We looked at Ethiopia, South Korea, Taiwan, the Phillipines...not because of any connection we felt to those countries but because we had qualifying ages.  We looked at things like: where the adoptions were finalized, how long annual reports on the children were required, the ages of the children, the wait for adoption, and of course, the cost.  The estimate on adoptions in all of these countries was roughly $30,000, there was no such thing as a newborn baby, and the waits...agonizingly long.  It's hard to put into words but when you want a baby like yesterday, years ago actually, the thought of waiting for more years just kinda breaks your heart.  At this point I was definitely over pregnancy, for a few reasons, but one of them was that 9 months was even too long to wait.  We wanted the baby we conceived so badly, we loved her, and she was lost (I just know she was a girl).  That was now almost 3 years ago.  We loved Julie's baby, and he was lost.  We were so close twice, I was so close to being a mom, and I just didn't want to wait anymore, we didn't want to wait anymore.  So domestic adoption it is. 
Okay, before I go deeper into that, I have to tell you about a phone call that took place in the midst of our research.  A few days after we got back from vaca, I got a call from DCS (dept of child services).  The call was about a preadoptive placement.  She wanted to know if we would be available to pick up a baby (born that day) from the hospital in two days.  Um...yes!  Yes yes yes!  We're available!  Is this real life?  I may have actually asked her that, it was a common question that summer;)  I hung up the phone in a fog like condition, somewhat like I did after hearing about Julie, only this time I was in a different place and was WAY more excited.  When I told my husband, he was excited but guarded.  He remembered how much it hurt before and was in protective mode.  Not me, I was thrilled to death.  I was in a state of praise and I couldn't stop thinking about holding that baby, just picking him up from the hospital and holding him.  My arms were SO ready.  I was supposed to wait for a phone call the next day but I couldn't, so I called her.  Fear was creeping in and I remember telling her I was afraid "Aunt Rita" was gonna crawl out of the woodwork and come to get him.  She giggled and said "well that could happen, but it hasn't yet, I'll give you a call tomorrow".  Tomorrow came and I waited, I got a call, Aunt Rita had come.  I was devastated.  Why in the world did that happen?  What was the purpose for breaking my spirit again?  It felt like an awful joke, my hearts desire dangled in my face for 48 hours and then quickly snatched away for no reason at all.  It hurt.  My husband was wise for being guarded, I don't think he shed a tear that time.   I won't pretend to know God's purpose in this.  I don't and that's okay, we're not supposed to know all the ways of a God we can't fully comprehend.  What I do know is that He faithfully restores my joy and wants what's best for us.  I know that Romans 8:28 says "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose".  Love Him...check:)  And we ARE called, I have NO lingering questions about that:)  Healing was quick.  We were in the middle of a mission and our sense of urgency was only heightened by this experience.   
We began researching local agencies.  I'll tell you what made my heart pound.  I found an agency on the internet, it offered 3 different adoption plans.  What was I looking at on each plan?  The waits.  The plan 3 wait was 0-3 months...0-3 months!!!  This can't be right, how is that even possible?  So I called...it wasn't a typo.  Plan 3 was the plan that defined African American/ biracial adoptions within this agency.  The fact was that they had many more African American birthmoms than white birthmoms waiting for adoptive couples.  There were more white couples than there were white babies being born, so the wait was a long one.   There was close to zero AA/biracial couples signed on with the agency.  And there weren't may white couples interested in transracial adoptions.  Therefore, if a white couple was interested in a transracial adoption, the wait was 0-3 months because they had moms that were 9 months pregnant and still didn't have a match.  After she was done explaining, I explained that I didn't care if our baby was hot pink.  I asked her if all of this meant that we could have a baby by Christmas and her response, "absolutely".  That was it, we talked it over and that was our agency.  Our most important criteria was met far above any expectations we had...we were going to have a baby, and it would be here soon:)  The process to becoming an active adoptive couple with this agency would take more time than we would spend waiting to be matched and waiting for the baby after the match combined.  Let the paperwork, seminars, interviews, physicals, blood tests, background checks, and homestudy begin!  We were so grateful for the clarity and definition we now had.  We did something...something big, and it felt good.  We were an excited little couple in the middle of our summer vacation as we both worked in education.  Our hearts had been broken a few times but we were mended and ready to love.  We were ready to go back to school in the fall and continue completing our adoption work in the evenings.  Life is good and God is great.  Little did we know what He had in store for us next...just around the corner our world would be rocked...and rolled...and turned inside out and upside down.  Our rollercoaster was just getting started!  Stay tuned for details:)
I love our history book and I love sharing it...thanks for reading along!
Love,
Crazy Mama Crook

Monday, August 15, 2011

Samantha Crook...Come on Down!

In July of 2009, my husband and I enjoyed a family vacation in San Diego, California.  I come from a large family and when we all do a vacation together it's kind of a big deal:)  We were staying in a beautiful home with a beautiful pool and the weather...well it was beautiful.  For me personally, that's all I need.  I do not need to sight see, and eating out and shopping are nice but very optional.  On one particular evening, my siblings concocted a plan to drive to Los Angeles and get on 'The Price is Right' game show.  The drive was over 4 hours from where we were staying and we would have to get up around 3:00 a.m. to get on the road, get in line and HOPE that we would all get to go on the show.  To me, that was SO not worth it and my husband agreed.  We would much rather sleep in and lay around all day by the pool.  However, my brother called the studio and found out that groups of 10 people are guaranteed to get on the show.  Without JT and I, there wasn't 10... boo.  There were 3 grand babies, one sister that wasn't 18, and one Granny that stayed back to hang out with the youngins.  I'll admit we were brats about it, two cranky complaining Crooks, but we went.  It was a family vacation to celebrate my sister's graduation and it was something that she really wanted to do, so we took one for the team;) 
I wish I could say it was bright and early...but on July 7th, we left in the dark, eyes burning.  Oh and I forgot to mention, this was also the day of Michael Jackson's memorial service...in LA.  So on top of the forever long drive, were we anticipating massive amounts of traffic.  I do remember getting there with plenty of time though, and I was slightly annoyed that we left so early...cranky complaining Crooks I tell ya.  I also remember getting out of the car with my nail polish remover and cotton balls and getting to work, much to my older sister's dismay.  Her close to exact words were "It's not like you're going to get on TV and they'll zoom in on your hands...it doesn't matter".  I snapped back and took my chipped polish off anyway.  So there we sat, all 10 of us in matching shirts, waiting to get in to the show.  Everyone was given a card to write information about ourselves.  The girl who collected them told me she loved my purse and I said thanks and told her where I got it for sale online, we had a sweet little conversation.  After a few more hours of sitting, our group of 10 was interviewed.  We were each asked a couple questions based on the information we had written on our cards.  I remember writing that we were foster parents. I worked in special education.  And that I had auditioned for American Idol twice and never made it past the first round, so I felt really rejected and I knew that getting called down on The Price is Right would heal my pain.  The interviewer asked me about working in special education and asked if my husband had any special needs.  Well that was a weird thing to say and I was a little caught off guard.  I said "well he was born with two thumbs on one hand but he had one surgically removed when he was a baby so it really doesn't affect him today".  The guy cracked up and I apologized to my husband afterwards and told him that if I get called down and win anything, I'll give half of it all to him;)
As we were all herded into the studio to be seated, I realized I really had to use the bathroom (i.e. check my hair).  I ducked out of line (we're all put in a particular order) and made a new friend in the ladies room... I was convinced that if I did get on stage my poof would deflate and I would have a serious hair malfunction.  I shared my fear with my new friend and we shared a few giggles.  Before I walked out, she told me that she just knew I was going to get called down on the show....okay, rrrrrrrrright:)  Anyway, when I walked in the studio I couldn't find my family...a nervous looking usher asked for my number and quickly showed me to my seat.  JT said people kept coming over and asking where the person for my seat was...interesting.  Anyway, due to my rendezvous in the power room, I had missed out on some instructions...like don't listen for your name to be called, look on stage for a giant cue card with your name on it.  It will be way too loud to hear anything because everyone will be instructed to cheer as loud as they can when we're back from a commercial break.  I had the cheering part down.  And we're on!  There were so many cameras zooming around my head from the ceiling...this was my chance!  I cheered, I clapped, I jumped, and I cheered and clapped and jumped.  I was getting on TV, the cameras were aimed in my direction...I'm as good as famous!  As I cheer and clap and jump some more in complete oblivion my brother turns around, grabs my arm and points at the stage...my name!  It's my name on a giant cue card!!!!  As I run past my husband and down the aisle high fiving all the way, he didn't even notice!  He was still cheering at the cameras for his chance at stardom too:)  Once he noticed I was gone...and I was down front, he freaked.  I was the first contestant called down and therefore had the last bid on "A braaaaand newwwww billiard table!"  My bid..."$2499 Drew."  And what do you know?  I won me (well half was my husbands:) a pool table!  I walked up on stage shocked with my hands on my head.  I remember these details only because I have the dvd:)  When I got on stage I said "Is this real life?"  Drew said "I don't know, wanna pinch me?"  So...I pinched him, he said "ouch", and then I played a riveting game of 'In the Bag'.  I was told the rules, but they didn't sink in...I was still freaking.  I have severe focusing issues on a normal day;)  I had a list of prices and had to match the groceries to the appropriate amounts.  I knew that much.  I put them all in order based a little on what I thought, and alot on what my family was yelling at me...still freaking.  It was done and at this point I didn't know the rules anymore.  The first item was a match!  I won $1000!  And then there was more jumping clapping, jumping clapping, but this time cameras were the last thing on my mind...I could NOT control myself.  Drew said I could either keep going and double my money if I'm right, lose my money if I'm wrong, or stop now and keep my $1000.  Well that was news to me!  And in shock my hands were pressed tightly against my cheeks, the camera closed in, and my nails were highly visible...just saying:)  Did I mention I've watched the dvd a couple times?  I chose to go on...the next item was a match and I had $2000!  Jump, clap, squeal, freak, you get the idea.  To go or stay, that was the question...my family said go, so I went.  I was right again and now had $4000!  I looked at my family and didn't get much input...alot of shoulder shrugs and unsure looks, so I stayed.  Then I found out that lint roller wasn't 3.99 after all:)  So I made the right choice because if I'd continued I would have lost it all.  The show then went to a commercial break and my exit from the stage was just as awkward as my "come on down" entrance.  Again...I missed the directions on what to do.  I went to one side, then the other, then couldn't see anything, and had to be ushered off.  I think the majority of that display didn't make the actual show:)  I was taken to a seat on the opposite side of the studio from my family to await the showcase showdown.  And guess who I was seated by...my new friend from the bathroom!  She hugged me and said "I told you that you would make it!"  I squeezed her kneecap off and said "that money is for my baby"...at which point I got a tad emotional and she thought I was nutso.  Our relationship wasn't that deep. 
Back track with me to July 4th when my husband and I were on our flight to San Diego.  We had decided earlier in the spring, after our Julie encounter, that we were ready to adopt.  It was on this flight that JT and I brainstormed on ways to raise money.  The hard truth was that he is a teacher, I was an instructional assistant, and adoption is expensive.  We were 100% sure that this is where God was leading us and we knew He would provide, but in our human nature we were a bit discouraged trying to figure out how we would pay the high price tag.  We brainstormed, prayed, talked to our family, and BAM!  Three short days later God stuck me on the Price is Right!  Talk about affirmation...that was my crazy fun God screaming, "this is what I want for you, be encouraged and here is your head start!"
Okay..back to the show.  It was time for the showcase showdown and I was back on stage with two other contestants.  The gentleman before me spun a whopping $.95 so my $.85 fell short.  I was less than bummed, my high was still lingering:)  After our taping was over and I went through some paperwork backstage, I was reunited with my family outside.  I ran into JT's arms and we both had tears in our eyes, we were on the same page, with the same thoughts racing through our minds.  My family teared up with us. Everyone knew our intentions for our newfound small fortune without saying a word.  In all the excitement of the experience, we also received a new hope, a new sense of urgency, and a fresh dose of encouragement.
  Three days later we wrapped up our family vaca with my 27th birthday celebration.  That was and most likely will always be my favorite family vacation.  Now my $4000 was before California state taxes were deducted, and my $2800 pool table sold for a mere $1000 after taking JT's spot in the garage for nearly 9 months.  Oh... and don't forget half of all of that was JT's...SO glad we don't do that separate account stuff;)  But the $4500 we did receive was a great head start and $4500 more than we had before.  It was enough to get the ball rolling and we were ready to get home and get to work, so that's exactly what we did!

I giggled my way through writing this...such fun memories:)  Getting to this point was a journey for sure and a new journey was just beginning.  I absolutely adore this life God has given me and the unorthodox way He brought us here is simply beautiful.  My God is good!
On a separate note, here are some tips if you really want to get on the Price is Right:  Go in a group of 10 or more and wear matching t-shirts.  Be kind and personable to anyone working for the show that you might come in contact with.  I'm almost certain they send out spotters (the girl who liked my purse).  Your group will be interviewed all together so be the personality who stands out (I didn't do that on purpose).  They love to pick people out of large groups...it looks good on camera.  And lastly, don't take any last minute bathroom breaks...it could cost you some embarrassment.  I looked like a complete ding dong at least twice on camera:)  That's it for now...there's much more to come, I'm really just getting started.  We don't even have any kids yet!
Love,
Crazy Mama Crook



Monday, August 8, 2011

The Popsicle in my Fridge

The Elijah era...In all honesty I haven't had much time to reminisce about those days in the last 2 years.  So today I'm taking a trip down memory lane.  Our first houseguest, sweet Elijah... that boy was a rare breed for sure.  He had been dealt a series of hard circumstances all throughout his young life and somehow managed to come out on the other side his sweet, innocent self.  When we trained to become foster parents, I'm almost positive we were given every worst case scenario imaginable.  For instance, it is possible for a child to act out by urinating in the vents of your home making your entire house reek when the heat or air kicks on.  There was talk of poop smearing, fire starting, bio parents gone crazy, violent behaviors, etc..  My worst fear was that a parent of one of our foster children would hunt me down and kill me.  That really was something that entered my mind frequently, I must have seen it in a lifetime movie somewhere along the way. I expressed this fear to our instructors and if I remember right, I think they giggled a little.  It was unwarranted and looking back it was a whole lot of silly.  Anyway, I guess they tell you all the bad stuff so when someone like Elijah comes along you're pleasantly surprised and you don't take it for granted.  Elijah wasn't actually a foster child, he came to us through another program called Safe Families.  There are ALOT of differences between Safe Families and foster care, but given that he was with us for 4 months, it's basically the same idea.  It was our status as foster parents that presented us with the opportunity to care for him. 
Our situation was very unique...Elijah was one of JT's students.  The organization placing him found out about us and thought the transition would be easier because Elijah would be moving in with someone he knew.  Elijah's popularity got a little boost when the other kids at school found out what was going on.  Students were asking JT if they could move in with us too, some kids didn't believe Elijah and came to ask JT for verification of his story.  My favorite things about being the mother of a 10 year old include but are not limited to: homework help in the evening, his 1st ever baseball season...AND he made the all-star travel team afterward, going on bike rides together, listening to the house shake when he was playing nerf basketball in his room, and last but not least rocking out to Taylor Swift's 'Forever and Always' in our Saturn Vue on the way home from school...dance moves included.  I love how he never knew the words but shouted something... anything at the top of his lungs anyway.  I love how he smiled almost constantly and never cared what anyone thought of him.  JT would take him to the middle school track practices and let him run with big kids, he never came close to winning a race but gave his all each time and cheesed with every stride he took. 
Elijah gave us a gift...he gave us 4 straight months of focusing on someone besides ourselves.  When he walked into our home, sadness left.  There was no time, and no reason to sit and sulk.  We had a child to take care of, and he kept us busy:)  Okay, looking back "busy" may be a bit of an exaggeration.  He fed himself, dressed himself, bathed himself, used the bathroom, etc..  He did have quite a few activities he was involved in, but driving him to them and then sitting and watching hardly defines busy.  In those days, "inconvenience" was rearranging our dinner schedule, and sometimes getting to bed a little late after a baseball game.  Now days, I don't get to eat or use the bathroom when I want.  I guess it's all in perspective. 
Elijah gave us our first experience as parents.  There were a few challenges, but they were minor when compared to what we were prepared for in our training days:)  Leaving gum in your pocket and melting it to the inside of the clothes dryer is in no way comparable to urinating in the vents.  He was our sweet angel and God sent him to us when we needed him.  He was there through the "Julie experience" and made healing much easier than it would have been without him.  We couldn't feel sorry for ourselves when we had another person to take care of, and I think it's natural to mask the pain around a child.  We felt like he shouldn't know how much we were hurting, and the desire to protect him from our pain protected us a little too.  Loving Elijah also allowed us to love his mother.  In May of 2009, another couple in our life group welcomed her into their home to help her get on her feet.  We all worked together and helped her find a car and apartment (in our town:) before Elijah left to go back with her at the end of the month.  In that time, I really felt what it meant to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  I LOVE our life group. 
So about that popsicle in my fridge...it's been there for over 2 years now.  Elijah brought it home one night after a baseball game.  He left it here when he moved out and I can't throw it away OR let anyone else have it.  I'm really hoping he'll come back and get it one of these days, we've done a pretty good job of keeping in touch.  When I open the freezer and see the giant popsicle, I think about him...I've grown fond of the red icy treat.  I also have a picture of Elijah on the wall and above it hangs the words "What you are is God's gift to you, what you do with yourself is your gift to God."  This reminds me on a regular basis that our lives are not about us, but about loving others.  There are so many ways to love and give the world a little taste of Jesus in this crazy life.  Foster parenting is a full time ministry and I'm positive that if intentions are pure, the blessings poured on the parents outnumber the blessings for the child.
We were sad to see the Elijah era end, God opened our eyes to a lot while he was with us.  When God has a plan, He'll use any avenue to complete it, and He took us down a crazy road that resembled a roller coaster.  More details to come;)  Thanks for reading about it!  Oh..and I literally just got off the phone with Elijah's mom, I really wanted her approval before I posted this...she LOVED it:)
Love,
Crazy Mama Crook

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hearts broken = Hearts open

It was the end of March, 2009.  We were loving on our sweet Elijah and minding our own business when I quite possibly received the most random phone call of my life.  The call was from my husband's sister, we hadn't talked on the phone in years.  She knew someone, a girl named Julie.  Julie was homeless, 8 months pregnant, and had no plans on keeping the baby, she had no plan at all.  My sister-in-law was calling because we were the 1st people she thought of after hearing Julie's story.  She knew we lost our baby, she knew we wanted a baby, soooooo how about Julie's baby?  A perfect plan, right?  Oh she was so sweet, hopeful, and excited while she shared this news with me.  I remember hanging up the phone in a fog.  The enthusiasm she had while sharing her thoughts, had rubbed off a little.  I was a bit dazed and confused.  Adoption...that was a word that JT and I had never discussed.  I mean, we had been pregnant before and were hoping to be pregnant again.  Adoption just wasn't on our radar.  We loved our role as foster parents, but we dove headfirst into that ministry, with no intention to adopt.  We wanted to love the children entrusted to us and minster to moms and dads.  We believed God laid this desire on our hearts and this was what He wanted of us.  If we started keeping the children, that would seriously hurt our numbers:) 
Adoption...the A word...exciting, confusing, scary.  I had to tell my husband.  I remember him being pessimistic, like this isn't for real...SO incredibly random.  I was supposed to call my s-i-l back if we were interested in meeting Julie.  After talking it over for a day or two, we said "what the heck, why not?"  This has to be a God thing.  Saying no just seemed wrong.  Julie needed a family for her baby and we could be them.  We desperately wanted to be forever parents and it felt like God was speaking to us "think quickly children, I'm giving you your hearts desire the way I want to...is it not good enough for you?"  And when that is the whisper you hear from your Savior, it's a good idea to follow His lead:)
So we met Julie in a restaurant, along with her best friend, and JT's sister.  The 1st thing I noticed about her was how much she looked like my husband, they looked like siblings.  She had a very small frame, light skin, freckles, and strawberry blonde hair.  The next thing I noticed was that she reeked of cigarette smoke...I hate smoking.  The meeting was friendly and awkward.  Julie's friend did most of the talking...asking a lot of questions.  Overall, it went well, ended with hugs, and we walked away with an "is this real life?" sort of feeling.  We talked about how we knew nothing about Julie medically, were there more addictions than the cigarettes?  Was she getting prenatal care?  Our meeting was friendly but very uninformative.  It felt too awkward to ask the hard questions, the ones you really do want answers to.  But it was okay, we had peace, and we were overwhelmed with excitement.  We were having a baby...in less than a month!
I contacted a wonderful attorney and she told us everything we needed to do, ppwk, homestudy, etc.  She went with us to a broken down motel to meet Julie and get some papers signed.  That is a whole other scary story in itself.  We had our homestudy completed and I kept in touch with Julie, calling the hotel occasionally to check on her.
It was just a few short weeks later, during one of those calls when I heard the words "sorry, but we changed our minds."  Julie said her boyfriend wanted her to give the baby to a couple they weren't connected to, and since she knew JT's sister, we weren't that couple.  She only had a week or so left in her pregnancy, and to this day I still don't know what happened to that precious baby boy.  I know she had an older child that was being raised by a relative.  My educated guess is that he too is being raised by a relative or he was adopted through the foster care system. 
Nevertheless, our hearts were broken to pieces, why on earth would God do this to us?  After all, we didn't go looking for Julie, she found us.  We hardly processed what was being thrown into our path, we just said yes!  We said yes because we felt God tugging at our hearts.  It was His plan, not ours and we trusted Him.  We were broken again and it felt so undeserved.  However immature or illegitimate these feelings were, they were our feelings.  We were hurt and so unsure how our joy would be restored.
In the spring of 2009, we were blind.  Our finite minds could not comprehend His infinite plan.  It took us a while to realize the amazing part that Julie had played in our journey.  She was the one who opened our hearts to adoption.  Until she came along, our idea of creating our family was so limited.  It had nothing to do with our faith, apart from the constant stream of prayers petitioning God to make us pregnant.  God used Julie in a big way.  She did break us...and through it created a new passion, a desire to love in a way we weren't planning.  All children are His children, and God's desire is for us to love them as our own, whether our blood flows through their veins or not.  And if He was ready to trust us with one of His children, we were ready.  It took our experience with Julie to realize this.  We had lost our baby and tried to have another for years with no explanation for our failure...never had adoption entered our minds.  Julie woke us up, and opened our eyes to a plan far greater than any plans we had made.  And for that, I am forever grateful to her.
You won't believe the series of events God lead us through the following summer...hang on to your hats;)
I am SO blessed to share our story~
Love,
Crazy Mama Crook