My last "Where Are We Now?" update was in June 2017, and I must say, a LOT has happened in the 2+ years since!
Back in January 2017, I started college again, with the goal of finally getting my degree…which I did in May 2018! After 26 years and 180+ credits, I finally earned a bachelors degree in human services. That same month, in May 2018, my fledgling nonprofit, WAY Alliance, which serves youth aging out of foster care, received its 501(c)(3) status from the IRS, and we started program planning earnest. It was going to be probably six months to a year before we were ready to launch our programming.
But God had other plans! Although WAY Alliance was NOT launched yet, on July 18, 2018, a 17-year-old boy who was exactly one month from aging out and who had run away from his foster home for the third time gave me a call. To make a long story short, 10 days later, we asked this young man what he thought about us adopting him, and less than 5 months later, on December 17, 2018, we stood before the judge and he became our legal son!
At the adoption, he changed his name back to his birth name (because he'd already been adopted once before at 10 months and his birth name was changed completely), he added a "J" middle name so he could be an official J like the rest of us, and he took our last name. In the photo below, our new son, Logen Alexander James Miller, is to the right of my husband who is in the red jacket. (A friend of ours likes to say that his name is Jlogen, "but the 'J' is silent!")
Logen has been with us now for just over a year, and in about 2 weeks, he is moving into his own apartment 40 minutes away from us so he can attend welding school. He'll be coming home every weekend, so it should be a nice, slow transition for him to living independently.
My oldest son, Jaden (who is third from the left in the photo), moved into his own apartment in April 2018 (which is why we had an empty bedroom for Logen to occupy when he called me!), and he is now working full-time at Chick-fil-A as a training manager. He had already worked in his field of study, audio engineering, for about four years, but he decided that for now, getting some managerial experience is what he'd like to do, and he's been excelling at it and enjoying it immensely.
My oldest daughter, Jerah (who is third from the right in the photo), has been working as a nanny for a couple years while attending college as a Child Development major, and she is currently working on moving out on her own as well, but final details are still undetermined. She struggled with some ongoing health issues at the beginning of the year and had to withdraw from college for the spring semester, so right now, her future plans concerning college are undetermined as well.
My youngest, Joely (who is second from the left in the photo), will be starting her senior year of high school at the end of this month, and she's going to be attending our local community college taking dual credit classes. That means she'll no longer be homeschooling at home at all! This will be the first time since 2007 we've not been homeschooling, and I must say, I'm looking forward to finally being finished, especially now that my focus has shifted to my nonprofit.
Although for several years, Joely was working toward becoming a nurse, she changed her mind about a year ago. But her new career goal still has her working in a medical setting. She is now planning to get a degree in music therapy which combines her love of music with her love of the elderly. She plans to get her associates degree in music from our local community college and then transfer to Texas Woman's University which is one of the five music therapy programs in the state. Over the past year, she's taken up formal piano lessons and guitar lessons for the first time, and has progressed (especially with piano) at a very rapid pace. She is already a very strong drummer and has been playing drums in the adult worship band at our church for some time. She even taught drums for a couple years, but last year she decided to stop that so she can focus on her own music learning.
I am still working from home full-time as a graphic designer, but I'm trying to transition away from that so I can focus more on WAY Alliance. Even though the nonprofit is still in its infancy, or maybe BECAUSE it's still in its infancy, I've had to do a LOT of driving to out-of-home meetings. I added it up recently, and since January 2019 (so for the last 7 months), I've driven well over 2400 miles for WAY Alliance events, meetings, and volunteer interviews! This has obviously made it a challenge to balance my full-time work-from-home job which is why I'm hoping to do less design work soon. It also explains a little why I've been completely silent on Five J's for some time!
My husband, prior to this last June, had also been working as a graphic designer with me (and he's actually still doing a lot of that), but he has completely switched gears and started a new career as a database administrator. As a DBA, he still works from home, and he has been very pleasantly surprised with how much he's enjoying it! Over the last two years, he's also developed an addiction for mountain biking (which he's also gotten Logen into), and he started a website for North Texas mountain bike trails in the DFW area.
As for what's on the horizon for us, my husband and I are currently getting re-licensed to foster/adopt. Since we will soon have empty bedroom(s) again, we are looking to adopt one of the waiting children on the Texas adoption website, a 17-year-old young lady that I've known about through the website for the last three years. We are still early in the process, so we don't know how this will turn out, or if we'll end up adopting a different teen. But that's the plan right now.
After we adopt, we also plan to open our home to fostering teens in foster care (ages 14-17) and extended foster care (ages 18-21). But to do this, we'll need a house with more bedrooms (and a separate living area for all the teens to hang out!) so we're also in the process of selling our home and building a somewhat larger home with additional bedrooms and a second living area (and a smaller yard to mow!) that is about 15 minutes away from us. Again, we're early in the process, but that's our dream!