How to Connect with Your Child’s Birth Parent in Foster Care

 

When choosing to grow your family through adoption, studies have shown that open conversations with children and connection with their birth family is best in most circumstances. While this is commonly embraced in domestic infant adoption, other methods of adoption like through the foster system have made slower progress. There are reasons for this, including the reality that birth parents are separated from their children against their will usually relating to the safety of the child. Still, many foster parents are looking at the statistics and wondering if there is a way to connect with their child’s birth parent.

These were things that my husband and I chose to research when we decided to pursue foster care, and eventually adopted twins from the foster system. While the system is designed to give foster parents the freedom to stay uninvolved with birth parents, we chose to ask if more might be an option.

We reached out to their team to ask them to speak with their birth family and see if they might be open to talking regardless of the outcome of the case. We chose a few options that would be safe such as using a P.O. Box for letters, an encrypted messaging app for text and pictures, and pursued more direct contact with our children’s birth grandparents who were deemed safe by their team, but simply too old to case for the twins long term.

We started slow through emails and eventually meeting their birth grandparents at a park. We reassured them that we wanted to make sure out children didn’t have their whole history erased and could still keep in touch with their family. Although it hurts me to say it, they were grateful we would even consider it. That their story wouldn’t have to involve permanently losing these little children that they loved desperately.

We started meeting in person with their grandparents more often after that. I had been nervous from the very start, worrying that I might be making a mistake and make this harder for my kids. But, every time they saw them I noticed the hug my daughter would give her grandparents. I noticed the big breath she would take in that hug and how her body would relax, as if she had been trying to hold it together and pretend like she didn’t miss her family so badly. She always did better the days after, was more relaxed and happier. For us, for her, I knew this was the right choice.

My son responded a little differently, he appreciated more space, and so we worked to find a balance that would give one the contact she craved, and provide freedom for him to distance himself from too much interaction if he felt like it. We also pursued contact with their birth mom through a messaging app to share pictures and updates, providing encouragement when I could. I was even blessed with the opportunity to meet their mom in person for coffee and spend hours getting to know her and my kids before they came to my home. She was not emotionally ready for anything more than meeting me, and that was ok. The stories I learned, I was able to gift to my kids in their Lifebook and when we talked through questions. I now had stories of who their father was, character traits I would never have known without their birth mothers help.

For our story, connection with my kids birth family was one of the best ways I could show them love, and that I accepted all of them, the good and bad stories included.

Some tips on connecting with birth family through foster care:

  1. Use the foster care team to learn more about the safety of the people involved and if advisable, ask for them to set up a meeting time. This can be especially helpful if you are fostering with an intent to encourage reunification, as foster parents are often great advocates for birth family and can help mentor them towards success and reunification. If adoption is the current goal of the case, see if it would be possible to send a letter along explaining your goals in contact and ask if they would be interested. Have the foster care team review the letter with you, since they will know more about the parent and can advocate for your family.

 

  1. Find a few communication methods that are safe and managed by you. This can be a P.O. Box, a messaging app, or an email address created for the purpose of contact that does not include significant identifying information. Begin communication through those methods, and if you get more comfortable with it, consider sending more consistent updates. It is recommended to avoid any identifiable information that the parent could use to contact the child directly, without your approval.

 

  1. Listen to your child’s needs. Contact with birth family can be complicated in domestic infant adoption, and more so in foster care. Observe your child when they get news, it may be emotional for them. While many parents may pull back on conversations because of the emotional nature of it, often kids just need support in feeling those big emotions in their heart. You may want to work with a child therapist that has experience with open adoption and find ways to help your child process. Many situations would not be safe for in person contact, but even some news about birth family can provide reassurance.

written by Deb Uber

Encouragements for Fathers-To-Be

 

Preparing to enter the world of fatherhood can be exciting, nerve wracking and overwhelming. Preparing to become a father through adoption can amplify those feelings as it adds another layer to the new dynamic of becoming a dad. There is no nine month countdown or abundance of ‘What to Expect’ advice when it comes to becoming a parent through adoption. It is very normal for the paperwork, education, meetings and waiting to cause fear and uncertainty to begin to surface, even for an experienced parent, never mind anticipating the lack of sleep, travel, adjustment of your child and the difficult questions that adoption may bring as your child gets older.

There are plenty of places to turn to deal with the uncertainty that this new role may bring, however you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone, that God has uniquely called and prepared you and your wife for this journey. While no one would argue that parenting and adoption are difficult endeavors, this journey will grow you as an individual and as a couple. There may be many days that bring challenges; however, there will be the days that bring you more joy than you could imagine – when you get “the call,” when you meet your child for the first time, when you see your child reach a new milestone, when you look into your child’s eyes or see them begin to trust you. Though your path to fatherhood may not always make sense in the moment, we can trust that God is weaving together a beautiful story of redemption and grace for your family. As Christians, there is no better source of comfort or encouragement than God’s Word.

  • God is faithful and He loves us

Lamentations 3:22-23

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

  • God is working all things for His purpose and our good

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

  • God has made everything beautiful in His time

Ecclesiastes 3:11

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

  • God is gracious

Romans 8:31-32

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

  • God is able to do more than we could ask or imagine

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

  • We can bring our concerns, our anxiety and our doubts to Him and have peace

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

written by Lindsay Jones

Adoption Fundraising during COVID19

You have embarked on the journey of a lifetime after much prayer, investigation, decision-making, and paperwork. You have committed to a huge financial commitment and are ready to begin fundraising, then the unthinkable happens – a pandemic. Large gatherings are out the window. Foundations have delayed application dates. What is an adoptive family to do? Remember, this time is temporary. Thankfully, some states and cities are slowly opening. In times like this, an alternative plan is necessary. Fundraising does not need to stop, but it does need to change. Map out a new route for raising funds. Here are 10 ideas to keep progressing in your financial goals.

  1. Plan for a GARAGE SALE. You have time to clean out your closets, garage, and attic. Begin organizing items and marking prices. As you feel comfortable, offer to pick up items from family and friends. When your town or city approves garage sales, you will be ready to roll.
  2. Sell larger items or a collection of items on FACEBOOK MARKETPLACE, OFFERUP, or your selling place of choice. As people have not been able to shop in stores, capitalize on personal sales.
  3. Plan for future GRANT APPLICATIONS. No, you may not be able to submit them now, but make a list of the ones which your family fits their criteria. Put the list in order of submission based upon deadlines listed online. Gather all documents and have your family’s story written, proofread, and perfected. Please do not get discouraged with the number available to your family. What matters most is not the quantity you submit but rather the quality of clarity and excellence with which you submit them.
  4. Make your ON-LINE FUNDRAISING PLATFORM accessible and easy for donors to use. This can be done at adoptionbridge.org. All donations are tax-deductible and only a 3% fee is charged for credit card processing. Of course, we are mindful of those who are affected by unemployment, but there are those family and friends who are able and willing to join you.
  5. OFFER SERVICES which people might need at this time. Pick up prescriptions, groceries, or run errands. Charge a set price or accept donations toward your adoption. As you reach out to people who need these services, give them assurance with protocol as to how you will accomplish the task with the highest protection level for them and you.
  6. RUN 5, GIVE 5. Quarantine and extra baking equals unwanted pounds! Invite your friends on social media (Facebook, Instagram …) to run or walk 5K followed by a donation of $5 to your adoption. Then ask your runners to nominate 5 of their friends to the challenge. Go big and make it WALK 10, GIVE 10, then nominate 10! Number 4 above will ensure an effortless donation procedure. Exercise and funding will be a win/win.
  7. Plan a VIRTUAL GALA. With the options of Facebook, YouTube Live, or Zoom, plan a gala that fits the interest and strengths of your unique family. Have an invitation blitz, sell on-line tickets, and create a fun and fast-moving program. The possibilities are endless. Invite special speakers or artists, read aloud a children’s adoption book, and have donated items for a silent auction. Make it a dessert event or a scones & tea night. Send out recipes ahead of time. Be creative and give people an opportunity to laugh and be inspired!
  8. Create a CONTEST. Offer a talent competition or challenge in dance, art, baking, pet photos, or anything fun you can imagine. Charge a fee to submit entries online. Post those entries for public votes. Charge a voting fee and then offer fun but inexpensive prizes for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Consider intangible prizes such as their photo posted on Facebook for a month or a personal porch delivery of a plate of homemade cookies.
  9. Reread and reconsider ideas in the NIGHTLIGHT FINANCIAL GUIDE. Upon becoming a Nightlight family, a Financial Guide specific to your personal adoption became available to you. Some of the ideas may not have seemed to be a good fit for your family before COVID19; however, now you may see them as new options. Consider a shoe collection such as angelbins.com or www.funds2orgs.com. Utilize quarantine time to plan a Both Hands project at www.lifesongfororhans.org. Choose a sales fundraiser to meet the needs of this season such as First-Aid Kits at www.first-aid-product.com. If you did not receive a Financial Guide for embryo, domestic, or international adoption, please contact [email protected].
  10. Send an UPDATE LETTER to your family and friends. Start with a message of thanks for the many types of support you have been given from words of encouragement and prayers to donations. Give an update of your adoption journey and explain where you are in the process. Be honest about funding. Share what you have done to raise funds, how much you need to raise, and the ways in which the pandemic has affected your fundraising plans. Share how you are using personal stewardship during this time to add to your adoption fund. Give details about your current online funding platform and the exciting fundraisers you are planning for the summer and fall. Put out a plea for event volunteers.

In a time when global reactivity reigns, you can be intentially proactive. View your fundraising not as cancelled but as altered and even improved. In a season of financial lemons, make lemonade! We can be confident that even during a pandemic, Ephesians 3:20 is still truth, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.”

 

Camie Schuiteman is the Financial Resource Specialist for Nightlight Christian Adoptions.

She can be reached at [email protected].

 

 

 

Adoption Through the Eyes of a Father

My wife and I felt called to adoption for quite some time, but the process always seemed daunting, and fraught with uncertainty. After completing long years of medical school and residency, along with having two children during the process, our family finally had more time together, and life started to feel pretty “comfortable.” However, we did not feel complete, and we knew we wanted to add another child; we just did not know how. Adoption weighed heavy on our hearts, but we were still plagued by doubts and insecurities. We feared the unknown and we held tight to our newly found, and long-awaited, sense of “comfort.”

 

Ultimately, we decided to fast for clarity and wisdom; and God answered in remarkable ways, as we know only He can. Our story leading to adoption is long and detailed, and one we love sharing, but it was during this time He made it undeniably clear our family was called to adoption. God had reminded us that we are not called to a life of “comfort,” rather we have been called to a life of purpose, regardless of the challenges that lie ahead. We have been called to exercise our faith through action, even during times of doubt and uncertainty.

 

Following our fast, we began our home study process, and started making our family profile book. Within a couple months we became a “waiting family,” and several months later we received the call we had been selected. Later that day we held our girl, Hayden Grace, for the first time, and our family was forever changed. Our “gotcha day,” also just so happened to be my birthday; so, every year we have plenty to celebrate.

 

I imagine every adoptive parent has their faith tested and refined throughout their adoption journey, and ours is no different. Over Hayden’s first year, she battled multiple health issues, each one testing our faith in new ways, and each one resurrecting more insecurity and doubt. Yet, through every storm, God calmed our unrest, and reminded us of His greater purpose and of His steadfast presence. Looking back, we cannot believe our fears almost led to missing out on our sweet Hayden. Well-intentioned friends and family often say, “she is so lucky to have you,” and my wife and I feel that statement could not be further from the truth. We are the ones who needed her, and we are infinitely grateful she is family.

 

Hayden just turned one, and she’s far too young for the difficult conversations of identity, grief or any other challenging topic that comes with adoption. Her older siblings have already started asking some pretty hard questions, hopefully helping to start prepare us for what is to come. We know there will likely be difficult conversations ahead, but as we have experienced time and time again, He will be there every step of the way.

 

written by an adoptive father  |  submitted by Lara Kelso

Helpful Responses to Questions all Foster Moms Hear

 

Being a foster parent comes with a lot of questions. So many that I have seriously entertained the idea of designing a t-shirt with responses to the top few and wearing it in public at all times. Some of these questions can come off as offensive and it’s true that people can be pretty nosey and invasive. But I have learned that while some folks could use a bit of work on being a tad less tacky in their delivery, the truth is that most people are just genuinely curious and don’t really mean to be insulting. They’ve probably thought about becoming a foster parent themselves and they are expressing some of their own personal reservations.  So, I think this is the perfect time to flip the script and instead of acting annoyed or giving a short answer, we can view these moments as an opportunity to educate our family, friends, or the stranger behind us in the grocery store line.  

The most common comment we hear about foster care is not a question at all. Our family has been fostering for 9 years now and hands down, the most common comment we hear about foster care is not a question at all and it goes something like this, “I could never foster. There’s no way I could give them back.” Ouch! This was tough to hear the first several times. I felt like people must think foster parents are cold-hearted humans and our homes have revolving doors through which children come and go and no one is any worse for the wear. The reality is that it is painful. It’s a loss. There are lots of tears and prayers. There is fear and grief – all the stages.  The heartache is deep and long-lasting. But I am here to testify that my family has a 100% survival rate! The truth is we can give them back. We will never be the same, but we will be okay. We will be okay because we serve a God who not only walks beside us in our suffering, He is a Father that understands our loss completely. We will be okay because we have been blessed to be a part of God’s plan for a child’s life. We will be better than okay because what we are doing is changing the course of a child’s life and making an eternal difference. Will it be hard? Yes. A child is always worth doing the hard things. So, when I am faced with a comment like, “It would be too hard to give them back”, I respond by saying, “Then you are exactly what these kids need.” They need parents who will love them so completely that they grieve deeply when they leave our homes.  Instead of asking what it will mean for us if we do foster, we should be asking what it will mean for the 450,000 kids in the US foster care system if we don’t.  

The line of questioning may continue. When venturing out with your crew, you might hear something like, “Are they all yours?” or even, “Which ones are your real kids?”.  Questions like these are more common than you think and a confident answer will help your kids feel secure about their place in your family. When it comes to strangers, I like to keep it short and sweet. A simple smile and a “They’re all mine” is recommended. Otherwise, the line of questioning may continue, causing things to become really awkward for everyone, especially your kids. If someone seems genuinely interested, you could hand them a Nightlight business card and say something like “Here’s some contact information if you want to learn more about growing your family through foster care and adoption. It is so important to be prepared with a quick response for questions like these so you’re not stumbling over your words.  

Those closest to us often ask the most difficult questions. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard, “Is their mom on drugs?” While this is absolutely none of their business, it is an excellent opportunity to educate. In this case, you can still respond without divulging and personal or confidential information. Let them know that the reasons why kids come into care vary, but the bottom line is that it’s currently not safe for the child to live with their biological parents.  

“Are you going to adopt him/her?” Unless you have indeed moved into the adoption phase of the process, then you probably don’t know the answer to this.  You could simply say, “We will see what God has planned for our family.” the line of questioning may continue you could elaborate a little more and explain how the process works and even go into detail about where your family is in the process.  

“Why don’t you just stop fostering?” Yikes! This is a tough one that we have heard from a couple of well-meaning loved ones. This question might come if you’ve been venting about your struggles or maybe those close to you have witnessed you grappling with difficult circumstances first-hand. If you’re anything like me, you might be tempted to respond in a defensive way. But, understanding that questions like this usually come from a place of love and concern will help you to respond with grace. Parenting is tough, foster or not. It’s not an option to just quit being a parent. Parenting kids from hard places adds another challenging layer and things can get really messy sometimes. When this happens, we can use the opportunity to remind ourselves and our loved ones why we do what we do – These kids are always worth it! I suggest thinking through all the ways you’ve been blessed by foster care and maybe even writing them down. If you are concerned loved ones aren’t believers, this is an amazing opportunity to share your faith and the example of love that God has set for us.  If they are believers, then they know that following Christ is not about things being easy. Your reliance on Him could serve to strengthen the faith of others. 

These are just a few of the most common questions that foster parents hear. But there will be plenty more. Although these inquisitive people can sometimes test our patience, remember that God has placed them in our paths for a reason. So, before you speak, ask God to direct your words and allow Him to use you. Let your light shine for His glory!   

by Leesa Del Rio

A Snowflake Named Hannah

“A Snowflake Named Hannah” an honest review by a former frozen embryo:

“As a busy college student caught up in finishing the semester, I finally had the chance to finish my father’s memoir on my adoption story. That being said, I wanted to share my initial thoughts with you. My first is gratitude. Its difficult to look back on life’s events and in hindsight, not give God a five star review for how He worked out these events for our good and the good of Snowflake families everywhere. God was the ultimate author of my story, my dad just had the sense to write it down. I do not have enough time to properly thank each and every person that played a huge role in who I am becoming and who contributed to the Snowflakes program being born. Reading the criticisms from our elected politicians and celebrities on whether or not my life and millions more were expendable for the sake of embryonic stem cell research breaks my heart. These embryos are not merely dots on a page, but human lives. Embryonic stem cell research is still being funded, but at what expense? My life? Someone else’s? Snowflake parents, hug your Snowflakes tight for me tonight, and I thank you deeply for accepting the call to be a parent, and change the course of your child(s) life. This book continues to inspire my passion for a career in social work, and protecting the lives of frozen embryos awaiting a chance at life and continuing the work of the “pioneers” of this program. This is the first book I have read by John Strege, but it certainly will not be my last.”

Ways to Partner with Your Foster Child’s Biological Family

 

While children are in foster care, their biological families are provided with resources and plans to help increase their parental capacity, hopefully making them safer parents for children to return home to. For many prospective and current foster parents, interacting with biological families can be one of the more challenging aspects of their foster parent journey. Foster parents may be unsure of how to interact with biological family members or worry if it is even safe in some situations. They may even wonder if it matters, the social workers are handling the biological parents case plan so why should the foster parent get involved?

While foster parents are not asked to be the social workers for biological family members, they can be some of the greatest resources for a biological family. As foster parents open themselves up to become mentors and support systems for biological families, they will see parents grow and change in ways that cannot always be achieved through court mandated parenting classes or workbooks.

Not all relationships will look the same and they may not always end in a lifelong connection, but in many situations that foster parent-biological parent relationship can help to bring permanency and connectedness for the children in the case. It is not always easy, partnering and building a relationship with a foster child’s biological family, but it can be one of the most important things a foster parent does. Children in foster care who are able to see their biological family and foster family work together, even if reunification cannot happen, build a stronger sense of self and can avoid feelings of divided loyalty between the two families (1).

There are numerous ways to partner with biological families and the best methods can vary across cases and situations. We have included a list gathered from current foster parents of ways they have partnered successfully with biological families. Start small at first and work to build a relationship over time. Foster parents should take the first step and initiate the relationship whenever possible. If the biological parent is not ready to reciprocate, leave the door open for the relationship to grow in the future. Relationships and trust take time to build, but when they can be built great things can happen!

Ways to partner:

Visit Journal: Use a small notebook or folder that can easily be sent back and forth with a child during their scheduled visitation with their biological parents. You can include updates from the child’s week, questions you have for their parents about their care, or a suggestion for something the parent could help with during the visit like practicing sight words or multiplication tables.

Letters and Emails: Some biological families may find themselves unable to visit with their child for any number of reasons, especially extended family members. Letter or email writing can be an easy way to foster a relationship between the child and their family when possible. Ask your social worker if you can mail physical letters to and from their office if privacy is a concern. You can also create a separate email account solely for communicating with biological family. This will protect privacy and will keep all communications in one place for easy reference.

Texts/Messaging Apps: Texts and messaging apps are one of the easiest ways to connect with biological family members. You can easily send pictures, updates, or ask questions as needed. Some foster parents may not be comfortable giving out their cell phone number to biological family right away, but there are numerous other ways to text and communicate virtually. Google Voice is a great option for families who want to text with biological family members but want to protect their personal phone number.

Phone and video calls: Depending on the age of the child and situation, these calls could be brief to chat about the child’s day or week, they could involve the biological parent reading a bedtime story to the child, or could be a video call where they play a virtual game together or do some other activity.

Including biological parents in decisions about the child: This could include decisions about field trips, what the child should wear for their school picture day, what sport or activity to enroll the child in, or other every day decisions. While it may be extra work for you as the foster parent to reach out and ask for the biological parent’s opinion on these decisions, it can go a long way in keeping a parent connected to the care of their child and in helping model appropriate decision making.

Inviting them to appointments in-person as appropriate: Whenever possible, invite the biological parents to participate in the child’s appointments and meetings. For example, you could invite the biological mom to an upcoming well check for the child and also offer some suggestions of questions you usually ask the doctor so she knows what to ask during the appointment. These appointments can be a great opportunity to model parenting skills in real time to the biological parents.

Additional visits for holidays, birthdays, or other special occasions: If allowed, offer to facilitate special holiday or birthday visits with child and their family. Let the biological family plan a birthday party if appropriate and have their own special time to celebrate the child. Ask the biological family if they have any other special occasions they like to celebrate, maybe they have a family reunion every year or a day they gather to remember a relative who has passed, and see how the child can still be involved in those unique family events in some way.

Making duplicates to share with biological family: Whenever a child makes a craft, card, present, etc. at school or in another setting ask if they can create two versions. If they are making a Mother’s Day card at their preschool, discreetly ask the teacher if they could make two copies so they can be sure to have one to give to their biological mom and one you can keep as well for any memory book or keepsake collection you have for the child.

 

written by Lexie Fowler

Pray For Adoption With Child Like Faith

 

Whether you are waiting for an adoption placement, walking next to a birth mom, or know an adoptee, here are some ways to pray for the adoption community, with child like faith.

Pray for their Grief. There is grief that exists uniquely for all parts of the adoption triad (birth mom-adoptee-adoptive family). There is loss and joy existing all at the same time. Pray that these emotions would be experienced without shame.

Pray for Openness. Pray that there would be openness that is right for all those involved. Every adoption situation is different, and openness looks different for everyone.

Pray for Peace and Comfort. For peace and comfort through the life lived and forever changed by adoption as a birth mom, adoptee and adoptive parent.

Pray for Perseverance. Adoption is a journey and is one that can change day to day for everyone involved. Emotions often run high and stamina can run low. Support systems can change and the road ahead looks uncertain. Pray for perseverance to press through the circumstances.

 

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God:

that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”

I John 5:14

 

written by Amanda Harmon

Celebrating Mother’s Day With Your Foster Momma Friends

 

Last year was my second Mother’s Day. A celebration that was hard fought for after several years of infertility, grieving, and then choosing a brand-new journey of foster care and adoption. My very first Mother’s Day went quietly. It was a couple months after our first official placement with twins, and I did not want to make a big deal out of it but was still a big deal to me. At the time I was at home focusing on bonding, worrying if I would be “mom-enough” for these kids in my care, and wondering if they might be reunited with their biological mom. It would be good for them all to have that, to find healing and be together again, though painful for me. It was memorable, but free of people’s expectations about how I should feel about the day.

My second Mother’s Day, however, will always stick with me because we were remarkably close to our finalization date! A staggering amount of people wanted to celebrate my FIRST Mother’s Day with me, because of the adoption. “CONGRATS on your very first Mother’s Day!” they would say. Over and over this happened. They did not ask, did not think, did not know that their assumptions and lack of understanding about foster care would feel immediately painful. I spent many moments correcting and saying “second” Mother’s Day. It brought up an entire concoction of emotions that looked a lot like anger. I did not misunderstand their intentions, they wanted to celebrate the adoption with me. They wanted to share in my joy. They did not know the date of our placement like people know birth dates. It was an easy mistake.

Every time “first” was uttered, I just could not help but think of my foster momma friends who did not get to celebrate an adoption that month. The ones that were battling for the emotional healing of their little fosters. Losing sleep to help their kids cope, cleaning up messes (both emotional and physical) that are bigger than some parents with bio kids will ever understand.

Would those people trying to make a big deal about my “First” Mother’s Day celebrate those moms too?

Would they understand the emotional cost of fostering? Would foster moms be “mom enough” for them to give a happy Mother’s Day to regardless of whether they got to keep their littles? Were those well-meaning people willing to wade into the muddy waters of foster care and recognize the utter PAIN that can come from this holiday? To recognize that somewhere out there is a biological mother who is feeling wrecked about the kids she cannot see? Would they notice that fear that sometimes sneaks in when foster mom’s worry that they are not equipped enough to help these kids through their storm?

I’m not sure. After all that is a lot to unload on a well-wisher.

It is something worth saying though, isn’t it? That mom life doesn’t start when a judge declares it to be so. While it sounds like such a happy ending to focus on the day that things are final, adoption is not the goal of foster care. Being a mom these kids need is, even if they don’t want one.

Foster mommas might wake up to an angry child who is struggling with their first (or fifth) Mother’s Day away from their birth mom. Their kid may have had 6 different mom’s they have lived with in their lifetime. Their kids might love on them, or completely ignore them. They might need someone, anyone, to send them a text and say, “Happy Mother’s Day, you are doing a great job no matter what this day looks like for you!”. It may be a good day for them, a quiet one, or a painful one where they try their best to comfort a child who has melted down into an angry puddle.

What they do need, unquestionably, is to be SEEN as moms. It is who they are, regardless of the legalities. Don’t forget them this Mother’s Day.

 

by Deb Uber

How COVID-19 Will Impact the Foster System

 

COVID 19 has quickly swept through the nation as an unparalleled crisis. There is hope that the preventative social distancing steps will continue to protect at-risk health communities. However, this comes at a cost for children who rely on protective adults to keep them safe.

Lengthy school shutdowns have been detrimental for many at-risk children. They rely on school as a haven, a place that provides meals and emotional resources. Having teachers, coaches and school counselors involved in a child’s life help provide touchpoints to identify abuse or neglect that may be going on in the home. School can also often be the safest place for children to be seen and distance themselves from abusive caregivers. With nationwide stay-at-home orders in effect, there are far fewer mandatory reporters who have access to children that may need assistance. This was proven by over the news that there has been over 50% drop in calls made to Child Protective Services (CPS) in Colorado since the beginning of school closures.

Most children coming into the foster system are coming from situations where their parents are struggling with extensive mental health histories, substance abuse or other crisis that are preventing them from having the necessary resources available to provide for their family. COVID-19 will bring an increased need for family support, as many are losing jobs and resources that normally help keep them afloat. When mental health issues and addiction are mixed with a crisis of this kind, it is reasonable to expect a larger than normal increase in the number of phone calls made to The Colorado hotline over the next year as children return to school.

Colorado was already facing a foster care crisis, with not enough foster parents available to provide safe homes and beds for children in need. Now more than ever we need families and individuals to consider foster care or support for those who are fostering. Here are four simple ways anyone can help children in need due to the COVID-19 crisis.

 

  • Adopt a foster family- Consider “adopting” a local foster family, Nightlight has over 50 families caring for children who would love the extra support! This can be as simple as mailing encouraging cards and making a meal once a month, to more involved options like helping with laundry or assisting with transportation for kids.

 

  • Support Homes for Home a local emergency foster care program- A local program designed to provide stability and a safe landing place for emergency foster placements could use your support. The biggest need is respite care, or childcare within the family’s home, as it provides them a much-deserved and needed break. Learn more about Homes for Hope and other ways to support the program here.

 

  • Consider becoming a certified foster home- Learn more about providing a safe space in your own home for children in the foster system. Children are needing families open to temporary, short and long-term foster homes, as well as families open to adopting children who cannot reunify with their families. Email [email protected] to learn more about your options or check out our website at https://nightlight.org/colorado-foster-care/

 

  • Donate your stimulus check towards helping foster children in need- COVID-19 has impacted families in different ways. If you have been fortunate enough to not need the stimulus check to meet your needs, consider donating it to support your local community’s children. Your donation will help provide resources to local foster families as they take on the increased needs of the foster system.

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