Fun or Stressful?

I absolutely love looking at houses.

I love seeing the layout of the different homes.

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I love seeing how others have decorated.

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I love looking at flooring choices,

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tile choices,

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paint choices.

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I love envisioning how our family would fit into the space.

For me, those are the fun parts of searching for a home.

Selling a home and buying a home at the same time is stressful though.

Waiting on our pre-approval – stressful.

Wondering if we’ll sell our home and find a home simultaneously – stressful.

Deciding if we are willing to re-do things we don’t like about a house – stressful.

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Worrying that we won’t get all of this done before our pre-approval time runs out – stressful.

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It doesn’t help that two days into the painting we discovered they started upstairs when I specifically asked them to start downstairs so the flooring demo and replacement could start downstairs while they were finishing upstairs.

It doesn’t help that the flooring company neglected to get our job put on the installer’s schedule earlier and the flooring won’t even be started until after we’ve moved out of our rental house and back home.

I doesn’t help that we have a cabinet repair that will need to be done, but it now won’t be completed until after the flooring is installed.

It doesn’t help that these delays mean getting our house on he market is delayed by a week.

Some would say, enjoy the adventure. Truth is, I’m probably the one that would say that exact thing to someone else.

Some would say, it will all work out. Again, that would be something I would say to someone else.

Now I’m on this side of the searching, preparing, wondering and worrying. Maybe I should simply be saying enjoy the adventure because it will all work out. Instead, I’m having fun looking at homes while stressing about selling our house and buying another house in the next few weeks.

I do know this will all work out. Maybe not exactly as I had envisioned, but if life was all smooth sailing, the ride wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.

So, I’ll do my best to sit back and enjoy the adventure and try to keep in mind that it really will work out in the end.

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Moving Along

After lots of packing, cleaning and organizing, we are almost ready for a fresh coat of paint and some new flooring.

By the end of the week, our realtor will put a “Coming Soon” sign in our yard

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and hopefully a week later our home will officially be on the market.

We have started looking at listings and next week will begin looking at some homes while the house is being painted. We are a bit limited until our house sells, but we hope to have some homes in mind and ready to put in offers as soon as we get an offer on our home. It’s time for a home that has a little more room.

I’ve had a few people comment about how many times our house was full of kids while we were fostering and now we’re looking for a bigger home. Believe me, we talked about trying to find a bigger home while we were a foster family, but were never sure how long any child(ren) would be with us. It would have also required getting re-licensed in the new home and we thought it was better to stay put. Also, hubby’s job was not a 5-day per week work-from-home gig. That has now changed.

So, it’s time to move on.

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Our original goal was to move to Florida. We love visiting Florida. We love the beaches there. However, we realized visiting somewhere and living somewhere are very different. In the end, we decided it would be best to stay in Texas, take some beach vacations and then look at the possibility of buying a beach condo to use as our vacation home one day in the future. Kind of the “best of both worlds.” We’ll see.

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Now by break is over and it’s time to get back to work. We have a bit more to get done before the painters arrive tomorrow morning. And if I don’t forget, I’ll take some before and after pictures.

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“Almost” 5 Years

We moved to Texas almost 5 years ago.

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WOW!!! Honestly, it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. On the flip side, I’m beginning to forget what it felt like living anywhere else. I suppose that is due to the fact that we’ve experienced a lot of life in the past “almost” 5 years. We lived in our RV for six months, bought a house, took vacations, became a foster family for over 3 years, adopted our 3rd daughter, made new friends and became an established resident in the State of Texas.

What I’ve learned along the way is that, for me, a busy life is a happy life.

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COVID has removed much of the busy part of life and that has been challenging. Not just for me though. It’s been challenging for the kids as well.

The other thing we’ve learned is that our seemingly “perfect” house, isn’t so perfect after all.

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It certainly wasn’t perfect when we had our foster kids, but we made it work because kids were in and out so often during the past “almost” 5 years. In addition, moving means more work getting a new house licensed.

Hubby’s job was taking him into the office 3-5 days per week, so his little office in the corner of our bedroom worked fine the few times he worked from home. The COVID hit and his company told everyone to work from home. A couple months ago he accepted a new role in his company and regardless of what happens with COVID, he will work from home permanently. His little office in the corner of our bedroom doesn’t work as well any longer and we have no other space in our house.

It’s amazing how much space another child takes up in a house. That little body adds clothes, shoes, toys, games, plates, cups, and utensils. Our living room/playroom has grown very small for our family. For most of her two years of life, she slept in a crib in our bedroom. Yes, the same bedroom with the little office in the corner. When she began growing out of her crib, we had to move kids around so we could move her into her “big girl bed”. Our oldest daughter was displaced from her bedroom and our upstairs living room became her new bedroom. Because the room has a half-wall along the staircase, we put up curtains for walls, which gives her some privacy, but without walls, there is no real noise reduction. It’s a temporary fix at best.

Conversations about moving to a house that would better accommodate our family’s needs became common and after hours, days and weeks of conversations, we made the decision to move.

But where should we move?

At first the top contender was Florida. We love the beaches there. We love the weather (at least we have during our visits there). It’s a favorite vacation spot, so why not turn it into our full-time state of residence? Eventually, we realized it might not be the best location for our family.

Second contender was back to Illinois. Family and friends were a pull, but after some conversation, we decided it wasn’t the right decision.

Third contender was staying in Texas and ultimately we realized it’s the best choice for our family.

Now the adventure begins.

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Packing

Painting

More packing

Replacing flooring, thanks to some recent damage from a crack in our dishwasher. I’m so happy we caught it before it cause any more damage.

Even more packing

Replacing bathroom tile that cracked

And more packing

Cleaning

Packing, packing, and more packing

Organizing

OH MY GOD, the packing!!

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So much work to get this house show ready!!!!!!

Fortunately, it’s a seller’s market right now and interest rates are so low right now, so buying is good as well.

We’ve put ourselves in a good position to make this move, so the time is right except for the fact that we are getting so close to the Holiday Season.

Our goal is to get everything done so we can list our house the third week of October. That’s only three weeks away and it seems like an impossible task, but we’ve accepted the challenge and are working diligently to make this happen so we can find our next home sweet home.

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I am also trying to give this blog more attention. Needless-to-say, trying to move means my time is limited. At the same time, this is also a good place to keep a journal of our progress so I’ll do my best to keep blogging about our progress.

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Shocking

Hubby and I started watching a documentary on Netflix – “The Social Dilemma”.

https://www.netflix.com/title/81254224?fbclid=IwAR0TTSaXEB_McQTXR3VX2rUb9LbSmdVCfj8J0rMIgipJXB5Yaa8D73AgE4g.

We need to go back and finish watching it, but some of what we saw was not a surprise. At the same time, some of what we saw was absolutely shocking.

If you haven’t watched it, I encourage you to check it out.

If you have watched it, I would love to hear your thoughts.

What I will tell you is that this documentary caused me to start making changes regarding my use of social media.

Past, Future, Today

We’ve been sheltering-in-place for 6 months and while some days are certainly more challenging then others, we continue to find ways to stay sane in all of the insanity around us. Or, as sane as we can be.

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Life has certainly changed in other ways as well. We are no longer a licensed foster family. Saying good-bye to our last 3 kiddos was extremely hard and some of us have struggled more than others with the last good-bye. It’s understandable since our last two had been with us off and on for 2 1/2 years. Even though we had said good-bye twice before, we knew this would be our last good-bye and that made emotions extremely high. The system failed these kids over and over and over again. It was like watching a train wreck, all while trying to figure out how to make it stop and knowing we had no control to stop it. Of the 10 foster care cases we’ve been part of, there was no comparison between the other 9 and this one case. Even the workers knew the system was failing these kids and their hands were tied. Now they are back with their family and we can only hope that the long history they have had with the foster care system is behind them.

When we left Illinois over 4 1/2 years ago, we thought we had put our foster care journey behind us. I can say, with 100% certainty, that in the State of Texas, foster families can easily be held hostage by the state. Your life is constantly held under a microscope and while it’s understandable, it’s extremely difficult to have strangers continually walk thru your home. Not being able to go on vacation without permission from case workers, judges, bio family, etc. Spending hours each month completing reports. Having bio parents falsely accuse you of hurting or allowing their child to be hurt. Having bio parents stalk your home, when they aren’t suppose to know where you live. Not knowing if you’ll have support from the state or if they’ll simply living you to fend for yourself. The list of what we went thru in the State of Texas goes on and on and on.

That was our downside of foster care for our family, but we experienced so many positives as well. Like the mom who wrote a letter to us that brought me to tears as she expressed her thanks and genuine gratefulness that we were caring for her only child. All she wanted was a chance to get better and become the mom her child deserved. Or the mom who was so happy and excited to meet me and find comfort in the situation she found herself in. That same mom who was was equally as excited when she discovered we would be caring for another one of her children. The joy of walking out of the courtroom as our baby girl legally became forever part of our family. The moments in which a child began to smile and feel safe in our home. So many positive experiences will stay with us as we close this chapter in our lives.

Now we move on.

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Hubby has recently began a new role with his company.

We have begun our 9th year of home school.

Some future changes are in the works (more on that another time).

Adjustments. Changes. Happiness. Sorrow. Pain. Excitement. Anticipation.

Letting go of the past.

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Looking forward to the future.

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Living for today.

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And there is more to come!

Saying Good-bye, Changes, and Music

Even though the State of Texas reopened a month after closing, we chose to continue sheltering-in-place. We recognize just how fortunate we are to be able to continue staying home, but it comes with it’s own set of challenges. As a homeschool family, we were continually on the go visiting parks, museums, zoos, the library, etc. We spent a great deal of time with our homeschool friends and to have all of that end so suddenly has been tough. However, we have found some normalcy in this very unique situation.

We’ve been able to spend a lot more quality time together as a family, which has been very nice. It has been especially important since we had to say good-bye to our foster baby. Yes, he is Arryn’s baby brother, but the judge decided he should be removed from our care and placed with a relative instead. Fortunately, I am in contact with mom who keep me up-to-date on how he’s doing. It’s not the same, but it’s better than knowing nothing, which is usually the case with foster care. We are also getting ready to say good-bye to our other two foster daughter’s for the 3rd time. This will most certainly be the last time as well since we made the decision to close our home to any more foster children. We’ve welcomed 14 children into our home, were able to adopt Arryn and have made so many friends along the way. After 5 years, we feel it’s time to move on and we plan to make our final geographic move to Florida, hopefully within the next year.

Hubby and I have spent a lot of time thinking about life during the last few months. When hubby was a teen, he began playing guitar. He has also written several songs over the years and realized that he wanted to get all of his music recorded so when he’s gone his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. will have a piece of him to carry with him throughout life. So he started recording his songs and recently put his music out on Amazon Music, Pandora, Apple Music and Spotify.

You can go here hear four of the songs he has recorded so far.

While he has always enjoyed music, recording his music has quickly turned into a new hobby for him. He is also continuing to write some new music, so stay tuned for more.

That’s pretty much our life in a nutshell right now and hopefully I can manage to share some more of life and my thoughts on life more often on the World of Weeks.

Shelter-in-Place

We are now entering week 4 of shelter-in-place. We were required to begin shelter-in-place almost 2 weeks ago, but when hubby’s employer told all the employees that they had to work from home and that no one was allowed in their offices, we decided to take it more seriously than our elected officials had taken it at that point. So, we stocked up on some groceries and hunkered down at home.

So far it’s gone well.

The kids have played more video games and watched more movies than we typically allow. At the same time, we’ve watched movies as a family and played more games together. We’ve always made dinner together a priority, so that hasn’t changed, but we are certainly eating out a lot less than we had previously and that’s been a good thing.
I’ve gone back to baking more than I have in several years. Strange how spending so much time at home has given me more time to do things like baking. It’s also given me more time to do things like cleaning and organizing. What I’ve discovered though is that even though I have more time, it doesn’t necessarily mean I have more desire. 🙂 This means the cleaning and organizing is happening at a much slower process.

We were fortunate to have much warmer weather the week before last. I turned the pool heater on to give the sun a boost and the kids spent 3 days enjoying time in the pool. Then the clouds and rain moved in and cooled things off again. I’m not sure when it will warm up enough to get back in the pool, the reprieve from spending so much time indoors was certainly welcome.

Homeschooling is also very different. In fact, it’s not really homeschooling at all for us. We’re no longer going to our weekly park days with our friends. We no longer meet for co-op. We don’t attend our home school Ninja Warrior class. We don’t see our friends at our weekly teen/tween time game day. We aren’t having our Navigator scout meetings. We don’t visit museums or zoos. There are no visits to the library. We don’t practice consumer ed at department or grocery stores. We don’t do any of the things we typically do as a home school family.

What we have done is bought some new educational board games and try to play them several times a week.  Right now our favorite is Timeline.

It’s a great way to become more familiar with different history events.

This is another one that is fun to play and helps the kids learn some new words.

Prior to shelter-in-place, I purchased this game.

We played it one week during co-op and enjoyed it a lot.  A few days later we bought it and have played it several times.  There are several other Ticket to Ride games such as Ticket to Ride:  Africa, Germany, Japan, etc.  It’s a fun way to learn geography.

We’re watching more documentaries and having more discussion about what we’ve learned.

We’re looking for and finding more on-line learning opportunities and taking advantage of them.  For a matter-of-fact, Lili will be taking an art class again with her previous art teacher.  She’s very excited!

And the list goes on.

While shelter-in-place isn’t necessarily how we want to spend all day every day, we’re doing our best to stay healthy physically, mentally and emotionally.

So far, so good!

If you’re practicing shelter-in-place, how are you spending your time?  Have you discovered any good shows or movies?  Any good books on your reading list?  What about your favorite games?

Six Months?!!!!

Seriously?!

I haven’t posted anything in six months, although anyone who still reads this blog already knows.

Honestly, I’ve started posts, have had trouble deciding the direction I want to take the posts and ended up deleting them.   Now that we’re practicing social distancing in our house, I really do have a little more time to write down my thoughts and share what’s happening in our lives.

When I last left you in September, we had a lot of changes so I’ll begin there.

We added a puppy to our home.  A little Morkie named Bridget.  She belong to Naomi who had been asking for her own dog for several years.  Of course our concern was that she would grow tired of caring for a puppy, but Bridget is her baby and they are attached at the hip.  I’m a little surprised at how well she’s done taking care of her overall.

About the same time we added Bridget, we added Arryn’s baby brother.  We weren’t sure how Arryn would respond to sharing the attention with a baby, but she loves him dearly.  She kept calling him baby, which she pronounced bubby and he is now known as “Bubby.”  For a matter-of-fact, I’m quite sure he thinks his name is Bubby.  He is now 8-months-old and has been with us about 6 1/2 months.   He is now crawling, pulling himself up to things and recently figured out how to get back down once he pulls himself up.  As is typical in foster care, we really don’t know how much longer we’ll have him and continue to wait for new information month after month.

In October, we received a call from a case worker who was very familiar to us.  When I saw her name pop up on my phone, I knew exactly why she was calling.  Our two kiddos who left us in May to go live with their aunt, were coming back.  I won’t go into all the detail for many reasons, the least of which is how long this post would take to write, but the girls have been back with us for almost five months now.  This is their third time in our home and we are now waiting for the judge to make a decision on the case.

If I still have any readers, I hope you are all safe and healthy during this pandemic.

I will also do my best to post again soon, including pictures.

 

Three Months Later

I’m writing a post.

I can’t believe that this much time has passed, but yet it has.

Our summer has been full of activity.

* Homeschooling

* Vacation to Florida

* A month-long trip to Illinois

* Visiting family

* Visiting friends

* Welcoming our new grandson into the world

* Getting to know our grandson’s mommy a little better

* Spending time with our son (our grandson’s daddy)

* Spending time with our bonus grandsons

* Spending some time with our oldest son (our grandson’s uncle)

* Finding out we’re adding Arryn’s baby brother to our family (at least for awhile)

* Adding a new puppy to the family

Like I said, our summer has been full of activity.

Maybe I should spend some time writing posts about each of these topics.  After all, there is a lot to share and I’ve been slacking.

Stay tuned.  It may just happen.

 

 

One More Time

It was January 31st, 2018.  I was sitting in the parking lot of the girls acting and art school when my phone rang.

“Hi, we have a baby boy who is 5 days old and being released from the hospital.  Would you be interested in taking him?”

After getting all the information, I said yes.

In the State of Texas, just because you say yes to a placement, doesn’t mean you are getting that child.  All agencies who respond to the broadcast regarding a specific child(ren) wait on the case worker to choose the family.  So on our way home from the girl’s classes, I got the call saying we were chosen.

I rushed home as quickly as I could and a short time later our agency manager arrived with her portion of the placement paperwork.   Not long after, the case worker arrived carrying a car seat with a precious baby, snuggly wrapped up and strapped in tight.

We oo’d and ah’d over the little guy and began signing paperwork.  A few minutes later the case worker says something about “she,” to which I responded, “Wait!  He is a she?”  We discovered that the CPS supervisor accidently checked the wrong gender box and the baby boy we thought was arriving to our home was actually a baby girl.  LOL!!!

We completed the paperwork and the case worker left, followed shortly thereafter by our agency manager.

Just 4 days earlier, we had tearfully said good-bye to another baby girl that had arrived to us straight from the hospital.  We were all so upset by her leaving, that we had a family meeting to discuss whether or not we wanted to continue fostering.  Even with broken hearts, we all knew we had to continue on and suddenly my nights were once again filled with night-time feedings, diapers and baby cuddles.

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A couple of days after she arrived, I took her for her first visit with her mom.

It was cold and I had her all bundled up as I carried her into the CPS office.

I walked to the front desk asking for the case worker when a woman jumps out of her chair and says, “That’s my baby!”  She then asks, “Can I give you a hug?”  We hugged and she says, “I was so scared that had given her to someone crazy!”  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it takes some level of crazy to become a foster parent, but that first meeting with mom made me feel that she did in fact love this baby girl and may actually do what she needed to do to get her back.

 

The girls very quickly fell in love with Little Miss A.

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She was a precious baby, so it was easy to love her.

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I even enjoyed the middle of the night feedings.  A time when it was just the two of us, in the quiet of the night.

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As most newborns do, she slept often and one of her favorite places to sleep was laying on hubby’s chest.

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It’s amazing to watch babies.  They change so quickly.

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Her straight black hair began to curl ahd her light skin began to darken.  We began to see her personality shine thru.

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She was tiny little thing.

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When she arrived, she weighed about 6 lbs and while she gained weight steadily, she gained slowly.

But she did get bigger.

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And grew.

And grew.

Each week, a transporter would pick her up and take her to visit her parents.  Then two hours later, I would leave and go pick her up.  This gave me a chance to talk to her mom for a few minutes after each visit.

At first, her dad wasn’t attending visits, but eventually he began coming as well so I was able to chat with him, although he was much more the strong silent type.

With mom and dad attending visits regularly, I thought she would eventually go back to live with one of them.  In the State of Texas, reunification is the goal, but another goal is to find a family member who will take the child(ren) while mom and dad work on their given plan.

Each month, the case worker would come for her monthly visit and give me an update.  Those updates included information about another family member that was contacted or was being contacted about taking her.  We braced ourselves for one day saying good-bye.  After all, we had said good-bye to 7 other children who went to live with family so we didn’t expect this case would be any different.  Yet each month, placement with a family member fell thru for one reason or another.

And she continued to grow.

Especially her thighs.  LOL!

And we saw so many different sides to her personality.

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We had plans to take a vacation to Illinois and Florida, which required getting permission.  Little Miss A’s mom didn’t hesitate to give us permission to take her, which was  a huge relief since I couldn’t imagine putting her in respite care while we were gone.  By this time, she was so firmly attached to us (especially me), that I wasn’t sure she would do well being away from us.

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She was a great little traveler and she was happiest when she was with us.

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And we were pretty darn happy with her as well.  We knew she might leave us, although it had become impossible to imagine our lives without her.

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Shortly after getting back from vacation, I got a call from her case worker.  She said Little Miss A’s mom wanted to know if we would be willing to complete an open adoption.  I told her we would, but asked what her dad thought about it.  After all, she had two parents and both would have to be willing to give up on reunification and reliquish their rights.  She didn’t have an answer, so we would just have to wait and see what happened.

While I couldn’t imagine not having Little Miss A in our lives, I also couldn’t imagine being in mom and dad’s shoes.

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Time went on and nothing was said about adopting Little Miss A until I asked the case worker for status on the case.  She still didn’t have any answer, but then things began to change.

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First dad quit showing up for visits.

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Then mom began to cancel visits.

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Before long mom quit showing up altogether and we were asked by the case worker once again if we would be willing to adopt Little Miss A.

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All the potential extended family placements had fallen thru and in December, the case went to mediation.

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At mediation, the goal was changed from reunification to non-relative adoption and a few days later, the judge terminated dad and mom’s rights.  We now needed to go thru the 90 day waiting process which gives parents 30 days to appeal the termination and a full 90 days for other family members to come forward requesting the child be placed with them.  Considering all that had happened over the duration of the case, we didn’t have a lot of concern, so we just moved on and waited out the 90 days.

On January 26th, we celebrated Little Miss A’s birthday.

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And we did things as a family like ususal.

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Eventually, the case was turned over to the adoption unit and we were told to hire an attorney to handle the adoption for us.

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Visits with the CASA and the adoption case worker began and before we knew it, we were given an adoption date.

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Today, was adoption day!!!

Which is why I was able to share so many photos of our beautiful baby girl with all of you.

So please allow me to officially introduce to you . . . . .

Arryn Nicole Weeks

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