Answer the Call to SERVE

27
Aug
2013


So, maybe you can’t take a child into your home for a number of reasons – I get that.  For many the logistics are not right and that is OKAY!  As I shared yesterday, there are ways to serve that include more than just having a child in your home and I will cover many today.  If I’ve left one off, please feel free to add it in the comments.

I’ve also already received some questions which has prompted me to write a third post in this series.  I will share about how to address the impact on your family, especially if you have other children in your home when you are considering adoption in general, but especially with fostering.  Look for that on Thursday.

Please remember, I am not an expert in this area – the foster care system, but having journeyed through it there are some things I’ve seen, discovered and want to pass along – so if what I share differs in your state, my apologies.  I am going from what I know from Washington State Foster Care.

Fostering

Within the term ‘fostering’ comes many different types.  This is where confusion may overwhelm and people get a bit confused.  Unless you know someone else or have done some research on the subject, it can shut you down because of not understanding the options.

Emergency Care

This type of fostering involves caring for children who need somewhere safe to stay immediately, usually for a few nights. This can often happen at very short notice.  Most often this is right when a child is removed from their home by CPS.

Respite Care

Respite involves children who already are placed with a foster family, but have  short stays with another foster family to give their current family/main caregivers a break. This usually involves looking after a child or young person for a weekend, one week or two weeks.  This is what we just did for the first time when we cared for a 9 month old so his foster placement could attend a family even tout of state.  Most states will not allow foster children to go out of state unless prior permission is obtained from the birth parent or court.

Short Term Care

Short term foster carers provide a temporary place to stay until the child can return home to their own family, move into a longer term fostering placement, or an adoptive family is found. This can last for a few weeks or months, sometimes longer.  This is a transitional time where the state is trying to come up with a plan and evaluate the situation with the allegations of neglect and the level of intervention that may need to be done with the birth parents.

Long Term Care

Sometimes a family decides to long-term foster a child instead of adopting because it may be anticipated that a high level of support for many years may be needed for the child and this is one way to guarantee access to it.  Also, some children may not be available for adoption, but unfortunately do not have family to return to, giving the only option to remain in permanent foster care until the age of 18.

Foster to Adopt

This is where you go into the foster care system specifically with the goal of coming out on the other side with an adoption.  This is where our heart was led when we first entered into the journey.  We were not interested in short care or long care, but rather only considered taking children into our home who had a high likelihood of NOT being returned to their birth parents.  Let me say, you can never guarantee anything and even with a foster to adopt placement, somewhere along the journey the child could be returned to the birth parents, or some other  bureaucratic procedure may removed the child from your home, this is what happened in our very first placement.

What about the person who desires to make a difference, but does not have a room in their home, or who’s heart is not meant to care for other children in this manner?  Don’t worry, there are other jobs that need filled too!

Other Needs for the willing

Transporters

In our state we have people who are licensed and trained to be transporters for children.  This means you pick up and drop off children for different type of appointments, visits with birth parents, etc.  Obviously you are required to have a car and insurance as well as some other training.  This could be the perfect type of fit for someone who enjoys interacting with children and has some hours during the week to use to pour into a child.  My personal experience with the transporters we encountered was beyond wonderful.  Caring and nurturing people who genuinely loved these kids – it was such a nice feeling.

When you are fostering and your placement has scheduled visits with the birth parents, generally your child is picked up from your home and then dropped back off by a transporter.  You are not obligated to add this task into your schedule, which is nice.

Visit Supervisors

During a child’s visit with their birth parent there has to be a visit supervisor, someone who is present the entire time with the parent and child, observing and taking notes to compile a report of that visit for the courts and social worker.  Most times, this was the same person who did the transportation, but it does not have to be.

Other ideas

Most of what I shared previously are positions that are paid by the state at some level.  These other areas where you could offer support would be volunteering on your own, but still so valuable and ones that I found helpful when I was offered help.

Babysit – offer to get certified to be a babysitter for a foster family you know.  In our state certain background checks must be met in order to leave a child in someone’s care for any length of time.  It was such a nice break to go out for dinner or a walk ALONE and not have to drag a baby along – this little bit of service is really needed and so appreciated by foster parents.

Meal – make a double portion of a casserole and offer to bring one over for a foster family that you know.  As busy moms we know how much of a treat this is, well – a mom who has one or more mouths to feed will really appreciate it!  This is simple and yet so meaningful.

Tutoring – offer to tutor kids who need extra support.  As children are moved from home to home, it is extremely difficult for them to stay caught up in their school work.  If you have the heart to offer support in this way, I know you would find extreme joy in seeing children eat up the attention you could give them!

PrayerThis one everyone can do!  Even if you do not personally know of a family who is fostering, pray in general for children who are in the foster care system and those families who are caring for them.  I would be lying if I said the journey is easy – it is not.  It is hard, it plain really stinks at times. I get exhausted, crabby and have to apologize and ask forgiveness all the time.

As I shared with the mom who came to pick up the little bundle of sweetness yesterday, {we were both older moms, 46 who had grown kids, but yet here we are starting over in this parenting journey……what were we thinking???} even though I may not be the youngest most energetic mom, or the funnest and I will look pretty darn grey on top when my 3 year old graduates from high school, I know God is working in me each day, molding me to who he desires me to become.  It wouldn’t be happening any other way.  This may not have been my plan, but it is HIS plan and being obedient feels so great and much better than struggling with feelings on not being in HIS will.

I am not the best mom and I know it, but to my kids they think I am – and that’s all that matters!

I can tell you, if you choose to serve children, they will think you are pretty darn great too!

If you happen to live in Washington State, here is the link for more information on licensing.  In Washington State, we had to option to get licensed through a private agency, which helped us navigate through the process and helps with our placements.  This is not required and others just get licensed directly through the state.

What resonated in your heart today?

A Home for Every Child

26
Aug
2013


After sharing last week that our family was doing respite care for a 9 month old for another foster family, I was led to share more on Fostering – so today and tomorrow I will give you some information, some food for thought and also prompt you – are you ready?

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. – Psalm 82:3-4

I’ve shared about our journey with foster care before, but our story gets lost in all the posts.  For those new or unfamiliar, you may want to read these posts:

The Beginning of Trusting God

Opening Our Heart Again

Adoption Success

This will give you some background on how we entered into this God ordained journey and how we also fought it along the way.   [Read more…]

Mother India Review

10
May
2013


I have a heart for adoption and caring for children seemingly left behind.  This wasn’t always the case, I would turn my head the other way when I heard the numbers – they are staggering and it can be very overwhelming to think you can actually make a difference…..

In the U.S. 400,540 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system.  115,000 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 40% of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted.  SOURCE

  [Read more…]

The Call……

16
Nov
2012


We began the process to get licensed through a private Christian Agency in the local Seattle area.  We also started a bathroom remodel for our upstairs bathroom that would be shared by ‘more’ kids.  We knew it needed to be done, but now we made some specific changes to accommodate more kids in our family as well as considering making one more bedroom.  It was an exciting time – waiting in anticipation.

In the midst of our bathroom remodel we got our first placement, a newborn – straight from the hospital.  I thought God had answered my prayer, the one I had been praying intensely – my desire of a newborn/very young baby.  This is unusual in foster care, but I learned further that a newborn is just nearly unheard of!  My husband felt it was not our time, since we were in the middle of the remodel – but after a few hours (you do not have long to make these decisions!) we made a spur of the moment decision to say yes, even in the midst of our bathroom being torn apart – I mean the baby didn’t need to use the bathroom! 

Baby – Oh Baby

We were so excited and our world turned upside down.  Imagine within a period of 4 hours going from our youngest child being 10 to now a brand new 3 day old baby in your house!  Before baby M arrived, I ran to the local store and grabbed some diapers, bottles, blankets and clothing.  I remember the terrified feeling I felt when I opened the door and there was this little boy – so small and just waiting to be loved.

Normally you have a few months to adjust to the life of a newborn – not a few hours.  And even though I had been a mom a few times before, there is nothing you can anticipate about being thrown into this type of situation.  I was scared, excited, motivated and thankful.

This particular little boy was actually #5 of his siblings that had already traveled through the foster care system.  So unfortunately the likelihood that he would stay and end up awaiting adoption was pretty high.  The odds were already against him and his mother. But, we were excited, yet cautious, because we knew we wanted to adopt and if he could come into our home and stay we would feel ultimately blessed.

I cannot give a lot of details out, but the forecast for this little boy was up and down during the time we had him, whether he would eventually be free to adopt was a long way down the road, but we had indicators that led everyone to believe that it was highly likely.  So we prayed, waited and nurtured this little guy – Matthew.  Which by the way means, Gift of God.

As the weeks went by, the indicators were revealing more and more that Matthew would be with us for the long haul.

Baby Matthew was in our home for a total of 3 weeks.  We sadly experienced first hand the withdrawal symptoms of a baby who had been exposed to Meth while growing inside a mother who could not overcome her addiction.  An agitated little guy to say the least.  He could hardly get settled, required constant holding and the sleep I ended up getting was only a few hours at a time while he slept on my chest.  (Not my finest moment for a photo!)  I had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.

I struggled to survive – especially taking care of the rest of my family.  My husband was traveling for work and I was left at home to deal with the child in our family who had been adamant about not doing foster care.  The tension in our home was intense.  I was exhausted and hardly able to function.

But, what I was able to gain was the knowledge that I could truly fall in love with a child that I did not give birth too, honestly I had questioned that in myself.  But just as we began to get ‘used’ to this new little guy in our home, we got a call telling us the state wanted to move Baby M to another home closer to his other siblings.

Devastation

I could not believe this was happening, the one thing I knew I could not handle, having a child in our home and them leaving.  That is why we were cautious about placements and truly only wanting to take a foster to adopt type case.  I felt like I had been sucker punched in the gut – I didn’t know what to do, I was angry at God – He knew this was the one thing I told Him I couldn’t do – letting a child go who was in our home.  I felt betrayed.

The day we said goodbye to Baby M was one of the hardest days of my life.  This was the first time I had seen my husband cry – we were devastated and grieving just like we had a death in the family.  My husband even took the time to write a letter to this little boy, who hopefully he would read one day – who knows, but it made his heart feel better to share our hearts with him.

We were to leave on a family vacation traveling in our RV to Yellowstone, Glacier National Park and Mt. Rushmore.  We felt this was a time that we would use to grieve, heal and find our strength again. I wrote a post during the midst of that time and shared my heart.

But you know, God brought us through it all, helping heal our hearts and showing me that yes, I could survive a child leaving our home, that He would be there walking alongside us as we clung to Him for strength.  I kept hearing very clearly, “It is not about you Susan.”

We waited…nearly 4 months with very few calls for possible placements……it was very hard for me, I was ready ……then got a call about a 12 month old little boy.  Were we interested in him.  I said yes!  I met him, his biological family (great aunt, great grandma and mom) and we began the process to transition him into our home.  He came into our home permanently shortly before Christmas.

What a gift.  {To be Continued….}

Come back tomorrow to see what happens next! 

Photo Credit

Just One…..

15
Nov
2012


In honor of November being National Adoption Month, I thought it was time to share with you our journey to adoption.   This is a rather long story, so I will break it down into 3 posts, today, tomorrow and Saturday.

Everyone has their own adoption story, journey and path – that is how an Amazing God works and leads us – even to things we could never imagine for ourselves.  That is our journey – to a place I would never in a million years have imagined.

Redemption

My story is one of incredible redemption – when I truly look at where I have been and where God has led me now, I am almost brought to tears.  You see, I made a mess of my life years ago, going through a divorce when my kids were 3 and 7.  I was not a follower of Jesus, but my heart was aching for something more. I made a number of huge mistakes during this time, yet He took me in, with all the mess and disgusting trail I left behind.  During my years as a single mom, I came to know the Lord and made huge strides in my walk with Him – forever changed.

I met and married my husband in August 2007 {that is a whole different story in itself – being a single Christian mom looking for a Godly man – whew – but God is good!}

At that time we felt our season of parenting was to blend our families and then spend our years after our kids left home to share time together, that ‘dating’ time most have in traditional marriages ‘before’ they have kids.  We kinds missed all that.

I was really looking forward to that time.  We had three children between us and we felt our house was full. We felt this so clearly that before our wedding my husband had a vasectomy.  We didn’t even know how hard blending a family is, no one ever tells you that and we are led to believe it is just like the Brady Bunch episodes.  All fun and games – NOT!  yet, we survived.

Those Mothering Feelings

About a year after we were married I started having feelings of wanting to be a mom again.  Yes, I was still a mom, but I wanted to be a mom again to a small child/baby.  It really hung heavy on my heart and Don and I even talked about the possibility of a reversal, but in the end we just felt that was not what we were suppose to do.  I was very disappointed that it appeared we would not be having more children.

Several months later I was looking at the newspaper on Saturday and ran across the “Saturdays child”, where they show a child in need of adoption.  Something hit me when I saw that picture and read his story.  It kept entering my mind…..I kept thinking about it, so I began to pray about what God was trying to show me.  Never in my life had I thought or considered adoption before.

Just One

I remember feeling guilty many times that I had no desire to be a missionary, going abroad to further God’s kingdom – I am not an evangelist – yet God spoke to my heart, saying that I didn’t need to save hundreds….just one.  I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but it stuck in my mind.

After a few months of praying and still having this thought of adoption on my mind I knew I had to mention it to my husband.  I was scared because I figured I would be disappointed, my idea or leading was certainly not within “our plan.”  I mean, we were looking forward to our years doing our own thing.  It was not going to be long before our 9 year old was off to college.

We sat down for lunch one day and I began sharing with him what I had been feeling, then he told me about a dream he had recently while at work about a month earlier about adopting a child.  I was shocked and so was he.  He wasn’t sure what it meant and we decided we would just pray about it.  He was overwhelmed to say the least.

So we sat on it.  We talked about adoption versus foster to adopt, the how none of it made sense and how it was illogical, but we  prayed and waited, not sure what to do.  He spoke to an uncle who had done foster care before and he began to get very hesitant to the idea…..

I am more of a spontaneous person, my husband is a planner – one who thinks about every angle of things, so I was getting inpatient.  This is where I like to often take control instead of wait on God’s timing – it is so hard for me!

We decided after about  6 months to mention it to our family while on vacation.  Our oldest,  who was 16 at the time was not in favor of it and downright adamant against it.  One of our other kids was very excited and the other was more cautious.  So we  decided to continue to pray and wait.  We knew forcing this for our family would not be a good outcome.

We waited…  during my time as a parent coach I suddenly came into contact with parents of adopted children.  I had never had known a family that had adopted, but here I was working with these families and learning from their experiences. Some were foster to adopt and some were open adoptions.  It was clear that God had something going on here for us.

In my job as a parent and family coach, I kept getting clients who had adopted kids, I mean not just one or two but 5 or 6!

After more prayer, exploring and discussion we knew we were not suppose to adopt foreign, we were meant to reach out to a child in our area.  I kept getting this strong feeling of being disobedient to God and what His plan was for my life – because we were not moving forward. Yet, I knew I could not go above my husband and orchestrate this to happen, my husband  had to be the one who agreed and led our family into this journey.

Being Obedient

We struggled with our one child’s  adamant refusal to agree or accept this idea of adding to our family.  It was so hard. Finally I had two different mentors we respected greatly tell us that our children  do not get to make decisions like this for our family.  If we knew this was what we were supposed to do, then we needed to move ahead.

After months of feeling so convicted that we were not being obedient and struggling with those feelings, I got the advice of very smart Godly woman who told me to tell my husband that I was feeling and once he was made aware of my feelings then I would be kinda off the hook – it would then be between my husband and God – he would have to answer to why we didn’t pursue this leading.

I felt relief after I conversation, I shared from my heart.  There was no pressure, just raw emotion – explaining what I’d been hearing from The Lord and how I had been feeling.

Interestingly enough, 30 minutes later he said we should call the agency and begin the process.    {To Be Continued…..}

Come back tomorrow to see what happens next!

Photo Credit

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