Foster Care to Adoption

Happy Thanksgiving!

For us this holiday comes a week after adopting our foster child.

Some readers may remember some of the more harrowing events of the past three years — years filled with doubt, fear and moral dilemmas.

This girl is thrilled that I can finally share her picture!

This summer after a host of obstacles (some created by the system and some by us), we were asked to make our final decision. I’ll be honest, my husband and I hardly spoke to each other for the month of August as we each grappled with the finality of the decision. I realized that I’d been sort of waiting for this girl to do something bad enough to justify backing out.

Foster kids have a way of pushing you to your limits, and I wondered what my limit would be.

The county gave us a month to decide. No more hoping the kid would do something insane so we’d have an excuse  to say goodbye. We had to decide if we could love this girl “as is.” Plenty of people told us to cut our losses. Even the county workers had said this girl was a “hot mess,” but … my heart said she was already family. One day as I walked the dogs my decision was made. Biblical love is really hard. You have to lean into the pain. You have to work harder and you occasionally have to step back to see how far you’ve come.

I’m basically a selfish person who wants to write books and ride horses all by myself. I don’t feel like helping others all the time, yet in some deep way I know we’re called to do it.

My husband was driving home from work one day and suddenly felt that he was Jonah fleeing God’s calling on his life. Despite it all he knew McKenzie was already his daughter.

Not quite the Hallmark happy ending but that’s real life for you.

Once the decision was made, a weight was lifted. Maybe that’s God’s grace. McKenzie has come a LONG way. We all have.

McKenzie with my niece (her new cousin)

At the adoption McKenzie gave an impromptu speech before the judge. Three years ago she was so jacked up on meds and so traumatized she could only drool and occasionally threaten to stab people. Now with her two sisters (adopted by another family), her new family, and countless county and foster care workers in attendance she spoke from her heart with power and eloquence about finally having a family. I was so proud of her. Even my son got choked up. The county workers were sobbing.

I didn’t cry, but I did feel at peace. I remembered the day I first met McKenzie. I told my husband that I already felt like she was my daughter. That feeling ebbed and flowed over the three years, but on adoption day it was as if we’d come full circle.


Just some of the members of McKenzie’s new family. The entire family is coming to our house to celebrate Thanksgiving and the adoption!
The Tenafly Road Series
“Characters so deep you follow them into the abyss, hoping to come out unscathed, but never returning the same. They will haunt me forever.”

5 Horrible Things I’m Grateful For

What are you really grateful for? No. I don’t mean the usual things we all say when asked on Thanksgiving Day. Family. Friends. Health. We used to just eat on Thanksgiving, but somewhere along the way a family member introduced a toast and the awkward asking everyone to come up with something they were grateful for.

When family eyes turned to me I’d say I was grateful for family or health or friends. It was the same for everyone at the table. Anything beyond those three words opened a person up to shame-laden teasing. I think we all imagined baring our souls but in the end couldn’t.

Here are a few things I’m grateful for:

TICKS. Well, not really. Ticks are gross. They carry disease. I have the disease–in fact I have THREE tick diseases. Health wake-up calls are good things. With my NEW DIET and Chinese herbal cures I feel better than I’ve felt in years! Yay, ticks!

PTSD. Again, not really a fun thing. The foster kid has it so we thought a therapy dog might help. Elizabeth the GOLDEN RETRIEVER arrived. Can anyone say anything bad about a golden retriever? No.

BAD BOOK REVIEWS. They’re mood killers, for sure, BUT they’re also reminders that you had the guts to publish. They motivate us to finally get proper editing done.

ABANDONED ANIMALS. This one is truly awful, but, for those of us who enjoy rescuing them, these animals are a blessing.

008WINTER. Some people hate the cold. And the dark. And the cold. Enter wood stoves and lounging dogs in front of wood stoves.

***Just thought of another one: Messy childhoods are great for writers! I’m really grateful for mine!

How about you? What unusual things are you grateful for this year?