Walk for the Waiting is tomorrow morning (rain or shine)

Walk for the Waiting is tomorrow morning (rain or shine).

There are now 4, website like this 800+ kids in Arkansas’s foster system, human enhancement 600+ of which need an adoptive family today. Over 200 foster youth will age out this year because they were not adopted or did not find a permanent family.

The funds from Walk for the Waiting will go to The CALL, viagra Project Zero and Immerse Arkansas who are working hard to make sure each of these children get the family and care they deserve.

If you’ve already signed up to walk or give – THANK YOU!

If you haven’t participated yet, can you help to make sure every kid in Arkansas has a family? You can give at https://www.walkforthewaiting.org/staceyvalley

Here are my two precious girls that were in the Arkansas foster system, but are now part of a forever family — my family. They are my treasures, and I thank God that I get to be their mommy. meandmygirls

One Year Ago Today My World Crumbled

September 8, viagra dosage 2014: I was home with Anthony getting the house ready for Baby Girl. She was born the Friday before, and at the request of Elle* (birth mom), I was there for her delivery. See Elle and I had history. I adopted her first child back in 2010 after fostering her for almost a year. During that time, unbreakable bonds were formed with Elle, her mom, and the rest of their family. So when she found out that she was pregnant again, she asked me if I would adopt this child too. I was uncertain if I wanted another child. Anthony and I already had three daughters. But we decided to get open as a foster home, and if this child ended up in foster care, we would foster the baby as “fictive kin.” Fictive kin is defined as people not related by birth or marriage who have an emotionally-significant relationship with an individual. And since we had the biological sibling, our DCFS resource worker said we would qualify.

On deliver day, Elle was scared and asked me to be with her in the delivery room. The nurse placed a chair for me near Elle’s head. She was draped with hospital blue cloth and prepped for a c-section. I reassured her that it would be okay. (I was reassuring myself at the same time.) I was so fidgety, about to explode with anticipation. I asked Elle if she minded if I moved from behind the blue draping to watch the actual delivery. She didn’t mind, so I got permission from the nurse. The nurse agreed after I told her that I’m also a nurse and that the sight of blood didn’t bother me. I had seen a c-section in nursing school, but this one was different. With each cut of the blade, with every move of the surgical team, I felt my child coming into this world. It was like I was on that table and having an out-of-body experience watching myself give birth. The doctor exclaimed “It’s a girl!” as I witnessed Baby Girl take her first breath outside the womb. IMG_1232She was big. She had a strong cry. Someone asked me if I wanted to cut the cord, and I did. It was all a big blur, like a surreal made-for-TV movie. I was taken back to another room where they cleaned up Baby Girl, inked her feet for precious footprints on her birth record, and then I got to hold her for the first time. She was very pink — not the dark brown that I was expecting. She had big, bow-shaped lips. I was overjoyed and so nervous.  IMG_1230Sometime later I joined Elle in the recovery room. She was given two armbands for access to the NICU. She gave me one of them, so I was able to stay in the room with Baby Girl. Elle came down to visit periodically and a few times a day she would request that I go up to visit her in the postpartum unit. Every time I would see her, she begged me to raise Baby Girl — to fight to keep her — to not let DCFS place her with anyone else. I said I would. Elle told me that she wanted her daughters to grow up together. I liked that thought too.  IMG_1250Then Sunday came. Around noon or so, Elle came down to the NICU to visit Baby Girl. A DCFS caseworker was with Elle. They asked that I wait outside the room so they could visit. Anthony arrived shortly after that and met me in near the nurse’s station. I just knew that Elle was in there telling the caseworker about our plan — about how Anthony and I became foster parents just so we could foster this baby as fictive kin, and if the case led to termination of parental rights, we would be open to adoption since we already had her sister. Then the nurse on duty came out and said that we were being asked to leave and for me to tell her what things in the room were mine. I couldn’t even enter the room to get my things — the nurse had to gather them for me — and then Anthony and I were escorted out of the hospital. No explanation was given. I was in shock.

The caseworker called me later and told me not to worry. That was reassuring. The plan would work out. I waited all day Monday for the call. Finally mid-afternoon we got the call that Baby Girl was being released into DCFS care and that we would hear from another caseworker about placing her with us. Whew — what a relief. Then about an hour later we got another call that the caseworker was buying a few things for the baby, but we’d get an ETA call soon. Then a third phone call:

She’s being placed with another family.

My heart dropped. What? Surely there’s been some mistake. I called my resource worker and was told that Elle said that I was trying to take her baby from her, and therefore it was assumed we would not be a good foster placement because we wouldn’t work toward reunification. I tried to explain that wasn’t the case. I wrote emails to the resource worker to reconsider. I wrote the area director. Over the next two days, I wrote and called everyone that I thought could help, finally talking to the director of DCFS for the entire state of Arkansas. She basically told me to back off and let the system work.

It was out of my hands. For the next week, I was a mess. I cried and laid on the couch in a crumbly, depressed pile of brokenness. Those were dark and uncertain times. My faith was tested, and I didn’t take it too well.

Finally a meeting was set for September 19. Anthony and I went before the area director and a bunch of other DCFS staff to be questioned. And fortunately, our pure motives came to light. A few hours after the meeting, a caseworker brought Baby Girl to our house. She was two weeks old at this point, and I wondered what I’d missed in those 11 days apart. And I knew she wasn’t mine forever yet — or if she ever would be. The following months were fairly easy as far as foster care cases go. Soon we knew that reunification wasn’t the goal, and we would probably get to adopt her. We were cautiously optimistic.  IMG_1252Almost a year passed until we adopted Baby Girl, now called Quinn, on July 29, 2015. Over that year, God taught me several important lessons. The first and most important one is that HE WILL DELIVERY ON HIS PROMISES IN HIS TIME. I have to remind myself of that daily. I have to relinquish control, open my clinched fists and release my right now to Him. That’s not easy for this control freak, this planner of all things. But I’m learning, one hard lesson at a time.

* name changed

 

Adoption Day!

After waiting for what seemed forever, nurse Anthony and I adopted Baby Girl last week! It was a glorious day surrounded by friends and family. Our older girls, Kennedy, Madison and Maya were all smiles too. adoption2Judge Warren is the same judge that did Maya’s adoption back in 2010, so it was really special that she was our judge this time too.

So without further ado, World, meet Quinn Aria Valley… IMG_1058Special thanks go to my mom and dad, Gran Gran, Kristen and Carol for coming to be a part of our big day. adoption1adoption4It’s hard to explain how I feel now that the adoption is final. Relief mainly — no chance that Quinn will be taken away from us. She has been a part of our family since her beginning. Even before she was born, we loved her. I was in the delivery room when she entered the world — I even got to cut the cord! helloShe has been smiling and laughing and bringing us joy since her days in the NICU. I mean really — look at those lips!

I can’t wait to watch her grow up and to see her personality blossom and her talents emerge. She is already trying to stand up unassisted, so I think walking is in the near future. She loves music and is very curious and busy. She’s a sensitive soul and can get her feelings hurt easily, but she easy going and happy most of the time. Honestly, she is just perfect, and I’m so proud to be her mom. Quinn8.2.15

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Termination

I’ve held on to this piece since February — just too raw and personal to post. But I’m ready now.

Termination. It’s such an ugly word. It usually doesn’t come with good news. Termination of a job. Termination of a pregnancy. Termination of parental rights.

My husband and I recently sat in on the termination of parental rights (TPR) hearing for our foster baby. Unlike most foster parents, clinic I know this birth mom, Elle*. I went through it all before with her first baby who I fostered and then later adopted. I love Elle. Without her, I wouldn’t have my sweet Maya. Elle has become like family to me — although we rarely have any contact. I keep up with her through her mom who we now lovingly refer to as Gran Gran.

Sitting down in the courtroom, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to fill the space, to reign over the proceeding. Elle walked in wearing shackles and a correctional unit jumpsuit. Still I’d never seen her look better. Her hair was combed and neatly styled. She was clean and well fed. She was not high. Jail is a good place to be when you’re dealt a bad hand like Elle.

She sat down not too far in front of me, so I said hi. She squinted (due to a blinding eye condition) and said, “Miss Stacey, is that you? Is the baby with you!?!?” I told her it was me and that indeed Baby Girl had been placed with me. She beamed with joy! She started asking me question after question about Baby Girl and how she ended up with me, and I answered as best I could. Then…

ALL RISE. The judge entered and the proceedings started. The attorney for child services began reading aloud a long list of every reason why Elle is an unfit mother. And even though they were all true, it broke my heart. Elle sat there with her head in her hands listening to every horrible decision she made over the past several months. She had to hear that she failed as a mother. I cried big sloppy tears. I hurt for Elle. But I also thought about how often I fail as a mother and how it must feel to have that become part of a court record.

After the attorneys were done, Elle asked to address the court. She sat on the witness stand and her anguish gushed out. She sobbed uncontrollably. My husband held me close. Once Elle gathered herself, she expressed in the most beautiful way what I’m sure every mother feels at times. She told the judge that she loved her baby very much, but that she knows that she can’t be a good mother to her. She owned up to her mistakes and shortcomings. Then in an unexpected twist, she pleaded for the judge to let me adopt the baby.

To top it off, the judge gave Elle a precious gift — she validated her. She told her that she is not a bad person; that she is a good person who just made mistakes. She said that we all have struggles, but that doesn’t make us bad people. It was truly beautiful.

And I thanked the Holy Spirit for answering my prayer.

*Name changed to protect her privacy.

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New Year. New beginnings.

 

New Year’s Day is my favorite holiday. I think it’s because I love fresh starts. It’s like a new notebook the first day of school full of blank pages, page endless possibilities, and ideas yet to be thought. halfwaythere2014 was a pretty good year for my family. Anthony and I celebrated our first anniversary in April and started foster parenting classes with The CALL. On Mother’s Day, I was honored to be featured in Listen To Your Mother at The Rep. In June, Anthony and I visited England, Belgium, France and Kenya for 16 days. In September, I was in the delivery room when our baby girl that we’re currently fostering was born — I even cut the cord! All our children are healthy and happy and drive us crazy (as they should). We are definitely blessed.

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But yet, there’s something magical and mysterious about a new year. It’s not like a do-over — I don’t want to erase the events of 2014. It’s more of the anticipation — how is God gonna top this one kind of thing. I know He has great plans for us in 2015.

Of course I have the usual new year’s resolutions: cut back on my sugar intake, get back into daily walks, and build my Le-Vel Thrive business. But mostly I’m looking forward to possibly adding another child to our family legally and permanently, and spending more quality time with my kids and husband.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

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Sleep when baby sleeps… and other fairy tales

The FTC requires me to tell you that I am compensated as a Brand Ambassador for Arkansas Better Beginnings. As a Brand Ambassador I do receive payment for being part of their program, what is ed but most of all, I receive the information I need as a “new again mother” to give our little angel the best chance to get her on her way to being all she was created to be.

We are fostering a newborn in our house now. It’s exciting and rewarding and totallphoto 1(48)y exhausting. Complete strangers now feel the need to share their words of baby wisdom with me in the middle of Kroger. This weekend, a lady told me that pure vanilla extract can be used in place of Orajel. She stated that she has a slew of grandchildren, so according to her, she is an expert.

“Sleep when the baby sleeps.”

That’s a popular piece of advice, and it sounds very logical. But I’ve got stuff to do! I’ve got laundry and dishes and a high-maintenance five-year-old to contend with. I’d love to napping right now (Baby is asleep in my arms as I type this), but Momma’s gotta make a living! Luckily, I have some really good health supplements and a supportive husband, so I’m surviving.

Baby experts are EVERYWHERE. I appreciate their interest, really, but I prefer to get my advice from a trusted, evidence-based source like Arkansas Better Beginnings website.

betterbeginningsTheir website has valuable information for parents such as “Your Child at Birth”, “Your Child at 2 Months”, “Your Child at 2 Years”, etc. that highlight what’s happening at each stage of your child’s development. Each downloadable sheet outlines what to expect at the well-child visit for that age, as well as information about age-appropriate nutrition, sleep, behavior and safety. And information is provided in English and Spanish.

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I was relieved to read on the “Your Child at Birth” sheet, “For the first 6 weeks, your baby will not know day from night. So her sleep will not have a schedule.” So Babywise moms, back off! Let me just enjoy this cuddle time and maybe I’ll sneak in a quick nap later.

photo 2(47)
 
High quality child care and early childhood education sets the stage for how well our children learn, how they think of themselves and how they interact with their world. We as parents, child care providers, educators and citizens have a responsibility to make sure all of our children have the very best experiences they can. Better Beginnings, Arkansas’s Quality Rating Improvement System, has been developed to do just that. – See more at: http://www.arbetterbeginnings.com

Listen To Your Mother

At this very moment, cystitis the Valley girls are asking Siri how to bake cookies.

What could possibly go wrong?

photo 2(35)Anthony and I are trying to stay out of it and let them figure it out for themselves, but we had to intervene on a few questions we overheard coming from the kitchen:

“What is baking soda?”

“Is butter really necessary?”

“Do you think I could get away with 1/4 of the butter it calls for?”

photo 1(36)“The oven beeped. But I’m not ready!”

I hope my kitchen isn’t totally destroyed when they’re done. Or worse.
Lord, hear our prayer…

photo 1(37)Today a dream of mine was fulfilled. I performed on The Rep stage as part of the nationwide series Listen To Your Mother. I am completely humbled and honored that my story of motherhood was among the 15 stories shared today in Little Rock. There was some serious talent on that stage!

photo 3(25)Longing Fulfilled by Stacey Valley

I think I always wanted to be a mom. Even when I was young and careless, viagra dosage
I thought (foolishly) that I wouldn’t mind if I got pregnant. But I never did. I wasn’t like my friends with a steady boyfriend and marriage plans right after college graduation. So I dove full force into my career and the years flew by.

Fast forward to age 32. There he was sitting across from me at Cock of the Walk. Cute, blonde and gorgeous blue eyes. I was smitten. And a few months later, we were married. I’ll spare you the shitty details since this piece is about motherhood, but it ended two years later – the same month as my unexpected hysterectomy. My fertility slipped away along with my marriage.

But I had my career!

When I turned 40, I couldn’t take it any longer. The urge to be a momma overshadowed everything else. I left my job in DC, and moved back to Arkansas. Within three months, I completed foster parent training, got my home study done, fingerprints, yada, yada, yada… I set up the spare room with a twin bed and a borrowed crib and changing table. I decorated “the baby’s room” in gender-neutral colors. I just knew I would get a baby placed with me. I dreamed of a beautiful, little, dark-skinned, baby girl that would one day call me momma.

Friends and acquaintances, well-meaning of course, would tell me not to get my hopes up. Healthy babies are rarely placed in foster care and if so, the chances I’d get to adopt one, well…don’t hold your breath. I just smiled at them, thanked them for their advice, and moved on.

A month or so passed after I’d been approved by DHS to be a foster parent, and not one single placement. But then one rainy night in February, I got a call around 6 p.m. – Hello? Could I take in a black baby girl about 9 days old? Of course, I said. When? We’re on our way! (Deep breath.) Okay – see you soon.

I called my momma (who lived just a few blocks away) – GET OVER HERE NOW – WE’RE GETTING A BABY! I think I may have hung up on her in my excitement. Mom quickly came over, and we waited with such anticipation. We were like two little kids waiting to open Christmas presents!

Then the two social workers arrived carrying a car seat covered by a blanket to protect the child from the pouring rain. I answered the door and let them in. Paperwork, and more paperwork, and a few instructions, then they handed me the most beautiful little six pound brown bundle of pure joy. I held back the tears. I was in love instantly. I asked her name. The social worker said Hope. Mom and I exchanged a quick knowing glance. (Hope was my ex’s new wife’s name, so that certainly wouldn’t work.) I whispered to mom, we’ll call her Marley.

The next 10 months were a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. Nights of interrupted sleep and me still having to work full time. Parental visits with birth mom. Court hearings. Comments from strangers – like the little girl in the Wal-Mart check-out line, “How’d she get a baby that look like that?” (shrug) Conflicting messages: “Looks like you’ll get to adopt her;” “we’re now working toward reunification;” “Wait, birth mom failed her drug test again.” Up and down it went. Besides falling more and more in love with this child, the only other real positive was that I was losing weight. Seriously, I lost about 30 pounds that year from the stress of it all.

But then parental rights were terminated. At court that day, the birth mom hugged my neck and thanked me for taking such good care of her baby girl. She asked for a final photo with the baby. I thanked her for being brave, and I promised her that I would continue to love this child as my own.

Two months later the adoption was finalized. NOW I REALLY was a MOTHER. Forever and always. I held back my tears at the adoption hearing, but totally lost it at the Office of Vital Records when my baby girls’ new birth certificate was handed to me. Next to mother it read Stacey Reid McBryde. That’s me.

Answering the Call

Last night my husband and I attended The CALL informational meeting. The CALL stands for Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime, malady and they are mobiliadoptionzing Christian families to foster and adopt children from the Arkansas foster care system. I went through their training back in 2008 which led to this precious baby being placed in my home that I later adopted. She’s five now and the light of my life.

I thought I was done. I mean, sickness I’m no spring chicken. Friends my age have kids in college, recipe not in diapers. But that’s what’s cool about a calling — it often goes against the grain, against what is “normal.” God is in control, and He has a sense of humor. And He has placed a desire within Anthony and me to welcome another child into our home. I’m scared. I feel ill-equipped. But that’s where FAITH gets to shine — in those steps along a dim path of the unknown.

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