The Court Date

We are headed off to Chuck E. Cheese in just a minute but I wanted to share the good news with those without Facebook that everything is done–he’s officially a Bennett!

I have more to share later (update below) and I’ll update this post, but celebration first!

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Some reflection 12 hours later:

Amy J. Bennett

I was a wreck this morning before court. Mostly, I was nervous about speaking on the stand. I understood that it was in a small room, it was very casual and the only people in there would be my family, DSS case workers and the necessary court people, but still, something about speaking publicly and on record about a topic so close to my heart made me nauseous.

And certainly, I was nervous the necessary paperwork wouldn’t come together.  We had pushed for a date before Christmas so I knew everyone was scrambling. I got phone calls throughout the week that things were behind or dates were on record in error.

Also, in the far-reaching corners of my mind, I had visions of his extended birth family showing up to protest. It’s nearly impossible as it’s a closed adoption, but still. You know how your brain can do that to you sometimes.

And then, in the first 10 minutes of court, my nervousness seemed justified.  The judge had 3 items that weren’t right.  First, a document was missing.  My heart sank. Immediately, I was making plans in my mind on how to deal with having to extend the hearing. Our case worker jumped in and the piece of paper came through.

Then another document was missing. The judge said it wasn’t with his papers. The attorney, baffled, searched through his paperwork to no avail.  He turned to the DSS workers who had nothing.  The attorney finally had to ask for the case to be kept open until the piece of paperwork could be supplied. The attorney explained he’d never not had a document before.

Then, some dates had been messed up. Thankfully, the judge accepted the documentation with the explanations provided

I was sweating through the whole thing. I knew the paperwork didn’t feel right this week. I’m so thankful for an attorney that thought quick on his feet and a merciful judge.

Finally, he said everything was together, even though it took a few painful minutes to get there. I think we were all holding our breath.

And then, seconds later he called me to the stand.  Let me tell you, that was not a good moment to call me to the stand.

He asked for pertinent information first, which I was expecting, except suddenly I felt like my brain had been wiped clean.  I had to search it really hard to be able to state my full name, birthday and location. I’ve never experienced something so nerve-wracking that such basic information was difficult to recall.

And then, he asked me to introduce my entire family to everyone—something they had not prepped me for!  I was crying by the time I got around to everyone, so overwhelmed at all the support, which made everyone else cry. I hadn’t planned on crying, but there the bailiff was handing me tissues!

Next he asked me to describe my relationship with Jacob for the last few months. What? Another question I had not been prepped for! I really don’t remember if I made any sense. I think I said something about praying for him for several years, being excited for him to be placed and seeing him as a son from the get-go and looking forward to the future.

I had to then answer a bunch of yes/no questions about whether I truly understand what adoption meant—yes, sir I did.

And finally, when the attorney was done, I sighed some relief and then the judge said he had a question. What?! I was not prepared for that either!

He said, “If I grant this adoption decree today, would this be the best Christmas present ever?”

YES, SIR.

I was able to get off the stand and Scott got on.  The attorney basically just asked him if he’d heard and agreed with everything I’d just said! Lucky dog got off easy!  Scott is in court all the time for his job though, so he wasn’t nervous even a little bit anyway.

The guardian ad litem from DSS also testified and it was so sweet what she said.  She said something like  I’ve done a lot of cases over the years, but there’s something special about this one. I talked with Scott and Amy and then with Jacob. He understands what a mom and dad means and he sees Scott and Amy as his mom and dad and it is my heartfelt recommendation that you grant this adoption.

What wonderful words to hear!

The judge said he agreed and had in fact already signed the decree during my testimony.

How much I loved hearing him say that no one or nothing could undo what was being done today and that from here on out, he was J@cob Bennett.

We were all smiles and maybe a few more tears as we took pictures and awaited the final paperwork.  And, as it turned out, that one piece of missing paperwork was at the clerk of court so everything was there after all and done, done today.

Jacob didn’t show too much emotion except when Scott called him Mr. Bennett as we walked out of court and I saw a little smile escape.

I think we’ve all been feeling the relief though as we’ve all had a really good day all day.  We enjoyed (as much as a parent can) lunch and a few hours at Chuck E. Cheese.

I took the dog for a walk when we got home. The day was beautiful and I wondered if I might see any feathers. I didn’t and as I walked, I just had this sense that I didn’t need to see one.  I felt like I had walked through a fire, if you will, and now a different person had emerged. I had received the comfort that I needed and learned what it really meant to need that and receive it. I imagined it much like the end of the movie with the shot after the storm. The sun has come out and everyone is hugging each other tight and seeing hope for tomorrow. The credits rolls and everyone moves on.

Even though it has been only hours, it does feel different.  There’s a peace in my mind that wasn’t there before. When I begin to worry, I can now think no one can do anything now! It’s a very reassuring thought when familiar doubts try to come my way.

I know this feels much like the end of a journey as things are finalized, but the reality is this is just the beginning. I can’t wait to see what God has in store.

 

The Court Date is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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Three Days and Counting

I know many of us are counting down to Christmas. Ten days to go! But in our household, another countdown has been ticking. Three days left now until our court date.

I think a lot of people celebrate “gotcha day”–the day the child comes to live with them and the court date is just a footnote. And hear me, August 7th will be well-celebrated and cherished for the rest of our lives. But, for some reason we’ve all been holding our breath for our court date when the adoption is final and he gets our last name. Maybe because Jacob put so much stock in it. Or maybe because we were still having visits from DSS and it all felt a little like a trial period–is this all going to work or fall apart?

Four months in now, as we stare down this day, it’s starting to become real. I liken it to getting engaged. You know it’s all going to happen, you love that person and every plan that can be made for forever is being made, but until you say “I do” and that pesky question about whether someone wants to stop the whole thing is met with silence, it doesn’t feel done.

And that’s what I hope this Thursday brings–the security of knowing DSS is out of the picture (sorry, DSS, we do appreciate you), documents are filed away, new documents are created, last names are changed, and the sense that finally everyone is in 110%–legally–just like we have been this whole time.

I’m praying for Jacob–and I hope you do too–that God gives him just what he needs this week. It’s hard to say what that might be. Maybe an acceptance of leaving his old name, maybe just an extra dose of security and peace, maybe some love for us and hopefully a lot of joy–a whole lot of joy. I know he has some angst about leaving his old name as excited as he is about his new one. I can’t imagine what’s going through his head. Even as an adult, it’s so much to comprehend. I guess most of all I just want him to feel that he’s loved and accepted and that his future is full of hope and redemption.

Would you also pray for my girls? They have been such troopers these last months. Change is hard for any kid, but this is at the top of the “Hard Things Kids Might Go Through” list. They’ve experienced all sorts of emotions and continue to and my prayer for them is simply that love, compassion and acceptance overwhelm them. And yes, some joy too, please.

Some prayers for me and Scott as we continue to navigate this new family of ours wouldn’t hurt either.

Thank you, friends, for being on this journey with us. I feel so much like you are an extension of our family and your support means the world.

Three Days and Counting is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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Feathers and Loaves and Fishes

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I was fixing coffee in the kitchen tonight while everyone gathered for our small group that we host each Thursday night. I heard Scott greet a couple coming in, Dave and Nikki, who have just returned from a trip to Jerusalem. I had wondered if they were going to come as they had just returned at 2am last night. In fact, I told Scott earlier today that I hoped they come so we could see them, but also hoped they stayed home to rest.

I turned from the kitchen counter to go to the living room and greet them. Nikki met me on the way and had something wrapped in a towel in her hand. She stopped in front of me and took a feather from the towel and held it up in front of me. She says, “This is from the shores of the Sea of Galilee.” Well, I don’t know what came over me exactly, but I nearly burst into tears.  I mean, what? A feather from the SEA OF GALILEE?  Where Jesus fed the multitudes??

I just can’t even.  A feather from all the way around the world, from my friends who were so very busy with plans of their own and thought to bring it all the way back.  And more than that, really from My Savior in a place where He performed a miracle.  Tears overwhelm me now writing this. He’s so, so good to me.

After everyone left for the evening tonight, I spent a few minutes going back to that story in Scripture where he stood at the Sea of Galilee and fed the multitudes to see if God would have anything to say to me. (Except, of course, hello, I brought a feather to you from my place).

And guys, then it hit me.  Our court date is in 7 days.  7!  Of course it is not an accident that she gave me this feather today!

Cue more tears.

And so I started in on the story.  A crowd has followed Jesus to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee.  He tests his disciples and asks how they will feed them all.  In one account, they are distraught because they don’t have enough money. Jesus tells them to go get what they have. A boy has some loaves and fish. You are probably familiar with the story. Jesus performs a miracle and ends up feeding 5,000 men and what is thought to be thousands more women and children.

As I was reading tonight, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper that these words were for me too.  I have felt so entirely inadequate with this adoption.  Just in Monday’s post I was writing about how I am not patient enough or loving enough or compassionate enough, or organized enough or whatever it might be.  And God says, “Yes, I know.”  And he replaces the words that were penned so long ago. “Jesus then took Amy’s loaves–the small, imperfect efforts to love her family–, he gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.  When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.'”

And I feel it. Yes, Jesus will take my small offering and multiply it, He will feed the multitudes with our small efforts and nothing–not one thing–will be wasted.

Maybe the multitudes that are fed by our efforts are you reading now or maybe the multitudes are our future generations down Jacob’s family line.  Maybe both.

So many more tears.

We talked tonight at group about the book of Ruth.  Naomi lost so much–her husband and two sons.  And we talked about how if she’d only known that all her suffering would be redeemed so that her lineage would lead to Jesus, maybe she wouldn’t have been so bitter at all. And what a reminder it is to us today–to me today, even when we don’t see God working or when it seems that times are hard that God is still at work.  He does redeem and when we are His, not one ounce of suffering is wasted.

He can take our good, our bad, our not enough, our too much and turn it into a miracle.

And then, just as my heart is overflowing, God tips it over again as I realize that the loaves were numbered 5 and then fishes were 2.  Seven pieces of offering given for the miracle. There’s a miracle coming.  I just know it.

Feathers and Loaves and Fishes is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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Me, Mine and Ours

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About a week ago in my journal, I was writing out some prayers for each of my kids concerning our family. When I got to Jacob, I prayed for more trust, more love and more bonding. Specifically, that he would begin finding ownership in our relationships and our environment. No longer would we be just parents, but his parents. And no longer would it be the house, but our house; no longer the pool, but my pool. I really couldn’t explain why, but I just knew I wanted to be able to hear that he felt like we were his.

Looking back, just a week later, I can relate it to a few things. Like, how you felt about your first car. You’re no longer getting in the car, it’s my car. And that means you make rules about it (no food in my car!), you’re the one responsible for watching the gas gauge (time to get gas again?!), you’re the one that washes it. I remember one of Scott’s first trucks he faithfully washed and waxed every Saturday. It was his truck. He owned it and loved it.

Or, do you remember the first time you got a boyfriend and he called you “my girlfriend”? Swoon. Or when you got engaged and for the first time you said “my fiance” instead of my boyfriend? Or even, when you first got married and said, “my husband?” So weird, right?! There’s something sacred about naming these things in our lives. It shows a special bond, a special type of ownership to the relationship like none other.

And I so wanted that for Jacob. I wanted all of us and all the things we consider ours, to be his.

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The other day his friend from down the street knocked on our door after school for Jacob to come outside and play, but he couldn’t so I whispered behind the door that I was leaving soon and he couldn’t go out. So, Jacob told his friend, “I can’t come out because my mom is leaving in a few minutes.”

And there it was, the phrase I had not yet heard and just prayed to hear just days before, “my mom.” I still grin even typing it. I love that out of all the possible ones, I heard ownership of our relationship first.

I’m very sure he’s said it before at school and I know others have referred to me as his mom even in front of me. But that was the first time I had heard him say “my mom” to someone else in front of me.

I’m not really sure if he had any other choice of what to call me in the moment. He couldn’t have said, “the mother in the house is leaving and I can’t come out,” or even “Amy is leaving so I can’t.” I’m not really sure if there was a choice, but even so, just hearing it phrased like that was something special to me.

In the past months, that phrase “my mom” has been spoken to me many times from him, but always about his birth mother and always in a negative way. Like, “MY MOM always let me do what I want” or “MY REAL MOM taught me to tie my shoes.” Really, I cannot blame him in the least bit for these feelings, but also, it stung a bit too. So, it was such a gift to hear him refer to me with these specific words.

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Today, I was reading the Advent entry from The Greatest Gift and Ann Voskamp was focusing on the Ten Commandments and how they are an invitation to relationship with God and with others. She says:

God knows we wander, and He woos again and again, all through the commandments: “I am the Lord Your God, the Lord Your God, the Lord Your God.” You are mine. Make Me Yours. Am I Yours?

And I realized that this desire for this ownership is an invitation to a loving relationship. I’m desiring it with Jacob and it’s a picture of what God is desiring with me and with you. He doesn’t want to just be a god, He wants to be my God. He doesn’t just want to be a Messiah, He wants to be my Savior. He doesn’t want me to talk about heaven, but my heavenly home.

I was challenged to take some ownership in my relationship with God today. How do I speak about Him to others? How do I think about Heaven, the kingdom, the body of Christ? Do I take ownership of it? Is it mine?

It is and I’ve been wooed today into claiming it for what it is. He’s my God, my Savior come to love and save me and I’m looking forward to my heavenly home.

How about you?

Me, Mine and Ours is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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ADHD and Adoption

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Jacob and Lexi working on their rainbow looms

It’s so funny as the weeks go by, when I look back, I can see where I’m riding a rollercoaster of emotions.  It’s a cross between that and a game of whack-a-mole.  Some issue pops up–it’s like we hop on the ride.  We go up, up, up where the issue gets worse and worse and my emotions get worse and worse. Then, we find a way to resolve it, and down we go until that issue is over and we hop off the ride until new something new pops up.

Last week’s issue was Jacob’s ADHD diagnosis. I haven’t talked a lot about this here on the blog.  Some because of his privacy issues and some because I don’t feel like after 4 months I’m any expert.  But, what I realized at the end of last week is that after sifting through all of our issues for 4 months (yesterday was the exact day!) that ADHD is the main issue we continue to deal with.  And that means we will likely continue to deal with this for years to come.  And that thought totally overwhelmed me.

When we adopted, I was fully prepared (ok, as much as possible) to deal with adoption transition issues.  I didn’t actually know what that looked like, but I knew it would be a bumpy road to integrate a new person into the family. But, at some point, we would adjust and move on. What I didn’t expect was an ongoing medical issue that we would need to deal with for years to come.  They told us he had ADHD before we adopted him–he was diagnosed at a very young age–but in my ignorance about ADHD and exuburance to adopt, it was nothing more than a footnote. Oh, ADHD, no big deal!  Scott has ADHD and we will manage fine.

I’ve come to realize that a child with ADHD is much different than an adult with ADHD and the effects of ADHD on family life is quite remarkable.

I feel like I’ve been baptized in the ADHD world these past months.  I’ve done more learning on ADHD than any adoption issue we’ve had.  I don’t know everything, but I have learned.

For those that aren’t aware, ADHD is just what it says–an attention disorder.  It’s not that a person with ADHD can’t concentrate; in fact, they can concentrate very well when they want to, it’s just that the concentration is never consistent. Here are some other ways ADHD has been impacting us:

  • Argumentativeness.  People with ADHD often like to argue (I’m generalizing here). Their brains enjoy the stimulation and will often become addicted to arguing and will pick a fight just to start an argument.  This has been by far the biggest impact to our family. The arguments have been about the silliest things and will escalate when they really shouldn’t.  And when you have two people in your family with ADHD and another with a need to be always be right, well, you can imagine some of the “discussions” around here. As a person that hates confrontation, even if I’m not a part of it, it stresses me to no end.
  • Impulsivity. Impulsivity is a hallmark symptom of ADHD and it affects all environments.  People with ADHD will often do what they want to do when they want to do it without thought to consequence.  This has caused all sorts of issues both at home and school. He’s going to say whatever he things, hit whatever he wants and throw whatever he wants to throw, whenever he wants to do it. There’s also problems with waiting turns and delaying responses which is FUN with 3 kids.
  • Inattention. They’re easily distracted from the task at hand and when you’re trying to integrate someone into your family and learn morning routines, etc, it’s hard when the dog walks by or a phone rings–it can throw everything into sorts. Forgetfulness is also an issue here. It’s difficult (read: impossible) to give out a list of things to do and see it done. Almost everything gets lost. Tasks are forgotten. So much attention goes to getting him to pay attention.

All of this adds up to another 8 layers of difficulty in integrating a person into your family.  Anyone with kids with ADHD knows it’s hard work. Bless you, friends.  I really didn’t understand the struggle.

And so, at the end of last week, when I realized that a lot of our issues are not rooted in adoption transition issues at this point, but ADHD issues, I guess in a way I had to go through a bit of grieving process.  And that sounds terrible, like I was regretting adopting Jacob and that’s not what I mean at all.  I think what it means is that I had to recognize what our true issues were and then come to terms with it–I had to get fed up and angry over it and then accept that that is just part of him and that’s ok.

But, you know. God is so good.  Truly. I got to the end of my rope on this on Saturday.  And then Sunday’s Advent reading was about Abraham and Isaac and how he provided the ram for the sacrifice.  God is Provider. God just washed over me the comforting knowledge that he would help us through this.

The truth is I am not capable of handling it. I do not have enough love, enough compassion, enough patience to parent Jacob, or any of my children.  But God can supernaturally give me those qualities and guide us to the knowledge we need on how to cope, and even thrive, with ADHD.

Even Saturday night I “happen” to start a conversation at a Christmas party with a couple who are essential oil folks and we were able to chat about some success stories about oils for kids with ADHD.  It’s little things like that where I know God is providing answers for us.  Not all at once, but like stepping stones.

Parenting is a hard gig no matter what, but God is greater and can provide all our needs.

Those of you familiar with ADHD, I’d love to know about any resources, occupational therapy, supplements, oils–anything–that have worked for you. Talk to me!

ADHD and Adoption is a post from: Amy J. Bennett

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