On Truthful Blogging…and Chickens

I recently learned that there is a woman in my home state of Maine who earns a quarter of a million dollars a year blogging about chickens.

[Go ahead. Read it again. I had to see it a couple of times myself before it sank in.]

chickenHer name is Lisa Steele, and she runs “the largest natural chicken keeping resource on the internet.” I’ve been smiling about this for days, because I just think it’s so incredible. I mean, $250,000 a year to blog about chickens! Who ever said American wasn’t great???

(And no, that’s not a political comment, but rather an expression of awe and wonder that we live in a place where such WEIRD things can happen. I think that’s cool.)

Of course I went immediately to her website, Fresh Eggs Daily. It’s pretty spectacular, even for an avowed chicken-phobe like myself.

Discoveries like this pull me into exploration mode, and soon I was immersed in the online world of farming & homesteading.  This was a bit of a shock. Apparently, chickens are a thing. There are even jokes about how baby chicks are the gateway drug that quickly leads to piglets and milk cows! I kept blinking at my laptop, trying to imagine.

(By way of reference, I just threw away our latest failed attempt to grow chives. Who can’t grow a CHIVE?) The idea that people go out into the lonely countryside – on purpose – to spend their days raising creatures they eventually have to kill? I can’t even fathom. But I am intrigued!

Here’s what I noticed: the sites are pretty. They depict the slow-paced, bucolic rural life one might dream of on a morning commute on a Red Line train that’s stuck mid-tunnel deep in the bowels of Cambridge. Because when you’re packed in tight with that much sweaty, stressed humanity, and there’s that smell that tells you at least one rat has been fried on the third rail, a life of farm, flowers & feathers seems like the perfect antidote to all that is wrong with your world.

Lisa’s site even has a picture showing that her bird enclosure has a SWING (scroll down about halfway).  Do chickens swing??? (I guess I mean that in all sorts of ways…it just raises so many questions!)  So yes, there was a brief moment where I wondered what it would be like to have swinging birds in my own backyard???

Awful. That’s what it would be.

We have HAWKS in our neighborhood, along with at least two outdoor cats who make the local bunnies scream with terror late at night. The circle of life is not always bucolic or serene. It’s not even consistently better than life on the Red Line. I’m sure there are moments of peace, joy & miracles, of course. And for anyone who loves chickens the way Lisa seems to, that’s living the dream. I think that’s what makes her site so great – it seems real, even when she’s doing a product placement for giant bags of bird feed. But this life we live is complicated, no matter where you live it. So the secret is to figure out what battles YOU’RE equipped to fight (and win) and find your place in the world, rather than envying and trying to copy someone else’s…particularly if your only window into that world is through your computer screen.

(Lisa mentions in that chicken swing post her sadness over losing a favorite duck. I for one am glad she didn’t post pictures of what that particular loss entailed.)

So, no chickens for me.

Why am I writing all this instead of answering your questions about adoption?

Because I’m wrestling with this dilemma:

I know that if I tell you about the incredible moments we have as a new family – like the snowball fight we had in the backyard one night last week after we shoveled out the driveway – you are likely to wonder, at least for a nanosecond,  if adopting a child from foster care might be right for you.  Maybe there’s something you’re missing out on that you can’t get any other way?

You should, and you are, and I hope you will.

But if I just give you the sweet parts, you’ll get hammered when a hawk swoops down and eats your chickens, so to speak. Adoption (along with parenthood and, well…life) isn’t all bucolic and serene.

I want to be honest here on the blog, and give you the whole picture. That way, when YOU adopt awesome kids from foster care, you’ll know that hawks happen…but they don’t define the endeavor, and there are ways to keep them away.

I’ll be back with an actual answer to one of your questions soon. Until then…check out all the CHICKENS!

 

Adoption Questions Answered

Last week, one of the organizations that helped us adopt the Cherubs asked if I’d write a blog post about our experience. I’ll confess that we were having a rather TEXTURED week here at home  (my word for when it feels like things are coming off the rails) and so at first I couldn’t even respond. (You know how there are days where you just have nothing encouraging to say, so the best option is to keep your mouth shut and your fingers away from the keyboard? Yeah. It was like that.)

(I tried to find a picture to illustrate this point, but if you search “mixed race family” ALL the pictures are 100% posed perfect joyousness, because apparently that’s the experience for EVERYONE. Then I searched “mixed race family arguing” and found more happy pictures…and a random shot of Elizabeth Warren. So in lieu of a picture, please enjoy this ocean of words while imagining me, Steve & the Cherubs standing at opposite ends of the kitchen, rolling our eyes at each other.)

So…eventually things smoothed out, and I hit reply and said, “Sure I’ll write a post!” Then I sat down and realized that I could not find the place inside me that remembered what my questions were back when we were new to this world. That place is buried, along with so much of my former life, in the day-to-day of this life now. It’s still in there, but taking the hours to dig it out is not always the wisest use of time.

So instead, I crowd sourced. I went on FaceBook and asked what questions YOU had. And wow, the responses were amazing. They all pointed toward a theme: What are the differences between our expectations and how things played out in real life? I’ll answer that on the M.A.R.E. site once it’s live (link to come). But I decided to answer the more specific questions here. They’re such good questions – both for people who are new to the world of adopting from foster care, and for me. It’s good for me to give some actual thought to my answers.

***

So without further ado, here is the first, picked randomly from the list:

From Emily: “How did you win your kids over, so to speak?”

The short answer is, we haven’t. Not yet, not entirely. One textured aspect adoption is that you live under the question of what might have been. We are not our kids’ first choice. Our kids also adored their foster mom, so we’re not even our kids’ second choice. We’re simply what they’ve got.

Now, before you walk away muttering, Why would anyone ever sign up for that? Take a moment to dig through your own childhood memories: Were YOUR parents always your first choice? Did you ever look at other households – ones where the parents were more easygoing, or around more/less, or always had soda and Hostess cupcakes in the kitchen – and wish you lived in that family? Did you ever tell your parents, in a moment of frustrated fury, that you hated them/wished you lived somewhere else/were going to run away? Pretty normal, right? And survivable.

One of the most important aspects of adoption (but also parenting in general, I suspect) is that your kids don’t exist to affirm you, or to give your life purpose, or even to want to be part of your life. You have to be okay with you, even when they’re not.

Which brings me to the bigger part of my answer.

To the extent that we’ve won over the Cherubs, it’s been by being really good at adult-ing. At the risk of overgeneralizing, most kids who land in foster care have not experienced much stability from the adults raising them. Basic routines we take for granted (things like bills get paid, teeth get brushed, meals happen 3x/day and include nourishment, beds have sheets, socks & underwear get washed from time to time) aren’t lived out, and so are not learned. Each situation is different, of course. But there is always some shock involved when a kid sees a new way of being an adult, and as an adoptive parent it’s our job to ride out these bumpy times and show the value of structure & stability.  I believe we’re the best parents they’ve had, even though we’re not their favorite. And if you asked them (on a good day, at least) they’d probably agree.

We have to be consistent and stable for a long, long (long) time before they’ll trust us. Then maybe they can love us. That’s just how it works.

Steve & I have learned to be incredibly straightforward with the kids. And to connect our choices to tangible desired outcomes. Because they’ve seen other ways to live and we aren’t their first family, the Cherubs know that not everyone does life this way, and (especially with things they don’t like) they are very vocal about their displeasure. I learned early on that I could either be angry all the time about the push back, or I could get really honest about why we do things the way we do.

For example, the Cherubs think we are RIDICULOUS about the types of music we don’t listen to. Of course they think these rules are only for them, created specifically to ruin their lives. “They lyrics aren’t THAT bad,” they argue. “You’re just being a prude, why do you make such a big deal out of everything?” Cue rolled eyes.

But when I asked them, “Do you really want me singing along with lyrics about coming on to some random man?” they were horrified. “NO! OF COURSE NOT! THAT WOULD BE SO RUDE TO DAD!” So then we had the rather tedious conversation (and these life structure conversations are always so tedious) about how I respect Steve by not singing about outside romantic scenarios. And how it’s not helpful to be imagining things that would wreck our relationship. We talked about how being faithful has a lot of different components. Since then, they’ve each asked endless follow up questions about the steps we take in this regard. And both will call me on the carpet if they think I’m doing something that could put the enterprise at risk. It’s not fun, but it keeps me super-clear about my choices, because I’m defending them on a regular basis. (Honestly, NOTHING has improved my leadership skills like parenting the Cherubs.) The hope is that they will see the HOW part of making life work, and that while we don’t control how our lives go, there are choices we can make that might improve our odds of happiness.

And here is where adopting older kids is a HUGE advantage: while it’s true that they’ve seen other lives and miss those people desperately sometimes (and romanticize the past as better than it probably was), at some level they realize that things were NOT better before. They’re looking for new life skills, new approaches to challenges. There are long weeks where my job is far more stable role model than beloved mother. And that’s okay. I think the second flows from the first. And in showing up day after day after day and doing that, I believe we’re winning them over.

Thanks for the great question, Emily!

***

Have a question about foster care or adoption (even if it’s not your thing but you’re just curious?) drop me a line & I’ll answer in a future post.

Can I hire a helicopter parent for the Cherubs?

I’m back to vent about school :)

Let me preface by saying that I ADORE our local schools. The Cherubs’ teachers are wonderful, patient, and devoted to their jobs. The past eighteen months have confirmed that I remember almost none of the specifics of my k-12 education (save for the time we were assigned “festooned” and “garish” as vocabulary words and my friend Matt defined them as “Trish’s outfit today.” ) So I am THRILLED that professionals exist to spend 7-8 hours a day pouring knowledge into my children, not to mention keeping them alive.

The problem is, the school wants to involve me in their education. Not just me, but all the parents. And not just the occasional conference update, or a call about a particularly bad day. Nope. They want to me to log in to their website – regularly – and monitor every assignment my kids do. In every class. Just the other day I received an email from #2’s French teacher, reminding me to “check in to see if there are any missing quizzes, tests or homework!”  WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO THAT?  Isn’t that a conversation you should have with her? Why bring me into it?

Adding to this joy, there are glitches with the system. We’ve been invited to a TRAINING CLASS to learn how to use this complicated, non-intuitive, glitchy program. Or we can WATCH A VIDEO and receive the training that way. Not since my 4th grade Girl Scout leader announced that we’d be camping in her backyard and digging our own outhouse hole have I been less inclined to participate in a new activity.

Here’s why: even if I receive TRAINING, and set about faithfully monitoring the sixteen or so different classes my kids take, on the unlikely chance that my eyes uncross enough to notice that something is missing, then I have to have THIS conversation:

Me:  What happened to the worksheet on nuclear physics from last Tuesday?

Cherub: Oh I turned that it.

Me: It didn’t get recorded. It’s marked as missing.

Cherub: But I turned it in. 

Me: You should talk to your teacher. Because right now you’re not getting credit for it.

Cherub: But I TURNED IT IN. (Intense look revealing frustration that I’m still not getting it.)

And what we need as we enter the churning waters of tween/teendom is a new reason to argue our way to a hopeless impasse.

I understand that there are parents out there who want to know all these things. Men and women whose idea of partnering with teachers is a little more involved than mine. And to them I say, Enjoy the training!

Steve & I have our hands more than full trying to cover every other area of life on this accelerated schedule. In the few years between meeting the Cherubs & launching them  triumphantly into real life, we have to cover EVERYTHING: relationships; money; choices; morals; screen time; work ethic; nutrition; sex; spirituality; the debacle that is the Kardashians; communication; appropriate use of alcohol; how pot makes you look and smell a bit skunky even if it is legal; identity development; reconciling the past/ maximizing the present/envisioning the future;  going after what you want; recovering from setbacks, heartbreaks, and my refusal to buy you a Vineyard Vines sweatshirt… the list goes on and on. And we have to do all of this in a way that is lived rather than lectured,  because no one remembers parental lectures unless they involve unexpected and uniquely creative use of swear words. I’m not above that. But if there’s a missing verb conjugation assignment floating around out there, could it please not be my problem?

Or better yet, could I hire you, fine helicopter parent, to add my kids to your hover pattern? Just a thought… 

Thanks for reading. I feel better now :)

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! And happy first post since last September!

Yeah, I slacked a bit. I got tangled in the quandary of how to share our adoption story (both the lead up and the present day) while protecting our kids’ privacy, and ended up I blogging nothing at all. Sorry about that. (Sorry both that I disappeared, and that I don’t have a record of all that happened.) Because Holy Guacamole, 2016 was a year.

Perhaps the best metaphor (simile? comparison? Who cares.) for this past year is the Geico commercial with the figure skating sumo wrestler.  It’s entirely strange…so very awkward…and yet kind of funny once you just let yourself go with it.

This is how I’ve felt every day of this past year.

We became parents and planted a church. I started writing book #3 again, giving up on a narrative arc and just tossing the whole crazy salad into a collection of essays. (Topics include the winter I was obsessed with Fleetwood Mac, how I still believe praying for a husband is worth it, and how helicopter parents have ruined everything for the rest of us.) I’m also writing a novel because I need something to progress in an orderly fashion where I know it will all turn out okay.

I learned to cook dinner (almost) every night, preach (almost) every Sunday, and delete (all) recruitment emails from the PTA. I’ve filed a 501(c)(3) application and confirmed that I’m not liturgical. I’ve watched #1 Cherub go off to learn golf with my Dad, #2 Cherub paint my Mom’s fingernails in super-sparkle polish that wouldn’t come off for three months, and Steve struggle to keep a straight face (just this morning) when one of them said, “But no one TOLD me not to build a snow slide off the backyard table that went straight into a tree!”

It’s not been dull.

And as much as I’ve slacked on blogging, I’m grateful to be able to share glimpses of all of this. One of my favorite quotes is something Madeleine L’Engle wrote in Walking on Water, about how we should work to live a life that doesn’t make sense unless God is real.

Checkmark on that for 2016 :)

 

Made Well by Jenny Simmons

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Made Well: Finding Wholeness in the Everyday Sacred Moments by Jenny Simmons

This book was a highlight of my summer. It is so honest, real & encouraging. These are the words I wish I’d had five years ago, back when everything collapsed like so many endless dominoes, back when I wondered how on earth I could keep believing in a God who stood by and let so much be ruined. I sat down on the couch to read it, and didn’t move for the next 27 hours. (Okay, that’s not exactly true. But that’s what it felt like. I was immersed in this story, and that eager to get back to these hope-filled pages.)

Jenny Simmons has known some ruin, and her words are that rare mix of honesty, encouragement and knowing. She writes heartache so well…but then she captures the moments when redemption comes: how it’s real and surprising, and how God really can make us okay again, even when okay seems completely out of reach.  She blows past platitudes and easy conclusions, and yet somehow I ended each chapter feeling encouraged, even with stories that didn’t wrap up neatly. This is what Christian books and music need now, and I hope this will be on the cutting edge of a new approach to writing about faith, showing how God is very much alive and at work in the middle of even the biggest loss and devastation. She put words to my experience of God coming through, and I’m so grateful to have experienced this book. (Also, Jenny is really funny. Thank you Lord, for Christians with a sense of humor…)

This is the second book of Jenny’s I’ve had the chance to read – I’ll post to her first book here, too, because after you read Made Well, you’ll want to circle back to The Road to Becomingthe story of how she figured out how to build a new life after her band, Addison Road, stopped touring and recording after 10 years together.  (And if you didn’t know about Addison Road beforehand, you have another treat ahead of you.)

Basically, reading Jenny Simmons has lead to much wonder and delight in my life. I think it will do the same for you. Pre-order Made Well (that helps authors SO MUCH in the publishing world), soak up this wisdom, laugh with her, and ponder the truth: that in the midst of the chaos of life, we are both well made and made well.

Thank you, Jenny Simmons.

(And thank you to Jenny’s publisher, Baker Books, for giving me the opportunity to read Made Well before it’s release date in exchange for an honest review.)

So Long, Summer

This summer was categorically awful. Possibly my worst ever. I am so very glad it’s over, and so in love with our local public school system, I could dance though the school parking lot at drop-off and then weep with gratitude into the little intercom thingies they use to keep out people like me.

Before you get the wrong idea: The Cherubs are great. They are still their stellar selves and the Ryan family is closer and more bonded than I would have thought possible back when school got out in June. The bummer is, we bonded through surviving days upon days of boredom, frustration, and planning failures. I’m writing about it here in the spirit of full disclosure about the potholes on the road of instant parenthood…and in the hopes that I’ll re-read this early next spring and do better next time.

Here’s what happened:

Last year was great – both kids went to camp two days a week from 8-5. They had enough activity to keep them interested and challenged, but lots of time at home to play with new friends, chill out, etc. I had a couple of days a week to get things done (read: have down time and not talk for a few hours). And we still had plenty of time to do trips to the beach together to soak up enough salt water & vitamin D to get us through the winter.

This year, #1 Cherub aged out of most day camp registrations. He turned 14 in July…to late for me to sneak him into regular camp, too early for a job. (Also, we don’t have all the paperwork sorted out for him to start his life earnings quite yet).  We found two, week-long sports day camps in August, one for basketball, one for soccer.  But other than that, #1 summered at home. Did I mention that his best friend moved away?

#2 Cherub asked to go to a different day camp, the one her best friend goes to. It was cheaper for full weeks than for 2 days at the other camp, and offered all of the outdoorsy swimming/boating/sporting activities she liked from last year, so I thought it would be a win. She went for 3 weeks in July. Unfortunately, the camp counselors didn’t like to “make” their posse of tween girls do activities, and so #2 returned home many days with her bathing suit dry, carrying yards of freshly woven gimp braids as her day-long project. (Most expensive backpack decor ever.)

In terms of the bigger picture, here’s what I failed to realize:

When your kids are in week-long camps, there are no trips to the beach for you. There’s just not enough time between drop off and pick up (which for #2’s camp was 30 minutes before the stated time, because apparently even gimp braiding has its limits), and there are no free weekdays when someone isn’t in camp. There are really no trips anywhere for you, because the at-home kid will complain at the prospect of going anywhere, or doing anything, because they are bored and frustrated and they hate life, and why should they have to do something that the other one doesn’t have to?  That wouldn’t be FAIR.

So you sit on the couch, or in your little office, bored and frustrated and hating life, Googling “sleep away camps with immediate openings,” for most of the summer. You can’t really write or get work done, because there are questions from at-home Cherub every 3-27 minutes. It’s not pretty.  And yes, I realize that most parents use this time to DO INTERESTING THINGS with their children, things that create memories and build their learning. Bless those parents. Because the educationally wonderful things that would be enjoyed by one of my Cherubs and me? It’s a subset of zero. It’s the Venn Diagram with no overlap. I am the worst parent in this history of ever when it comes to walking through museums, using crayons to do rubbings of cemetery headstones,  or saying things like, “Let’s bake a cake from scratch so you can practice math!” I couldn’t even get my kids to go kayaking. I’m good at love, humor, enthusiastic cheering, and conversations about deep matters of life. That has to be enough, because it’s all I’ve got.

(Lest you think I’m posting something the Cherubs wouldn’t want made public.. last week at church when someone asked #2 if she was excited to go back to school, she said “Yeah…it will be good to get a break…”  She meant from me. And I don’t blame her one bit.)

Back when I was thinking about adoption, all my thoughts were of time together: getting to know each other, figuring out what the kids would need and how to meet those needs, making sure they felt safe and loved… all good stuff. I forgot about the reality of people: how even in the most loving relationships, we need breaks from one another. We need to go out into the world and do different things so we have something to talk about at dinner.  We need time to be alone.

And I think everyone in our family now understands how deeply we need days at the beach.

There were two rays of sunshine that got us through this summer.

First, our church denomination had its Regional Conference in July. I wouldn’t think of July in Syracuse as a summer vacation highlight, but it saved our bacon. There was fun and structure, new people to meet and old friends to introduce. There was a hotel with pool and a basketball court. There was God, and so much hope and encouragement. All four of us agreed that it was one of the best weeks we’ve ever spent together.

And second, when we got back from Syracuse and realized the shape the rest of our summer was in, Steve dug around and found a VRBO in Maine for the last week of August. Did we know that #1 would he’ll miss half of soccer tryouts? No. Thank you, God, for understanding coaches. Did we know that #2 Cherub would miss an opportunity to be part of a special, invitation-only singing group that happened that week? No. We’re new at this. But there was sunshine and water, dinners out and amazing time with friends and family.  My Dad taught #1 to drive a golf ball. #2 swam for HOURS in the crazy waves. They were regulars at the Sugar Shack. It was a little bit of salvation, right here on earth.

New summer, when I won’t have the Olympics to punt to when we’ve all given up hope and can’t stand it anymore, I hope to do things differently. I hope to have enough parenting resources to come up with a PLAN, one that puts the “big rocks” of summer (beach time, days to sleep in) into the jar first…and to make sure there are lots of rocks in the jar. Our kids might be ready to handle sleep away camp, so perhaps we’ll try that. #1 will (God willing) have a job. We will (again, God willing) spend another week with our Vineyard Church tribe, and a different week in Maine.  I don’t know how we’ll pull this off. (If you have brilliant family tips for summer, PLEASE comment!) I’m just grateful to be back in the routine of school life, and hopeful for the coming days :)

 

 

Road to Adoption 16

(I’m blogging about our experience adopting a brother and sister who were 12 & 10 from foster care. I hope it will inspire you to consider doing the same.  I’ve adjusted some of the details about our kids to protect their privacy.  Everything here is true, but some specifics have been gleaned from other adoption stories.  But all of the emotions and reactions are ours. You can find the first post in the series here.)

***

You went to the Disclosure Meeting. It was scary at first. You’d thought so much about these two kids at this point – stared at their pictures, wondered what their voices sound like, pictured them riding bikes down your street – that you’re afraid that this “full disclosure” of all information the Department has about their history will turn up something you can’t handle.

You’d decided early in the process on some things you couldn’t handle. There was a form you filled out along with your initial application, a terrifying list of ways that kids who have been through trauma sometimes struggle or act out. On that list, you said that you could not handle a child with a history of fire starting, abuse or aggression toward animals, sexual acting out, or a child who needed intensive academic help. You felt horrible with each box you checked, like you were punishing children for not having better coping skills. And yet your social worker was unrelenting in her instance that you be honest with yourself about this: “This process is difficult enough. There’s no need to add to the challenge by romanticizing a situation you know you don’t have the skill set to manage.”  (Okay, she didn’t say it that bluntly. But that’s what you heard. That’s what you needed to hear so you could be honest and check the boxes. There are people out there who know how to handle these challenges, you told yourself. Lord, send more of those people!)

The Disclosure Meeting included your social worker, Sarah; the kids’ social worker, Janna; and their supervisor, Susan.  Sometimes the foster parent comes if possible, or counselors the kids have worked with, but not in this case.

Janna had a large pile of folders in front of her. She handed you a giant file, and opened to the top page. “This is a list of people you can call to ask more questions,” she said. There were phone numbers and emails for the kids’ foster mom, a grandparent, their therapist and doctor, and a contact at each of their schools.  Then she pulled out a report she’d pulled together, a summary of the kids’ history and the entire case that she went through line by line.

Here’s what you learned:

The kids’ history was tougher in some ways than you’d anticipated, but better in others.  Everyone involved spoke of their resilience, and how hard they had worked to keep their heads above water and take care of each other as things came unraveled at home. You’d read enough adoption books at this point to know a few things to look for: Did they look to other grownups for help? (Yes). Did they show signs of being able to form relationships and attach to caring adults? (Yes.)  Your heart broke at the strange truth that their strong bond with their foster mom indicated that they’d have an easier adjustment to adoption than a child who had lost or given up the ability to attach to others.

There were no real medical issues other than that the boy was small for his age (typical for kids in foster care, due to stress and poor nutrition. You can’t believe how many teen boys you’ve seen at adoption parties who look like they’re 9 or 10 years old), while the girl was developed beyond her years.  You read the alarmist medical reports about her weight gain – threats of early onset diabetes, high blood pressure and other grim warnings – and thought, “Holy crap, give this girl a break! Wouldn’t YOU overeat under the stress she’s dealt with?”  (Indeed, this would turn out to be one of your best decisions as a parent – to NOT freak out about her weight, but rather take the long view and see what a year of better food options, family stability, abundant love, and the chance to relax and enjoy being a kid would do. As it turns out, they did A LOT.)

Miraculously, both kids were more or less at grade level in school.  They LIKED school, which helped, and had each formed key relationships with teachers who served as reliable support people in their lives. (GOD BLESS YOU, TEACHERS. YOU MATTER SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU KNOW!!!)  There were some knowledge gaps due to a lot of missed school – it’s hard to do math if you’re missing building blocks. You were told you’d need to advocate to get the kids the services they’d need. You nodded, having no idea what that meant, but figuring that was in there with ALL THE OTHER THINGS about parenting middle schoolers you’ll have to figure out on the fly, and that if you need to know it, God will send someone to fill you in.

The meeting went on like that for almost two hours. Through it all, you kept waiting for the deal breaker, the big reveal that would cause you to step back and reconsider. But it never came. These were awesome kids, just like you’d thought.

That night at home, you & your husband agreed immediately: you want those awesome kids to be YOUR awesome kids. So you called Janna and said, “We’re in. What happens next?”