The REAL Deal

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

Monday, October 31, 2011

God's got this:)

It's April 2011...Sissy is three, Bubby just turned two, and Rowan is one.  They're no longer my 3 under 3 and it hurts my heart a little, but I will say my days are ALOT easier.  There are no more bottles, no more burpies, I only have two in diapers, and I'm no longer changing spit-up saturated clothes multiple times a day.  It's still constant chaos at the Crook house, it just looked a little different.  Biting replaced the bottles, and I had three wild walking, talking children.  Life was good and we had a hearing that month that made life great.  It was a pretrial for another termination hearing coming up...this was our 2nd time around.  Both 'L' and one of the birth fathers ('M') had given our family case manager a verbal indication that they were going to voluntarily terminate their rights and sign consents for our adoptions.  We were hopeful that this would be the case, but also guarded as we had a crazy emotional winter with all the termination talk.  We were coming up on two years since the babies were removed, zero progress had been made toward reunification, and I had poured my heart out to both 'L' and 'M' in conversations that I felt were a bit counterproductive.  We prayed and prayed and prayed that it would be God's will for our babies to become forever ours, and this hearing could be the 1st step to getting us "legally" there.  The morning of the hearing I checked my facebook and a sweet friend had written the words, "God's got this".  Oh how I wanted to feel that confidence...I treasured those words and it was off to the hearing. 
When we got there, it was just like every other time...there were plenty of hugs, stories, and pictures shared.  It was a blessing and relief to me that everything could feel so normal between all of us.  The consents for us to adopt were signed before the hearing even started, the day from beginning to end was better than I could have ever imagined.  That evening I sent an e-mail to our prayer warriors, I also posted it to facebook so many of you may have already read it.  But it tells the story so much better than I could tell it today...it's authentic and in the moment.  So here it is...I'm taking you back to April 20, 2011, a HUGE day in the life of the Crazy Crook Crew. 

Wow.
I really have no words to describe how we're feeling. I know that God's hands were all over this day. He already knew this was our forever family, and He might have been gitty in heaven just waiting for us to know that too. Consents were signed before the hearing even started (although we had no idea). The hearing itself was smooth, L and M handled every bit of it with grace and composure. V didn't show up as usual and the judge just decided to terminate his rights there on the spot!!! Um...Yay God! Once DCS files their petition to terminate with the court, V will have 30 days to file an appeal. I don't know if he will or not but we have absolute peace either way. By moving to terminate his rights on the spot without him being present, the judge basically skipped months of annoying and tedious court hearings thus expediting the process of finalizing our adoptions! My mind has been spinning all day...replaying July 22nd 2009, the day the DCS investigator brought Sissy to our (HER) home, July 23rd, the day we picked up a teeny broken Bubby from the hospital. We had NO idea what God had in store for us, that these precious children He was entrusting to us weren't just temporary gifts...SO thankful. Amazed really. Amazed at the journey, since and prior to their arrival. God is SO good! We are thrilled for us, for them, and for Rowan! Our hearts would break a little every time we dwelled on the idea that he could lose his big brother and sister, whom he LOVES and adores. They were here when we brought him home from the hospital, and they are his favorite thing for sure:) Blessed, blessed, blessed.
The kids had a visit with M and L after the hearing, I brought a comb, squirt bottle, and hair scissors and asked L if she would give Sissy her 1st hair cut (she went to beauty school). Her reaction was SUCH a blessing to me. I could tell it meant alot to her and she was SO glad to do it. The visit ended with lots of hugs, promises of phone calls and visits which will no longer be regulated and supervised through DCS...YAY!!! We can call L and M friends and I am so grateful for that gift. My heart is so full right now...to God be the Glory! I praise Him for His favor, for His plan revealed, for these amazing, beautiful, resilient children, for His calling to be foster parents, for the crazy show the Price is Right, for filling our home, hearts, and hands with 3 babies in a 6 month time span, for the endless amount of energy He's blessed JT and I with, for family, friends, prayers on our behalf...If I keep going this e-mail will go on FOREVER!
Please continue to pray for M and L, for peace and healing. The choice they both made today was out of love for their children, their decision was beautiful, nothing less. Don't get me wrong, they've made (and continue to make) quite a few bad decisions in their lives. But they didn't have to sign papers today consenting to our adoptions, giving up every right they have as parents. They could have faught until the bitter end and they didn't...out of love.
The Laura Story song 'Blessings in Disguise' keeps playing in my forever spinning mind. The words speak so true to our story. I think all of you know about the babies lost, through pregnancy, and fall through adoptions...the years we spent wanting so badly to love a baby we would never have to "give back". Ancient history, I tell ya:) But it's so clear now, the purpose, the blessings waiting, the family God was carefully and beautifully designing for us. I'm thankful for the trials, the heartbreak, and the renewed joy every day...it all lead us here. And here...at this moment, tastes a little bit like heaven I think:) Thank you all so much for your prayers throughout the past 2 years...it's been a wild ride, that's for sure!

In His Amazing Love,
Crazy Mama Crook

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stressed, blessed, and a bit of a mess:)

It's July 2010...Sissy and Bubby have been with us for a year and DCS has filed for termination of the birth parents rights.  We would have court hearings in August, October, and December.  The birth parents were given public defenders, JT and I were served subpeonas, and in the end we would accomplish nothing.  By January, termination was canceled and the bp's (birth parents) were given opportunities to "complete services" (required for reunification) by local agencies.  There was actually talk of moving the children to a northern Indiana foster home where it would be easier for the bp's to have visitation with them.  Their bond with the children had essentially dissolved due to the lack of time spent together.  Since 'L' had moved out of state, she and one of the birth fathers had only seen them 5 or 6 times.  The other birth father was a no show to every court hearing, and had made one visit to Indiana where it was very obvious the children didn't know who he was.      
Anyway, those months were a constant rollercoaster...we didn't feel like we knew what was going on, one moment termination, adoption, the next moment moving the kids to a new foster home closer to the bp's so they could work toward reunification.  It was just a mess and nothing made sense to us.  As you can imagine, after nearly 18 months of life with them combined with the anticipation of adoption, we were mortified each time we felt we were taking a step backward. 
One evening in January 2011, I was feeling particularly fearful.  The reality of losing our children, of Rowan losing the siblings he's had his entire first year of life, was weighing heavy on my heart.  Nothing was certain, but the idea that it was even an option at this point created a desperation within me that I can't describe.  I talked it over with my husband and then I made the phone call.  Until this point, I hadn't been completely real with 'L'.  DCS filing for termination obviously had nothing to do with us, and as far as she knew we were still supportive of reunification.  I hadn't really told her otherwise.  During our conversation I poured my heart out.  I told her what we felt was best for the children, that it had just been too long and to them, we were mom and dad.  They were too young, unable to comprehend what was going on.  They were so happy, healthy, bonded to us and our family, and they had no voice in all this.  They had already been through so much, and the thought of them losing everything they had and starting over with a new life that has zero resemblance to the one they're living now seemed so wrong.  I explained the very real possibility that she may not get custody at all and the children could end up with their birth fathers and separated from eachother.  The two of them together was their only constant.  Since Bubby's birth, they had never been separated.  If anything I said to her that night hit a nerve...that was it.  I told her that it wasn't her fault, but that it wasn't their fault either, and we just needed to take ourselves out of the equation and do what is best for them.  I made sure she knew that she would always be a part of their lives if they became ours, and that she would become a part of our family as well.   She cried, I cried, we were friends and this was the hardest conversation I have ever had with a friend in my life.  We hung up with no conclusions made, but a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.  I held nothing back, I said everything I felt, and I did it with love.  We had a hearing coming up in February and I knew seeing her would feel so different but I was prepared.  We were still friends, but now she knew where I stood.  I was no longer "Sammysaveherlife", I was advocating for her children, our children, and I had nothing to be ashamed of. 
How on earth did we get here?  We weren't planning to adopt through foster care, we weren't planning to ever feel like this.  And once again, God shows me how overrated my plans are.  The position we found ourselves in was a blessing for sure...but it was easy to neglect that fact and just be frustrated about the process.  18 months earlier, we were wondering if we would have the children for a month, and now we had spent 2 Christmases with them!  There was a good chance they would become forever ours...a chance that didn't even exist for the first year.  We had come so far and although fear played a very real part in our lives, we had a lot to be grateful for. 
The following is an e-mail I sent on January 14th, 2011.  It was sent to our prayer warriors during this particular phase of our journey.  It was a hard day, an emotional day, so I asked for prayer while also self medicating myself through writing:)  It's the perfect picture of how I felt... and I'm SO thankful I don't feel like this anymore!
 
Please pray for me ...the constant uncertainty of the existence of my family is really wearing on my heart today. Most days I'm a positive patty and I can easily snap myself out of it by focusing on God's plan... I don't know the ending but I know I'll be okay because He wrote it. But today, in this moment, that feeling is drowned out by fear. And I don't spend too much time worrying about my ending, but I'm scared to death for theirs. At this point, if they leave, it will feel like they are being taken away from their parents, not going back to them. What on earth will they go through? They have no idea what is going on in all this. They just know they have two parents that love them more than life itself, and we get that love right back from them. The thought of them losing everything they have, including eachother, brings me to my knees... as it should. I do know that you all pray for us... and I thank you. Please be a prayer warrior on our behalf. Sometimes I don't even feel like I can ask God to make them forever ours. I know His plan will prevail...and what if ours doesn't align with His? But I know the truth...I need to pray with faith, believing, that God can give us the desire of our hearts. He knows what is best for His children, it's in His hands, it always has been. These children make our lives full of purpose, there is a reason for their presence in all of our lives. And I am so glad God chose us. Even just writing all of this out is calming my spirit right now. I bet this letter is all over the place, sorry. My prayer for all 3 of our children is that they grow to know God and fall in love with Him and that His arms of protection will always be wrapped around them. I think once you fall in love with our Savior, everything else falls into place. For the 1st year of life with them, my purpose was to love them, and love their parents even stronger....to  minister to and be a resource for them, and help their parents to get better whatever their struggle. Well, the compassion has faded, and I struggle with that too. I am done being a resource and encourager for them. My #1 priorty has become their children and what is best for them. And after 18 months in our home, I'm as positive as I can be of what "best" is. Okay... I'm rambling... but I'm not crying anymore :) Thank you and I love you!   

Until next Monday....
Love,
Crazy Mama Crook

Monday, October 10, 2011

Our favorite word...

It's May 2010, our son is 3 months old, and our foster (it's growing harder and harder to say that 'F' word) children are one and two. It's been a month since God changed our hearts and we began loving and living as a forever family of five...things couldn't be better.
The road to getting to this place was long.  We loved our babies and we loved their birthmom ('L')...she had our support.  We wanted her to succeed so bad and I wanted God to use me to make that happen.  I really thought it was a job God gave specifically to me and I took it very seriously.  I worked hard on our relationship while she was here and I encouraged her to come back after she moved.  I wrote letter after letter pleading with her to move back and work toward reunification with her children. The whole moving the kids out of state thing was beginning to feel a little out of reach, it was proving to be much more difficult than was first believed. And the longer they were in state care, the harder it would be for her to get them back, especially considering their ages. Because they were under 2 when they came into care, DCS could have filed for termination after just 6 months, but they didn't because of 'L's' unique circumstances. Since she moved to have the support of her family, they gave her the benefit of the doubt and exhausted many options in helping her.
I gave her a call on Mother's Day and my heart was broken, for may reasons.  One thing lead to another and I ended up asking our FCM if she could move in with us.  She could live here, work toward reunification, we could find her a job, provide transportation, and what better way to learn to be a good mother than to live with her children under our supervision and let us help her!  Right?  Or wrong...very wrong, not even allowed actually.  The truth is, despite my intensity and passion for all of this, my FCM giggled when I asked her.  There were several reasons why this was a bad idea...I'm sure where you're sitting, you can think of plenty.  At the time, I was determined to be the person who believed in 'L' when no one else did, I knew that God could use me in a big way and I was so willing.  So from here, I called our community works pastor in hopes of finding her a job and I called a local shelter in hopes of finding her a place to stay.  In order to work toward getting her babies back, she had to come back, no one was actually saying this...but I knew it.  I kept hitting dead ends and I was working much harder than 'L' was, which frustrated my husband.  He has always been much wiser in the ways of this world than myself, and I was fixated on being "Sammysaveherlife". 
It was during a home vist that summer, our FCM mentioned it casually...we were coming up on a year since the "bigs" came to our home and like I said earlier, DCS could have filed for termination at six months.  When she mentioned the beloved 'A' word, I let myself go there. It was an idea that JT and I had not let ourselves entertain. We couldn't.  Foster parent rule #1...It was a bad, bad idea to start dreaming up their adoptions. There had never been any mention of it, and JT and I were still supportive of 'L', although we were finding it harder and harder. But now the seed was planted, she said it, not me...so it wasn't my fault. I talked to JT about it and our wheels were turning. Could this be the beginning of the end...the beginning of a new beginning...the end of the beginning we began a year ago? Okay...sorry about that, but you get the idea:) 
Adoption...adoption!  Is this real life?  Could these babies that we've been loving like our own really become our own?  Could loving our "forever family of five" become our truth?  Thanks to my husband and several others in my life, it was pretty easy for me to begin letting 'L' take care of 'L'.  My loyalty was easily transferred from her to her children.  I had put her first for a year and made her my priority.  Now it was their turn.  What was really best for them?  Their mom was in a much worse place than she was when they were removed a year ago.  Our once neglected, broken babies were happy, healthy, and thriving.  We were their mom and dad.  They had already been through so much trauma in their short lives, and leaving us after an entire year would add to that already too long, heartbreaking list.  At this point, "reunification" would feel more like being ripped away from their parents than going back to them.  And once I let myself feel all of this, my intensity was redirected in a major way. 
Termination was filed that summer and that would prove to be another long road...seemingly endless.  But it's a place we were grateful for, it was totally unexpected and proof that I really have NO idea what God's plans are for my life.  I've learned that if I'm moving in a direction that lines up with His heart, He'll do what He wants and surprises are His specialty.  And nothing was certain, it still isn't...but we are full of a hope and peace that only He can provide.  Until next Monday....
Blessed,
Crazy Mama Crook

Monday, October 3, 2011

A family of 5:)

I'm keepin it real here in the blog world and my sinful nature and selfish qualities play a big part in this one.  I'm actually quite ashamed of this phase in our journey...but God challenged and grew us through our flaws so I suppose our inequities served a purpose.
Allow me to paint a picture for you... There was this little couple who wanted a baby with all of their hearts.  On their path to finding their baby, their hearts were broken repeatedly, deepening their desire to be parents.  While they waited, they welcomed two lovely little houseguests into their home.  They quickly grew to love these precious babies, but also knew their stay was only temporary.  Unaware, their hearts were guarded.  Then their baby was born.  This was a time they had waited so long for, prayed for, and dreamed about.  In their minds, having their first child looked a certain way...having all the time in the world to sit and stare at the baby in their arms played a big part of that look.  Focusing all of their attention on their long awaited new addition was their plan.  When they brought their baby home, their houseguests were 25 months and 10 months old.  This fact severely disrupted their "dream" of what having their first baby looked like.  Because of the every day chaos that having three children under the age of three creates, because of the lack of attention they felt their new baby was receiving, because the nursery they had painted for their baby years ago was occupied, the couple was wearing down, exhausted by the every day and saddened by the experience they felt they were missing.  Their houseguests were scheduled to leave in April, about 2 months after the birth of their son.  The couple was not looking forward to their departure, but they were looking forward to the relief and the "dream life" they anticipated with their little one. 
Hopefully, that "story" helped you to understand what we were experiencing.  Without realizing what was going on, we were definitely guarding our hearts from the hurt of losing them... don't get me wrong, it was still going to hurt.  But I think we were subconsciously avoiding complete devastation by not loving them as strong and as completely as we could have been...thus creating something ugly when we brought our baby home.  If they had moved before Rowan was born, we would have gone on and never knew we had done any wrong.  We would have missed this opportunity to grow our character, to change our hearts, to allow God to develop something within us that we weren't capable of ourselves. 
 We got a phone call in early April, the children wouldn't be moving any time soon, the plan to get them out of state and closer to their mom fell through.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  JT and I were driving out to my parents house, I hung up the phone and told him the news.  Neither of us said anything for a while and then I asked him...are you disappointed?  He nodded his head yes and I admitted that I felt the same.  We were both ashamed and what followed was a discussion that would change everything.  We talked about why we felt that way, we laid it all on the table, and we talked about how to fix it.  Our conclusion...to love them as if they were ours.  They deserved the same love and devotion we felt for Rowan, but we were denying them that because we were guarded.  Loving them like they were ours meant losing them like they were ours, and that's a pain no parent can prepare themselves for.  I know we weren't denying them this kind of love intentionally...afterall, our motto was "it's not about us".  "Whatever we have to go through for the sake of loving these children is worth it", was our stance on fostering.  But I guess we were just making sure that "what we went through" wasn't the hell that it had the potential to be.  Being a foster parent is hard, being a good foster parent takes a heart only God can create.  Loving other people's children identical to the way you love your own isn't something that comes naturally...not in our society.  We didn't have children first and then decide to become foster parents, which is much more typical.  We became foster parents and then had our first child.  We found ourselves in a unique and complex situation that we weren't prepared for.  But God was prepared and He chose us to love like this, He knew we were up for the challenge when we had no clue we were even being challenged.  So it was on that drive that JT and I decided to live like this family of five was OUR family.  Of course, we knew they were our foster children, but we released our hearts to love them in a new, better way.  I know God's hands were all over our plan, because it was instant.  We instantly had 3 forever children, we felt it, and we loved it.  The crazy chaos in our home was now OUR chaos, we owned it:)  Life was easy, love was real, and our days became happy and healthy.  We didn't really spend any time thinking about the consequences of this newfound joy...we just lived and loved and life was good.
It's a humbling thing to think you're doing something so right and then realize you're very wrong.  It's a humbling thing to believe your life isn't about you and then realize it very much is.  We were so ashamed when God opened our eyes, but we are so grateful that He created something beautiful out of our failures.  Our journey is not yet complete, but we're well on our way to His final masterpiece...for this chapter anyway;)
Until next Monday,
Love,
Crazy Mama Crook