Friday, April 27, 2012

"Foster Friday" - Panel Introductions

At long last, "Foster Fridays" has returned!!!  I'm so excited to have put together another great group of women who have been touched by Foster/Adopt Land.  I hope that our thoughts, opinions, and experiences can provide a good support system to each other, help newcomers in the foster/adopt world, and maybe help others not directly affected by foster care gain a better understanding of the system and the special needs of the children who mean so much to us.

We have a few more introductions to follow, but I wanted to get this out there so you all can start getting acquainted with our panel.  If you are a foster/adopt parent and/or family member and would like to participate as a panel member, please contact me with an introductory post (A little about yourself and family. Why you decided to foster/adopt. Who you've foster/adopted. Ultimate foster/adopt goals. A link to your blog. etc. as well as a picture that I can post with each of your entries.).  The invitation is always open!  :-)


Andrea - I am Andrea.  My husband is John.  We married young and had all three of our boys by age 24.  We homeschool our boys.  Somewhere after our move I began to notice foster care more and more.  It was always on my mind.  I wanted a daughter.  We didn't want to adopt out of the country for various reasons.
 
So we looked into foster are.  We were approved in August 2009.  We received our first "call" 9 days later.  After insisting we would take girls only, a sweet baby boy arrived.  We were in love.  J stayed with us from 12 weeks old to 10 months old.  Five weeks later our beautiful baby girl arrived.  A stayed from 8 months to 14 months.  After a bot with anxiety, we took 6 months off of foster care.
 
We planned to adopt straight from the system.  I sent out 33 letters/bio with a family photo.  I stalked adoptuskids.com.  Nothing.  We didn't hear a single thing.  So we opened the house back up and less than a month we received a call at 9pm for a one month old boy.  He arrived at 1am and stayed from 35 days old to the day before his first birthday.  His case was tragic.  His sister was nearly dead when they found her.  He was to go with grandparents.  He left.  We then accepted our fourth placement.  A special needs little girl.  Ladybug has been with us for about five weeks.  She's 21 months old.  After M had been gone for 2 weeks, I called his SW to check on a court hearing and she asked if he could come back.  The placement had fallen apart.  So now he's home!  We are now a family of 5 children.  4 boys and 1 girl.  I am praying earnestly that both of our loves stay and join our family forever.
 
I blog about my foster care and homeschool journey at www.live-with-laughter.blogspot.com.
 
 
 
 
CarlyI am Carly and my husband and I have been married for over ten years. We have one bio son who is 8 years old. We struggled with infertility and after several rounds of IVF and multiple miscarriages we decided to foster and hopefully adopt. Our plan had always been to eventually adopt as both of us had been touched by adoption as kids. I have a sister who was adopted as a newborn when I was 18 years old.
We decided to foster for several different reasons, but mostly cause we knew we loved kids and wanted to make an impact. We were licensed in October 2009. Our first placement was Miss M at 5 1/2 months in January 2010. She was a "likely" adoption placement and we adopted her in August 2010 right after she turned 1. It was a whirlwind, but such a blessing. We then took a short break. I finally convinced my husband that we should foster again and he agreed after we were told it would be a long wait. On January 26th I sent a note to the SW we were ready again and on January 31st we got a call about a 3 month old baby girl. That was at 10 am on a Monday and she was in our arms at 3:00 pm. Baby Charlie's bio-mom and bio-dad relinquished to us in November 2011. We are in process of learning the ropes on open adoption. Our son loves being a big brother but has requested a boy next time. We are still undecided on whether we will continue to foster again. We are on hold with the state due to Charlie's pending adoption. Our SW really wants us to "really experience fostering", so we will see.
 
Follow Carly's journey at http://candcfamily.blogspot.com/
 
 
 
Casey - I'm a single Mom and Foster Parent, a home make, a teacher, a fixer, a planner, a pet caretaker, a family member, and most recently, a blogger.  I'm not independently wealthy, have never been married and do not receive child support.  I have worked diligently and been faithful to God for all of our provisions.  I became a mother to Kayla at twenty and then again to Maiya at twenty-six.  I bought my first house at age 32 as a single mom and am now living in our second home.  I've worked three jobs at a time to support my children, and then I was blessed with better opportunities.  I became a district manager, and VP of sale which required doing international travel.  I am who I am today because of my past experiences, my drive, and last but certainly not the least, my God.
 
I always knew I had a heart for children and that somehow, in some way, I would make a difference in the lives of others. Perhaps it started with the seed of love that was planted inside my heart by my fostering mom when I was 9, and living in Dallas, Tx. Doniene and her husband taught me what a healthy family looked like, and demonstrated how people can choose to communicate in a respectful, loving way. I learned through her examples, that children are more precious than gems and how I, Casey, was more precious than all the gold in King Tut's Tomb.  My foster mom taught me through her actions, that my vision of self worth had been wrong.  She showed me consistently that I was "worth it", that I was kind and should expect to be treated kindly, and that I was loving and by birthright, I deserved to be loved.  I learned from her examples, to believe that I was a child that deserved to do more then just survive my circumstances.

I've had the privilege of fostering four children. The first three were done through an arrangement with the bio parents and myself, and did not involve an agency. The kids I took in needed help immediately and I was in a position to offer a safe, nurturing environment. Honestly, at that time, I had no idea there was an agency that assisted with these things. Each child stayed with me up to a year and made enormous progress. I knew they were better off for having been in my home and I also knew I was better off for having cared for them.
 
My fourth child is with me still. He’s been with me since 2 ½ months old. He’s now seven. He’s had so many struggles, more that I could have imagined when I first brought him home with me. He’s special needs and requires a lot of supports in order to remain in a home setting. He has psychological and physical issues that we work with daily.

I am now awaiting another addition to the Everly household.  We don't know who or when he/she is coming, but we will be ready.  I am worn down, and then built up.  I am exhausted, then renewed.  I am beat within an inch of survival and then completely restored.  I am a foster mom.

Follow Casey at http://asinglefostermomsidary.blogspot.com


Cherub Mamma - I’m Cherub Mamma...a 40 year old mamma to many via marriage, biology, adoption, fostering and just plain loving those around me. I blog (somewhat) anonymously due to regulations with my licensing agency. Technically I’m not supposed to write about fostering on any social media. However, I’ve been open enough to reveal that I live in DEEP South Texas (literally ON the border of Mexico). I’m originally from the Midwest so I’m something like a fish out of water down here.

Mr. Amazing and I have been married for 18 years. He has one (grown) daughter that lives in Colorado. Together we have three more children in our core family. Our biological bookends are 15 and 7 years old. In the middle is 8 year old Cherub 2. We adopted Cherub 2 at birth through the foster care system in Iowa. It’s a unique story that you can look up on my blog (cherubmamma.blogspot.com) if you’re interested.

We started fostering in Iowa for purely altruistic reasons. Our goal was not to adopt but to help families in need. When we got the call about Cherub 2 though I didn’t think twice when they said it was a foster to adopt situation. While fostering in Iowa for just over 2 years we adopted Cherub 2, took care of a beautiful 2 year old boy for six months and did respite multiple times.

After moving all over the country for 6 years due to Mr. Amazing’s job we finally settled down again. God saw fit to put us in a giant house with five bedrooms. It didn’t seem right to have so much extra space so we went about the process of getting verified in Texas. We’ve been fostering here since the fall of 2010.

I can’t say that I have any “goals” with fostering other than just loving on the cherubs when they’re with us.  We currently have three foster children. Pumpkin has been in our family for 16 months. Pumpkin is 6 years old and has severe medical needs. She is extremely delayed and functions around the age of 18-24 months. She has opened my eyes to the world of special-needs parenting to say the least! Her case is complicated but we’re praying that she will eventually be placed with a loving aunt and uncle.

The other two cherubs with us right now are biological siblings. Dude is 3 years old and Dolly is 4. They’ve been in our family since June of last year. Again, their case is complicated (as I think every single foster case ends up being). I have no idea what to expect. We would LOVE for them to become permanent members of our family (as their mom is not a candidate for reunification). But there is a paternal grandma who is somewhat interested in the children. (The key word is somewhat for sure!!) It’s all going to be up to the courts!

Fostering is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever experienced. The rules are ridiculous. The expectations are over the top. And the job is definitely 24/7. But it’s incredibly rewarding. I am privileged to have the opportunity to love on the children that have come in our home. And even though I say, “I’m done. I’m done. I’m done.” almost daily – I wouldn’t change a thing. Being a foster family has been a wonderful blessing!

Follow Cherub Mamma at http://cherubmamma.blogspot.com


 

Dani - I'm 44 years old and my partner T is 49, and we are just starting out.  We either have the SLOWEST SW in the history of SW's.. or we are being discriminated against. (I am half of a lesbian couple.)  The SW was the first one to bring that word up ("I sure hope you don't think we're discriminating against you...").  I later brought it up to her, and she denied it ("It's against the law for us to discriminate...")  It's been a year since classes finished.  Here is my timeline so far.
 
April 20, 2011 - ended classes
July 1 - turned in final paperwork
July 14 - first home study (were told we'd be licensed by Sept 1)
September 14 - second home study (were told we'd be done in a few days)
February 17 - verbally certified
February 24 - THIRD home study (were once again told we'd be done in a few days)
April 20, 2012 - 1 year since classes ended, still not certified
 
We decided to get into foster care because I always wanted a bunch of kids, so fostering is kinda something I had always thought about.  T's parents were foster parents so she knew all about it.  T also worked in group homes with FCs for years. Her whole family worked in group homes and worked with helping kids, so it was just a natural for her to keep it going once she could no longer work in group homes.  We plan on fostering younger ones for now (especially sib groups and special needs youngsters), but ultimately want to foster teens ("when we grow up").
 
As far as goals, right now they are pretty simple and probably unrealistic.  We really do just want to love on some kids and try to help them have a better life.  We are foster/adopt, but the adopt part is really only an added thing.  Our ultimate goal is not adoption, but if a situation came up and a child needed a forever home, we'd be willing.
 
 
 
Debbie - My husband and I adopted our daughter via domestic adoption in 2008 when she was 16 days old. We have an open adoption with her biological mom and family. We have also stayed in touch with the interim foster parents who cared for her for her first 16 days. That family and having an open adoption lead us to fostering. We do want to adopt when the right child is found but we will foster until that child comes.

We were licensed Oct 2011 and our first placement was in our home within 2 weeks. We had 6 yr old M and her 20 month old sister L for 20 weeks. We moved them in with their Grandpa March 9, 2012. We still have contact with them; phone calls and visits at the moment.

Follow Debbie's foster/adopt journey at:  http://alwaysandforeverfamily.blogspot.com/



Diane – I am a single foster and adoptive mom currently raising five children. I became a foster parent during a transitional period in my life, hoping to help a few children. Fostering became a passion and a calling. Eighteen years later, I have been mom to 18 foster children (ages 2 days to 5 years) and have provided respite for numerous others.

I have adopted three of my foster children (now ages 13, 9, and 2) and am in the process of adopting a fourth (now 3 months) who is the bio sibling of my two year old. For more than four years, I also pick up a former foster daughter (now age 9) almost every weekend and for most school breaks. She is counted as part of our family. I have been lucky to remain in contact with most of my foster children for at least several months after they left my home.
 
I work in softward engineering a little less than full time and will complete law school by the end of the year.  I've become an expert in juggling responsibilities, time management, efficiency, and prioritization.  I really enjoy helping new foster parents navigate the system.  What the future holds for me is uncertain, but my heart always has room for another child to love!
 
 
 
 
 
Heather - Hi! My name is Heather, the "Hairy Hubby" and I have been foster parents for 2.5 years. We have had 11 kids in our home and have an adoption date for our current three "Minions" the beginning of June. The Hairy Hubby and I decided we wanted to Foster prior to marriage. After a year of being married we found out we were lacking the ingredients to create children and decided it would be the perfect time to start the process of being foster parents. We fostered knowing the goal was getting the kids home but were also VERY okay with adoption being a side effect. We currently accept kids 0-18 but the Hairy Hubby has told me I am no longer allowed to take infants.
My blog can be found at http://bhroberts.blogspot.com/ I am SUPER excited to be a part of Foster Fridays!


Joy - My name is Joy and I blog at Small Town Joy. My husband, Barry, and I live in a small town in South Carolina. Our family is made up of three children, Jordan:14, Riley: 11 and our foster baby girl Sweet Potato Pie: 17 months old. Our journey into foster care began within our first year of marriage. We worked in a children's home as relief workers that gave the main house staff a weekend off. During the weekends we moved into the cottage of eight foster children and played the role of parents to eight rambunctious children. Eventually Jordan came along and we became full-time house parents to a house full of teenage girls. This part of the journey spanned over almost six years. During that time, Riley was born. We took a break and went back to work in the "real world" for a while once Riley started kindergarten.

In 2007 we opened our own home to foster care through our local county agency. We were misled as our intentions were to adopt, and the licensing worker continued to falsify information intentionally to get us licensed in order to meet her quota. Nonetheless, we were licensed. Our first placement was a sibling group placed in our home from another county. This brother and sister combo were on their third placement at the ages of 20 months and 9 months. Their arrival to our home as chaotic, but after three weeks we had all settled into a groove and had began to bond. We were told these children were not up for adoption, and of course, we still believed we were licensed to adopt. On Thursday of week four I received a call late in the afternoon from their social worker saying she would be by the next day to pick up the children. They were moving to their fourth placement. We did as much work as we could in 24 hours, but the children were removed despite our efforts. We learned the following week that our county "kicked them out" of our home because they were an out-of-county placement. These children lost yet another foster home while our home spent the next six months empty. About a week after they left I received a call from their adoption worker. She was just calling to check on them. She was unaware they had been moved to another foster home and was stunned to find out we were told that they were not up for adoption because, in fact, they were. It was then that we learned we were not actually licensed to adopt, only to foster, and that we had been fed yet another lie.
 
We have learned in the last two years that the children have now been adopted, and actually ended up with another sibling from their birth mom as well. Their fourth placement was their final placement, but it never had to be that way.

After they left we contacted the President of our state foster parent association about our issues. As it turned out, we were not the first to make a complaint. He met with the local and state level heads and nothing was ever resolved. Six months after the children were removed from our home, we closed our foster home. The county lost almost all of their foster parents over the next few months due to their selfish manipulation of their foster homes. They still struggle to maintain foster parents to this day.
 
During 2008/2009 we were approached by an individual with an opportunity to adopt a two year old girl. After months of being manipulated and misled on several occasions I did some investigative work on my own to find that most of the information we were being fed were lies. We had to make the decision to walk away. It was a difficult choice, but it was the right one.

In July 2010 we felt the urge to pursue adoption on our own. After much prayer, we were led to apply to be foster parents through a local Christian agency that serves the state foster care system. In November 2010 we received our state license and one week later our call came in. Our sweet girl had been born, and she needed a home. No placement is a guarantee for adoption, but the request for this child was to be placed with a family who would be willing to adopt her if she did come up for adoption. It was a probable case. She is now 17 months old. Her case is a mess, and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It is not reasonable in the minds of any professional involved that she return to her biological  family. But God, He knows. He hears our prayers. He knows our girl and His plans for her. She has been such a blessing to us. She has brought back giggles and laughter into our lives. She filled that spot that was empty and is very much a part of our family. We continue to pray that Pie will be ours forever. We are approved to adopt. We eagerly await the day when we can make it official.
 
You can read about our journey in foster care and about our son Riley's journey with an eye disease on my blog.





Kylee - My exposure to foster care began at the age of seven, when my parents made the decision to become licensed foster parents. With four biological children, my parents entered into this journey in October of 2000 with no intention of adopting, but simply looking for a practical, tangible, ministry that we could be involved in as a family. Those years of having babies and toddlers come through our home, and learning to care for abused and neglected children were some of the most pivotal, challenging, and vital years of my childhood.

While my parents were not seeking adoption, God had different plans for us; by His grace, he has allowed us to be a forever family to not one child, or two, or three...but to FOUR of the worlds greatest kids! So now here I sit, 19-years-old and big sister to four incredible (often times still-hurting), kids. They are currently 11, 10, 7, and 4, and have all come from different backgrounds and pasts.

I am currently in college and am pursuing a degree in social work, with hopes of staying involved in the foster care/adoption community in some form or fashion. I am passionate about sharing my experience of growing up with foster siblings, chronicling my journey of learning how to be a big sister to children from “hard places”, as well as raising awareness about the orphan crisis. I am also addicted to blogging, and can hardly write fast enough to keep up with this crazy adventure my family is on. You can follow my thoughts on adoption, read stories of bonding and attachment, and listen to me complain about college cafeterias and community bathrooms at learningtoabandon.blogspot.com

MamaP - Hey, y'all! I'm MamaP, best friend and wife of 9 years to PapaP. Foster care has been a dream of mine since I was 12 and was friends with a foster-adopt family of 27. We discussed and agreed upon it before getting married, but as an "afterthought" to the 3 boys and 1 girl we would have. God has a sense of humor, however, and blessed us with infertility. One biological son, nine foster placements, and two out-of-state foster care pre-adoptive placements later, we've realized that God's plans for us are far more rich and deep than anything we could dream up ourselves.


*** Sidenote from Tammy (aka. "Mimi")  - MamaP also has quite the sense of humor as her initial bio was:  "I'm MamaP. I hate writing bios."  I wasn't going to let her get away with that though.  I'm one tough moderator!  Although I did allow the awesome "shadow person" picture. ;-)


Marie (a.k.a Mie) -  I am the primary blogger at LettingGoofMie where I writes about my journey through life as a wife, mama, foster mama, employee in corporate America, and Ph.D. student.  I've given birth to a boy, adopted a girl, and along my husband have fostered 9 other children in 2 years. Life has taught me that it can be more than I ever imagined, if I'd only learn to let go of myself and trust my Creator...





Melissa -  My husband and I started fostering about 2 1/2 years ago.  Previous to fostering we adopted domestically (3 days old) and internationally (1 yr old).  They were both boys.  We decided to foster and got our first placement rather quickly!  He was 5 months old and on March 16th, 2012 he became our "official" 3rd son! He is almost 3 yrs old now.   In Jan of 2011 we decided to open our home to another placement.  He was 3 days old and brand spankin' new straight from the hospital!  He is now 14 months old and still in our care :)
 
Never did we think that this would be our fostering journey!  Just 2 placements in 2+ years!?  We currently are open to doing respite and short-term placements and are praying about opening our home up again for another permanent placement.  The ones we get don't ever seem to leave (thank you God!) so we are working things out logistically.  :)  We are also a homeschooling family so that keeps things busy with an 8 yo, 6 yo, 2 yo, and 14 months!
 
I love sharing our journey on our foster care blog www.ourfostercarejourney.blogspot.com and sharing all those little things that no one ever tells you about until you are in the trenches!
 
 
And last, but not least...  ;-)


aka. Mimi - That would be me!  Single lady with an obnoxiously-spoiled cat, daughter, sister, friend, cool aunt, honorary "mom", honorary "grandma", bio mom to none, but foster mom (aka. "Mimi") to six kiddos and counting over the past 3 1/2 years...

After struggling with endometriosis for most of my adult life, I made the decision to have a hysterectomy at the age of 30.  Finally pain-free after 12 years, I knew that I had made the best decision possible even though it meant that I would never be able to carry a child of my own.  I spent the next 4 years trying to find a way to become the mom that I always wanted to be.

The idea of fostering always terrified me.  I couldn't bear thought of losing a child who I loved as my own, but this little voice kept telling me that this was something that I could do to make a difference.  I went into foster care after many, many prayerful years.  I finally began to trust that God wouldn't have planted this seed in my heart only to leave me hurting and devastated, so I threw myself into loving these kids with my whole heart.  I'm not sure if I can say that I've ever fully felt God's presence until I began this journey.  But I can feel the change within me as more and more time goes on, and I know that can only be His promise to heal the hurt as I love these kids and let them go.  With each child who comes into and out of my life, I've found that I have a stronger sense of peace, a more compassionate heart, and a faith that I had always HOPED to have, but never really knew that I could find.

One thing I do know is that God is healing my heart beyond what I had ever hoped or thought possible.  Yes, it does hurt when my children leave my home and my arms, but His promise to heal that hurt has proven true time and time again.  And after every healing, I find myself more and more excited and filled with the anticipation of loving another one of these children who so desperately need me for however long I'm blessed to have them in my life.

Most days I think "I Must Be Trippin'" when I talk about all of the craziness that is Foster/Adopt Land in one breath, and how much I LOVE MY LIFE in the next. Because I DO love my life, and I wouldn't change a thing.




3 comments:

aka. "Mimi" said...

You must all please forgive the crazy formatting. Blogger's HTML went all whompy on me, and I'm not tech savvy enough to try to fix it. ;-)

Mama P said...

Blogger is KILLING me with the format! It wont let any of my posts be spaced.

So nice to "meet" some new mamas that weren't on my blog roll already! <3

Barnicles said...

Love this old post :) thank you. Can't wait to read all these incredible blogs

Barnicles

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