Adoption Story

by Joy Portis on October 17, 2011

>Fostering…..a new journey!

by Joy Portis on January 15, 2011

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Fostering was something I had thought about for years. Several things held me back from beginning the process. To begin with, the training was never convenient. For both Cole & me to attend the training 12 consecutive weeks, on a school night, for three hours with no child care seemed impossible. Second, I thought it would be too painful emotionally to love and invest in a child who could be taken away in a moments notice. Third I was afraid I might do bodily harm to someone or put myself or my family in danger when aware of the circumstances of a potential child placed in our family and if that potential child was returned to an environment that I knew to be harmful, abusive, neglectful….I tend to have quite a mama bear complex and was concerned about my ability to trust in the system and ultimately in the sovereignty of God.

After attending an adoption conference in Texas and praying about the direction the Lord was taking our church in adoption/orphan care, I came away confident that the Lord wanted our church/our family to come along side our foster system. What the Lord revealed to me was how many times in my reasoning for not being involved I was saying “I”and “me”. And what He boldly revealed to me was that it’s NOT ABOUT ME! It’s about being His hands and feet and meeting the needs of the children hurting around us. This used to be a ministry of the church, but somewhere along the way we turned it over to the state. Why?
Who knows the only One who can give peace in circumstances that most of us can’t even imagine, but is a reality to many just down the street?….The Body of Christ!
Who has been rescued from our desperate circumstances and brought into a family that doesn’t judge us on our past but offers a promise and hope for the future?…..only the Body of Christ!
There is only one who can:
comfort all who mourn,and provide for those who grieve
bestow on them a crown of beautyinstead of ashes,
the oil of joyinstead of mourning,
and a garment of praiseinstead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)




Should we avoid being involved in situations that could cause us pain and hurt or require us to sacrifice some of our comforts or take us out of our comfortable routine and organized life? We flee from the need in front of us because of fear.We’re afraid of changing what we’ve always done.Our lives have become comfortable and manageable.We have to put ourselves where the needs are!
Scripture tells us as believers we are to die to self daily, take up our cross and follow Him!
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16
Our Journey:
In January our church hosted foster care classes taught by the Department of Human Resources (DHR) social worker and Debbie Dickson of Shepherd Staff . It was such a blessing to be able to attend classes during normal “church” hours and to have childcare and children’s activities available (thus removing reason #1 for not going through training). We finished classes in March and turned our paperwork in at the last class. We didn’t hear anything from the DHR for a few months and then they called to schedule our home visit for September 7th at 10 o’clock. We had a great visit and I asked tons of questions about intake, caseload, etc and they mentioned getting a couple of babies in that week and one that morning. We have plenty of square footage in our home but only 4 bedrooms and 7 kids, you can do the math . When we bought this house we had one child and I was pregnant with our second….we had no plans to have a large family…..bet God was laughing then :-) We are working on house plans that would give more room options for fostering in the future, but until then I told them we could easily make room for a child 0-6 and to call with situations older and we would have to determine based on age, sex, and circumstance if we could make arrangements that would work. After checking the fire alarm, water temperature, escape plan, etc…. they were gone and life resumed as usual……until the phone rang at 5:15.
The baby they had told me about that had been discharged that morning was still sitting at DHR. His foster family that was supposed to be picking him up hadn’t showed all day…..could we come get him?!?!?!?
I flew up to the attic to get the infant car seat, called SK to see if she was almost home from cross country because I had to get 4 kids to soccer practice, so she pulled in and I handed off Eli and the 4 soccer players (who had no idea what was going to be waiting on them at home after practice) and Emme and I jumped in the bus headed to DHR. About half way there my phone rings…it’s Cole (completely forgot to let him in the loop). “Hey honey…what’s the plan for tonight (meaning dinner)..um, well, it just changed….SK is running soccer practice and I’m on the way to DHR to pick up a baby!” :-0) …..ooooookaaaaay, how long will we have him? You were in classes with me…who knows! Love ya!
45 minutes later we pulled in the driveway

This is what I picked up
Can you tell we left in a hurry :-)

before we finished unloading Cole made it home and helped us inside!
This is the most patient and loving man you will ever meet.
Not sure he would have “put a ring on it” 11 years ago if he would have know what the Lord had planned with our union. Just kidding!
About 10 minutes later the rest of the crew arrived and after laughing at their shocked and excited faces we were able to get a group shot before supper, baths and life as we know it (with just a lot less sleep)

How long will he be with us? Who knows! It could be a few more days or it could be a lifetime. What I have complete peace about it that my God has a perfect plan for his life and for whatever amount of time He allows him to be in our family we will love his as our own, teach him about his Heavenly Father and tell him how precious and loved he is. Will my heart break if he leaves us? Yes! Will I cry? You bet, already bawled at the thought many times! Will I regret opening our hearts and home? NO WAY!

Hebrews 12:2For the joy he knew was coming he gave himself.That’s our example.As we focus on fulfilling what is on God’s heart, looking ahead to the joy He promises –we help others find the love of God through the giving of ourselves.That’s the ultimate goal!

21 Foster Parenting Truths As Seen By a Veteran Foster Parent
from Keith Thompson:
My wife and I have been doing foster care for 17 years. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things that seem to be givens when working for our children.
1. Love may not be enough, but when you add unlimited patience and a sense of humor, you can usually get through.
2. Things go best when you go by the book – but you have to be using the right book!
3. Having a spirit of contention accomplishes nothing – especially when you are trying to work with the “system”.
4. You can’t help every child, but you can still cry for them.
5. You can’t help every child, but you can still pray for them.
6. Some people know how to fix a broken child, and some people know how to fix a broken system – very few people have the time and talent fix both!
7. You can feel close to God when changing a diaper.
8. Foster Care is the worst paying job in the world.
9. Foster Care is the best paying job in the world.
10. Enjoy the good days when they come – on the bad days, find someone to serve.
11. Kids who’ve had it rough in life need good, strong parenting.
12. Kids who’ve had it rough in life need someone to serve them.
13. Knowing when to be a parent, and when to be a servant brings the greatest joy and success.
This is the one I’m most partial to:
14. Abused kids are used to being yelled at – try using funny voices instead!
15. Never let a child go to bed without a “tuck-in”.
16. A 10 year old who’s never been allowed to be a 10 year old, will not become a 10 year old upon arrival in your home – pick your battles and conquer one behavior at a time.
17. ALWAYS expect that the children will not resemble their “resumes”.
18. Children are more important than furniture.
19. Work as if everything depends on you – Pray as if everything depends on the Lord!
20. The greatest lesson the Lord has ever taught me about fostering children came during a church meeting one Sunday. Our newly arrived, nine year old foster son came in during the meeting and asked me to tie his shoes. My first thought was to scold him for not being able to tie the shoes himself. My next thought was to kneel down and tie them for him. My final thought was – I am kneeling at the feet of the Savior!
21. And since I have still not learned everything, my most recent lesson comes from someone I only recently met. When we ask ourselves why a child had to be born to such an abusive parent, remember that the birth of a child is the keeping of a promise made in heaven.

>January 28, 2007 and Photos

by Joy Portis on January 28, 2007

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We are currently in the air about an hour before we land to refuel in Rome. It has been a good flight so far and started out with some good laughs. When we first got to our seats we started playing with all the buttons: reclining our seats, letting up the leg support, checking out our bag of personal hygiene supplied and sleep aids…. Once we got comfortable and after we finished watching our beautiful Ethiopian hostesses we decided to turn on our lights and read a little bit. Well, we kept mashing out buttons but nothing happened. After several times I realized the man’s light, who is sitting in front of Kim was going on and off as she pressed her button. Every time her would look up, try to bush his light button but nothing happened and then he would reach and try to manually twist the light to get it to turn off. We were in tears laughing and after a few more times we had to stop because we couldn’t control our laughing We then asked the hostess to try but only a few lights in the business class seats actually seem to be controlling the correct lights. Oh well, they gave us plenty of snacks and food so we were in good moods and just glad that our TV screens appeared to be working. While we had dinner I watched You, Me and Dupree and got several looks as I had to laugh out loud during several parts. Kim watched Step Up and when they finished we both took a Lunesta and settled in for a nice long nap.

I don’t know what is wrong with my body, I guess it’s the anticipation of meeting my daughters, but I just couldn’t sleep much. I guess I slept from 10 pm – 2 :15 (central time) at which time they woke us to tell that they were beginning to serve breakfast. Still not sure why since on US time it was way to early for breakfast and in Ethiopia it’s almost lunch, but I guess they had to get it done before landing in Rome to refuel. So my watch says it’s 3:50 am and we have just finished breakfast in bed and now they are pouring champagne :-) GOOD MORNING !!

We can finally see Africa on the screen that show’s flight status, etc. Very exciting !! We are getting really close and more excited. For now I’m going to try and get a little more sleep and I will hopefully get to update later!!!

>January 27, 2007 The Journey Begins !

by Joy Portis on January 27, 2007

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Needless to say, I didn’t get very much sleep last night! After taking 2 Tylenol PM I was able to fall asleep around 12:30. I had my alarm set for 5:40, but I woke up at 4:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep. Just what I needed… to make a long day even longer

I decided to try and rearrange my packing so I could fit more in my carry on. Around 6:45 mom and dad arrived with Kim and her luggage. Jon Cole was laying in my bed watching cartoons and drinking chocolate milk when they drove up. I told him they were here (so he could greet them at the door) and he hopped out of bed, still in his pajamas, ran past me and casually said “bye”! He was ready to go with them to Millbrook!! I explained that they weren’t ready to leave with him yet and that they were staying until our ride to the airport arrived.

We arrived at the Atlanta airport around 10:30 for our 12:30 flight. There wasn’t a long line to check bags, but each person took forever. They finally got to us and the time came to weigh our bags……… the first was 80 lbs!!! We had one exactly 50 lb’s, 73 lbs, 75 lbs and 68 lbs !! The weight limit on Ethiopian air is 70 lbs per bag, but for the United flight to Washington it was only 50lbs. I’m not a stranger to having to pay a fee for my over weight bag but it is usually $25. She was charging $50 per bag!! Fortunately for us we got the employee who had had her morning coffee and she only charged me for 2.

The flight to Washington was only an hour and a half and was uneventful, other that the rough spot of turbulence. There was a beautiful 8 month old baby one row in front of us and we played with her and we got even more excited about seeing our girls!!

Once we arrived in Washington we couldn’t find any listing of our flight ( we were to early for it to even be posted on the board yet) so we found a place to get some food! We were hungry, and if you’ve ever spent much time with anyone from the Mikell family, you know how important it is for us to get food when our bodies indicate that it’s time. It can get pretty ugly!! We enjoyed our lunch, had smiles on our faces, and headed of to find Ethiopian Airlines.

When we made it to the counter there was only 2 people in front of us, but it took quite a while. We had to check in and get our boarding passes and also got passes to the British Air Lounge where we currently are. There was a beautiful little Ethiopian boy in a stoller about 1-2 years old and we kept playing with him while his mom was having issues with the ticket guy. It made me long for my girls!!! Only a few more hours… The time in the lounge has passed pretty quickly. We have snacked, done some reading, enjoyed listening to the other conversations in the room (currently the Canadian Ambassador is giving travel advice and must see sites to a group of senior citizens on a tour together…we are taking notes) and watching CNN. I can’t remember the last time I sat for this long, and I’m sure it will be a LONG time before I get the chance again, so I’m trying to enjoy it. We have about an hour left before we head to begin boarding our flight to Addis Ababa !! We plan on taking our Lunesta, passing out and waking up in Ethiopia !! Until we are there….

Please Keep Us In Your Prayers!!

Eli’s Adoption Story

by Joy Portis on January 26, 2007

Cole and I began feeling led to adopt a child with Down Syndrome in the fall of 2007.  We fell in love with MANY children on Reece’s Rainbow but long travel requirements for many of them were not practical for our family.  As we continued to pray and research we were shocked to discover that over 90% of babies diagnosed with DS in the US are aborted.  Shortly after learning this there were two babies in need of adoptive families because they were not previously diagnosed and when they were born and diagnosed the original adoptive parent backed out.  They both required homestudy ready families since they needed immediate placement.  We decided to get our somestic homestudy ready specifically for a child with Down Syndrome.  About 7 months later we saw a post from an agency looking to place a 2 month old baby boy but the mom didn’t want to consider families with more than 3 children….we were out.  Two months later I saw another post, mom looking to place her now 4 month old son with DS.  Something in me just felt this was my son all along.  I called my social worker to see if she would call the agency and explain that we were not just hoarding children and if there was anyway they would just show the mom our profle anyway.  I was fine if the mom saw our family and read our profile and said “no way” but the thought that the social worker was making that call dorve me crazy.  When I explained to my social worker about the situation and told her the name of the agency in TN she hesitated.  She informed me that she thought our music ministers aunt ran that agency.  (are you kidding me, God you continue to amaze me)  Our music minister used the same social worker a few years earlier.  I called him and asked if he would mind calling his aunt and explaining the situation and vouching for our family that we weren’t crazy (maybe just a little) and see if there was anyway they would let the mom view our family profile.  The next day we were called because the birth mom wanted to set up a conference call for the next day.  We did, it went great, she amazed my with how she knew every deatil of our family.  She had studied that homestudy in detail and she wanted us to meet in person.  We headed to Nashville that Thursday and Friday morning, February 13, 2009,  we met in a room at Mariam’s Promise with the social worker, birth mom, her older daugher and sweet baby Eli.  It was an emotionally exhausting meeting.  Not knowing the right words to say to this precious mom who clearly loved her son dearly, as evidenced by her sacrifice and persistence to care for him herself until she found the right family.  One that she knew he would be loved and adored so that she could move on and heal.  She and her sister had been adopted and had a wonderful adoptive family so she knew how good adoption could be and needed to have that peace because sadly, her circumstances we not such that she could care for another child with special needs.  Sweet Eli was an angel and fell asleep in my arms while we were visiting.  You could feel the birthmoms peace as she saw us connect and she was relieved to see him so content.  After visiting for about an hour or so and answering some questions we all went to lunch together and get to know each other better.  We really enjoyed getting to know mom and sweet big sister.  She wanted us to take custody as soon as possible so we made plans to return the following Friday to take custody.

 

to be continued……kids are up from naps :-)

 

by Joy Portis on January 26, 2007

On December 28, 1993 Cole and Tina Portis anxiously awaited the arrival of their baby girl.  The joyous moment arrived and they held their precous blessing in their arms.  That night Cole returned home to get some rest and Tinas mom remained at the hospital with her because she was not feeling well.  In the wee hours of the morning Cole received a phone call that would change their li ves drastically.  Tina had experienced a brain aneurysm.  He rushed to be by her side as she went to be with the Lord.  The Lord blessed Cole with wonderful friends and family who came around him with with prayers and support of every kind.  After some quiet time spent with the Lord he returned home ready to tackle the journey ahead and trusting in the Lords perfect plan.  God provided a wonderful nanny who moved in and loved and card for SK as her own.  Shortly after SK turned 2 I interviewed for a part time job keeping SK  2-3 days a week while I was in college.  During the next 2 years we developed a close bond as she got to know my family and I got to know her extended family.  She spent many nights at my home with me and my parents and went on many dates with me and my boyfriend at the time.  She was even with me the night I got engaged to that previous boyfriend.  Cole worked long hours and was dating a woman out of town so we really never even had a conversation about anything other than information about SK and how much he owed me.  After two years I transferred to Auburn to get my masters degree and a friend of mine took over caring for SK.  Since she was such a big part of my life I would still get her on weekends when I would come home.  During that time I was doing a Bible study called Experiencing God and the Lord really convicted me about changes I needed to make in my life to be obedient to Him.  I discussed the changes I was making with my fiance and he was not on the same page.  The engagement ended.  A few months later I was at the beach with Cole’s mom & SK working on decorating and cleaning a beach house he had purchased.  Cole came down later in the week and one night we just began to talk.  Really have our first conversation outside SK and work.  It was almost like 100 questions, get to know you questions, and that night our eyes opened to each other in a totally new light.  We went on a dinner date the following week and I knew then that he would be my husband.  We dated exactly one year before we got engaged and then married three months later.  Since The Lord allowed me to develope such a close relationship with SK and Tina’s parents prior to one with her dad, our marriage was an easy transition.  After we wed I was blessed to get to leagally adopt Sarah Kathryn as my daughter. We didn’t realize it at the time, but that was just beginning of the of our adoption journey.

>Emush

by Joy Portis on January 17, 2007

>This is a copy of her birth certificate. This will be her legal name until we re-adopt them after about 6 months. Then we will call her Emme! This is only the 2nd picture I have of her and she looks completely different! The first picture she was about 2 months old and weighed 5-6 lbs due to malnutrition. If her current weight is correct is says she now weighs 14 LB. at 5 months. She has fattened up!!! Praise God for her thriving in their care !!!

I Leave on the 27 to bring them home! Please pray for our safe travel and for room accommodations. There is a UN conference there at the same time and the only two American hotels (Hilton & Sheraton) are completely booked. I hoping for some cancellations:-)

>Tewabech

by Joy Portis on January 17, 2007

>This is a copy of her birth certificates. This will be her legal name until we re-adopt them after about 6 months. Then we will call her Zoe!

I Leave on the 27 to bring them home! Please pray for our safe travel and for room accommodations. There is a UN conference there at the same time and the only two American hotels (Hilton & Sheraton) are completely booked. I hoping for some cancellations:-)

>They are Officially Portis’

by Joy Portis on January 4, 2007

>We have been waiting to be assigned a court date, which we do not travel for but after which they are legally our children. Our agency closed the Friday before Christmas and didn’t return until January 2nd, but obviously things in Ethiopia were still moving. Today, January, 4th, while skiing in Colorado I received a message from Michelle, my case manager. I called her back and found out our court date was YESTERDAY, January 3rd, and it was successful so they are ours! Michelle thinks we will be assigned an Embassy date, which we travel for, the end of January. We probably won’t have more than 7-10 days notice before our Embassy date, so we will just wait!! THank you all for your prayers and support! We are so excited !

>Video of my GIRLS!

by Joy Portis on December 5, 2006

>These are from November when several people from our agency traveled to Ethiopia. The went down to Soddo and interviewed the children and got updated measurements. I am clinging to these every day until I can hear and see them in real life! It’s getting closer…….

Here is the link to the video of Emush (Emme)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXeLocabXDs

This is the link to video of Tewabech (Zoe)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_mNj20_Y88

It’s not the greatest quality, but at least you can see them!!!