Inspiration and Support for Foster-Adoption Parents

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Hearing the Voice of Zoe Girl Sing!

One of the toughest things we have encountered as foster parents is the constant statement, “I want to go home with mommy.” The endless questioning of, “When is mommy coming?” It’s hard being constantly reminded that these children are in great suffering. A warning: You can get to the point of feeling irritated and frustrated toward the child at what may seem like constant nagging, but remember that they are children. Check yourself constantly and bring it back to their hurt. This has been the case for the past couple of nights at our home.

Then came Friday night. For the first time since placement, Zoe Girl (ZG) did not continue asking about mommy or going home. She asked only once and seemed satisfied with our answer. We left the room and the door ajar. A couple of minutes later, to our surprise, he hear ZG singing… I walked over the door and heard her singing the following: “ZG and ZB going to mommy home… la la la la la… we gonna sing and dance… la la la la la…”

There were some mixed feelings as we heard her sing. We were amused to hear her sing for the first time.  Sad for the words we hear hearing. We were witnessing the innocence of a child and our heart was broken at the thought that something like this is going on for her and so many other children. Another part of us was also comforted to know that she was using her inner coping resources to soothe herself to sleep.

It’s moments like these that give meaning to being a foster parent. It’s seeing with your own eyes, that your home brings comfort and safety to a child in need. Now, we have good days and then… well, not so good days, but on those not so good days, we think back on nights like this and we feel refreshed.  We thank the Lord for His daily strength and wisdom with these little ones. We depend on God for continued guidance and discernment to make the best decisions for the sake of these children. We know he will see us through.

We Want to Hear from You! – What are some of the nightly struggles you have had with your little ones? What did you do to help the child cope?

First Visitation with Biological Mother

Yesterday was our first visitation with the children’s mother. We arrived at 9am. Their mother does not speak English, so I waited for the social worker to arrive. The children were obviously thrilled. I left once the social worker got there, so I did not get to see their interactions.

When I arrived at 11am,  they were already getting ready to leave. Here is where the tough part began. Their mother had several bags with clothes and food to give me. I took them and thanked her. She did not make eye contact with me – I think it’s cultural. I could see the worry in her eyes. I stepped back and allowed her to take the lead with her children. I just watched.

Once near the car, the children began to cry. She strapped them in. I suggested she give them their blanket. I asked the social worker to please ask her if she had brought a picture of her. He said she hadn’t. So, I asked if she would allow me take one with my camera. She nodded yes.

I got in the car and began driving home. ZG began to say, “I want to go home to mommy, not your home.” It was very difficult being in the car without my best friend (my hubby). I acknowledged her feelings and told her I was very sorry she was sad. I put some relaxation music I had played for them at night to help relieve some of the tension. This may seem as if it were not matter, but I think it helped. I stayed quiet and made eye contact through the rear view mirror. On the red lights, I would make contact by touching their little legs.

When we arrived home, they were still crying. I accompanied them to the living room. Gave them their blankets and sat down next to them. ZG began to play with her Barbie. ZB stopped crying once he saw our dog, Sugar. This really helped to distract them. After this, it was calm. I truly felt the peace of God as soon as I walked into our home. That was my prayer as I drove home – and the Lord answered!

The night was not as bad as I expected. ZG was the one that began to cry and ask for mommy, but that’s not new. She asks for her everyday. My script has been, “You are sad. I know you miss your mommy sweetie. I’m so sorry.” I’ve learned that caressing them is very important. Sometimes they push me away. I just validate their anger. I tell them it’s okay to be angry, but not okay to hit.

My husband gave me a break last night. When ZG woke up crying, he went to assist her. I’m so glad I have my partner in this. Overall, I think things went fairly well. We both talked about the little details of the visitation and truly empathize with their mother. Our prayer is that she get the resources to get her life back on track and that there may be reunification. Obviously it is always God’s will, but we hope for the sake of these little ones that they may go back to mommy.

We Want to Hear from You! – What was your first visitation like? What did you do to help the children cope?

Our First Week as Foster Parents

The last couple of days have been very educational. Zoe Girl (ZG) was picked up by Children’s Services at about 8:30am this Thursday. She returned safely at 6pm. To our surprise, we found out, two days later by talking to county social worker that there was a mix up and she never entered the courtroom. More importantly, because she’s less than 5 yrs. old, she should not have even been there. At least that’s the information the social worker gave to us. Needless to say, this was very frustrating.

Friday/Saturday: We had conversations with the social worker to schedule the first visitation with biological mother. There’s a lot of mixed emotions present for us right now; joy for the children to see their mother, but also concern about their reaction of not being able to go home. ZG asks daily for mommy and wanting to go home. We helped ZG with this a bit by having her write a letter (draw) to her mommy. We think it’s important to validate her feelings, but not giving too much hope that she will go back home because we don’t know when or if she will go back to mommy.

Highlights of the week: The children finally began eating hardy meals. We introduced them to family and friends. They seemed to adjust very well. We also took them to church. Zoe Boy still needs more time to adapt, but ZG did very well in her class.

We Want to Hear from You! – If this brings back memories for you, we would like it if you would share your experience.

Rough Night

Last night was a bit rough. ZG began asking for her mommy. Then, ZB began pouting and then… cried inconsolably. It can feel so overwhelming to not really know yourself what’s going on. Can’t imagine what it’s like for them. All I could do was tell her that her mommy was with the Dr. trying to get better. That I did not know more. That I was so sorry she could not be home. I held ZB till he fell asleep then laid him down next to his sister. He then wanted to leave the light on, so I left the hallway ones on. I tried going to sleep, but just couldn’t.

Around 4am, ZB wakes up… he turned the lights on. I go to check on him, thinking he may wake up ZG, but she was sound asleep. So, I held him again, laid him to bed and then he slept all the way through 8:30! ZG woke up till 9:30! Overall, I would say things went well… at least for me.

Today, our case manager from Olive Crest (OC) came. They both were very calm and playful. ZG was playing with the cards that Child Share (SC) gave her the day before. I’m so grateful for everyone involved thus far. SC has been very supportive and the gift baskets for the kids were a nice touch. OC… well, I love this organization. These individuals truly care for our children.

Okay, so after our case manager left, we went to the park. It was so much fun. ZB’s personality was coming out just a bit more. One thing I know – he likes to play ball! ZG is a little monkey J She loves the monkey bars… loves to approach other kids and loves to wave. I almost wonder what went so wrong with their mother? She’s done good things for sure. Yet, so many questions are still unanswered.

My husband got a call from children’s services that they want ZG to be at court hearing tomorrow. I am not happy about that. I sure hope they don’t put her on the spot. I also have to tell her so she’s not surprised… somehow I have to learn how to deal with these difficult conversations. This will be my first.

I made their first doctor appointment for this Friday. I’m concerned for ZG – she has a full body rash that usually kicks in at night. Not sure if she’s allergic to something. ZB finally ate today!! He had fruit this morning – orange and he loves apples… he also had cinnamon teddy bears. I’m so relieved, but will still take him to Dr. cause he seems to skinny for his age. Well, that’s my day thus far. If there is time I will continue telling you about this journey. Now time to wake up kiddos from their nap and have some ice cream – yummy!

Today’s Prayer: Wonderful savior, help us guide these children into your Word, your Love and your Salvation. Give us peace, lots of energy. Give me a new back J and bring my husband safely back home tonight. We ask you to take full control of tomorrow’s court hearing. Help little ZG through this process.

We Want to Hear from You! – What have been some of the struggles you have encountered with your little ones?

Our First Day as Foster Parents

I can’t believe we have two little ones at our home today, the same day we are placed on the list. When I saw four missed calls from my husband this afternoon, I knew something was up. I call him back and he tells me, “Did you see my text?” I respond, “No, I just called you right away cause I’m still working.” He says, “We got a call for two little ones. Four year old little girl and her two year old brother. That’s all the information we have. Want to do say yes?” I immediately said, “Yes!” We had already decided since we finalized our certification that the first call we would get, we would say yes. So we did. God’s will is for us to help these children, so there’s no need to pray about it, think about it or wait and see.

I left work early and went straight home. I found my very good friend M.B. helping my hubby put the crib together. I love my friend. This is a woman who has always been there for us, ready and willing to help out with our needs. I’m so grateful and blessed to have this kind of support. So, when I get home, they are almost done with the crib and then M.B. goes to pick up a toddler bed that another good friend was going to give us.

Due to confidentiality purposes, we will identify them as Zoe Girl (ZG) – 4 yr old and Zoe Boy (ZB) – 2 yr old. Zoe means LIFE. That’s my prayer for these children; that they may be filled with Life – God given Life, Spirit filled Life. Okay, so then the social worker calls us. He is on his way with the two little ones. They arrive around 6pm. They come out from the car. ZB just looks at me and stays quiet. ZG is so talkative and just so comfortable and immediately begins to tell us about her toys. I thought about this moment for the past 9 months. I had questions like: What would it be like when they arrived? What will they look like? What will I say? But at that moment, none of those questions mattered. When you see those faces, you just try to welcome them as best as you can. They have just been removed from their home, their comfort, their families and all that they know. The least I can do is just be present with them.

Once their inside, they begin to play with their toys. They did not want to eat anything. ZG wanted was water and ZB wanted milk. We took them a bath and they loved it. They played in the tub with toys. Now, to get them to sleep was a bit of a struggle, but for what they just went through, I think it’s reasonable. ZG had so much energy. She did ask me when she would go home to her mom. My response was, “I’m not sure, but tonight you will stay here with us. You are safe here. Tomorrow is a new day and maybe we’ll know more.” My heart sank!! ZB was almost asleep and doesn’t speak much. It’s ZG who has the questions now. I just pray I know how to handle these questions as the days go bye.

As I sit here it’s 12:50 am and I’m sipping on some chamomile tea. I can’t sleep! I just feel so honored and blessed that our home is being used to welcome and protect these children. This is what Jesus meant when he said in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT) Life is about these very moments.

After all the turmoil and last minute shopping, I have so much peace. This can only be from God. I know things are still too soon to know what will happen. I’m not worried about that just yet. All I know is that they are here tonight. Tomorrow is another day. Oh wait! It’s already tomorrow. J I know that it is possible that any day these children may be reunified with their mother (and my prayer is that God does what’s best for these children), but I will enjoy my time with them just for today.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy. They are new every morning. We ask for strength – just for today Lord. Give us your wisdom and revelation to know what is right, good and true. To be able to speak words of life to these children. We pray for their mother. Keep her safe Lord. Bring the resources she needs in her life. We trust in You!

We Want to Hear from You! – What about you? Where are you in your journey? Share with us what your first day looked like?

Our Journey Through the Foster-Adoption Certification Process

It’s been a long journey, but we did it! We are now certified Foster-Adoption Parents. Thank you Olive Crest for all the support you have given us, for your professionalism and wonderful staff. We don’t have a child placed in our home yet, but we are getting ready for the arrival. We want to share a little bit about what our journey. Here’s a bit of what you can look forward to in this process.

Our journey began back in June 15, 2011. We submitted an application with Child Share – check them out at:  http://childshare.org. We met with one of their representatives. They basically recruit families and link them to several organizations like Olive Crest. So, we chose Olive Crest for their faith-based principles. Once the application was submitted, Olive Crest was very prompt in following up with us.  Visit Olive Crest’s Website: http://www.olivecrest.org

The first step was to fill out the paperwork. Then we met with an Olive Crest Foster Family Specialist. Nothing fancy okay… they just want to get to know you. Then we met with our Adoption Social Worker for a long interview. I think ours was about four hours. She interviewed my husband and myself individually. Then she interviewed us together. Thankfully we did not have to take any counseling or read additional material before getting approved to continue. Both our family specialist and adoption social worker were warm and just made us feel comfortable. They are truly great individuals.

So, how are you doing so far? It sounds like a lot right? Well, it is. I mean, a child is being placed in your home. They do this so that they find good homes for these wounded children. These children deserve the best possible care. What helped us get through is basically just being yourself. Letting the staff really get to know your personality and who you are. A better match is found that way. It’s for the sake of the child or children being placed in your home.

Okay, so once that is done there is a checklist they give you to help you in the certification journey. Following is a list of some of the Certification Checklist items needed in the process:
• Fingerprints
• Health Screening, Physical & TB Test
• Copies of: Driver’s License, DMV printout, Liability Insurance, Dog shots, Proof of Income, Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Home owner’s insurance, Car insurance
• Emergency Disaster Floor Plan
• Family Photo for Homestudy
• HIPAA Quiz
• CPR, 1st Aid Classes
• Trainings: Pre-Certification, Pre-Certification Manual, Attachment, Parenting Across Cultures, Basic Adoption and Eliana Gil Booklet
• Babysitter: They also need to have most of the paperwork along with TB Test, Fingerprints, CPR and 1st Aid Class

I know, looks like a lot. The key is to get yourself a folder and put everything in there and check off the list as you go. Prioritize – Start with fingerprints since they take the longest. Then, start on the trainings. Organization is key in helping you stay on top of things.

We were certified by the end of March – A total of 9 months! It can be done in a shorter time, but due to other factors in our lives, we chose to take it slow. The process has not been easy, but we can say that Olive Crest does a great job at helping you navigate through the process a bit easier. We’ve changed our profile numerous times as the days went by, but finalized it right before we got certified. A profile is the information you give them of what gender, age, cultural/race you are looking for. We ended up with: Male, age 0-5, any race, if he has a sibling (boy or girl) that would be fine as well.

What’s next for our family? Well, our name gets listed on the county roster beginning today, April 16th. We’ve been told we can get a phone call the same day, two weeks later, three months to even six months later. This means, we don’t know. It can be a bit overwhelming, but we are also very excited.

Okay, well that’s enough information for you. Stay tuned as we begin sharing our learnings with you. We are planning on doing some podcasts as well (my husband prefers talking, while I prefer writing), so we came to conclude we’ll do both. We hope you find this blog both helpful and inspirational. We do want this to be a place for you to ask questions, give comments and feedback. So please engage as much as possible. This is the way we all learn from each other.

Click here if you want to read more about the steps for becoming a Foster-Adoption Parent:


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