What is Therapeutic Foster Care? {Adoption.com article}

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between traditional foster care and therapeutic foster care?  In my job, I’ve been asked this question a lot.  I recently wrote an article about this very subject.  You can read the article by clicking the link below:

What is Therapeutic Foster Care?

I hope this answers your questions!  There is a great need for therapeutic foster parents, so if it has ever crossed your mind, I greatly encourage you to consider becoming one.



This Place of Grace

Wow, friends. This has been a sad week for so many. From personal acquaintances dealing with sudden illness to the news of what all has transpired in Orlando, it seems every day brings about a different reason to mourn. Sometimes, I don’t even want to check my phone alerts or news channels/sites due to so much tragedy going on within our communities, our nation, and the world.  I had this quote from Dennis Garvin on my mind today,  “Temptation is not his (Satan’s) strongest weapon. Despair is.”

Do you want to know what other words rang out in my mind today?

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23 (NIV)
Even when it seems the world is collapsing around us, the comforting Word always seems to bring me right back to this place of grace; this wonderfully rich place where hope sustains and fulfills.  Friends, let the Word speak to you.  Embrace it.  Carry it throughout these trying days, and rest comfortably in this place of grace.


Ten Ways to Prepare to be a New Foster Parent (Adoption.com article)

I recently wrote for Adoption.com regarding ten ways to prepare to be a new foster parent.  There is so much that new foster parents have to learn, and in many cases, they just won’t know what is valuable information until their first foster child moves in.

This list is short, but hopefully, it will help you if you are preparing to be a new foster parent!

Click here to read the article:  Ten Ways to Prepare to be a New Foster Parent



Keep on Keeping On {a message for adoptive families}

Today was one of those days when I was reminded that adoption is a human experience that reaches the depths of emotions. I sat through an adoption staffing (interview with families in hopes of being selected for a child in need of adoption). I listened to the families pour their hearts and hopes out to the team members. There were tears, laughter, and a lot of emotions in between. As I finished my day, I watched a touching video of a family who adopted their little one that they have been fostering.

And, I cried.

I thought about our own foster care and adoption journey. I thought about the families who are interviewed time and again, yet never selected. I thought about the ones who are just taking their first steps to becoming adoptive parents, the ones whose hearts are just now being stirred about adoption, and the multitude of others who will soon join the ranks of waiting families.

Adoption is so much harder than it appears to be. I don’t think it is possible for anyone to understand this unless they have been through it. It forces oneself to be strong and courageous, while also being vulnerable. Foster and adoptive families are asked to give all of themselves to children with no guarantee that it will work out.

They have to prove to others that they are worthy of being parents – this is something that people who have had biological children will never understand. They are asked to be authentic and genuine, and by doing so, they are judged on their potential as adoptive parents. Their expectation and labor are not counted by hours or months. Often, they are counted by many years.

Beyond the glorious adoption announcements and videos are years of struggle, hope, angst, heartbreak, and resilience. These things are weaved into the fabric of adoptive families. These things reach into the deepest part of our souls, and remind us that in the end, it is all worth it. The children are always worth it.

Adoption is hard. It takes a ton of patience in the waiting. The ride up the hill is torturous, but my friend, the other side of this mountain is sheer beauty.

To anyone who is awaiting the time when adoption calls your name,

Buckle up,

Put on your boots,

Hold your head high,

and keep on keeping on.

Adoption is worth it

A Gorilla, A Petition, and the Perspective of a Child Welfare Professional

(Writer’s Note:  This opinion is not intended to represent other child welfare professionals’ opinions.  Plus, I’m not an expert on anything Gorilla or zoo related, and I can barely keep my children from escaping my grasp.)

If you are like me, your social media feed has been taken over by the shocking events that happened when a preschooler fell into the Gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.  I’m guilty of commenting and sharing news about the incident, as well.  When I first saw the video of the child being dragged through the water, I watched with fear over what could have happened.  I thought about my own children, and what I would do if the same thing happened to any of them.  It hit close to home because I have an almost 4-yr-old who is extremely curious, lacks no fear, and is too quick for me to keep up with.  My heart just sank watching the video; saddened by the death of the majestic Harambe, worried about the child, and apprehensive about the reactions of so many.

I want you to know that I have always been an animal lover.  My parents endured my bringing home half-dead pigeons in hopes of healing them.  I have donated money to a tremendous amount of animal organizations and have fed numerous stray animals.  (I fed a stray cat just hours before writing this.)  In between classes in college, instead of driving the fifteen or so minutes to my house, I would drive around, read the “lost pet” signs, and then look for the animals in hopes of reuniting them with their owners.  I have helped to find homes for stray animals and rushed a dog to an emergency vet right after being hit by a car because I could not stand the thought of that poor baby lying there helpless while everyone else just zoomed by.  So, please hear me.  I adore animals.  I have pets and love them dearly.  I teach my children to do the same.

With that being said, when I read that nearly 500,000 people had signed a petition for an investigation and charges of negligence and/or lack of supervision to be brought up against the parents of this young boy, I had a visceral reaction.  My blood boiled a bit.  I am all about social movement, and stand behind change and action being brought on by the people but as a child welfare professional, I was just livid.  It’s not because I do not think the anger is justified, or that the parents’ actions, or lack thereof, should not be taken into consideration.  (Although, I do not know how it happened, and choose to hold no judgment.  As a mother, I know that things happen literally in the blink of an eye. I do wonder how anyone should be able to escape into a supposedly secured animal exhibit, especially a young child.)

My anger with the petition has more to do with the response to this one incident, than anything else.  My husband told me to just let it go, and stop reading/watching the news about it.  Maybe, I should.  Yet, in my heart, I know that the public outcry appears to have little to do with the child and more to do with the death of Harambe.  This is what stirs my feelings.  I’ve worked in child welfare now for fifteen years, and I can assure you that 500,000 people have never rallied around a situation involving negligence or lack of supervision for any child I’ve worked professionally with.

According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children  (www.americanspcc.org), in 2014, an estimated 702,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect.  In that same year, 3.2 million cases of child abuse were investigated, and 526,744 children suffered neglect.  I don’t know if you feel the same way, but I find these statistics to be quite overwhelming.  I walk into my office each week knowing that part of my job security is based on the need for services for abused and neglected of children.

I can probably count on two hands the number of perpetrators who have actually been charged and subsequently convicted of abuse or severe neglect for the cases that I have been involved in.  I say two hands, but that might be exaggerating a bit.  And with this, where is the outrage?  Where is the petition?

Where are the people when a young child is left alone all day long because the single mother is working three jobs in order to make rent and put food on the table?  

Where are the people when a toddler is found alone and wandering down a busy street?  

Where is the outcry for justice when a baby is found in a diaper that has not been changed for days, or when a teenager is kicked out of his or her home by an alcoholic parent?  

Where are the people when a baby is diagnosed with failure to thrive after suffering months of extreme neglect?  

Where are the signatures for punishment when someone, who has caused lifelong damage to a child, is not held responsible for this crime?

Where is the outrage?  Where is the petition?  Where are you?

I am tremendously sad over what occurred at the Cincinnati Zoo.  It is just plain awful. However, I am so incredibly thankful that the little boy survived.  A child’s life is of great value.  We should never forget this.

If you have never worked with children who have suffered abuse and neglect, then you do not understand how much it affects their lives, how vulnerable they are, and just how heartbreaking their stories are.  As one person who has worked in child welfare for a long time, I know firsthand that neglect and lack of supervision happen far too often in this nation we call home.

My anger over this situation has little to do with the death of Harambe; although it bothers me that any of this happened.  It has more to do with the reality that social media persuades us to get passionate and angry over certain circumstances, and yet, in our communities, and maybe in our own homes, we choose to turn a blind eye to what is really happening with children.

Where is the outrage about this?