She’s Here To Stay!

On New Year’s Eve, 3 days before my scheduled trip to return Lil’ Sweetheart to her Florida foster home and only hours before offices were closed for the weekend, I got a phone call from the ICPC office in Tallahassee saying that NC had approved our paperwork. The best possible thing had happened! The ICPC process we had been waiting for got completed in time for Lil’ Sweetheart to stay in our home and not to have to return to FL. I got off the phone and sat on the ground blubbering and crying. I couldn’t believe it! All my work for the last 3+ months had finally come to fruition… this little one that the Lord had surprised us with was finally home and here to stay. Lil’ Sweetheart climbed onto my lap and asked me what was wrong and why I was crying. It was so sweet to see her concern. She hugged me and snuggled in for a moment before running off to play. She really is a precious little girl.

Monday, January 4th, became our official date of placement and the beginning of the 90 days we have to wait until we can finalize her adoption. She is so cute in her eagerness to become part of our family. She was very happy to hear that she didn’t have to go back to Tampa and immediately wanted to know if she was going to become an Ickes “today?” or in “3 days?”. She sounds like me in her impatience to get things done! Haha! She has a beautiful big smile and has taken me into her heart very quickly. She regularly tell me how much she loves me and reminds me that she is my girl and that I love her. So cute! Yes, little one,  you are mine and I love you.

This Friday marks four weeks since Lil’ Sweetheart has been with us. How in the world has four weeks gone by already?? Time is a funny thing. We are very slowly getting our footing around here. Having 4 children, all ages 3-7, is a handful! Sassy, Lovebug and Littleman already love their new sister but at the same time are letting Mommy know in no uncertain terms that they are not happy having to share me with her. Life around our house is sweet and difficult at the same time. God is good, though, all the time! Through the support of our new church (they are bringing us meals!) and the help of friends, we are making it through the tough first few days of transitioning a new child into the family.

Thank you so so much for praying for permanency for our Lil’ Sweetheart. God provided and moved the process so quickly that we have heard over and over how surprised everyone is that she’s home already. The folks working in Tampa can’t believe it! God is good. He knows what he is doing! And He had Lil’ Sweetheart for us all along.

 

Christmas is Coming!

Feeling like we were on the set of a classic Christmas movie, Bryan and I took the kids to a tree lot to buy our Christmas tree. The kids ran around while we took our time picking out the perfect tree. Something about being outside with a little chill in the air while buying a Carolina Christmas tree is pretty magical. IMG_1918As if that wasn’t enough, we took our new tree home, made cookies and drank hot cider while we listened to Christmas music and decorated the tree. Bryan’s mom was down visiting and having some family there made it all the better. Sometimes everything falls into place and feels a little bit like heaven. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

IMG_1933I’ve always wanted coordinating Christmas stockings and last fall I ordered some for Bryan, me and the kids. While personalizing them, I remember wondering if I’d ever get to buy the last coordinating one for another son or daughter some day. Well, my daydream came true! I got online and ordered the last one for Lil’ Sweetheart and now it’s up with all the others. The original picture shows all of their names but I edited them out for privacy’s sake. If you ever want to come visit, I’d love to show off the real thing! I’m pretty proud of our mantle and tree. Isn’t it pretty?IMG_0969 2A couple of weeks ago Bryan and I asked again for permission for Lil’ Sweetheart to come up for a visit. We found out this morning that the judge signed the travel orders and I am flying to Florida tonight to pick up my curly-headed little girl! I am so excited! This time we were approved for 17 days. Though we would have loved to have been approved for 30 or more, she has to get back in time for school to start after the holiday break.

Tomorrow Lil’ Sweetheart and I will be flying back up to NC to join the rest of our family. I looking forward to the simplicity of just watching all four of my kids play together. I can’t wait for Lil’ Sweetheart to be here with us! I will continue to pray for permanency to happen soon, but I also feel a great deal of peace, knowing that God is taking care of things in his way and his time. His Spirit has been working in me and helping me to trust him more and more and for that I am very thankful!

Trusting

We got our travel approval. For 9 days. Um… that’s not enough time to fly to Tampa, drive home, then do another round trip to get Lil’ Sweetheart back to her foster mom’s! We would barely be home before we’d have to leave again! We decided not to do the visit and I was pretty bummed. We were told that the reason we got 9 days and not 30 is that Lil’ Sweetheart would be too upset to go back to her fostermama’s house after being home with her new family for 30 days. Yeah, I’m sure she would. That’s why I don’t want her to go back to her fostermama’s house! I want her to stay here FOREVER!!

Unfortunately, forever might not start until the end of January, or whenever the ICPC finally gets done. The ICPC paperwork seems to really be holding everything up. It hasn’t even left the Tampa office for Tallahassee yet. (Enter Crying Eyes emoji here) And it has to travel to Raleigh after that, then to our county, then back to Tampa! (Enter multiple crying eyes emojis). Unless our new attorney can figure out a way to get around this, Lil’ Sweetheart can not be placed with us until the ICPC is done. I told her I want her home by Christmas! She said no promises, but she has a few ideas on how to speed things up. We have a date to talk on the phone tomorrow to discuss further what she thinks she can make happen. Here’s hoping!

I am praying and trying to trust God and his timing for this, it’s hard though. I am living out this mix of trusting and hoping, pushing and waiting. My Daddy is definitely teaching me that He is in charge and I have to believe what He says, that His ways are better than mine. I’m going to keep hoping and trusting the best I can till my newest little one comes home. Maybe I will get some good news tomorrow.

Three Times a Charm!

I arrived back home in NC… without Lil’ Sweetheart. I was talking to a kind friend that watched all three of my children that day and I was sharing with her how it feels confusing when something is so evidently God’s plan, like giving us Lil’ Sweetheart as our daughter, but our efforts to get her home keep getting thwarted! I asked her, what do you do when that happens?? And her reply… “Pray for strength.” That simple answer spoke to me. It was as if she said, “Don’t give up. When the way isn’t easy, pray for the strength you need to keep fighting for what the Lord is giving you. Pray for the strength you need to get your daughter home. Don’t give up!” I praise the Lord for women like her in my life. I may be in a new place, 700 miles from everyone one I once knew, but I am not 700 miles away from God. He has given us good people here, supporting us, loving us and cheering us on. He is so good and I am so thankful.

As for our progress towards getting Lil’ Sweetheart home, we are waiting (again) for travel approval. This time we are asking for travel to start Friday- in two days! If I find out tomorrow that we got approval, then I will buy my plane ticket and fly down to Tampa Friday evening, pick up Lil’ Sweetheart and then hop in the car with my mom and dad. They just happen to be driving up that night to visit us in NC and my newest snuggle muffin and I want to tag along for the ride! I am praying, praying, praying that THIS time we will get our Lil’ Sweetheart home. Granted it’s only for a 30 day visit, but my hope is that we will get approved for placement while she is here.

Doing a foster care adoption across state lines has proven to be WAY more complicated than the in-state ones we are used to. The next big hurdle after getting this visit approved is to get the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children (ICPC) completed, sent to NC, processed, and sent back to FL. That has to happen before placement and everywhere I turn I’m being told it takes 3-4 months to process an ICPC. 3-4 months?!!! I want her home for good by Christmas! I’m praying for a miracle, y’all. I emailed my U.S. and NC state representatives today and am going to follow up with a phone call next week. A fellow adoptive dad recently told me that my local representative could help push the paperwork through. Sounds good to me! I have no problem doing what I can to speed things up. To know Lil’ Sweetheart is to love her, and I want my little Love home.

 

On Pins And Needles…

Two weeks ago today I was sitting here at my mom’s house, waiting and hoping that we would get approval for Lil’ Sweetheart to travel back to NC with us. Here I am again, hoping this time we’ll get it! As soon as I post this, I’m going to call the GAL and see what news he has for me. According to Lil’ Sweetheart’s foster mom, the attorney has approved travel and we only need the judge’s signature! I’m heading to the airport at noon today and would really like to have my little girl with me. I’m hoping that it happens. I guess we’ll all find out soon enough…. Thank you for praying with me! 

Hope Rising

I’ve been on a little bit of an emotional roller coaster these last few days, waiting to hear when Lil’ Sweetheart might be coming home. I’ve been up and down between feeling hopeful and trusting God and feeling defeated and depressed. After hearing from the GAL that he didn’t think we’d get her Monday like we’d hoped, I was pretty bummed. I talked to God, though, told Him I really did want to trust Him, asked Him to help me rest in his provision and to believe that He IS working out a good plan.

Then… I got a text from Lil’ Sweetheart’s foster mom. She said I needed to call the GAL asap, that he was working on travel approval for Lil’ Sweetheart to come home with me Monday for a visit! Yeah! Hope rises again! I would love for this to happen but I’m also thankful that God keeps giving me peace that no matter what the outcome, He is taking care of this. It’s like he keeps reminding me that ultimately, HE is Lil’ Sweetheart’s dad and HE is taking care of her and her story. I’m so glad about that.

I called my mom yesterday, crying about how I just wanted my little girl home with me. Then Lil’ Sweetheart called me last night and she started to cry! It must run in the family (wink wink). She is not happy waiting either and she is letting everyone know it. Well, if all goes well tomorrow in court, she won’t have to wait too much longer.

Not Yet

We left Tampa yesterday evening with 3 little bugs snug in their car seats and 1 little bug back at her foster mama’s house. I was praying that we’d get a YES, but we got a NOT YET. I am thankful for all of your prayers and believe that God is listening and working out the details in a different good way.

We were hoping that first thing in the morning yesterday that the GAL’s attorney would be able to talk to the judge and get approval to travel. Instead we waited until 2:30 to find out that a different attorney had to get permission from the Attorney General before they could even ask the judge for travel approval. With that piece of information, we figured it would be best to get on the road instead of waiting in Tampa for an undetermined amount of time.

At this point we have no idea how things will play out. I will be back in Tampa in a couple of weeks and would love to be allowed to bring Lil’ Sweetheart back home with me when I go. I guess we’ll see! I got to take Lil’ Sweetheart to school yesterday morning. We walked hand in hand to her classroom and I got to meet her teacher! I kissed her goodbye, told her I’d see her in a few days and walked away feeling very sad. Later her foster mom texted me and told me Lil’ Sweetheart had said the same thing. She had felt very sad when I left her at school. In all of this, I know God is working out a good plan. Lil’ Sweetheart will be home soon. In the mean time, I am so thankful that we got to spend time with her this weekend. My heart is definitely in this. I love that little girl.