Today, it’s a joy to reintroduce you to Cindy who’s sharing her unique journey through motherhood as part of our month-long guest post series, Special Mamas! In May 2015, Cindy wrote a guest post for the Special Mamas series titled “My Life in a Week.” At the time, Cindy and and her husband had three biological children and three adopted children. Their three adopted children originally joined the family as foster children, and their youngest biological child has Down syndrome. While the Special Mamas 2015 series was still running, Cindy sent an email letting me know they had just gotten word that they were going to be adopting another sweet boy into their family! The story was literally getting better by the day. Cindy was SO wanting to share the news in her guest post, but couldn’t yet because of legal proceedings. Today, Cindy’s sharing the REST of the story, the story she couldn’t tell us then, the story of how they came to adopt a sweet boy with special needs. Enjoy, friends! This is one very special mama, one very special family.
Wow. We have experienced a year since I shared “My Life in a Week” and what a year it has been! We have had mountain-top highs as well as ocean-trenches lows. Our days have been both monumental and monotonous. At some point, I am sure, God will even our keel and send us on a consistent path. Crazy as it may sound, I hope that is not any time soon. So as the Hubster, Allie (child number four), Allie’s bestie and I begin the six-hour trek back home from our celebratory trip to Disneyland, my mind, yet again, gets the opportunity to wander down the path of self-reflection and appreciation of all my Lord has walked us through these past twelve months.
I first refreshed my memory of my 2015 Special Mamas contribution to this blog, “My Life in a Week.” Goodness, that WAS a week! But I wasn’t 100% honest about all that was happening at the moment my post was published. With everything we had experienced, I was forced to leave out the most monumental moment of 2015. It was an email, actually a series of emails which had unexpected results.
You see, it was Sunday, you know, the day after Special Olympics regional games for Jillie, the day after Joe woke up with vomit on his pillow, the day after my oldest, Eric, returned to camp from the ER to serve in the kitchen for the Young Life youth and the day prior to the return of Emily from her Senior trip to Disneyland. It was Sunday that I sent an email to a person who provided support to our family for Jillie.
In that brief email, I asked if a family had come forward to love on the little boy I had been praying for the past month or so. It was a short, simple request for just a moment of information. I hit send and off my message went to await a response the following day. That response would be that no one had fully stepped up to the proverbial plate. If I remember right, the jokingly, but somewhat serious words, “Do you want him?” were included in the reply. I answered with a “Maybe we can help you find someone?” To which the word was “Can I give the DCS worker your name and number?” I countered with “Of course.”
It was the next email that caused me pause. The content of this note was the name and phone number of the DCS worker. That name was very familiar to me. You see, this social servant is the same person who brought Angel and Allie to us a little over nine years ago. That name spoke volumes of what God was expecting of our family.
After the Hubster and I spent time seeking wisdom from our Lord, we decided to step out into the void before us. A void that didn’t seem to exist when I was stripping that bed, cheering at the top of my lungs, or holding back tears of fear the day prior. As we progressed, it felt as if solid ground rose up to meet each step we made into the unknown.
The following day meant physical therapy for Jillie. I chatted about our experience and Jillie’s friend’s eyes began to sparkle. “His name wouldn’t be…” she asked. How did she know? We don’t live in a huge community, but what are the odds? It turns out she had provided physical therapy for this little guy before he had become the most recent sibling to enter the system.
This contact soon became a source of sanity for me as I could gain a little information from her because the boy was no longer on her caseload. Once we expressed our interest in adopting this sweet little blonde bundle of cuteness, our first two contacts were unable to share anything with us. An inconvenience and source of paranoia for this inquisitive mind.
As our faith-filled journey proceeded the following day, it was confirmed that the little guy would soon be experiencing his third birthday in a few weeks, in May. “Hey, we don’t have a May birthday. The Schulze family has February, March, April, August, August (again), September, October, and November covered, but not May.” This fact is something we would often joke about with those who would ask if we were done “having” kids yet. Our reply was that our calendar was almost full. So May had provided yet another solid step to our ever-confirming course toward child number seven.
The writing was on the wall. We knew what the task at hand was. Now to get the job done. We endured a few weeks of chaotic mystery as we were trying to figure out how to continue this process. A home study would very soon be necessary. While I was searching for someone to help us out in that area, I remembered that it is fingerprint clearance and reference letters that tend to prolong progress. A friend came to our house at the drop of a hat with his “kit” to obtain the necessary prints and advise us as to the paperwork needed. We began our list of potential letter writers, making sure we had people whom had collectively witnessed all aspects of our lives. Thankfully each one was eager to provide their view of us as individuals as well as parents and a family. Actually, not to boast, but many sweet friends insisted on providing endorsements of their own. In fact, the gentleman we found to help us with our certification cut off our reference count at nine letters. Speaking of him, it was a note of interest that his grandchild had been a teammate of Eric’s when he was on rowing crew in high school. (Can we say confirmation again?)
The mechanics were all in place. What control we thought we had was just that, a thought. The future of this little boy was in God’s hands just as it had always been. The month now would be June. We met the home study deadline in a month without a hiccup, which is rare. Now we wait. We wait for an adoption selection meeting. Yes, God didn’t make it a slam dunk for the Schulze family. At one point we were one of four families who had thrown their hats into the adoption ring for this guy. We kept going forward. We kept trusting. We kept hoping.
By the time decision-making day came, the Schulzes were one of two families remaining. We were able to see photos of him for the first time when the team that rallied professionally around this amazing little guy had sent the families a six-page questionnaire to answer about the responsibilities of raising this particular child. We answered to the best of our ability. Ok, I may have been pretty impressed with my responses but that was an encouragement to my parenting insecurities. We knew what it was going to take to add kiddo number seven. We were aware that his needs would be different than those of a typical child. Little lives that result in foster care need some specialized attention. Lives that were blessed with an extra 21st chromosome need additional care. Yes, our future son was born with Down syndrome, a trait that the Schulze family celebrates, a trait that big sister Jillie would share with her new little brother. The entire Schulze family was enthralled. The entire Schulze family was encouraged. The entire Schulze family was on edge.
My bestie made sure she was with me while I was waiting for “the call.” Her emotional support kept my insanity at bay. I don’t know what I would have done without her. With her, I was pacing and chatting and running all possible scenarios through my anxiety-filled mind.
It was noon on that hot Friday in July. I had been unsuccessfully not watching the clock when I heard my ringtone. I am pretty sure I thought the answer was negative at first. Then the voice on the other end confirmed what God had been confirming in our hearts from that Monday in April. We would need to check the month of May off of our available birth month calendar.
The Hubster and I would be meeting our fourth son the next day, Saturday. Except for Eric who was on a missions trip in Belize, all the siblings would meet on Sunday. Needless to say, we immediately fell in love.
Transitioning to our family began and had to move quickly because the foster family would soon be leaving on vacation. We became a household of nine by the end of July. By the end of September, we became a family of nine.
Today, Mother’s Day 2016, I received the most precious gift. My youngest child looked at me and called me “Mama.” My heart be still. I don’t think there is anything he could have given me that was more special.
I could fill another blog post with the adventures of the Schulzes since adding Ben to our family. Maybe I will, on my next long trip as passenger in my minivan. Until then, I will keep living my life just the way I like it, Never Easy – Always Good.
“My, you have a lot on your plate.” I can’t tell you how many times I have heard those words just in this past week. Reality is, I do have a lot to keep me busy and they all have two legs. Children have been keeping me out of trouble for over 20 years now. This period of time has provided experience with youth ages pre-birth to legal adulthood, specializing in bonding issues, chromosomal disorders, allergic reactions, illegal substance exposure, emotional challenges, as well as prolonged potty training and a myriad of other skills. With experience like this, one would think that I have “seen it all.” With the arrival of child number seven, though, we have added sneezing fettuccine noodles, pooping water balloons, and shutting belly buttons in the door (yes that really happened). I did have a limited amount of prior education including babysitting, Special Olympics volunteer, Early Childhood Education major, and preschool teacher. In May 2013, I was first asked to share my family story for a Mother’s Day blog series which gave me the penchant to begin blogging on my own. I am proud to be part of Special Mamas 2016. Join my family adventures on my blog, Never Easy – Always Good, at nevereasyalwaysgood.blogspot.com. While you’re at it, “like” my page on Facebook at facebook.com/nevereasyalwaysgood.
This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!