Today we’d like to introduce you to Holly James.
Holly, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My name is Holly James and I am an adoption and foster care advocate.
I am a mom to two boys: Clyde and Nathaniel. After our oldest son, Clyde, turned 2, we started talking about expanding our family and we decided to add to our family through domestic adoption.
I never ever thought I would adopt through CPS. That just seemed too messy and had too much room for disappointment. However, after attending a CPS informational meeting, we knew, God called to find an adoption agency to begin the process of adopting through CPS.
After we were matched with our youngest son through CPS, people started seeing how cute he was, how well-adjusted and integrated into our family he was, and how “normal” an adoptive family could be. So, several families we knew started to ask us about the process, as they may be interested in adoption as well.
Questions became more frequent, so I started blogging about our experience. My husband and I started meeting with more and more families who had questions about the process, so I stated putting a packet of information together with things like our timeline and the ins and outs of the confusing and intricate foster care and adoption system. This then turned into a book, Adoption Adventure Travel Guide: Tales and Tips from an Adoptive Momma.
My hope in sharing my adoption adventure and my little family is families will be encouraged to stay the course and that by the end, you feel like you got a big old’ hug, affirmation, and maybe even a few laughs at my shortcomings as a parent and housewife.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Becoming a foster parent is a long road with a lot of obstacles and requirements you have to meet by CPS and the State. It is long, time consuming, and sometimes even lonely process. We were actually rejected from the original infant program we applied for (due to a lack of birth mothers) that totally set us down the path of CPS adoption. I never even wanted to deal with CPS – I thought that would be way too hard and way too messy.
Had we not been rejected from that original program, which I was completely devastated at the time, I would never have known the beauty and the need for families in foster care. I would never have been matched with my son, the sweet and spunky boy who God had planned to be a part of our family all along. And I would not be going through the process again, like we are now.
We learned a lot along the way—mostly that the process is always different and God writes everyone’s story differently—but through the process, we grew closer as a family, closer to God, and closer with our groups of friends.
Please tell us about Holly Nicole James – Adoption Advocate.
Now, I share our story of foster care and adoption, I meet with families to answer questions and guide them on their potential adoption journey, and I bring awareness to other families on how to get involved in foster care – even if they do not plan to foster or adopt their selves. I also am involved with our local CPS and CASA offices.
There is such a huge need in our country today for help in the foster care arena.
The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services actually just released its 2017 Interactive Data Book. And basically, the key findings for 2017 were
63,657 children were confirmed to be abused and neglected, an 8.5% increase from 2016.
295,485 reports of abuse and neglect were made to DFPS, up only 2.1% from 2016, and slightly more than the 1.2% increase in Texas’ child population.
174,740 investigations of abuse and neglect were completed, up 4.8%.
19,874 children were removed and placed in substitute care, an increase of 4.2% from 2016
So, you can see how there is such a great need here. So many children who need forever homes. And there is so much support needed for the families and social workers who decided to make this their life mission. There is truly something for everyone to do to get involved.
I love to be able to meet with families and answer their raw questions about the realities of adopting in general and the realities of dealing with CPS and opening up your home to them. These questions are buried deep in our hearts and we are scared to ask them: Is CPS that hard and scary to deal with? What if I don’t bond with my child? What if they have so many problems? What is it really like to be a multiracial family in today’s climate? What if your friends and family don’t respect your new family dynamics? How do we get support?
My husband and I have always said: if we affect 1 heart to soften towards adoption, we have truly made a difference and have done what God has called us to do. My book, Adoption Adventure Travel Guide, has allowed us to make that circle bigger and we have got to walk through many adoptions with many people. It has been the biggest honor of my life.
I have been most proud of my Adoption Adventure Travel Guide Launch Party. Not because I launched a book, but because that night was all about helping families say “Yes!” to making adoption a reality for their family.
I hatched this crazy idea that I would get adoption agencies to come out for families to talk to about their services. I wanted families to actually be able to take first steps in their adoption. I had no idea if anyone would even want to participate but it would be so great to have that resource there. And then agencies really did start signing up. And people started calling their agencies and asking them to come because they knew how valuable it was to meet your agency face-to-face.
I also wanted it to be a night to give back to those who gave to us. Child Advocates was so instrumental in our adoption. And they run mostly on volunteers. So, I wanted to raise money for our local Child Advocates of Fort Bend so that they could continue to provide their services to make sure that children in CPS had their best interest looked after.
The night exceeded all of expectations in the most beautiful and wonderful ways. We had 90-100 people come out. Friends. Family. Adoptive Families. Prospective adoptive families. Professionals. And now we are looking to make it an annual event.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over and do it differently – I so wouldn’t do anything differently.
But I do wish I could go back with the knowledge that I have now for patience and that God truly has an amazing plan that sometimes just takes time. The worst thing about waiting during the adoption process is the quiet. And you have time to think. You will think about every possible scenario—what could happen, what should happen, what ifs, doubts and fears of getting older, and your family not being mapped out just like you planned. Adoption is not like pregnancy where you know the approximate due date/end time.
And then after the waiting period, you then go through an even harder process of having to look through the profiles of so many children—reading about their lives, their needs, their little souls—and you will have to make the grueling decision of whether a child would potentially be a good fit for you and your family or not.
And the hardest part of all is being rejected as a match for a child that you desperately want to be a part of your family.
But that’s why I share our story. So that people can learn from our process and take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only person to go through it, and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that it is possible to have a successful adoption.
- Adoption Adventure Travel Guide: Tales and Tips from an Adoptive Momma (paperback) $14.99
- Adoption Adventure Travel Guide: Tales and Tips from an Adoptive Momma (e-book) $9.99
- Website: http://www.hollynicolejames.com/adoption-adventure-travel-guide
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/hollynicolejames/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HollyNicoleJames.AdoptionAdvocate/
Mim & Me Photography
Last three photos: Buckner International