Vanessa’s Story: Part Five

If you are new to joining this series, please read the first part of Vanessa’s story.

Vanessa’s Story: Part Five—Moving Grandma to Arizona

A few days after Grandma Vanessa came to visit we arranged to have a meeting with CPS so our caseworker could meet Vanessa Sr. We met for several hours with the CPS caseworker (Vanessa Sr. shared the gospel with this social worker with much greater boldness and passion then I did weeks earlier) and the caseworker explained how thankful she was for baby Vanessa to be able to live with her Grandma.

Then we started asking the practical questions…how long will it take to get Vanessa transferred from our custody in Arizona to Grandma’s custody in Texas? The caseworker’s lengthy explanation basically said it could be anywhere from a few months to six months and that there was no way to know. Vanessa Sr. was devastated. She had already missed out on the first 7 months of her baby’s life and now she was going to have to wait another six months?

Vanessa Sr. asked how long it would take for baby Vanessa to be transferred to her custody if instead of being a Texas resident, she had been an Arizona resident. The caseworker didn’t skip a beat and said, “days, maybe a week?”

The caseworker left and we sat in silence. Vanessa Sr. was upset, frustrated, and rightfully angry at the entire system and how inefficient things had already been for her up to this point. She started talking about possibly moving here and I told her we would be more then happy to do what it took in order to make that happen. I told her I did not want to pressure her in any way and that we are incredibly happy to love and care for Vanessa until the paperwork went through, but agreed it would be better for baby Vanessa to be with her forever mama sooner rather then later.

After a few minutes of discussion Vanessa Sr. made up her mind. “OK. I’m moving. Nothing matters to me except this baby. I don’t care if it kills me, this baby belongs with me.”

At this point, I began to think how I would approach this if Vermon or my mother had to make a major move. There is no way we would expect them to take care of the details on their own. Vermon and I expressed to her that we wanted her to be a part of our family, not just baby Vanessa. We cared about her and wanted to treat her like we would our own mothers. From this point on, we committed in our own hearts not to look at this situation as baby Vanessa leaving our family, but to see it as Vanessa Sr. joining our family.

We started researching renting storage units and moving vans, breaking her lease in Texas and securing a new apartment in Arizona, getting her foster care license here, etc, etc. It was an overwhelming few hours for me (I can’t imagine how it felt for her!!). Dollar signs seemed to be racking up by the minute and it seemed like a virtually impossible task. What began initially as a fun and exciting conversation that was exchanging ideas at a mile a minute had turned into a somber silence.  I realized I had to pick up my kids for school so I told her not to think or worry while I was gone and to just give me some time to think about everything.

I got in my car and began praying. The Lord strongly impressed on me that this was not something I could do on my own, but was something he wanted to be evident that HE was doing. It could not be my own strength or own reasoning abilities, but something much bigger then myself. I was filled with an incredible peace and joy and had instant confidence and faith that The Lord would bring this about in his timing.

I came home and jumped on my computer and emailed some friends from church. I asked if they would contribute some money toward Vanessa’s moving expenses. I never expected we would be able to raise everything she needed; however, I thought any amount we could contribute would be a blessing.

Within a few hours of sending the emails, here is what happened:

-Travis, a single man in our church who is a resident (therefore works constantly) emailed and said something along the lines of: “I have a 4 bedroom house that is ½ empty and no one is ever in it. I am happy to offer my house, if it’s needed. Vanessa could live here and save her rent money for at least six months or so.”  

-In order to keep Vanessa from having to rent a storage facility for her house full of furniture, we decided to rent a UHaul for her so she could move all her furniture here. We had several people from our church respond to our request for help with moving expenses and we raised half the price for the UHaul.

-My dad offered to fly us to Texas with me and drive the U-Haul back, that way Vanessa could just drive her car from Texas to Arizona without having to worry about moving all of her stuff.

Can you believe all that? The Lord worked through so many different people in such a short time, when I told Vanessa all of this she was overwhelmed with thankfulness to God our Father. She kept calling all of her friends and family explaining how she thought she would have to face the burden and strain of such a big move alone, but God had so wonderfully moved mountains to make this happen.

Vanessa and I pulled out our calendars. She decided she wanted to move out of her current place at the end of May (Grandma Vanessa had nointention of dragging her feet, she thought each day without her grandbaby was a day too long). So my dad and I booked our plane tickets for less then two weeks from when all these decisions were made. Grandma Vanessa flew back to Texas and began packing up her home. By the time she left…7 days after arriving in our home, she was calling us  “son” and “daughter” and we really did feel as though the Lord had blessed us with another mother figure in our lives.  We were blessed daily by her faith & food and amazed at all the Lord had done to answer our prayers to be equipped “for every good work to do his will.”

Before I knew it, my dad and I had landed in Dallas and were loading a moving truck. After loading the last box, we hugged Vanessa goodbye (she would be coming to Arizona a week later), jumped in the U-Haul, and began our 15 hour drive back to Phoenix. May was perhaps the most exhausting month of my life; however, it was also full of such blessing. It was a blessing to see our church family and extended family come around us and support this situation. There is nothing quite like being a part of something much larger then yourself…and that is impossible to experience as an individual, it can only happen within the context of community.

(my dad and I don’t normally look like this…this is after many hours of no sleep :)…my dad always makes his way into being a part of our foster-care adventures)

 Up Next:  Vanessa’s Story : Part Six—Vanessa gets reunited with family (Will post later this week)

About dennaepierre

I am the executive director of The Surge Network and am the founder and president of Foster Care Initiatives ( Most of my foster care/adoption related blogging has been moved to that site. This is my personal blog that I use to reflect on aspects of theology, culture, and our day-to-day life that includes being married to the pastor of Roosevelt Community Church, having a house full of kiddos (biological, adopted, and foster teens), and living in downtown Phoenix.
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