Foster Families Needed

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to become a foster parent?   As National Foster Care Month comes to an end, there is still a huge need for foster parents.  See if you “qualify” as a foster family.

  • Do you have a willing and loving heart for helping a child in need?
  • Do you have skills and abilities that help you to understand what children need to overcome trauma, grow through it and develop strength and faith to endure?
  • Do you feel that God is calling you to use the home he gave you, the gifts he’s bequeathed you and the talents he’s developed in you for the benefit of these wounded children?
  • Do you find yourself with extra time…perhaps you don’t already have children or you will soon have an empty-nest?
  • Do you have past experience as a foster child or foster family?
  • Do you have a desire for a bigger family and are considering adoption or fostering?
  • Do you have a desire to serve God and make a difference in someone’s life?

If you have any of these qualities you may very well make a great foster parent.  Whether you realize it or not, foster families are heroes.  Foster families are selfless people.  Foster families are in great need.

If you’ve even had a random thought as to whether you’d be able to foster, I’d encourage you to consider looking into it.

My husband and I were foster parents for about five years and had six beautiful girls come through our home.  We still “share” time with one of those sweet little girls and she calls us “mommy and daddy”.  We’ve had the privilege of adopting another little guy we fostered while his mother was going through cancer treatments.  Another one of our young ladies still considers our house her “home” when she returns from college.  There have been many blessings with these children and our time as foster parents was a meaningful experience.

There are so many children out there that just need to feel loved, accepted and welcomed.  If you have the patience, time and willingness to do the research for opening your home, go for it.  It’s truly worth it.

Have you ever considered being a foster parent?  Are you a current foster parent?  What can you offer to someone that’s considering this role?

An Adoptive Parent’s Perspective

This post comes from a mom (who wishes to remain anonymous) who chose to adopt an older child out of the Foster Care System.  I think it’s important that we celebrate those who give a home, a voice and loving environment to the precious children in Foster Care.   She shares a very personal journey in her own words:

Deciding to adopt after learning of and accepting our infertility just seemed like the right thing to do. We wanted a family but didn’t know how we would achieve that but we were open to ideas. We researched all types of adoption—domestic, foreign, an older child, an infant, etc. Our road seemed to lead us to our local area’s foster-to-adopt program—so we registered for a class being held in our area. It was many weeks of education, awareness, discussions, etc. At the end, we decided to pursue with the intention of adopting our child—whoever that would be.

Our daughter is now a young adult, she was a preteen when she came into our home and family. Our lives were forever changed by this smiling little girl who desperately wanted and needed to be loved but didn’t know how to accept that, who struggled to live with a family she didn’t know and didn’t have feelings for, and still had so many conflicting feelings for her birth family and their situation—which was complicated. For us, it was a dream come true; for her, it was an answer to a little girl’s prayer. But, the realities of those sweet dreams and prayers were soon replaced by the realities of a very hurt child and very naïve parents. We were all struggling–we read books, we consulted therapists and friends, we worked hard but nothing prepared us for the path we were to walk and we continue to walk. Prayer became a way to survive because we were struggling terribly. This wasn’t just some random goal, it was our child’s life, it was our family—we had to succeed, we had to pursue, we had to overcome–it was our child—she was/is ours and we, as her parents, vowed not to give up on her, no matter how difficult. There are those who don’t have the conviction to make it work but I don’t judge them—they make their decisions for themselves and unless we walk in their shoes, we cannot judge others’ actions.

I believe in God. I believe He walks with us through this life here on earth. I believe He carries us when we’re weary. I believe He hears my prayers—each and every one of them—and He answers them, each of them, in His own perfect way. I believe that God has lead us to be the family we are today. Are we perfect?  Absolutely not. Have we made mistakes?  Plenty of them. But, we just keep trying and keep going. Without our daughter, we may not have these realizations. Having these struggles in our life has made us all the people we are today. This may not be the walk for everyone but it has been ours and we just keep moving. We are a family. A family that smiles, cries, laughs, and hurts together. How one’s family came together is different for many people but we just keep walking the path together, seeing where the path leads and dealing with all we find along the way. Adoption has brought us together and God has made us a family. I thank Him for my family, for my struggles, and for my life.

Getting Involved In Foster Care

Perhaps being a foster parent is not for you.  There are many, many other ways to help if fostering does not fit your family’s needs.  With it being National Foster Care Month, it’s a great time to find a way to be supportive to a child or agency in the foster care system.  If you’ve always wondered what it would be like to work with Foster Children, this is an easy way to get your foot in the door and experience this field first-hand.

Recently, I contacted the Children’s Home Society here in Palm Beach County and found that there are lots and lots of agencies under their umbrella.  I’m excited because I will be doing some group classes and graduation coaching with some young adults aging out of the foster care system.  The young girls in this facility are either teens in the system that are pregnant or have a child or they are homeless and pregnant or have a child.  Most of these girls do not have a direction or any idea of what awaits them upon leaving this facility.  I look forward to using my life-coaching, teaching and education background to help coach and empower these young girls as they begin to plan for life with their child on the “outside”.

 http://www.chsfl.org/impact

Check out this agency at (http://www.chsfl.org/impact .  Be sure to watch the video, too.) If this one doesn’t fit find a similar agency in your area to get involved with the foster care crisis now.

When I met with the program director, she mentioned she has many ideas where volunteers may come and help.  She wishes she had someone to come in and teach these girls “mom” skills and fun “mom/child” things that these girls were most likely not taught in their childhood.  The program director mentioned simple ways her volunteers may help.

I’ve added a list here that include some of her ideas along with a few other ones I’ve found on two different agency websites.  I’m sure there are many, many more avenues, and it’s definitely possible to find a place to fit in and find something to enjoy.

  • Scrapbooking
  • Leading a “Mom & Me” class
  • Crafting
  • Teaching Sewing/Quilting
  • (Repairing/Constructing)/Handyman
  • Tutoring
  • Mentoring
  • Assisting with administrative work
  • Fundraising
  • Making Meals/Teaching Cooking
  • Teaching Life-Skills Classes
  • Organizing/playing/hanging with kids on “Sports Day”
  • Offering professional support for your area of expertise
  • Cleaning Services
  • Marketing/Public Relations/Development
  • Writing grants
  • IT Support
  • Relief House Parents
  • Driving
  • Coordinating Special Events
  • Gardening
  • Repairing Automobiles
  • Babysitting
  • Respite foster home
  • Fostering
  • Guardian Ad-Li tum

Most  agencies are individually run by a program director and there are a lot that are privately run by churches.  Depending on the needs of the home, there are so many ways to help these kids  experience things they may have missed out on since being in foster care.

Go ahead, I challenge you…take the leap and find a place to volunteer.  Remember, if one organization doesn’t seem to “fit” your family, then try another one.  This is also a great way to model giving and sharing with your own children.

Do you volunteer somewhere in the Foster Care System?
Do you have other ideas for serving in this area?
If you decide to get involved and serve,
please feel free to check back and share your experience.

National Foster Care Month

Foster Care Button2

May is National Foster Care Month, and this is something close to my heart because I relate to the 1000’s of children living in foster care now. I lived in a children’s home from the age of 9 until I was 13. I know what it feels like at a very young and tender age to be moved away from my family and not truly understand why. I know what it feels like to be scared and long to hear from my family. I know what it feels like to want my mom despite what ugly things happened at home. It’s isolating, it’s scary and it’s not fair to any of these children in the system!

Many of us live our daily lives and never think of these kids in foster care.  Some of us live with the memories and the stories.  I am now (after developing a very strong faith in Christ and years of therapy) able to say I am blessed. I have found the many blessings among the hatred, abuse, strangers, new homes, isolation and feelings of loneliness. I overcame and somewhere deep inside me my inner survivor is cheering because I prevailed!

Why and how?

I will be sharing more of my story during the month of May as we celebrate the heroes of foster care, hear stories similar to mine and learn how we can help.

Please don’t hesitate to share your story, too.  If you’re a foster parent, foster child, social worker, guardian, or mentor…please follow along and share your story, too.

My Little Super Hero Teaches Me A Lesson

Yum! I  had angel hair pasta boiling, broccoli steaming, homemade Alfredo sauce simmering and chicken, onions and garlic sauteing when I was abruptly interrupted by an urgent spy mission! Little did I realize, I was about to enjoy one of the most fun lessons of my life. I’m always on the search for new ideas and things to do with my son where he can expend his  energy and rambunctiousness, and I think I hit the jackpot yesterday. 

 I was excited when I read an article about how to raise an imaginative child. As a former teacher, I know just how important it is to foster a child’s creative ability through imagination and dreaming.  Television and video games, when overused, rob children of these vital and precious skills.  At this age (my son is 3), their imaginations are so impressionable and open to creative ideas, so I decided we would go on an adventure. I didn’t have a very playful childhood so now I’m learning how to be playful through my son’s eyes, and I’m having the time of my life.  It feels scary. It feels silly.  It feels empowering.  All at the same time.

We pushed the pause button on dinner preparations and went on a mission…to find the purple jungle monkey.  We tip-toed down the hallway, into my son’s bedroom and were immediately whisked away into the colorful jungle (we made sure to keep whispering so we could sneak up on it)…we quietly opened the closet door and OUT HE JUMPED!!!  We used our “super powers” on the very large purple monkey…then he started chasing us!  Ahhhh!!! We ran screaming out of the jungle and to the seashore and frantically climbed into the awaiting submarine (in my walk-in closet).  We made sure to seal the hatch (he had to close the door tight — it was so cute to see him in action) and quickly learn how to drive the thing…what a bumpy ride, but we got the hang of it shortly.  After it was clear we made it to safety, we pulled down the periscope and took a peek…the purple jungle monkey was gone…whew, safe!  But…oh wait! There was a pirate chasing us…back down under the water we dived…and the adventure continued for another 20 minutes…even enticing daddy to scurry away from the creature and get in on the excitement!  We were having simple, creative, imaginative fun!  Proudly, I kind of liked it.  Now I wanna work on thinking up some fun (age appropriate stuff for our upcoming missions).

When I have my “gotta get it done” mom hat on, I may tend to over think things a bit (okay, a lot), and in typical fashion I was pondering all the work I needed to get done.  After all, I was in the middle of cooking my husband’s favorite dinner, but making time for my little Super Hero was not only very urgent for him, but it was also very important to me.

I’m so appreciative of the Internet—I’m able to learn so many cool ideas for how to parent my son. I know I never played spy games with my parents, house parents or guardians, so what a fun adventure this will be for all of us.  I hope he’ll fondly remember these games and we can all laugh about them later.  Nonetheless, I’m sure my therapist will be proud of me for getting in touch with my inner child, living into it and growing through it all through my little super hero’s eyes.  I love a great lesson, especially when it’s fun!

Do you ever play make believe or pretend games with your kids?  Tell me about your fun times, maybe I can learn from you, too.

Until our next adventure…If you look hard and long enough you’ll find the magic in life through a child’s eyes.

 

To read more on the article about How to raise an imaginative child, click here ->http://www.babycenter.com/0_how-to-raise-an-imaginative-child_65586.bc?page=2