Friday, March 20, 2015

Aren't you afraid you will get attached...

As most of you know, our family has been fostering kids for the last 10 months or so. We have had three little ones come and join our family for a short time. The question I get asked the most is: Aren't you afraid you will get attached? My answer to this question has changed over the months. I'm learning to be nicer in how I respond. 

One of the first times someone asked me that question, we were at the park and my response was this: "Well I would rather get attached then see a story on the news with them dead." Okay, I realized pretty quick that this was not the best way to respond. I have since made my response not so harsh. When people ask me now, I simply say " yes, you will probably get attached, but if you go into it knowing that the main goal is to reunite the child with his/her parents, then it makes it much easier when it is time for them to leave." 

Today, I saw a story on the local news's facebook page, about a man who barricaded him and his 5 year old son in his apartment.  They finally were able to get the guy out of his apartment, but when they went in they found his 5 year old son dead. This story brought me back to when I basically told off the lady in the park! I don't know this guys story. I don't know if the child had been in foster care before. But what I do know is that if we can get more houses available, then maybe, just maybe we can save the lives of these children. 

I got to hear a panel of former foster kids talk, a few weeks ago. It was really neat! They all still had contact with their former foster families! I found this to be so encouraging. So if you are afraid of being attached, if that is the only thing holding you back, then please...PLEASE...I beg you to let go of that fear and become part of a life changing ministry. You are needed. That extra room in your house, it's needed. The opportunity for you to give love, hope and strength to a child is here for the taking. All you have to do is answer the call. 

 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Due date...

I was thinking this morning about how I probably would have been celebrating our sweet child's birthday around this time. I was due on February 5th, which means I probably would have delivered a week early via c-section. I love you sweet one. 

I saw this picture on facebook this morning and wanted to share it with you all. May all of you who have lost a child find comfort in knowing they are with Jesus today. 



Thursday, January 22, 2015

How you can help...

I realize I haven't posted since summer of 2014, however it is for good reason. You see we have become a foster family! There are so many limits as to what we can and cannot post to social media that I have pretty much just not posted on here. 

Right now, we are taking a break. Time to grieve. As I was laying in bed one night it occurred to me that many people out there may want to help, but just don't know how. Here is my list of things anyone can do to help out families with foster children.

1. Offer to babysit. This was truly one of our biggest needs. Whether it is during the day so they can go to doctor appointments alone or during the night so they can go on a date night. Make sure they have your phone number, email or facebook so that they can get a hold of you! (there are some limitations as to who can watch the foster kids, but from my understanding as long as it isn't more than 6 hours anyone can watch them)

2. Become a respite care provider! This is such a huge need. Probably second to becoming a full time foster parent! The best thing you could give a the parents in a foster home is a weekend away! Time to recoup and rest and communicate with out little ones interrupting them! Ask your foster family friends who to talk to about becoming one and I'm sure they will get you hooked up ASAP. :) 

3. Offer to bring meals! Especially to those who may get a new born. Just because they didn't go into labor and have a stay at the hospital doesn't mean they don't still need meals provided like they did when they came home with their biological children. 

4. Talk to them about fostering. Don't be afraid to ask questions, but understand that they probably won't be able to answer many of them. Also, know that when a child goes home or is moved to another placement, for whatever reason, it is like a piece of your heart goes away too. Be sure to talk to your foster friends about this. It is good to talk about how we are feeling that way we don't keep it all inside.

5. If you have clothes or toys or diapers, basically anything age appropriate for their foster child feel free to donate it to them. As a foster family, we send all of the things home (or to the next placement) with the child that we provided for them. So we may have things for a 6 month old baby right now, but once he/she leaves our home we will send that with him/her, causing us to no longer have the items if we get the same age child again. I hope that makes sense. It did in my head. :) 

So there you go! 5 things you can do to help out foster families. I hope it helps give you an idea and if you have any more ideas, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Talking to ourselves...

So yesterday a friend of mine posted a video that really spoke to me (see video at bottom of post). In it she talked about how we talk bad about ourselves to ourselves. Do you do that? I know I do. 

One of the biggest things I talk to myself, and to others, about is my home making skills. I constantly tell people that I am a horrible home maker. You know what? I have started to believe it. I have put myself in a box and it has been really hard to get out.Another thing I tend to tell myself is that I am not a good mom and wife because of my horrible home making skills. This is a lie. This is what Satan wants me to believe. He has been able to push me down the mountain of lies and I the lies tend to pile up on me, like a snow ball. I begin to believe them and once I reach the bottom of the hill I feel so weighed down that I can's seem to get up. 

NO MORE SATAN!!! I am claiming God's truth! I am believing that I can get out of this snow ball of lies and live the life that God has given me. 

"I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength." (Phillipians 4:13).

I am no longer going to label myself as a horrible home maker, a bad mom or a bad wife, because I can be a great home maker through Christ who gives me strength! I can be a good mom through Christ who gives me strength! I can be a good wife through Christ who gives me strength!

So take that Satan! I am going to define myself as a daughter of the King of kings! I am no longer believing your lies!




Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fostering...

This is completely copied from another blog, http://scienceblogs.com/. I felt it was great to share, especially as we continue on our journey as foster parents:

This essay is a little different than most of my stuff. It is the result of a collaborative discussion on a foster parenting list I’m a part of by a group of foster parents.  I’ve paraphrased and borrowed and added some things of my own, but this is truly collaborative piece, and meant to be shared.  I do NOT have to get credit for it.  So if you’d like to circulate it, use it in a training, distribute it at foster-awareness day, hang it on the wall, run it somewhere else, give it out to prospective foster parents, whatever, go right ahead.  This is a freebie to all! I care much more than people know this than that I get credit – and most of the credit goes to a lot of other wonderful people who want to remain anonymous, most of them wiser and more experienced than I.

1. We’re not Freakin’ Saints.  We are doing this because it needs doing, we love kids, this is our thing.  Some of us hope to expand our families this way, some of us do it for the pleasure of having laughing young voices around, some of us are pushed into it by the children of family or friends needing care, some of us grew up around formal or informal fostering – but all of us are doing it for our own reasons BECAUSE WE LOVE IT and/or LOVE THE KIDS and WE ARE THE LUCKY ONES – we get to have these great kids in our lives.
We hate being told we must be saints or angels, because we’re doing something really ordinary and normal – that is, taking care of kids in need.  If some children showed up dirty and hungry and needing a safe place on your doorstep, you’d care for them too – we just signed up to be the doorstep they arrive at.   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.   This also stinks because if we’re saints and angels, we can’t ever be jerks or human or need help, and that’s bad, because sometimes this is hard.
2. WATCH WHAT YOU SAY AROUND THE KIDS!!!!!! I can’t emphasize this enough, and everyone is continually stunned by the things people will ask in the hearing of children, from “Oh, is their Mom an addict?” or “Well, they aren’t your REAL kids are they” or “Are you going to adopt them?” or whatever.  Not only is that stuff private, but it is HORRIBLE for the kids to hear people speculating about their families whom they love, or their future.    Didn’t anyone ever explain to you that you never say anything bad about anyone’s mother (or father) EVER?  Don’t assume you know what’s going on, and don’t ask personal questions – we can’t tell you anyway.
3. Don’t act surprised that they are nice, smart, loving, well-behaved kids. One of the corollaries of #1 is that there tends to be an implied assumption that foster kids are flawed – we must be saints because NO ONE ELSE would take these damaged, horrible kids.  Well, kids in foster care have endured a lot of trauma, and sometimes that does come with behavioral challenges, but many of the brightest, nicest, best behaved, kindest and most loving children I’ve ever met are foster kids.  They aren’t second best kids, they aren’t homicidal maniacs, and because while they are here they are MINE, they are the BEST KIDS IN THE WORLD, and yes, it does tick me off when you act surprised they are smart, sweet and loving.
4. Don’t hate on their parents.  Especially don’t do it in front of the kids, but you aren’t on my side when you are talking trash either.
Nobody chooses to be born mentally ill.  No one gets addicted to drugs on purpose.  Nobody chooses to be born developmentally delayed, to never have lived in a stable family so you don’t know how to replicate it. Abusive and neglectful parents often love their kids and do the best they can, and a lot of them CAN do better if they get help and support, which is what part of this is about.  Even if they can’t, it doesn’t make things better for you to rush to judgement.
It is much easier to think of birth parents as monsters, because then YOU could never be like THEM, but truly, birth parents are just people with big problems.   Birth and Foster parents often work really hard to have positive relationships with each other, so it doesn’t help me to have you speculating about them.
5. The kids aren’t grateful to us, and it is nuts to expect them to be, or to feel lucky that they are with us.  They were taken from everything they knew and had to give up parents, siblings, pets, extended family, neighborhood, toys, everything that was normal to them.  No one asked them whether they wanted to come into care.
YOU have complex feelings and ambivalence about a lot of things, even if it seems like those things are good for you or for the best.  Don’t assume our kids don’t have those feelings, or that moving into our home is happily-ever-after for them.  Don’t tell them how lucky they are or how they should feel.
By the way, there is no point comparing my home to the one they grew up in.  Both homes most likely have things the children like and dislike about them.    The truth is if every kid only got the best home, Angelina and Brad would have all the children, and the rest of us would have none.
6. No, we’re not making any money on it.  We don’t get paid – we get a portion of the child’s expenses reimbursed, and that money is only for the child and does NOT cover everything.   I get about 56 cents an hour reimbursed, and  I get annoyed when you imply I’m too stupid to realized I’d make tons more money flipping burgers.
Saying this in front of the kids also REALLY hurts them – all of a sudden, kids who are being loved and learning to trust worry that you are only doing this because of their pittance.  So just shut up about the money already, and about the friend of a friend you know who kept the kids in cages and did it just for the money and made millions.
7. When you say “I could never do that” as if we’re heartless or insensitive, because we can/have to give the kids back to their parents or to extended family, it stings.
Letting kids go IS really hard, but someone has to do it.  Not all kids in care come from irredeemable families.  Not everyone in a birth family is bad – in fact, many kin and parents are heroic, making unimaginable sacrifices to get their families back together through impossible odds.  Yes, it is hard to let kids we love go, and yes, we love them, and yes, it hurts like hell, but the reality is that because something is hard doesn’t make it bad, and you aren’t heartless if you can endure pain for the greater good of your children.  You are just a regular old parent when you put your children’s interests ahead of your own.
8.  No, they aren’t ours yet.  And they won’t be on Thursday either, or next Friday, or the week after.  Foster care adoption TAKES A LONG TIME.  For the first year MINIMUM the goal is always for kids to return to their parents.  It can take even longer than that. Even if we hope to adopt, things could change, and it is just like any long journey – it isn’t helpful to ask “Are we there yet” every five minutes.
9. Most kids will go home or to family, rather than being adopted.    Most foster cases don’t go to adoption.  Not every foster parent wants to adopt.  And not every foster family that wants to adopt will be adopting/wants to adopt every kid.
It is NOT appropriate for you to raise the possibility of adoption just because you know they are a foster family.  It is ESPECIALLY not appropriate for you to raise this issue in front of the kids.  The kids may be going to home or to kin.  It may not be an adoptive match.  The family may not be able to adopt now.  They may be foster-only.  Not all older children want or choose to be adopted, and after a certain age, they are allowed to decide.  Family building is private and none of everyone’s business.  They’ll let you know when you  need to know something.
10. If we’re struggling – and all of us struggle sometimes – it isn’t helpful to say we should just “give them back” or remind us we brought it on ourselves.  ALL parents pretty much brought their situation on themselves whether they give birth or foster, but once you are a parent, you deal with what you’ve got no matter what. “I told you so” is never helpful.  This is especially true when the kids have disabilities or when they go home.  Yes, we knew that could happen.  That doesn’t make it any easier.
11.  Foster kids are not “fake kids,” and we’re not babysitters – they are all my “REAL kids.”  Some of them may stay forever.  Some of them may go and come back.  Some of them may leave and we’ll never see them again.  But that’s life, isn’t it?  Sometimes people in YOUR life go away, too, and they don’t stop being an important part of your life or being loved and missed.  How they come into my family or for how long is not the point.  While they are here they are my children’s REAL brothers and sisters, my REAL sons and daughters.  We love them entirely, treat them the way we do all our kids, and never, ever forget them when they leave.   Don’t pretend the kids were never here.  Let foster parents talk about the kids they miss.  Don’t assume that kids are interchangeable – one baby is not the same as the next, and just because there will be more kids later doesn’t make it any easier now.
12. Fostering is HARD.  Take how hard you think it will be and multiply it by 10, and you are beginning to get the idea. Exhausting, gutwrenching and stressful as heck.  That said, it is also GREAT, and mostly utterly worth it.  It is like Tom Hanks’ character in _League of Their Own_ says about baseball: “It is supposed to be hard.  If it wasn’t hard everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”
13.  You don’t have to be a foster parent to HELP support kids and families in crisis.  If you want to foster, GREAT – the world needs more foster families.  But we also need OTHER kinds of help.

You can:
- . Treat foster parents with a new placement the way you would a family that had a baby – it is JUST as exhausting and stressful.  If you can offer to cook dinner, help out with the other kids, or lend a hand in some way, it would be most welcome.
- . Offer up your children’s outgrown stuff to pass on – foster parents who do short-term fostering send a lot of stuff home with the kids, and often could use more.  Alternatively, many communities have a foster care closet or donation center that would be grateful for your pass-downs in good condition.
- . Be an honorary grandparent, aunt or uncle.  Kids need as many people in their lives as possible, and relationships that say “you are special.”
- . Become a respite provider, taking foster children for a week or a weekend so their parents can go away or take a break.
- . Offer to babysit.  Foster parents have lives, plus they have to go to meetings and trainings, and could definitely use the help.
- . Be a big brother, sister or mentor to older foster kids.  Preteens and Teens need help imagining a future for themselves – be that help.
- . Be an extra pair of hands when foster families go somewhere challenging - offer to come along to the amusement park, to church, to the playground.  A big family or one with special needs may really appreciate just an extra adult or a mother’s helper along.
- . Support local anti-poverty programs with your time and money.  These are the resources that will hopefully keep my kids fed and safe in their communities when they go home.
- . If you’ve got extra, someone else can probably use it.   Lots of foster families don’t have a lot of spare money for activities – offering your old hockey equipment or the use of your swim membership  is a wonderful gift.
- . Make programs for kids friendly to kids with disabilities and challenges.  You may not have thought about how hard it is to bring a disabled or behaviorally challenged kid to Sunday school, the pool, the local kids movie night – but think about it now, and encourage inclusion.
- . Teach your children from the beginning to be welcoming, inclusive, kind and non-judgemental,  Teach them the value of having friends from different neighborhoods, communities, cultures, races and levels of ability.  Make it clear that bullying, unkindness and exclusion are NEVER EVER ok.
- . Welcome foster parents and their family into your community warmly, and ASK them what they need, and what you can do.
13. Reach out to families in your community that are struggling – maybe you can help so that the children don’t ever have to come into foster care, or to make it easier if they do.  Some families really need a ride, a sitter, some emotional support, some connection to local resources.  Lack of community ties is a HUGE risk factor for children coming into care, so make the attempt.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

"the talk"...

Last night I thought we were going to have to have "The Talk" with my 3 year old boy! I kid you not! We were getting ready to go swimming and he asked why boys can swim with out their shirts (tops) and girls can't. I explained about how we all have private parts and that girls tops were private parts. I then proceeded to tell him that only the person we are married to and doctors can see those parts. 

Oy, the brain of my 3 year old works fast...

He then pointed out that "you and daddy are married, so why don't you show them to him?"

AGHHHHHHH!!!!!! What to say next, what to say next...

My answer was this "yes, that is true, but you are only supposed to show them when no one else is around." 

Deep breath...Hoping he won't ask more...YOU ARE ONLY 3!!!

Thankfully he is only 3 and he moved on to other issues!