This past Sunday we celebrated our sweet baby boy’s first birthday with our family and friends. It was the best day having our loved ones over to celebrate him. You all know I can only share so much but today I do want to share his cute little candy shop themed party along with some photos of the amazing people he has in his life.
Life has gotten so much sweeter since he entered into our lives so Baby Weaver’s Candy Shop seemed like the perfect theme!
We got this bounce house from Sky High Party Rentals and I love how it went with the theme perfectly!
Thank you all so much for reading last Friday’s post talking all about the fun stuff to do in Atlanta. One of the things that I loved about our trip was that it felt like we were on a continuous date day/date night since we were exploring and trying out new eateries all week long!
I’m sure all of you mamas know how hard it is sometimes to fit in a date night but we have been especially struggling with it because of our situation with baby Weaver. Since everything isn’t officially finalized yet, we can’t even leave him with a family member or close friend without them filling out paperwork and getting an FBI background check. No, I’m not kidding. I have the most loving girlfriend’s you guys and they have all asked to watch baby while Brandon and I go on a date night. And even though they said they don’t mind doing the paperwork and background check, I still really hate for them to have to go through all of that. Even when my family came in December, they had to get fingerprints done as soon as they got here and all that jazz. It is kind of annoying because here they are, the most kind people, flying thousands of miles to love on baby Weaver and I’m like “hey Mom, can you sign this paper first?’.
I mean, I get it. I see why the system has to enforce processes like this but when it’s personally happening to you and you personally know that your family member’s are genuinely good people, it starts to get you a little. Just being honest.
So anyway, something that I think is so important is “dating your spouse”. We get so caught up in life that it is so important that you put aside time for your spouse to keep that spark. Yes, we spend time at home together talking about our work day or things that we need to do but I love enjoying that quality time just laughing not thinking about a to do list and just enjoying each other. With our son and no babysitter, I thought it would be a good idea to recap some ideas to have a “date night” with your precious child in tow!
1- Try out new restaurants- I love this because Houston is constantly opening something new. You should know by now that I am a big foodie so eating is always at the top of my agenda. Grab the hubby and baby to try out a new brunch spot!
2- Invite friends over that have kids- Order in some yummy food and enjoy some board games while the kiddos play.
3- Go on a road trip or take a staycation- Just getting out of the house feels like an adventure. It doesn’t even have to be a trip to somewhere far but exploring new spots with your spouse always brings excitement! Plus the watching the baby discover new things makes my heart melt!
4- Beach stroll and sunset dinner- something about being on the beach is always romantic. We haven’t taken baby to one yet so I think it would be so fun to take him on a little beach stroll and then have dinner at a nearby restaurant while the sun sets. Plus that’s like bed time so he may fall asleep while we are having dinner LOL
5- Netflix and Chill- Sometimes after a long and exhausting week at work, you just want to put on your jammies and relax. Grab all of your favorite movie time snacks and snuggle up with your honey. This is great to do after baby goes to bed so you can have your one on one time.
*BONUS- If you are in Houston, the perfect date day would be taking the little one to the rodeo. This is something we do each year together anyway so it will be nice to keep the tradition with the baby!
I hope you enjoyed today’s post and I want to hear all of your date night with kid’s ideas too please!
If you were wondering what the heck we were doing in Atlanta two weekends ago, we were actually celebrating our 4 year wedding anniversary! Every year we pick a state that we have never been to and we go celebrate there! It’s such a fun tradition because it typically takes us to a place we probably wouldn’t have gone otherwise. This long weekend of celebrating/exploring is supposed to be our gift to eachother but if you have been following me for some time now, you know that I love buying people gifts so naturally I always surprise Brandon with just a little something extra each year!
On our first anniversary I started using the traditional anniversary gift calendar to get creative on what to get Brandon every month. Year 4 is silk and it ended up being my favorite because I got to incorporate our little guy!
Brandon wears ties all the time so I decided to buy some silk fabric to get some custom ties made for him and matching bow ties for our son! Omg, I thought that was the cutest idea ever…until I saw how much silk was LOL. Anyway, I still bought it and our alterations place actually made them for me! She was like “this is going to be really expensive, you should try buying them already made”. Well one, I was having the hardest time finding a tie and bow tie set. It was either 2 bow ties for Dad and son or 2 reg ties for Dad and son. Brandon won’t wear a bow tie and baby looks so cute in them so having them custom made is what I decided to do. How cute are these?!
I want to get a matching scarf made now because I’m jelly LOL. I’ll let my bank account recover first!
If your 4 year wedding anniversary is approaching, I am linking some other fun silk gift ideas below!
Sleep Mask – Gift a sleep mask, make your spouse breakfast in bed and tell them they can sleep in.
Silk robe- Gift a silk robe with a spa day scheduled!
Silk Pillow Cases & Sheets- He may not appreciate what a silk pillow case does for your hair and skin but I’m sure you can think of a way to get him excited about silk sheets!
Clothing- Buy each other clothing like one of these ties for him or a silk dress for her and enjoy each other at a nice dinner.
I am so excited to share this post with you today! Since sharing our story with you, we have received so many questions regarding the process. I love hearing that so many of you have the thought of adoption in your heart. As you know, we are going through our own journey right now and since no story is the same I have reached out to the experts at our agency to answer your questions.
Let’s start off by sharing a little more about the agency that we chose to work with.
Arms Wide Adoption Services
Arms Wide Adoption Services, formerly Spaulding for Children, has been expertly and compassionately transforming the lives of children in foster care since 1977 by finding them safe and nurturing adoptive families.
Currently there are 20,000 – 30,000 children in Texas’ foster care system. Of these, approximately 6,000 are legally available for adoption.
Each year, more than 1,000 children in foster care turn 18 years old, thus aging out of the system without a family.
Within two years, some 25% of the children who have “aged out” of the system will be homeless. Approximately another 25% will end up in prison. Within four years, 40% of the children who have “aged” out of the system will have children of their own, who are twice as likely to end up in foster care.
These statistics break my heart. If you are one of the people who sent in your questions and are wanting more information please reach out to armswide.org or you can always attend one of their meetings to get more information. I know this is a huge decision and I know that there are a lot of you who would like to help in other ways. Arms Wide talks about one way in question/answer number 2.
Again, I want to thank the Manager of Adoption & Foster Care Programs at Arms Wide for taking the time to answer these frequently asked questions for us!
What is the difference between open adoption and closed adoption?
You typically hear about open adoption when considering private adoptions. Ultimately, an open adoption means that an adoptive family agrees to have some level of contact with the biological family after adoptive placement. The level of openness depends on the individual agreement in each situation and can include full disclosure of identifying information such as phone numbers and addresses or can be facilitated through an agency so that no identifying information is disclosed.
Open adoptions can come in many forms. One family may agree to annual pictures and a letter while others may send monthly letters and pictures to the birth family. Some families even create non-identifying e-mail accounts so their child’s birthmother can contact them whenever it is the right time for her. I have been a part of adoptions as open as the adoptive mother being in the delivery room when the baby is born, the adoptive family staying in the hospital with the birthmother and baby and, once placement occurs, continued contact through facetime and regular visits. Some adoptive families ask their child’s birthmother to babysit their child and invite them to school plays and birthday parties. The thing to remember about an open adoption is that it is based on the level of comfort of all parties involved and is only practical when in the best interest of the child. For example, if a birth family member is into drugs and is unreliable, contact may reduce to only letters until the family can be sure the child will not be hurt or disappointed.
Closed adoptions refer to those adoptions that do not include continued contact with a birth parent or birth family. In the past, most CPS adoptions, where children are adopted from foster care, were closed. However, today more and more adoptive families are including their child’s birth parent in their lives through emails, phone calls and even visits. In addition, many adoptive families continue contact with their child’s birth siblings that are placed with other adoptive families or with one of their relatives that is not related to their child. Again, it is important to determine that the relationship is safe and in the child’s best interest.
2. If someone is not quite ready to adopt, what other ways can they help these children?
If a family is not ready to adopt, they can always consider foster care. There is a statewide capacity crisis in Texas, which means there simply are not enough foster homes available for children in foster care who need one. If a foster home is not available for a child needing placement, that child will have to go to a shelter. Foster families ensure every child is able to live in a family-like setting during one of the most vulnerable times in their lives.
If foster care isn’t the right path for a family, they could also consider providing respite care for foster families. A respite care provider is a licensed foster home that only cares for children on a temporary basis. For example, children already in a foster placement with a family and the family needs a break or has a need to travel outside of the state or country without the child so they don’t miss school, etc.
Additionally, families at our agency need approved babysitters. When providing foster care, date nights are still important! So, becoming an approved babysitter is a great way to provide support to a family and to help foster children AND it is an easier process!
3. Is it really “easier” to adopt an older child?
I would never use “easy” in the same sentence as adoption!! No matter which route you choose to go about adoption, it is an demanding amount of paperwork, training and emotion. That being said, I think many people believe that adopting an older child is easier for a couple of reasons. First of all, more families come to adoption wanting a younger child or a baby. What this means is that families who are more open to older children have the opportunity to be presented more children in the long run. In fact, there are many older children waiting to be adopted right now, although not every family is the right family for every child. Secondly, when thinking of a private infant adoption, many girls are choosing to parent their children today versus placing them for adoption. Being an unwed mother is less frowned upon today, thus less babies are available for adoption.
4. What is the cost of adoption?
In regards to a private infant adoption, there is a significant fee associated with the process and placement of a child. The fee differs depending on the agency or attorney you work with.
When it comes to foster care adoption, there is no adoption fee involved. The state agency pays a minimal fee to Child Placing Agencies when they provide adoption placement or adoption supervision services.
Although there is no fee for the family for CPS adoptions, there are costs involved. For example, there may be costs related to bringing your home up to compliance. Every home will need at least one fire extinguisher; two story homes will need an additional fire extinguisher and a fire escape ladder for the second story of the home. Every home will need lockable boxes for medications and double locks for psychotropic medications. Additionally, when foster care is involved, homes will be required to get a Fire Inspection by the Fire Marshal and some will need an Environmental Inspection. These requirements differ based on the county in which the home is located. Fingerprints for each household member over 14 years old are a requirement which entail a fee as well. Other than that, there may be costs related to child-proofing your home or making small repairs that prevent compliance.
Lastly, once an adoption is ready for consummation, there may be attorney’s fees and court fees. Again, these fees will vary based on the situation.
5. How much information will we know about the family or child before we adopt?
When a child is placed from foster care into adoption, the family will be able to read the child’s entire redacted record – in other words, their CPS record that has identifying information removed. That being said, the record is limited to what CPS knows related to the child and their birth family. If birth parents are unknown there will be no past history. Even if birth parents are known, the record is limited to what past information was provided to CPS. Sometimes a record will only include information related the child’s involvement in CPS.
6. Why do people choose to “foster to adopt” rather than just adopting?
When it comes to foster care adoption, choosing to foster to adopt gives a family many more opportunities for placement than straight adoption. The ultimate goal of CPS is to get a child to permanency as quickly as possible with the least possible moves.
Agreeing to provide foster care before adopting benefits the child and the family. Once CPS recognizes that a birth parent is not “working their services” (completing drug rehab, securing housing, obtaining a job, testing clean for drugs, anger management classes, etc.) they will likely request agencies submit foster to adopt home studies. Moving the child to a foster to adopt home before the end of the legal case allows the child to be placed in foster care with the family that will adopt them once parental rights have been terminated rather than spending additional time in a foster home that does not plan to adopt them. Ultimately, this allows the child to start getting to know the family sooner and have an established relationship before adoptive placement occurs. Although there is a still a risk involved for the family, this is in the child’s best interest.
Families that choose to “straight adopt”, meaning adoption once parental rights have been terminated, will often wait longer because these children will need to go through their entire legal process before placement can occur. The legal process is often long with many court resets and a 90-day appeal timeframe once termination occurs.
7. Can I adopt if I’m single?
Absolutely. When an agency completes a home study, they are looking at ability to parent in general. If a single parent meets the minimum qualifications, is stable and has a strong support system, there is no reason they would not be approved to adopt.
8. What should be the first step if a couple is considering to adopt?
After completing research to determine which route to take – CPS adoption versus private adoption, the first step is to attend an Information Meeting. I suggest that families attend more than one agency’s adoption information session to get a feel for multiple agencies. It is important to choose the agency that feels right for you; after all, these are the professionals that will walk next to you through the entire adoption journey!
9. How many children can one couple adopt?
This answer is different for each family. The easy answer is that a family providing foster care or adopting through CPS can have up to six children in their home. If a family doesn’t have any other children living in their home, they could adopt a sibling group of six, but placing six children coming from trauma at one time with new parents would be way too much! If a family has two children already living in the home (whether biological, adopted, fostered, or unrelated), they could accept four more children for a total of six.
10. How long does the adoption process take?
This is the million dollar question for sure! There is also no easy answer! After attending an information meeting with an agency, the family can start the application process. This includes filling out the actual application, providing supporting documentation such as pet vaccinations, proof of auto insurance, proof of income, etc. The agency will also run background checks including FBI fingerprints. Once all of the supporting documentation is received, the family can attend pre-service training. Once the application process and training is complete the family will be assigned to home study by the agency. Ultimately, this part of the process and how long it takes really depends on how quickly the family is able to get all of the documentation submitted and how flexible their schedule is related to training and scheduling home study visits. I would say an average time frame for this is three to six months.
After the home study is approved, actual placement of the child is out of our hands. The agency acts as the agent to get your home study submitted to CPS for the children that would benefit from your strengths as a family. That being said, we also look at matching your family with a child in the age range, gender, race, etc. of your preference. The more specific you are in what you are willing to accept, the longer you will wait. For example, limiting your preferences in gender to only one male or one female will reduce your opportunities by half. If you are only willing to accept a Caucasian child, this decreases your opportunities tremendously. If you are interested in adopting a child six and under, even being completely open to race and gender, you may wait longer because there are many families who want to adopt a child in that age range. The more open you are, the more opportunities there will be to have your home study submitted and considered for placement. Once again, being open to provide emergency foster care placements or accept foster to adopt placements will expand your home study submission opportunities.
Again, thank you so much to Arms Wide for answering these questions. I truly appreciate what your team does for these children everyday!
Thank you all for following along on this journey. It has been emotional at times but most of all it’s been the biggest blessing! Speaking of journeys, we are taking our little guy on his first airplane ride today! Eek! I’ll be sharing more of our first family trip on Instagram!
For the past week we have had my family in Texas with us and we even got to ring in the New Year together. Ringing in the New Year with people you love the most really sets the tone for the year ahead. 2017 was amazing but 2018 is going to be the best one yet! I can feel it!
So let me start this post by saying I really don’t mind if I am becoming my mother because she is quite the amazing woman I hope I would be some day however she did have some funny beliefs growing up and even though deep down inside I’m like “that’s not true” now that we have baby Weaver I’ve totally caught myself abiding by these crazy rules! LOL
Oh and P.S. I updated my Cyber Week blog post to include some more great sales that I’m totally taking advantage of and also good news is that this pretty blue dress $20! No code needed, twenty bucks all day, errday!
We have been getting a lot of questions about our adoption. Some general questions, some of the same questions and some very “I can’t believe you would ask a stranger a question like that” questions. lol I mean I get it. We all know what adoption is but we all don’t understand the process. Brandon and I had no clue about it until we were going through it ourselves. I am working on a more detailed post where I can provide you with information on how to go about starting the process yourself and things you may want to think about along the way but today I am sharing more of our personal story.
But first things first- this mama bear tee that I feel like I’ve been waiting my whole life to wear and these adorable and super comfy shoes that we all need but are especially perfect for you errand running mamas!