Sunshine and the Rain » Blog

I so did not have the courage to brave church by myself on Sunday! Jared was out of town and I was just trying to make it through the weekend… Any other mommas ever been there?  It was early afternoon most of us still in pjs but I wanted to still spend some fun time in the word and make an impact in their hearts. Last week I had found this verse as I was pinning and the words…

“Kind words are like sweet honey to the soul and healthy for the body” Proverbs 16:24

We started by clearing the birthday message off the chalk board (from MONTHS ago… and don’t get too excited about the little decorations… yep… also from a January birthday!) And I wrote the verse on the board and Rhi happily retraced it a few times!

2016-04-24 Heuvel Creative Devotions- Kori and Jared Photography-404pintopinterest( a shameless plug for our favorite local honey – Urban Delights www.urbandelights.com   And our very favorite is Orange Blossom)

2016-04-24 Heuvel Creative Devotions- Kori and Jared Photography-409pintopinterestI picked out all things we had in the house… and plated them on four plates for the kids… We had blueberries, bread, apples, a clean cookie, and a few animal crackers with a scoop of honey… I surprised the kids with the plates and we talked through the verse… read it a few times…

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We talked it through…

What does honey taste like? (yes I let them taste test it!)

What are kind words?

How do kind words make us feel?

We talked about loving the sweetness of honey… and how honey makes all sorts of things (foods in our experiment) better… how it makes you want more!

Then we talked about salt… and we tasted it! Talked a little bit about how harsh words can spoil all sorts of things and so fast just like salt…

After that we practiced kind words… took a moment to each say something sweet about each other… everyone got a turn and it was fun!

2016-04-24 Heuvel Creative Devotions- Kori and Jared Photography-463pintopinterest2016-04-24 Heuvel Creative Devotions- Kori and Jared Photography-475pintopinterest2016-04-24 Heuvel Creative Devotions- Kori and Jared Photography-483pintopinterestI couldn’t let them have all of the fun! My favorite recipe for clean yummy cookies! And I’m a little nerdy so I did have a plan of what to talk about but if your inspired by a whole lotta spontaneity… I say wing it!2016-04-24 Heuvel Creative Devotions- Kori and Jared Photography-479pintopinterestAnd this last one is a psa for all of you mommas out there! This is about connection… NOT PERFECTION! So go into it with the mindset it will be mess… like really messy! I let kids dip food in honey for goodness sakes… see the picture! There will be some clean up… The good news is that kids shower off… tables wipe up and clothes can be cleaned…so live it up…

And reality check… I also had a 5 year old who wasn’t so thrilled I tried to “talk” before he could eat it all… THAT’s ok!  He got the point… the point that God’s word is sweet and that we took some time out of our day to connect… to be with each other… to bring sweetness to the souls of each other with kind words… and dare I say by the end of it they all had fun! So have fun… try something new!

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If you have any other fun and creative ideas on things to do with your kids to soak in God’s word… we would LOVE to hear them! Leave them in the comments or email them to us!

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Most of the time I love it when Facebook reminds me of those memories from years ago! Last week this photo of our Little Keag’s toes popped! I resaved it and was just in awe of this photo… 

Even as a photographer I’m always amazed at how seeing a photo just takes you back… You can see it and be gripped with that same emotion… And smells… And feelings…

I got teary because it brought me back to the feeling of being captured by this sweet boy and gripped with fear at the same time. When we brought him home we were labeled as a foster placement (wholeheartedly hoping to adopt) so we truly had no clue at the time what that future looked like. When we brought him home we brought him home knowing we would love on him with everything we had for as long as we could have the joy of being with him!!! I remember taking these photos for him… So he would have these treasures of baby photos of himself… But taking them not know if I would be the one lucky enough to be his forever momma. So, there was this mixture of overwhelming love, fear and faith all jumbled up.

Fast forward to last week when this picture popped up… I saw it and cried happy tears. As time moved… As his case progressed we gained the sweetest blessing of being forever family. And here we sit almost two years since his finalization and seeing this photo fills me with those feelings.

I sat at the top of our stairs and showed Keags the photo of his tiny toes… “Mine tiNy toes” and in his three year old language we started talking about him as a baby and the day we brought him from the Nicu and how beautiful this itty bitty premie baby was… “Mommy’s baby?” He asked? “My baby forever and ever and ever” I told him as he sat on my lap inside my hug holding my phone entrenched in his baby photo. Made me thankful for every moment we have had with him! Thankful for the photos we do have to connect him to his story… And so humbly thankful that I have the gift of his snuggles… And the honor of being his momma! pintopinterest 

I think our stories are so powerful! They connect us to who we are… Connect is to those that love us… And I think for our kiddos especially those who come from hard places celebrating their age appropriate story is sooo good! Celebrating what connects us and celebrating the uniqueness of that story is so huge. So dust of those picture books (I typed and erased scrapbooks because if you’re anything like me… Only my first kid has scrapbooks… The second kid has shutterfly photo books… And the younger kids have photos organized on hard drives… And I will call it a win that there is documentation of our adventures and the kids are all still alive… Any other mommas feel me? Ha! 😜)

Or scroll though those photos on your phone or iPad and relive those moments and feelings of when you first held your baby in your arms! Share that with them! Remind them of how treasured they are!!!

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Previously shared on our photography blog on July 19, 2012…   http://www.koriandjaredblog.com/2012/07/19/adoption-hurry-up-and-wait/
 
I asked Jared this week if it’s still possible to totally be nesting even if we are adopting??? I have been cleaning out all sorts of odd places. Don’t get me wrong we still have lots of places that need some attention but I have been going through every corner of our home! This week has been a huge week of milestones for us in bringing our sweet baby home.

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We have been working on the last few things that we have needed to do on our end. The last major thing was to PUT GRASS IN!!! Yay!!! Jared & my pops worked hard on the 4th of July to put all 6 pallets of sod in. We met with our county licensing social worker this week and she signed off on our foster license. As of Wednesday it is official that we are licensed Foster Care Parents… This whole thing is becoming REAL!
This process is seriously a humbling process… through each part of this process there is a different mental battle to prepare for. We also met with our Liliput Adoption Social worker and talked over the final details on our home study. She started to prepare us for the final timeline and mentioned that her goal is to present our home study to the Children’s social workers by July 24th… She also said that it could take months for a match but that we should be prepared for it to take weeks. We very well could get “the call” as early as August 2nd. She made mention that there “may” potentially be a few cases that could be a possible match for us and that’s when Reality set in…
Our baby may already be waiting for us…
We were talking with our sweet social worker and she was asking us about being ready… and what our near future schedules look like. Adoption is so much different in preparation… With our biological kids there was a road map and a plan for pregnancy… With adoption there is an order of events… but NO timeline. You prepare without totally knowing what you are preparing for. You plan without totally knowing what you are planning for! So, we commit our hearts to the Lord, we daily surrender our home to his will, we dedicate our plans to him and trust each day that God will prepare his perfect story for our little family.
I struggle.
I struggle with the thought that our child is just out there… waiting…
The momma inside me has a hard time thinking about our baby and their unmet basic needs, need for saftey, and a whole lotta love.
It literally grieves my heart. It aches.
The Reality of Foster – Adoption
We took 10 classes of pride training to become foster parents. I rarely made it through a class without being a blubbery mess… our instructors worked hard to prepare us with real stories of foster children … Most  stories were stories of things that no child should ever have to endure. This process is hard because in order for our family to have the blessing of adding this little one… Our little one will have had to have suffered some incredible loss. They will have already endured such a sadness. The loss of their birth parents, the loss of the events that led them to the foster care system, and the loss of their little life they knew. Through this loss our family is made full. Our family will be blessed… We pray for swiftness in whatever the situation may be… so that our little one can be covered in love and healing may begin as we grow as a family through this.
Prayer Requests:
*Pray for wisdom for all of our social workers as they work on matching us with our little one.
*Pray for wisdom for us and that we would know with certainty which placement is right for our family
*Pray for our transition as a family!!!
*Pray that we would be equipped to meet the emotional and physical needs of our new little one
April 13th, 2016
If you are in the waiting part of the process… we would love to pray for your family and support you through this ! Reach out… leave us a comment so we can pray you through this!
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Previously posted on our Photography Blog 6/22/12-

Welp… We are so stinking close to being officially licensed for our foster adoption… but we now need to actually have grass in our backyard and a few small other things… and we need it quick. It was kinda funny because our sweet social worker said our back yard needed to be “inviting” and I made the joke that when you get 5 kids, two shovels, one hose and lots of mud the kids come running but I guess the pictures below just weren’t the right kind of “inviting” So here’s what we did…

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Written 2016/04/04

We captured mini sessions with this cute lemonade stand decorated by the talented Emily Van Unen… but it was perfect because we were able to offer mini sessions and put every dollar into taking care of the things that our licensing social worker asked us to finish up before we were officially licensed! It seems so amazing to me to see so many families come up with such creative ways to raise funds to grow their families through adoption! Every type of adoption requires different financial investments… and We would love to feature your story… or non-profit! What creative ways did you find to help your family invest in your adoption? We can’t wait to hear your ways! Comment below!!!

Kori

(Photo Credit: Kori & Jared Photography)

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Working on Baby No. 3…

(previously blogged on our photography blog 6/21/2011 – Working On Baby No. 3 » Kori and Jared Photography Blog)

 

Jared keeps telling people that “we are working on baby no. 3.” I think he just may like the awkward facial expressions that everyone gives us when we first tell them that. But seriously we are cautiously excited to share that we are in the middle of the foster – adoption process… quite honestly… we are sooo stinking close to being ready for a placement!!!

Quite awhile ago we started talking about baby no. 3 and when to start trying to get pregnant and how to “plan” the next pregnancy… but every time we talked about it we kept coming back to the conversation of adoption. Early on in our marriage when we would dream about our family someday we would talk about how we were open to bringing home an adopted child. And even though God has allowed us to birth healthy babies we want to adopt a baby who needs a home. We know we can’t change the whole world with one adoption but we can do our small part to change the whole world for one little one who needs it. One who needs to be loved not for what they came from but for who they have the potential to be. A little one who needs someone to champion for their needs just like we would our own biological kids… they need a momma and a daddy who love them to the moon and back and even though he/she (or even they) may not come from my tummy – we wholeheartedly believe that we can and will with the Lord’s strength as we walk through this adoption. One day we were driving and talking and we started sharing our “preferences” if you will about a local domestic adoption, preferred gender, preferred ethnicity and oddly enough… Jared and I were completely on the same page about everything. We have a hard time on agreeing about what to have for dinner and so the fact that we were on the same page about everything with adoption meant we should probably pay close attention. Over the years we would say that our home is full of “too much chaos” right now and that we would love to do it later in life. Too much chaos??? We kinda came to terms with the idea that that’s life… and while yes – we are in the crazy stage of raising kiddos we decided that now was the time for us to quietly start knocking on the doors of adoption. We decided that we would love to open our hearts and our home to just the right child that God would have for us. We want our crazy little family to be home for them…

 

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A few Statistics and Facts:

There are more than 500,000 children and youth in foster care in the U.S.; approximately 20,000 youth “age out” or emancipate from foster care each year.
100,000 foster youth live in California.
In California, 65% of youth leaving foster care do so without a place to live.
Up to 50% of former foster/probation youth become homeless within the first 18 months of emancipation.
Twenty seven percent (27%) of the homeless population spent time in foster care.
Fifty-eight percent (58%) of all young adults accessing federally funded youth shelters in 1997 had previously been in foster care.
Less than half of former foster youth are employed 2.5-4 years after leaving foster care, and only 38% have maintained employment for at least one year.
Youth in foster care are 44% less likely to graduate from high school and after emancipation, 40 – 50 percent never complete high school.
Girls in foster care are six times more likely to give birth before the age of 21 than the general population.
Sixty percent (60%) of women who emancipate from foster care become parents within 2.5-4 years after exiting care.
Parents with a history of foster care are almost twice as likely as parents with no such history to see their own children placed in foster care or become homeless. (stats found : http://www.onthemovebayarea.org/node/561 )
The Point – there is such a huge NEED for healthy families to love on these kids!!! These kiddos need someone to stand in the gap for them and help them break the cycle. They need a forever home!

The Process:

Boy OH Boy… are we learning a lot about the process! This process has it’s very own language… and a whole new set of hoops that I had never imagined! We were clueless when we started and started with an incredible agency but quickly learned they were an amazing foster agency but couldn’t actually do our home study and adoption. They referred us to San Joaquin County and their contracted adoption agency (Liliput) which is who we have chosen to foster adopt through.

We have never really felt “called” to adoption. But Right from the first orientation at the County building and we felt confirmation that we were heading in the right direction. This process of foster adoption is a bit different than even a normal private adoption where a loving birth momma is making the decision to gift her child to a loving family… This process starts out with sadness for me… My heart literally grieves a bit… that there is a momma out there or will be out there who has made choices in her life that make her incapable of taking care of her sweet baby… choices that are harmful and hurtful to this child… I am full of sadness because “she” won’t get to experience the daily joys of being their momma. Her loss will be our blessing.

We have tussled with how much to share and when to share it so we are slowly walking through this process and are hoping to share our journey through this next little Heuvel Adventure. But we want to be real… and we need to be transparent and we hope our story will encourage you in some small way. With that being said… please ask us! If you are curious about something or want to know more pretty please… Ask! For us our story began with us… Asking our dear friends their story. I am so thankful they shared their real experience and spoke truth to our hearts and have help to pray us through this adventure. We would love to share our story with you !

Our goal is to adopt a child or sibling set of 2 under the age of 18 months. It was important to us to maintain our birth order and protect our home from things that older children may have been exposed to. We absolutely do not have a preference on gender and can’t wait to meet him/her… We have made the decision to do high-risk concurrent planning. Which has nothing really to do with the medical condition but rather has to do with where in the process of reunification with the birth parents we come in. So for us what that means is that while the child in unlikely to return to their birth parents it is still a possibility. And we are willing to take that risk. Because when we take that risk we increase the opportunity of receiving a child placed in our home at an earlier age and that also means potentially less placements for our child. Less tragedy and movement they have to endure… and then We can start the bonding process right from the start. It’s pretty much at this point that I see people gasp… but what if they get returned to their birth parents? And I think on this side of our adoption… I can say “I am confident that if that happens our hearts will be broken!!! but I will have to choose to believe that our home was a safe place for them… a place where they felt a foundation of love… a place that God used for his perfect timing… not our own” Let’s be very honest… I am hoping that doesn’t happen! So our process will include visits with the birth parents, waiting for a decision of parental rights to be terminated, a waiting period, and then the final adoption. It’s such a crazy road because while there is a roadmap of how to get there… each case’s timeline is so vastly different so we wait… and carry on with this crazy little life!

Where are we at now?

We are sooo close to being completely licensed and finishing up our home study. There has been an overload of paperwork, Pride classes, meetings, approvals, inspections, fingerprints, dmv and doctors visits, putting in back steps, sprinklers, door locks and now we are ALMOST there. We have to finish one pride class that we missed because we shot a wedding and then found out yesterday that we need put in grass in our back yard and we will be on our way!!! Our sweet social worker said it needed to be “inviting”… I laughed to myself because there were five kids, two shovels, one hose, a huge mud puddle and I’ll tell you what… that back yard was quite inviting… But hey we like to follow rules so that is our last thing to do before our home is officially licensed as a foster home.

How You Can Pray:

We would absolutely treasure your prayers through this! Please pray for:

*Just the right child for our family, pray for protection over them until they find their way to our home.

*Pray for our hearts as we prepare ourselves, our kiddos, our home and our families for the upcoming changes.

*Pray for ALL of the social workers working on our case… pray that our family would find favor with them and that they would have wisdom and direction and smooth communication when working on our case.

*Please pray for all of the kids in the foster care system… there are so many kids who have suffered unimaginable things and join us in praying that there would be restoration in their families or that they would find safe and healthy families to call home, and for sure that there would be healing in their hearts!!!

How you can help:

We need to raise a small chunk of change to make the final updates necessary to license for placement. We need to raise it pretty quickly so we are offering stylized mini sessions at a pretty big discount from our normal sessions prices to help with some of the costs needed to finish up our yard and a few other baby things that we will need. We will be offering these specials for one day only… July 6th, 2012 for complete details see our post here: http://www.koriandjaredblog.com/2012/06/22/adoption-fundraiser-mini-lemonade-stand-sessions-ripon-photography/

Another way you can help foster kiddos is to become a foster or adoptive parent yourself. If you have ever even thought about it… consider going to an orientation. Orientations are the best way to learn about who that agency is and how they work… You can contact San Joaquin County for more information on their orientations at 209-465-KIDS or view their website Foster Care Home Page

Thank you so much for taking the time from your day to read our family update! We truly appreciate your thoughts and prayers as we walk through this crazy unknown time! We know that we can’t do it alone and we are thankful for our families and friends supporting us!

{We just finished up our Pride Training Classes. There were six couples and individuals starting their Foster/Adoption journey with us}

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