Snake in the house

Harmony screamed and shouted “Snake”. I saw it too. A small, maybe 6″ long, curving creature. In our foyer. I screamed and shouted “Snake”. Michael rushed from his office upstairs to find out what the commotion was. I had jumped onto the sofa in position to keep an eye on the intruder, but stay the hell out of its way. Panic-stricken Harmony had retreated to the bedroom.

The snake hadn’t moved yet. Michael peered downstairs. I could sense him screaming inside, as he battled with the pressure to be the saving hero of his women folk. His voice was a couple octaves higher than normal as he started listing his options, tools, resources close at hand. Clearly he had to find something upstairs to use. He descended the stairs tentatively with his office wastebasket. The plan was to drop it over the snake.

My eye never left the offensive viper (ok, snake) as my panic level rose higher and higher, ever closer to full blown hysterics. Harmony, who just the day before, much to my dismay, had been trying to catch full sized lizards in the backyard, was now inexplicably missing in action.

Michael was left to his own devices. As the level headed wife, always able to offer solutions, solicited or not, I had nothing but more entreaties to my alpha male to rid us of this menace. Quickly.

Very tremulously, the open weave wire basket was dropped onto the snake. There was much screaming coming from the sofa. Especially as the snake started wriggling within the basket. I was now panic shouting that there were gaps through which the snake could wriggle. Apparently I repeated this many times, because eventually Michael responded “yes, I heard you.”

Large tools were employed to remove the snake from our living quarters. Tools much larger and more menacing than a tiny 6″ snake should require. But the deed was done. My hero got it done.

Harmony dissolved into a crying spell when it was all over. I now see snakes everywhere. Any movement in my peripheral vision makes my heart jump. My active imagination is working overtime. Did the snake come in with its family? How did it get in? I anticipate I will be in this anxious mode for awhile.

On the plus side, this happened while Michael was home, thank God. No idea how this story would have played out otherwise.

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My decade in review: 2010 to 2019

• The Lord is My Shepherd…. Psalm 23 v 1
• Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5 – 6

In 2010 I was firmly ensconced in my job as Controller at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. I loved my job. After some difficult years finding the right rhythm with my boss, we were now on excellent terms, understanding and respecting each other. Michael and I were mostly empty nesters. Our children had moved on with their own lives. Serena was the only child still with one foot in the home. She was a college student, living on campus, but home for the odd weekend, and school holidays. Michael was traveling frequently with his job. We traveled a lot, every opportunity we got, because we could just get up and go.

I did not plan or foresee what my life would be like 10 years on. As I review the events of the decade, the direction my life took over 10 years is pretty radical. We are now raising a 6 year old daughter. I am, for the first time in my adult life, at age 61, a stay at home mom, a home maker. I earn pocket money from my new hobby as a baker / cake decorator, a hobby in which I am highly invested. How we navigated to where we are, can only be attributable to God’s guidance, manifested through that still small voice whispering into our consciousness. Or to the firm push by an invisible, but insistent hand.

Michael and I had married in 2007. It was a strong desire of ours to raise a child together, having each raised two children as single parents. After several false alarms and failed pregnancy tests, we resigned ourselves to the fact that we weren’t going to have a baby of our own. Sometime in 2011, Michael broached the idea of adoption. We both enthusiastically pursued it. We attended meetings with private agencies, only to be advised that we were too old to adopt a baby. We checked among family and friends in case they knew of a child that needed a family. Some leads arose but disappointingly fell through. We continued, undeterred and decided on the state’s foster to adopt program. We sacrificed Saturday mornings to attend foster care training. We submitted our home for inspection. Our dog Precious, unhappily at first, transitioned to outside to make way for a baby and the state’s stringent guidelines regarding pets in the home. In 2013 we joyfully welcomed 8 month old Harmony into our lives, on Christmas Eve no less, a very precious Christmas gift. In November 2014 in judge’s chambers, surrounded by family and friends, we officially became her parents.

We always knew that because we were embarking on this trip as older parents, with Michael’s frequent travels and my lower energy levels, a compromise would be required. There had been some casual talk of me staying home with a new baby, if one were to come. However, when Harmony arrived, there was a super convenient situation – my job had perhaps the state’s best preschool. So little Harmony was on premises with me every day, no more than a few steps away at any time. We could not have created a better solution if we’d tried ourselves. As the years passed though, I began to lose energy for my job. I had built a competent staff. Our systems were reliably churning out numbers and reports. The tedium of dealing with incompetence from other departments that affected our work began to wear on me. There were mind numbingly, mentally draining, repetitive issues to be dealt with every month. The Lord created the exit and showed me the timing.

In 2012, on a whim, I’d initiated a “Cake Off” Accounting department baking competition. The team accepted the challenge and the submissions blew everyone away. It was a display of baking, decorating artistry and mastery, revealing totally unexpected talent and creativity, from staff least expected to be endowed with such skills. This unlikely event was the dot of light in the distance, that over 5 years of competition, grew into a full-blown guiding light for me. In 2013, Michael bought me a KitchenAid stand mixer, and my newfound decorating passion was now tooled to soar on eagles’ wings.

In 2016, the itch for something different for me just grew stronger. In March I gave notice of my intent to leave my job, assisted with the search for my replacement, and in August, Michael threw me a “retirement” party. That same month I drove to Alabama to my first cake artists’ convention. In November, I flew to Birmingham, England to the largest cake show in the world, and even submitted two competition entries, winning a Certificate of merit in the process. That was it. My career of over 30 years was now behind me. I hung up my CPA certificate and replaced it with a Cottage Baker license. I’m in training for my new life path – attending cake and cookie decorating classes, webinars and seminars. Social media is my friend, showcasing new techniques and designs to learn from the world’s best artists. I could never have scripted this drastic life change. Every move was a move of God, the strings of the marionette held and moved by Him.

While always a believer, it wasn’t until June of 2011 that I literally took the plunge and was baptized. Perhaps that was truly a watershed moment in my life, putting my faith and commitment on display for all to see. Looking through facebook photographs has jogged my memory of some of the wonderful, as well as sobering events of the past 10 years. We visited 18 countries and 15 US states. We celebrated often, on our own – every anniversary, and every year end for rest and reflection and renewal; and with friends and family – significant birthdays, weddings, births, graduations, anniversaries, holidays. There were family reunions, high school reunions, running and fitness group meetups, my writing group gatherings, Trinidad carnival costumed participation, staff dance group presentations, even Purim costumes. I won a staff award, running awards (age group, of course), launched my company – Marci’s Masterpieces – wrote some, began selling my creations, made new friends, our adoption story was published. While we’ve always taken family photos of our 7-strong Fullwood clan, in 2018 I launched our ugly Christmas outfit photo tradition, with everyone surprisingly enthusiastically participating.

Michael took a scary tumble, shattering his pelvis. But with prayer, good healthcare, and I’m sure, lots of divine intervention, he is healed and participated in a triathlon in December, winning our running group’s award for Best Comeback of the Year. Unfortunately, we mourned with friends and family as they coped with deaths. We prayed with, and for friends and family through major illnesses and accidents. We witnessed surprising (and some not unexpected) divorces and separations. My body was introduced to the ravages of menopause and hormonal dissonance. Hot flashes, night sweats and sleep struggles became my reality. Perhaps this hijacked my attempts to stay the course on my health goals, running endeavors, author ambitions. But as so many before have done, I intend to overcome these challenges to stay healthy, win races, gain recognition for my edible creations, become a published author.

In retrospect, it’s been a wonderful decade. The constant has been God’s light and love, guidance and protection, chastening and forgiving. He has provided me with a life partner in Michael, who is far above and beyond my list of “must haves” in a partner, that I earnestly prayed for during my years in the relationship wilderness. I can’t wait to see what the next ten years present.

We look forward to our children solidifying their careers, establishing their own families – weddings and grandbabies for us. There exists an entire generation gap in the ages of our children, but with God’s hand and provision, we will have the energy to shepherd this youngest one through to success too. I pray that whatever happens, wherever life leads, I will never lose the faith that takes me fearlessly through the unknown.

Have you reviewed your last 10 years? You may be surprised at the revelations.

Last note: I’m aware of the raging debate about the correct start year for every decade. I’m on the fence. Let better minds than mine resolve that conundrum. This is convenient for my purposes, it’s written and ready, so here you have my decade review.

Marcia Fullwood
January 2020

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A nation of Pharisees

The prostitute stood there, surrounded by her accusers.  The judge said to them all, “If you have no sin of your own, go ahead, stone her.”  One by one they all slunk away.

I challenge you.  Examine your dark, deep, innermost thoughts.  Look back over your life.  Would you personally be able to withstand a typical media dredging of you, the candidate?  Are you without sin?  I didn’t think so.  None of us is.  Not one.  We all have human failings, skeletons in the closet. And we all have hurt, taken advantage of others,  impacted lives in shameful ways, worked “the system” to our advantage, done things we hope will never be exposed. If you think you’re without fault, I guarantee there’s someone somewhere who can tear down your holier than thou image of yourself.

The presidential candidates reflect, on a grander scale, the same flaws we all possess.  They are as human as we are.  True, some of their flaws are morally repugnant and downright unsettling.  But in general, people, in this case, the electorate, will overlook in others sins they themselves struggle with daily.  And vote for what matters most to them.

The media, itself composed of flawed personnel working the advantages offered by their influential platform, has attempted to direct the course of this election.  Some people avidly guzzled their output, without filter. Others of us glorified the inane drivel of morally bereft celebrities, most of whom possess more money than sense. And shame on us, many descended into school yard bully tactics of juvenile name calling, labeling, posting unsubstantiated garbage to be “liked” by our armies of social media followers.

Well, like the outcome or not, this ugly election cycle is over.   Television and social media will hopefully return to normal.  The White House occupants will change.  Wild market fluctuations will eventually subside.  We will retreat from our knee-jerk reactions. Life as we know it will trot on. And regardless of what happens in Washington, we will continue to live our lives, the best we can.  Hopefully with integrity, purpose, compassion and love.  And pray that our sins will never be on display for the world to see.

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The Trump phenomenon – A view from the right

The Trump phenomenon – A view from the right.

It makes for interesting, and sometimes entertaining observation, as a regular citizen, with no political training, to witness the take down of talk show hosts, political pundits, the political elite, as they try to explain away and predict the end of the road for the runaway Trump phenomenon. 

I readily admit my dislike of the Trump persona.  His braggadocious style is unsettling.  He doesn’t articulate particularly well.  His hair defies logic.  He is not presidential.  He is tempestuous.  He is thin-skinned.  And there’s so much more, including reports of questionable business tactics.  But where he has made pronouncements that would have sunk other candidates early in round one of this nomination contest, his light only shines brighter.  At this point, former adversaries are reluctantly acknowledging that the nomination for the Republican Party is his to lose.  The other candidates are fighting for distant second place, perhaps jostling for a Vice Presidential nod.  Or maybe hoping against hope that their version of common sense will ultimately prevail.  But they have much to do to convince a disenfranchised electorate that they won’t enter the White House and, like so many who promised much, yield to the allure of the Washington way.

Donald Trump’s rise, as others have recognized, is firmly attributable to the disgust of the populace with the Washington elite – the members of congress and their handlers.  This group has for years treated the population with disdain, only truly focusing on people when elections near.  Congress has become wrapped up in its own self-importance, making pronouncements, taking executive action, enacting legislation that is flagrantly dismissive of the will of the very people they were elected to represent.  And very importantly, corruption is rampant.  Wasteful spending is rampant.  Fiscal irresponsibility is its hallmark.

This wave of protest was a long time coming. It may have started with the Tea Party.  Somehow, that group didn’t gain the traction it needed to survive.  But it may have awakened the sleeping giant, and reminded it of the power it has to shake up Congress radically.  What we are witnessing, is a grass roots movement that is confounding those who believe they have the answers for every blip on the pollsters charts.  I say “power to the people”.  Our collective will has been ignored for too long.  Wherever this contest ends, Washington DC would do well to wake up to a new day.  Actually, it won’t be by choice.  Nor will it be welcome.  But it will be firmly implanted upon them.  I sense a major overhaul in the political climate.  Whether that will be a good thing for this country remains to be seen. 

The Republican party is in disarray.  Years relegated to the political desert provided it the opportunity to retool and reboot.  Here we are, mere months away from elections, and the party leaders are fighting among themselves, struggling to derail a candidate who is cleverly using their platform, and in fact running away with it, but ostensibly not supported by them.  So, to aptly quote John Travolta’s funny line from the movie FaceOff, “Weeeee – What a predicament!”. 

That’s my take on it.

February 26, 2016

 

#elections

#republicans

#donaldtrump

#faceoff

 

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Wisdom from Babies and Kings

When I drop my toddler off at preschool, there are many days when she becomes clingy. As we approach her classroom, she wraps herself around my legs. I try walking while she clings tightly. Sometimes she is easily coaxed off. On other occasions, she throws a mini tantrum. As I leave her, my heart is torn. I have numerous questions about why it’s so hard for her to leave me. “Does she not like her teachers?” “Are there toddler bullies attacking her?” “Is she not feeling well?” I’m wracked with guilt at leaving. I call the classroom shortly after, only to be told that my little one is playing happily – in fact likely was as soon as I left her.

King David committed adultery, and his lover became pregnant with his child. As if the adultery wasn’t bad enough, he arranged for his lover’s husband to be killed in battle, and then took her as his wife. Their baby boy was born. But God was very displeased with David’s crimes. The boy became sick and was close to death. David was inconsolable – wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t sleep, wouldn’t clean or dress himself or conduct any royal duties. This continued for the duration of the child’s illness. When the youngster died, David’s advisors were afraid to tell him for fear of his reaction. But he perceived what had happened. Once it was confirmed, he calmly, and immediately, returned to normal. Bathed, ate, went about his business, including consoling his wife.

David’s advisors were perplexed. In explanation, David offered that while his son was still alive, he did everything possible to keep him alive, praying and hoping that God would accept his repentance, and restore his son to full health. Once the child had passed though, he realized he could no longer influence the outcome.

Toddlers probably operate on the same philosophy as King David, on some subliminal level of consciousness. Once their parent is out of sight, they recognize that their opportunity to influence a changed outcome is lost. So they just switch gears and move right along to a new activity.

Why don’t we do the same? What situation in our life are we trying to change, that is now, and probably has been for a long time, beyond our control?  Too often, we cling to people and situations that are just bad for us.  Heed baby wisdom, and royal wisdom. Dry your tears, clean yourself up, and just move on.

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Four & Twenty Blackbirds

“Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.  When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing.  Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?”

You may remember that nursery rhyme.  Baked, singing birds.  Interesting concept. Nursery rhymes and fairy tales were rarely realistic or logical.  Magical, fantastical, bizarre, often downright terrifying.   I believe those birds subliminally sank into my young, developing consciousness.

I had a blackbird nightmare when I was about 3 or 4 years old.  On that fateful night, some blackbirds flew in through the window, and pecked me in the tummy. My terrified screams brought my parents running into my room. After that night, and for years later, into adulthood, I could not sleep on my back.  Or if I  had to, it was with my arms folded over my belly.   I still cannot sleep with open windows.

Did my over-active, childish imagination  extract those blackbirds from their pie, and extrapolate them into a dream of my own?  We must be mindful about what our children are exposed to.  Some stuff is just too violent for young minds to adequately process.  The “four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie” claims to be a dainty dish.  But to a young mind, literally interpreting and visualizing, those birds unexpectedly erupting into the king’s face, had to be alarming.  No matter how sweet their song!

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Babbling babies

I am probably 18 months old. I am in a crib in a dark corridor. There is another crib beside mine. The occupant, my little friend, has curly brown, wispy hair. We often meet crib-side and converse. I recall us in our cloth diapers, wearing a little t-shirt top skimming our bellies.

I remember all of this because of a traumatic incident. One day, my little companion’s diaper pin was open and cutting into her. I knew because she told me. She was in a lot of pain and crying. Our caregiver, I can only recall a shadowy figure, reluctantly pulled herself away from her television show to see what the problem was. I kept telling her, but we obviously had a language barrier. I was very emphatic in my explanations, but the lady wasn’t getting it. In retrospect, and of course, after raising my own children, I recognize the frustration little babblers feel as they try to communicate with adults.

I don’t remember anything else from that day, or even those early years. Years later, at a family get-together, something triggers the memory, and I am recalling this incident to family members as we sit around the dinner table. My mother is shocked. She cannot believe she is hearing this from me. This is probably 40 years after the fact. She gives us her recollection of that day. She and my dad arrive to pick me up from day care. I am sobbing uncontrollably. My caregiver cannot provide a satisfactory explanation for my distress. My parents never took me back there, but always puzzled over what might have happened to traumatize me so. I was finally able to put that mystery to rest for my mother. Unfortunately, by this time, my father had passed on without ever having the dots connected.

So as I embark on this journey again with a new baby, I am very diligent about responding to her when she babbles. She looks at me so intently when she “speaks”. It obviously is a very important point she is making. And I do my best to provide her with an intelligent, satisfactory response!

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#Giving Tuesday – December 2, 2014

Charitieslime_green2 page1-img1s clean_waterJust One - Clean Water

Just One: Africa.  It starts with Just One………..

http://www.justoneafrica.org

A mission trip to work at an orphanage in Kenya stirred the hearts of the Churchill (Clay, Amy and their children) and Wilde (Alastair & Geanna) families so much, they came back home and founded a charitable organization to continue and expand the work they had begun.  Just One: Africa was born.

In two short years, their impact is obvious on the orphanage and beyond.  These families have dedicated countless hours to identifying a source for simple, cheap, but effective water filters.  They have purchased and provided farm equipment, animals, and have taught efficient farming methods.  They sponsored a bread making project, providing all the required equipment.  They mobilized volunteers into a formidable, income generating bracelet project.  They have shipped school books and supplies, clothes and sanitary kits. In partnership with another organization, Serv International, they have distributed tens of thousands of meals. The list is impressive.  And they invested even scarcer personal time in formal education on the best way to organize and run a responsible and successful non-profit organization.  All this was accomplished while they maintained their busy careers, and raised their families.

The villages that Just One: Africa support in west rural Kenya have viable water sources flowing from Lake Victoria.  However, those sources must be used for everything: bathing, washing clothes, waste disposal, and unfortunately also, for consumption.  Ill-health follows swiftly on the heels of ingesting contaminated water, and is particularly damaging to young lives, whose immune systems are not fully developed.  Medical care is sporadic and difficult to access. The portable, military grade Sawyer water filters that Just One supplies to families and communities cost only $65 each – a miniscule cost compared to the lifelong water-borne disease prevention each filter represents.  Each filter is guaranteed for 1 million gallons, which is enough to provide clean water to 25 people for life. To date, over 800 of these filters have been provided by Just One: Africa.  That is over 800 million gallons of clean water, and 20,000 lives impacted.

Many of the villagers are widows, having lost their men, the main bread winners, to AIDS.  Amy and Geanna noticed that these fascinating Maasai women were making beautiful beads from recycled paper, stringing them into necklaces.  An opportunity was seized to expand the cottage industry.  Just One: Africa purchases hundreds of these necklaces in all available hues.  Back home in Alpharetta, Amy organizes amazing crews of volunteers from corporations, elementary, middle, high schools, and other civic groups.  These enthusiastic teams restring the beads into bracelets of all sizes and color combinations.  Packaged in appealing natural fabric pouches, and sold for just $15, each equates to 200,000 gallons of life saving water, for 5 people for life.  The popular bracelets provide a compelling story, and an even more satisfying purchase, with 100% of the profits from this project reinvested in the purchase of water filters. It also allows young people and others the opportunity to be a part of something that truly is changing the world, just one bracelet at a time.

Everything Just One: Africa does is in keeping with their vision of providing sustainable solutions for self-sufficiency to the communities they serve.  While the need is overwhelming, the philosophy is to start by helping JUST ONE.  On December 2nd, Giving Tuesday, you can be One helping One.  Shop for unique bracelet gifts, or make a one-time, or ongoing donation through their informative website www.justoneafrica.org.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  Winston Churchill (yes, he’s a distant relative.)

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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Foster Care & Adoption

On November 7th, 2014, we converged on Fulton County Superior Court with the little girl we’d been fostering since December 2013. She was officially recorded as our adoptive daughter, in front of our 2 social workers, Judge Jackson Bedford, our lawyer, her former foster family, our older children, and other family and friends. There were so many of us, Harmony’s personal village, we had to be moved from Judge’s chambers to a jury room, which could hardly comfortably contain our crowd. This is a summary of the good, the bad, and the ugly that we encountered during our 3 year journey.

The Ugly

  • The large adoption agency that summarily and embarrassingly refused our application because of our age.  Too old they said.  This rule unfairly dismisses the empirical evidence of the contribution of countless grandparents who have no choice but to raise their grandchildren, for whatever reason they may have to.  Many do an outstanding job, aided by the wisdom of their years.
  • The adoption lawyer we initially hired to broker discussions with a young lady wanting to place her child for adoption.  We believe the lawyer failed to represent us appropriately, instead asserting personal judgment and beliefs on the case.
  • Those who constantly sought to discourage and scare us off the path with images of potentially sickly adoptees, or stories of adoptions gone bad.  Understandably well meaning, but discouraging nonetheless.
  • Cross over language.  Dog lovers who assume any reference to adopting babies is in reference to dogs.

The Bad (and Sad)

  • The foster care system itself and the children it fails.  We understand the desire to reunite foster children with their birth parents, but sometimes errors of judgment result in devastating consequences for children.
  • The careless young mother who, despite having baby after baby removed by social services due to her neglect, continues to produce another baby almost every year.
  • The careless father, with allegedly several baby mothers, who while acknowledging his paternity, has never seen his child, provided for her, or given any indication that he cares where she is, or what has become of her.

The Good

  • The wonderful foster family who lavished love and affection on our little girl from age three weeks through eight months.  Their selfless sacrifice to ensure she celebrated her first Christmas with her potential forever family.
  • The many foster and adoptive families who willingly open their hearts, their homes and their lives to neglected, abused and abandoned children.
  • Federal and state agencies – case workers, legal advocates, an overworked and underfunded establishment.  While irritating and frustrating to us sometimes, our outcome is one of their many success stories.
  • The private support agencies that highlight the children, facilitate placement and provide financial backing.

And The Priceless

  • Our little daughter Harmony.  An incredible bundle of love, boundless energy and endless joy to us since the very first day we met her.  She is perfect for us in every way.
  • The Christmas gift.  Incredibly, Harmony came to us on Christmas Eve 2013.  We picked her up from her other foster family after she fulfilled her role as Baby Jesus in their church nativity show.
  • And another Christmas gift.  After Judge Bedford signed the adoption order, he retreated to his chambers.  He returned after replacing his formal court attire with a Santa Clause suit, a natural complement to his flowing white hair and beard.  And thus, once again, we were provided with irrefutable evidence that Harmony is indeed God’s precious gift to us.
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Our foster-care to adopt story

Just over 2 years ago, we embarked on a journey that has recharged our

lives in ways unexpected. After getting married in 2007, successfully

blending two families, and ushering our 4 children out into the world, we

felt like premature empty nesters.  We did lots of travel, and lots of

entertaining.  But eventually we thought we needed to be nurturing more than

our adult children. Adopting a child isn’t a whimsical

choice.  Unlike a pet, a child can’t (or shouldn’t) be “returned to sender”, so

we took another year to examine our feelings.  We needed to ensure we were both ready for the required commitment.

After exploring all the available

options for adoption, we turned to our state’s foster to adopt program.

We sacrificed 6 consecutive weeks of Saturday mornings to attend foster

care training during the fall of 2012.  We endured the rigors of a home

study which included microscopic examination of our lives.  We reconfigured rooms and tentatively prepared for a child whose age we

could only guess. We waited, nagged our social workers, and incredibly, a

week before Christmas last year, we got the call we’d been waiting for.  An

8 month old baby girl in foster care needed a forever home.  A meeting with

her foster parents was hastily arranged.  We nervously arrived at the home,

only 10 minutes away from ours.  We had not asked to see pictures

beforehand.  We had no idea what our little girl was going to look like.

The plan was for us to spend time with Twinkle (not her real name) to

determine whether she would be a good fit for us.  I think we both

determined that regardless of who was presented to us, we were going to take

her home, love her, and make her a part of our family.  We were trusting

that God was in charge.

Our first 2 hours with Twinkle were magical.  She’s perfect, active, happy,

loving, and very social.  She demonstrated all these qualities for us within that

short time frame.  We went home excited, and began to make final

preparations for the new addition to our family.  As a forewarning of the

incredible blessing she was going to be to us both, Twinkle came home to us

on Christmas Eve, after playing the role of baby Jesus in her foster

parents’ church nativity play.  She was indeed, our wonderful Christmas

gift.  Better than we could ever imagine.  She immediately became the center

of focus of our lives.

Twinkle now has 4 doting brothers and sisters (our birth children).  With her

incredibly social and loving personality, Twinkle has won the hearts of

everyone who comes into contact with her.  Twinkle attends an excellent

preschool run by my employer at the Community Center where I work.  Parents of

other children in her class gush over how warm she is.  Teachers,

administrators, my colleagues – everyone knows Twinkle.  I am constantly

provided with anecdotes about people’s interactions with her.  This child is

truly blessed and a blessing.  She is incredibly perceptive, expressive,

creative, and she makes us so proud.

While we are both young looking enough for people to believe Twinkle is our

own child (very flattering to me, actually), we do have friends and family

who think we have lost our minds to have relinquished our recent freedom

from child-rearing to start over.  When they do the math, they are doubly

dumbfounded.  Do we have concerns about how Twinkle will feel in

high school with parents older than everyone else’s? Perhaps slightly.  But

we know this little girl is ours, and we will cross every bridge together.

Thank God that through the wonders of modern medicine, healthy lifestyles,

(and makeup) we live in a time when 60 is the new 40 (or thereabouts).

We are so grateful to our tireless social workers.  And to Twinkle’s first

foster family, who lavished her with love to ensure she had the best

start in life.  We are the beneficiaries of their care and attention. And we

are grateful to Twinkle’s birth parents, and their careless act of

copulation that ultimately gave us our feisty, almond eyed beauty.

We understand that Twinkle has several blood siblings and step-siblings.

They are in other adoptive homes, foster homes and with relatives.  We hope

they are doing as well as Twinkle is.  And maybe in the not too distant

future, the siblings will meet, begin exchanging life stories, and commence

sibling relationships. We sincerely hope no new siblings are born.  It is

very difficult not to be judgmental about people who so casually produce new

babies, year after year, with no thought about how the children’s needs will

be adequately met.

We have no regrets about our decision, as we approach a major milestone.

In a few short weeks, Twinkle will officially become a member of our family,

in front of a judge, other officials, friends and family.  The joy she has

added to our lives is immeasurable. It has erased the angst we experienced

as we awaited a placement. This experience has taught us that you really can

be a parent at any age.  We have readily embraced sleepless nights,

inconvenient doctor visits, runny noses, poopy pampers, temper tantrums, car

seats, baby-proofing, rapidly outgrown clothes, juggling diaper bags and a

wriggling toddler, play dates, re-reading stories five times in one sitting

and all else that comes with this territory.  We’ve been introduced to

newfangled equipment, baby stuff and stroller systems nonexistent when we

raised our older children.  We are not daunted by all this.  We are committed.

The foster to adopt process itself is not without its challenges.  We

understand, however, that the system is overwhelmed with too many children

desperate for loving homes, overworked staff with heavy case-loads, limited

resources, and unfortunately, far too few willing or capable foster /

adoptive families. Foster and adoptive families rescue children of all ages

from dubious futures fraught with the risks of abuse, exploitation, neglect,

lack of opportunity. We are trusting that we will be able to guide Twinkle

to ultimately fulfill her God-given potential.

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