0

The System & Some Facts

Spending the past few months preparing to be certified as foster parents has brought us into many in depth conversations.  There were many talks about our expectations, wants, needs and what to expect upon completion.  We spent much time as a couple reading, talking, and educating ourselves as much as possible.  There are some things that are hard to understand, but as you learn how “The System” works and the truths of what you will encounter, you realize that what is likely to happen does not always match with your heart!

I have said this before and I will probably say it a million times more… our intent of becoming foster parents was not to grow our family.  We felt called into this and believe it is our mission field or ministry.  While we are not seeking adoption at this time, we are open to the possibility.  So if a child comes into our home and they become available for adoption, we are likely to welcome them to forever in our family!  I think it is imperative for us as a community to understand what that truly means.  I thought it would be a good idea to share a little about the process and share a few facts with you.  My goal in doing this is to help you better understand the system and our role as foster parents.

When a child enters foster care for the first time, they are typically placed in emergency care, meaning that the foster parents are willing to accept a child knowing full well that they could be there for a day and it is most likely not a long-term placement.  There are foster families that only do emergency placements.  Once that placement occurs there is a Shelter Hearing for that child.  The hearing determines the next steps of this journey for the child.  In most cases a plan is created for reunification with the biological family and a time frame for review is given.  In most cases that averages about three to six months.  In some cases, there is no evidence to warrant the child remaining in foster care so they are reunified immediately.  If a child is to remain in foster care, the emergency care family may choose to have them remain in their home or they may seek a home better suited to meet their needs.

It is almost ALWAYS the goal of the courts to rehabilitate the families and reunify as long as the child is in no danger.  IF the biological families can show that they have been rehabilitated and they have completed each requirement, a plan for reunification is usually put in place.  If biological families fail to meet the requirements they are typically given second, third or more chances to get things together.  Under federal law, if the child is in foster care 15 out of 22 months, they may move to TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) at which time, the process begins for the child to be adopted.

If the goal becomes adoption, the current foster family may choose to petition the courts for permanency and adopt the child or children.  If the foster families do not wish to seek permanency the agencies will look for a placement that is suited to meet their needs and a family that will offer them forever!  No matter the placement, the law requires foster families to foster for six months prior to permanency.  Once the six months is completed, there is a court hearing and an official adoption!

So why foster care?  What made my husband and I say YES?  Well, in February I was asked to step up as the educational coordinator for our Empty Chair Orphan’s Ministry.  That new roll led me and my husband to do a ton of research.  That research and reading the facts and statistics led us to this journey.  We truly could not ignore those statistics and could not imagine being a child and not having a family or support system.  It is simply unacceptable to us and while we know we can’t save them all, we know we had to do something!  The hardest part was, these children were not a world away, and they were in our own community!!!  So beyond becoming foster parents, we continue to serve with our orphan’s ministry and have begun to work towards changing things within our own community.  We hope to have a suitcase drive in the near future because it is unacceptable to hand a child a trash bag and ask them to pack their belongings.  We also hope to, and are working on creating care bags for each child in our community that enters the system.

Here are some facts, I encourage you to read them, soak them in and then ask yourself what you can do to make a difference.  I do not believe that everyone is called to foster, but I do believe we can all do something.

The following information was taken from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

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.

Each year, over 27,000 youth “age out” of foster care

 

without the emotional and financial support necessary to succeed.  This number has steadily risen over the past decade.  Nearly 40% had been homeless or couch surfed, nearly 60% of young men had been convicted of a crime, and only 48% were employed.  75% of women and 33% of men receive government benefits to meet basic needs.  50% of all youth who aged out were involved in substance use and 17% of the females were pregnant.

Nearly 25% of youth aging out did not have a high school diploma

 

or GED, and a mere 6% had finished a two- or four-year degree after aging out of foster care.  One study shows 70% of all youth in foster care have the desire to attend college.

As of 2011, nearly 60,000 children in foster care in the U.S. are placed in institutions

 

or group homes, not in traditional foster homes.

States spent a mere 1.2-1.3% of available federal funds

on parent recruitment and training services even though 22% of children in foster care had adoption as their goal.

Over three years is the average length of time a child waits

 

to be adopted in foster care.  Roughly 55% of these children have had three or more placements.  An earlier study found that 33% of children had changed elementary schools five or more times, losing relationships and falling behind educationally.

Adopted children make-up roughly 2% of the total child population

 

under the age of 18, but 11% of all adolescents referred for therapy have been adopted.  Post-adoption services are important to all types of adoption, whether foster care adoption, international adoption, or domestic infant adoption.

If you want to learn more about how you can help, please email me.  I would be happy to share some thoughts and ideas with you!  There are many resources in our country and even more importantly there are caring and loving people in this world.  Imagine if we all did something, even a small something.  These are our children, our future, our hope and unless we change some of these things, we are looking at a dim future for many, that breeds poverty, populates jails, creates homelessness, and often has a cyclical affect in our society.  While not every child that ages out of the system falls into these horrible patterns, we can take a chance and help prevent those that very well may fall into that pattern.

Hebrews 13:16 ~ And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Galatians 6:2 ~ Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.

2

If For Only A Moment… Our First Placement

This week has been a whirlwind to say the least!

Last Saturday my hubby was up on a ladder cleaning out a gutter and took a nasty fall off of the ladder.  Our third and final stop landed him at the trauma center in the hospital.  Thankfully he was not bleeding internally and everything else had checked out.  We realize it could have been much worse and are thankful that he was only sore and bruised.

Monday we were back to work and still waiting for a phone call for a placement.  We really didn’t expect one but were hopeful that this would be the week that we would receive our first call.  Monday was pretty uneventful and quickly faded into Tuesday.  Around 4:00 in the afternoon, I was home and getting ready to make dinner when the phone rang.  On the other end of the phone was our case worker.  He had called to thank us for a package we had sent him in the mail and then proceeded to ask us if we were willing to take our first placement.  After giving me basic information, I asked if it was possible to call my husband and discuss this with him.  He was in need of an answer immediately and I had about thirty seconds to decide.  I quickly said yes and anxiously began preparing.

Although the house was ready, I now had the little peanut’s name, age and gender.  So I went straight to work placing the name on the chalkboard on the door of the bedroom, pulling out a few toys and bringing them to the living room and tidying up any last minute things that I felt needed done.  I was also surprised to see my husband coming through the door.  He decided to leave work and made it home in record time.  He was also a huge help and obsessing on the little things in the house – oh, how I love that man and his heart!

It seemed like days from the time of the phone call to the time of his arrival.  But it was finally time for introductions.  Our first glimpse of this child in the car brought smiles to our faces, and once out of the car, Peanut’s first words were “Hi, guys!”  Quickly showing us his favorite toy and how it worked, we welcomed our first child into our home.  My hubby asked if he could show him where he would be staying and took him to show him his bed and the house!  Peanut was so excited about his bed and seemed to have no problems adjusting to his new environment.   We made a quick trip to a local store to get some necessary supplies that we couldn’t have possibly prepared for and then it was home for snack, bath and bedtime.  It was amazing how smoothly everything had gone and we were so excited and thankful for the easy transition.

The next few days held much uncertainty, many phone calls of everyone involved in his care.  I seemed to hold it together and managed to keep the house picked up and got dinner on the table each night, along with laundry done.  I believe I averaged about 30 phone calls the first day and probably 25 on each of the following two days.  It was crazy, but I knew it was necessary.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the immediate attachment that we would have with this precious child, and the amount of learning that would transpire over those few days.

In the process of caring for this child, I discovered the amazing dad in my husband and the magic touch and power of a father!  He really rolled with each thing and did an amazing job.  I learned that there is a high level of support needed for all involved, the biological family, foster parents, social workers, lawyers and all others involved.  I learned the power of a support system and how necessary it was and what happens when that is not in place.  We learned not all situations are bad and that sometimes in it necessary to walk along side someone and help them in a difficult time.   We also learned to guard our hearts!

Today, with Peanut in tow, we headed to the courthouse for a shelter hearing.  Nervous did not even begin to describe us, but we went and did what we had to do.  Our only hope was that the court ruled what was best for this precious little boy!  Within ten minutes of hearing, we knew that there was going to be an immediate reunification.  I held my tears as much as possible and my husband reassured me that this was the right thing.  We had prepared ourselves for this, but there really is no preparation.  As we filed out the door, we said our goodbyes and gave Peanut a huge hug and thanked his family for sharing him with us.

With tears in my eyes and an empty stroller, we exited the building.  I cried the entire way to the parking lot knowing that even though it was the right thing, we were heartbroken.  My husband held it together and off we drove.  Once in the car, he broke and that was okay.  We both needed this moment to grieve the loss we had just experienced.  After all Peanut was our first!

We decided on lunch and had an awesome time reflecting on his stay, and figuring out how to put everything in perspective and move forward.  My husband said that he wanted to do something special for me, and wanted to get me something so that we remember each child that enters our home.  I also had an idea that I had shared with him.  We decided that we were going to start a scrapbook with a picture of each child and a letter or note about our experience with each child for our own personal memories.  So we stopped at the local craft store and purchased those supplies and then my husband took me to our favorite jeweler.  We decided on a Pandora bracelet.  So he will purchase a charm for me for each child that enters our home.  It was so thoughtful and generous of him and probably one of the most precious gifts I have received and every time we look at that bracelet, we will recall and pray for each of these children.

Through this all, we are blessed, we knew full well what we are getting into when we answered the call to this journey.  Our hearts are in fostering children and giving them hope and love in a bad situation.  While we are open to the possibility of adoption, we are not seeking adoption at this time.  Someday down the road that may change but today we are committed to caring for these children when they need us, even if for only a moment!

Proverbs 4:23 ~ “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

 

2

Waiting & Winning

Well the waiting has begun!  Keeping busy these days doesn’t seem to help, I stare at my phone, double check it, and hear it ring when it doesn’t.  I keep asking my husband if he is answering all of his phone calls and make sure that the phones are charged properly.   My husband is infamous for not answering phone numbers that he does not know, but that has changed since our certification.

It’s the nervous anticipation of this journey and what to expect.  While we were going through our certification process it was fairly structured.  We had to take a certain amount of classes, have our home visits and complete a lot of paperwork.  We knew exactly what to expect, so there was very little fear of the unknown.  Now that we are certified, there seems to be no structure within that.  I mean after all, who can predict when a phone call will be made and what age, how many, or what needs the children will have.

Last night at 9:33 pm we received a phone call.  I immediately recognized the area code and picked the phone up with anticipation that this would be the phone call we had been waiting for.  Well, it was phone call we had been waiting for but not in the same sense.  Instead, a sweet lady on the other end of the phone introduced herself and apologized for the lateness of her call.

A little over a month ago, I had applied for a grant through a local philanthropy organization.  Each month they award grants for projects.  Last night we were told that we had won one of three grants!  I was so overwhelmed and shocked because I truly did not expect to receive anything.

Earlier my husband and I were watching a new reality TV show about foster families.  At the end of the premier episode they asked a trivia question via Twitter.  Well, he was the first person to respond correctly and won monies for our charity with that as well.   The neatest part of this story is that I had told him, that if I had an additional amount (and gave the specific amount) of money, I could more than likely accomplish what I felt God had placed heavily on my heart.  Wouldn’t you know it, that with the first win and the second win of the grant, it was EXACTLY the amount that I had told my husband and no one else.  ONLY God can do that!

So now, we continue to wait for our little blessings to arrive, and in the meantime we begin to work on this project to become a blessing to children in foster care.  Our goal, through purchases and donations, is to get each child that will come into the system a cinch sack and fill it with things they will need in those first hours!  We want them to know that while we don’t necessarily understand what they are going through, that we care and love them and value each of them.

 

Philippians 4:19 ~ And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 6:9 ~ Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

0

Celebrations!!!

Wow, it has been a little while since I have updated…

My hubby and I enjoyed what will probably be our last vacation without children.  We love to travel and see our country.  This year after much deliberation as to where to go for vacation, we finally agreed on Nashville.  I had never been, but my husband had several years prior to our meeting.  We also did something we had not done together before.  We decided to make it a road trip instead of flying!  I had also done something I had never done before, I left the planning completely up to my husband.  He asked me for list of things I would like to see and that was it, the rest was left completely up to him!  We had a wonderful vacation, saw everything that we both wanted to see and well, had a great time enjoying a city that is the hub of country music.

We returned this past Saturday evening and spent Sunday prepared to go back to work.  Although I teach, each year for the past eleven years I have worked our summer school program.  We also knew that this would be the week that we would have our final meeting with our case worker to finalize our paperwork.  So on Wednesday evening we had our final home inspection, reviewed our profile and then signed our papers. WE ARE OFFICIALLY CERTIFIED!!!

It is an overwhelming experience to sign papers and know that you have completed all of the requirements to become foster parents.  We were blessed in the fact that we went through our process rather quickly.  Now we look forward to the day we welcome children into our home.  Our paperwork will officially be filed with the county/state this Friday, July 5th!  We can expect phone calls any time after that!

So today, as we celebrate Independence Day and reflect on the true meaning of today, we are thankful.  For the first time we have decided to just enjoy a quiet day at home together!  Unusual for us as we always seem to have plans, but I truly believe this is exactly what we need.  Who knows this time next year, with our brood in tow, we will probably be heading to a local fair or carnival and enjoying fireworks as a family!  At least that is what we dream about and hope for!

This week has been full of many celebrations, all of which we are thankful for!  God has truly blessed us and we are ready for this next step!

 

Psalm 37:4 ~ Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

 

0

Control & Trash Bags!

Throughout our certification process many things have stuck in my mind and some things have resonated beyond measure!  There is a necessary commitment to give up control of many things and that must become part of you as you move through this journey.  For a person like me, giving up control is difficult.  I naturally crave structure in my own life and believe strongly in doing things with integrity and to the very best of my abilities.  While I realize that this is truly innate and the way I was simply created, I also know it is something I need to work harder at within my own being.

There are many things in life that are far beyond our control.  When it comes to the foster care journey, it is best to live under the mantra of expect the unexpected.  Even with the vast amount of preparation my husband and I have undergone, we still feel, at times, completely unprepared.  How do you prepare for (up to two) children, infant to eight years of age?

The other day my husband and I went into Babies R Us to return a bedrail we no longer needed because of the purchase of the bunk beds.  As we walked through the store to pick up another small item, I felt that ping once again.  My husband noticed the change in my demeanor and comforted me as it hit me that we were “unprepared.”  Watching new mothers-to-be register with excitement for their items they have lovingly chosen for their newborn brought a few tears to my eyes.  I had realized in that moment that they had an opportunity that we will not be afforded in this journey.  They knew that a baby would come into their home and they were able to prepare for all of the things they felt they would need for their child.  It hit me that I didn’t even have a stitch of clothing to welcome these children into our home.  It was that sense that I had no control over the situation that gave me my first hint of fear.  My hubby reassured me that we were as prepared as we could be and that we always had a local 24 hour store close if we needed to run out and grab a few items.  While that is comforting to know, it still plays with my sense of “control” over the situation of being prepared.  Yes, the room is ready and yes, we have purchased small items like toothbrushes, toys and movies so that they feel a sense of comfort when they enter our home, but my mind returns to what they will show up with in hand and what they will need.

While I thrive on a sense of structure and control, there are things that are completely out of our hands.  We cannot control the reasons the children are removed from their home and brought into the system, but we can control the environment they are brought into in our home.  We cannot control the rehabilitation of their biological parents, but we can pray for them, help where we can and provide safety and love for their children while they work towards reunification.  We cannot control visitations, therapy appointments and court dates, but we can control how we respond to such events and be persons of our word and commitment.  One of the most bothersome things to us is that we cannot control how they are removed from the home, but we can raise awareness and funds to cover costs of something more than a trash bag to place their belongings into when they must leave their home.

This may not see like a huge thing in comparison to the other things listed, but it is something we can change, and it is something that brings respect and integrity back to the child.  It sends a message to the child that they matter and their lives do not belong in a trash bag.  Trash is for trash bags, not children’s belongings.

So with that thought, we move forward towards this goal, the goal to provide every child removed from the home with two things.  First we want to provide each child with a suitcase that their belongings can be appropriately packed into.  This will become their suitcase, and their property!  The second item is a “cinch sack” type bag that will offer items of comfort and necessity for them during this stressful time.  It sends a message that we have thought about them and want to care for them in this difficult time.  The items we hope to include are basic, a toothbrush, toothpaste, pair of pajamas, comfort item and any other necessities they would need immediately according to their age.  We fully understand that this is not the social worker, any agency or organizations fault, but we want to change the message we are sending children.

I think it is important to mention, that it is not our hope to only help the children that come into our home, but that enter foster homes across the country!  We will start right here in our own county and believe that others will follow suit with the same desire.  This is not a local problem, rather a problem in our country.

Isaiah 11:2The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—

Romans 8:15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

John 14:27 ~ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

0

Bunk Beds!

So after my husband shocked me with the idea that we would be willing to bring two children into our home, I spun into action preparing for two instead of one!  The “perfectly” decorated room for one has now become a room for two.  A “simple” change from a single bed to a bunk bed has changed pretty much everything in the room at this point!

After we agreed that we would take two, I began the search for bunk beds.  I figured this was a temporary fix until we decide to move (when the time is right) to a bigger home.  Not wanting to pay a ton of money, we searched for the frame on the internet at various stores, on craigslist, at yard sales and I even put an email out to all of my co-workers.  Finally this past Wednesday, I found a set that looked reasonable and right for the room on Craigslist.  The price was right and I was ready to go and see what they looked like in person.  An hour drive led to the purchase of the lovely solid oak bunk beds.  With a busy week, we knew that putting them together would have to wait until the weekend!

Saturday morning we got up and went to a few yard sales, as this seems to have become our Saturday morning ritual.  I am hunting for a sit and stand stroller, few other little items and whatever else strikes our fancy!   After we finished up on our morning “treasure hunt” we went to a local warehouse to purchase the second mattress we would need for the bunk bed and then it was home to scrub down the new bunk and put it together!

My hubby and I worked together to get the bunk all cleaned up and shiny!  We laughed as we wiped everything down with Murphy’s Oil Soap and commented on how our grandparents swore by the stuff!  The bunk looked like new and was ready to be built!  About half way into building it we realized that the ladder was on the wrong side and that there was NO way to quickly fix the problem.  We went back and forth over whether or not we could make it work or if we should just go and buy a new set.  Finally, I suggested that we just call my dad.  He has always been able to fix everything and well, I just really thought he could help!

Sure enough after a call to my mom, over they came!  Within minutes my dad had a plan and he and my hubby worked side by side to get it done.  My mother and I helped as well, but the guys outdid themselves.  A few small changes and a few little drill holes would make the bed like new and make it work in the room.  It was safe, sturdy and perfect for our needs.

Today, we returned the bedrail we no longer needed, finished up a few minor details on the beds and it was time to re-decorate.  Something I love to do!  I think it is safe to say that the room is ready, ready for two!!!

One thing is for sure, we are thankful for our parents and their help and support.  They are always there for us and support us in so many ways.  I appreciate my mom for many reasons, for her prayers, love, guidance and insight into parenting.  I appreciate my dad for his love and support and help in building and fixing things we are unsure of doing ourselves.  They really don’t know how much it means to us both.  I am also thankful for the relationship they have with my husband.

After they left on Saturday, I sent them both a quick text thanking them for dropping what they were doing to come out and help us figure this out.  My dad’s response was the best.  “No problem, very proud of the path you guys are taking, brings back memories.  Remember if it changes one life, it will be worth it.”  I could hardly respond as I cried.  Still his little girl, I needed that approval.  Those memories he had are of his childhood.  His grandparents, my great grandparents whom I never met, were foster parents and fostered over twenty six children.

I am thankful for the legacy that we have been left.  I am thankful that we are blessed with wonderful parents on both sides.  They pray for us, support us, love us and guide us in ways we never thought.  I know that any fears I have as a mother will be comforted by both my mom and mother-in-law and they will be there to love and “spoil” their grandchildren!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 ~Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.   

 

2

Shocked…

On Tuesday evening we had our final pre-service education class.  The class was about children with special needs.  Having worked in special education for the past eleven years, I felt at home with this topic and the materials presented.  It was actually nice to go through and share some of the experiences that we have had over the years.

Once our class was completed we turned in our binder of paperwork.  We were given our binder at our first set of pre-service classes.  My husband jokingly said that I would have this done in a week, and I did.  I was eager to go through this process and strongly believe that when we do our part and honor our commitment, God will honor it as well.  I explained to my husband that if there is a delay or problem, I don’t want it to be because of something we did not complete.  He understands my “Type A” personality and worked alongside me to complete the paperwork and gather any and all documents that we would need to provide to the agency.

As our case worker went through our binder, we signed a few documents that needed to be signed and came to the part where they began to ask about the types of children we would take into our home.  The worksheet looks at race, gender, various types of disabilities/behaviors and the varying degrees of severity we would accept.   It also asked how many children we were willing to take at one time.  It was explained to us, on several occasions that this is the time to be realistic and completely honest with ourselves.

From the day we received the paperwork we have had many soul searching discussions about this section.  We have discussed at great length the various disabilities/ behaviors we are willing to accept.  For that section we have a choice between acceptable, unacceptable and will consider.  Last evening we finalized that section and worked through the various disabilities and behaviors.  Another huge discussion was the number of children we would consider taking.

Of all the things my husband and I have discussed, the number of children has been the one thing we tend to have differing opinions on, and for good reason.  Being perfectly realistic, we came to the conclusion that it would be in our best interest to open our home to one child.  I pushed for two, but relented because my husband had justified his reasoning.  His thoughts were, our home is not big enough, our fertility is not determined as of yet and we would like to try for a baby, we have never been parents before and questioned whether or not we could handle more than one child with differing needs.  All justified responses and I understood his perspective and respected the decision.

So last night, when the case worker asked us how many children we were willing to take, I became very quiet and let my husband answer the question.  He stated our reasons and found that the only real point of contention was the size of the bedroom that was the true determining factor.  So we invited our case worker to look at the bedroom that we have prepared for the child to see if it was in fact appropriate for two children.  He explained that the room, if we used bunk beds, would be appropriate for two children.  We returned to the dining room table to finish that section of the paperwork and again were asked how many children we would take.  My husband responded with TWO!!!  I was caught completely off guard with that and sat there shocked.  All I could do was smile as I looked at him in complete shock!  Two, two, two, two… I kept saying in my head.  Two children… ahhhhhh it sounded awesome to me!  I asked if he was sure because I didn’t want this to be a rash decision or because I had brought it up a million times.  He said he was sure and just smiled back at me.

In our world, we weren’t worried about race, gender or some of the other things as a factor, we were worried about a number.  We wanted to be fair to the children first and foremost, we also wanted to be realistic and fair to ourselves as well.  I think if there is anything you do as you prepare for this journey, the biggest lesson or thing you can do for yourself is to be completely honest, realistic and know your limits.

One thing I know for sure… God is so good and He has blessed us tremendously through our journey thus far.  We are in the home stretch now as we head towards completion and certification.  Our hearts are ready, our minds are open and we are like two children on Christmas Eve waiting with anticipation.  We are realistic and do not expect perfection, we know there will be sleepless nights, huge struggles, behaviors and other hills to climb, but we are also committed to filling our home with lots of love, family fun, and a faith that can move mountains!

 

Proverbs 3:5-6 ~ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.In all your ways acknowledge him,and he will make straight your paths.

 Matthew 17:20 ~ He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

1

Learning to be Content

On Tuesday (5/14) we had our seventh and eighth of the nine classes required for certification as foster parents.  I was excited with anticipation to be one step closer to completing this process. 

Often times in my life, I find myself discontent and always wanting more, and wanting things to happen instantaneously.  I seem to have little time for waiting and little time for enjoying things or being content.  One thing I can say, and have said before… for the first time in my life, I am content with this process.  No, I don’t agree with everything, but I am finally learning that we are exactly where we need to be at this point in our lives.    

As we grow closer to completing this process, I find myself thinking about the things we will “need.”  Lately my thoughts are revolving around the “need” for a larger home.  We really love our home, but there will come a point when we will outgrow it and the fun will begin in finding the next home.  For now, I need to learn to be content with the blessing we have in this home!

As the weekend is coming to a close and it is back to the grind, I can’t help but smile over the past couple of days.  Saturday was just an adventure for us.  My husband and I decided that we would go to yard sales!  This was his first time and I was ready to roll.  With a general idea of what we were looking for in mind, we hit the road and came home with a car full of treasures!  Books, games, a stroller, baby gate and a tee-pee   Yes, I said a tee-pee   My husband’s big find of the day!  He was like a kid with his new toy, and I couldn’t help but smile and imagine him and our child having fun playing in the tee pee some day! 

After our yard sales and a visit with family, we were home to get ready for date night!  It has been a while since we had gone out on a date, and I have to admit… it was nice to get out and have some time for each other!  Dinner and then it was off to see Tarzan downtown.  We took our seats and were excited to watch the show.  What we didn’t expect were the emotions that came with the story line   YES, I know the story of Tarzan, but darn that Phil Collins and the song I Need to Know.  There we sat with tears flowing as young Tarzan sang his heart out about needing to know about his birth family!  I couldn’t help but cry and be taken by the lyrics of the song.  The show was beautiful and it was a perfect evening out! 

Today (Sunday) we attended church as normal.  I was excited for today, during both first and second service I was able to speak briefly about an upcoming foster care awareness event that our orphan’s ministry is hosting.  My prayer was simple, that the congregation saw the need and responded.  I wasn’t nervous about speaking, but was about conveying the message appropriately.  I hope that people were touched, not by my words, but by God, I hope that He spoke to them and that a seed was planted!  We are looking forward to the event and pray that God sends those that He has called and most of all that God is glorified in this journey! 

As we progress in this journey, I find myself “at a loss for words… and the funny thing it’s okay!”  I find myself perfectly content most of the time, and am learning to appreciate things a little more. 

I included the link for this song by Mercy Me.  Word of God Speak – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFbEP9dbZYg

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Philippians 4:11 (NIV)

2

Nobody’s Momma…

Yesterday, my husband and I spent the morning cleaning and preparing to host lunch for our mothers on Sunday!  It has sort of become tradition for us to host our mom’s for lunch on Mother’s Day.

As I crawled into bed, slightly more exhausted than usual, my mind began to wonder and I found myself restless and full of questions… had things worked out according to “our plan,” I would be a momma and this may have been my first real mother’s day celebration.  Tears flowed down my cheeks as that ping and pain in my heart ached so badly.  I admit, I felt stupid for feeling this way and thought that the fulfillment I have felt these past couple of months in our foster care journey, would have filled the void I was once again feeling.  After all, we are in process and in essence expecting, although we know not what to expect!  There I was in bed and for the first time in a long time I felt my heard break a little more.  I did the only thing I knew to do… I began to pray.  Although I know that some may look down at falling asleep while praying, last night I found comfort in knowing I was talking to my Savior, my constant friend in times of need and would like to think that He held me in His arms and rocked me to sleep.

I awoke this morning with a different attitude and change in thought.  It was not me with the void, rather these children.  Yes, my heart breaks because of my deep desire to be a mom, but that feeling is nothing in comparison to a child in need of a mother!

I can’t imagine growing up without my mom.  She made everything in life special!  She loved, supported, encouraged, and disciplined me when needed.  She had the full support of my father and our home was a place of love.  Looking back, I feel blessed that God chose my parents for me and my two brothers.  I never questioned whether I belonged, if I was loved and where my next meal was coming from.  I never questioned my mother or father’s love for me and never worried that my every need would be met!

This year there are more than 104,000 children in the U.S. who are waiting on forever and there are more than a half a million waiting in the world!  These children have no “permanent” momma.  Those in the US are mainly housed in foster homes and the remaining children are in group homes or facilities that meet their special needs in a better way.  Gone are the days of orphanages in our country and for good reason.  While orphanages served their purpose, they did not entirely meet the individual needs of children.  Rarely if ever did they meet the need for attachment and love within the confines of the orphanage.

Outside of the U.S. waiting children are housed in orphanages and it is often a large child to caregiver ratio, where the most basic of needs beyond food, shelter, and clothing aren’t being met.  I should note, that I do believe that in most cases, these children are cared for by those that work or volunteer at the orphanages and the intentions are really good, but there is power in one and power in meeting needs beyond food, shelter and clothing!

So today, instead of wallowing in my own sorrow of not yet being a mom, I choose to celebrate the amazing strength, love, and care that our moms gave us.  I choose to be grateful that both my husband and I are blessed by the gift of our mothers and that we are privileged to be called into this foster care journey!

Today, we honored all of the children waiting on forever with prayers and an awareness ribbon pinned to our clothing!  We took comfort in the fact that over the next couple of weeks we will continue in our process to becoming foster parents and know, that even if in a small way, we are attempting to make a difference… if for only a moment!

Proverbs 31:26-29 ~ She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.  She watches of the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.  Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.  

Psalm 46:1 ~ God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.    

0

Rooted!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote how my morning devotion had confirmed our desire to become foster parents.  I was thankful for that and realized that if I am being realistic, I must admit that my devotions stink!   No, not God… but ME!  I do not spend nearly enough time in the word.

Like many, I have become an instant gratification person.  I like things now and not a moment later, but that’s not reality.  Some things in life are a process, or a continual journey of growing.  For the first time in my life, I feel I am learning to enjoy this process of becoming a foster parent.  When I went to college, bought my home, and planned my wedding, I never really enjoyed the process.  I just wanted to get to the good stuff… now, in this stage of my life, while I would love to have a child in my home yesterday, I realize that in this process God is working.  He is revealing to me the type of parent I desire to become.  He is also allowing me to be somewhat realistic and not such a dreamer of this fairytale life I thought I desired.

This week leading up to Mother’s Day has been obviously focused on moms!  Our local Christian radio station has been doing a series on motherhood and there have been countless other things throughout the week that have brought thoughts to mind.  I said earlier that I wanted to be a creative mom.  I wanted to parent my children in a way that respected them as individuals and instilled safety, love and a sense of belonging in our family!

Today, while reading my daily devotion, the writer spoke of how she didn’t want to make life easy for her children by giving them all the answers and providing them with their every need.  I really appreciated this viewpoint.  As an educator, having worked in special education for most of my career, I pride myself on the fact that I do not give answers and that I make my students think for themselves.  As a daughter, I now see why my mom and dad parented me the way they did.  They desired that I be a strong and independent woman.  In essence, they wanted me to think for myself and to make my own choices in life.

My devotional today was reinforced again while listening to our local Christian talk radio station.  The preacher was talking about various mothers in the Bible and said that as moms we need to be rooted in God’s word.  I couldn’t agree more.  Between the radio and the devotional, I realized one very important thing.  If you are rooted in His word, you have a map.  No, not a handbook on parenting, but a map.  As I read it became real that it is my job, our job as parents not to “give them fish” but to teach them to fish!

The other thing that became strongly apparent was that while I feel rooted in the word, I need to become even more rooted.  In the past couple of years, I have learned to draw on the word of God in different circumstances.  For example, if I find myself complaining, I remind myself that the Bible says to do all things without complaint and to count it all joy!  It doesn’t make me perfect, I struggle like everyone else.  I have just found that it helps me to put things in perspective and to deal with things.  So as we move through this journey, my wish is that as I grow in becoming a parent, that I also grow even more deeply rooted!

Deuteronomy 11:18-21 (NIV):

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many…”