I feel like an entire lifetime has passed since I last shared where we were in our foster to adopt journey. If you haven’t read the whole saga and are curious about how Dave and I found ourselves on this path you can read about it here.
When I last wrote about this process we were at the end of February and awaiting the day when all of our paperwork and application were officially approved so we could get our first foster care placement. Somehow, in my head I’d convinced myself that once we “pulled the trigger” they’d call us an hour later and say, Hey we have a baby when can we bring her over?
But of course, nothing goes exactly like you plan. It actually took close to three weeks for them to officially enter us into the system and it was disappointing to think that our paperwork was just sitting on a desk somewhere when there are kids who need a place to stay. But there was nothing we could do to control the situation so we just spent time with the boys and went on dates and tried to rest in the knowledge that it would all happen however it was supposed to.
This is the first year in at least ten that we haven’t hosted a big Easter lunch at our house. This is the first year in all my life that I didn’t spend Easter with all of my extended family. But this is also the first year that we have both felt so emotionally worn out. It’s strange to say that because we haven’t actually DONE anything. But three weeks into waiting for a call from our social worker on this #adoptionjourney is a lot more anxiety than I was expecting. I am a planner guys. I like to make lists. I like to have a schedule. I like to anticipate ALL the things. And that is absolutely impossible in this situation which is a lesson in patience and faith– and that lesson is wearing me out. And so we decided to give ourselves some grace. To accept that we didn’t have it in us to host this year… To be OK with not leaving town and just spending this holiday together. I don’t know how many more weekends we’ll have as a family of five but I am going to work on just being grateful for what we have today. Today we got to hug old friends and new friends at church. Today we got to go to the beach and play in the sand. Today is a blessing and when I start stressing about an unknown tomorrow I just focus on that.
The third week of March was when we got the call that we were official. That felt like a weight off my shoulders because at least now we were in the system and waiting for a call. It was so exciting! It was also stressful. I carried my phone with me everywhere and checked it obsessively. I was so anxious for an unknown number to pop up because I figured if I didn’t recognize the number it must be DCFS.
The first call came about a week later. I was driving home from work and I saw a number pop up I didn’t know. I answered the phone like a was disarming a bomb. They asked if I had a bed available and I told them yes. They said it’s for a newborn and I was like, absolutely! Then they said it was a boy. My heart sank. I wasn’t totally sure what I was supposed to do. Part of foster to adopt is the knowledge that the baby you’re accepting in foster care could maybe come up for adoption so you need to accept a baby that fits your adoption criteria. I had to say no and it made me sick to my stomach.
The next call came a week later. That time it was for a baby that was really far away from us and I wasn’t sure if I could say yes since I thought we needed to work with our local DCFS office. By the time I got a hold of someone to ask how the distance worked, they had found placement.
It started to really stress me out and a few days later I decided to go get a facial… a little moment for myself. It was the first time I hadn’t taken my phone with me in weeks. When I got out of that facial I had a voicemail about another baby girl but by the time I called back she’d been placed too.
This scenario happened six times over several weeks. It never once occurred to me that people would call us for a child that didn’t fit our licensing. They’d call and say, we have a 12 year old boy, do you have room? Every time I had to say no was sad. Every time the phone rang and it wasn’t DCFS felt like a big let down. My emotions were all over the place.
On April 17th I was getting ready for church when the phone rang. The worker asked if I had a bed available for a six year old boy and I told her I was sorry but that we weren’t licensed for that age. She asked what I was licensed for, I’ll tell all the other girls in the office who are looking for placements, she told me. I told her and got off the phone. About ten minutes later someone else called me about Birdie. I ran into the living room and grabbed Dave so we could listen together. That initial call had very little information. Her age and why she’d been detained. That was all we had to go on. I was totally panicked because I was supposed to leave the next morning for a business trip I couldn’t cancel. Dave just looked at me and said, We’ll make it work. So we said yes and then we ran to Target and bought items like we were on Supermarket Sweep. I threw anything I could think of in the cart and in retrospect I was a little out of it. I bought things for a newborn and things for a child much older. I couldn’t remember what kind of food you eat at that age or which clothes you wear. I bought a little bit of everything and hoped for the best. We waited all afternoon and around six that evening they drove up to our house with Birdie.
Look who arrived today!! I have no idea if she’ll be here for 2 weeks or a year. I have no idea of anything except that they called and asked us to take her and we said yes. Pray for us guys, and also, pray for her Mama who’s certainly going through a hard time right now and has to be missing this little bird. #HollisAdoption #fostertoadopt
A photo posted by Rachel Hollis (@msrachelhollis) on
That first night was pretty crazy. Not because of Birdie (because she’s the best!) but because I was so nervous. I felt like a new mom all over again because they literally handed me a baby I knew nothing about. I didn’t know what food she liked or what formula. Was she rocked to sleep or did she go down by herself? What were her favorite lullabies? Should I give her a bath or would that scare her? It was super overwhelming and all compounded by the fact that I had to leave the next morning at 5:45 to make my flight to New York!
For the last month I’ve been telling God, “We’re ready to have a baby, just not right before I have to go to New York Lord, you know I can’t get out of that contract!” Then yesterday someone called an told us about a baby girl that had nowhere else to go. And I looked at @sillohevad in a blind panic and he immediately said, “Of course we’ll take her, I’ll stay home until you get back.” Guys, do you know how many men would drop everything to take care of a baby they’ve known for less than a day? Do you know how fewer still the number is of big fancy Hollywood executives would make this choice without question so they can support their wife’s career? I can think of only one. So here I am at #LAX with my hair in a bun and I didn’t even remember to wear this month’s color and I’m tired and weepy and already wishing I was holding baby girl. But also, so damn blessed by this husband of mine who is a warrior for me and our family every single day. We don’t really know what we’re doing, or how to make it all work, but we’re in this together, all the way. #RachOnTheGo
I made it to New York and Dave sent me 9 million picture updates of him and baby girl. And then while I was there in the midst of filming I got a call from a social worker. He told me that Birdie had a big sister (not yet 2 years old) who they still hadn’t found a place for. I asked Dave to call him and by the time I landed back in LA we were seriously considering whether or not we should take big sister too. Our hesitation was for a couple of reasons. One, we had just gone from three kids to four and the idea of having five children– FIVE! seemed crazy. But more than that was this, the max we can have in our home is five which means that we wouldn’t be able to be in the adoption program while we had two foster kids. We were essentially choosing to hold off on our adoption in order to give both sisters a home and a chance to be reunited. And foster care doesn’t have any hard and fast end dates, we could essentially be signing on to delay our adoption for years.
We both agreed to think on it and pray about it and ultimately we came to the same decision. We had to get sister too. It was heart wrenching to know that she had no place to go when we are blessed with so much. And so, a few days after we took our first foster baby we started the process to get a second one. This process was surprisingly difficult and super frustrating. Nobody seemed to have any sense of urgency about helping us process the paperwork quickly. Nobody but us seemed to care that this little girl was getting lost in the system. It took two more weeks of paperwork and inspections and tears and phone calls and emails but finally, on May 5th they called to tell us that Scout was on her way to our house.
I will never, for as long as I live, forget the joy on this little girls face when they pulled up in front of our house today and she saw her sister for the first time in 3 weeks. When they called to tell us they were on the way with Scout I’d been sick in bed for two days. I think the stress of all the fighting to get them reunited finally caught up and I’m full blown antibiotics McGee. I feel like crud and the last two weeks of battling to get her have been absolutely brutal. But… she’s here. Thank you Lord, she finally has a soft place to land and all the graham crackers she can eat.
A photo posted by Rachel Hollis (@msrachelhollis) on
So it’s been exactly a week today since we’ve had both little girls in our house. Over the weekend Dave and I kept saying, I can’t believe we have five kids! It definitely feels daunting but not at all in the way I thought it would. When we agreed to do foster care my concern was always about the children themselves. I was worried about what their needs would be and whether or not I was capable of meeting them. But what I’ve discovered is that the girls are the easiest part of this whole process. They’re just babies and loving babies is something we were born to do. The rest of it? The paperwork and court ordered visits and social workers and all that… that is what’s stressful!
For now we’re just focusing on taking it one day at a time. I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know what hardships we’ll have or how many obstacles we’ll have to move around I only know that for right now these babies have a soft place to call their nest and once I focus on that, the rest of it doesn’t seem so daunting after all.