Foster Kids Are Not Unwanted Kids {Adoption.com Article}

Foster Care Awareness month has come and gone but the need for a better understanding of the foster care system, and the children in it, never goes away. There are lots of misperceptions and myths circling around about kids in the foster care system; troubled, unwanted.

While some kids in the system struggle with emotional and behavioral issues (given the impact of trauma on a developing child), it is extremely rare to find a foster child that is not wanted by someone. Here’s the link to an article I wrote about this subject:  Foster Kids are not Unwanted Kids

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Blessings,

Caroline

Sweet Mom, Judgy Mom, & a little bit of caffeine

20170505_150607Standing in line at Starbucks, I sparked up a conversation about coffee and children with a mom (I’ll call her Sweet Mom) of two little ones as my soon-to-be 11-yr-old son eagerly waited for his special treat of an Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte.  Caffeine does not negatively affect my son.  It actually helps him concentrate.  This is a part of ADHD that most people do not understand, but that is not what this post is about.

Sweet Mom looked at her little guy and said, “Grandma gives him sips of her coffee, sometimes.  He LOVES straight, black coffee!”  We both laughed a bit but as we did, I noticed a lady (I’ll call her Judgy Mom) standing at the counter and listening to our conversation.  Sweet Mom had her back to the lady and had no idea Judgy Mom rolled her eyes and shook her head in disgust at our conversation about allowing our kids to have caffeine/coffee every now and then.

The longer I stood there and watched Judgy Mom’s utter dismay at us, the more I found myself wanting to come to the defense of Sweet Mom and all of the other moms out there who are just trying to do the darn best that we can.  By the time Judgy Mom got her own caffeinated beverage, Sweet Mom swiped up her drinks, told me it was nice visiting and went about her merry way.  When the barista called my son’s name, I proudly grabbed the drink, handed it to him, and said, “Here you go, bud.  Enjoy.”

As I walked to the car, drinking my own strong little number, my imagination decided to embark on a conversation that I chose not to have with Judgy Mom (because I’m not a confront and destroy kinda girl).

Here is what I really wanted to say,

“I’m assuming by the look of disgust on your face, the rolling back of your eyes, and the shaking of your head, that you just can’t believe the nerve of some “young moms” these days allowing their kids to have a little caffeine from time-to-time.  You might think it is abusive or neglectful or just bad parenting, right?  You might wonder what on Earth we also allow our kids to have.  

Well, here’s the deal, Judgy Mom. (Okay, I wouldn’t call her that to her face.)  If you really want to see “bad moms or dads” in action, why don’t you join a Child Abuse and Neglect Investigator on a home visit to investigate allegations?  I’m sure arriving at a home and finding a neglected baby in a crib whose diaper hasn’t been changed for four days would probably alarm you.

Or, how about you take a look at pictures of a blue-eyed, 4-yr-old child who was beaten so severely for not eating her dinner fast enough that the imprint of the perpetrator’s boots was left on her skin?  (Yes, this is a real situation.  I’ve seen the pictures.  I still have the images engraved in my mind and it’s been 10+ years since viewing them.)

Perhaps, you can become a CASA or other type of advocate for children so that you can learn how a lot of kids don’t eat over the weekend because there is no food in the house and their only meals come from school.  Once you do any of these things, you won’t be as tempted to roll your eyes and shake your head in disgust at two moms having a chat about the antics of slightly coffee-fueled children.

How about that?”

I know some of you might think this is a little extreme, but one thing that gets my goat more than anything is the amount of parent-shaming that exists nowadays. Perhaps, I’ve seen too much.  Maybe, working in child welfare has skewed my perception of what is a “good mom” versus a “bad mom”.  All I know is that once you truly learn what is happening to children and what some parents either do to their kids or allow their kids to go through, it is really hard to get all worked up about things like caffeine, sugar, screen time, red dye #40, or whatever other items that have become a trendy thing to frown upon.

I believe that most parents are just like my husband and me – trying to balance work, parenting, social activities, sports, spiritual development and medical needs all while raising kids to be half-way decent human beings.  There are some days where we literally eat on the go and high-five each other in passing.  There are others where we eat home cooked meals all day, stay inside and just be together.  Either way, I do believe my kids are going to be just fine and that we are doing our very best at this glorious, God-given task of raising future adults.

To Sweet Mom, whom I met at Starbucks today, your kids are precious.  Don’t worry about Grandma sneaking a sip of coffee to your little guy.  You’re doing just fine.

To Judgy Mom, I’d love to meet with you and talk about parenting over a nice, large cup of coffee.  I bet I can figure out a way to give you an outlet for your obvious concern about children.

To all the other parents out there, if you are meeting your kids’ physical, emotional, and social needs, plus working each day to raise them to be half-way decent human beings, then you are also doing just fine.

Let’s stop parent-shaming.  There are far too many issues going on with children and families to worry about a kiddo getting a little bit of caffeine.

How about that?

Foster Kids & Family Vacations {Adoption.com article}

‘Tis the season for holiday travel and planning vacations!  Vacationing while providing foster care to children may seem a bit overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be.  For many children in care, taking a vacation is an awesome experience filled with memories.

Here is an article I wrote regarding some helpful tips when planning your family vacation:

Click on this link:  Foster Kids and Vacation

Happy Travels!

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.

Adopting.Org {new website you need to check out}

Hi Friends,

There’s a new website I thought you would like to check out!  If you are interested in adoption and all things related, check out:  adopting.org

The website features blog posts from adoptive families and others touched by adoption.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy!

Blessings,

Caroline

Finally! (little meme about a big announcement)

 

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Our youngest child has finally decided that he is done with diapers, and moving onto bigger things…like pull-ups and going potty in the Pirate Potty Seat!  I had to announce this.  No more diapers for this Mama to change!

For all of the Mama’s out there still changing diapers and/or starting the process of potty-training, I salute you.  Hang in there.  Our little guy will be four in July.  FOUR IN JULY…and just started potty-training.  With Kindergarten in the not-too-distant future, I was starting to get a little anxious.

My “babies” are all growing up.  It is so incredible and challenging to watch children bloom into themselves.  What an honor and a reminder that parenting needs to be intentional, full of determination, and saturated with humor.  ‘Tis the reason for this meme…

We.Are.Straight.Outta.Diapers.  

Yay!

 

 

Hey, World. {Get Yourself Together}

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Hey, World.  It’s me…just a rather simple Midwestern, American mama. Here’s the deal.  I have three children that I’m raising; three children who have already been handed a loss in life.  Please, for the sake of these kiddos, get yourself together.

I have found myself bothered…okay, maybe a little more than bothered…by what is going on.  Chaos, confusion, bigotry, violence, lack of compassion, and death seem to be the words that I am describing you right now.  I know that these words do not make up the sum of what you are, but when considering the future of my babes; my heart just seems to be so incredibly dampened by these things.

Jesus asks us to go into the pits of the despair of others, but are we truly doing that? Jesus asks us to reach out to strangers, care for foreigners, show mercy, and pray for our enemies, but are we really heeding these directives?

Christians should be rising up, but are we?  Have we surrendered to the flesh?  Are we more concerned and confused by the political and social chaos of the world?  What about harvesting the fields?  What about salvation?

Fear, and the intense need to store up our own blessings, seems to have taken over.  The battle of the flesh seems to be so present, but is the battle truly of the flesh?  The flesh is just that…flesh.  Have we forgotten who the enemy really is?

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. 

Ephesians 6:12

It breaks my heart to see children starving, sleeping on the streets, bartered and traded for selfish satisfaction, and forgotten.  It is easy to blame the flesh.  It is so incredibly effortless to look at each other and think, “They are the ones causing this.”  But again, is our battle really against the flesh?  Do we truly believe that?  After all, it is man who acts out the depravity of circumstances.

It is time for a reality check.  If you think that this battle against all the angst, violence, and craziness of the world is one that dwells within skin, then perhaps we have a lot more to worry about.  It is time for some serious need of prayer.  It is time to consider the true direction our Earthly home is heading, and who the real enemy is.

Hey, World.  It’s me…just a rather simple Midwestern, American mama.  Can we all just take a collective time out?  While chaos surrounds us, our children still deserve to grow up without fear.  ALL children deserve this.  From the children tucked away safely in their beds, to the ones scrapping for food on the streets, and to the children harbored away in a refugee camp…they ALL deserve to grow up, experience life, and live without fear.  They all deserve the opportunity to share their gifts to this world.

If there was ever a time to pray and be a witness of light and love to others, it is now.

Hey, World.  Get yourself together.  I’ve got children to raise.

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 

1 Timothy 2:8

 

Six Lessons Learned From Being an Adoptive Parent

I’ve darn near decided that maybe it is more of a privilege to be an adoptive parent than a biological parent.  Before I offend anyone who has given birth to their children, please hear me.  I am NOT saying that adopting children is better than giving birth, and I am NOT saying that adoptive parenting provides more passion than raising biological children.  What I am saying is that being an adoptive parent is a privilege.  (Please understand that I have zero frame of reference as all of my kiddos are adopted.)

Here are just a few things I have learned since becoming a mother through adoption:

  1. Never underestimate the power of the pursuit.  If I had not put all of my efforts into becoming a parent, I know that I would not be experiencing the gift of refinement that parenting brings.  Don’t give up.  Throw every hat you have in the ring.  If you want to be a parent, let it be your priority and the passion behind your pursuit.
  2. Genetics are incredibly important.  Are you surprised I said that?  Let me explain.  When it comes to loving a child with every pore of your being, genetics don’t mean squat…BUT….when it comes to understanding histories, personalities, and medical issues, genetics are huge. Learn what you can, and don’t sweat the rest.  Sometimes, the only answer you can give to a doctor is, “I don’t know.”  While this is unsettling and, let’s be honest, a frustrating place to be, it is the truth.  
  3. Maternal instincts are not born from giving birth (no pun attended).  Do yourself a favor.  Stop worrying about your maternal instincts, or if you will love a child you adopt the same as you would if you gave birth.  While I do not have anything to compare, based on what I have heard from friends who have experienced parenting through birth and adoption, there is no difference. If anything, the instinct to protect might be a little stronger with an adopted child than a child by birth.  The adopted child may have a complicated history that only you will fully understand.  A part of you seeks to protect in secret that history; the other part of you never wants that history to be a source of embarrassment or ridicule.  So, yes, just perhaps, the maternal “momma bear” instincts to protect might just kick in a littler harder.
  4. Waiting to become a mother took so long, and because of it, I never forget to appreciate the brief and simple moments of life with my children.  I have known since age eleven that I would motherhood would come to me through adoption.  The wait to understand and capture that moment when it all made sense lasted nearly my entire lifetime so far.  I’ll be honest.  I get caught in a rut with my children.  I get frustrated, wish for an early bedtime, and look forward to time away from them.  I lose my cool.  I make mountains out of mole hills, and trust me, I totally mess up time and again.  Maybe, I might get this parenting thing down when they are adults.  With all of this being said, there are those moments with them that still takes my breath away.  While out riding bikes with my kiddos one night, I saw them both peddling their stubby little legs to me, I thought, “This moment.  This moment matters.”  
  5. Being an adoptive parent has unique set of challenges.  Do I think that there will never be any challenge to parents who give birth?  Of course not. The majority of my close friends have all given birth to their children, and they have challenges that they face.  However, with adoptive parenting, a parent must consume the history of the child only to be able to release it at a later date when the child is ready.  By history, I mean the knowledge of birth parents, and reasons why your son or daughter entered your home.  It is a heavy burden.  It is not to be taken lightly.  It can be one of the most difficult parts to raising children through adoption.  How does one fully comprehend what it feels like to be an adoptee?  I wonder how often my children think about their birth families.  It breaks my heart, but, it is a reality.  The worse thing one can do is run from it.
  6. I feel a big sense of responsibility in raising well-rounded and kind children.  Perhaps, I feel this pressure due to the fact that my children were intended to be mine.  I don’t want to mess this up.  At times, I fail miserably.  At others, I am totally enamored by the generosity and thoughtfulness shown by them.  I guess there is a part of me that believes I have more of a responsibility to raise my children right; as if (at times) the whole world will judge if I do not.  Being an adoptive parent is truly the most incredible privilege in the world, but it also comes with the pressure to be perfect – and we all know that perfection is completely unobtainable.

Adoptive parenting is a journey.  From the moment you decide to adopt, waiting to have a child placed (or if a foster placement, the wait for permanency through adoption), to finalization, and then raising the children, it is all just one big story with ups and downs.  I suspect all parenting is like this, but with adoption, there is a deeper sense of fortitude mixed with caution.

In these things, and many more, I find privilege.  That we were granted these children through the workings of the Lord is often beyond my ability to measure.  The years spent raising my children will continue to bring me lots and lots of frustrating moments, but also many wonderful and glorious lessons.

The lessons I’ve learned so far with raising my children is that this chapter of my life is definitely a privilege.

Every good and perfect gift is from above…(James 1:17)

Give That a Thought

While at the store the other day with my daughter, a lady stopped me and said, “Your daughter looks just like you. You sure could never deny her!” I thanked her for noticing us, wished her a good day, and even thought, “There are some days I’d like to deny…..” I’ll just stop there!

It is funny, you know. I get told often how all of my kids resemble me in someway. Sometimes, I see it. Sometimes, I don’t.

I definitely “see myself” in them, though. I see the good, the bad, and the ugly. Do you know those moments when your child says something in just a way that you are quickly reminded of how you must sound when saying the same thing? Yep, these are the times when I realize how much of an influence I make on my kids. It is also a reminder that if our kids can repeat some of the things we say in our not-so-fine moments, then they can surely remember the things we say when we are at our best.

There are also moments when your child does something out of love, or speaks incredible wisdom that stops you right in your place. These are the times when I catch a glimpse of myself in the kids, or am taught a lesson by them.

To the sweet lady at the grocery store who stopped to tell me how much my daughter looks like me, Thank You. As a parent through adoption, I get tickled by it, and find such a great sense of how truly awesome and purposeful adoption really is.

I love that in many ways my kids look like me, and my husband. More important, though, is the thought that every action or word we say as parents strikes even deeper in the hearts and minds of our children.

In so many ways, they are a reflection of who we are.

Give that a thought.