Why Our Foster Son is No Longer with Us

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Is the Foster Care System Perfect?

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Sarabeth and I were extremely lucky with our daughter when she was our foster daughter. (The picture is her at the zoo a few months ago.) Other than the tedious waiting, everything went smoothly from the day we brought her home from the hospital to the day we brought her to the courthouse to sign the official adoption papers, one of the happiest days of my life (even happier than the day Pixar Animation Studios wrote me a personal email).

Stupidly (and luckily for us), no friends or relatives sought her out. She had no visitations whatsoever.

But what about the people who have their foster kids taken away from them because the states deem it best to return them to their parents who had their kids taken away from them in the first place? (Whether it be for abuse, financial loss, drugs, etc.)

One thing that floors me is the states’ insistence on reunifying these broken children and babies with their (often) undeserving parents.

The state values reunification over anything else, and, often above the child’s own safety and wellbeing.

Think about it. Foster parents go through rigorous background checks, take many hours of classes and training programs, they’ve proven that they’re financially and mentally stable, yet the state insists, “We will do EVERYTHING in our power to reunify the kids with their parents if they show even just a sliver of change in their habits and behavior.”

Thus violating their own motto (at least this is our state’s): “Moves hurt kids.”

I’m not complaining about the system. Right now, I’m just questioning it. I’m questioning if the whole foster care system is even operating as smoothly as it could be. Are America’s foster children being given the fairness and safety they deserve?

Are foster parents treated fairly when they form a bond and connection with the kids given to their care, provide a safe and loving roof over their head, and then the state rips them apart at a moment’s notice?

Are social workers being treated fair? Overworked, underpaid, overwhelmed.

If you’re a foster parent or know of any, what are your thoughts about the system? Where would you like to see improvement? Or is it as good as it could be? Share your thoughts below.

Follow me on Twitter or Facebook to read the email Pixar wrote me! Also, need an editor for your manuscript? Consider me. 

Returning the Gift

Please welcome Greg and Jackie. (Names have been changed by request.) Jackie was adopted as a child and when she married she decided to return the favor to another boy who needed a home. Here is their story:
I [Jackie] was adopted at birth, I only know that my Mother was unwed, didn’t feel she could care for me.  My … father left the scene shortly after the pregnancy was announced.  I have names, but not searched more than cursorily on line.  Of course I am grateful for my adoptive parents, there was some hurt and anger I had to deal with, more as an adult than a child.  I alluded to some attachment issues, (not feeling like a member of my family) but overcame that through therapy, which I choose to do as an adult.
My husband and I met and married years before we fostered, it was actually a TV special in the early 90’s about foster-parenting that piqued our interest, we had a large farmhouse, extra space, and both simultaneously came to the same decision(although he would never admit it, it was [definitely the] Holy Spirit.  I never really thought about the connection to Christ/adoption until you – [AdoptingJames] – mentioned it, but [definitely] do recognize Jesus’ fingerprints in Chris coming into our lives.  Only completely loving him unconditionally will ever break through his “issues” he lives in such a place of shame- we have not successfully overcome that yet- yes, at times, but then he goes back into shame again, and withdraws (common [behavior] for adoptive kids – they expect rejection).
 Here’s how the adoption itself went down:
[It’s] pretty straight [forward], we became foster parents, went through the classes, and were not really in the “market” to adopt, but fell in love with our foster son Cole, so after talking it over with his social worker, and asking him if he wanted us to adopt him, we did.  We had him in our home for about a year before we decided to see if he was interested, and from the time he said yes, to his adoption was about 8 months.  He came at age 10, we asked him at 11, and he was almost 12 before all was said and done.  There are so many children languishing in foster-care, who need good parents.  I won’t lie to you, parenting Cole has been a challenge, he is 25 now, and still [making] not great decisions, he is spotty at keeping in touch with us, but all of his counselors over the years have confirmed for us that he [probably] would have committed suicide if he hadn’t been adopted, and I def feel like God will work in his life in the very near future, I feel like I have a promise there.  So in the meantime, we keep financial boundaries, help occasionally where we can, and when he is in touch, offer as much emotional support as we can, and pray.
Do you have any advise for people who are thinking about adopting, or are in the process right now?
The best advice I can give is to TAKE THE FOSTER PARENTING/ADOPTIVE PARENT CLASSES usually taught by your state foster/adoption services, it was “Family Services” in Kentucky.  Great people, great class.  It prepared us better than anything could have- ever.  THEN, talk to parents who are adoptive parents, for support.  It is a tough job, but worth it, and support is worth it’s weight in gold.  Other than that, pray, cry when you have to, and practice love, those are the best suggestions I can give.  I have no ideas about foreign adoption, I’m sure it is very different.
Check out their blog: www.hearinggodtoday.wordpress.com
If you have been affected by adoption in any way, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us your story at adoptingjames@aol.com. Maybe your story will inspire others…

From Foster Care to Adoption

Meet Ryan and Sara. When you’re done reading about their journey,  be sure to check out their blog here. Ryan is a professional photographer. Check out his site here. In order to abide by certain privacy rules, we will refer to their son as “D.”

Even before they got married, Ryan and Sara always knew that they would adopt. Being members of a church that advocates adoption really helped in their journey as they walked alongside other couples going through the same process. But it wasn’t until 18 months into their marriage that they realized they weren’t at the point where their home would be ready to bring in an adopted child, for adoption had just merely an idea until this point. And then an earthquake struck Haiti:

“We were part of a small group of families in our town that were considering opening our homes up to amputee children coming to the States on a medical visa. We prayed hard about this crazy idea, and decided that we would do what we needed to do to follow the Lord with this and if He didn’t want it to happen, He would shut the door. For whatever reason, it wasn’t in the Lord’s plan for that to happen. But, through that process we realized that we were ready to open our home up to foster children here in the States, and we began the process of getting licensed.”

Ryan and Sara became licensed to foster children removed by the Child Protective Service in Texas.

“Once we were licensed, we literally spent several weeks on high alert waiting for a phone call that would change our lives. We received that phone call one afternoon, and within a few hours, he was at our doorstep. Other than his name, age, and race, we knew nothing about him.”

The first three months of D living with them were difficult because he missed his birth family. But making the change from fostering to adoption played a big role on their morale.

“The moment we officially moved from fostering into the adoption side of things was also a really great experience. Being able to breathe out and realize that he really would be ours forever… no more worrying about a random relative stepping into the picture.”

They are currently working with a faith-based adoption/foster care agency. It’s not always the case that their journey has been smooth so far, so they consider themselves extremely blessed.

Here are a few more questions I asked Ryan and Sara that they were gracious enough to respond to:

Do you find that you understand the Gospel any more than you did prior to going through the adoption process? 

[laughs] This is a massive understatement!! It is a truly amazing picture of how God pursues us and rescues us from our dispair and wraps us in his arms and calls us His own. I think that we both see our own relationship with the Lord in a completely different light since D walked into our lives. Our journey has also been a very sanctifying proces for us. We have had to come face-to-face with things that were buried deep inside our souls and surrender them to the Lord. We are absolutely still on this journey… finding things to uncover constantly. So, I would say that even more than seeing the gospel through the analogy of adoption, we have just learned to cling to the hope of the gospel in our lives and for D way more than we ever did before.

Where are you in the process right now? How can we pray for you? Is there anything anyone can do for you?

We are incredibly close to attaching our last name to his first! We are hopeful that sometime this May, we will be able to finalize adoption and really begin the journey with him. We would covet prayers for a speedy legal process. We are praying for our son to be able to process all of this as well as a 6 year old possibly can. There is still grief and sadness in not being able to see the family he knew and loved for 5 years. There are also plenty of layers that need to be peeled back in his soul in order to find healing… please pray with us for that process.

Any advice for adopt-ers or couples on the fence? 

The best way to begin your journey through adoption is to simply rid your mind of any ideas you have about how it will go. Be ready for an emotional roller coaster. Expect to be surprised by things. Prepare to have nights where you cry with your spouse and nights where you feel on top of the world. Understand that the journey rarely feels like you’re living in a movie where everything ends up neat and tidy. There will be times when you feel like all the support you thought you had just isn’t there in the moment. There will be times when random people come up to you and say the most inconsiderate things and you just want to slap them and move on. We have learned to have grace with people in our lives that we did not previously have. As we’ve clung to grace in our own mess ups, we’ve been able to extend it to others that may be ignorant about things regarding adoption.

If you’re on the fence about adoption, I would encourage you to simply talk to the Lord about it. We believe that God’s heart is for His church take in the orphan and love them as their own. Even in the hardest times for us, we have clung to the fact that we are incredibly close to God’s heart in this journey. He has His hand on the orphan and is near to them, and when we are close to them and intertwined in their story, we can be sure that we will find God close by. The statistics in our nation alone are quite staggering. The need is there. As the people of God, we need to ask ourselves how our faith is being put into action. Will we only support the cause of the fatherless with our words, or will we radically reorient our lives to care for them?

Remember to check out their blog here. Ryan is a professional photographer. Check out his site here.

If you would like your adoption story to be shared, please email me at adoptingjames@aol.com.

China’s Lost Girls

I would highly encourage all of you to watch this 35 minute video concerning the desperate needs little girls in China have. Think about what you can do to help.

http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/chinas_lost_girls