The 4 Most Common Struggles in Foster Care

This might be a bold statement, but I’m going to go with it.

There are four things that every foster care situation struggles with. Regardless of the details of the situation, the reason for removal or the present circumstances of the child…these struggles will be present in the home.

  1. Sleeping
  2. Eating 
  3. Triggers
  4. Visits 

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A Marathon with No Finish

 

On May 14th, our precious daughter came to live with us.

At first, the case seemed simple and the quoted 3-6 months seemed completely doable.

We put our feet to the pavement and began 100% supporting reunification.

For those of you who don’t know, reunification is when the child eventually gets to return to their biological parents.

Many people who are not familiar with foster care assume that children are removed because the parents are absolutely useless humans who have abused, neglected or otherwise harmed their children. Unfortunately, this DOES happen, but very rarely. More frequently, the parent is stuck in the throes of addiction and is not able to parent at the moment. The entire goal of foster care is to remove those children for the time being and place them in a safe home while the parent works a case plan that puts them back on track in the world for parenting.

Some parents need well over a year to work this case plan due to the severe addictions they struggle with, or due to how deeply life has hurt them. Some parents don’t need too much time and are able to find the community resources and get themselves back on their feet. Although the timeline varies, CPS usually gives parents a year to make progress on their case plan. Depending on the situation and how much progress is made, there is often a 6 month extension. This is why so many kids stay in foster care for so long. Breaking the chains of addiction does not happen overnight…it can take years. So many of these birth parents are fighting with all that they have. The fight is long and hard and painful, but they sure do love their kids. Addiction is tough, guys. And I’m not just talking about addiction to hard drugs like meth and cocaine. I’m talking about addiction to self, addiction to being needed by an abusive spouse, addiction to drugs, addiction to medications, addiction to despair. It is a broken world and we are finding ourselves in the midst of a broken system, just hoping that we can bring hope to someone along the way.

Heavenly has now been with us for four months and we have made no progress on the case plan. A plan that should have been easily conquered is left untouched, and we are discouraged.

Would we adopt Heavenly? Absolutely, if she wanted to. If the case ever came to that.

But that is not the cry of my heart. The cry of my heart (and everyone involved in this case) is that Heavenly goes back to live with her Mom. We are fighting for it. We are FIGHTING for it. I am working to build a relationship with her Mom, one that will endure longer than just the time that Heavenly is in our home. We are doing the best that we can with the time that we have with her in our home, training her and teaching her and trying to give her all the love in the world while she faces this incredibly difficult time. We are giving our all. All of it.

It’s not that we don’t love Heavenly or want her around. I don’t want her to reunify so that she will leave my home. When she does leave, it will be a time of broken hearts around here. But the brokenness of foster care is that she doesn’t belong in our home. She belongs in her own home. So we FIGHT for reunification.

And yet, it feels one-sided. Here we treasure and cherish and sacrifice and love on this girl. And it’s not without it’s own rewards. But at the end of the day I have to fight the negative thoughts about how one-sided this feels. Why does it feel like I am doing all the work? All the mothering? All the parenting challenges and joys? I have to fight the frustration and anger and bitterness and discouragement on a daily basis.

So here we are, 4 months in to the quoted “3-6” months. There is absolutely no end in sight. This is not a rarity in foster care, but even as I met with the case worker, she said this is the case that she expected to actually go through to reunification in no time at all.

And yet here we are.

I feel like I’m running a marathon. I’ve trained and I have water stations and porta pots and friends cheering me along the way. But the only difference is that this marathon has no finish. I’m stumbling along at mile 15, exhausted and worn out, discouraged and losing hope. And I tell myself that I only have 11 more miles (2 months) to go. But then I realize…there is no stated finish to this marathon. If the 6 month mark is mile 26.2, it’s looking like our marathon will just continue on past that mark. I don’t know where the finish line is, and I want to drop from the exhaustion of that thought.

So, friends…will you pray? Will you pray for Heavenly’s birth Mom that she will able to face her case plan and have the strength to complete it? Will you pray that I will not shy away from a relationship built with her? Will you pray that the gospel will be heard far and wide in this case? Will you pray a bold prayer that that reunification will happen- and soon? Will you pray for the many parents whose children are in care, that they would hear the gospel and be able to fight through the chains of addiction?

And will you pray for us, the foster parents? We are running this marathon and feels like there is no finish line. It is exhausting and wearying and it takes its toll. Will you pray that we will have endurance? Will you pray that we will love without abandon and put aside bitterness and frustration? Will you pray that we will be willing to build relationships with the birth parents and encourage them through this difficult time in their lives? And will you please pray that we will face each day with the strength that comes not from us, but from the author and finisher of our faith?

 

#Write31Days: Day 30 Scripture

You guys! Day 30! I only have one more day in this challenge and it’s been real!

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I hope that you all have enjoyed reading along with the series and that you have at least gleaned some information. I will be back in November with my regular posts, but I will probably be taking it a little more slow since…new baby and all.

Home Sweet Life: Ephesians 5:1-2:

Today is the final Scripture Sunday, so let’s dive right in!

In review, I have posted the last six points in previous blog posts that can be found here, here and here:

  1. Adoption involves purposeful planning
  2. Adoption requires the right qualifications
  3. Adoption is costly
  4. Adoption saves children from terrible situations
  5. Adoption involves a legal change
  6. Adoption involves the spirit of sonship

Today I’m concluding the series with these two points:

7. Adoption transforms the child in every way

When a child is taken into a family, or adopted, they start to take on the mannerisms of the family. They will learn the routine, the expectations and even some of the behaviors (like always being late…what? Not the Hines!)

When we are adopted spiritually, this happens too. We receive the Holy Spirit and become transformed, hopefully expressing all of this in the fruits of the Spirit.

We begin to walk according to the will of the Father, bear the marks of the Father and imitate the Father —Ephesians 5:1

8. Adoption gives the child the right to be an heir of the Father

When a child is adopted into a family, they are heirs. They are seen as the rightful children of the parents, and anything that the parent legally leaves behind will be theirs.

Spiritually, we have this incredible blessing of being Christ’s heirs as well. We are given the privileges and blessings that come with being an heir of the Father of glory! We have a glorious inheritance- God himself, and dwelling with Him for eternity. It is a struggle here on earth before this inheritance is fulfilled, but it will be worth it in the end!

 

Questions?

If you have any questions at all about foster care or adoption from foster care as I go through this series, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can leave a comment or send an email. At the end of the series, I will have a Q&A day and will be answering any questions I receive throughout the month.

Previous posts:

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2: Meet the Hines

Day 3: Shop Feature: Karla Storey

Day 4: Why We Chose to Foster

Day 5: The Process

Day 6: The Cast of Characters

Day 7: The Paperwork

Day 8: The Goal is Reunification

Day 9: Reflections

Day 10: Shop Feature: Ransomed Cuffs

Day 11: The Placement

Day 12: The Daily Life

Day 13: The Extra’s

Day 14: Bonding

Day 15: The Goodbye

Day 16: Reflection

Day 17: Shop Feature: Together we Rise

Day 18: Finances

Day 19: Rules

Day 20: Foster or Foster to Adopt

Day 21: Public Agency or Private Agency

Day 22: Books/Resources/Blogs

Day 23: Reflections

Day 24: Shop Feature: The Archibald Project

Day 25: How You Can Be Supportive

Day 26: How You Can Be Involved

Day 27: Myths on Why You Can’t Do It

Day 28: Frequently Asked Questions/Q&A

Day 29: Conclusion

Please share and interact!

As a blogger, it means SO much to me if you like, comment and share on these posts! You can share the whole series or just a particular blog post, but your support in that way means the world to me!

#Write31Days

You can find the official #Write31Days and all the other bloggers who are linking up by clicking here.

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#Write31Days: Day 29 Conclusion

Well, it has been quite the month! I committed to posting each day about foster care, and I’m happy to say that I have done that! Full disclosure: I actually wrote ALL of these posts before October even hit, but at least I had one publish each day! I do have two days left in this challenge, but one day will be Scripture/Reflection and the other will be my last Shop Feature, so today is the day I wrap it all up!

write-31-days-29

Yesterday I answered the FAQ’s, but please remember that if you ever have a question about foster care, I am more than happy to receive it, either here or through email: [email protected] Notice I said that I am happy to “receive” it. I can’t promise that I can answer it, but I will do my best to answer it, and I may at least know someone who can answer it for you!

In conclusion, I wanted to thank you for following along. If you read every post, or just a few here and there, it is always appreciated! I put a lot of time into writing this blog, and I hope that this series has been helpful and informational to at least one person out there. Feel free to share away…either individual posts or the whole series.

You can read all of the posts in the series by clicking on the post title below:

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2: Meet the Hines

Day 3: Shop Feature: Karla Storey

Day 4: Why We Chose to Foster

Day 5: The Process

Day 6: The Cast of Characters

Day 7: The Paperwork

Day 8: The Goal is Reunification

Day 9: Reflections

Day 10: Shop Feature: Ransomed Cuffs

Day 11: The Placement

Day 12: The Daily Life

Day 13: The Extra’s

Day 14: Bonding

Day 15: The Goodbye

Day 16: Reflection

Day 17: Shop Feature: Together we Rise

Day 18: Finances

Day 19: Rules

Day 20: Foster or Foster to Adopt

Day 21: Public Agency or Private Agency

Day 22: Books/Resources/Blogs

Day 23: Reflections

Day 24: Shop Feature: The Archibald Project

Day 25: How You Can Be Supportive

Day 26: How You Can Be Involved

Day 27: Myths on Why You Can’t Do It

Day 28: Frequently Asked Questions/Q&A

 

 

 

#Write31Days: Day 27: How You Can be Involved

Ok, so maybe you have sat down and considered foster care, but after praying about it and evaluating your home/family, you have been led to the decision that you truthfully cannot be foster parents.

write-31-days-27

Are there other ways to be involved? If you can’t be a foster parent, can you still impact foster youth in our country…in your county?

OF COURSE!

Here are some ways that you can involved:

  • Respite care. To become a respite caregiver, you do need to go through all the training that a foster parent has to go through. Then, you take children in on a very temporary basis until a home can be found for them. Respite parents also watch foster children while their foster parents go on much needed vacations, to conferences or when they just desperately need a break. A respite foster parent can have a foster child in their home for up to two weeks!
  • Alternative Caregivers. This the fancy term for babysitter! Get certified to babysit foster kids, and some foster parents will love you forever. Not that I know from experience or anything…
  • Visitation Help. A foster child will usually have visitation days with their biological family. These days are hands down the hardest days to be a foster parent and a foster kid, as they often have to face the people they are angry with, or that they miss greatly. Some children are filled with anxiety and fear on those days, sometimes it’s hard to eat and function and use good manners when the emotions are so overwhelming. This in turn spills over into the foster parents laps, as they are often dealing with misbehavior, not to mention their own schedule change and the hours that it might take to facilitate visitation.  Help a foster family transport to and from visitation, or provide a meal on visitation days. Babysit other children while the foster parent goes to visitation.
  • Tutor or mentor a foster child who may be struggling in school (new flash: that is most foster children). This might require once a week (or however often you decide) time with the foster child in their foster home going over their homework, reading with them, answering questions, doing catch-up work. Not to mention the fact that you would be building a relationship with that child, letting them know that you care. One-on-one time for a kid in foster care could make the BIGGEST difference in that kids life.
  • Support the Foster Parents. I already wrote a whole post on that!
  • Donations. You may happen to have several items that are needed (clothing, shampoo, an extra baby crib, etc.). Maybe your child is not in that stage or they have just outgrown some jeans or shoes that you JUST bought and they got worn once. Perfect. Those donations would be more than welcome. Especially if they are delivered. You can also call your Children’s Services and ask what they need. Most Children’s Services have a closet or a shelter that accepts donations. In my opinion, this goes to much better use than taking the stuff to Goodwill!
  • Play Dates. If you have children of a similar age to the foster children, throwing together a play date would be awesome! This applies to children of ALL ages. Most foster children have been moved from a different school district and don’t have any friends or any activities outside of school…yet. Initiating a hang out or inviting a foster child to youth group or laser tag or anything that your child is interested in would be incredibly helpful
  • Become a CASA. A CASA is a Court Appointed Special Advocate, and each child in foster care is appointed one. This person volunteers their time to meet with the people involved in the child’s case. They are present in court and will speak out for the child based on what they have seen of the child’s situation.
  • Volunteer at CPS. I have never asked, but I’m sure there are SO MANY odd jobs that need to be done at the Children’s Services office. Those caseworkers are in over their heads and I know that any help would be beyond appreciated. It might be as simple as organizing the closet or taking in brownies once a week for the staff meeting. Trust me…supporting a caseworker IS supporting a child.
  • Support for a Group Home. If a foster home is not found for a child or their behavior is unfit for a foster home, they are often moved to a group home. A group home is a difficult place for a child to live. If you contact Children’s Services, there are SO MANY things that you can do for children in group homes. Deliver brownies. Donate Christmas presents. Play basketball with the kids there. Spend some one-on-one time with each child. Mentor them. Oftentimes, children in group homes age out and are spit into the streets and become just another statistic. Imagine if you could give just a little bit of your time and be the difference in that child’s life?
  • Support for Youth who have aged out. Once a child turns 18, they are no longer supported by Children and Family Services. They have aged out, and they receive no more support…from anyone. Most of these children are homeless at that time, with absolutely NOWHERE to go and NO ONE to turn to. They often don’t know how to apply to jobs or show up on time for an interview. Often, the only thing between them and homelessness/drug addiction/position are RESOURCES. Someone to ask questions to. Someone to live with until they get on their feet. Someone to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with. This is something that you can consider doing.

As you can see, there are SO many ways you can be involved, even if you aren’t a foster parent! I hope that you will take the time to consider at least one way to help out a foster parent/caseworker/foster kid today!

Questions?

If you have any questions at all about foster care or adoption from foster care as I go through this series, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can leave a comment or send an email. At the end of the series, I will have a Q&A day and will be answering any questions I receive throughout the month.

Previous posts:

Day 1: Introduction

Day 2: Meet the Hines

Day 3: Shop Feature: Karla Storey

Day 4: Why We Chose to Foster

Day 5: The Process

Day 6: The Cast of Characters

Day 7: The Paperwork

Day 8: The Goal is Reunification

Day 9: Reflections

Day 10: Shop Feature: Ransomed Cuffs

Day 11: The Placement

Day 12: The Daily Life

Day 13: The Extra’s

Day 14: Bonding

Day 15: The Goodbye

Day 16: Reflection

Day 17: Shop Feature: Together we Rise

Day 18: Finances

Day 19: Rules

Day 20: Foster or Foster to Adopt

Day 21: Public Agency or Private Agency

Day 22: Books/Resources/Blogs

Day 23: Reflections

Day 24: Shop Feature: The Archibald Project

Day 25: How You Can Be Supportive

Day 26: How You Can Be Involved

Please share and interact!

As a blogger, it means SO much to me if you like, comment and share on these posts! You can share the whole series or just a particular blog post, but your support in that way means the world to me!

#Write31Days

You can find the official #Write31Days and all the other bloggers who are linking up by clicking here.