Ashley's Story "Consistency and Love"

We’re the Grants. We live in a crazy whirlwind of laughter and chaos every day…probably because 2016 will be the first year since 2012 that we have not added a child to our family. Actually, we have added three children to our family in 24 ½ months. Yes, we know, we are adding faster than the Duggars.

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In June of 2013, we became foster/adoptive parents and in October of that year, we were blessed to have our son placed with us. November of 2014, we took in our daughter-to-be, although when she came, we didn’t know she was going to be a permanent member of our family because she was not available for adoption. When she finally was able to be considered “adoptable”, I distinctly remember we filed for her to become a Grant on a Wednesday because just seven days later, after years of trying, we found out we were pregnant. So, three it was going to be. And not only that, we would have three kids ages 3, 2, and newborn (and we were/are still foster parents). We were beyond panicked.

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My type-A personality tried very hard to hold onto my clean home and orderly way of life but after just a few weeks, I threw my hands up and let crazy take over. You know what, I am surviving! It is all ok. Granted, there have been times when I roll my eyes at what my life has become. Especially when I remember interviewing for a very professional company that I had admired for years. I had rushed out the door without an earring back. Frantic that my outfit NEEDED those silver earrings to complete my “look”, I found a stale raisin in one of my three car seats, stuck it to the back of my earring, and scored the job!

See, what I am learning is that parenting, whether adopted, biological, or foster children, is messy. It is chaotic. It is hard work. But above all, it is worth it. I feel like one of the biggest myths about adopting and fostering ( or parenting in general) is that you have to “have it all together” or “wait for the right time”. But the only thing kids really need is consistency and love.

If there are perfect parents in the world, I promise you that we are as for from them as you can get. I have literally gotten my kids out of the car in the daycare parking lot only to realize that one of them wasn’t wearing pants. And then, in the same day, forgot to pick them up.

7 billion ones, randy bacon, adoption, best photographer springfield

Parenting is about learning, rolling with the punches, and laughing whenever you can. Sometimes laughing is hard. When I was on the phone with the plumber because the kids had flushed their sponge bath toys down the toilet, I promise you, I wasn’t laughing. But in hindsight, recalling the plumber fish out letters of the alphabet in almost perfect reverse alphabetical was pretty funny…and now I am actually quite proud that they were able to flush them IN ORDER with such accuracy!

Despite how put together we look on Facebook (which is hardly put together at all), we are 10 times worse in reality. We literally have poison control on speed dial. We made that decision after our 2-year- old walked in the living room drinking lavender oil like it was Coca-Cola. We own three brooms and two vacuum cleaners because when I find the kids trimming the dog’s hair (yet again) or making it “snow” with a sleeve of crackers, they are handy to have close by.

7 billion ones, randy bacon, adoption, best photographer springfield

Some days we go to bed in the same thing we woke up in….Ok, MOST days. At least once a week I have to hunt down “the smell” in our van which is usually uneaten breakfast or lunch the kids have had to eat in the car because we are always running late. When it storms, I harness my inner “Fraulein Maria” and scoot on over because I know all the kids will fly in my bed at the first crack of thunder. (In fact, my husband has actually slept with in his closet once because there was no room in our bed! FYI if you aren’t a parent yet: kids sleep perpendicular to you, never parallel).

But despite all of our shortcomings, and at the risk of sounding cliché, through it all, we simply live, we remember to laugh, and we consistently love. With over 400,000 kids in foster care, and 100,000 who are available for adoption, we want to share our story and a glimpse into our life to encourage people to let go and let God lead you away from fear and reservation if you have a heart for the fatherless. There will never be a right time. You will never have it all together. But if you are ready to throw your hands up and surrender to this amazing ride, I promise you will have no regrets!