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. 

Review A YA Novel: “These Great Affects”

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“You know when you’re fifteen, you’re at that awkward stage where your parents still think you’re a kid and it seems like they’re prohibiting you from crossing over into adulthood? That was a terrible age. And it was an even worse age for me than others because that was the year I killed my first love. Only, we didn’t fall in love until after that happened.”

Meet Adelle Hitchens, the center of my upcoming young adult book, These Great Affects. She’s an unambitious writer who is a “hardcore introvert” who watches The Walking Dead behind her parents’ backs. Like most adolescents, she thinks love isn’t for her.

Enter Trill Vikus. Self-obsorbed, handsome, unpredictable, and a terrible driver. He’s obsessed with the band Fun. and is convinced that if he ever met Elle Fanning he would propose to her on the spot.

Most love stories are about two people who are completely different from one another. How different can you get than one being alive and the other being…well, not?

Want to be the first to read it? Check out the video below or read on to find out how to score an advanced reader’s copy.

HOW TO READ AN ADVANCED COPY:

Email me at author.andrewtoy@gmail.com and just ask! I’ll put you on a list and when the book is complete I’ll send everyone out a copy and post your video review online, and print your name in the book, and share your blog or any other social media outlet you would want publicized.

Like my Facebook Page for updates on the book and other projects by me!

ATTENTION ALL TEENS AND TEACHERS!

Do you want your name (and/or blog) published in a book?

A chance for a video of you to be posted for thousands to see?

Bragging rights to be the first to read possibly the next big teen book to hit Kindles all over campus?

Here’s the rub.

In several weeks I’ll be completing my new teen book called These Great Affects. Set in Louisville, KY Adelle Hitchens meets Trill Vikus. He’s a bit of a rebel, kind of insensitive, but really cute. Adelle is a “hardcore introvert,” overly sensitive, and struggling to find her voice in this world. Trill is about to change all that. Adelle begins to fall for him, but the romance is cut short when Trill is unexpectedly killed. But that doesn’t stop Adelle from falling more in love with him when he visits her as a ghost and they must figure out how to love without having each other.

Interested?

If so, email me at author.andrewtoy@gmail.com and let me know you want to read it when I’m finished with it. I will then send you a PDF copy and when you’re done reading it, you can do a video review of the book, which I’ll splice together with other reviewers.

(Oh, along with the book, I’ll send you the list of songs to accompany the book which I’m using as a soundtrack to propel the story.)

If you review it, I’ll publish your name in the final version, along with your blog name if you have one, or Youtube channel, or whatever you want publicized.

If you love the book then you can tell all your friends and teachers to read it. If you hate it, well, your name will still go in the book and you’re not obligated to tell anyone about it.

Email me at author.andrewtoy@gmail.com. Also, if you’re a high school or junior high teacher, you might want to consider this as an extra credit activity for your class, so email me and we’ll chat.

Please share this post on Facebook and Twitter and get the word out there to all the teens you know.

Follow me on Facebook to get latest updates on These Great Affects and my other books.

These Great Affects

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Do you like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green? I do. If you didn’t like it or don’t care to read it, this post isn’t for you.

Chances are, when you finished that book, you closed it and cried for an hour. Or your thoughts were, I … can’t … breathe … You may have tweeted something like, “If you text me I can’t talk. I’m too busy de-reddening my eyes.”

Want to know what I thought?

I thought: I’m going to do one better. 

So I began drafting a story idea for a teen book that I hope will be the next Fault in Our Stars.

I’ve got a ways to go, but I think you’re going to eat it up.

I want some help from my readers! I want to know if I’m going down the right road. I’m not ready to reveal all of it except that it’s about a girl who falls in love with a boy. But he’s dead, so…

Open up those floodgates and season John Green’s heart – he’s about to eat it.

Don’t get me wrong! I loved The Fault in Our Stars; John Green totally rocked it. But that’s what’s great about books – great stories begets great stories.

So! If you’re interested in following the progress of my teen book, These Great Affects, start by joining my author Facebook page and I’ll be posting hashtags (#TheseGreatAffects) and you can like or respond or help spread the word about this thing.

And let’s face it. I like the attention; it puts me at my writing best, thus you end up with the best book I can possibly write for my readers.

Okay?

The Best Remedy For Stress In a Marriage

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With Sarabeth being a stay-at-home mom with two incommunicative toddlers and two dogs, and me working on several books and trying to survive a job that isn’t considered my favorite place to work, it was time for a vacation.

The heat was getting high in our house (and not in a good way). I made it a habit to come home and vent about my work or throw open my laptop when my kids needed to see me (or Sarabeth needed help). If our house were Disneyland, we had the Fast Pass to a broken ride.

It was like those scenes in those old movies where the protagonist’s life is spiraling out of control and you see all those heads circling his distraught face and they’re all slandering him and calling him names.

That’s what I felt like.

So it was time for a vacation.

We visited Grandma and Grandpa (the kids’, not ours) in South Florida and one night, they told us they were keeping the kids and insisted we go to a movie.

Best. Night. Ever.

No screaming kids. No worrying about someone wandering off. No having to split our food four ways. No cleaning up a huge mess and singing Baby Beluga just for a potentially brief moment of silence.

It had been two years since we had gone on a date.

And I realized that’s really bad.

Like, really, really bad.

People, we all know you love your kids, but you’re not being Super Parents by not taking a break.

Work a little overtime to scrap up some cash for a sitter and a nice dinner. Especially for couples whose wife works at home all day with the kids.

Seriously men, date your wife! Best advise I’ve been ignoring. My plan is for our date the other night to be the first of many. I can honestly say, after being with Sarabeth my wife, as opposed to Sarabeth our kids’ mom, for a few hours, reminds me who I married and why.

Take her out, and if you do it soon, I recommend seeing The Martian. That movie will show you we can survive anything – even parenthood.

Adoption Update

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Good news. Extraordinary news.

Incredible, exciting, jubilant, fantastic, exquisite news!

We had out first adoption social worker visit last week. Not a foster care social worker, but an ADOPTION worker. We have now officially begun the process of adopting Baby A.!! (The real name of which we’ll reveal at the time of adoption.)

At seventeen and a half months, Baby A. is doing wonderful. She is growing fast and learning even faster. She laughs a lot and sleeps through the night (mostly), and really loves to be tickled. She just recently overcame her fear of the bucket swing at the local park, loves to slide down the biggest and fastest slides, and is always anxious to go outside for a walk or splash around in the bathtub.

She’s also learning to be a really good big sister to Baby B. – whose case is being audited so we can get him into the adoption process quicker.

So when will we get to sign the official adoption papers? The worker said it could take up to ninety days for everything to be finalized, so we’re hoping sometime in September.

That feels like waiting for Christmas 2019. But in the meantime, we’re anxious to have her belong to us officially. Sarabeth and I cannot possibly be any happier to have her in our lives and in our home, as we couldn’t possibly imagine a better daughter.

For more updates, join my Facebook Author Page here.

Enjoy This Mother’s Day Treat

Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy a hilarious Youtube video by my favorite video guys.

And join my Facebook Author page for more stuff!