Kris Mares

Just a woman trying to love Jesus and others a little bit more…

Not the Pinterest Mom April 20, 2016

Filed under: Adoption Story,Motherhood — Kris @ 6:30 am
Tags: , ,

I always thought I knew what kind of mom I’d be. I was wrong. As usual, I had this image in my head of what motherhood would be like, but it just hasn’t panned out that way. It’s been like a Pinterest fail – a wonderful image and something to strive for, but my execution has been off the mark. I’ve messed up more times than I care to count or remember. I’ve missed out on opportunities to show love and grace. I’ve not been consistent and I’ve lost my way. My motherhood journey has not turned out like the image I had in my head so many years ago.

And that’s ok.

I’m not the perfect Pinterest mom and that’s ok. And you’re ok too. Our fails shape us into who we are. The disappointments in life lead us to a better understanding of grace. Our shared parenting, co-parenting, step-parenting, adoption parenting, attachment parenting, free-range parenting, helicopter parenting selves have somehow grown as mothers, as wives, as friends and as leaders in our community.

Motherhood – no matter what style you practice – changes us. Our children change us. And somehow, our Pinterest fail turns out to be the best memory.

It’s hard work being a mom. It’s never what you expect it to be. Some days, filled with nothing – no plans, no activities, no crafts, no perfectly balanced meals – end up being the best days of just being in a relationship of love. And other days, the days that are perfectly planned for fun, education and optimal memory making – sometimes those days are the ones you want to forget. And in between is a lot of mundane, mess cleaning, chaffering, food procuring, boo boo kissing, book reading, homework wrangling, tv watching, “Lord help me” praying, life giving, loving work. Yes, motherhood is work and anyone that tries to tell you otherwise lies. It’s a calling for sure, but it is work. And it’s work that seems to constantly change as our children get older and as our families change.

For me, motherhood is getting ready to change again. You see, each time our family grows by one, my image of motherhood changes. My execution of motherhood changes. My understanding of what motherhood is changes. I change. And sometime soon, we hope to add another child into our family. It is part of who Racer and I are called to be as parents. We know that this journey will be different from our last Adoption Story. And in some ways, it will turn out to be a Pinterest fail too. The image in our heads of what the journey will be like this time will not be right, yet we’ll know that this journey is unique and has grown us in new ways.

So, I’m not the Pinterest Mom. And you know what? I don’t really want to be either. That image of perfection leaves little room for grace. And I’d rather have grace.

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Dear Birth Mother, September 27, 2010

Dear Birth Mother,

Our daughter recently celebrated a birthday.  As we celebrated, I wonder if you remember her and think about the day she was born?  Do you remember holding her as a newborn, smelling her head, counting her fingers and toes?  As  I think about our daughter now, I so wonder what that moment must’ve been like.  I wonder what her infant cry sounded like.  I wonder if she liked to nuzzle in the crook of your arm or the space between your chin and your neck.  What did she feel like in your arms?

As I feel my own child growing inside of me, I wonder if our daughter was a kicker too.  Did she like to hang off  your rib cage?  Did she spread out wide so you could feel her everywhere, or did she like to ball up and just PRESS into one area?  What sounds did our daughter like to hear as she grew inside of you?

As I watch my smaller children play and grow, and I think about the stories our daughter tells of growing up as a smaller child, I wonder what your memories are of those same moments.  Did you smile when you saw her laughing and jumping in the surf?  Did you curse the sand that ended up throughout the house after a day at the beach?  What memory still makes you smile?  Which one makes you cry?  And now, do you wonder where she is?

Our daughter is safe, loved and part of a beautiful family.  A family that God knitted together just for her.  She has siblings again.  She’s learning a new definition of family.  She’s learning a new definition of mom, too.  Sometimes, as we struggle to define this relationship, I’ll be honest, I get mad.  I get mad that I didn’t get to help define it from the beginning.  I get mad that it even has to be redefined.  I get mad that there is this other image of mom that I compete with.  And then I have to remember, if it wasn’t for you, our daughter would never be a part of my life.  So as much as I get mad, I try to be grateful for the life you gave and the experiences you shared with each other.  Good and bad, those experiences have shaped who our daughter is today.

Our daughter is really great.  I don’t take much credit for that because so much of who she is doesn’t even come from me.  It comes from you, from early family, from foster parents, friends and people in her life today.  But mostly who she is comes from an amazing something that God placed on her while she was still growing inside of you.  From the moment our daughter was created, well really, long before that, God knew who she is and who she will be.  God has protected our daughter from the time in your womb through today.  What’s great is that she sees it and knows it too.  As we look back at her life, we both see so many times that circumstances might have been different, but God intervened and protected her from those life circumstances.

I don’t know where you are today or what you are doing.  I don’t know where your choices have taken you.  I do know that I love your daughter.  She may have been placed in your womb, but I know she was placed in my heart long ago.  I love her like I gave birth to her.  I hope you can understand that.  I want to think that I love her more than you do, but I know that there is a special love of a mom and her child.  Even though our daughter is no longer in your life, I hope that thoughts of her somehow bring a smile to your face and a hope that our daughter walks a better path in life.

Our daughter is loved.  Our daughter is strong.  Our daughter is full of dreams and visions for the future.  She is full of hope of better things yet to come.  Our daughter is beautiful – and you had a part in that.  For that I thank you.  I forgive you.  And maybe someday, we’ll be able to share special memories of her.  But for now, know that our daughter is so much more than I ever could have asked for.

 

Adoption Story… part 6 April 7, 2010

Part 1  Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5

The road to finalizing the adoption was longer than we anticipated.  In all reality, it wasn’t that long.  After Blue had been with us about 3 months it was time to move forward.  From the point that the workers began to move toward adoption (as opposed to just foster care), start to finish was 5 months.  I know, I know, that’s not very long, but in our minds it was taking forever.  We just wanted to be done.

One of the things that held us up was a name.  Blue wanted to totally change her name.  It is incredibly difficult to pick a name for a teenager who has definite opinions on what her name should be!  After a couple of weeks, we finally settled on a name – one that we could all agree on.  Then, it was just waiting on state workers.  Parental rights had been long terminated, so that wasn’t an issue.  Just state workers…

While we waited, we learned a lot, grew a lot and loved a lot.  Parenting/adopting a teenager is hard.  Developmentally, teen  should be breaking away from their parents and gaining independence.  We wanted Blue to connect to our family, bond, stay close.  It’s an interesting line to walk.  We faced some effects from Blue’s past.  We learned what it mean to be mother and daughter (still very much learning).  Racer and I became a better team.  We made mistakes – still do – but grow in faith and love most days.

Finally, it came.  Adoption day came.  We invited the Fosters, our pastor and his wife, and two other friends to be with us that day.  We dressed up.  Girlie was excited to wear a new dress for our “special dress-up day.”  Blue picked out a new, blue, top.  She looked beautiful.  Professor was so excited to leave school early that he was all packed up, cleaned up and ready to go before his class went to lunch.

We went into court, waited through two divorce proceedings (weird juxtaposition huh?) and then it was time.  We didn’t realize that we would be in judge’s chambers, so our friends wouldn’t be able to watch.  It was short, sweet and Blue came out glowing.  It was official.  She was now a permanent part of our family!  We went for ice cream to celebrate.

What was even more special in many ways came in just a few days.  On Easter Sunday, Blue was baptized under her new name.  She cried, A LOT.  I smiled.  Now all of our children had been baptized on an Easter Sunday.  The pastor we love, who will be retiring shortly, got to perform the baptism.  It was a beautiful ending to a journey of faith and love.

Not that our journey is over.  Really, the fun is just beginning.  We now have an entire life to watch how God continues to weave our family – the journey of love and faith and grace and beauty – together.  I look forward to watching Blue grow into a woman of faith who sees God working in her life.  I can’t wait to see what God does next.

 

Adoption Story… part 5 April 5, 2010

Part1  Part 2  Part3  Part 4

It was time – time to tell Blue about “our plans.”  Racer and I were nervous.  We didn’t know what she’d say.  We didn’t know if she’d want to be a part of our family.  We didn’t know how she’d respond. 

The morning started out with a meeting of workers (lots of meetings).  Then when all agreed to move forward, Blue’s worker would drive out to the Foster’s house and tell her.  We didn’t get to be there.  We’d follow behind and arrive a little later.  Professor was visiting family and Girlie and Gorilla were at a friend’s house.  (This friend, by the way, grew up having foster brothers and sisters.  Isn’t God’s design wonderful?)  We got a call that we could come out to the Fosters.

Blue was crying and in shock.  She didn’t know what to say or how to say it.  She couldn’t quite believe it was true.  Blue had been here before – facing a family that wanted to adopt her.  Unfortunately id didn’t work out with those 2 different families.  We know this time would be different.  Blue didn’t, so of course she approached the situation with some reserve.  She was still excited and nervous and shocked.  We asked if she would like to come spend the afternoon and evening with us and she agreed.

That afternoon, we just “chilled” at home.  Nothing fancy.  We ate, cleaned up and spent a regular evening like we always would.  After the little kids were in bed, I took Blue home.  She still couldn’t believe what was happening.  I explained the plan for her to spend increasing amounts of time with our family – day visits, overnights, weekends, a week-long trip to see family.  Blue understood and I dropped her off to sleep in her bed at the Fosters.  She didn’t want to go back, but understood why.  Blue just wanted to transition NOW.

While professor was visiting family, I called him and let him know we had a new child that would be moving into our house.  He was very excited about having a new sibling.  When I told him it was Blue, I could almost hear him jumping up and down.  Professor couldn’t have been happier!

The visits went well and at the end of July 2009, Blue moved into our home.  She didn’t have that much stuff.  Some belongings that were special to her.  Some jewelry, books and clothes.  We did school clothes shopping – what an experience!  Blue does NOT like to shop for clothes.  We got information switched at school started.  Things did not always go smoothly.  There were times that were definitely challenging.  Racer and I handled them though and we did it as a team. 

Now, on  to getting everything finalized…

 

Adoption Story… part 4 April 3, 2010

Part 1  Part 2  Part  3

Now that Racer and I knew what God wanted us to do, we had to figure out how to go about it.  First, we called the Fosters.  They were shocked – “How can we adopt Blue” was certainly not a phone call they expected, especially from us.  That phone call to the Fosters led to days of back and forth phone calls between us and case workers.  Guess what we had to do?  We had to take that training class we had inquired about a year and a half prior to all of this.  We had to be approved as foster parents, have Blue “placed” in our home and then move forward with adoption.

God definitely knows what he is doing.

So, as we look at our schedule for this training class, only 1 night totally conflicts with Racer’s work schedule.  His boss agreed to let him off early to be able to take the training classes.  On the nights when a conflict was avoidable by driving separately to the racetrack from the rest of the team, the boss let Racer drive a company car.  God had it all worked out.  Our regular babysitter was available and willing for each night.  It was perfect timing.

Blue still did not know what was going on.  We asked the Fosters and her case worker to not say anything, just in case something fell through.  There were a few very trusted friends (my “girls” being some of them – I’ll have to tell you all about them later) that knew what we were doing and were praying for us and with us.  We were praying.

In Blue’s life, she was working hard to figure out how to stay in our community.  She had asked a few couples in our church to adopt her (obviously that didn’t work out).  She had written a letter to government officials and gotten church/community signatures supporting her.  She continued her quest to find a place to call her permanent home.

Shortly after the retreat, I stopped doing youth ministry (read my post about it here).  It was the right decision, one I had been contemplating for some time.  Looking back, again I see that God’s timing is perfect.  No longer being Blue’s youth minister allowed me to transition out of that role so that I could transition into a new one.  Blue was sad over me leaving youth ministry, but I (knowing more than she did), assured her that I would still be around for her to talk to and ask life questions of.

Racer and I finished the class, the 6 workbooks – EACH – and the 2 inches of paperwork.  We had our home visit and our “shoe” was approved to be a home for just one more child.  As we prepared, I felt like I was nesting for a new baby.  We moved the crib so that Professor and Gorilla shared a room.  Girlie and Blue would be sharing a room.

We began to prepare Girlie and Professor.  We didn’t tell them exactly who would be coming into our home, but we began to tell them about a new child that would come into our home.  We talked about how our family could love that child.  We talked about what if it was a boy, girl, older, younger, etc.  We asked Professor if he could pick any of the teenagers from church to be a big brother or sister to him, who would he pick?  First, he picked this boy who is just a great young man.  I totally respect his family and what they are doing with him.  For a big sister option, Professor picked Blue.  I remember almost crying at that moment.  I knew it would all be just fine.

We had a big meeting with the caseworkers.  During this meeting, we learned Blue’s life history as they knew it.  We learned what was in her case file.  I knew most of it, and since I knew it, Racer did to.  There was only one thing that we didn’t know and it didn’t change anything.  We still wanted to adopt Blue and we were ready for her to come into our home.  Ready to parent a teenager?  Who really is ready for that?  But ready for Blue to join our family we were.

Now, it was time to tell Blue.

To be continued…

 

Adoption Story… Part 3 March 31, 2010

Filed under: Adoption Story,Blue — Kris @ 9:01 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Part 1     Part 2

At some point after Blue arrived at our church and began to grow on me, there was a small fleeting voice that said “Maybe Blue is the one.”  I entertained the thought for a moment, but never said anything to Racer.  The thought came again, a few months later, but again I did nothing.  The thought came again, I shared with Racer “what if…” and he just looked at me a bit strange.  All the while, I was still teaching, learning about and listening to Blue.  I have some training in trauma counseling and could see how she was ignoring her past, yet wanting for a better future.  She wanted a family.

When the Foster’s took in a teen mom with a toddler, Blue was not happy.  She decided she didn’t like small children and looked forward to her time away from “it.”  She’d never been around really small children, so didn’t know what to do or how to interact.  I would just tease her and ask if she wanted to hold Gorilla.  Gorilla even accompanied me on some youth ministry events. 

At some point in early March 2009, Blue learned that she would have to move out of the Foster’s home.  Again, Blue was NOT happy.  This place she had happened upon, the Foster’s, our church, her school, had somehow become home to her.  She did not want to move.  The reasons why the move was planned are not quite clear.  Maybe she made a comment to her caseworker about not wanting to be with the Foster’s anymore (because of the baby).  Maybe she had grown and learned and been “counseled” and didn’t need the higher level of care anymore and a regular level home couldn’t be found in our area.  Maybe state budget cuts necessitated some kids be moved to homes that had a lesser rate of reimbursement.  Whatever the case, Blue would be moving at the end of the school year.

When I learned this information, my gut wrenched.  I felt like I was going to throw up and it was all I could do to not cry.  I told Racer.  I cried and told him about the multiple thoughts I’d had over the last several months.  I told him about my stomach.  I asked him to pray.  Within the next couple of days, Blue and I left to go on a youth retreat with a few others.  I asked Racer to pray during this time – pray for clarity, wisdom and direction.  I would be doing the same. 

On the retreat, God was very clear to me.  I saw Blue cry for the first time.  She opened up even more about her life, her feelings about our community and her heart’s desire to find a family.  I asked other youth ministers at the retreat to pray for me, my family and for Blue.  They did.  It was beautiful.  I cried.  Blue cried. 

When I got home from the retreat, Racer and I knew, without a doubt, what we were supposed to do.  We were supposed to adopt Blue.  We were to be the family that her heart longed for.  She was to be the child that we were to love and add into our crazy, already chaotic life.  We knew God was knitting together a beautiful tapestry, one that we didn’t understand, Blue certainly didn’t have a clue about and one that is still being put together.

To be continued…

 

Adoption Story… Part 2 March 30, 2010

Filed under: Adoption Story,Blue — Kris @ 7:28 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Read part one here.

There is a couple in our church that I have a new love for.  You see, in May 2009, Blue came to live with the Fosters.  They are an older couple, well past their years of parenting teenagers, but God has given them a mission to open their home to teens that have “issues” and need a special kind of love.  Blue was one of those teenagers.  It’s not unusual to come to worship on a Sunday morning, look over where the Fosters sit and see a new face sitting there with them.  I don’t remember the first time I met Blue.  I’m sure it was on that first Sunday morning she must’ve come with them.  Blue was broad, stocky and mad at most of the world.  It was obvious that she had been hurt in her life and was carrying around extra weight that most 14-year-old girls shouldn’t have to carry.

At some point, Mrs. Foster talked to me about Blue coming to youth group.  As the youth minister at the time, I was of course open, willing and excited to have one more young person to love and teach about Jesus.  Blue became a regular and active member of our youth group.  For some reason, she and I took a strange liking to each other.  She listened to me, was full of energy and was wise beyond her years.  Blue was very different from a “typical” 14 year old girl.  She didn’t care about appearances or impressions.  She was bold, starving for attention, overweight, hurting and did not like to talk about feelings.  (Hmmm… maybe she wasn’t so different…).  She loved to eat, so much so, that I even talked to Mrs. Foster about my role in helping develop healthier eating patterns. 

As I got to know Blue, I could see that she was a girl with a twisting, winding, interesting story – one that I wanted to know better.  She would open up about her past – her family, her mother, her schools – and my heart would hurt.  There was one time that our church hosted a community meeting about drug use in our community.  One of the presenters had a display box with different types of drug paraphernalia.  Blue came to me and asked “Would you like to see all the stuff my mom used to do?”  She then proceeded to take me to that box and point and tell stories, one that included her box of Mr. Bubbles.

My belly was growing even bigger with Gorilla’s life and my relationship with Blue was growing too.  Little did I know God’s plan in it all.  I look back and think how interesting that my heart wasn’t just growing with love for one more child, but for two. 

Blue began to be a “youth helper” in the children’s ministry.  It was during that time, that Blue and Professor got to know each other.  I remember thinking that it was so great to watch them together.  They shared some interests, were able to have conversation and even interacted with each other at other opportunities in church.  Blue began to grow and slowly, the emotional weight that she carried began to lift.  Mrs. Foster would talk to me about the challenges she had with Blue.  Most of the time, I saw them as typical mother/teenager issues and would encourage her in her role in Blue’s life.  Sometimes, as I learned more of Blue’s story, I could see how her interactions with family were results of life history.  I prayed for Blue.  I talked with Blue.  I loved Blue.

Soon, Gorilla was born.  Life became inundated with caring for a newborn and 2 other children.  Mrs. Foster and Blue came to my house and brought a gift.  I remember Blue saying “We didn’t know he’d be so small!”  Gorilla wasn’t really that small, Blue had just never been around babies.

 Then the Fosters took in a teen mom and her baby.  Blue was NOT happy!

 To be continued…

 

 
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