Be Bold {let your light shine}

pexels-photo-278823.jpeg

I wish I could tell you that it is “easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy” (as my 5-yr-old likes to say) to parent children who have been adopted or to be a foster parent.  I’d love to say that once a child enters your home either for foster care or adoption, all problems go away and it’s just downhill and smooth-sailing from there.  It would be fantastic for me to declare that I never second-guess myself and that we are all about lollipops, rainbows, and laughter.  However, if I were to say any of these things, my words would be false.  They would not bear a truthful witness to what it is to be a parent through adoption.

A few months ago, I started praying/speaking these words to God, “What do you want me to do with my life?”  “What do you want from me?”  One morning while praying, I heard the words, “BE BOLD.”  A little startled at the immediate response, I asked, “What do you mean?”  

“BE BOLD.”  The words were clear, concise and not complicated.

Several months have passed and to be honest, I just kind of ignored this answer.  I know the Lord told me to be bold but it was just too simple of a declaration.  I am a detail-oriented person and the two-word response to my prayer just didn’t cut it.

With the dawning of a New Year, the Lord’s answer of “Be bold” has never strayed too far from my mind.  I wonder, friend, if His words are not only meant for my ears but also for yours.

For prospective foster and adoptive families, you need to know that being bold is imperative.  It’s more than just declaring an injustice in what you are witnessing.  It requires a stillness of faith AND a movement of courage.  

Being bold, in the sight of others who do not understand, is necessary.

When you are asked, “Why in the world would you want to do that?”, be bold.

When people say to you, “I would never subject my own kids to that”, be bold.

When you are quivering in fear over what is going to happen with a child you love, be bold.

When you have the opportunity to love on biological parents, please, by all means, be bold.

Foster parenting and adoption both have this funny way of knocking people to their knees.  We fall down time and again, but we get up.  We wonder what we are doing and why in the heck are we doing it, but we keep on.  In the face of many obstacles and trials, we stand up.  We are bold.

When parenting children who come from extremely difficult situations, we learn of our own blessings and our own stumbling blocks.  Their histories collide with ours and we realize how different life could have been for us if we were handed down the same hardships these children have been dealt.

I know the saying of “What would happen if you weren’t afraid?”  It’s fine and everything but I like this version better:  “What would happen if you were bold?” 

Since we have such a hope, we are very bold… -2nd Corinthians 3:12

How could your courage and boldness literally change the course of a child’s or adult’s life?

What would your boldness show to children who look up to you?

How could you make an eternal difference for someone?

What if you took that darned thing called infertility, grabbed it by the neck and said, “No. I’m not going down that way”?

What if you become a foster parent and take in kiddos that absolutely soak up your love and attention?

What if you step outside of your preconceived comfort zone and foster a large sibling group, older youth or ones with special needs?

What could happen if you decide tomorrow to wake up declaring that boldness is the only way to live?

We are well on our way into 2018.  We don’t know what we will have to face or overcome as the year unfolds but let’s live this year with a boldness that leaves an impression.

Shine your light, friends.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

 

If you are considering foster care or adoption, my wish is that fear would not stop you.  It isn’t easy, but it is so worth.

Goal for 2018:  Let others see that boldly living and courageously loving is a remarkable way to live.

Question:  How are you going to live boldly this year?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Fostering/Adopting a Child Who Comes from an Abusive Home {Adoption.com article}

Hello there, friends!

If you have considered fostering or adopting but you are unsure about bringing children who have experienced abuse or neglect into your home, here’s an article I wrote regarding this very topic: Fostering/Adopting a Child Who Comes from an Abusive Home

I’m away on vacation with my family for this week, but as always, if you have questions feel free to use my Contact Me page and I’ll be more than happy to respond to your queries and concerns.

Blessings,

Caroline

Imperfect Families with a Perfect Purpose

In a recent email conversation with a friend, the topic of adoptive families being perceived or expected to always be happy came up. My friend expressed concern for the need to break this stereotype or expectation.

I wholeheartedly agreed with my friend. From the outside of things, our family looks pretty good. Three cute children, smiling faces, and the outgoing statements of how blessed we are seems to permeate the air that we surround.

However, the truth is that adoptive families are not always “happy”. We are not always happy. We don’t always see eye-to-eye. Our children (sometimes) exhibit behaviors and other issues that seem to be directly linked to genetic trademarks and/or other concerns related to when they were in the womb of their birth mothers. Sometimes, they are just being kids making really poor choices.

My husband and I attended a training today that was devoted to parenting children with unique needs (social, emotional, behavioral). As the trainer talked about brain development and the impact of neglect, I thought to myself, “This is not happy.”

The trainer went on to speak about children who put themselves last to take care of their parents and siblings, and the potentially destructive results of this. Again, I thought, “This is not happy.”

All of the families in the training are walking the difficult road of parenting children whose beginnings in life were estranged from normalcy, whose health and well-being were often the last thing anyone thought of, and whose lives have been dramatically changed by circumstances beyond their control. In many respects, I feel the most comfortable when around other families who share similar experiences.

Listening to families share their experiences was invaluable. Watching men cry over the heartbreak of their child’s history, while also reveling in just how far their children have come, was also very touching. Recognizing that we are not alone in our struggles was incredibly encouraging.

So tonight, I’m thankful for the shared experiences of foster and adoptive families who have stepped out of their own comfort zones, and stepped forward into the battle ground of child abuse and neglect.

I’m thankful for families who keep pushing ahead, despite the wounded pasts of their children. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to connect with others who have chosen to stand up to the stereotypes, and bravely care for children who otherwise just might not make it in this world where fairness and kindness do not always exist.

To say we are blessed is true. To say we have many joyful and happy moments is also true. To say that we strive to be resilient, mindful, and intentional is true as well.

But, to say that our hearts do not break for what our (meaning foster/adoptive families as a whole) children struggle with is not true. There are many foster/adoptive families waging wars against the painful realities of their children’s histories.

So next time you are around someone involved in the child welfare system, offer a kind word, tell them that you are encouraged by their courage, show them that you too care for abused and neglected children, and pray that the Lord would heal their hurts, give them wisdom, and surround them with His hedge of protection.

Don’t expect us to be happy all of the time.

Instead, see us as what we are – imperfect families with a perfect purpose.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #3}

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You see the looks. You hear the whispers. You watch as others watch you with a bit of a snarling glare. You wonder what they are thinking. The child you are caring for is struggling to maintain any sense of control over his body, actions, and emotions…all while you are frantically trying to get the much-needed groceries bought.

You are on a rush to beat the clock – one kid to be picked up, the other dropped off, one has an appointment, and the baby desperately needs a nap. Yet, here in the middle of the bread aisle is a little soul melting down before your eyes, and in front of a multitude of strangers who do not understand.

You hear someone whisper, “If that were my child, I would….”  Another person kindly suggests, “Spare the rod, spoil the child.”  You keep your calm. You maintain control, and yet, you desperately want to scream out loud, “If you only knew!  I’m picking up the pieces of this broken vessel in front of you!  I’m a foster parent!!”

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You know it is more than about sparing the rod. You are the carrier of the dark history of the child to whom has made his way to your home. The child in front of you does not need another set of adults disregarding him. The last parents he had rarely used gentle hands when reaching out, a curious and loving ear when listening, or a soft place for the child to land when disappoints came.

The child you are loving on has swallowed a lifetime of grief through the years, and sometimes, it has to come out. It comes out like the ferocious roar of a lion at times. Other times, it comes out in the longing wails of agony that should never come from a child’s soul.

And then, it does not come out at all.

Before you, sits the silence of years long gone. This is probably the part that concerns you. You can handle rage. You can comfort agony, but it is the silence that unsettles you the most. You desperately want to unlock that cage, and let the pain out. You know what could happen if the pain continues to fester deep down.

Still, there you are,

Calm,

Steady,

Cleaning up the mess,

Being that soft place,

Listening with a loving ear, and waiting…

Waiting….waiting for a breakthrough….waiting for a sign that suggests the wounds are being exposed, unplugged, cleansed, and maybe…just maybe, closed.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

You pray over the children in your care, and for God to be in the midst of important decisions. You petition for Divine intervention. You cry out to the Lord for healing….healing of the children in your care, restoration of their birth families, and mending of your own heart that has been afflicted through the years by this war you are fighting.

Deep down, you know that healing is a spiritual battle. It starts from within. You trust that mending comes from the Giver of Life, the Keeper of Promises, and the One who conquered your own battles. You work to be His hands and feet, but you know your limitations are bound to this Earth. So…you lay it all in His hands, and wait.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

Stand tall. Put on His armor when faced with the assuming looks of people who choose to judge instead of help. Take deep breaths. Pray with each pore of your being.

Be the constant tower of strength you set out to be.

Take care of yourself. Seek out other warriors who understand the battles you face. Lay your burdens down, and…

Stay calm.

Be steady.

Continue cleaning up the mess.

Remain that soft place.

Lovingly listen.

And, wait….

Wait with expectation, enthusiasm, and hope that comes from the Lord.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

The next time you overhear someone question your parenting, comment about the children in your care, or glare, remember, it is not in the opinions of others that your worth is found.

The value of the work you do in helping to restore children is not found in the judgmental looks of others. It is not dependent on the meltdowns in the bread aisle, the raging roars of anger, the woeful sobs of sadness, or the still silence.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

The clock is ticking. You know you have very little time to make a difference. Still yet, you get up each day, ready yourself, put on His armor, and forge onward.

You are His hands and feet when others have chosen to walk away.

You are the calm in the midst of what seems like a storm.

You are steady when no one else has been.

You are the mess-cleaner.

You are the soft place to land.

You are the loving ear who listens.

You are the patient prayer warrior who waits.

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

Your work is not in vain. Yes, there are many…too many…wounded souls who need help, but to the children in your home, your work does not go unnoticed.

It is seen in those miraculous, healing small steps towards wholeness that you witness on a daily basis.

It is felt in the long hugs, or better yet, clinging of the children who once stiffened at your touch.

It is heard in the soft giggles that are starting to visit your home each day.

It is declared in the messages of hope and restoration that are spoken from children who once could not visualize a future.

It is witnessed by watching birth parents, who once battled the fog of addiction, seek clarity about life.

And, 

It is felt in the revival of your own heart that just won’t stop trying to fix hurting children, and working to make a difference in this fractured world.

“Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.” – Mark 9:37

Related Posts:

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child 

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child {letter #2}

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child

Dear (Foster) Momma of a Stranger’s Child,

I talk to you often in the work I do.  I hear you say, “We want to hang in there”, or “We are doing the best we can”, and even, “I don’t know if I am up for this.”  I hear these words through your shaky, weakened voices.  But, what I really hear is you saying, “I don’t want to be another mother who disregards this child”, or “If I could, I would provide this child with every ounce of my being in order to heal him or her.”

You are walking in very heavy shoes.  You are feeling as though your efforts are disregarded, don’t matter, don’t work, and will be forgotten about in the fleeting moments of a day.  I’m here to tell you, they are not disregarded.  They do matter.  They work, and they will never be forgotten.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you are one of the bravest mothers of all.  You’ve ventured into the murky waters of loving a child whose hurts seem like they could go on for an eternity.

You, dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you are a broken-hearted warrior.

You hear from others, “You are doing a good thing”, “I could never do what you do”, or “Your faith is bigger than this.”  While you hear these words of comfort and affirmation, your heart is screaming in that silent, lonely place of wondering if you really are doing a good thing, if you really should be doing what you are doing, and if your faith really is bigger than this.  You, dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, you wonder where God is in all of the hurts put on children in His world.

You…dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child…you long for rest.  You grasp for answers, and you pray for healing.  You get angry.  You wonder why any mother would neglect, be absent, abuse, or completely disregard her child.  You wonder why you are left to pick up the pieces.

You want the Lord to step in, heal, and completely restore the broken child in your arms.  You cry and pray for this so often that it feels as though you can no longer find the words, or muster up the tears.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s child, you were once a broken child, too.  At one time, you were lost in a world of despair.  You needed to be picked up, cleaned off, and captured by a love so strong that the greatest army could not break it.

You were worth it. You were not forgotten.  You were brought out of the darkness, and into the cleansing light.  

YOU were meant to make a difference in the world.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child,  please do not give up.  You are the backbone to so many forgotten children.  You are a living example of an unconditional, incomparable type of love that is a rarity in the world we find ourselves in.

You will get hurt.  You will have many sleepless nights.  You will have some doubts, regrets, and desires for do-overs.  You will be exhausted.  You will get angry.  You may even be ignored.

But….

Your Father in Heaven sees your actions.  He sits with you in the midnight hours when the stranger’s child is raging.  He is with you when you walk out of court rooms or meetings still not knowing what the future holds for the child in your care.  He hears your pleas.  He sings over you in your fretful night’s sleep.

Dear Momma of a Stranger’s Child, do you want to know why you are probably the most important mother in this world?

Perhaps someday, the little one you are loving on, praying for, staying up all night with, advocating for, crying over, taking in or letting go, will grow up to be a Momma (or even a Daddy) of a Stranger’s Child.

Isn’t that worth it all?

Sunny Days and Ice Cream Cones

Working in child welfare for any amount of time forces the rude awakening of the troubles we have in our society and the daily struggles that too many children have in the United States.  There are children who are fatherless, motherless, or both.  Many are taking care of their baby siblings even though they are babies themselves.  Some can tell you how to prepare a crack pipe because they have witnessed it in their home.  Others do not understand boundaries or safety because they have never been kept safe.  Infants are born with the addictions of their mothers; or at least, the exposure of poor choices made while in the womb.  If you do not believe or understand this, then I encourage you to spend a day with a child abuse and neglect investigator.

It is deeply troubling when I hear people dismiss children as if they carry no purpose.  I have written about this before in my post Where is Your Treasure?

ALL children are vital to this world.  ALL children are precious in the eyes of the Lord.  He loves each one as if he or she is His only child.

They teach us to forgive quickly, to slow down, to laugh, and to dream.  They see things through the lens of innocence.  They have great purpose in this world.  Not to sound cliché, but they are the future and the potential fulfillment of all things good in this world.

When I took this picture of my daughter above at a family get together, I could not help but think about what the life of a child should be made of.  Their lives should be filled with love, silliness, warmth, and parents.  Their lives should be enveloped in family, memories, shelter, encouragement, and safety.  They deserve days filled with the warmth of sunshine, the laughter of playmates, and the sweetness of ice cream cones.