Monday, May 26, 2014

Called to Obedience

People ask us why we foster and I've often said it's a calling. I'm not sure that's true. I'm not sure we're called specifically to foster children, but I know ALL believers are called to be obedient.

The Bible is filled with commands. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19-20. Does this mean every one of us is supposed to be a foreign missionary? No, but we are supposed to be making disciples.

Here's the verse that spoke to us when we started our journey. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" James 1:27. If this command is for all believers what does it look like in your life?

On one hand I can't expect everyone to become a foster parent. On the other hand when I see the statistics and I hear the stories of the children who they can't find placements for I want to scream and beg and plead. Every week UMCH is turning away placements. They only get called when DFCS can't find one of their own homes. Last week they had a call for a 6 month old and 16 month siblings. They were put in a receiving home, which is a temporary placement. After a few days of not being able to find a placement, they were then willing to separate them in order to find them a home. This is only 1 of tons of stories each week of children they can't find homes for.

I want to answer a few reasons I've heard why people can't foster:

I'm too old - We've met some amazing retired people who are still fostering. They even foster newborns. It blows me away.

I'm single - Again, we've met amazing people who are doing this on their own. I know it has to be hard, but they are doing it.

I have small children of my own - So do quite a few of our friends who are fostering. They're awesome. Amazing lessons they are teaching their children of selflessness.

My house is too small - Right now we have 7 people living in a 3 bedroom house. It's not ideal, but it's doable.

I can't afford it - We rarely, if ever, come out of pocket for our kids. If we do it's because we've chosen to do something special. We receive a per diem for their care which is sufficient. They have a clothing allowance that is adequate if you shop smart. Fostering with UMCH we have an additional monthly allowance that we can turn in receipts for extras like diapers, school events, or any other non food item. Most of the children receive WIC, so we don't pay for formula, which can be expensive.

I don't like children - Have you met my husband? Like he says, you don't have to like children to love them.

I'd get too attached - Then you'd be perfect! These children deserve someone who will love them and get attached. They deserve someone who is willing to be hurt in order to give them a safe place for a little while.

It's too hard/complicated - Sometimes it is. Most things worthwhile are.

I like my freedom - Luke 9:23-24 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."

The need is great. It's greater than great. There are over 8,000 children in foster care in GA right now. In 2012 there were over 1,600 ready to be adopted out of foster care. In 2012 there were over 14,000 churches in Georgia. I'll let you do the math. In 2012 over 23,000 children nationwide aged out of the system. On their own with no support system. You can imagine the statistics that await them. They aren't pretty.

Please consider what your role is. What does obedience look like in your life?

1 John 3:16-18 16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

"Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know." -William Wilberforce

Here's the link to see the number of children waiting to be adopted from foster care vs. number of churches state by state.
Here's the link with the statistics for the kids who age out of the foster care system.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Today is Mother's Day. I have such mixed emotions about this day. It's a time to remember my mom, celebrate my mother-in-law, and be celebrated by my own children.

Usually my Mother's Day include 2 children. Last year, after we started fostering, it included 4. Two biological and 2 temporary children, who we love and miss like crazy.

Today I insisted on a picture, because this year I have 5. This time last week I didn't. On Thursday we were asked if we wanted to take a 1 week old baby. Our other foster children are 2 1/2 years and 8 1/2 months. I forwarded the email to Jimmy to share with him how crazy the question even was. Of course we couldn't take a newborn when we have a baby already at home! He didn't think it was crazy. His confidence in our ability to do this amazes me. I wasn't sure we could. I'm still not sure, but we are. That night they brought us this tiny little baby. So tiny that even newborn clothes seem a little big.

A few minutes ago I sat rocking this 10 day old miracle. She's perfect and beautiful. And I thought about Mother's Day. Not too far from where I live a woman is having her first Mother's Day with empty arms. I met her on Friday. She loves and wants this baby. Unfortunately, poor choices sometimes have huge consequences, so for now I have her baby. I'll do my best to love her and care for her.

The first few weeks of a baby's life are such a precious bonding time and she's missing that. It's not my job to judge her decisions or her actions that got her to this place. Right now I grieve for her. A mother without her baby. I pray she does what's required to get this angel home, and that this sweet baby will always be taken care of and loved.

Other mothers are facing this Mother's Day with the realization that their child isn't coming home. Some mothers have had their rights terminated. It's not a decision made lightly. What a terrible decision to have to make. What a terrible reality to have to live with. Hopefully, their children will find permanency and love.

So, like I said, a range of emotions. For all the mothers of biological children, adopted children, and foster children, may your 'children rise up and call you blessed.' (Proverbs 31:28) For those mothers with empty arms tonight remember, "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalms 34:18).

Monday, May 5, 2014

There's No Such Thing As Monsters...And Other Lies We Tell Children

Children come into foster care for a variety of reasons. Some are born drug exposed. Some are born drug exposed and go home with their parents anyway. Then they later come into care due to continued failed drug screens. Sometimes there is domestic violence or neglect. 9 month old babies weighing 9 pounds. 5 month old babies with eyes so sunken in you were sure they were from a third world country.

Adults often tell children things that are not true. Maybe because we believe it. Maybe because there's nothing else to say.

"Everything's going to be ok". Maybe. Maybe not. If you've come into foster care, something is definitely not ok with your world. Maybe it will be from here on, but the scars remain. Perhaps not physical scars. I imagine the emotional ones may be worse.

"Mommy and Daddy are doing everything they can to get you back". That could be true. I've seen that happen. I've also seen it not happen. Sometimes there are things that have a stronger pull than your children. I can't understand it, but I've watched it. Canceled visits. Broken promises. Tear-stained faces.

And then there's physical abuse. Broken bodies. Bruises and internal injuries. Obviously not an accident, but no one's talking. Babies being hurt by the people who are supposed to love them, or at least not protecting them from someone else.

"There's no such thing as monsters". The biggest lie of all. No, they don't hide under the bed and in the closet. They aren't furry and they don't have horns. But they are real. Unfortunately for some they look like mommies and daddies. They look like the one who should hold you and comfort you. Imagine your toddler being scared of you. Not scared of being in trouble. Terrified. Of you. Can you? I hope not. That's reality for many children.

There's no such thing as monsters? I disagree.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


"Okay". I've never heard that word said so sadly as I did on January 24th.

The night before a foster care worker had brought us a sweet baby girl. She was 5 1/2 months old at the time, and so very beautiful.

On January 24th our case worker came and so did a DFCS worker with our new little guy who is 2 1/2. He was fairly shy, but quickly warmed up to my daughter and I as we sat on the floor with him and played with some toys. Jimmy came home from work a few minutes later and walked in with a couple trucks for him. He loved that. He was becoming more comfortable, and even sat in my lap, but in his mind he was just visiting.

He had no idea he was starting over again. You see, we are his 3rd foster home. His 3rd new family since he was 13 months old. I can't even wrap my mind around that and what must go through his mind. Does he think this is normal? No wonder he calls everyone woman mommy and every man daddy.

After all the paperwork was done his caseworker that he knew started the process of leaving. She went to the door and asked him to come tell her goodbye. He quickly went to the door and said, "I want to go home". She knelt down and hugged him and told him that this was going to be his new home. He looked down and in the saddest voice I've ever heard said, "Okay". He'd resigned himself to starting over again. How is this your normal at 2 1/2?

That's all it took for us to want to protect him from every future hurt. He's the most amazing little guy. He has the brightest smile, the funniest laugh, the biggest eyes, and the sweetest heart. Of course he's 2, so he also has the drama, fall on the floor, let's have a fit when I don't get my way.

I don't know how long we'll get to love him. While we have him we'll try to love him well. I don't know through all his changes he's learned to love so well. Bedtime (for the most part) is such a sweet time. He adds our name to whatever he says. "Goodnight Daddy", "I yuv you, Mommy".

The name of this blog is, "It's Not About Us". This is what I'm talking about. It's about him. It's about all of them, the approximate 8,000 children in foster care, just in Georgia, at any one time. He may go home, that's not for us to decide. If he does, he'll be worth our heartbreak. He's had enough heartbreak in his short little life. He's why we do what we do.

"I am not afraid to grieve. I am afraid of what would happen to these children if no one took the risk to love them." -author unknown

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Our Almost Children

We've now had 6 foster children. Two are still with us. We've also had 5 "Almost Children". These are children they call us to take, we say yes, then another placement is found. There are various reasons, but usually because they've found a closer placement. Since we don't foster with the county, our kids can come from anywhere. That can make weekly visits difficult, and costly for the county who might have to provide transportation to visits.

The first "almost child" was 3 days old. A newborn! I was really excited. I'm baby crazy. We were really crazy because when we said yes we still had our 3 year old and newly turned 1 year old. We said yes anyway. He wasn't even named. We weren't sure if we were supposed to name him or if he would eventually have a name from his birth mom. Our biological kids are Cole and Cori, so our son wanted to continue the pattern and call him Cai, short for Mordecai. I could get on board with Cai, but Mordecai? I don't think so. I ran around getting the house ready, trying to figure out what we were going to do about another crib. He was coming at 3:00 pm. And then he wasn't coming at all. We were so strangely disappointed.

Then next time it happened was a set of siblings. The little girl was 3 and the baby boy was 5 months. Their names both started with M. M&M. She was not yet speaking and he was given a label of failure to thrive. I was a little scared, but hoped we could help them. This case was back and forth for a day or so. The limited space in our house was a problem. Once a child is 4, they can no longer share a room with a child of a different gender, even if it is their biological sibling, and there was a possibility this could be a long term placement. So many rules. They eventually found another home for them. My husband advocated for them - even with the problems, but they didn't come.

After that we accepted placement for our now 2 year old. That same day they called us about a 4 month old boy. We said yes. Baby? YES! They were coming the same day. It was a Thursday and I had an after school meeting. I didn't hear much in the meeting. After the meeting I started my scramble to get ready for new kids. Then the call came. The baby wasn't coming and our 2 year old was coming the next day. What a roller coaster of emotions. Later that night they ended up bringing us a 5 month old girl, and our big guy did come the next day.

Our most recent Almost Child happened today. We were asked about a 6 year old boy. I was really hesitant. We have 2, plus our own, in a very small house. They couldn't find another placement, so we couldn't say no. Well, we could have, but we didn't. He was going to come this coming Monday. Lots of thoughts running through my mind. How will we arrange the room? I don't really have an extra dresser. Our son is moving back from college next week. Then, once again, they found another placement. This time I felt like it was an answer to prayer. I was unsure this time. I prayed for another placement if this wasn't a good fit for us, or if we were overextending ourselves. That was a quick answer. Still, I know his name and I know some of his story. I wonder where he is going. Praying they will love him.

I guess we'll have lots more Almost Children. You'd think by now we would learn, but I had already told a bunch of people about our new guy. Then had to change my story. Until they are here it's never a for sure thing. It's hard to explain, but once you've heard their names and know their story, they capture a piece of your heart. I don't even know what they look like, but for a moment, after we said yes, they were our children...almost.