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I’m not one who often talks about God and my faith in a very public setting, but I’m about to get a little preachy today.

At church this morning, we heard about God’s callings in our lives and the need to obey immediately when he calls us to do something.  I’m pretty sure I speak for many of us when I say that this idea of obeying immediately takes us all way out of our comfort zones.  I’m a planner, an organizer, a thinker.  I don’t do anything immediately.  Spontaneous is not a word in my vocabulary.  I want to come up with a five year plan, do lots of analyzing to determine if it really fits in my life and “makes sense”, figure out my plans B and C in case this idea doesn’t work and then I might be ready to act on the idea.  Next thing you know, it’s been 10 years and you are still trying to figure out how to put that calling into action.  Sound familiar?

What makes this idea of obeying immediately such an act of trust is that when God speaks to us, it isn’t usually in the form of a perfectly explained plan.  Jesus is walking on water and he says just one word to Peter: “Come”.  And Peter trusts him and obeys after hearing just that one simple word.  He doesn’t wait for a careful explanation.  He doesn’t sit and devise a well thought out plan on how he is going to accomplish this feat.  Jesus says “come” and Peter steps out of the boat.

This got me thinking about my calling to become a foster mom.  To many (including myself at the beginning), it sounded like a ridiculous decision.  I will be honest, when I made the commitment last fall to become a single foster mom, my life was not in the perfect place to begin this journey.  Leaping into a huge life-changing decision like this without being completely prepared is just not me.  Financially, emotionally, spiritually, physically, I was not ready to become a foster mom AT ALL.  There was so much work to be done in so many areas of my life.  But I strongly felt God’s calling in just one word: “Parent”.  I knew he was calling me to become a parent in some way and he was calling me NOW.

I could have easily spent the next several years getting all of these aspects of my life in order and then began pursuing the licensing process.  But God was calling me now and so I uncharacteristically acted right then.  I’m not saying I didn’t put a lot of thought and prayer into this decision but what I’m saying is this.  I knew this is what God wanted me to do so I did it.  I didn’t wait for the perfect moment.  I placed some trust in Him and started the process.

There are many times in my life when I have set a goal and not achieved it.  There are many times I have come up with an idea, pursued it and then quit when things got hard or they didn’t seem to be going as I anticipated.  So for me to take on a task so huge, so challenging as becoming a single foster mom and to see it through to the end has shown me clearly that God is with me on this journey.  This has been the hardest journey of my life.  It’s been emotional.  It’s been physically exhausting.  It’s been financially challenging.  I’ve worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to make this dream come true (I still don’t know how I survived those 6 months working 3 jobs to get my finances in order).  But I did it.  I never quit.  My drive to reach this goal never faltered.  And I’m not saying that to brag because if you know me personally, you know I’m not one to put myself in the spotlight.  I’m saying that to show that God is at work.  He’s the reason I’ve accomplished this.

So my request to you today is to take some time and listen to what God is calling you to do.  Listen for that one word.  Stay.  Go.  Start.  Stop.  Write.  Love.  Trust.  And act on it NOW.  I can’t promise it will be easy but I can promise you will find happiness, peace and fulfillment in it.

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I know, I know, it wasn’t that long ago that I was complaining about how I felt this process was never going to end.  Well, I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now and I’m having trouble containing my excitement!  So, here’s the latest on where I am in the process:

  • Completed home study visit #3 this morning.  Next one is scheduled for next week.  There should be only one more after that which will take place some time in mid-August.
  • Fire marshal inspection and health department inspection will take place next week.
  • CPR class is scheduled for mid-August.
  • References have been/are being contacted now.

That’s it!  I will have some more homework to do after the next visit and more paperwork (surprise, surprise!) but basically by mid-August, everything will be complete and it will just be a matter of waiting for my home study to be written, submitted and approved!  Hard to believe that I could possibly be licensed in 6 weeks or so.  I’m so thrilled!  I got goosebumps when she started explaining the adoption process to me during the visit this morning.  Still can’t believe this dream is coming true.

In the meantime, life is insane and I’ve got a million things to get done.  Lots to do around the condo before those fire and health inspections next week.  I have to purchase and install a new smoke detector, move all chemicals to high locked cabinets (which requires rearranging many kitchen cabinets), diagram my fire escape plan and so much more.  Plus, I still have more painting to do in the nursery before I can get that room reassembled and figure out how to make this ever growing pile of baby gear fit into closets and drawers in an organized and accessible manner.

Lots on my mind, lots on my “to do” list but oh so very exciting!

PS- Pics of the nursery coming soon once I can get it put back together but here’s a sneak peak of the new wall color.  I absolutely love it!  After much searching, I found the true gray color I wanted.  It’s “gray horse” by Benjamin Moore color matched to Valspar Optimus in Eggshell.  (A little piece of advice if you decide to use this paint, please ignore the paint salesman and online reviews that will tell you this will cover perfectly in one coat.  It definitely requires two coats.  I learned that the hard way this week.)

paint color

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I feel like this licensing process is never ending!  I started this journey with an orientation back in October.  At that orientation, they told me I wouldn’t start classes until March.  I was so frustrated.  March felt like it was decades away and would never get here.  Why couldn’t we start now?  But, of course, March did come and before I knew it, I was done classes and starting my paperwork.

Time is moving extremely slowly again now that I am in the middle of my home study.  I know the end is in sight but it just can’t come fast enough.  I’m so ready to be a foster mom.  This is going to sound so cheesy but every night before I go to bed, I walk into the nursery, look at the crib and dream of the day when there is a baby in there.  I know that dream is only a couple months away from becoming a reality but a few months feels too long.  I’m just so excited!  I don’t want to wait any longer for this dream to come true!

So, where do I stand in the process right now and what’s left?

  • I’ve had 2 home study visits with my resource home worker.  Both went well and my next one will be in 2 weeks.  I will have 4-6 visits total with her, each several weeks apart.
  • The requests have been made for the health department and fire department home inspections.  I’m waiting for them to call me and schedule those appointments.
  • All paperwork has been submitted (2 huge stacks of forms complete!)
  • I’m waiting for her to schedule our CPR/first aid certification class.  That should be booked soon.
  • My resource home worker will be reaching out some time this month to numerous friends and family to check my references.

That’s it!  Such a short list, I know, but it feels a mile long when you are so eager to be done.  In the meantime, I’ll just keep re-organizing baby supplies, cleaning, and decorating the nursery.  Yep, nesting at its best.

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This week, I begin the final stage of my process to become a foster mom…the home study.  Over the next few months, my resource home worker will be making regular visits to assess my home and interview me.  She will be asking detailed questions about every aspect of my current life as well as my childhood.  We’ve been told to prepare for it to get very invasive.  In addition, she will be talking with my some of my friends and family to further learn about me.

She will also be informing me of changes that need to be made to my home (baby-proofing, etc) and then will check to ensure it has been completed in later visits.   There will also be home inspections by the health department and fire department.  Oh, and I still need to take a CPR and first aid certification class and will have two more packets of paperwork to complete.  So close yet so far!

The process is lengthy (on purpose) and honestly, at this point, I’m just ready for it to be done.  I understand why they need to do all of this.  It’s for the safety of the children.  But when you know you are an honest, caring person who will provide a safe and loving home for these children, it’s hard to be patient after a while.  I just want to get started!

Do I have everything I need to care for a child?  Absolutely not!  There’s still soooo much I need to do/buy/borrow.  So, I’m not actually prepared for a baby to enter my home at this point at all.  But I am ready for that baby.  I’m ready to be a mom.

A friend sent me an article today that profiled a long time foster parent.  In the article this mom mentioned that she felt being a foster parent was her life calling, that her role as a mother was what she did best.  Although I’m not a mom yet, that’s definitely how I feel.  I know this is what I am meant to do.  My years at Chara gave me a small glimpse into the world of foster care with infants and toddlers.  And I cherished every minute of it (even the moments that were frustrating or sad or scary).  The rewards far outweighed any of the hard times.  When I was at Chara with those kiddos, there was no other place in the world I wanted to be.  I knew this was what God was calling me to do, and I still feel that way.

But as I get closer to being approved, there is some definite fear that has set in.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still lots of joyful anticipation and there are many days when you can’t wipe the smile off my face I’m so excited.  But there are also moments when I’m terrified (as I’m guessing all soon-to-be parents feel at some point before the baby comes).  Never doubting that this is the right decision, but just worrying, “how am I going to do this?”.  Becoming a mom (even though I may only be a temporary mom for these kiddos) is scary!  Exciting but scary!

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Don’t let the title of this post fool you.  I LOVE shopping for baby supplies!  Absolutely love it!  But for someone who likes to do research before making a decision on a product, creating a baby registry can drive you crazy.  There’s so many products out there and for every product that someone loves, someone else will tell you it’s the worst product ever.  Let’s just say you can easily get a little (or a lot) obsessive and frustrated over the research. 🙂  So, to keep my sanity, I have convinced myself that my registry is officially done.  No more research, no more changes.

When you are fostering, it’s not quite as easy to shop as when you are pregnant or adopting.  At any given moment, I could find out I have a tiny newborn coming or a rambunctious toddler.  And I’m not going to know days or weeks in advance that they are coming.  I’ll be lucky to get a few hours advanced notice.  So, I need to have way more supplies on hand than a typical mom would have.  Nothing about foster parenting is “easy”.  But so worth it!

So, I’m working on selling furniture (anyone want a hutch or a bookcase?), continuing to figure out other items that I can part with and creating as much space as I can for all of the nursery furniture and baby gear that will soon fill my home.  Just thinking about that puts a huge smile on my face.  There are certain parts of this process that I have just been looking forward to and dreaming about for such a long time.  One of those is the day I walk into what is currently my guest bedroom and see a nursery instead.  It already makes me happy just seeing the baby supplies starting to piling up in there.  I just can’t wait to have furniture and decorations in there to make it an actual nursery.  It really will be a dream come true!

Foster parenting, especially as a single mom. is going to teach me many skills.  And I know one of those skills is to be comfortable with asking for, and accepting, help.  So, I’m working on that skill already.  I was telling a friend recently that it makes me uncomfortable sharing my registry when people ask about it.  I’m the one who made the choice to foster.  I should be responsible for buying what I need to care for these children.  I’m used to be very independent.  However, you can’t be independent as a foster parent.  Your entire role is to work with a team of people to raise this child.  So, I shouldn’t feel guilty about letting friends and family buy items for the nursery when they genuinely want to do it, right?

So for all of you who have asked…here is my registry: http://babyli.st/burdette

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Preparing to be a foster parent is a unique situation.  It’s not like pregnancy when you know in 40 weeks you will have a newborn in your arms.  While I have a general timeline to go by, I have no idea when I will officially be licensed and no idea how long I will wait after that before I get a placement.  And even then, I have no idea what age the child will be who comes through my door (my age range is newborn – 18 months).  It’s a lot of unknowns and for someone who always wants to plan way in advance, this is teaching me many lessons.

I have always been content with the idea of not having biological children.  I can love a child who doesn’t have my genes just as much as one who does.  That has never been an issue for me.  From the moment I first walked through the doors at Chara, I’ve had a special place in my heart for fostering and adoption.  So while I am completely confident and comfortable with my decision to not have a biological child, it turns out I’m not ok with not being pregnant.  I didn’t anticipate that I would feel like I am “missing out” on something by not experiencing pregnancy.

Let’s face it, I’m at an age where many of my peers are having children.  They get to see their waists grow, hear their baby’s heartbeat, bond with other expectant moms over discussions of heartburn and cravings, and count down the days until they will have that child in their arms.  It’s not that I am upset I won’t have a child of my own (and I’m definitely fine with missing out on labor and delivery).  Even though I am taking a different path, I will have the same end result, a beautiful baby in my arms who needs my love and caring.  I just don’t know when I get to experience that end result and for how long.  It’s a very different journey to that endpoint and I feel like I am missing out on the “typical” journey to parenthood.

And there are frequent reminders that I am doing things differently.  On a foster parenting Facebook group I belong to, there was a rather heated discussion today when one woman made a comment that “you are foster parents, not family” in response to a woman’s post that she was sad to see her 1 year old foster son leaving to go live with a relative.

It’s a painful statement and as you can imagine, many of us were hurt and offended by it.  Yes, we all understand that these children are not “ours”.  Yes, we know that the goal is for each child that enters our home to be reunited with their family at some point if at all possible.  Yes, we know we are not the biological parents.  But this child is in my care.  It is my responsibility to keep them safe, show them love and help them reach milestones.  You don’t think I take that role seriously?  Officially, I am not his/her mom but you better believe I am loving these children and raising them as if they are “mine”.  Do you not think these children deserve to be loved and treated as if they were our own?  And is it no ok to be sad when we say goodbye to that child.  We know that it is for the best but we still have to grieve the loss.

This is not an easy journey.  But I still feel 100% confident that this is my life calling and I am eager for each next step that gets me closer to that first placement.  While many women are looking forward to their next ultrasound to mark their progress, I’m eagerly awaiting PRIDE classes that start in March to check off another “to do” in my journey toward becoming a (foster) mom.

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I have a passion for books.  I love the look of them (especially old hardcover books), I love shopping for them, I love reading them.  And I have my parents to thank for that.  Given that I grew up in a family full of educators, it’s not surprising that I developed a love of reading.  And this is one love that I definitely want to share with my kiddos.

I have so many fond childhood memories involving books.  My parents have shared with me that even as a baby, I was a fan of reading.  They would rock me and read me book after book until I fell asleep in their arms.  Needless to say, being the smart child that I was, I quickly learned how not to fall asleep so it would force them to read to me more.  If you are going to spoil a child, this feels like a great way to do it.

This also led to me memorizing entire books because I had heard them so many times.  My parents convinced my grandparents that I could read at the age of two or three because I could recite the entire book word for word, including knowing when to turn the page.

My mom said that as a toddler, she could sit me down on the bathroom floor with a stack of books and I would contently sit and look through them while she enjoyed a shower.

I loved family trips to the library.  I couldn’t wait to browse through the shelves to find something new I could engross myself in.  (Although when I was little I was also known to check out the same book over and over again if I really loved it.  There was a children’s book I loved about two little girls who were friends and one of them was named Jenny.  I called it The Jenny Book.  This was my favorite book for obvious reasons.  I wish I knew the title of it.)  And I remember my mom sharing with me books that she loved reading when she was growing up like Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins.  I can still picture the shelves at the library full of these books with the yellow spines.

I was the dork that couldn’t wait for the summer reading list to come out.  And yes, I was a fat kid because we all loved the Pizza Hut Book It program.  My love of reading equated to a lot of personal pan pizzas.

So, I’ve always known that reading would be an important love that I wanted to instill in my children.  The first baby item I bought when I decided I was going to pursue becoming a foster mom was a board book.  And I’m already brainstorming how to create a fun, comfy reading nook in the nursery.  I want my kids to get as excited about books as I did when I was young.

I know that being a single foster parent to newborns and infants will not be easy.  So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about ways I will cope with those tough times.  And one tough time I know is coming is a lot of sleepless nights with a crying baby.  As I’ve mentioned before, it is pretty likely that I will be caring for a baby who was exposed to drugs and is dealing with withdrawal.  It’s not easy.  Sometimes, no matter what you try, you just can’t settle them down.  All you can do is hold them, rock them, talk to them, make them as comfortable as you can and be patient until they can settle down.

So, I started thinking, what am I going to do to pass the time when it’s the middle of the night and I’m awake with a crying baby?  Sure, I could sit and watch TV.  We may listen to music for a while.  But today, I had a great idea.  Why not read to them?  Why not share my love of books with them just like my mom did with me?

So, I started googling and coming up with a list of chapter books that I remember loving as a child.  Everything from Anne of Green Gables to Freckle Juice to the Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM.  It’s easy reading (because we know I’ll be too tired to read and comprehend anything intellectual), it will keep my attention better than reading a million baby books, and it will let me relive stories that I loved so many years ago and don’t even remember anymore.  I just love this idea.

So, I have start compiling a list of all the chapter books I remember loving as a kid.  The list has gotten long already!  Take a look here.  Then, please come back to this blog post and comment about your favorite book from my list or a great one that I need to add.

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