Overwhelmed With Joy! chronicles an adoptive mother’s adoption journey, foster parenting, her husband’s experiences as a stay-at-home Dad, and a variety of other topics. She maintains a joyful outlook on life in the midst of its ups and downs. Overwhelmed hosts a monthly Pay It Forward Book Exchange, in which she and other bloggers give away books, and the winners of the giveaways give the books away in turn to someone else. She also hosts a weekly Favorite Ingredients Friday carnival, which links readers to great recipes and meal ideas, often centered on a theme.
To read about her family’s first adoption journey, a private, domestic adoption, see the 10-part series titled “It wasn’t supposed to work this way” on her sidebar. You can learn more about her family’s recent efforts to adopt a second time through foster care here.
Overwhelmed With Joy! inspires and encourages readers and offers creative tips as well, and I asked her a few questions about her interests and passions.
What led you to start blogging? What are your goals as a blogger?
I started blogging back in April 2006, after spending months lurking on other’s blogs. I initially created a blog only as a means to leave comments on those blogs I was lurking on. I was fearful of blogging myself; putting yourself out there on the Internet can be kind of scary, and I worried about protecting the privacy of my family, which is why I blog anonymously. I tentatively published my first post and waited to see what would happen. I got a couple of comments, so I published another post, and another, and another. Now nearly two years later I’m still blogging and loving it!
As for my goals as a blogger, my main goal is to share my personal foster and adoption experiences (the good and the bad, the ups and the downs) in the hopes that others considering fostering or adoption will have a realistic look at what they might expect. Obviously every journey is different, but you’d be amazed at how many similarities you’ll find no matter what path you take to build your family.
My other blogging goal is simply to maintain a family-friendly forum where we can connect to exchange ideas and advice, share recipes and books, and develop friendships.
Did you take the beautiful photos on your blog template? Please share more about them!
No, I didn’t take the photos on my blog, my talented husband did! These pictures were taken during our Ireland wedding and honeymoon (see my 5/17/06 post for more details and some of our wedding pictures). I’ve always felt very connected to my Irish roots and I wanted my blog to reflect that. Susie with Bluebird Blogs did an amazing job of designing this blog for me, using my husband’s images as the focal point.
Tell us about the Pay It Forward Book Exchange and why you began it.
I began my monthly Pay It Forward Book Exchange in July 2007. The idea came to me after a coworker gave me several near-new books that she had finished with and instructed me to pass them on to another reader after I was done. As an avid reader, I decided to take the opportunity to offer other bloggers the chance to win books and share them with others. Everyone loves to win free stuff, right?
I wasn’t sure how successful my book exchange idea would be. I worried that people would consider it a hassle to go to the post office and mail a book. The cost is minimal, it’s only about $2-$2.50 per book at the media book rate, but I wasn’t sure if people would want to take the time. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the level of participation thus far. On average, you will find 20+ free books up for grabs each month, and you don’t have to be a blogger to win! I’ve even got a handful of publishers that donate books for my Pay It Forward giveaways so there are often new releases in the mix. This book exchange has really encouraged me to read on a more consistent basis and to step out of my comfort zone with the genre of books that I read. I love it!
I’ve enjoyed reading about your foster parenting journey with Baby Bug. What would you like to share with others who might be interested in foster parenting?
It’s okay to take it slow. Take all the time you need to think about becoming a foster parent. Talk to others, read a bit on Fosterparents.com, and attend an orientation (possibly with more than one agency) in an effort to make an informed decision. It’s not a decision to be made lightly. Realize that once you make the decision to become a foster parent, it’ll be a long road. There will be weeks of training, your personal life will be inspected microscopically; you’ll have to jump through numerous hoops over the course of several months just to get licensed.
Once you get licensed, the fun doesn’t stop there! After receiving a placement, you’ll have strangers in and out of your home at least once a month, as they check to make sure your foster child is doing well. You’ll be asked to fill out forms along the way, attend court hearings, and interact on some level with your foster child’s parents, social workers, lawyers, and CPS workers.
No matter how hard you might try to emotionally protect yourself, you’re going to get attached to your foster child and it’s probably likely that at some point you’ll experience a reunification, where the child is sent back home to their parents, and you may have had that child in your home for several months before you know for sure what the outcome will be.
But despite all of that, I think it’s worth it! You are making a most important difference in a child’s life. You’re offering a child in desperate need a safe haven, a stable and loving home. You get to watch before your eyes as your nurturing care helps a child to grow and flourish. And if adoption is your ultimate goal and you have the tenacity to wait patiently for a child that will stay, you can build your family without the staggering costs of private adoption. I have friends that have successfully adopted through the state, so I know it works!
We’re living and breathing foster care right now so I could go on and on but I won’t. Just know that if you’re considering fostering and you have specific questions, I’m happy to answer them if I can.
You have many different interests in addition to blogging, including cooking and jewelry making. What are your favorite tips for managing your time?
I’m afraid I can’t help you in the area of time-management. As a working mom with two small children, I sometimes feel quite buried! I often blog late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Sometimes I’m holding Baby Bug in one hand and typing with the other. I no longer have time to respond to every comment left on my blog, as I used to. My house isn’t always the neatest, in fact I find myself having to clean for the cleaning people that come twice a month! The cooking, jewelry making, reading, and blogging are my passions and my creative outlets. I squeeze out time to do these things, most often sacrificing sleep and housework to do so. Maybe someone can offer me some time management tips! 😉
-written by regular contributor Shauna Rumbaugh