Happy 6th heavenly birthday, Lamar!

6 gold

Image credit here

After the first couple of years after we had the abortion that ended Lamar’s life, we didn’t exactly know how to celebrate his life, or even if we were able to, since we decided to end it.

I know that was a hard introduction to his birthday post, but I wanted to be real and raw with you guys.  I am trying to find the “right or appropriate” words for this post, but at the end of the day, it has to come from my heart.

Lamar was a very active boy in utero (as I am sure he is in heaven), and it really broke both Shane and I to pieces when we had to make that horrible, final decision to end his life.  At the end of the day what we now realize, is that it came down to fear. Fear of the unknown and all of the uncertainty that surrounded his life.

Let me back track a little for some of y’all who may be new around here.  Our first pregnancy was our son Lamar Grant Johnson.  He was diagnosed with Full Trisomy 18, and we were told from the specialist that he would most likely die during birth, or if he happened to survive, he would be needing 24/7 round-the-clock care and would only live up to 1 year at max. The specialist said ultimately it comes down to what kind of life would he have, and they said it would not be good, and that termination would be the best option for us.

Wow if Shane and I could only back track to that day, in that small, brown, terrifying office when we got this news–and changed the trajectory of that conversation.  We would have brought in our own statistics (as we did in Rochelle’s case) of the amount of children that lived (and thrived) with Full Trisomy 18. We would have told them that NO matter what, we were choosing LIFE (and not death) for our son, and that we wouldn’t listen to them try to pressure us to make any other decision.

But that’s not the route we chose, and we have to accept that fact.

Lamar holds a VERY special place in our heart, and we know that Brielle and Malachi (and all three of our adopted children) will forever remember him, even though they never got to physically meet him.

It took a long time for us to understand that God forgives us for that wrong decision and that even though we can never change the outcome, we can celebrate and honor his life and tell people about him and share his story.

We are not perfect, we have flaws, and sins (some bigger than others) but we are loved, forgiven, and redeemed (and for that, we are forever grateful.)

So we celebrated by getting a balloon, singing him happy birthday, eating cake, saying prayers and wishes, and celebrating his life.

We love you so so much Lamar and cannot wait to see you one day!

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

 

4 months old!!

4-months

Image credit here

So somehow we have made it to 4 months already!? That is crazy and I love how much growth has happened over these last 4 months! From literally just eating/sleeping/pooping and peeing all day to now being so talkative, belly laughing, rolling over, trying to sit up by himself, and eating from a spoon (and still drinking milk/sleeping/pooping and peeing, haha)!

I am just amazed at laid back he is, how much he still loves to be cuddled up against us when he is napping/ or just sitting wanting to play and sit on your lap to watch everyone and how much joy he brings to the entire family.

It’s so precious that each one of kids are developing such a unique and special bond with him, that they are going to carry with them for the rest of their lives.  Brielle loves to feed him, cuddle him, and make him laugh (around 100 times a day), Joseph loves to play with him on the ground and just talk to him and introduce him to new toys, and activities.  Luke loves to laugh (and in return malachi laughs back) and loves to sing “twinkle, twinkle little star” to him to calm him down, and Gracelynn LOVES to say “kai kai” and show him all of her toys and she has started to sing him to him as well and loves to see him laugh!

So even though his doctor appointment isn’t until next week, I am just going by what we have taken here at home!

Weight: 15 lb 6 oz pounds taken at home scale

Length:25 inches (taken at home)

Likes:

-To be held! It’s so adorable how much he LOVES when we are holding him!
-To be talked to and play “peek-a-boo”
-To eat! He just tried baby food for the first time today and ate the ENTIRE bowl!! He loves food (just like his parents).
-To sleep! He has woken up past two nights 1 time for a feeding but before that we had a good stretch of sleeping ALL.NIGHT.LONG! Hallelujah! I just wish we could pass on the great sleeping to the girls in the house (including me).. but we are getting there!
-He loves to be hot! He loves to be pressed up against someone when he is napping!
-His carrier! He literally falls asleep in it almost instantaneously. We have now introduced the sling carrier as well and he has done amazingly well!

Dislikes:
– Clipping his nails! Though he is finally tolerating it a bit now!
– Changing his clothes.  He absolutely hates it now!

Teeth: None! 🙂 Though, the drooling has caused increase in spit up, so that’s fun! 🙂

Language:
I swear it’s like he is responding correctly to what we are saying at times! His cooing is incredibly adorable and his laugh literally melts my heart every time!

Milestones: Rolling over back to front on both sides now, trying to sit up on his own, and eating his first baby food!

Upcoming:

MD appt:  4 month appt May 14th

Here are some pictures from the last few weeks and today’s monthly picture!

Thank you all for following along his journey and growth! I believe crawling and sitting up on his own is surely going to happen in the next few weeks!

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

Why foster?

Our+Why

I just wanted to write a post (since May is National fostercare awareness month) and answer a couple of the common questions that we would have wanted to know when we decided to dive into this journey!

After our daughter Rochelle passed away, Shane and I knew that God was calling us to love other children the way we would have loved Rochelle.  We knew that we had love to give, and knew that this was our calling that God was leading us to.  We did not know one married couple (at the time) who had ever fostered a child (or even adopted) so we definitely had some fears going into this process!

I remember that we googled “foster care in Texas” and what showed up was the state agency in San Antonio, Texas and we knew we had to at least go to the class and find out more information!

The teacher scared us so much and it made us ask ourselves “do we really want to do this” or “can we handle this situation”? There were so many unanswered questions and I truly feel like God just gave us to the answer to say “yes”. Saying yes didn’t mean that we were able to handle all the trauma or have an answer to how Brielle would be affected by accepting a child with trauma into our home..  saying yes meant that we knew we could love another child unconditionally even though we knew that they would most likely have to leave our home.  Saying yes meant that we could teach each child about God (even if they were only with us a short amount of time). Saying yes meant that we would pray over the parents that did wrong or made harsh mistakes that had their kid(s) taken away from them.  It meant that we were solely depending on God to bring us through it all.

The  training classes that we initially took in San Antonio were brutal (and broke us so hard hearing all of the sad stories) but so so worth it! Since the state agency was in no rush to get us to become a licensed home, we switched to another agency (Family Link–in Gonzales, Tx) and were licensed within a month of transferring over!

One common question is how often does reunification actually occur?  For us, one child (of the 8 that we fostered) actually were reunified with mom and dad once leaving our house, but have now been removed from them once again.  Parents actually don’t have a lot to get done during the time that their child(ren) are in care, so it should sound easy for them to return to them but the average time for the parents to get all their classes done and show proof that they have stayed drug-free is usually 6 months-1 year. What we have seen is that addiction is HARD and we pray for the biological parents all during the process (and even now) that they understand the beauty of what God had given them and that they let that addiction go and be able to love and provide for their child(ren) the way that they should.  The main goal in fostercare is to reunify with mom and dad, but so often you see SO much time go by during the case before that is even possible.

Another question is how much do you get paid?  Of course money is not why you should be called to do this, but it is part of the process, and does help provide financial aide to you.  For basic level of care children (most children are) I believe that each child gets around $650 per month and for moderate level of care I believe it’s between $650-$1,000 a month.  I am sure that different agencies follow different guidelines and the amount that foster parents get reimbursed (not sure if it’s the same rate throughout the state)but the money does not go unused.  Each child brought to us had very minimal clothing so you have to think that buying them an entire wardrobe is a must, buying diaper/formula, food, and  driving to therapy appts, counseling, doctors, and monthly visits with parents and siblings.  It is definitely helpful to have during the process.

One of the most important questions regarding Brielle is how does she adjust to “letting go” of the children? Our answer to that is, she has to.  We don’t sugarcoat anything with Brielle and we would give her advance warning (if it was given to us) that the child would be leaving our home and returning back to a family member or the parents. Brielle understands that we were there to take care of the child(ren) and to love on them and show them what it feel likes to have your needs met, be clean, and just be given unconditional love.   Did it break our hearts when they left? Yes, but Shane and I both feel like Brielle grew up so much the past two years with 8 foster children coming in and out of our of house.  The good thing is that three of them stayed and were able to be adopted and become Brielle’s forever sister and brothers.

Just know that even if God doesn’t call you to become a foster parent, there are ways to support other children/families that are in care.

-Meals (cook for the foster families without them having to ask you).

– Training (take some training so that you can babysit the children and let the foster parents have a night off or a weekend off).

-Just schedule a play date with the child(ren) that are in care.

-Just provide an ear (for both the foster parents and the kids and just listen to their struggles and see if their is a way that you are able to help them out).

-There are also ways to help out the agency (by donating gently used clothes or new toys, and more).

-Also if you would like an amazing podcast to listen to, head on over to Risen Motherhood and it will leave you inspired (especially the episode 99 on Foster care and the gospel).

Just remember, when God calls you to it, He will bring you through it.

I hope I was able to give you a little insight into why we chose to go this route and as always, feel free to reach out to me at any of my social media accounts or via email and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

my little man is 3 months!!

3

So this time thing is just flying by with our baby boy (I didn’t get a chance to post the 2 month blog post–haha can we say life with 5 kids is a bit busy at times?)!  I can’t believe he celebrated two holidays this past month (first St. Patrick’s Day and Easter).  I feel like he has grown into such a little man this past month!! He is drinking around 3-4 ounces now with both breastmilk and formula and still doing great on both, and just now found his tongue (he mimics you and sticks it out–it’s SO cute!), and his hands (he holds them close to his mouth and it melts my heart). Ok I might be just a little obsessed with our last baby (I got the Essure procedure to prevent anymore future babies) and I am just trying to soak in all of his little “firsts”.

Weight: 14.5 pounds taken at home scale

Length:24 inches (taken at home)

Likes:

-To be held! It’s so adorable how much he LOVES when we are holding him!
-To be talked to (he SMILES so much, it’s adorable!!)
-To eat! We call him big hungry sometimes, because I swear he sometimes eats every 1-2 hours!
-To sleep! He has definitely started sleeping less during the day and more at night! (Shane is so happy for this since he does all the night duties–oh and thank goodness for a great husband)
-His jammies (even though he is seriously in 6-9 month ones already–because of his length)
-His carrier! He literally falls asleep in it almost instantaneously.

Dislikes:
– Bathing.  Hates going in and coming out of the bath. STILL.
– Changing his clothes.  He absolutely hates it now!

Teeth: None! 🙂

Language:
Besides the grunting, not much of a language yet (just a LOT of coo-ing)

Milestones: He is definitely lifting his head better and loves to move his upper and lower extremities, and LOVES to smile, and definitely rolled over from back to front one time this past month.  Oh and he slept one time ALL.NIGHT.LONG (can I get an amen?)

Upcoming:

MD appt:  4 month appt May 14th

I can’t leave y’all without pictures, so I will do a little update from each month!!

©2018 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.