ReMoved

A glimpse into the life of a foster child. Younger teens, please ask your parents to preview this clip before watching yourself. It is fictionalized but powerful.

P.S. I just started a new job, so my postings may be more sporadic for a while. Please be patient!

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Guest Post: 5 Things Foster Families Want You to Know

5 ThingsI’m very excited to introduce you to Anna, the author of today’s post. She’s a friend of Amanda’s, and Amanda was kind enough to give her my contact information, which got the ball rolling for this post. Anna’s family is a foster family, and she has some great stuff to share. So, without further ado, here’s her post.
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Foster care is like a rollercoaster. It’s exciting, sometimes scary, and always worth the ups and downs of the ride. My family got on this roller coaster about two years ago, and we’ve learned so much along the way. On this journey, we’ve both answered and asked many questions, and I’ve consistently grown in my own knowledge of the foster care system. There is so much more to know about it than most people do.

1. We (foster families) are not saints.

In my experience, I have often seen or heard people referring to foster families as “saints.” It’s often meant to be a compliment, indicating what kind, wonderful, selfless people we must be in order to do this. We’re not saints. We’re flawed, utterly imperfect human beings who make plenty of mistakes. Honestly, foster families are not as incredibly different as we may seem. We’re taking care of kids. Yes, these kids have been through a lot, and yes, they are not “ours,” but what we are doing is being a voice, a familiar face, and a family while their parent’s case runs it’s course. I once read an article that phrased it well:
“The idea of sainthood makes it impossible for ordinary people to do this – and the truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster parents.”

2. We do get attached.

“I would get too attached.”

I’ve heard that sentence many times throughout my experience as a foster sibling. People say this as if it is a bad thing. Yes, if you had children living with you full time, going through life with you and relying on you as their family, you would absolutely get attached. Getting attached is, in my experience, the most natural thing in the world. What a lot of people do not realize when saying this, is that you are insulting foster families. To say you would get “too attached” implies that we don’t. We absolutely get attached, but it’s worth it. It is worth it to show love to children who need it, regardless of how long they are with you. Memories last forever, and this experience has given me so many treasured ones.

3. There is a false idea that there are enough foster families and volunteers.

There seems to be a false mindset that there are already plenty of people involved in this ministry. There aren’t. It isn’t just foster parents that are needed. Teens willing to go help out a foster mom with young kids, spreading the word to your friends, donating your old things, all are simple ways that make a difference. Prayer is a huge help. It may sound like a silly, last resort kind of option, but we have had so many people praying for us throughout our journey and I can truly say it is so incredibly important. Don’t just pray for the foster families or the foster kids – pray for the case workers, judges, biological family members, licensing coordinators, and the many others involved. I can promise you, it is greatly appreciated.

4. Foster children react differently to certain situations that many would not perceive as stressful.

As a result of trauma, foster children often react to circumstances in ways you might not expect. A “fun” trip to Disney could be incredibly stressful, and family gatherings could result in a meltdown. Trauma changes the way the brain works. Many kids have developed the tendency to “fight, flight, or freeze” as a coping mechanism for stress. New situations are often triggers for this. Not every child is affected this way, but these issues are highly prevalent in the foster care community. Sensitivity and education is key for those coming into contact with children who struggle with this.

5. All of this is worth it.

From the outside looking in, I’m sure we look insane. My parents had two daughters, both of whom were old enough to be fairly independent, yet they willingly took on some very needy toddlers. All of a sudden diapers, nap times, and tantrums were back on their radar. As a family, we were once only four and are now a party of six. Our car has two car seats in it, with only one unoccupied spot. Life is hectic, slightly nuts, and at times, rather unpredictable. Looking beyond that, life is also full of giggles, bedtime stories, and tiny, noisy feet. Our house would feel so empty without the two crazy boys we’ve been blessed with. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
People know so little about foster care. Society needs to understand what these kids go through and help make a change. Teenagers, you can make a difference. Offer your time, prayers, and knowledge. As I said previously,  teenagers are the next generation. We are the next set of volunteers, advocates, and foster parents. No matter how old, young, or experienced you are, you can affect many. Educate yourself, pray for those involved, and lend a hand for change.
What did you learn from Anna’s post? Share your thoughts, comments, and encouragement in the comments!

Video: The Wahl Family Adoption

This past summer, our church did an experiment with an adult VBS program. I was helping with the kids program, so I didn’t see most of the videos shown. However, the week before VBS, we previewed one of the adult lessons. It just so happened that the one we watched featured an incredible story about a family who had adopted several children. As I was trying to come up with an idea for this post, I thought of trying to find and share that story. Unfortunately, I haven’t found it yet, (I’ll let you know if I do.) but I did find this story from Focus on the Family. 

 

P.S. Not quite sure what a CASA is? The initials stand for Court Appointed Special Advocate, also known as a Guardian Ad Litem. You can read more about it here.

Advocate & Pray: Carmel

CarmelSeven-year-old Carmel’s story caught my eye when I was looking through children listed in the United States.  She has a lot of medical needs and is unable to speak or move by herself.  However, her profile shows that she can interact with her caregivers and respond to music and lights.  Carmel is in need of a special family to care for her needs and give her a loving home!

Carmel is listed with Adopt Us Kids
USA

Carmel is a female child of Caribbean decent and she was born September of 2006. Meet this beautiful young child who has faced unbelievable challenges and obstacles. Despite all of her obstacles Carmel is stable medically and has the ability to respond to her caregivers. Carmel is medically needy and requires 24 hour medical monitoring, which is divided between a parent, a night nursing staff and a school nurse that comes with the school bus to pick her up and remains with her until she arrives back home. She is currently nonverbal and non-ambulatory. Carmel loves music and responds to it with smiles. Carmel can respond to bright lights and can respond to movement in a room. Carmel enjoys toys with lights, music and vibration. Carmel is in need of a family. We are willing train an individual, at no cost, to care for Carmel. She is just a child in need of a loving home.

Visit Carmel’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Carmel

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Carmel to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Share Carmel’s story and help her find a family to care for her.  Click to tweet

Back to School Sales and Orphans

Back to School Sales and OrphansJuly and August can be great months for teens who want to help out with orphan care ministries. Why? It’s simple. Back to school sales are currently at their peak.

School supplies can be used by a wide variety of ministries that help orphans and underprivileged children. During back to school sales, you can find all sorts of stuff at huge discounts. My personal favorite is the Wal-Mart sale. Clip With Purpose is a great website to keep track of other sales. Last year I got notebooks for 20 cents and boxes of crayons for 25 cents. Most of us don’t have a lot of expendable income, so this is a great way to stretch what we have.

Okay. So you might be wondering how you can use all those school supplies to help orphans. Here are a few ideas.

1. Backpacks for Foster Kids

Those of you who participated in the group read of Orphan Justice may already know about this. Kids often enter the foster system with very few personal belongings. One way individuals and churches can reach out to them is by packing backpacks with toiletries, underwear, coloring supplies, etc. You can stock up on many of these items during the back to school sales.
Read more about this opportunity

2. Shoeboxes for Kids Around the World

This is where the majority of my back to school finds end up. Operation Christmas Child delivers boxes to poverty stricken children around the world. Though this ministry is not specifically targeted at orphans, it definitely impacts them. Plus it’s super easy and lots of fun. If you have questions, feel free to send them my way.
Read how Operation Christmas Children impacted one adoptive family

3. Donate Directly to an Orphanage or Sponsorship Program

This one can be a little tricky because international shipping costs so much. Some ministries have predetermined ways of getting donations overseas. If they don’t it is possible to raise the money to ship a box or carton of supplies. Or you could send your donations with someone going on a missions trip. That’s the route I’ve taken in the past, and this year I got to be on the delivery end of the deal!

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School supplies for our missions trip.

4. Shop for an Adoptive Family

Do you know a family who has adopted or is in the process of adopting? You could always take advantage of the back to school sales to bless them. Ask them for a list or just surprise them. Or, if you don’t have any money, volunteer your time. Maybe you know an adoptive mom who would love to take advantage of the sales but can’t find the time to go shopping.

Do any of these ideas appeal to you? Can you think of any other ways to use back to school sales to bless orphans?

Advocate & Pray: Fernandez

FernandezFernandez is full of humor and life, as you can see from this picture!  He is thirteen years old, in the foster care system of Nebraska.  Fernandez has big dreams for the future–all he needs is a family to support him.

Fernandez is listed with Adopt Us Kids
USA

Fernandez can simply be described as all boy! He loves sports, especially football, basketball, wrestling, and swimming. When the weather is nice outside, Fernandez likes to spend his time fishing! When he was asked what his favorite food is, he laughed and said, “everything!” Fernandez can be shy but after he gets comfortable, his sense of humor and contagious smile comes alive! Fernandez likes to do things to help others. He has been getting good grades in school and his favorite subject is math. When Fernandez grows up, he wants to either be a football player, a police officer, or a real estate agent.

Visit Fernandez’s profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Fernandez

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Fernandez to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Share Fernandez’s story and help him find his forever family.  Click to tweet

Understanding the Four Types of Adoption

Every adoption story out there is different from the rest, but most of them (at least in the US) can be categorized into four different types of adoption: International, Foster Care, Private Domestic, and Embryo. Let’s explore all four.
Four Types of Adoption

International Adoption

As it’s name indicates, international (or intercountry) adoption is the practice of adopting children from different countries. International adoption is, in most cases, the most expensive adoption route. The rules for adoption vary widely between different countries open for foreign adoptions from the United States. A lot of controversy surrounds international adoption as people worry that a western “demand” for adoptable children increases the risk of child trafficking. However, approximately 8 million children live in institutional care with no hope of being adopted within their own country. Statistics indicate that of the children who graduate from institutional care, the majority turn to crime and prostitution. Approximately 1,530,000 orphans are available for adoption by American citizens. For these children, international adoption may be their only hope of finding permanent families. International adoptions can take anywhere from 1 to 10+ years to complete and cost an average of $30,000.
Learn More
CAFO Articles on International Adoption
Both Ends Burning/Stuck Documentary
Intercountry Adoption | Bureau of Consular Affairs
Becoming Home
The Global Orphan Crisis

Adoption from Foster Care

Around 400,000 children live within the United States foster care system. Of those children, over 100,000 are waiting <!–ato be adopted. Adoption through foster care is the most affordable way to adopt, though it also results in the highest level of governmental involvement. It generally takes a year to have a a child placed in a family adopting through foster care and costs between $0 and $1,000.
Learn More
CAFO Articles on Foster Care
Adopt Us Kids
iCareAboutOrphans
Small Town, Big Miracle

Private Domestic Adoption

Private domestic adoption usually occurs when a birth mother decides she cannot adequately provide for her baby and chooses to create an adoption plan.  These adoptions can be closed (the adoptive family knows nothing of the birthmother and vise versa), semi-open (some information is exchanged between the two parties), and open (long term contact is maintained between the birthmother and adoptive family). While the birthmother sometimes asks an agency to select an adoptive family for her, often the birthmother looks through prospective families’ files and makes the choice herself. Voluntary newborn adoption generally costs between $10,000 and $30,000. The typical wait is one to two years.
Learn More
Open Adoption
Other Types of Adoption
My Name is Sonya & I’m a Birth Mom

Embryo Adoption

I don’t know much about this one, and I’m still trying to decide what I think of it. If you have opinions, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment. I first learned of it on the Nightlight Christian Adoptions website while putting together the Resource page for TIO. If you want to learn more, you can visit Nightlight’s Snowflake Embryo Adoption page.
NOTE: Younger teens, please check this with your parents before clicking. Thanks!

Guest Post: Letting Go

Balloons

Today’s guest poster is Jesse. He’s a TIO member with personal experience in foster care side of caring for the fatherless. When he asked how he could help, I asked if he’d be willing to write a guest post about that experience. Here it is. (And, no, the title of this post has nothing to do with Frozen. Just in case you now have a certain song playing through your head.)

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Is it really worth it? To pile on love and adoration, only to know the one you love will soon have to leave? Is it worth it to completely give all you have to someone who you quite possibly might never see again? Is love worth the tearing and pulling apart that comes when you open your home to a situation like this?

When this little guy first came into my life I totally welcome him way down deep into my heart. I would stay up late, sometimes begging him to just go to sleep, other times wishing he wouldn’t drop off so fast. I would love to hold him in the back of church, totally reveling all the attention we would get, never dreaming about the day it would actually end. I guess I’m great at living at denial in that way.

I knew when my parents first mentioned foster care that the child would most likely end up back with his or her parents. I knew that, but refused to accept it. Now I have to. This awesome little guy just turned two, and we are really good friends. There’s nothing like coming home from work and having him run up to me yelling my name, or cranking on the tunes and watching him dance and try to air guitar like his favorite foster brother. These are good days, golden days. But soon, they will end. He will go back to live with his mom, and I can’t stop it. All I can do is pray more desperately than I have ever prayed in my life. I never knew how hard it was to let go until I had to do it. He is her child after all. But I learned a long time ago that reason does not stop pain. The pain is necessary, in order to heal. Which brings it around. Is all this pain, all this hurting worth it?

In a word, totally. In a thousand words, well just look at a picture of him and you will see what I mean. The chance at changing a life forever is worth the pain. Because he has had a stable first two years of his life, he has a much better chance at a stable adulthood. The shot at making a real difference in not only the life of a child, but also his mom and her family. Not to mention the real, epic, lasting changes and experiences I have gained on this journey.

So, is it hard? Yes, heart rending, one of the hardest things I have ever walked through. Is it worth it? Yes, probably one of the most satisfying things I have ever walked through, knowing that we as a family and myself as an individual are doing God’s will, and reaching out to the hurting, the broken and the fatherless. So if you could gain anything from my feeble attempt to put down what races thru my head, let it be this, never let anything stop you from what God is telling you to do. God speaks thru different ways, but He always speakers thru His word. And one the largest and most recurring themes in the bible is serving the fatherless and the widow. Even the ones right in our own country. May God be with you as you go regardless of the pain, regardless of the hurt and possible failures. For the voiceless

–Jesse

Do you have any personal experiences like Jesse? Do you believe the difficulty of caring for the father

Sozo: Beauty Through Pain

May is National Foster Care month. There are lots of frequently quoted numbers about foster care. Approximately 400,000 children live in the foster care system at any given time. Each year more than 20,000 of those children age out without finding a forever family or being reunified with their biological family. Around 104,000 of these children are waiting for adopting families. Sozo is the story of one family, one girl, who personally experienced the pain and beauty of adoption through foster care.

Note: I’ve mentioned my friend, Marli Tague, several times on my two blogs. This is the story of her family and her sister.

Advocate & Pray: Jacques

JacquesJacques’ eager smile caught my eye this week.   He is seven years old and is in Florida, waiting in the foster care system.  He loves to play sports, but struggles with school.  A special consideration for Jacques is his brother, with whom Jacques wants to remain in contact once he finds his forever family.

Jacques is listed with Adopt Us Kids
USA

There is so much to say about Jacques. Jacques has a bubbly personality and he is playful and energetic. This little boy is ready to go outside, play games, and play sports. Jacques would benefit from a structured after school activity program. Jacques requires assistance with special education services, and needs an adoptive parent to be a strong educational advocate for him. Jacques would benefit from a loving family that is ready to help him heal from his past and prepare him for a bright future.

Visit Jacques’ profile

Take Action

Pray
Join the prayer chain for Jacques

Share on social media
Join me in praying for Jacques to find a forever family.  Click to tweet

Seven year old Jacques is waiting for a supportive, loving family.  Click to tweet