The Romagnolo Family

The Romagnolo Family

Monday, February 8, 2016

How I Became A Single Mom

     It occurred to me this weekend that I have never really shared on here just how I became a single mom.  If you are reading this, chances are that most of you know already, but if you don't then here is our story...
     In early 2007 I was living in Tampa, FL where I had been living for the past 16 years.  In January, I came to Texas for a Pampered Chef Conference.  While visiting one of my best friends (who had been hounding me to move back to Texas), her husband asked me what was holding me back.  I said, "you know, I need to get married first."  His response was, "Ann how random is it that you'll meet a guy that says let's get married and move to Texas?"  It made sense.  So, after much research, prayer and God providing the perfect job, I made the leap.  I know, you're thinking...what does this have to do with becoming a single mom?  I'm getting there, don't worry.  This is how I ended up back in Texas and where my life began to change forever.  While all of this was happening, my beautiful cousin Amy was fostering a baby boy.  She told me..."Annie you should become a foster parent."  This was funny to me in two ways.  First, she knows me just about better than anyone and what a hot mess I am!  Second, I naively thought and told her, "I can't be a Foster Mom. I'm single."  Then I moved to Texas and began teaching in a 9th & 10th grade High School.  I had many students that came from single parent homes.  Some were good environments and some were not.  I began thinking, "I don't have much and I'm single, but I can raise a child in a loving home and point them towards the love of Jesus."  Don't think that I jumped in right away.  Oh no.  I went back and forth with God.  I enjoyed my single life that involved sleep!!  God and I went round and round for 3 years.  During the summer of 2010, I took students on a group trip to Disney (shocker, I know!).  My roommate during the trip was the mom of one of my boys.  That past spring they had adopted a girl from Child Protective Services (CPS).  We talked a lot about fostering and adoption during that trip.  After that trip, I finally picked up the phone and contacted a Christian Foster Agency in the area.  This began the process to become licenced to become a Foster to Adopt home (meaning I would be a foster parent and then be able to adopt when there was an opportunity).  There was an initial visit to my home to make sure that I wasn't crazy.  Ha!  After that, I had about a month or so of training, inspections of my home and a five hour long home study with questions about my childhood, job, you name it.  During this whole process I kept praying for a little girl.  My heart has always been for ministering to girls.  It was a long 6 months.  I had many supporters, but I also had many that did not think that I could handle it or that didn't think that I was making a good decision.  Fortunately I had more supporters than nay-sayers and I knew in my heart that this was the path that God wanted me to take.  I got licensed Friday, December 15, 2017 and on Sunday, December 17th I got a phone call for a 4 week old bi-racial baby.  Unfortunately since I had just been licensed on that Friday before I was not showing up in the CPS system as licensed.  The wait began.  I didn't have to wait too long though. Two days after Christmas I got a phone call from my Foster Agency that they had two sisters ages 6 months and 16 months.  That's right folks not one, but TWO girls AND they were only 10 1/2 months apart..  Now, you can say "no, now is not a good time", but my bleeding heart wouldn't let me.  I said yes, I'll take them even though I had only one car seat and no beds.  I quickly got on the phone with my AWESOME support network and one friend brought over another car seat.  Another friend brought me two pack n plays.  Over the course of the next few days I had a high chair, double stroller, clothes, diapers, toys and many other items given to me.  My friends showed up in mass that night to help me.  I was like a deer in head lights.  They helped me feed, bathe, and clothe those sweet girls.  Since my babies had been very much neglected and just allowed to run around until they crashed, it took a long time to get them to sleep.  My friends eventually had to leave me.  I finally got the girls to sleep.  They slept solid through the night.  I didn't.  I heard EVERY noise the whole night.  Our journey began.  I was told from the very beginning of the process to not expect to keep your first placement.  It never happens that way.  I was prepared to let my girls go and then take in another placement down the road.  God had other plans though.  Those beautiful babies came into my home and heart on December 27, 2010.  We became a Forever Family on December 21, 2011.  That my friends is a miracle!

     Will my children know that they were adopted?  Absolutely!  I've seen the damage that is done when parents try to hide it from their children.  I openly talk about adoption in front of my girls.  We've talked about how they didn't come from my tummy.  I answer their questions very simply when asked.  I try not to shove too much information at them.  They know that they have an older biological sister that is now 9 that was adopted when she was a baby too.  I will NEVER bad mouth their birth parents in front of my girls.  It's because of them that I am a mommy to two precious girls.  It is very sad how it had to happen, but I won't bad mouth them.  My girls weren't in a healthy or safe environment and fortunately God intervened.  In fact, Mia asked one night last month if they (their birth parents) didn't love them.  I assured them both that was NOT the case!  Those girls are very much loved.  I told them that their birth parents just weren't able to take care of them (all true).  They knew that the girls needed a family that could provide for them.  Some day I'll have to have the hard conversation with them, but not today.  I just keep praying that my girls will continually feel the love of Jesus and find their security in Him.  I pray that they will grow up serving Him and others.  
     So you see, my story of single motherhood is different from many.  I chose this life.  Yes it's hard.  There are a few that feel like I am too overwhelmed or have taken on too much.  That's okay.  People will think and believe what they want.  Am I tired?  YES!!!  Is life crazy?  YES!!!  Do I regret obeying God?  NO WAY!!!  This was the BEST decision that I have ever made.  Yes, it's hard, but any life worth living is going to be hard.  I can't even remember what my life was like before my girls came into my life (except the sleeping part).  I am one blessed woman.  I get to be the mama to two adorable girls who love me dysfunctional and all.  I have a job that I love.  I have a huge support system, which has been a huge blessing since none of my family lives close.  Fostering and Adoption are two of the best things ever.  It's hard, but so worth it.  I've heard many people worried about getting children with a lot of baggage or issues.  Honey, who are you kidding?  We ALL come with baggage!!!  As one of my friends pointed out in her blog, who is to say that your birth children won't have ADHD, dyslexia, depression, health issues, etc.  We just never know what's around the corner.  I do know that nothing that happens in this life is a surprise to our great Creator.  I think I'll let Him deal with whatever comes our way.  
     If you ever have any questions about Fostering or Adoption, please don't hesitate to ask.  I love talking about it and sharing my experience!

Summer of 2012
Summer of 2013

Disney - Summer of 2015

Summer of 2015
Our Gotcha Day 2015

Sunday, February 7, 2016

More Post Race Thoughts

     My thoughts keep going back to my race yesterday.  This one felt so different from my first race last month (The Hotcake Hustle).  There were so many more people participating in this race.  We even started in corrals.  This was a good thing because I accidentally left my friend Allison's Bib number in my car and had to run (literally) all the way back to my car to get it.  I thought for sure that I was not going to make it through the race because I was already running before the race had even started.  We got back to the starting line after the race had started but we were able to join in with another corral. There were many more walkers at this race.  I noticed that I had to weave in and out of the walkers more this race.  Since I had already got my run on (Ha!) before the race started, I decided to make sure that I kept my pace slow and steady.  I tried really hard to focus on the music.  Fortunately my exercise playlist did just the right "shuffle" this race.  My goal was to try to run the first 10 minutes without stopping.  I have also used the app, MayMyRun when I run outside or race. Before I knew it, the MapMyRun app interrupted my song to tell me that I had run a mile.  I hadn't stopped yet!  I told myself to keep pushing and keep my pace slow and steady.  When I heard the app tell me that I had run 2 miles, I decided to push all the way to the end.  I wanted my big brother to be proud of me.  He is a big runner and has encouraged me in my new endeavor.  I also wanted to be proud of myself at the end.  I beat my Hotcake Hustle race time by about a minute.  I ran/walked that race.  Now, my goal is to pick up my pace and keep running the whole race.
     There is something about running with others.  It was so much fun to run with so many.  There were people of all shapes and sizes in both races.  I was asked after my first race if it was so much fun.  I told my friend that it was fun before and after, not really during.  This time I can say that I truly enjoyed the whole experience.  When I've been "training", it's been by myself.  Running with so many others of all ages was awesome!  I have one month to get ready for my next run, the Color Run.  I'm excited about this one because some of my students will be running it with me. My dream is to be able to do the Disney races in Disney World and Disneyland.  The only thing holding me back are expenses...those cost a little more.  It will happen though.
     I wouldn't consider myself a "runner" now, but I love this year of change.  I am still one tired mama, but between my Beachbody "Hammer and Chisel" workouts and my races, I am seeing awesome changes in my body.  Remember, be stronger than your excuses!!!  If you want something bad enough, you'll make it a priority.  What are your priorities?

Another Year of Change

     I've been meaning to write this post for weeks, but life has been crazy.  One of the best things that have helped me on my journey this past year is being a part of an accountability group.  Last summer I got hooked up with a group of amazing women that share in the same passions as me:  Disney and getting healthy.  I have grown to love these women so much.  We can be real with each other.  We share our victories and our hard days.  We are always there to encourage each other.  There are many of us that check in with each other daily.  These women are the ones that have kept me focused on my journey the past year.  Do you have someone like that in your life?  If not, please find someone. You won't regret it!
     Back at the end of December, beginning of January, one of the ladies in our group had a friend that had to cancel on her at the Hotcake Hustle in Addison.  She reached out to our group and for whatever reason I said yes to joining her in the race.  There ended up being two of us (Cori & I) that joined Kelly in this race.  This was my first 5K ever.  I didn't have much time to train (about two weeks).  I took advantage of the track and exercise room at school.  Race day came!  It was so awesome to finally meet some of my "Skinnies" in person!
My sweet Skinnies, Kelly & Cori
It was also great to have my baby girls there too!

I survived my first race!!  My pace was 12:25 and my time was 38:29.  I ran the first 8 minutes without stopping and walked/ran the rest.  The Hotcakes were delish at the end too!!

It was fun getting to hang out with my sweet Cori that afternoon too!!

     Well, I guess I got the bug because my good friend Yolanda talked me into the Hot Chocolate Run at Fair Park.  I did it!  The three great things about this race were that I got to meet two more of my sweet Skinny Minnie friends, my girls were at the finish line cheering for me, and I ran WITHOUT stopping!!  That's right, you read that right...there was NO walking!!!  
Katie was willing to crash on my couch the night before the race.

My sweet Skinny, Allison, before the race.

About to start the race.  The leader in the race had already crossed the finish line before I started running.  Ha!

This sweet girl met me at the finish line.

It made my heart so happy to cross the finish line and see these girls cheering for me!

Allison and I after the race!!

Will Run for Chocolate!!!

My sweet friend Yolanda!  Thanks for encouraging me to do this Yolanda!!

Yummy Chocolate goodness at the finish line!!
Waving and blowing kissed to my sweet girls at the finish line!

This is what happens when your mommy wakes you up early to watch her race, you then go to gymnastics, and then you help our friend Jordan with the Foster Animals while mommy worked.

The next race is in March...The Color Run.  Ya'll!  I'm 43 and made it happen!!!  If I can do it, so can you!  Make your desire stronger than your excuses!  I still feel so exhilarated and I have to admit...proud of myself.  I kept thinking the whole race how proud my brother would be of me if I ran without stopping (he was).  More importantly, the sense of accomplishment I feel is what made it worth it!  What is holding you back?  Don't let fear or your excuses get in the way!!