Well. Things have been all quiet on the Brimhall Front as of the last few weeks, haven't they?
BAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Let me tell you what. The blog is the ONLY thing that is quiet around here. I never ever in a million years knew how much a little six pound something could turn ones life upside down. And then came Izzie. ;-)
No, but in all seriousness, this is just a quick post to let you know we are still here and alive (a little like brainless zombies, but alive ;-), give you a brief explanation of where we are at in our adoption process with Isobel, and to share just one small precious story with you.
I don't know what day it is today (no, I'm not kidding), but just after Christmas and right before New Year's, we had our first court date that would determine whether or not we would be granted Temporary Custody of Izzie. When we left the hospital, the agency had legal guardianship, and we had what's called "Physical Custody." Without delving too deeply into all the complicated legal components, essentially, we are Izzie's foster parents and if we can become certified to adopt through the agency and the state, then we will pursue a finalized adoption placement to make her legally our daughter. There is a really long way to go before that can happen, and several uncertain factors in play, but the hearing for Temporary Custody was one very big first step in that process.
And so, we showed up to the Juvenile Court when it was super early and super dark and waited for our names to be called. After learning that we were waiting outside of the wrong courtroom, we were ushered in to stand before the Commissioner. We had been prepared by our attorney for what we should expect and the questions that may be asked, and most hugely and importantly in my mind, I had prepared as much as possible to speak to the incidents of my past. See. as much as I had planned to say all of this in another post in a much more put-together and intelligent way, I'm just going to take the opportunity to clumsily spit it out here. For anyone that has read any of my previous posts, you may or may not have caught that one of the reasons this journey has been such a huge leap of faith for us is that we face some very real legal challenges that are (from what we hear) pretty uncommon and highly uncertain. See. I mentioned I have a past. Past sin, past grief, past mistakes. But more plainly, I have a record. A legal history. And even though my intended story here is digressing just a bit, I knew when I was taking out the trash a few days ago, that the Lord was compelling my heart to spell things out a little more clearly to those who were following us on this journey to adopt Isobel. Why? Why get into it? Why put that out there? Yes, it was a long time ago. Yes, God has redeemed my mistakes and my life, and I live a life of freedom, standing in the truth that I am whole, redeemed, and forgiven. But. Because. Because I am desperate. Desperate to explain. To really explain. What God is doing. To help you understand. That these things? These moments? These milestones through the most complicated of legal red tape? Folks. They are miracles. They are bona fide, Divine, from the Lord miracles. And there is no other explanation. They are not because Jesse and I are good people. Or because we have been through so much and we deserve this child. Or because everything always turns out pretty for people like us. They are because we serve a God who performs major true miracles and moves mountains to bless us and grace us with gifts that we do not deserve.
And so. When I tell you that we stood before the commissioner a few weeks ago. Fully prepared and trying to be okay with the fact that due to my history, she might very well determine that I would be an unfit parent and declare that Izzie needed to go to another family instead, but that not only did she grant us temporary custody, but she exclaimed multiple times how much she loved our story, and that even though the legal consequences of my past mistakes were both included in the petition and stated for the record that morning, she did not bat an eye, when she called Izzie a blessing, wished us congratulations, and granted the motion.
And now maybe you understand a little more why we were so stunned. Why we are trying so very hard to hold this child with an open hand. Why each step in the legal process is just another piece of tangible proof that our God is all-powerful. And why we are so very grateful to have another day with this baby who fell from the sky and into our arms. Does God have her for us forever? Will she have our last name and be raised in our home as our daughter? I don't know. And the bottom line is that no one can say one way or the other. "Why would God do all of this and so clearly orchestrate this whole story only to take her away?" I don't know exactly. And yes, of course I believe that He can continue the miracles and that Isobel can be ours to raise as our own. It's just that I don't know if that's what He has. His ways are not our ways and His timeline is not our timeline. He is continuing to weave the tapestry that has nothing to do with our happiness and everything to do with bringing honor and glory to His name. And so, He will allow whatever it is that does that the most, whether that means we are able to keep her, or we are not. And we will do our very very best to hold her with an open hand, always remembering that whether she came from our bodies or not, she does not belong to us and is on loan from the Lord. And if He chooses another path for her life and for our lives, we will try our very very hardest to always give Him the praise and the credit for all that has been done in His power already. His promise to us is not that the path will always be easy, clear, or light, but that we will never walk it alone. And until such a time as that path is revealed, we hope, and we pray, and we wait, and we love the tar out of this little girl the very best that we can and trust that regardless of the outcome of this chapter in our lives, God is faithful and His promise never to abandon us is just as true today as it was yesterday.
So, what's next? Well, our agency worker has been here A LOT because they are trying to condense a 4 month home study process into just a few weeks. We have another visit with her on Thursday, and then we begin our 7 week series of adoption classes. The home study report will be written by our social worker, staffed with her peers, and once complete, will hopefully make the recommendation to the court that we be certified as adoptive parents. The current court date set for that is 3/31/15. You have all been extravagantly generous with your prayer and your gifts and so if you would like to continue to pray us through this journey, the specific things you can lift up are as follows:
- our birth mom starts back to school tomorrow and is waiting to hear on the outcome of a job interview from last week that will be a very good opportunity for her. She will also begin grief counseling in the next week. She is doing okay but is, of course, grieving and hurting.
- a major legal hurdle that we are praying the Lord grants is my fingerprint clearance. Without going into detail, if you could pray that would come through and come through quickly, that would be huge.
- our hope is that the agency will make the final recommendation to the court that we be certified to adopt. At this point, they have given us a great deal of positive and hopeful feedback, so we are hopeful
- the last and in our minds biggest legal hurdle prior to finalization is that the state commissioner will consider all of these things presented and grant us adoption certification. Again, the hearing date has been set for 3/31 but depending on paperwork and the fingerprint clearance, that could change.
- I have one week left off of work before I have to go back because I'm not yet eligible to take FMLA. I have not even begun to deal with the thought of this, but selfishly I ask you to pray for me as I will have to begin to come to grips with that very shortly.
Again, if any of these things fall through, the agency will have no choice but to place Isobel with another family who is certified to adopt and the birth mother will get to choose who that is. This thought is never far from our minds, so if we seem hesitant to plan much for the future, please bear with us, grace us, and understand that it has nothing to do with our belief in God's power, simply that there is so much uncertainty and we are using everything we have in our minds and our hearts to 100% be Izzie's mom and dad while we have her. We are hopeful there will be time for the rest later.
I'm sure there's more that I meant to say and that I want to say, but I fear that my brain may already been smoking just a little from overuse. Unless it involves counting ounces or diapers, it hasn't been used much lately ;-) As an example, I just went into the hallway for a moment and was confused as to why when I'm home alone with the baby and haven't cooked in weeks, my house suddenly smells like Mexican food. And then I remembered I put something in the crockpot hours ago that I completely forgot about. :-) :-)
You have all been so generous. So hugely over the top generous. We have all that we need right now to take care of Isobel, and more. Please bear with us and hang tight as we owe A LOT of thank you notes and and a massively overdue puzzle piece update to you. We have not forgotten about you, we promise!
Someday I hope to come back here and recount ALL of the gifts that we have been given these past weeks. Each one has been more meaningful to us that we can really say. Truly. But until then, I want to leave you with a sneak peek at just one. Someday, I hope we can have a baby shower or a gotcha party and we can display this for all to see. You may or may not remember me mentioning that our beloved birth mom is actually adopted and it was very very important to her that we get a copy of "Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born" and read it to Izzie, just as her adoptive mom had done for her when she was growing up. We of course did that, but the week after Izzie came home, we got this. One of my dearest of friends and fellow bereaved momma, Karen, the same friend who called me to tell me about Isobel only 8 weeks before she was to be born, adapted the book into a personalized version, just for Izzie. My pictures don't do it justice, but I trust your heart will be touched deeply, as were ours. We read this to her now and if we are able to keep her, will use this as a precious way to always explain and remind her how deeply deeply loved she really is.
More to come...