The month of May is National Foster Care Month, and we decided to participate in The Temporary Mom’s #FosterChallenge2018. We decided to compile every day of posting into a blog post so that you can learn more about our foster care story all in one place!
Day 1 : Introduce Yourself
May is National Foster Care Month and we are excited to be launching our blog in the next few days! We will be sharing about our experiences with Foster Care, Adoption, Infertility, Parenting and so much more! I have to admit, up until this point I have happily hidden behind our Journeys and Dreams shop name. If you know me, you know that I am a very reserved and private person. As you can imagine, joining the blogging community and exposing our family life to the world gives me all kinds of anxiety, but it also brings a great deal of excitement to begin connecting with like-minded individuals who have journeys similar to ours.
So, who am I? My name is Kami and it’s a pleasure to meet you!
My wonderful husband and I have been fostering for (just short of) 3 years now, and had the opportunity to adopt our first placement a year and a half ago. The age range we focus us on is infants.
I love being crafty and trying new things! I am hobbyist and love pursuing creative outlets – everything from graphic design to crochet, photography to blogging.
I had a blast working in full-time children’s ministry for nearly ten years. In 2016 we made the difficult, but ever rewarding, decision for me to trade in the high-energy, fast-paced, ministry life to stay at home with our newly adopted sweetheart. Being a work-from-home mom has its challenges, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! We have since accepted another foster placement and are looking forward on see where God will continue to lead us on this journey.
I would love to meet you! Tell me a little about yourself in the comments below.
Day 2 : Foster Care Statistics In Your Area
We currently reside in Arizona and have been foster parents here for the last three years. I guarantee if you look up the stats in your current state the numbers will be staggering. On any given day there are over 428,000 children in foster care across the United States. I challenge you to look up your state’s Foster Care stats and learn more about what you can do to help.
Day 3 : Your Story To Foster Care
To be honest, our foster care journey caught us completely by surprise. Foster care and adoption was something that was always in our hearts, but not at the forefront of our minds. The idea of ever fostering or adopting never came up in conversation as we got to know each other during our season of dating… or after marriage… or even when we spoke of starting our family. See more of our story on our NEW BLOG: https://godsizejourney.com/…/05/03/our-story-to-foster-care/
“I could never do it. I would get too attached.”
Truth is… you might. And, you might not. It’s not always easy to attach to your foster kids depending on their age and their trauma, and depending on your journey as a foster parent. And, quite frankly, it can be hard to WANT to attach, knowing they may not be in your care long. And let’s remember, foster parents aren’t the only ones who get attached in the process. We know all too well families of foster parent are involved, too! We see, and we are blessed, to have family alongside us in this journey. Forming healthy bonds with temporary grandchildren, or nieces and nephews, can be intimidating knowing the emotional risk involved. But, can I encourage you?
It’s worth it.
It’s SO worth it.
I read this excerpt from an article before and wrote it down. I hope that it will encourage as much as it did me: “When a caregiver is sensitive to a child’s emotional needs and responds positively, this helps the child to develop a sense of being loved and lovable. This is how children learn that they will be able to rely on others for help in times of trouble later in life. Children are better able to cope with traumatic experiences when their earlier experiences are of being safe and protected…. A child who feels that they are looked after and protected by reliable adults is freed from the fear and anxiety that accompany a sense of being alone or abandoned. The more secure the child feels the more energy and enthusiasm they have to be curious, to learn, to seek understanding and to try to make sense of the world.”
Don’t let your fear of the unknown keep you from engaging with a foster child. Don’t let your fear of attachment be the reason you choose not to foster.
AdoptUSKids.org has a great article with fun and easy-to-implement tips for attachment. Check it out here: https://www.adoptuskids.org/…/receiving…/forming-attachments
What is one thing you would change about Foster Care if you could?
Really, when I think about it, changes could be made left and right. It’s a broken system. And at the same time, I know there is so much improvement that can be made, it’s tough to find a place to start.
Here are just a few things I would like to see change:
#1 – More People Praying
This is something we can all change, right now. We can pray for the professionals working with overflowing caseloads. We can pray that they would remember the children, the human lives, listed on their large stacks of endless papers. We can pray that God would relight the fire and rekindle the passion of the professional who have lost sight of why they chose their career to begin with. We can pray for the children and broken families hurting by all that encompasses foster care. Pray for foster parents who are living through the pain and letdowns with children in their homes. Pray for foster parents as they grieve to say goodbye to a child they’ve bonded with and love as they return home or move on to an adoptive home. Pray for the children. They are most effected and the most vulnerable factor in each foster care story. Pray every day for the kids you know, and the kids you don’t know. Pray for a change, for more families to be called to fostering, that will allow for each child placed in care to have the opportunity to be loved by a family. Not placed in a facility where they will never be heard. Not placed in a group home with too few caseworkers. In a home. Safe, loving homes are where children belong.
#2 – Support
Support for foster parents. Support for bio parents. Support for kids. It is amazing how many resources are available within the foster care system. Some states are absolutely killing it when it comes to support options available. I would love to see more people jumping in to properly execute all the resources available. Again – overflowing caseloads.
#3 – Support from local churches
Before we began fostering I was aware of the foster care system and of a few families who fostered, but honestly I didn’t realize just how large the child abuse epidemic was. We weren’t living in it, or with THE EFFECTS OF IT day in and day out. And since we began fostering I am shocked to see how little many churches do to support their local communities regarding this issue. Bio parents need support. Foster parents need support. It takes a village and for many their village is their church family. I would encourage you – whether you are a foster parent, a relative of a foster family, or have deep compassion for foster care system – to speak with your church. Brainstorm with the church staff. Brainstorm with the individuals involved in your small group. Brainstorm with the children’s ministry leaders. What can your church do to support families? What can your church do to support children with special needs and those going through trauma and special circumstances.
“F” is for the many things we FACE in Foster Care.
FOSTER parents who care for the child, despite all the FEARS they have about doing it wrong, or that a child will leave and FORGET all about their love for them. The FAMILY the child has left behind, who is trying hard to FIX their mishaps and be reunited with their children. The FLEXIBILITY to make it to the many FREQUENT visits, appointments, court hearings, and family and child services. FIGURING it out as we go, and sometimes FAKING it until we make it. The FRUSTRATION we feel with the system and big FEELINGS we see come out in our kids. The FUN times we have and the FAMILY bonding that FORMS over time. The FOCUS caseworkers put into their work knowing the FUTURE of these children’s lives is essentially in their hands and the hands of the state. FIERCELY advocating for the well being of the child(ren) in your care. The FORGIVENESS we must give towards the individuals who caused this trauma to begin with, and towards the individuals who may FAIL us, the kids, and case time and time again. Remembering to FOLLOW Christ through every up and down because your FAITH will be tested at incredible lengths, and only with our Heavenly FATHER will we have the FOUNDATION to give these children the best of us. It’s for the children who FINALLY move out of the system and FIND (or return to) their FOREVER FAMILY.
Birth Families . Bio Families . First Families. Whatever you call them, they are important.
It can be easy to dislike their story, and the trauma they caused their children or their inability to keep the trauma from happening. It can be easy to distrust their abilities as a parent when they put forth no effort to change their lifestyle in order to regain custody of their children. It can be easy for us as foster parents to harbor animosity towards them for the simple fact that we have their child in our care because they were not fit to care for them and keep them safe.
Let us remember that often times first families abuse because they were abused. Many have done what they learned to do. They are stuck in a tragic cycle. And we have the ability to be a light in our child’s family. We can build relationships and aide in the healing process. This isn’t always a possibility, and I realize that. This isn’t always recommended, depending on the case. We can still respect them and speak well of them in front of our (their) children. And most importantly, we can pray for them.
Regardless of the circumstances, let us not forget they are important. Whether we know them or not, whether they’re trying or not, whether we like them or not… they gave life to the children in our care. Their genes make up the little people in our lives. They gave these children their starts, their beginnings in life. They gave them their name. They gave them their heritage. They gave them their looks, and quite possibly their talents. They created their very lives. They are a piece of the child that cannot be taken away. ❤️
It’s true when they say raising kids takes a village – those who have gone before you, those who are experiencing life with you, those who offer to help in any way they can. We are so incredibly blessed to have our family and close friends alongside us in our foster care journey. They have taken in each child just as we have – as part of our family. Temporary or forever, they love them the same. ❤️
And in our world, we are grateful for the gems who have committed to walking this journey with us professionally – pediatricians, neonatal nurses, therapists, attorneys, case managers, and so on. We have had our fair share of run-ins with therapists and caseworkers we’re happy to never see again. But those with knowledge of raising kids with unique histories who genuinely care and share the same goals in raising our kids as we do has been comforting to us as we’re still three years new to the parenting world.
We love our tribe!
Oh man. Where do I begin? I’ll be honest when I say this prompt caught me on a bad day.
A really. bad. day.
And even when I’m about done, and about to my breaking point. I still find it hard to ask for help…
MORE ON THE BLOG: WWW.GODSIZEJOURNEY.COM
+ 10 Ways to Help a Foster Parent
Before I get into some NEEDS, I need to give a huge shout out to my husband. He is at the top of my support list, in more ways than one. And God bless this man who has met one of my biggest needs – a weekly break! I’m a stay-at-home mom and am with my kids 24/7. And I was getting BURNED. OUT. A few months ago we planned for me to get out and have time to myself one evening every single week. Whether I’m grocery shopping ALONE, indulging in a pedicure, working on the #JourneysAndDreams shop at @Starbucks, or aimlessly walking around @Target, this has been a much needed outlet for me. And my husband ventures through dinner time, get-every-last-bit-of-energy-out time, and bath time – during the most-apt-for-meltdowns time – alone, all while being the patient, understanding, not-easily-frazzled father I know he is. Now, that’s the definition of a superhero.
We foster infants, and we absolutely LOVE it! (All the Struggles!)
One thing I’ve learned is that babies attract all kinds of audiences who love to “ooh” and “aah.” And boy do people say the CRAZIEST things!
We had our first placement for just a few weeks and took him to church with us. While I was holding him, a woman (who I don’t think I had ever met, mind you) came up to me and said, “Oooh, you finally had that baby! How sweet! I remember when you were out to here!!” as she held her hands out from her stomach.
Umm… yeah. I promise I wasn’t that large. Ever. But thanks. 😳
When the big moments in life arise, tough or triumphant, this is the song that is on my mind: Hillsong – Desert Song
“And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me, Lord, through the flame”
“All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship”
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Do you have questions about foster care?
Ask us in the comments below!
Here is a list of people we follow on Instagram. Check out their pages if you want to start building your own Foster Care Tribe!
View Part 2 of the Foster Care Challenge Here: