The Journey of a Foster Momma

Author Archives: donnellgray

Here we are in 2016 and I haven’t posted in over a year and a half. We are right at the moment where we decided 4 years ago that we wanted to foster-to-adopt. When I go back through and read all of these posts, my tears won’t stop coming because it is a complete view of what God can do.

Remembering those raw feelings I had in the first posts about the possibility of losing Sky (my little Jedi) is like going back to those moments. Remembering what it felt like to think there was no way I could raise a 9-year-old boy, and now knowing I was able to do 9, 10, and 11 …. but what about this 12-year-old?! Can I really raise a pre-teen? A TEEN? Remembering all of the labels that were over their heads, and seeing how God has broken through every single one. Sky was born addicted to meth and people constantly said he would have learning problems. He is a 3 year old and the milestones he is reaching now are that of a 5 year old. God likes to defy all odds. Bricion came to us with a diagnoses of ADHD and bipolar, but after being with us for a year, they decided he must be “misdiagnosed.” Or maybe my God is a healer. 😉 Here we are, a family of 4 Grays, and we have overcome. THEY have overcome.

For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:4fb030

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Tomorrow will be 621 days since I suddenly became a mom. 621 days of crying numerous tears, sharing tremendous joys, and praying fervent prayers. 621 days of waiting for and hoping that adoption day would come. Since Day 1, other significant days have followed, such as Day 154 when our family of three became a family of four, Day 358 when parental rights were terminated, and Day 428 when we were officially in the adoptions unit. But nothing will compare to Day 621.

After being so close to something so out of my control, after holding on tight to something that could break in an instant, and after staring my biggest fear straight in the face day in and day out …. Day 621 will bear a constant & refreshing reminder that we are overcomers. That God is faithful. And that those boys are ours. ❤️


Jedi started a new daycare today.

To most, this is insignificant. But to this foster momma, it’s huge. Let me explain…

Around a year ago, I knew it was time to start looking into daycares for him because I was taking him to work with me every day and since he was moving around more and requiring a lot more attention, it was really affecting the amount of work I was getting done. So the search began.

I found a fabulous daycare that had a spot open for him and I was thrilled. But at the back of my mind, I was completely freaked out. Not for the normal reasons, like “Will they take care of him?” or “Will they pick him up when he is crying?” or “Will he even take naps there?” Oh, no. Those questions didn’t really ever cross my mind much. The one and only question that ever crossed my mind was…

“What if I take him to daycare and sacrifice those 7 hours each day that I got to spend with him, and then something happens and he gets taken away from us?”

Every single day I dropped him off, I would cry as I drove out of the parking lot with that question running through my mind. I could never forgive myself if he was removed from our home and I missed out on all those moments I could’ve shared with him.

Like I said, not a normal worry that most parents have when it comes to daycare.

It got easier once parental rights were terminated, and even better when we were moved into the adoptions unit. Every day, I just kept praying, “Lord, I know you have brought us this far. This is in Your hands and under Your control.” Now, in only ONE WEEK, the adoption will be final. We see the light at the end of the tunnel.

So, Jedi started at a new daycare today. And ya know what? I didn’t cry. Because I know at the end of each day from now on, I get to greet that boy and his contagious grin. 


It’s FINALLY HERE! We have a final court date so that we can officially adopt our boys! It’s less than three weeks away… on August 12th.

I am so full of emotion and keep bursting out into tears because I look back on the last almost two years and everything we have gone through with these boys. And I think, “Wow. We finally see the end.”

So many times I was desperate. I thought it was over. I thought I couldn’t handle it anymore. Yet, here we are.

And all I can really say right now is that God is so faithful. He never fails. And He is continually directing our path!

I promise to post more later! ❤


Sometimes it’s the little things. 

Oh, ok. For us it’s ALWAYS the little things.

At night when I tuck Han Solo into bed, we pray together and then I tell him I love him and goodnight.

As I walked out the door this time, instead of just saying, “Night, love you,” he said, “I love you too. Sweet dreams!”

It melted my heart. This boy has completely turned my world upside down. I never, ever, in a million years, thought that I would be open to a 9 year old boy (now 10) living in our home. Or adopting him. It’s just the most amazing thing I have seen God do.

There was a moment in time when “sweet dreams” was not something I could have because I was so scared of this boy. Scared that what his paperwork said would come to life & rear its ugly head. Scared that I couldn’t possibly love an older child that didn’t grow up with me. Scared that he couldn’t possibly love us.

But guess what? It didn’t. I do. And he does.

And I will have sweet dreams knowing that my family is slowly becoming complete.


Sometimes I just have days where my emotions start stirring up and I can’t stop thinking.

Thinking about the day we were licensed as foster parents.

Thinking about the day I got the call about a baby boy in the hospital.

Thinking about the first time I saw his tiny face.

Thinking about the first time I had to take him to visitation to see his birth parents, and how I cried into my mom’s shoulder in the hallway of my house because I realized I was going to have to share him.

Thinking about the anger I had that any person could be so selfish to put anything above such a beautiful baby, or any child at that.

Thinking about the forgiveness & hurt I had the first time I saw his birth mom’s face, and saw the pain written all over it.

Thinking about the time that Jedi’s paternal grandmother was in town and many of us were concerned it was because she was going to try to get him and take him to California with her.

Thinking about the moment I found out that was not the case and I was so ecstatic that he was still going to be with us.

Thinking about that SAME moment when I found Jedi would be staying with us, was the SAME moment I found out that Han Solo had been removed from his grandparents house because they couldn’t handle his behaviors. And CPS wanted to place him with us.

Thinking about how we prayed overnight about whether we were supposed to take Han Solo (A NINE YEAR OLD BOY!) into our home.

Thinking about the conversation Ryan and I had about how we knew God was calling us to take him in and even though we were completely out of our comfort zone, we knew saying no wasn’t an option.

Thinking about the case worker stepping in our door with a very scared little boy a few hours after we said yes.

Thinking about every. single. thing. that was supposed to be wrong with him.

Thinking about every. single. thing. that is NOT wrong with him.

Thinking about that first 30 days and how I was constantly going from one extreme to another.

Thinking about my fear of failing this kid and the letter that I wrote to CPS about his removal.

Thinking about how I shredded that letter and never looked back.

Thinking about the night he asked us if we were his mom and dad.

Thinking about the night he told us he loved us.

Thinking about the bond I have watched these two brothers form, even though they are 9 years apart.

Thinking about how I would watch Han Solo be so brave every time he went to visitation, and how he handled it so well when his birth mom would never show up.

Thinking about the conversations we have had with him about adoption, and family, and life, and how parents & adults are supposed to act.

Thinking about the many times he has already been able to witness the miracles of God.

Thinking about the first birthday party we gave him, the first time he jumped off a diving board, the first time he went on a family vacation, the first time he went to the fair, the first time he rode a four wheeler, jumped on a trampoline, rode a rollercoaster…

Thinking about all of the firsts that I didn’t get to experience with him.

Thinking about the final visit with his birth mom and how he asked her why she did this to him and all of his siblings.

Thinking about how I cried the whole way home from that visit and looked up to him for how incredibly brave he was.

Thinking about the termination court date and how our joy was someone else’s sorrow.

Thinking about the gain and the loss.

Thinking about the move to the adoptions unit and the thrill of knowing it will soon be over.

Thinking about how even though it will be over for these two, it is not over for so many more, including the future ones who will be in our house.

Thinking about the future ones.

Thinking, “Will they really ever understand all of this?” I could’ve easily avoided the heartache, the stress, the crazy. But my love for these boys is too immense and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Will they ever understand how much love I have for them? Will they ever be able to look at their children the same way?

I hope so.

And now I’m thinking about love. And how magnificent it is that a God could send his son for us. Will I ever be able to fully understand that kind of love? At least now, I feel like I have more of a glimpse of what that is like.

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My friend Shannon tagged me in a post on Facebook today, and the link was to an article on a blog that Kathy Lynn Harris wrote. It’s absolutely amazing. If you ever wondered EXACTLY how I feel most of the time, this right here says it all.

Dear Mom of an Adopted Child,

I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my son’s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.

It doesn’t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.

Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasn’t in God’s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousin’s neighbor’s friend. Maybe you ignored them.

Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.

Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because that’s what we do, isn’t it?

I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.

I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.

I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.

I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.

Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a baby’s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.

I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.

And I know about the followup visits, when you hadn’t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.

And I’ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand what’s being promised and what’s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.

I’ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene that’s emerging. I’ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesn’t have to go through with this. I’ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those moments—while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.

I’ve seen you look down into a newborn infant’s eyes, wondering if he’s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.

And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.

I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.

I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didn’t even know you were holding for months. Months.

I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.

I’ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things — but you can’t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.

I’ve seen you at the doctor’s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks don’t turn into big problems later on.

I’ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?

I’ve seen you wonder how you’ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, “You’re not my real mom.” And I’ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.

I’ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.

But most of all, I want you to know that I’ve seen you look into your child’s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something that’s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.

http://www.kathylynnharris.com/dear-moms-of-adopted-children/