Stand Sunday {EIGHT things YOU can do to take a stand for foster children and foster parents}

 

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Next time you are at church, take a look around at the empty seats.  Imagine if those seats were filled with foster children who were being taken care of by members of the congregation.  Wouldn’t that be an awesome sight to see?

This coming up Sunday (November 12th) is “Stand Sunday”.  Stand Sunday, an initiative of Orphan Sunday and The Christian Alliance for Orphans is designated as the day where churches are asked to take a stand for foster children.  Ultimately, the goal is for there to be an abundance of appropriate foster homes to meet the diverse needs of every single child in the system.

Not everyone is able to be a foster parent, but everyone can do something to help.  There are many ways that you and your church can take a stand for foster children.

Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Foster care is a mission field and the church should be involved.  As a church, reach out to local child welfare agencies and request ways that you can help them out.  Do they need volunteers for special events?  Donations of certain items?  What needs could your church fill?
  2. If foster parents attend your church, offer them a “parents night out” by providing childcare.  Each state may have different processes for approval; however, this is not an impossible task to achieve and the families absolutely need it.
  3. If you are a foster parent or work in the field, ask your pastor about guest speaking.  Eek!  I know that sounds really scary but only you can provide the kind of insight needed to get the message across.  (You can do it!)
  4. Sometimes, all it takes is for people to be aware of the magnitude of an issue before they get involved.  Ask your church if it would print a little blurb about the facts, numbers, and needs of foster children in US foster care system and add it to the Sunday morning pamphlets that are distributed when people walk through the doors.  Knowledge is power!
  5. Start a meal train for new foster families.  There is nothing more chaotic than the first week or so of a new foster placement.  Often, these families become instant parents to two or more children of different ages and with varying needs.  Cooking dinner (unless you count boxed mac-n-cheese/not judging at all) is the last thing on their minds.
  6. Think about your own talents.  Are you a great photographer?  Do you have a teachable skill set?  Are you a retired teacher or coach?  If so, use your talents and experiences to tutor and mentor youth in care.
  7. Just be present.  I know that sounds a little cheesy and all but nothing feels better than knowing one is heard, loved and supported during the good days and the bad.
  8. Pray!  Seriously, Church.  Pray without ceasing for children in the system, for their biological parents, caseworkers, Judges and juvenile authorities and for the foster and relative homes who are all on the front lines of battling child abuse and neglect.

I’ve worked in child welfare for close to 17 years.  I fostered for four years, as well.  I sure wish the demand for my job did not involve child abuse and neglect.  I’ve worked with far too many kids who have said, “No one cares”.

Church, it’s time we show them we care. 

It’s time we take a stand.

What Every Healthcare Provider Needs to Know About Adoption

If you are a foster or adoptive parent, you have probably been both amused and frustrated at things some healthcare providers say and ask you during your child’s appointments.  For me, dealing with medical professionals has been quite the learning curve.

Here is an article I recently wrote for Adoption.com about this very subject.  It was a timely article as I had just experienced an uncomfortable (to say the least) appointment with my child!

Please click on the link to read it:  What Every Healthcare Provider Needs to Know

Hope you all are doing well and thank you for reading my blog!

Blessings,

Caroline

Six Things I’d Like You to Know About Adoption {adoption is not perfect}

November is National Adoption Awareness Month in the US.  It is a month when we celebrate and advocate for adoption.  Being an adoptive parent myself, I fully understand the highs and lows of it.  If you are considering building your family through adoption (especially after years of infertility), here are a few things I’d like for you to know.

  1. Even with the joys of adoption, there is sorrow.  You will find that you love your child or children so much that you grieve for their life stories.  You know that they have come to you after a tremendous amount of hardship and despair of their birth parent(s).  With adoption, comes loss.  Helping your children understand and grieve this is part of your responsibility as a parent.
  2. You won’t and can’t have all of the right words at the right time.  People may say things to you that just throw you off.  You usually find the right response hours later and after the moment is gone.  There are also questions and statements that your children will state at the most random of times.  Just be prepared to not be prepared times like this, because they will happen.
  3. Adoption doesn’t stop at the declaration of the Judge.  I’ve said it before, but in many ways, adoption is an evolutionary process.  As your children grow up, they will yearn for answers from you, and they will want to know more about their histories and birth families.  This is natural and should not be taken as a negative.  Your children love you.  They just want to know more.
  4. You will have moments when infertility still sneaks up on you.  Let me give you an example.  Recently, I spoke at an infertility conference hosted by a local church.  I had prepared what I was going to say and tried to stay on target.  About mid-way through, I found myself struggling to hold back tears.  I said, “I would not trade my kids for anyone else’s.  I just wish I would have carried them in my body.”   This statement was not planned.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  These feelings and waves of emotions will stick with you long after adoption.
  5. You have to be flexible and adaptive in your approach to parenting.  As much as family members adore and deeply loves my children, I still catch them saying things like, “You never acted like that as a child.”  Typically, the way we parent is either very similar to our parents or it can be the exact opposite (if raised in an abusive, neglectful or troubled home).  I recall being a sensitive child and just the thought of making my mother cry was enough for me to stop whatever I was doing.  I’d like to be able to parent the same way or have the same expectations of my children, but I’ve learned that I cannot and must not do this.  I’ve had to adapt and be flexible about my expectations and approach to parenting.  What works for my friends’ kids or worked for me as a child, won’t work for mine, and that’s okay.
  6. Adoption is so amazing.  There is a deep joy that dwells within you when you look at the children whom God picked for you.  It is hard to describe and a bit ironic in how you just know that your kids were meant to be yours.  Is it perfect?  No.  Does it always go smoothly?  Absolutely not.  However, it is hard to deny that adoption is an amazing and incredible experience.

In celebration of National Adoption Awareness Month, we should focus not only on children and older youth in need of adoption and adoptive families but also on the authentic and honest sharing of experiences and lessons gained through adoption.

Adoption is not perfect, but my friends, neither are we.

5 Things Every Adoption Social Workers Wants to tell to Hopeful Adoptive Parents {Adoption.com article}

Recently, I wrote an article for Adoption.com regarding five things adoption social workers want to tell to hopeful adoptive parents.  It was really difficult to list just five things, as there are so many facets and nuggets of wisdom that social workers can share with families!

From my experience both working in the field and as an adoptive parent, I narrowed down to the five things that I feel are most important for hopeful adoptive families to be aware of and consider.  You can read the article by clicking on the link below:

5 Things Every Adoption Social Workers Want to tell to Hopeful Adoptive Parents

If you are a social worker in the field of adoption, what advice do you give to adoptive parents?  If you are an adoptive parent (or hoping to be one soon), what is the best advice you have been given by a social worker?  I’m curious to hear your thoughts!

Blessings,

Caroline

Just for Fun: Adoption Meme

htmu3 (1)This is a meme I made the other night just for fun.  Although it is meant to be funny, I have been asked this question many times about my children.  I also know other adoptive families who have been asked to same.  Thought I would share it for a little bit of adoption humor!

Our children are real siblings!  

Adoption Is…

“Are my birth parents dead?” This question came from one of my children this past week. I paused for just a bit, and then said, “Your birth mother is alive, but your birth father died.”

Silence….then no other questions for several days until tonight.

In the car, I hear the question, “Are my birth parents really dead?” “Your birth father died”, I replied. “Was he there when I was born?” “No. He died before you were born.”

Silence…”Well, how did you know?” I told my child that a social worker informed me about it.

“So, I was alone when I was born?”  “No honey. No…you were not alone. Your birth mother was there.”

Silence…

“Oh…you know…I think my birth father’s favorite color was grey. He told me when I was with him.”

Silence again…

I looked in the rear view mirror of my car and saw my child yearning to keep the tears in. I said, “It is okay to be sad about it, and cry.”

“I think I miss him. I’m sad because my birth father died.”

Here is the often misunderstood thing about adoption – it is not always full of joy. Is it a joyful time when adoption finally comes knocking on one’s door?  Yes, of course, but the real stuff, the nitty-gritty pieces of life of an adoptive family, can be very hard.

Loss is a huge part of adoption. Adoptive parents hold the stories of their children’s lives, and piece by piece, moment by moment, and question by question, the stories are told.

Honestly, I struggle with the truth about my children’s histories. I so wish I could say all of their stories and journeys to our lives were filled with wonderful and incredible things, but that would not be the truth.

So, piece by piece, moment by moment, and question by question, I narrate their little lives honestly and truthfully. The truth is painful, sometimes. My heart just feels wounded by the things that led their lives to mine.

Adoption is hard,
and beautiful,
and mysterious,
and delightful,
and heartbreaking,
and joyful,
and woeful,
and challenging,
and complex,
and simply incredible.

If you are an adoptive parent, know this, adoption is not always going to feel good. You will go through valleys of unknowns…scary and sad places.

If you are an adoptive parent, know this, adoption has a way of softening your heart, and tendering it to the realization that you are the story-teller, narrator, and keeper of the sorrowful and wonderful details of your child’s life.

After all, adoption is hard,
and beautiful,
and mysterious,
and delightful,
and heartbreaking,
and joyful,
and woeful,
and challenging,
and complex,
and simply incredible.