Monday, December 23, 2013


“Well that was easy!”

After four and a half years of frustration, tears, and prayer, the actual day of adoption went by like a warm summer breeze.  Forgive me if I get a little poetic with this, but it was an exciting, energizing, climatic day and we’re still basking in the joy of Adoption Day (or as we began calling it, "A-Day").

December 19th couldn't have been a nicer day.  Winter has been odd and unpredictable so far.  We’ve had snow flurries, ice, and 70-degree weather.  It’s actually what we’ve come to expect from Chattanooga.  So on the morning of December 19th, we weren’t sure what to expect.  We laid out our clothes and planned for colder weather.   We wore our jackets and coats and sweaters, but we really didn’t need them.  The air was crisp and the sky was blue.

I had the day off and so had the joy of spending the morning with Amelia.  After breakfast we took a shower and got dressed.  We both were wearing new clothes.  Her in a red plaid dress Kelly’s mom had found and me in a bluey-greeny plaid shirt I had found but Kelly had bought for me for our anniversary.

Our appointment was at 1:30, so we decided to do lunch first.  Kelly, Amelia, and I met Kelly’s parents, Kelly’s sister, met my parents at The Universal Joint, a fantastic little restaurant that used to be gas station.  After lunch, we walked across the street to the courthouse.

We didn’t really know what to expect.  Our lawyer said it was going to be super easy and quick.  We were to meet the judge in his chambers where he would ask us a few questions and then sign the paper, sealing the deal and making Amelia ours.  And in a nutshell, that’s what happened.  But what we weren’t expecting was such an emotional, joyous proceeding.

This was clearly the judge’s favorite part of the day.  He smiled with us, joked with us, and showed us pictures of his grandchildren.  Kelly and I were sworn in and made to tell the story of how Amelia came into our lives.  We told the judge our story and he listened with a wondrous smile on his face.  He asked us a few questions, alternating between Kelly and I.  “What’s her name going to be?  By doing this, it will be – legally – as if she were your biological child.  She have all the rights that comes with.  Should the two of you ever divorce, you both would still be responsible for her.  Are you aware and okay with that?”

We answered his questions with choked-up throats and beaming smiles on our face.  One grandfather, who shall remain nameless, said he had to focus on Amelia during the meeting otherwise he would have started to cry.

It was the easiest, most wonderful way to end one journey and begin another.  The judge signed the paper, shook our hands, and then posed for pictures.  The judge and his staff were amused by our entourage.  We had our entire families plus two photographers all crammed into his chambers.

After the ceremony (which was very much like a wedding in a lot of ways), we went with our lawyer to sign a few more papers . . . and then it was done.

Kelly and I laughed about it afterward.  Considering how hard these years have been at times, it was almost absurd how easy it was in the end.

“You’re a mama now,” I said to her, squeezing her tight and giving her a kiss.  “Officially.”

“I’ve always been a mama.”  She said with a teary smile.

“I know.”  I said, remembering when we first met.  

She was sixteen and the camp we worked at had trusted her with children.  She had laughed about it.  "I can't believe they trust me," she would say.  And I would smile.  Because I saw in her what, clearly, the managers of the saw:  She was a mama.  She had no experience and she was way too young, but she was a mama.  She was firm but forgiving, encouraging and funny.  She would deny it, but she had one of the biggest, most loving hearts I had yet encountered.  I saw it, even when she didn’t.  Seeing her today, then, crying over finally being declared a mama, came as absolutely no surprise to me.

Kelly laughed again, wiping a tear from her eye.  “Well that was easy!”

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Next Chapter: The Podcast!

Having blogged about our family's journey for over two years, we decided it was time for a reboot!  The blog has become a podcast!

The first couple of episodes will cover some of the same material we've covered in the blog, but with both of us chiming in at the same time (while trying not to talk over one another), hopefully we'll be able to cover the subjects more completely.  Each episode will begin with an update on our how family is doing now and then will move into a particular subject and book reviews and, really, a lot of what we've been doing here on this blog.  This is just our first episode, so I fully expect the structure of the podcast to evolve.

It is currently available to download and streaming at  It has been submitted to iTunes and should be available there shortly.  It is our belief we will be able to reach more people through the podcast medium and keep some of these important conversations going -- though if all we accomplish is letting people they are not alone, then the podcast and the blog has done its job.

Also, for you readers out there, we don't plan on retiring the blog any time soon.  We'll still post things here, though I suspect the majority of our content is going to move to the podcast.


We are now on iTunes!  Subscribe!  Share!  Rate!

Monday, July 29, 2013

What Day Zero Means

I think everyone who follows this blog is also friends with us on Facebook, but for those who aren't, here's a quick catch-up:

Previously, on The Foggs . . .

Scott and Kelly really wanted a family.  They tried all sorts of things:  Natural solutions, unnatural solutions, the foster care system and lots and lots of prayer.  Just when the light was fading at the end of the tunnel, they received a call from a nurse practitioner friend of theirs who had just found out one of her patients (a giggling, cooing, totes adorbs ten month-old) was about to be put up for adoption.  Their friend stepped out on a limb and gave the girl's custodian Scott and Kelly's number, we got in touch and a few short (despite how long they felt) weeks later, little baby Amelia was living with them.

All caught up?  Good.  Feel free to ask questions.  We're more than happy to go further into detail.

About a week or so after Amelia came to live with us, I started posting a countdown.  It started at 30.  And every day, I posted the next.  29.  People started asking, "what's all this about?"  28.  And I explained, as succinctly and as informatively as I could (on Facebook) that it was our countdown until Amelia was ours.  27.  That wasn't the whole truth, but it was the easiest, best way to explain it from my iPhone while I was eating lunch in my car in the parking lot at work.

Eagle-eyed observers noticed that on July 26, 2013, we reached zero.  0.  Lot of amazing congratulations and cheers came rolling in over our phones and on Facebook and in real life.  Followed with either a "so she's yours now" or "what happens next?"

So.  This is what happened on Day Zero.  Our attorney went to court on our behalf and we became Amelia's legal guardians.  I very much like the idea of creating a business card that says


But it's a position that I shouldn't have to hold very long due to the nature of the countdown.  The countdown started on the day that the biological parents were served papers that said their rights as parents were being terminated (TPR for short, "Termination of Parental Rights").  They had thirty days to contest this termination.  If they did not contest it during those thirty days, their rights would be terminated and we would be granted custody of Amelia.

The thirty days came and went without a peep from either parent -- well, not completely without peep.  The father contacted the attorney to sign over his rights even faster.  He was effectively out of the equation a few short days into The Thirty.  We never heard from the mom.  The reason we are guardians right now, and don't have full custody, is because the next step is the person who served mom and dad the termination of parental rights papers need to file an affidavit saying "I served them these papers on this date."  Once that is notarized and filed, we will have full custody of Amelia.

The step after that is we have to wait about four months for Tennessee to let us adopt her.  The state of Tennessee insists that a child live with a family for six months before the family can adopt her (I think that's a number that's different for every state).  That should happen in December and we cannot imagine anything preventing Tennessee from letting us adopt her.

So that is where we are!  It's exciting and delightful and wonderful and just a little bit exhausting -- but, as I was trying to explain to a friend, even when it's exhausting it's so exciting that you barely notice it.  And then you see her smile or hear her and you forget about any complaint you ever had about anything.


Thursday, May 9, 2013


We are TINKs again. Not the Disney fairy in green or any other green fairy for that matter. WE are back to being Two Incomes, No Kids people. This is the story of how we have returned to being TINKs. After 6 months of being in our home London moved out in March. It was a much quieter event than we imaged. There were few tears, but no yelling, no questions, no pleading – just silence.


We did a pretty good job considering we had never been parents. Considering we were only twice her age. Considering we were not told the whole back story or even the entire current situation. Considering she had more than 13 YEARS of inadequate programming. We did a great job setting boundaries. We did a pretty good job explaining those boundaries and why they existed. We even steadfastly held London to the consequences of her actions even when she whined or complained that they were unfair.

When we said yes to 14 year old London coming into our home we knew we would be challenged and we knew we were getting in over our heads. MANY people were kind enough to tell us that.  The first couple months lulled us into false hope. It was actually not too hard. Yeah rearranging our work schedules and making the daily drive to and from school was not super fun, but a lot of other times were. We said over and over again that teenagers might just be better than babies – they sleep through the night, they can take care of their own hygiene (well maybe with some reminding), and hey, this one could even prepare a simple meal. This child was even old enough to share the responsibilities of some chores – like the much disliked kitty-litter-box-clean-out task.

Other than the drama that naturally surrounded court dates and visits with the bio-mom and the surprising number of doctors visits for a healthy 14 year old, the first three months were pretty easy. London did ballet and soccer, we went on a family vacation to Disney World, and we successfully navigated Christmases with all three of our families. We were really starting to enjoy this whole family thing. At Disney World Kelly rocked the mom bag complete with park maps, bottled water, hair ties, and snacks. Scott was honing his ability to embarrass London with loud embarrassing statements or questions. And it felt like things were starting to gel.

Starting second semester of her eighth grade year, London reached the point where she had been in this school longer than she had been in any of her previous 13 schools. A couple weeks into school she was suspended for fighting. There were consequences laid down and we lived through 3 days of suspension and 2 weeks of grounding. Then a few weeks later, after being reprimanded at school for being disrespectful to a teacher, London skipped class with a couple other kids. She was suspended from school for a week. London was back to school for 2 weeks exactly when she was found taking drugs on school grounds. This earned her expulsion from the public school system entirely.

We thought we handled the fight pretty well. We were told we handled the skipping school drama with aplomb. We talked a lot with London about her choices and what they communicated to us. With her actions she was communicating that she could not function within our family. That she could not hold up her end of our growing relationship. After all, you cannot have a healthy relationship with someone you can’t trust. After she ran away one Saturday we found that we could not trust her out of our sight, even at home. We were learning that she could not be trusted at school unless she was under the direct supervision of an adult, even then she was disruptive and rude. Ultimately our talking was just air and the consequences we laid down were not doing their job. London was escalating her acting out and becoming more and more disrespectful at home and school.

We ultimately decided that she did not respect us and would probably never follow our rules. We came to the conclusion that London was very good at adapting to meet a situation and was able to match the tone of the people around her when she wanted. That’s why our first 3 months went so smoothly. She was a very good apologizer and when she was in a good mood she was really fun to be with. These are skills that help her survive the foster care system, but make her extremely difficult to actually live with, because she used them as tools to get her way.

 After much prayer and many tears we decided that it was time for London to move on to a more experienced home. We even suggested something like a group home that would insulate her from the pressures of normal life and remove her from some of the drama of cute boys, mean girls, and tempting drugs.

In the end, the foster agency did not take our suggestion. London was moved from our home to another foster home, but with more experienced foster parents. Or so we were told. Since we are no longer her foster parents we have no reason to receive updates about her or how she is doing.


It’s been about 2 months now and we have returned to being just Scott and Kelly again: TINK. The first couple weeks were pretty quiet around our house. We didn’t realize how much of our thoughts had been filled with London – what to feed her, what could we teach her, how could we let her know she was loved, how could we help her feel normal? We have now returned to our own lives again. We have taken a getaway weekend and we watch rated-R movies again. We have enjoyed being kid free, but we still talk about her fairly often. We still find things she would think are funny or things we want to show her.

People ask how we are; they seem to expect us to be depressed. In some ways we feel relieved. In some ways disappointed that we could not be what this kid needed.

We’ve taken a break for a while from the foster care system. We haven’t decided yet if we will give it another try. We’ll let you know.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Country Bear Jamboree

We are now 7 weeks in. We are getting to the point where we are ironing out ALL the logistics. And I never knew how many things there were to schedule. When and where doctors, counselor, mother and social worker visits occur. What time we need to get up to be on time to school. Who picks London up from school on which days. Who is going to be at which soccer game. Who is going to bring the camera and dinner to the soccer game. Even defining the words we use around the house. When I say “your hoodie is in your laundry basket,” I mean the clean laundry basket, not the dirty clothes basket. I never realized it but there is a distinction in my mind between the two baskets. Something doesn’t become “laundry” until it is clean. Until then it is “dirty clothes.”
We are realizing the differences in our cultures. We didn’t realize that public school in TN was so vastly different from the private schools we attended just down the street. Did you know at the beginning of a basket ball season they have a Jamboree. That’s a gathering of several teams to play several games at one time to kick off the season. I thought only Boy Scouts and bears had jamborees. Who knew? Did you know that middle school has a homecoming dance? Did you know that Doritos are their own food group? Me neither.  Did you realize that there are gangs? In middle school? Apparently so.
She is realizing that not all cookies come from a Pillsbury tube and not all waffles come from a box in the freezer. She is learning that sodas have LOTS of sugar and Scott and Kelly don’t really eat a lot of kid food, like macaroni and cheese or beef jerky or even PopTarts. 
We are trying to figure out how to shelter her from all the pressures and bad influences coming at her. Unhealthy food, movies, music, TV, magazines, kids at her school, her mom’s opinion all support her doubts about herself. We are trying to introduce her to good music and media. We are trying to reiterate everyday that she is enough, just the way she is. 
Sometimes she tells us we are “so mean,” but we just grin and know that someday she will appreciate the boundaries.  Other times she can’t sit close enough to me on the sofa and she asks me to play with her hair.  You can tell she just needs love and attention.
We’ve gotten little feedback from her except the occasional “I love you too” or sheepish grin.  But we have gotten feedback from both our agency and DCS (Department of Children’s Services) that we are doing a good job. They seem pleasantly surprised that we have gone so long without a blowup of some kind. We are hoping it doesn’t happen, but won’t be surprised if there is some kind of event. We don’t know what  or when it will be, but we have a plan for when it happens, if it happens.
We are realizing that the occasional emotional outbursts are not really about the situation at hand. They are many times symptoms of deeper issues. She is sometimes reminded by current events that we don’t witness of memories or bad experiences that we were not part of. It takes time and some tears to get to the root of an issue. We can’t imagine the pain and hurt she has seen, so sometimes it takes us by surprise when she is extra sensitive to seeing a homeless person or seeing a fight at school. It beautiful to know she is still sensitive and caring. But it is scary and intimidating to think she worries it may be her turn next.
Our goals are to, first, make her feel as secure and safe as possible, second, to help her live up to her potential, and third, EAT MORE VEGETABLES.  I think we are off to a good start!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Myth of the Fixer-Upper

In high school and college, I was equally amused and frustrated by girl who dated known "bad boys" with the hope that their love would be so strong that the "bad boy" would change his ways.  I was not a "bad boy" by any stretch of the imagination, often living (against in my will) in the Friend Zone.  I would tell them, I would try to warn them, "they're not going to change."

No-one would listen to me and a few months later, they could concede I was right -- the must frustrating instance being also including the explanation, "he's just the kind of boy you have to date.  You're the kind of guy a girl marries.  He's the kind of guy a girl dates."  It is the single most memorable back-handed compliment I have ever received.  I will cherish/loathe it forever.

I bring all this up because there's a boy that London likes.  For the sake of anonymity, we'll call him Zitty McPimple.  Apparently, Zitty McPimple is ever-so dreamy and a known player.  He's had an on-again, off-again relationship with a different girl at school.  They're currently in their off-again relationship status (as of Tuesday, methinks).  Yesterday, he told London "I love you."  Today he said, "I think you and I should go together."  London's conflicted.  Zitty is super dreamy and the entire eighth grade class thinks they should be together.  But, as previously stated, he's a known player.  London knows this and doesn't really like but, she reasons, "maybe I can change him."

The sentence that used to frustrate and amuse me now terrifies me.  I've seen too many girls and women return to abusive relationships thinking their man had changed or that they could change them and I just don't want London to be one of those statistics.  London knows, from her own life story, that a person can't change if they don't want to.  She knows she can't change him.  But yet there's that look in her eye that says, "but maybe . . ."  I've thrown this question out to the world for fifteen years and no-one has ever been able to answer it, but here I go again:

Why do girls think they can change boys?  Why do women think they can change men?

And, because of this new special place I find myself in:

How do I communicate to her that his boy has no desire to change?  Why would he want to?  He's bouncing from cute girl to cute girl.  He has no reason to change.

I know.  I know.  This is one of those things she's going to have to learn for herself.  I'm a big believer in learning lessons for one's self.  But what is it about having two X chromosomes that makes a person think they can change or fix anything that has a Y chromosome?  And why, if you have a certain standard or idea of what the perfect man would be, wouldn't you pursue that?

A frustrated father wants to know.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Kelly called it.  The first week -- maybe the first full day -- that London was with us, Kelly said "six weeks in, we're going to have trouble.  It will be her way of testing us.  She's going to want to see if we'll still love her even if she gets in trouble."

She was alerted to this phenomenon by the very excellent Foster Parenting Podcast.  It's a podcast we can't recommend enough.  It's put on by a couple who, like us, have decided to share their experiences as they foster and adopt children needing a home.  We discovered them fairly early in our adoption process and they have served as inspiration and an encouragement throughout this entire process for us.    Their trials, tribulations, and guarded transparency have emboldened us to be equally transparent with our own trials and tribulations -- in hopes that we might encourage others going through the same things we're going through.  It's been a comfort to us to know we're not alone and we want to make sure that you, too, know that you're not alone.

Sorry.  That was a bit of a tangent.  But it was because of that podcast, as well as other outside reading, that we were completely unsurprised when London called and said she was being sent to detention.  London was super-worried and stressed out.  She was supposed to serve her detention at the same time she was supposed to be playing her first soccer game (did we mention she made the soccer team?  She made the soccer team!).

I called the school to find out what had happened.  Her teacher, a cantankerous woman who sounded like she was in sixties, made no effort to hide the fact that she has given up on London's particular section of science.  To quote her verbatim, "I'm done with them.  They think because this is the last period of the day they can goof off."*  I asked what London, specifically, had done to warrant detention.  "She's been turning in incomplete work and she wasn't paying attention when I showed them the video they were supposed to be watching and the handbook -- and the Vice Principal -- says I can use detention to get a student's attention to help improve their behavior."

Two very important things needed to happen:  (1)  We needed to let London know that even she had gotten in trouble, we still loved her.  (2)  We needed to not undermine the authority of the teacher.

I drove down to the school a little early that day so I could catch London in between school and soccer practice.  I brought her a sweet tea from Sonic, which immediately seemed to ease her foul mood.  We talked things over a bit.  I told her I had found out we could reschedule her detention, so she wouldn't have to miss her game -- and that I had already begun that process.  "Could you get me out of detention?" she asked hopefully.  I shook my head.  "I talked to your teacher.  It sounds like you've earned it."  She grumbled a bit under her breath but didn't disagree.  After soccer, Kelly asked her what she was going to do to make sure this didn't happen again.  And together, led by London, we formulated a plan to overcome the tired and cantankerous science teacher, improve her grade in science, and generally stay out of detention in the future.

I doubt this cry for help was pre-meditated.  But I don't believe the timing of it was coincidental.  It was exactly at the six week mark.  She's had such a history of bouncing from house to house, it only makes sense that she would test the length and breadth of our patience and love.  But hopefully now she realizes that while she may frustrate or worry or even anger us, none of those will actually displace or replace our love for her or our determination to make her a success.

* It's important to note that this is the same science teacher who elected to show her class Short Circuit to teach them about robots and The Little Mermaid to teach them about . . . life under the sea?